Sera Khandro

Sera Khandro Dewé Dorje, aka Kunzang Dekyong Wangmo (1892-1940) — a great female tertön whose treasure texts are revered by many great Nyingma masters. She was the consort of Tulku Trimé Özer, one of the sons of the illustrious Tertön Dudjom Lingpa. She was also one of the root gurus of Chatral Rinpoche and was reborn as his daughter, Saraswati.

She was a significant female terton, revealer of treasures: Immaculate White Lotus is a biography of Padmasambhava attributed to Shelkar Dorje Tso and revealed as a terma by Sera Khandro. According to Erik Pema Kunsang, it is almost identical to Wish-Fulfilling Tree, a biography revealed by Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa.

Source: Rigpa Wiki.

350px-SeraKhandroSera Khandro Kunzang Dekyong Wangmo was born into a wealthy, politically powerful family in Lhasa. Her father, Lhase Jampa Gonpo, was descended from Mongolian royalty. Her mother, Tsering Chodzom, was from the powerful Tibetan Nub clan.

From an early age, Sera Khandro was drawn towards religion; instead of playing games with other children, she recited the six-syllable mantra and encouraged other children to practice religion. She reported that revealed her first treasure when she was seven, pulling a ritual dagger part-way out of a rock at Drak Yerpa near Lhasa. In her biography she records that throughout her life she had many visionary experiences interacting with ḍākinīs and siddhas and traveling to many extraordinary Buddhafields. (All ages from her biography have been adjusted to accord with the international standard.)

Despite Sera Khandro’s proclivity towards leading a religious life, her father insisted that she be educated in literary Chinese in order to follow his footsteps into the life of the Lhasa political elite. When she was only ten years old, her father arranged a marriage to a Chinese leader’s son, a union the religiously-minded young girl opposed. Despondent at the prospect of losing her chance to practice the dharma, Sera Khandro attempted suicide by drinking a mixture of opium and alcohol.

Traumatized by this and by the death of her beloved mother, at the age of twelve, Sera Khandro experienced a vision of Vajravārahī that changed the course of her life. Vajravārahī empowered Sera Khandro in the two Treasures that would be her life’s main teachings: The Secret Treasury of Reality Ḍākinīs and The Ḍākinīs’ Heart Essence.

Emboldened by ḍākinīs’ prophecies, Sera Khandro courageously escaped from her home and her imminent marriage to join a group of Golok pilgrims, never to return to Lhasa or see her family again. From the moment she saw the Golok pilgrims’ lama, Drime Ozer (1881-1924), great faith and devotion arose in her. Yet the road ahead was full of obstacles. Sera Khandro’s wealthy upper-class Lhasa upbringing was no match for the harsh terrain and sub-zero temperatures of life on the road as a traveling pilgrim. She nearly starved and froze to death en route to Golok.

When the group finally arrived at Dartsang, the religious encampment of Drime Ozer’s father Dudjom Lingpa (1835-1904) in the high pasture lands of Golok, Sera Khandro’s presence was met with jealous hostility from Drime Ozer’s consort Akyongza, and she was forced to live elsewhere. Sera Khandro worked as a servant girl for a local nomadic family and began her preliminary practices. Quickly, she became renowned for her diligent practice, eloquent speech, and religious devotion.

Sera Khandro later became the consort of Garra Gyelse, son of the treasure revealer Garra Terton Dudul Wangjuk Lingpa (1857-1910) of Bannak Monastery in Golok. They had two children, a daughter named Yangchen Dronma / Choying Dronma (b. 1913), and a son, Rigdzin Gyurme Dorje (1919-1924), who did not live past childhood.

Life with Gyelse proved difficult for Sera Khandro; he disapproved of Sera Khandro’s calling as a treasure revealer and forbade her from writing or propagating religious teachings. Her health worsened as she became increasingly afflicted with an arthritic condition in her legs. Meanwhile, her devotion for Drime Ozer only grew stronger. These factors contributed to Gyelse’s decision to send her back to live with Drime Ozer when she was twenty-nine years old. Sera Khandro credited her reunion with Drime Ozer with curing her of her illnesses. Together they revealed many treasures. After Drime Ozer’s death only three years later, his disciple Sotrul Natsok Rangdrol (d. 1935) invited Sera Khandro to live at his monastery in Golok named Sera Monastery, the place from which she derives her title.

Sera Khandro traveled widely throughout Golok with her attendants, the monks Tupzang and her scribe Tsultrim Dorje. Her main teachings were the treasures of Dujom Lingpa and Drime Ozer as well as her own. She died in Riwoche at the age of forty-eight.  It is said that before her body was burned, it dissolved into light until it was the size of a seven-year-old child’s body.

Sera Khandro’s main disciples include the First Adzom Drukpa Pawo Dorje and his son Gyurme Dorje and daughter Chime Wangmo; Dujom Lingpa’s sons Pema Ledrel/Drime Ozer and Dorje Dradul; the Fourth Katok Chaksa Pema Trinle Gyatso; Pelyul Gochen Tulku Jiktrel Chokyi Lodro; the Riwoche Zhabdrung Tulku Tsewang Drakpa; Abo Soge Tulku Natsok Rangdrol and Jikga Tulku from Sera Monastery in Serta; Trakya Lama Sherab Ozer, Tromge Khandro Dawa Dronma; Dzogchen Khenpo Norbu Wangyal; Chadral Sangye Dorje (b. 1913); the king and queen of Ling; and her own daughter Choying Dronma.”

Excerpt from “Love and Liberation: Autobiographical Writings of the Tibetan Buddhist Visionary Sera Khandro” by Sarah Jaboby.

Source:  Treasury of Lives.

Image: Courtesy of Jnanasukha.