Tag Archive: tibet


Goddess Srinmo

“Srinmo’s themes karma, Universal Law, excellence, sports and cycles. Her symbols are the wheel and boomerang. In Tibet, this Goddess holds the Great Round, a cosmic wheel upon which the movement of human life is recorded with each thought, word, and deed. Srinmo’s demonic visage represents the human fear of death and reminds that one should strive for good in this life for the beauty it brings now and n our next incarnation.

In Virginia, the Boomerang Festival is a festival of skill centering on the ancient boomerangs believed to have been used originally by the Egyptians.

Metaphysically speaking, the boomerang’s movement represents the threefold law and Srinmo’s karmic balance (i.e., everything you send out returns to you thrice).
To give yourself a greater understanding of this principle, or to recognize the cycles in your life that may need changing, carry any round object today, such as a coin. Put it in your pocket, saying

‘What goes around comes around.’

Pay particular attention to your routine and the way you interact with people all day, and see what Srinmo reveals to you.

For aiding the quest for enlightenment, and generally improving karma through light-filled living, try this little incantation in the car each time you make a right-hand turn today:

‘As I turn to the right,
I move closer to the Light!'”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

Today’s research comes from a fantastic piece written by  Victor & Victoria Trimondi; and the following excerpt is the story of the bondage of the earth Goddess Srinmo and the history of the origin of Tibet.  “According to Tibetan tradition, the whole Tibetan territory can be represented as a vast wild female demon lying on her back facing East and stretching her limbs all over the country. The accounts of this conception are found in several Tibetan texts that originated between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, including the famous terma-revealed chronicle Maṇi Kabum (ma ni bka’ ‘bum, 12th century) and above cited chronicle The Clear Mirror (rgyal rabs gsal ba’i me long) written by the great scholar Södnam Gyaltsen (bsod nams rgyal mtshan, 1312-1375).” [1]

“The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is considered the progenitor of the Tibetans, he thus determines events from the very beginning. In the period before there were humans on earth, the Buddha being was embodied in a monkey and passed the time in deep meditation on the ‘Roof of the World‘. There, as if from nowhere, a rock demoness by the name of Srinmo appeared. The hideous figure was a descendent of the Srin clan, a bloodthirsty community of nature Goddesses. ‘Spurred on by horniness’ — as one text puts it — She too assumed the form of a (female) monkey and tried over seven days to seduce Avalokiteshvara. But the divine Bodhisattva monkey withstood all temptations and remained untouched and chaste. As he continued to refuse on the eighth day, Srinmo threatened him with the following words: ‘King of the monkeys, listen to me and what I am thinking. Through the power of love, I very much love you. Through this power of love I woo you, and confess: If you will not be my spouse, I shall become the rock demon’s companion. If countless young rock demons then arise, every morning they will take thousands upon thousands of lives. The region of the Land of Snows itself will take on the nature of the rock demons. All other forms of life will then be consumed by the rock demons. If I myself then die as a consequence of my deed, these living beings will be plunged into hell. Think of me then, and have pity’ (Hermanns, 1956, p. 32). With this she hit the bullseye. ‘Sexual intercourse out of compassion and for the benefit of all suffering beings’ was — as we already know — a widespread ‘ethical’ practice in Mahayana Buddhism. Despite this precept, the monkey first turned to his emanation father, Amitabha, and asked him for advice. The ‘god of light from the West’ answered him with wise foresight: ‘Take the rock demoness as your consort. Your children and grandchildren will multiply. When they have finally become humans, they will be a support to the teaching’ (Hermanns, 1956, p. 32).

Nevertheless, this Buddhist evolutionary account, reminiscent of Charles Darwin, did not just arise from the compassionate gesture of a divine monkey; rather, it also contains a widely spread, elitist value judgement by the clergy, which lets the Tibetans and their country be depicted as uncivilized, underdeveloped and animal-like, at least as far as the negative influence of their primordial mother is concerned. ‘From their father they are hardworking, kind, and attracted to religious activity; from their mother they are quick-tempered, passionate, prone to jealousy and fond of play and meat’, an old text says of the inhabitants of the Land of Snows (Samuel, 1993, p. 222).

Two forces thus stand opposed to one another, right from the Tibetan genesis: the disciplined, restrained, culturally creative, spiritual world of the monks in the form of Avalokiteshvaraand the wild, destructive energy of the feminine in the figure of Srinmo.

In a further myth, non-Buddhist Tibet itself appears as the embodiment of Srinmo (Janet Gyatso, 1989, p. 44). The local demoness is said to have resisted the introduction of the true teaching by the Buddhist missionaries from India with all means at Her disposal, with weaponry and with magic, until She was ultimately defeated by the great king of law, Songtsen Gampo (617-650), an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara (and thus of the current Dalai Lama). ‘The lake in the Milk plane,’ writes the Tibet researcher Rolf A. Stein, ‘where the first Buddhist king built his temple (the Jokhang), represented the heart of the demoness, who lay upon Her back. The demoness is Tibet itself, which must first be tamed before She can be inhabited and civilized. Her body still covers the full extent of Tibet in the period of its greatest military expansion (eighth to ninth century C.E.). Her spread-eagled limbs reached to the limits of Tibetan settlement … In order to keep the limbs of the defeated demoness under control, twelve nails of immobility were hammered into Her’ (Stein, 1993, p.34). A Buddhist temple was raised at the location of each of these twelve nailings.

Mysterious stories circulate among the Tibetans which tell of a lake of blood under the Jokhang, which is supposed to consist of Srinmo’s heart blood. Anyone who lays his ear to the ground in the cathedral, the sacred center of the Land of Snows, can still — many claim — hear Her faint heartbeat. A comparison of this unfortunate female fate with the subjugation of the Greek dragon, Pythonat Delphi immediately suggests itself. Apollothe god of light (Avalokiteshvara), let the earth-monster, Python (Srinmo), live once he had defeated it so that it would prophesy for him, and built over the mistreated body at Delphi the most famous oracle temple in Greece.

The earth demoness is nailed down with phurbas. These are ritual daggers with a three-sided blade and a vajra handle. We know these already from the Kalachakra ritual, where they are likewise employed to fixate the earth spirits and the earth mother. The authors who have examined the symbolic significance of the magic weapon are unanimous in their assessment of the aggressive phallic symbolism of the phurba.

In their view, Srinmo represents an archetypal variant of the Mother Earth figure known from all cultures, whom the Greeks called Gaia (Gaea). As nature and as woman She stands in stark contrast to the purely spiritual world of Tantric Buddhism. The forces of wilderness, which rebel against androcentric civilization, are bundled within Her. She forms the feminine shadow world in opposition to the masculine paradise of light of the shining Amitabha and his radiant emanation son, AvalokiteshvaraSrinmo symbolizes the (historical) prima materia, the matrix, the primordial earthly substance which is needed in order to construct a tantric monastic empire, then She provides the gynergy, the feminine élan vitale, with which the Land of Snows pulsates. As the vanquisher of the earth Goddess, Avalokiteshvara triumphs in the form of King Songtsen Gampo, that is, the same Bodhisattva who, as a monkey, earlier engendered with Srinmo the Tibetans in myth, and who shall later exercise absolute dominion from the ‘Roof of the World’ as Dalai Lama.

Tibet’s sacred center, the Jokhang (the cathedral of Lhasa), the royal chronicles inform us, thus stands over the pierced heart of a woman, the earth mother Srinmo. This act of nailing down is repeated at the construction of every Lamaist shrine, whether temple or monastery and regardless of where the establishment takes place — in Tibet, India, or the West. Then before the first foundation stone for the new building is laid, the tantric priests occupy the chosen location and execute the ritual piercing of the earth mother with their phurbas. Tibet’s holy geography is thus erected upon the maltreated bodies of mythic women, just as the tantric shrines of India (the shakta pithas) are found on the places where the dismembered body of the Goddess Sati fell to earth.

Srinmo with different Tibetan temples upon her body

In contrast to Her Babylonian sister, Tiamat, who was cut to pieces by Her great-grandchild, Marduk, so that outer space was formed by Her limbs, Srinmo remains alive following Her subjugation and nailing down. According to the tantric scheme, Her gynergy flows as a constant source of life for the Buddhocratic system. She thus vegetates — half dead, half alive — over centuries in the service of the patriarchal clergy. An interpretation of this process according to the criteria of the gaia thesis often discussed in recent years would certainly be most revealing. (We return to this point in our analysis of the ecological program of the Tibetans in exile.) According to this thesis, the mistreated ‘Mother Earth’ (Gaia is the popular name for the Greek earth mother) has been exploited by humanity (and the gods?) for millennia and is bleeding to death. But Srinmo is not just a reservoir of inexhaustible energy. She is also the absolute Other, the foreign, and the great danger which threatens the Buddhocratic state. Srinmo is — as we still have to prove — the mythic ‘inner enemy’ of Tibetan Lamaism, while the external mythic enemy is likewise represented by a woman, the Chinese Goddess Guanyin.

Srinmo survived — even if it was under the most horrible circumstances, yet the Tibetans also have a myth of dismemberment which repeats the Babylonian tragedy of Tiamat. Like many peoples they worship the tortoise as a symbol of Mother Earth. A Tibetan myth tells of how in the mists of time the Bodhisattva Manjushri sacrificed such a creature ‘or the benefit of all beings’. In order to form a solid foundation for the world he fired an arrow off at the tortoise which struck it in the right-hand side. The wounded animal spat fire, its blood poured out, and it passed excrement. It thus multiplied the elements of the new world. Albert Grünwedel presents this myth as evidence for the “tantric female sacrifice” in the Kalachakra ritual: ‘The tortoise which Manjushri shot through with a long arrow … [is] just another form of the world woman whose inner organs are depicted by the dasakaro vasi figure [the Power of Ten]’ (Grünwedel, 1924, vol. II, p. 92).

The relation of Tibetan Buddhism to the Goddess of the earth or of the country (Tibet) is also one of brutal subjugation, an imprisonment, an enslavement, a murder or a dismemberment. Euphemistically, and in ignorance of the tantric scheme of things it could also be interpreted as a civilizing of the wilderness through culture. Yet however the relation is perceived — no meeting, no exchange, no mutual recognition of the two forces takes place. In the depths of Tibet’s history — as we shall show — a brutal battle of the sexes is played out.” [2]

Well damn…who knew??  I really had no idea how misogynistic Buddhism was until it was brought to my attention back in mid June of this year.  A person had shared several links with me and to be honest, it was very unsettling.  One relevant link that was shared I will share here in this entry is entitled Thai Buddhism and Patriarchy by Ouyporn Khuankaew.

“Although many people believe Buddhism is an ‘egalitarian’ religion, the fact will remain that sexism/gender bias has been a very integral part of the faith for many centuries. Overall, there is less virulent anti-woman bigotry within Buddhism than many other religions, especially the Abrahamic cultus of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but misogyny and chauvinism have been apparent enough in the Eastern faiths as well, including the Buddhist.” [3]

Man, way to pop my happy little Zen bubble, huh?

 

 

 

Sources: 

Murdock, D.M. Examiner.com, “Women in Buddhism“.

Sehnalova, Anna. 4shared.com, “The Myth of the ‘Supine Demoness’“.

Trimondi, Victor & Victoria. Trimondi.de, “2. The Dalai Lama (Avalokiteshvara) and the Demoness (Srinmo)“.

Suggested Links:

Cabezón, José Ignacio. Thlib.org, “Pabongkha Hermitage“.

O’Neill, Brendan. Reason.com, “The Truth About Tibetan Buddhism“.

Trimondi, Victor & Victoria. Trimondi.de, “Part I – 1. Buddhism and misogyny – an historical overview“.  (Here is a link to the Contents page)

Visitourchina.com, “History of Jokhang Temple“.

Wikipedia, “Women in Buddhism“.

Ratna Dakinis

“Ratna Dakini” by Phyllis Glanville

“The Ratna Dakinis’ themes are banishing, victory, kindness and Karma. Their symbols are the color yellow.  In Tibet, these Goddesses rule over all gestures of goodness and compassion, which naturally help improve Karma. Collectively, their name means ‘inestimable,’ showing us the true power and value in acts of kindness that are driven by a pure heart.

The The Hemis Festival includes a ritual playing which all manner of mythic creatures are poised against the Tibetan lamas, symbolizing the battle between good and evil.  Bells, censers, cymbals and drums draw in positive magic, banish evil and win the fight for Ratna Dakinis’ goodness. In keeping with this idea, string together some yellow-colored brass bells for a Ratna Dakinis house amulet. Hold these in your hand and empower them by saying,

‘Let you goodness ring, let purity sing, with each wind Ratna Dakinis’ blessing bring!’

Hang these where they will catch the wind regularly, releasing the magic.

Wear something yellow today to keep Ratna Dakinis in mind so that your actions will be gentle and filled with kindness. Do something nice for someon who’s been feeling blue lately, ‘just beause.’ Give them some yellow flowers, offer a hug, or maybe make an extra bell amulet for them too! This boosts good Karma, makes both of you feel good and invoks Ratna Dakinis’ blessings through thoughtfulness.”

(Patricia Telesco, “365 Goddess: a daily guide to the magic and inspiration of the goddess”.)

“Golden Dakini” by A. Andrew Gonzalez

“The term Dakini is Sanskrit. It’s Tibetan equivalent is Khadrokha meaning ‘sky’ and dro meaning to ‘go’. Taking it together, Khadro means one who can move through the sky.  It’s very important we think about this literal meaning in trying to understand Dakinis. Now, all dakinis are portrayed in female form — there male counterpart being called dakas. There are enlightened dakinis and unenlightened dakinis.

The unenlightened dakinis are termed worldly dakinis because they are still caught in the cyclic world of samsara. Worldly dakinis are found in human form as well as in astral (lunar) form and could have a form of a beautiful fairy-like being or a demonic flesh-eating being. An example of a worldly dakini are the Five evil Tseringma sisters Padma Sambhava tamed (control) into protectors. Another example of a worldly dakini is a celestial messenger falling into the category of a protector bodhisattva performing beneficial actions. Another example might be a great human practitioner that has accomplished some insight but who is not yet released from suffering.

The enlightened dakinis are the Wisdom Dakinis. They have passed beyond samsara into liberation and an example of an enlightened dakini would be any one of the female yidam or one of the female consorts to the Five Dhyana Buddhas.

Art by Penny Slinger

There are five families of Worldly and Wisdom Dakinis: Vajra Dakinis, Ratna Dakinis, Padma Dakinis, Karma Dakinis, and Buddha Dakinis. And both the worldly dakinis and wisdom dakinis can have supernatural powers. You may recall the story of Tilopa where he encountered a number of various dakinis. The worldly dakinis who had control over sight and sound bombarded him with mirages after which he met the dakinis embodying the five activities and finally he met with the wisdom dakini in the heart of the mandala.

The dakinis are born in three manners: 1) Spontaneously enlightened ones arise from Sabogakaya‘s unfoldment from Dharmakaya. Example of these Dakinis being Tara and Vajrayogini. 2)Those born in heavenly realms. Those who are born from within the heavenly realms and those who reach the heavenly realms though their own attainment. 3)Finally, those born by realization of mantra. These are humans who have reached various levels of inner realization.

So, as you can see, there are many different types and levels of dakinis. Dakinis in general can be a guiding light along the path removing physical and spiritual hindrances. They can play a great part in an individual’s attainment of enlightenment. They are the forces that awaken dormant qualities of spiritual impulses hidden in the subconscious. It is the dakini’s inspirational influence that can open one and remove obstacles. But, it is the Wisdom Dakinis that we should be interested in learning about and who we can rely on to truly release us from samsara.” [1]

Ratna Dakini

“The Ratna (Precious) Dakinis represent South, grandness and compassion.” [2] The family is Ratna Family, or the jeweled family, have the following associations:

  • The color is golden yellow.
  • The element is earth.
  • The symbol is the jewell.
  • The afflicted pattern is arrogance, pride; which covered feeling of inadequacy, not being good enough, creating greed, consuming hunger, consuming of all kinds.
  • The wisdom is of fundamental reality, the reality of equality, which is the same energy when the struggle is released.  Release of all self-advancements, self-importance and over barring attitudes to a relaxed state of equanimity and generosity, like the earth.
  • The Ratna Dakini has full body, has good sense of humour, and likes bright colours. Her knife is ornamented with the jewell. In Her left hand She holds the scull cup, with nectar of knowledge brimming out of it. In the crook of her left arm is the Katvanga staff – the inner consort. She is golden. Wisdom flames of equanimity and unchanging stillness emanate from Her body.
  • The seed syllable is – “RI”      [3]

 

 

Sources:

A Buddhist Library, “The Dakini Principle“.

Bundyuk, Maryna Brij. Creative Seedlings.com, “Meditation in the Mandala of the 5 Dakinis, the Enlightened Feminine“.

Chinaroad Löwchen. Tibetan Goddess Names, “Dakinis,the“.

 

 

Suggested Links:

Buddha Nature.com, “The Vajra Dakini“.

Dakini Yogini Central, “Five Wisdom Dakini“.

Labdron, Machik. Machik’s Complete Explanation: Clarifying the Meaning of Chod (Tsadra Foundation).

Shaw, Miranda. Buddhist Goddesses of India.

Shaw, Miranda. Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Trantric Buddhism.

Simmer-Brown, Judith. “Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism“.

Vajranatha.com, “Wisdom Dakinis, Passionate and Wrathful“.

Wikipedia, “Dakini“.

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