NEW TRANSLATIONS: Nāropa’s Vajrayoginī by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
Mother of infinite Victors, I praise.
From the extremely pure, [[[sphere]]] ‘endowed with all aspects’
Arises a display of the illusory net of union,
For Dakini Day today, am happy to announce the launch of a new website page on Vajrayoginī, as practised in the different traditions. To launch the page, here is a new translation and research post about Nāropa’s Kacheri Vajrayoginī tradition, often referred to by the Tibetan, Naro Kachod (nA ro mkha’ spyod)with new translations of three short texts by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo contained in his Collected Works. Before discussing the Jamyang Khyentse texts and translations, first, a little about the lineage tradition of Nāropa’s Vajrayoginī. For more information about Vajrayoginī in general, see the new website page.
The iconography of Vajravārāhī (Dorje Phagmo) is based on a vision of Tilopa (928 – 1009 C.E.) and Vajrayoginī’s (Dorje Naljorma) on a vision of Nāropa (956 – 1040 C.E.). For more on the differing depictions of her, see below.
the Nāropa’s Vajrayoginī lineage, which was transmitted from Vajrayoginī to Mahasiddha Nāropa; the Maitripa’s Vajrayoginī lineage, which was transmitted from Vajrayoginī to Mahasiddha Maitripa; and the Indrabhuti’s Vajrayoginī lineage, which was transmitted from Vajrayoginī to Mahasiddha Indrabhuti. These three Vajrayoginī practices are known as the Three Red Ones (mar mo skor gsum) in the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
The full details of the transmission lineages of these three can be found in the lineage supplications (rgyud ‘debs) attached to the relevant sadhanas. As Elizabeth English points out (2002, p.386, fn. 10), these have been published in recent years by the Sakyapas in India in a six volume teaching on Vajrayoginī, called the Glorious Sakya tradition of Naro khacho (dPal ldan sa skya pa’i lugs nAro mkha’ spyod ma’i skor). They can also be found in the Compendium of sadhanas (sgrubs thabs kun btus) , the fourteen volumes of teachings on Vajrayana collected by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Loter Wangpo published by the Dzongsar Institute for Advanced Studies, Bir, Kangra, H.P, India.
There is also an initiation and sadhana of Vajravārāhī in the One Hundred Sadhanas of Bari (in vol. 12 of sgrubs thabs kun btus) a collection of practices brought from India by the translator, Bari (1040 – ) that was transmissed onward through the Sakya master, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo.
Short (or close) Lineage: Vajradhara, Vajrayoginī, Mahasiddha Nāropa, Phamthingpa Brothers: Jigme Dragpa (Phamthingpa) & Ngawang Dragpa (Bodhibhadra), Sherab Tsegpa, Mal Lotsawa, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, Lopphon Sonam Tsemo, Jetsun Dragpa Gyaltsen, Choeje Sakya Pandita, Drogon Chogyal Phagpa, etc.
The Tibetan term, khacho, is taken from the Sanskrit word Kacheri, that means ‘one who moves in the sky’. There is no reference that Mahasiddha Nāropa transmitted the Short Lineage to Marpa Lotsawa but instead to the Phamthingpa Brothers who passed it on to the Sakya tradition from which it then entered the Gelug tradition. Nāropa (via Tilopa) transmitted the long lineage to Marpa Lotsawa and this lineage is one of the main Vajrayoginī/Vajravārāhī practices found in the Kagyu tradition (for more details on that see below).
It is often incorrectly stated in online accounts that Nāropa did not pass his Vajrayogini lineage to his student, Marpa the translator, however as Chogyam Trungpa states in The Heart of the Buddha Entering the Buddhist Path (pp. 117-121), the ‘long lineage’ was passed from Tilopa to Nāropa to Marpa (the first Tibetan holder of the lineage), then to Milarepa, Gampopa, First Karmapa, Drogon Rechengpa, Pomdragpa, Second Karmapa, then Orgyanpa who passed it to the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje. Trungpa states that it was the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, who composed the written sadhana of the form of Vajravārāhī according to Tilopa and the oral instructions of Marpa, that is still practised to this day. When Nāropa transmitted these teachings to Marpa he told them should only be given on a one to one transmission for thirteen generations and then after that they could be more widely propagated to others. In the 1970’s the Nalanda Translation Committee first translated the Vajrayoginī sadhana into English at the request of Chogyam Trungpa
The Nāropa’s Vajrayoginī practice from the ‘short lineage’ is very important and alive in the Sakya tradition. Tsarchen Losal Gyatso’s foremost disciple, Jamyang Khyentse Wangchuk, wrote an extensive commentary on the Eleven Yogas of Nāropa’s Vajrayoginī and it is said to be the basis for the 7-day teachings given by the highest contemporary Sakya teachers like His Holiness Kyabgon Sakya Trizin, Her Eminence Jetsun Kushok-la, His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche, His Eminence Kyabje Dorje Chang Luding Khenchen Rinpoche, His Eminence Ngor Ewam Phende Rinpoche and etc. The Lineage Supplication by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, (translated and published here) is the short lineage and lists the Sakya masters of that lineage.
As for Gelug tradition, one online source claims that Nāropa’s Vajrayoginī of Sakya tradition was introduced to the Gelug tradition only around 18th century. After a quick research online, this seems to be incorrect, as the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Lobzang Gyatso, wrote a text, The Practice of the Eleven deities of Naro’s Khacho’ written in 1671 with Rigje Ngawang Namkha (rig byed pa ngag dbang nam mkha’) as scribe, in instruction for the practice of both generation and completion stages of the nA ro mkha’ spyod system; the practice of these two ‘stages’ are carried on over twenty five nights. In the colophon, he cites the Zurchen lamas of the essence of Vajrasattva, the Kagyu and Zhalupa as being the traditions he based it on.
The same source writes that:
“It was Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo who recommended and promoted the Vajrayoginī practice as the main meditational deity of the Gelug tradition. From then onwards, the Gelugpas have its own unique versions of sadhanas and commentaries for Nāropa’s Vajrayoginī, and they are different from those originally commented by the Sa-Ngor-Tsar masters and early Gelug masters, eg. Ngulchu Dharmabhadra. These later Gelug writings are based on Pabongka Dechen Nyingpo’s extensive Nāropa’s Vajrayoginī sadhana entitled “The Short Path to Great Bliss”.”
“Je Tsongkapa is said to have met women many times who were emanations of Vajrayoginī. When he was writing the Complete Clarification of the Hidden Points of Heruka Tantra (sBas-don kungsal), he had an actual vision with bare perception of different emanations of Vajrayoginī.”
Nāro Khacho was also practised within the Jonang lineage (although it is not clear if this still continues today), and there are several texts written by Jonang teachers on the practice, including that of Jetsun Tāranātha (a sadhana in his famous Yidam Gyamtso and a text called the Extraordinary Completion Stage of Nāro’s Vajrayoginī) as well as some texts by Sonam Zangpo. Tāranātha was a huge influence on Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, as has been written about here before. I hope to translate these Tāranātha texts in the near future and make them available here.
There are a number of different iconographic types, or appearances, of Vajrayoginī in the Nāropa Traditions. In the Sakya tradition (followed here by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo) she is depicted as wearing a necklace of fifty white skulls. In the Drugpa Kagyu system she wears a necklace of fifty freshly severed heads. The Thirty-seven Deity Mandala tradition depict the central Yogini in the same manner as the Sakya Tradition. The Shangpa is similar to the Sakya. In the Pabongkha style Yogini looks down towards sentient beings rather than drinking blood and looking up towards the pureland of Khechara.
“The lama on the left displays the iconographic signature of the great Jamyang Kyentse Wangpo (1820-1892). Placed in the two hands are a vajra and upturned bell while holding the stems of two utpala flowers supporting a vase on the right and a sword and book on the left. Important to Kyentse Wangpo, he wrote 22 texts on the ritual and practice of Vajrayoginī. The lama on the right, possibly Loter Wangpo, places the right hand in the mudra of blessing while holding the stem of a blossom supporting a sword on the right side. The left hand placed in the lap holds the wisdom book. The fact that both these lamas are seated on thrones as opposed to lotuses would indicate that they were alive when the painting was commissioned.”
Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, himself, was a lineage holder of the ‘short’ lineage of Nāropa’s Vajrayoginī and there are several texts on this tradition by Khyentse Wangpo in his Collected Works . He also wrote a major supplementary commentary on the pith instructions of the practice . The 2nd Jamyang Khyentse lineage holder, Chokyi Lodro, also wrote several texts on the practice in his Collected Works.
Concise Supplication to the Lineage of Nāropa’s Khacho, based on a supplication by Kunga Ngorchen the first (1382-1456), the founder of the Ngor subsect of the Sakya tradition. In Khyentse Wangpo’s Collected Works, there are some other supplications to the NAro Khacho lineage, including one by the Sakya Pandita and the 10th Ngorchen. Praise and Supplication to the Delightful Display of Naro’s Yogini. Two other Praises to Kechari by Sakya lineage masters have been published here by Jeff Watt.
These three texts (compiled together with the Tibetan and phonetics) are available on request as a free download .pdf. Please contact here to request. The third text will only be sent to those who have the requisite empowerment. The Concise Supplication to the Lineage of Nāropa is also posted here (scroll down past the endnotes to read).
Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 15th July 2020.
ཤེས་རབ་བརྩེགས་དང་མལ་གྱོ ས་སྐྱ་པ༎ རྗེ་བཙུན་སྐུ་མཆེད་རྣམ་ལ་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས༎
shé rap tsek dang mel gyo sa kya pa jé tsün ku ché nam la sölwa dep
sö nam gyel tsen penden tsül trim dang yé shé gyel tsen nam la sölwa dep
mor chen jé dang khyap dak né sar pa kün ga lo drö nam la sölwa dep
Morchen Je[xxiii] and Khyabdag Nesarpa[xxiv], Kunga Lodro[xxv], we supplicate!
kyé rim zap mo kha chö nenjor dang dzok rim wu mé nenjor gom pé tü
Bless us so that we may attain the innate primordial awareness
Sonam Gyaltsen, Drubchog Yarlungpa,
Sonam Gyalchok, we supplicate you!
Dagchen Choje and so onwards.
Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin, July 2020. Published Dakini Publications. Copyright, all rights reserved.
[i] Nāropa did not transmit these particular Vajrayogini teachings to Marpa Lotsawa but to two Nepalese disciples, the Phamthingpa brothers, also called the “Brothers from Phamthing” (Nepal). Sometimes the Phamthingpa brothers are counted as two, the elder brother Jigme Dragpa (also called ‘Phamthingpa” and the younger Ngawang Dragpa (also called “Bodhibadra”), or as one in which case the elder brother is the lineage holder.Brothers: Jigme Dragpa (Phamthingpa) & Ngawang Dragpa (Bodhibhadra),
[iii] Mel Lotsāwa Lodro Drakpa (mal lo tsA ba blo gros grags pa) received the Cakrasaṃvara transmission from the Newari master Phamtingpa (pham ‘thing pa) when he visited Tibet. Mel later went to Nepal and received further transmission from Phamtingpa’s brother Bodhibhadra, a disciple of Nāropa. He also received Cakrasaṃvara transmissions from the Tibetan Lokya Sherab Tsekpa (klog skyia shes rab brtsegs pa). See his biography: https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Mel-Lotsāwa-Lodro-Drakpa/TBRC_P3088
[iv] 3rd Sakya Trizin, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo (1092-1158), was a student of Mel Lotsawa and patriarch of the early Khon family lineage: Sonam Tsemo, Dragpa Gyaltsen and Sakya Pandita. See: https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Sachen-Kunga-Nyingpo/2916
[vii] Zhang Konchog Pel (1240-1308) Zhangton Konchok Pel (zhang ston dkon mchog dpal) See: https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Zhangton-Konchok-Pel/2203
[viii] Naza Drakphukpa Sonam Pel (na bza’ brag phug pa bsod nams dpal) (1277—1350). See: https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Nasa-Drakpukpa-Sonam-Pel/5406
[ix] 14th Sakya Trizin, Lama Dampa Sonam Gyeltsen (bla ma dam pa bsod nams rgyal mtshan, 1312-1375) was born in 1312 at Zalu Kang sar (za lu khang gsar), into one of the ruling families of the Rinchen Gang Labrang (rin chen sgang blab rang) of Sakya Monastery (sa skya dgon). See: ttps://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Lama-Dampa-Sonam-Gyeltsen-Pelzangpo/2491
[x] Pelden Tsultrim (dpal ldan tshul khrims) was born in 1333 as the only son of Lama Darma Gyeltsen (bla ma dar ma rgyal mtshan, d. 1340), the head of Uri Monastery (dbu ri dgon), and Rinchen Kyong (rin chen skyong). See: https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Pelden-Tsultrim/7512
[xi] Sharchen Yeshe Gyeltsen (shar chen ye shes rgyal mtshan) was born in 1359, most probably at Sakya Monastery (sa skya dgon). See: https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Yeshe-Gyeltsen/5408
[xii] Ngorchen Kunga Zangpo (ngor chen kun dga’ bzang po) (1382-1456) was born in 1382 at Sakya Monastery in Tibet. See: https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Ngorchen-Kunga-Zangpo/2387
[xiii] Muchen Sempa Chenpo Konchok Gyeltsen (mus chen sems dpa’ chen po dkon mchog rgyal mtshan) was born in the Mu (mus) valley of Tibet in 1388. See: https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Muchen-Sempa-Chenpo-Konchok-Gyeltsen/1898
[xv] Kunzang Chokyi Nyima (Doringwa) (1449 – 1524).
[xvii] Nesar Jamyang Khyentse Wangchuk (gas gsar ‘jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse’i dbang phyug) was born in Bodong E (bo dong e) valley in 1524. (1524 – 1568). See: https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Nesar-Jamyang-Khyentse-Wangchuk/2338
Sublime Path to Kechara Paradise. Tharchin, Sermey Khensur Lobsang (1997). Mahayana Sutra and Tantra Press. The Sublime Path to Kechara Paradise: Vajrayoginis Eleven Yogas of Generation Stage Practice as Revealed by the Glorious Naropa. by Sermey Khensur Lobsang Tharchin (Oral Commentary Series. Howell, NJ: Mahayana Sutra and Tantra Press, 1997). The Vajrayogini Teaching According to the Ultimate Secret Yoga in the Naro-Khachod Tradition. By Jamyang Khyentse Wangchuk, Singapore: Singapore Buddha Sasana Society, 1986.
 “nA ro mkha’ spyod kyi rnal ‘byor bcu gcig gi nyams len la sgro ‘dogs gcod pa dang sems ‘dzin zung ‘brel du gtong tshul mthong grol lde mig (nA ro mkha’ spyod).” In gsung ‘bum/_ngag dbang blo bzang rgya mtsho. TBRC W2CZ5990. 10: 357 – 370. dharamsala: nam gsal sgron ma, 2007. Colophon reads: rje btsun nA ro mkha’ spyod kyi rnal ‘byor bcu gcig gi nyams len la sgro ‘dogs gcod pa dang sems ‘dzin zun ‘brel du gtong tshul mthong grol lde mig ces pa ‘di yang rang nyid kyi brjed byang du ‘bri ‘dun yod pa’i steng rigs kun bdag po mkhan chen zha lu pa rin chen bsod nams mchog grub bstan pa’i rgyal mtshan dpal lbzang pos bstan rgyun la phan pa ‘dun tshul gyi legs so gnang bar brten/ khyab bdag rdo rje sems dpa’i ngo bor bzhugs pa’i dpal ldan bla ma rnam zur chen/bka’ ‘gyur ba/ zha lu ba/ gsum gyi bka’ drin la brten nas chos tshul ‘di la blo mig yangs pa’i slob bshad pa za hor gyi ban+des lcags phag hor zla gnyis pa’i yar tshes bco lnga’i nyin sbyar ba’i yi ge pa ni rig byed pa ngag dbang nam mkha’// //sarba mang+ga laM/
 tA ra nA tha, nam mkha’ grags pa. “na ro mkha’ spyod kyi sgrub thabs/.” In yi dam rgya mtsho’i sgrub thabs rin chen ‘byung gnas/ (tA ra nA tha’i gsung ‘bum las pod 15 pa/). TBRC W12422. 1: 177 – 197. new delhi: chophel legdan, 1974-1975.
tA ra nA tha. “nA ro mkha’ spyod kyi rdzogs rim thun mong ma yin pa.” In gsung ‘bum/_tA ra nA tha/ (rtag brtan phun tshogs gling gi par ma/). TBRC W22277. 4: 677 – 688. leh: c. namgyal & tsewang taru, 1982-1987.
tA ra nA tha , thub bstan dge legs rgya mtsho , tshogs gnyis rgya mtsho , ‘jam dbyangs mkhyen rab rgya mtsho . “rje btsun rdo rje rnal ‘byor ma nA ro mkha’ spyod kyi dbang gi zur gsal kun phan rta ljang dbang po/.” In jo nang mdo sngags rig pa’i dpe tshogs/ . TBRC W1PD95746. 26: 331 – 339. khreng tu’u: si khron dpe skrun tshogs pa / si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang , 2009.
 mkhyen brtse’i dbang po. “byin rlabs bya tshul mthong ba don ldan/rje btsun rdo rje rnal ‘byor ma nA ro mkha’ spyod/.” In gsung ‘bum/_mkhyen brtse’i dbang po/. TBRC W21807. 7: 315 – 342. gangtok: gonpo tseten, 1977-1980.
 kun dga’ bzang po ngor chen kun dga’ bzang po ngor mkhan chen 01 “brgyud ‘debs bsdus pa/ rje btsun rdo rje rnal ‘byor ma nA ro mkha’ spyod ma/.” In gsung ‘bum/_mkhyen brtse’i dbang po/. TBRC W21807. 7: 477 – 479. gangtok: gonpo tseten, 1977-1980.
 dkon mchog lhun grub ngor mkhan chen 10 dkon mchog lhun grub ‘jam dbyangs dkon mchog lhun grub ngor chen dkon mchog lhun grub. “sgom bzlas shin tu bsdus pa/nA ro mkha’ spyod ma/.” In gsung ‘bum/_mkhyen brtse’i dbang po/. TBRC W21807. 7: 439 – 442. gangtok: gonpo tseten, 1977-1980.
These translations and research was written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, July 2020. Copyright. Please share and use freely but cite the source when doing so.