Stories about resurrection are told all over the world, so it must still happen, even today. Perhaps the most famous of all Tibetan resurrection stories is about a woman called Nangsa Obum.

Nangsa Obum was a very beautiful, kind young girl whose only wish was to practise the Dharma. One day, a wealthy man, enchanted by her beauty, tricked her into marrying his son. Not long after the marriage, Nangsa Obum was given the keys of the family storehouse and put in charge of running the household.

Her sister-in-law was furious! Her jealousy and anger led her not only to beat Nangsa Obum savagely but also to accuse her of having an affair. Infuriated, Nangsa Obum’s husband battered his wife to death.

Once she was dead, Nangsa Obum saw the blissful realms where the virtuous are reborn and the eighteen hells that are reserved for the non-virtuous. Suddenly, she found herself standing before the Lord of Death – she was very nervous. But it was clear to the Lord of Death that Nangsa Obum was a great dakini and that she was entirely pure and blameless. Knowing that she would be of great benefit to the living, he sent her back to her body which, on the advice of a local astrologer, had been laid in a cave on a mountainside.

Before long, Nangsa Obum was found by her husband’s servants and returned to her family home. Everyone was delighted and sincerely apologized for their treatment of her. She stayed with them for a while, but as none of the family was genuinely interested in the Dharma she begged to be allowed to return to her parents’ home. Reluctantly, her husband and his family let her go.

At home, Nangsa Obum told her parents about everything that had happened to her. They welcomed her back and all seemed well until her mother realized that Nangsa would never listen to her advice about family life and children. In a fit of anger, threw her daughter out of the house. Far from being upset, Nangsa saw it as the opportunity she had been waiting for to devote all her time to the Dharma. She made her way to the nearest monastery and insisted on being admitted. At first, the lama refused, but when Nangsa threatened to kill herself if she was turned away, the lama allowed her join the monastery and she was initiated into the Tantric path. After three months of retreat she attained realization.

By this time, Nangsa’s husband’s family had discovered that she was living at Sera Yalung Monastery and set off with an army to kill all the monks, destroy the monastery and reclaim Nangsa. A terrible battle ensued. Many monks were slaughtered and even more were wounded. Just as the family was about to murder the lama, he flew into the air, magically revived the dead, healed the wounded and began berating the great lords and their army for their treatment of Nangsa and for not practising the Dharma. He then asked Nangsa to reveal her realization for everyone to see, which she did. The entire family were utterly ashamed of themselves, lay down their arms and instantly vowed to follow the Dharma.

This mass conversion was the talk of the region. Soon Nangsa’s parents heard about all that had happened and they too dedicated the rest of their lives to practising the Dharma.

Source: Living is Dying by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

Image of a Tibetan Girl by Wilvin Pedersen,