Samantabhadri (Kuntuzangmo in Tibetan) is the consort and female counterpart of Samantabhadra, the primordial Buddha of the older schools of Tibetan Buddhism. They are usually shown in sexual union (yab/yum in Tibetan), the blue male figure and white female figure embracing each other in lotus position. Samantabhadri is sometimes shown alone, in which case she is seated in lotus posture with her hands in meditation posture in her lap. Samantabhadri is always shown naked (as is her consort) to demonstrate the unadorned nature of Absolute Truth, the emptiness of all phenomena. She is in some senses an analogue of Prajnaparamita.
Samantabhadri painting by Paola Minelli.
Praises to the 21 Taras
Let me and all who need protection
Enter beneath Your right-hand mudra
Of granting boons, the Refuge mudra,
And be relieved from every fear!
From your sublime abode at the Potala
O Tara – born from the green letter TAM
Your crown adorned with Amitabha,
Action-mother of the Buddhas of the three times,
Come with your retinue, I beg you.
The gods and demi-gods bow
To your lotus feet, O Tara,
You who rescue all who are destitute
To you, Mother Tara, I pay homage.
Om Jetsunma Pama Drolma La Chagsal Lo
Om, Homage to the Venerable Arya Tara
Noble and exalted Tara,
I bow to you.
Homage to Tara, swift and courageous,
Who dispels all fears by the syllables TUTTARE
The savioress who bestows all benefit by TURE,
With the syllables of homage, SOHA, I bow to you.
Homage to Tara, swift and courageous,
Whose gaze is as quick as a flash of lightning,
Who, on a tear from the face of the Protector of the Three Worlds [Chenrezig],
Arose from a billionfold lotus pistil.
Homage to her, whose face is like a gathering
Of one hundred autumn full moons,
Who, like a cluster of a thousand stars,
Blazes light illuminating everything.
Homage to her, adorned by a lotus,
Whose hand is holding a golden blue lotus.
Perseverance, fortitude, and giving,
Patience, and samadhi are the scope of her action.
Homage to you her, who moves in endless victory
The crown jewel of the Tathagatas.
Having obtained all transcendent virtues,
The sons of the Jinas take her support.
Homage to her, who by the syllables TUTTARE and HUNG
Fills all space, directions, and realms of desire.
While trampling the seven worlds under her feet,
She brings all and everything under her control.
Homage to her, whom Indra, Agni, and Brahma,
Marut and Vishveshvara all worship.
Ghosts, zombies, ghandaravas, ganas, and yakshas
All pay tribute before her.
Homage to her, who by TRAT and PHAT
Vanquishes evil forces conjured by magic.
Right leg bent, extended left leg trampling,
She destroys them completely with intense blazing fire.
Homage to her, the swift fearsome one,
Who vanquishes the most tenacious of maras.
When she knits her brows on her lotus face,
She defeats all enemies, without exception.
Homage to her, whose fingers adorn your heart.
With the gesture of the Sublime Precious Three,
Adorned with a wheel striking all directions without exception
With the totality of your own rays of light.
Homage to you, Tara, whose fingers adorn her heart,
In the mudra of the Three Jewels.
Her own light-beams fill her,
Ornamenting all directional wheels.
Homage to her, who spreads boundless joy
From the sparkling garland of lights on her crown.
With great peals of laughter from the syllables TUTTARE,
She brings demons and the world under her control.
Homage to her who can summon forth
The assembly of all earth’s protectors.
By the wrathful quake of the HUNG in her frown,
She completely liberates all destitute beings.
Homage to her, whose crescent-moon tiara
And jeweled ornaments sparkle brilliantly,
Who from Amitabha atop her vast stream of hair,
Floods forth immense rays of light.
Homage to her, engulfed in a fire like the kalpa’s end,
Who sits in the midst of a wreath of flames.
Right leg stretched and left leg bent, she defeats all enemies
Of those who rejoice when the dharma wheel turns.
Homage to her, who strikes the earth with her palms,
And crushes it mightily under her feet,
Who by HUNG and her wrathful glare,
Rules the beings of the sevenfold worlds.
Homage to her, blissful, virtuous, and peaceful mother,
Whose activity is nirvana’s sphere of tranquility.
By the flawless expression of SOHA and OM,
She overcomes even the greatest of evils.
Homage to her who smashes
The bodies of the enemies that imprison joy,
Illuminated by the awareness of HUNG,
Arranged within a mantra of ten syllables.
Homage to the Swift One: When she stamps her foot,
Her seed in the form of the syllable HUNG
Shakes the three worlds
And Mount Meru, Mandara, and Vindya.
Homage to her in whose hands is placed the one who bears a deer mark
In the shape of a godly lake.
She annuls every poison
With the twice-uttered TARA and the sound of PHAT.
Homage to her, served by the ruler of the host of deities,
By gods and kinnaras.
The dazzling brightness, her armor of joy,
Dispels all quarrels and nightmares.
Homage to her, like the full sun and moon,
Whose two eyes shine with blazing light.
By TUTTARE together with HARA recited twice,
She eliminates even the vilest sickness.
Homage to her,endowed with the power to perfectly pacify
Through the arrangement of the three syllables of suchness.
The crowds of demons, zombies, and yakshas
Are suppressed by TURE, the supreme mother.
These are the praises with the root mantra and the twenty-one verses of homage.
Source: Homage In Twenty-One Verses Tantra (Praises to the 21 Taras)
translation by Marcia Dechen Wangmo
from The Tara Compendium
In Praise of Prajñaparamita
I prostrate to Bhagavatı Aryaprajñaparamita.
I pay homage to you, Prajñaparamita,
Boundless and nonconceptual,
All your limbs without a flaw,
Beheld by the flawless ones you are.
Just like space, you are spotless,
Free from reference points, and without words.
Whoever sees you as you really are
Beholds the Tathagata.
Between you, so rich in noble qualities,
And the Buddha, the guru of the world,
No difference can be seen at all,
Just as with the moon and its light.
You loving, dedicated mother,
Those compassionate in nature who resort to you,
O herald of the buddhadharmas,
Will reach unequalled magnanimity with ease.
Whoever duly looks at you
With a pure heart only once
Will attain siddhi then for sure,
O you so fruitful to behold.
You are the caring mother,
Giving birth and nourishment
To all these heroes with their hearts in love
With just the welfare of all others.
The Buddhas, these gurus of the world,
Full of compassion, are your sons.
Thus, O Lady fair and good,
You are the Grandmother of all beings.
All immaculate paramitas,
O Lady without blame,
Surround you at all times,
Just as the stars do with the moon.
Considering beings to be guided,
Single one in many forms
You are praised by the Tathagatas
Everywhere and with all kinds of names.
Just as when those drops of dew
Are met by the sun’s warm light,
Once they fall upon you,
Opponents’ flaws and qualms are gone.
In naive beings, you engender fear—
To them, you appear just terrifying.
To the wise, you grant your comfort—
To them, you appear so mild and gentle.
Those who do not have attachment
Even for you, their protectress,
O mother, how should they then feel
Desire or aversion for anything else?
You do not come from anywhere,
Nor do you go some place.
In all locations there may be,
The wise ones never will see you.
Those who, thus, don’t see you
Will attain you in reality.
Having attained you, they’re released,
Which is a marvel really great indeed!
Whoever sees you is in bondage
And whoever doesn’t see is bound as well.
Whoever sees you is released
And whoever doesn’t is released as well.
Ah, how wonderful you are,
So illustrious and profound.
So hard to realize, just like an illusion,
You are seen and unseen too.
All Buddhas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Sravakas
Put their trust in none but you.
you alone are liberation’s path—
There are no others, that’s for sure.
For the sake of sentient beings,
Out of compassion, the protectors of the world
Speak of you in customary terms
But never speak [of you].
Who here would be able praising you,
Featureless, so pure and simple,
Beyond the reaches of all speech,
And not supported anywhere?
Still we praise you on the seeming level
By what’s possible in our speech like this.
Though you cannot be extolled at all,
We find mental ease through this.
Through the good I have accumulated
By my praise of Prajñaparamita,
May the whole world be devoted to
“In Praise to Prajñaparamita” by Rahulabhadra
(translated by Karl Brunnholzl in “Straight to the Heart”)
*Image: ‘Standing Prajnaparamita‘ by Tara DiGesu
Vajrayogini is a manifestation of ultimate wisdom and compassion. She aids in the transformation of mundane experience into higher levels of spiritual understanding. She is most commonly depicted dancing naked while holding a skull-cup containing the blood of ego in one hand and a curved knife to cut to the essence of things in the other. She often wears a garland of human skulls or severed heads.
In his oral commentary on Vajrayogini the great non-sectarian master Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, whose words were recorded by the Gelugpa writer Ngawang Damcho Gyatso, says:
“What are the different divisions of Vajrayogini?
There is the secret Vajrayogini; that is none other than the primordial base-of-all of all sentient beings, the clear light mind that has been pure from the beginning. In interdependence with that, there is there is the inner Vajrayogini [taking the form of] a short A, or in this system a VAM syllable, in the middle of a triangular [matrix of] channel-knots at the navel. In dependence on this there is the co-emergent sambhogakaya Vajrayogini who abides in the Akanishta heaven, arising as an appearance of the outer nirvana and samsara. There are the field-born nirmanakaya [vajrayoginis] that abide in the twenty-four, thirty-two etc. sacred places of Jambudvipa. And, all the women who abide in various countries and locations are the karma-born dakinis.”
Vajravarahi (Dorje Phagmo (Tib.): diamond sow)
A dakini, she is the consort of Cakrasamvara. She and Vajrayogini are aspects of the same deity. Vajravarahi is marked by a sow’s head protruding above her left ear. The sow represents Vairocana buddha–ignorance and passion, dharmadhatu wisdom and compassion.
Kurukulle (Red Tara), the passionate lotus dakini, originated from the country of Uddiyana.
She is said to have emanated from the Buddha Amitabha. Among Amitabha’s three female emanations Kurukulle is the most important one. Kurukulle is often called Red Tara or Tarodbhava Kurukulle, “the Kurukulle who arises from Tara.” According to the texts, Kurukulle is a sixteen year old maiden because sixteen is an auspicious number which signifies perfection (four times four). She is red in color because of her magical function of enchantment and magnetism.
She has a single face because she embodies non-dual wisdom beyond conventional distinctions of good and evil. She is naked because she is unconditioned by discursive thoughts. She has four arms because of the four immeasurable states of mind, namely, love, compassion, joy, and equanimity. She holds an arrow stretched on a bow entwined with flowers and leaves because she can give rise to thoughts of desire in the minds of others. In her other two hands she holds the hook that attracts and summons them into her presence and the noose by which she binds them to her will. Both of these implements enable her to catch those of us who have strayed from the path of the Dharma.
Kurukulle wears a crown of five skulls signifying the five perfections, whereas she herself embodies the sixth perfection, that of wisdom. She wears a necklace of fifty freshly severed human heads dripping blood because she vanquishes the fifty negative emotions. She is dancing because she is active and energetic, her compassionate activity manifesting in both Samsara and Nirvana. She dances, treading upon a male human corpse because she enchants and subjugates the demon of ego and desire also known as Kamadeva. She stands within a flaming aura because her nature is hot and enflamed with passion and upon a lotus blossom because she is a pure vision of enlightened awareness. In the practitioner’s meditation, such is the recollection of the purity of the vision of the goddess. Usually she is one faced but can have 2, 4, 6 or 8 arms. In the 6 armed form she has six Dhyani Buddhas engraved on her crown; in the 2 armed form she is known as Sukla Kurkulla; in the 4 armed form she is known as Oddiyana Kurkulle and by several other names.
Her mantra is ‘Om Kukulle Hum Hrih Svaha’.
“Ekajati is the principal guardian of the Dzogchen teachings. Enlightened from the very beginning, Ekajati is a direct emanation of primordial wisdom, Samantabhadri, who is the feminine aspect of the primordial Buddha Samantabhadra. As the primordially enlightened one, Samantabhadri, Ekajati has all-knowing wisdom regarding the teachings of Dzogchen. Ekajati visibly manifests in a particularly wrathful form in order to subjugate the very powerful and potentially destructive class of beings called ‘mamo.’ “Ekajati” means “one tuft of hair,” which is symbolic of wisdom. What is unique about her phusical form is that she is one-eyed, one-toothed, and one-breasted. These features symbolize non-dual awareness. As chief protectress of the Dzogchen teachings, she may make contact with a terton of Dzogchen master when the time is ripe to reveal a certain teaching, or terma. Chogyal Namkhai Norbu received an invocation from Ekajati as part as a Gongter of the Mandarava practice. The sadhana is an invocation within which the practitioner asks that Mandarava clear all obstacles to total realization and provide protection on the path.”
~ from “Dream Yoga” by Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
There is a fascinating account in this book, pages 113-130, wherein Chogyal Namkha Norbu recounts a visionary dream in which Ekajati appeared and assisted in bestowing empowerment during a terma revelation.
Ekajati thangka by Dawn Lhamo.
Dorje Yudronma is a wisdom deity that manifests out of her compassion in the form of a protectress. She is one of the main Dharma protectresses of the Longchen Nyingthig, appearing to Kunkyen Longchenpa with prophetic revelations on multiple occassions.
Tsoknyi Rinpoche, The Yogini Project’s Spiritual Guide, has a special connection to Dorje Yudronma and has asked her to reside on his retreat land, Yeshe Rangsal, and help his students clear obstacles and progress on the path.
Prayer to the Protectress Dorje Yudronma
Yeshe katag tro dang trelwa ley
Rigpa osel Dorje Yudronma
Rig tsel gagmey khor ki tsok dang chey
Sol lo cho do do ton yishin drup
In primordial purity and wisdom free from elaborations,
Is the luminous awareness Dorje Yudronma,
Accompanied by her retinue, the unceasing expression of awareness.
We supplicate and make offerings. Accomplish our desires as wished!
Dorje Yudronma statue in her shrine home at Yeshe Rangsal retreat land in Crestone, Colorado. Commissioned by Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
Throma Nagmo, the Wrathful Dakini, represents the innermost secret aspect of the dakini, the feminine embodiment of wisdom. The Chod practice of Throma Nagmo provides us with an extremely powerful means to cut through the dualistic clinging of mind, the root of suffering, thus revealing our inherent wisdom nature. Foreseeing the difficulties of future times, Guru Rinpoche in his compassion revealed a rare teaching of the Black Dakini to his chief consort Yeshe Tsogyal, who later concealed this as a terma (hidden treasure teaching). This treasure was to be discovered at an appropriate time by one of the reincarnations of Guru Padmasambhava’s 25 disciples, Drogben Khyeuchung Lotsawa. Drogben Lotsawa reincarnated as Duddul Dorje, the great revitaliser of the Kathog lineage, and then later as the meditation master and terton Dudjom Lingpa (1835-1904). Dudjom Lingpa received direct transmissions of the Throma cycle in visions of Machig Labdron, Saraha, Padampa Sangye and others. He kept the practice secret for some time before teaching, but later at least thirteen of his disciples attained rainbow body through the practice of Throma Nagmo.
The practice of Throma contains the complete path of the Vajrayana, from ngondro (the preliminary practices) all the way through the Dzogchen (Great Perfection) practices of trekchod and thogal. The Throma-based practice of Chod removes obstacles, both for our short-term happiness and those hindering our ultimate enlightenment. It carries extraordinary healing power and through its practice we can accummulate merit and wisdom in a vast and rapid way. Merely making a connection to Throma practice brings great benefit and blessings.
Throma painting by Trish DeMers: Art of Wisdom Mind
Palden Lhamo is one of the Eight Dharmapalas ( chos kyo ng), wrathful protectors of the Buddhist dharma, and the only female Dharmapala. She is considered the wrathful form of Shri Devi, the wrathful Dharmapalas are usually considered to be Tantric deities. The symbols that surround Palden Lhamo, as well as her extensive retinue, are characteristic of Dharmapalas in general with a few additional symbols unique to her important role.
Palden Lhamo gained ascendancy in the Lamaist world as the personal protector of the Dalai Lama and the capital city and home of the Dalai Lamas, Lhasa . Therefore, the Gelukpa sect makes wide use of her image and she is the most frequently represented Dharmapala in Dharamsala. Palden Lhamo is pictured as a wild and energetic force that defeats the harmful force of egotism.
Palden Lhamo has many symbolic items surrounding her person. Her right hand wields the surmounted vajra ( dorje ) while in vajratarjani mudra ( dorje khrobo digdzub chag gya ). The vajra is an ancient weapon that in Tibet is thought to cleave in two the enemies of dharma. Vajratarjani mudra, a variation of tarjani mudra, is a gesture of powerful menace. Palden Lhamo’s left hand holds a skullcap full of blood and substances used in esoteric rituals, proving her tantric connections. Her garb is impressively grotesque; a diadem of five skulls, human skins, lion and snake earrings and fresh tiger skins.
There are certain items that make Palden Lhamo easily distinguishable from other Dharmapalas. In her hair she wears a moon, and near her navel a sun, symbols that are mirrored in the heavens above. Palden Lhamo’s main distinctive mark is the peacock plumage in her hair. The peacock is known to be able to consume a great deal of poison without coming to harm, therefore it symbolizes the eradication of sin, the ‘spiritual poisons’.
Palden Lhamo has an expansive retinue that is often pictured with her. Below her are five important goddesses, the Five Sisters of Long Life. They are ancient goddesses of Tibet , converted to Buddhism and integrated into Buddhist iconography. They are said to reside on Jomo gangkar , the glacier portion of the peak known to westerners as Mount Everest . The goddess above the other four is the leader of the Long Life Sisters and carries a vase with the Water of Life. Each sister has their own special vehicle and bears different items to assist beings attain long lives. The wish for long life is common in Tibetan Buddhism and it is an especially popular wish for the long life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
A Sorrowful Song to Palden Lhamo
~ by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Expanse of Great Bliss, all-pervading, free from elaborations,
with either angry or desirous forms related to those to be subdued,
You overpower the whole apparent world, Samsara and Nirvana.
Sole Mother, Lady Victorious Over the Three Worlds,
please pay attention here and now!
During numberless eons, by relying upon and accustoming Yourself to
the extensive conduct of the Bodhisattvas, which others find difficult
You obtained the power of the sublime Vajra Enlightenment;
Loving Mother, You watch and don’t miss the (right) time.
The winds of conceptuality dissolve into space.
Vajra-dance of the mind which produces all the animate and inanimate world,
as the sole friend yielding the pleasures of existence and peace,
Having conquered them all,
You are well praised as the Triumphant Mother.
By heroically guarding the Dharma and Dharma-holders, with the four types of actions, flashing like lightning
You soar up openly, like the full moon in the midst of a garland of powerful Dharma Protectors.
When from the troublesome nature of this most degenerated time
the hosts of evil omens — desire, anger, deceit — increasingly rise, even then
Your power is unimpeded, sharp, swift and limitless.
How wonderful! Longingly remembering You, O Goddess, from my heart,
I confess my broken vows and satisfy all Your pleasures.
Having enthroned You as the Supreme Protector, Greatest amongst the
Great, [I] accomplish Your appointed tasks with unflinching energy!
Fierce protecting deities and Your retinues who, in accordance with
the instructions of the Supreme Siddha, the Lotus-born Vajra, and by
the power of karma and prayers, have a close connection as Guardians
of Tibet, heighten Your majesty and increase Your powers!
All beings in the country of Tibet , although destroyed by the enemy and tormented by unbearable suffering,
Abide in the constant hope of glorious freedom.
How could they bear to not be given Your compassionate hand?
Thus please come forth to face the great murderers, the malevolent enemy.
O Lady who performs the actions of war and weapons;
Dakini, I summon You with this sorrowful song:
The time has come to bring forth
Your skill and power.
Simhamukha is a wrathful dancing dark-blue figure similar to Vajravarahi in appearance and ornaments, holding a curved knife in her right hand and skullcup in her left, except that she also has the face of a lion–hence her name in Tibetan and Sanskrit (meaning “lion-face”). Her practice was founded by female practitioner, Jetsunma Lochen.
The first historical mention of Simhamukha was at the time of the great debate in India at Nalanda. It was during the magic contest that she appeared to Padmasambhava, offering him a casket, inside of which he found her mantra AH KA SA MA RA . There are other body colors for Simhamukha, such as dark red in the Dudjom Dakini Heart Essence.
“Vasudhara is a bestower of sustenance, abundance, and lavish well-being. Her name means ‘Stream of Treasure,’ ‘Flow of Wealth,’ or ‘Shower of Gold.’ She is a rich, warm harvest gold, the color of the sun as it crests the horizon, ripening grain and fruit, and the glitter of jewelry and coins. She is as bountiful as the earth as she pours forth her treasures in whatever form her devotees require, be it agricultural fertility, wealth, or wisdom. Her golden color signifies her enriching, nourishing, and ultimately enlightening presence. Vasudhara is the doorkeeper to an invisible realm that can magically materialize riches for those who know the incantations and rites of propitiation. Her compassionate heart, overflowing with love for all beings, gives rise to an endless stream of generosity. Thus, it cannot be a mystery why, once introduced, the lady of plenty occupied a permanent place in the hearts of lay devotees and the repertoire of monastic and yogic specialists.”
~ from “Buddhist Goddesses of India” by Miranda Shaw
Tséringma protects ones longevity in terms of non-dual awareness. She is one of five sisters who once inhabited mountain peaks above glacial lakes along the southern border of Tibet. She and her sisters each have a special blessing power: long-life, wealth, magical ability, nutrition, and fortuity. The Second Buddha – Padmasambhava – subdued the five sisters and oath-bound them to the teachings as protectors. They travelled to India and received further instruction in the charnel ground called ‘Dark Noise’. They received instructions from Lopön Chog-gyi Göcha and Mahasiddha Khana. Later, the five sisters encountered Milarépa and tested him through psychological assault to discover if he was a true practitioner. They were unable to harm him – due to both their vows to Padmasambhava and the profound realisation of Milarépa. After offering his body to them, the five sisters were convinced that Milarépa was a genuine siddha. Finally he gave them instruction on Kya’i Dorje Gyüd and Lé-kyi Chagya. He then took Tséringma as his consort.
This is elaborate and clearly demonstrates the active qualities of Tséringma. She holds the yeshé mélong – wisdom mirror – in her right hand which transmits the clear nature of Mind. In her right hand she holds the vajra pike (a dri-gug blade mounted affixed to a shaft) for laying waste to the hard shell of emotional indifference which obstructs the natural awareness of sentient beings.
Tibetan: གཙུག་གཏོར་རྣམ་རྒྱལ་མ། Namgyal-ma
Sanskrit: Ushnishavijaya (Uṣṇīṣavijayā)
“Ushnishavijaya (pronounced oosh NEE shah vee jay YAH), “Victorious Queen of Crowning Light,” is an effulgent white goddess who bestows long life and grants rebirth in a Buddha paradise. She arose from the brilliant rays of light that crown Shakyamuni Buddha. The flamelike crown of light (uṣṇīṣa) is a sign of spiritual mastery, a result of the Buddha’s attainment of infinite knowledge, awareness, and vision…This crown of glory after which Ushnishavijaya is named is invisible to ordinary sight and hence signaled in artistic representations by a diadem, turban, or topknot…As an emblem of the supreme spiritual state, the ushnisha symbolizes the all-vanquishing power of omniscience, which grants victory even over death. Ushnishavijaya personifies this victorious force.
A widely circulated story of the origins of Ushnishavijaya takes place in Trayastrimsa Heaven, where Shakyamuni Buddha had sojourned to deliver a sermon before an assembly of gods and goddesses. The divine inhabitants of this heavenly realm enjoy a lengthy life space and cavort in a lighthearted manner, oblivious to the possibility of their eventual death. During Shakyamuni’s visit, a carefree young god was distressed by the news, imparted by a voice in the sky, that he was doomed to die in seven days and undergo seven rebirths. Aghast, he consulted Indra, sovereign of the gods, who used his clairvoyant vision to confirm that the godling was indeed destined soon to die and to be reborn as a dog, fox, monkey, snake, vulture, crow, and blind man.
Disturbed by his vision, Indra prostrated before Shakyamuni, spread offerings at his feet, and implored him for release from this form of suffering. The Buddha emanated brilliant rays from his crown of light, purifying all the words throughout the billion-world universe, and reabsorbed the cleansing radiance. He commenced to teach the practice of Ushnishavijaya, whose name most literally means ‘Victorious Queen of the Crown of Light.’ Yama, the lord of death and gatekeeper of the afterlife, promised to protect those who do the practice of Ushnishavijaya. The godling recited the dharani of Ushnishavijaya, enjoying a long life, and never again took a lower rebirth.
This simple and concise narrative articulates Ushnishavijaya’s primary function, a role that has endured throughout her history. According to Buddhist belief, a person’s life span comes to an end when the causal conditions sustaining that life are exhausted. However, Ushnishavijaya has the power both to prevent untimely death and to extend a life that has reached its natural end… Ushnishavijaya prolongs life through karmic purification rather than divine intervention… [Her] mantra extends life by cleansing the life stream of karmic factors that bring about death, namely, the residue of lifetimes of nonvirtuous behavior and delusion…
Ushnishavijaya has remained important in the Tibetan pantheon as a major longlife deity. Her practice falls within the Action Tantra class, which features ritual invocation rather than contemplative and yogic disciplines. She is a member of popular triad of longevity divinities known as the ‘Long-Life Trinity,’ along with Amitayus and White Tara. Any of the three may be cast as the primary figure. Thus, Ushnishavijaya appears as the main figure in some liturgies and artistic representations. The three deities share the role of bestowing long life, but each has a specialization. The esoteric yoga of Amitayus is performed to attain rebirth in Sukhavati. White Tara figures in a healing practice for curing an array of physical and psychic ailments. Ushnishavijaya is an emergency reserve system to be used when a person is seriously ill or approaching the end of life through old age. She is also invoked to prevent rebirth in the three lower realms and to assure rebirth as a human being, god, or demigod or in a Buddha-land such as Sukhavati.”
~ from “Buddhist Goddesses of India” by Miranda Shaw
Namgyalma is also regarded as one of the twenty-one Taras.
“This particular Tara is renowned as the Tara of long life, with the ability to strengthen the life force, life energy, and vitality of all sentient beings. She is also renowned for protecting beings from ngen dro, that is, falling to take rebirth in unfavorable situations or lower realms…
Why is she called the Tara of the Top Knot, or Ushnishavijaya? There is a legend that at one time, when Buddha Shakyamuni was teaching, Tara manifested right upon his crown chakra and spontaneously taught the Tara Practice. Thus, she is named Ushnisha Tara.”
~ from “Tara’s Enlightened Activity” by Khenchen Palden Sherab and Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal