NEW TRANSLATIONS: Supplication Prayers by HE 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche

Happy to share for free download here two new translations of supplication prayers composed by HE 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche. The two supplications are about great Kagyu masters, but also holders of the Shentong, empty-of-other, view.  The Karmapas and Tai Situs (in particular the 8th Tai Situpa) were both propounders and teachers of Shentong, which I will write about more in due course.

The first was composed for HH 16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje, when Rinpoche was giving the Kangyur transmission at Rumtek Monastery, download pdf here..

The second was composed for HE 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche, at the request of Tai Situ’s personal attendant, Lama Tenam, download pdf here..


May it be of benefit and may we all develop devotion and inspiration for authentic lamas and Dharma.

Tāranātha and his Indian tantric master Buddhaguptanātha

Buddhaguptanātha (1514-1610), an Indian tantric master, (16th century) was a very important teacher for Jonang and Shangpa Kagyu master and lineage holder, Tāranātha.  His life was  recorded in extensive detail by Tāranātha who wrote his biography around the year 1601. In 1590, Buddhaguptanātha visited Tibet.   In fact,  Tāranātha’s well-known account of ‘The History of Buddhism in India’ is largely based on what this Indian master taught him.  According to various scholarly and primary sources, Tāranātha received over 500 different teachings on the Highest Yoga Tantra from Buddhagupta. In this brief note, I collect together some of the research and translation that has been done on their connection, including a particularly inspiring description of Buddhagupta by Tāranātha.

David Templeman, who has translated and written much about both the life of Buddhagupta and Tāranātha reports in Buddhaguptanatha and the Late Survival of the Siddha Tradition in India:

When Buddhaguptanātha was seventy-six years old, he met the young, nearly sixteen-year-old Tibetan monk Tāranātha, on one of his travels into Tibet. The story goes that Tāranātha had dreams preceding this event, on the second day of the eighth Hor month (1590). Already something of a prodigy, he dreamed while in meditation retreat at Mahabodhi near Narthang, that he was encouraged to eat a piece of human flesh and that he was suffused with bliss as a consequence. He also dreamed that he was able to fly in the sky and had become a vidyadhara. The following day, the south Indian Buddhaguptanatha arrived at Mahabodhi, semi-naked and with his hair bedecked with yellow flowers. Buddhaguptanātha described his journey into Tibet to Tāranātha, and the young acolyte was especially impressed with the account of all Tibet’s local spirits coming to meet the siddha and of the mountains along the way bowing their peaks towards him.

Buddhaguptanātha commenced, at Tāranātha’s request, to teach him all he knew. Thus began the transmission of the vast knowledge that Tāranātha was to use throughout the rest of his life. After forty-six years of peregrination around India, central Asia and south-east Asia, Buddhaguptanatha brought with him to Tibet a huge awareness of the geography and history of the places he had visited in person and those that he had heard about from fellow ascetics. It is precisely these aspects that stand out in Tāranātha’s writings as the cornerstones of the factual validity for which his writings are renowned. Tāranātha is hailed by Tibetan and Indian scholars as the most accurate of all those who recorded the history of Buddhism in India.

According to Tāranātha himself, he did not simply rely on his memory to recall the facts. He wrote notes and comments on all the data that he received orally, and it is presumably from these notes and jottings that he was able to so accurately compile his later works. Works that depended completely on that very sense of detail for much of their validity. He used lists as an aid to memory, most of them apparently based on alphabetical lists and mnemonic devices. As Tāranātha writes:

I wrote notes, I wrote addenda lists to my notes and I ensured that these were not fragmentary or careless. Whatever teachings he gave me I wrote them all down on paper.

Buddhaguptanātha did not stay long in Tibet though, according to Templeman:

After a few months in Tibet, Buddhaguptanatha would not promise to stay any longer, despite Taranatha’s entreaties. There is no clear reason given for the rift between them, but there are clues to be found in Tāranātha’s Secret Biography. In a dream Tāranātha had at Samding, he saw a complex mandala of pandits including Aryadeva, and siddhas including Matangi. Tāranātha felt that he had now ‘joined’ that lineage, at which thought a young maiden appeared from out of the mandala and told him that he still possessed a huge amount of dualistic thought and pride and thereby insulted the yogic tradition. In Tāranātha’s biography of Buddhaguptanatha, it is simply said that Tāranātha was told that he had too much dualistic thought and that no more teachings were to be made available to him. Even Buddhagupta’s students Nirvanasripada and Purnavajrapada, who visited some years later, refused to ‘complete’ Buddhaguptanatha’s teachings. When Tāranātha requested that they do so, they left hurriedly!

The Third Panchen Lama also wrote about Buddhaguptanatha’s sudden leaving and ‘incomplete transmission’ stating that this fault was pointed out because of Tāranātha’s partiality towards the teachings of Dolpopa and that he had expressed some displeasure and disatisfaction with the core teachings of Nāgārjuna and his followers (see TEMPLEMAN 2009, Chapter 5).

Whatever the truth maybe, Tāranātha’s description of his remarkable Indian teacher is inspiring to say the least and worth quoting in full:

The signs and marks of his accomplishment as a yogin were plainly visible to ordinary eyes. Half the day he remained [in a state] whereby he cut off the flow of his breath, and at practically all times he stayed naked. Not only did he not experience any harm from this, but his immediate entourage, within a two meter radius, could feel an intense heat, by means of which he was able to protect others from the cold. By cutting off the flow of his breath through mouth and nostrils, he was able to make appear to his eyes and ears whatever he wanted. Also, his feet did not sink on water. He was standing about two fingers above the ground and his bodily splendor would touch every object and remain there for a long time. He possessed the power of seeing others’ secret designs, in a supernatural way knowing others’ minds. His body was light: he would jump down from (a height of) two or three stories, and like a skin that had been flung down, he landed gently like a feather. He would climb up a steep mountain as if it were flat land. Poison, quicksilver and the like were unable to harm his body. As his mind was abiding in steady loving kindness, dogs and even ferocious carnivores would lick his body and in other ways show their affection. Ravens, little birds and so forth would alight on his lap or onto the tips of his fingers. They didn’t flee when he patted them, but remained where they were, obviously happy. At the time of bestowing an empowerment, he was able to make the wisdom actually descend. In the presence of worthy candidates he would show miraculous occurrences of various kinds, such as radiating light into the maṇḍala. He stood in no need for the food of humans. He lived on foods offered to him by non-human beings. When he was engaged in one-pointed deity yoga, the appearances of the present were really cut off and he was one endowed with the wisdom of at all times viewing everything outer and inner as devoid of any basis and as self-liberated. We with the scope similar to that of mayflies, how could we possibly evaluate the limit of his outstanding qualities of body, speech and mind? (Taken from his biography at Treasury of Lives).

Jonang Tāranātha (1575-1635). 2008. Grub chen buddha gupta’i rnam thar rje btsun nyid kyi zhal lung las gzhan du rang rtog gi dri mas ma sbags pa’i yi ge yang dag pa. In Gsung ‘bum/_tA ra nA tha, vol. 34, pp. 126-158. Beijing: Krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang. TBRC W1PD45495. See also TBRC W22277.

TEMPLEMAN, DAVID (2002) Buddhaguptanatha and the Late Survival of the Siddha Tradition in India, see:

TEMPLEMAN, DAVID (2007) Becoming Indian : a study of the life of the 16-17th century Tibetan Lama, Tāranātha. PhD Monash University, 2009.

DRIME, SHERAB, “Buddhagupta-nātha,” Treasury of Lives,

NEW TRANSLATION: Praise and Supplication to the 16th Karmapa, by HE Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche

Here is a new translation of a short praise and supplication to HH 16th Karmapa, composed by HE 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche in 2017, during his transmission of the Kangyur at Rumtek Monastery. Free download as .pdf here.

The 16th Karmapa was one of the root lamas of 10th Sangye Nyenpa (the other being HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche), who recognised him at the age of 3 and brought him to Rumtek where he lived and studied for many years. Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche spoke about his own life experience recently and his connection with the 16th Karmapa:

For that reason, once at the age of three, Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje gave me the name, saying I am the incarnation of Sangye Nyenpa, the supreme Vajradhara, Kyabje Khyentse Rinpoche said, “You must definitely go to Rumtek”. So I went to Karmapa’s residence in Gangtok, Sikkim. By the age of six, Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje taught me the alphabet. At first, the one who taught me the alphabet was Karmapa himself. I must have such a merit. I am so fortunate.

From the point of view of the world, Karmapa Rigpe Dorje didn’t give me at all the privileges of Sangye Nyenpa. When I think on the room, I lived in number 7. That’s it: a monk’s room; neither the room of a tulku nor the house of a tulku. Rather, the mediocre room of a monk. When we had to go to the toilet, it was a five minute walk away. Now, when the room was in need of repair, I moved down to room number ten and there I lived. Kitchen? That was it. Dining room? That was it. Bedroom? That was it. It was there I slept. That’s it.

The one who cared for me, who kept an eye on me was the one who is still with me, the old monk Tenam himself. Back then we also had another old monk with us. He passed away when I was about thirteen years old. He taught me the alphabet. Once he taught me spelling, I went through the Pema Kathang thirteen times. As for skills in spelling and reading, I went through Chagmed’s Mountain Retreat Manual for fourteen times; spelling the words. I went through quite a bit of hardship. It was tough.

As for livelihood, we had to manage by ourselves. The old monk himself would go all around begging. He would carry a big bag saying, ”Please, please, give me some rice”. Livelihood was a problem. My parents were poor. It was hard to survive. Then the old monk passed away when I was thirteen and Tenam himself, took over in undergoing those hardships.

Needless to mention the kindness with me of the great Vajradhara, Kyabje Khyentse Rinpoche. Whenever there was an empowerment, an oral transmission or pith instructions, he immediately would order me to go. He would send someone. That is how I had the chance of requesting many profound teachings and pith instructions.

But apart from that, Tenam would say, “Whether it be Nyingma, Sakya or Gelug lamas, we must request teachings from them”. And he would hold me by the hand and take me, saying, ”They have pith instructions”, ‘There will be an oral transmission”, “There will be an empowerment.”One must request for empowerment” ”One must ask for pith instructions”. At times he would be gentle, at times he would slap me. Hey, one has to do so, right? So, he would take me here and there using various means, gentle and tough. He was very kind. That is how things went thanks to his kindness.

Livelihood was hard in my childhood. Other than those like us, there were many wealthy lamas and tulkus at Rumtek. They were all among the wealthy class. Food too, would come down from Karmapa’s quarters to them. We got it from the labrang. As for my own sustenance, I had to look for myself.

So Tenam himself had to strive. He would buy goods from Gangtok; those fake ones. Put a number on them. Then, when Westerners came, he would sell the goods fooling them saying they were old. And he would use the money for our needs. We had to buy pechas to study, right? We had expenses going around, right? When requesting for empowerments and instructions, we had to travel, and far, right? That much he strived.

Then, one day, Karmapa Rigpe Dorje forbid anyone who stayed at the monastery in Rumtek to do business. Nevertheless, he gave permission to the old monk Tenam to continue. Now you all know this well. Not all who were at Rumtek have died. He didn’t say “Tenam”. He said, “akama” (translator´s note: akama – a reference to a person or thing that is useless or worthless). Gyalwang Karmapa was from Derge, right? From Denma Khog. So, he said, ”Let this akama do business. It is for the sake of that tulku. Let him do business, don’t stop him”.

So he kept on doing business. Whenever he heard a scooter coming up the hill he would hide something under his zen and hurry to meet them. “It’s a hundred.” It’s two hundreds”. Back then it was a hundred or two. Now we would be talking of a hundred thousand. It was powerful. So, that is how he went around doing business. And the profit from the sales was spent in my learning of the performance of the liturgies and obtaining the pith instructions from the Tantras.

By age seventeen, I had learnt by heart the Tantric studies that were meant to. When Karmapa Rigpe Dorje was still alive, there was the custom of being told at that point that the learning of the liturgy was over and one was appointed as the liturgy leader. The day came when I was appointed as such and Rigpe Dorje bestowed the robes. That day fell on the luck day of Karmapa Rigpe Dorje: Wednesday. It also coincided with the occasion of placing the golden badges over the temple. It was an auspicious coincidence and I was fortunate in that he was pleased with that.

Regarding livelihood, Rigpe Dorje gave nothing to me. He didn’t give me food. He didn’t give me a place to stay. From the point of view of the world I had my fair share of ups and downs. I would be considered poor, right? When I look back now, I see there is no better way of management than that. When I compare myself to others, those who lived in their own residences, those who received their food from above, there are already many of whom one doesn’t know where they have gone. On the other hand, we, the poor, remained in the bottom and at that time, we had the opportunity of getting teachings such as these, the chance of meeting many lamas, of requesting pith instructions.

I didn’t say I have clairvoyance nor that I have received a prediction nor that I am commissioned with a high duty nor that I had pure visions. Rather, I am saying I studied with my teachers starting from the alphabet and spelling, that I had nothing to eat, nothing to drink. I had to strive in my ignorance and that that strife brings about a result.

That is my whole point. If one does not put effort, remains content in one’s importance, wealth and power, one will likely have little learning. I can tell you it is an obstacle to one’s pursue of the trainings and to requesting teachings and pith instructions from all teachers. And that is a bad circumstance. On the other hand, there is an advantage in one remaining as any other monk while one is studying, just as an ordinary monk. I grew up living in rooms number seven and ten, side by side with the other monks and completed my studies together, too.

When I studied in the Shedra, I had to carry with me the cushion. One has to carry one’s cushion, right? And if one leaves it there then where will one sit when studying in the room? Once the class was over I myself carried my cushion. The support for the text, I too had to carry. I didn’t have an assistant. It was just Tenam. Sometimes he could not go. Sometimes he could. If he didn’t go, I had to carry the things by myself, so I would take some on my head.

He was very kind. He himself underwent hardships, too. He was tenacious. Doing as he did, he made me have similar experiences. So, what was the reason – sort of advantage – of doing so? I had the opportunity of meeting many lamas and spiritual friends and request teachings, request pith instructions and receive oral transmissions and empowerments from them. That is sort of the advantage, right? Even though I had a hard time in my childhood, even though I considered it a misfortune, the misfortune turned out to be an aid. I had the opportunity of requesting instructions.

If, instead, you keep on living in one of those called small residences, who keeps getting their food from above, who keeps on carrying a big name, someone like that is likely not to have much chance of requesting pith instructions. You have to keep telling yourself, ”There’s no one like me”, right?”

Excerpt from biographical account on

Jetsun Tāranātha on the meaning of ‘three confidences’

New post on this website about the meaning of the ‘three confidences’ (yi ches ldan gsum) according to Jetsun Tāranātha.  With exclusive new excepts from his his major commentary on the Kālacakra tradition and practises, A Hundred Blazing Lights: A Supplementary Commentary on Meaningful to See, Instructions on the Profound Path of Vajra-yogas. See here.

May it be of benefit!

Do not buy E-Edition/Kindle of ‘Taranatha’s Commentary on the Heart Sutra’ or ‘Chariot that Transports to the Four Kayas’

It has been kindly brought to my attention today that several people who bought the e-edition/Kindle on of Taranatha’s Commentary on the Heart Sutra (LTWA, 2017) were dissatisfied with the legibility and typesetting in the book. I am sorry to hear this as I have not seen or have any input or responsibility for this electronic edition. This is the responsibility of the publisher, the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. As they are the publisher of this e-edition, I have now written to them and asked them to remove it from publication and sale until it is amended and improved to an acceptable and professional standard. I have also asked today to remove it from my Amazon author/translator page.

Although I am very grateful to the LTWA for the publication of this text, I am planning to do a new published second edition of this text, as not only has the first edition almost sold out,  but I wish to correct small publication errors and typos in the hard copy edition too. I will update this website and Facebook page of news when that happens. For now, until then,  I would advise people not to buy ANY online/Kindle edition of my work, unless advertised by me as being authorised by me, and to purchase only the paperback copy edition. Also, please do contact the LTWA Publications Department about any issues you have had with the current e-edition.

For the record, I receive no royalties or payment from the LTWA or, for the sales of this work. I had agreed that all royalties and profit would go to the publisher, LTWA.

Thanks for the feedback!

PART ONE: The Dagpo Kagyu unbroken lineage of Dro/Jonang Kālacakra

New research on the unbroken Dagpo Kagyu lineage of Dro/Jonang Kalacakra. I am currently translating a ‘Supplication to the Kālacakra Lineage’ by Kagyu and Rime Tibetan Buddhist master, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye.  Kongtrul himself was considered to be an incarnation of Jonang master, Jetsun Tāranātha, as was his great friend and teacher, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. Therefore, I was very happy to come across a recently published (yet untranslated) book on Kālacakra, The Blue Sapphire Jewel:  History of Kālacakra, by contemporary Tibetan Kagyu Kālacakra teacher, Khenpo Donyo Lodro Rinpoche. It details the unbroken lineage that passed the Kālacakra down to the Dagpo Kagyu via Jonang masters, such as Tāranātha, to Jamgon Lodro Thaye to the present day.

Part one is the unbroken Dagpo Kagyu lineage. Part two is the lineage that came from Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye.

For more information see here.



As an offering to the guru, I newly translated this long-life prayer for HH 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, this afternoon after receiving the text for the first time today at Gyuto Monastery, Dharamsala, India at the 17th Karmapa’s birthday commemoration.

It was composed at the request of Rumtek, Sherab Ling and Ralang monasteries, by HH 14th Dalai Lama in 1997.

May it be of benefit and may HH 17th Gyalwang Karmapa’s life be long and stable and his activities be free of obstacles! All mistakes are mine…..

Free .pdf download here.

New Translation: ‘Supplication to the Kālacakra Lineage’ by Jetsun Tāranātha

Happy to announce this new, and first-time published, English translation of Jetsun Tāranātha’s Supplication to the Kālacakra lineage (dus kyi ‘khor lo’i brgyud ‘debs),  that has been transmitted to, and maintained predominantly by, the Jonang and Kagyu tradition to this day. This text will also be included in a new e-book publication ‘The Kālacakra History and Lineage by Jetsun Tāranātha’, Adele Tomlin, 2019 (information about this will be posted on the site soon).

Tāranātha wrote three such lineage supplications, one to the Kālacakra lineage, one to the six-yogas lineage and another to the Empty-of-Other (gzhan stong) lineage. The six-yogas supplication was previously translated by Michael Sheehy in 2006 (see but it is shorter and a list of names, and the footnotes and are not extensive.

This supplication is slighter longer and more detailed, and I have also given  extensive footnotes on the main lineage masters, up to the section of text written by Tāranātha.  The Tibetan script is included for those who wish to read it in the original language. The text I used for the translation is a beautifully illustrated Dzamthang edition, of which I have included a picture within the text itself.

It is available for free download, here: Supplication to Kalacakra Lineage by Jetsun Taranatha.

May it be of benefit and may the Kālacakra lineage and teachings flourish!


On the meaning and translation of Shentong – a modern debate?

A modern, scholarly debate?

I was recently involved in an online ‘debate’ with two renowned scholars of Tibetan Buddhism,  Michael Sheehy and Klaus-Dieter Mathes, regarding their translation of the philosophical term, shentong (gzhan stong) as ‘the other-emptiness’, see here and here. This translation is given as the title of their forthcoming collection on this topic.  Sheehy had asked people to comment on the cover of the book and so I decided to comment on the title of it as being a an unsuitable translation. This led to a message exchange between myself and Mathes, in which he defended the translation.  Mathes informed me that:

I have never seen something better. You seem to miss the profundity of translation. Stong can be sometimes short for Stong Nyid , which is the case when you conceive of gzhan stong as a noun. The boundary between adjective and noun are more fluent in agglutinating ergative languages than in Indo European languages. Moreover there is a tendency to shorten groups of four syllables to groups of two in Tibetan.  In his Bden gnyis gsal ba’i nyi ma, Dol po pa distinguishes rang stong and gzhan stong with reference to MAV I.20 (Nagao 1964:26): “The non-existence of a person and phenomena is emptiness with regard [to the first 14 types of emptiness]. The true existence of their non-existence is another emptiness.” (pudgalasyātha dharmāṇām abhāvaḥ śūnyatātra hi / tadabhāvasya sadbhāvas tasmin sā śūnyatā parā).  So here you have your “other emptiness” (śūnyatā parā).

Even though I don’t agree that settles the matter, it is a clear, reasoned defence of ‘the other emptiness’ as a direct translation. However, a couple of days later, the co-editor, Sheehy told me (unaware it seems of Mathes’ thoughts about the title) to tell me and everyone lese that the title was a ‘play on words’ and that it was not intended to be a direct translation of shentong:

It is a play on words. Kinda cheeky. A reference to it being other than the normative presentations, i.e. rangtong.

Which is all well and good but that directly contradicts what Mathes said about it.   When I then responded that Mathes had defended it as a direct translation, and never even mentioned it as a ‘play on words’, Mathes told me to check his messages again and that he had not said it was a direct translation.  As a result of my then sharing his defence of the translation, I was subsequently unfriended by Mathes.

The translation of shentong as ‘the other emptiness’ was also used as the title by Lama Tony Duff in his 2014 book, see here.

Shentong as meaning ‘empty-of-other’

Although I am no great scholar at all, and I respect much scholarly work that has been done on this topic (in particular that of Mathes), I wanted to write a short note, as to why I think the  translation ‘the other-emptiness’ is not suitable as a direct translation of shentong.  I will base my explanations on the studies I have done on the subject since 2014, which culminated in the publication ‘Tāranātha’s Commentary on the Heart Sutra (2017), a shentong commentary.  Generally speaking, my Tibetan sources are Jonang (Tāranātha and Dolopopa) or Kagyu (the Karmapas and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye).

The Tibetan word Shentong (ghzan stong) is composed of two terms shen (gzhan) meaning ‘other’ and tong (stong) meaning empty. The word ‘emptiness’ in Tibetan is tongpa nyi (stong pa nyid), the nyi adding the ‘ness’ or ‘itself’ onto the adjective.   In terms of the explanations of shentong by  great shentong masters, such as Dolpopa, Tāranātha and Jamgon Kongtrul, the meaning is clear. ‘Other’ means ‘all dualistic, conditioned, impermanent phenomena of the five aggregates’; as in all the phenomena that are considered to be empty-of-self (rang tong: rang stong).  ‘Self’ there means ‘inherent identity/existence’.

As Tāranātha states clearly in his Shentong commentary on the Heart Sutra, there are five passages in the Heart Sutra that clearly teach the shentong view.  According to Tāranātha, the famous passage : ‘form is empty, emptiness is form (gzugs stong pa’o/ stong pa nyid gzugs so/) ’ refers to the shentong view and shows how relative conditioned phenomena (ie form) are empty of any inherent existence (empty-of-self) yet the ultimate nature/tathagata garbha/emptiness is not empty of itself; and thus is [the origin of] ‘form’ but is not ‘form’ in its own essential identity/self. The ultimate nature is ‘empty of ‘other’ – that ‘other’ referring to all phenomena that are empty-of-self but is not empty of its essential nature itself, that ‘self’ being all the Buddha Nature qualities.

Of course, much more can be said and quoted about this, however, for this short post, I assert that to translate shentong as ‘the other-emptiness’ is misleading to say the least. I can understand why Sheehy wanted to defend it as a ‘play on words’ because it bears no relation to the actual meaning of the term.  The use of  ‘the’ turns ‘other emptiness’ into a noun. Yet, in many texts on the subject, shentong is not used to describe a ‘type of emptiness’ but as an adjective that describes what the subject (the conventional or ultimate nature) is empty of. In addition, the Tibetan term used is ‘empty’ (stong) not ‘emptiness’ (stong pa nyid).

There are other translations of this term (excuse the pun, ha ha), such as Petitt (1999), who translates it as ‘extrinsic emptiness’, or ‘other emptiness’, and am also puzzled as to how these translations accurately get across the stated meaning of the term.


In any case, whether I am intellectually right or wrong, is actually not the main issue. The more important issue is one of having open and intelligent debate on the translation of such terms without being unfriended or blacklisted from activities and events for doing so. I had recently been invited by Mathes to attend and participate in a forthcoming Buddha Nature conference in Vienna, but have yet to hear back about it since this online discussion.  This may not have been the only issue. I also stated my concern to see that only two female contributors had been included in their forthcoming collection, and was told by Sheehy that  ‘We need more women scholar philosophers & historians of zhentong, for sure!’, incorrectly giving the impression that there aren’t any currently available. I have written a little about the denigration and ignoring of good quality work by female scholars in this post here. Needless to say such responses and reactions are hardly inspiring, or what one would expect, from two adult men, let alone from two ‘leading scholars’ in the field.

Nonetheless, as a mere ‘kinda cheeky’ woman with only an MA and book to my name, I stand by my assertion that shentong should not be translated as ‘the other emptiness’.  In fact, Mathes himself has previously translated the term as ‘empty of other’ in his 2016 article ‘The History of the Rang stong/Gzhan stong Distinction·from Its Beginning through the Ris-med Movement’. So, even if it was meant to be a ‘play on words’ it is still potentially misleading in relation to the generally accepted meaning of this important philosophical term. Debate on this is welcome!



  • Mathes, Klaus-Dieter (2016) The History of the Rang stong/Gzhan stong Distinction·from Its Beginning through the Ris-med Movement’, Journal of Buddhist Philosophy, Volume 2, 2016.
  • Pettit, John Whitney (1999), Mipham’s Beacon of Certainty: Illuminating the View of Dzogchen, the Great Perfection, Boston: Wisdom Publications.
  • Stearns, Cyrus (1999),The Buddha from Dolpo: A Study of the Life and Thought of the Tibetan Master Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, State University of New York Press.
  • Tāranātha(auth.), Jeffrey Hopkins, (trans.) The Essence of Other-Emptiness. Wisdom Books (2007).
  • Tāranātha, Jetsun (2008). The Essence of Zhentong. Translation based upon the ‘Dzam thang edition of the ‘Gzhan stong snying po’. Jonang Foundation’s Digital Library: Ngedon Thartuk Translation Initiative.
  • Tomlin, Adele (2017), Tāranātha’s Commentary on the Heart Sutra, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, India.








Jetsun Tāranātha and the Shangpa Kagyu

Several great Kālacakra six Vajra-yogas masters of Kagyu, Nyingma and Jonang were also Shangpa Kagyu lineage holders and practitioners.  For example, most people associate Jetsun Tāranātha as being a master of the Jonang lineage, however, he was also one of the most important lineage holders of Shangpa Kagyu. This brief article gives an overview of the Shangpa Kagyu, its connection to Jonang, Tāranātha’s connection to the lineage, as well as my compiled catalogue of the extant texts composed by Tāranātha on the Shangpa Kagyu.

Shangpa Kagyu’s female founders – Niguma and Sukhasiddhi

Even though the Shangpa Kagyu are considered to be one of the eight great practice lineages[i] (of which Kālacakra  is also one), few scholars have written about this relatively unknown school , see bibliography below.  Contemporary masters of the lineage include Bokar Rinpoche, Kalu Rinpoche and Tenga Rinpoche.  The Treasury of Lives states:

The Shangpa Kagyu (shangs pa bka’ brgyud) tradition was initiated in the eleventh century by Khyungpo Neljor, who received the Mahāmudrā teachings in India from Niguma, the wife or sister of Nāropa. He established the monastery of Zhangzhong Dorjeden in the Shang valley in Tsang. A single line of transmission, said to have been initiated by the Buddha Vajradhara and taught first to Niguma, and which passed from Khyungpo Neljor through Mokchokpa, Wonton Kyergangwa Chokyi Sengge, Nyenton Rigung Chokyi Sherab, and Sanggye Tonpa Tsondru Senge, was known as the transmission of the seven precious Shangpa. In the thirteenth century Sanggye Tonpa passed the lineage on to multiple disciples and the Shangpa teachings were written down. The Shangpa lineages were largely absorbed into the institutional organizations of the Marpa Kagyu, Geluk, Sakya and Jonang, although it was partially revived in the nineteenth century by Jamgon Kongtrul; his two personal hermitages, Tsadra Rinchen Drak and Dzongsho Deshek Dupa are both Shangpa Kagyu institutions. The Shangpa teachings are known as the Five Golden Doctrines, which include the Nigu Chodruk, a grouping similar to the Nāro Chodruk of the Marpa Kagyu.

For more detailed and scholarly works on the origin of Shangpa Kagyu and the life story of its ‘founder’ Khyungpo Neljor, see Matthew Kapstein (1980 and 2005).


In terms of Niguma, she was also called Yogini Vimalashri, or Vajradhara Niguma, or Jñana (wisdom) Dakini Adorned with Bone (ornaments) or The Sister referring to her purported relationship to Buddhist mahasiddha, Naropa. She was also sometimes called Nigupta, which is explained by Taranatha as follows (from Harding, 2011:7) :

The name Nigu accords with the Indian language, which is Nigupta, and is said to mean ‘truly secret’ or ‘truly hidden.’ In fact, it is the code-language of the dakinis of timeless awareness.

Most sources agree that she was born into a rich Brahmin family in the town (or monastery) of Peme in Kashmir in the 10th or 11th century. Her father was named Santivarman (Zhi ba’i go cha) and her mother was called Shrimati (dPal gyi blo gros ma). According to different sources, Niguma was either the sister or consort of Naropa. Her family relationship with Naropa is not entirely clear from the existing sources. Harding (2011) discusses the available evidence and concludes that Niguma was Naropa’s older sister, not his wife or consort.[ii]

Sukhasiddhi and Shangpa Kagyu lineage masters

Sukhasiddhi is also one of the female founders of Shangpa Kagyu and root lamas of Kungpo Neljor.   She was born in west Kashmir to a large, poor family and was the mother of three sons and three daughters. Once she gave a beggar the only food in the house and was expelled from home. She traveled to Oḍḍiyāna, thought to be the land of dakas and dakinis, and there she met Virupa, a mahasiddha who became her guru. Very quickly Sukhasiddhi became completely realized. According to one biographer[iii]

Sukhasiddhi was one of the five root lamas of Khyungpo Naljor. She bestowed the four complete empowerments for the Uncommon Secret Practices, Six Doctrines’ secret practices and the Three Fold Oral Instructions. Then Sukhasiddhi gave him all of the mother tantra instructions, which cause enlightenment in a matter of mere years or months. Among Khyungpo Naljor’s root Lamas, the other four of whom were Niguma, Rahula, Maitripa and Vajrasanapa, Sukhasiddhi certainly was the kindest, said he. She promised to guide and protect all future lineage masters and followers, and indeed there are many instances in the biographies of later Shangpa masters in which she appeared to them in visions and gave guidance and profound instructions to them, some of which are included in the collected Shangpa texts (shangs chos). Such occurrences are indeed reported to the present day.

Modern Masters – The White Hat Karmapa, Tsa Tsa Drupgon Rinpoche and Kalu Rinpoche

According to Wikipedia:

In the west, the principal teacher of the Shangpa Kagyu lineage was the first Kalu Rinpoche. He received the lineage teachings in the early 1940s when he went for training at Tsa Tsa Monastery in Eastern Tibet. He trained with the Abbot of the monastery, the 8th Tsa Tsa Drubgen, Yizhin Norbu, also called Karma Singhe and the White Crown Master. The Karma Kagyu regent Tai Situpa described Yizhin Norbu as “one of the most learned and accomplished Kagyu masters now living.”

There, Kalu Rinpoche received the complete cycle of the Shangpa teachings during a closed retreat. Tsa Tsa monastery is also a major Dakpo Kagyu Centre and preserves the Rimé movement. The Tsa Tsa Drubgen Yizhin Norbu died in the middle of June, 2005. The Shangpa traditions are currently held by his regent and successor the second Gyalten Thongwa Rangdrol.

After the first Kalu Rinpoche died his student Bokar Tulku Rinpoche became the main lineage holder. After Bokar Tulku Rinpoche died, Yangsi Kalu, a young tulku who finished a Shangpa three-year retreat in September 2008, became the holder of the seat of the lineage (the monastery of Sonada in northern India). The other current holders of the Shangpa lineage are the lamas who have been entrusted by Vajradhara Kalu Rangjung Künchab, for example Norla Rinpoche, Denys Rinpoche, as well as Ven Mogchok Rinpoche currently living and teaching in France. A list of Kalu Rangjung Kunchab contemporary heirs is available on Shangpa Resource center web Site

Wangchen Rinpoche is a current lineage holder, who was recognized by Dorje Chang Kalu Rinpoche as “Kalu the Younger”, his meditation companion in Tibet.

However, after publishing this, French translator, Thierry Karma Sangye Tenzin, published a short piece of research in response to this challenging the Wikipedia version of Kalu Rinpoche’s transmission. He states that according to Tibetan primary sources on the life of Kalu Rinpoche, in particular, he relies on a text on the history of Kalacakra, written by Bokar Khenpo and master, Khenpo Donyo, and concludes that Kalu Rinpoche did not get the Kalacakra or Shangpa Kagyu transmission from Tsa Tsa Rinpoche but rather from Norbu Dondrub of Jamgon Kongtrul’s Tsadra monastery, Tibet. I publish it in full below for reference.

In terms of the Shangpa Kagyu lineage of Tsa Tsa Drupgon Rinpoche in Tibet, according to one biographical source, the first Tsa Tsa Rinpoche was a student of the 7th Karmapa and was given a white hat by the 8th Karmapa, similar to the black one worn by the Karmapa. For more information about the hat and his lineage see here.   Regarding the Tsa Tsa monastery in Tibet:

Tsatsa Monastery is the principal temple in the Lingtsang region of Kham, Tibet (Dege, Sichuan, China). Very close to this location is the birth place of Ling Gesar – within walking distance. Although the region of Lingtsang is now included within the greater Dege region, in the past Lingtsang was the principal kingdom with the Lingtsang Gyalpo as the King of the entire region.

In the past there have been eight Tsatsa incarnate Lamas. Recently the 9th was recognized as a small child in the area of Lingtsang, Kham. The 7th Tsata Drubgon lived during the exciting time of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul in the 19th century. From the time of Kongtrul the 7th and 8th Drubgon have maintained the history, teachings, initiations and special precepts of the Shangpa Kagyu Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism according to the teachings of Jamgon Kongtrul. During tha last half of the 20th century, in India Kalu Rinpoche maintained the Shangpa Tradition and in Tibet Tsatsa Drubgon maintained the Shangpa Kagyu. Today in the region of Lingtsang and Kangdze there are both monasteries and retreat centers following the Shangpa Tradition albeit under the overall supervision of the Karma Kamtsang Tradition to which Jamgon Kongtrul belonged.

This is an excerpt from this online article on the ‘White Hat Karmapa’.

There are two Shangpa Kagyu retreat centres in Eastern Tibet set up by the first Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye: Tsandra Rinchen Drak in Dege founded in 1859, and Dzongsho Deshek Dhupe Phodrang in Peyul, in 1867.  Sheehy (2014) has produced a map of Shangpa sites in Tibet here.

The Jonang and Shangpa Kagyu

  1. Kunga Drolchok (1507-66)

Two Jonang masters in particular were important holders of the Shangpa Kagyu lineage. The first was Kunga Drolchok, (Kun dga’ grol mchog, 24th Jonang head ).  According to one biographer:

Kunga Drolchok was especially devoted to the practices of the Shangpa Kagyu (shangs pa bka’ brgyud) tradition, which he received from the master Gyagom Lekpa Gyeltsen (rgya sgom legs pa rgyal mtshan, d.u.) and other teachers. He met the ḍākinī Niguma in a vision and taught the Shangpa transmission of the Six Dharmas of Niguma (ni gu chos drug, d.u.) more than one hundred times to many masters from different traditions.

Michael Sheehy also reports(2009):

The Jo nang lineage of the Shangs pa is alive and well among the Jo nang pa. The major figure to accumulate and synthesize the instructions of this lineage was Kun dga’ grol mchog (1507-1566). However, the intersection between these lines occurred several generations prior to him. The lineage tree suggests that the 13th century master Khyung po Tshul khrims mgon po received transmission from Mkhas grub Gtsang ma Shangs ston (1234-1309) who was four generations removed from Khyung po rnal ‘byor. Kun dga’ grol mchog then received the Bsam sdings, ‘Jag pa, and Thang lineages, as well as instructions in the visionary presence of the wisdom dakini Niguma. By the time of Kun dga’ grol mchog’s disciples, such as the master ‘Gyur med bde chen (1540-1615), practices and instructions associated with the Shangs pa were deeply embedded within the Jo nang tradition. One question that needs further exploration is to what extent these exchanges were made or at least initiated during the lifetime of Thang stong rgyal po (1361-1485)?

2. Jetsun Tāranātha

The second main Jonang master and Shangpa Kagyu lineage holder is Jetsun Tāranātha (rje btsun tA ra nA tha, 1575-1634). Many of Tāranātha’s texts are still used for Shangpa Kagyu empowerments and sadhanas, see previous post on that here and catalogue of his Shangpa works below.  According to the Shangpa Kagyu Foundation, most of the Shangpa transmissions Tāranātha received from Chöku Lhawang Drakpa (chos sku lha dbang grags pa)[iv], who himself had received the entire Shangpa tranmssion from Kunga Drolchok.

Kunga Pelzang (25th Jonang lineage holder and nephew of Kunga Drolchok) was also a Shangpa Kagyu lineage holder and important master for Tāranātha.  Pelzang’s biography states that:

In about 1588 he invited the young Tāranātha, who had been recognized as the reincarnation of Kunga Drolchok, to Jonang. There he passed the monastic seat of Jonang to Tāranātha and gave him many teachings, such as the six-branch yoga of Kālacakra, the great Vimalaprabhā commentary on the Kālacakra Tantra, and the Shangpa teachings of the Six Dharmas of Niguma (ni gu chos drug).

Michael Sheehy asserts, however, that the later Jonang master, Bamda Gelek Gyatso, was the first Jonang master to write about the Shangpa Kagyu lineage with ‘erudition and creativity’. His reasons for saying this are not given though:

As inheritor of Kun dga’ grol mchog’s legacy and throne at Jo nang, Tāranātha (1575-1635) took a keen interest in the Shangs pa, writing numerous commentaries and expanding the core practice texts of the tradition. Although the lineage continued uninterruptedly for the next several generations after Tāranātha, and was received by Jo nang masters in Amdo, it was not until the ‘Dzam thang master ‘Ba’ mda’ dge legs (1844-1904) came onto the scene that this practice lineage would be commented on within the Jo nang tradition with any degree of erudition or creativity. ‘Ba’ mda’ Lama wrote several works related to the Shangs pa, including an extensive explanation of the Six Teachings of Niguma that is considered the authoritative work for Jo nang pas. This lineage then passed onto ‘Jam mgon kong sprul (1813-1899), and in more recent times was represented by such great masters as the late Kalu Rinpoche and his disciple Bokar Rinpoche.

However, I could only find two specific texts from the Niguma tradition in the Dzamthang edition of Bamda Gelek’s Collected Works on TBRC (W23899). These texts, as well as some on the practice of the Shangpa Kagyu mandala of the five deities, are in Volume 18.  One of his compositions ‘The Garland of the White Lotus‘, an instruction text on the five deities of Shangs pa, (rgyud sde lnga’i gtso ‘dus mngon rtogs kyi khrid yig padma dkar po’i phreng ba) is also included in a newly published book,  ‘Ornament of the Enlightened Intention of the practice of the six yogas of Niguma’, an anthology of Shangpa instructions and poems on the Six Dharmas of Niguma by various Jonang authors (2010). (ni gu’i chos drug grub pa’i dgongs rgyan, jo nang brtse chen mtho slob rtag brtan lnga rig dar rgyas gling, TBRC W1KG5786).

Tāranātha’s Works on the Shangpa Kagyu lineage

For those interested in the works Tāranātha composed on Shangpa Kagyu lineage practices, here is a catalogue I have compiled of extant texts available on TBRC, see below.

Apart from Niguma’s text entitled Mahamudra as Spontaneous Liberation, the school’s teaching and practice is centered around the so-called Five Tantras (Mahakala-, Chakrasamvara-, Hevajra-, Mahamaya-, and Guhyasamaja Tantra), and the five golden dharmas of the Shangpas (Tshangs pa gser chos lnga); a group of teachings envisioned as forming a tree:

  1. root: Niguma’s Six Yogas, Nigu Chosdrug (rtsa ba ni gu chos drug)
  2. trunk: Amulet-box Precept of Mahamudra (phyag chen ga’u ma)
  3. branches: Three Ways of Carrying Realisation on the Path (yal kha lam khyer rnam gsum)
  4. flowers: Red and White Khechari (me tog mkha’ spyod dkar dmar)
  5. fruit: Deathlessness and Non-deviation (‘bras bu ‘chi med chugs med)

From the Collected Works of Tāranātha (Tagten Phuntshog Ling edition)[v]

  • A practice text on the 5 deity mandala of the Cakrasamvara according to the system of ni gu ma and the shangs pa bka’ brgyud pa. ni gu lugs kyi bde mchog lha lnga’i mngon rtogs. TBRC W22277. 11: 355 – 366.
  • An empowerment text on the abhiseka of the 5 deity mandala of cakrasamvara according to the system of ni gu ma and the shangs pa bka’ brgyud pa. ni gu lugs kyi bde mchog lha lnga’i dbang chog. TBRC W22277. 11: 367 – 397.
  • Instructions on the 6-fold teachings of ni gu ma according to the shangs pa bka’ brgyud pa. zab lam ni gu chos drug gi ‘khrid yig zab don thad mar brdal ba zhes bya ba bklags chog ma. TBRC W22277. 11: 399 – 506.  ·
  • Condensed instructions on the 6-fold teachings of ni gu ma. ni gu’i ‘khrid yig bsdus pa TBRC W22277. 11: 507 – 520.  ·
  • Supplement to the instructions on the 6-fold teachings of ni gu ma; zab lam ni gu chos drug gi gzhung ‘khrid ma mo’i lhan thabs kha skong. TBRC W22277. 11: 521 – 554. ·
  • Instructions on the yogic practices associated with the 6-fold teachings of ni gu ma.  ni gu’i ‘khrul ‘khor rtsa ‘grel. TBRC W22277. 11: 555 – 568.·
  • Sadhana of hayagriva according to the shangs pa bka’ brgyud. dpal khro bo’i rgyal po rta mchog rol pa’i las byang dregs pa kun ‘dul. TBRC W22277. 7: 889 – 912.       

From the Collected Works of Tāranātha (Peking edition)[vi]:·

  •  Compilation of essential biographical and historical works from the shangs pa bka’ brgyud tradition. dPal ldan shangs pa’i chos skor gyi ‘byung khungs yid kyi mun sel/ rgyal ba’i bstan pa rin po che spyi’i rnam bzhag las ‘phros pa’i dpal ldan shangs pa’i chos skor gyi ‘byung khungs yid kyi mun sel. TBRC W1PD45495. 34: 226 – 317.·
  • Collection of various instructions from the shangs pa bka’ rgyud lineage. Grub thob shangs pa bka’ rgyud kyi thabs lam gser gyi phung po. TBRC W1PD45495. 38: 279-303.·
  • Instructions from the indian yogini ni gu ma. phyag rgya chen po ga’u ma’i rang babs rnam gsum zhes bya ba’i khrid yig. TBRC W1PD45495. 39: 213-225.·
  • Instructions on the preliminary practices according to the lineage of the indian yogini ni gu ma, and a supplication to the Kālacakra  lineage.  ye shes mkha’ ‘gro ni gu’i dbang bka’ che chung rnams kyi sngon du ‘gro ba’i chos bcu dang lngar dbye ba’i khyad par. TBRC W1PD45495. 39: 226-235.·
  • Supplication to the lineage of the indian yogini ni gu ma. nai gus brgyud ‘debs a yig chos ‘byung ma. TBRC W1PD45495. 39: 236-241. ·
  • Work on the practice associated with the deities of the mandala of mayakaya-mahesvara, a teaching of the shangs pa bka’ brgyud. sGyu lus dbang mo che bskur tshul gyi lag len. TBRC W1PD45495. 39: 243-259.·
  • Essential instructions on the mahamudra of the indian yogini ni gu ma. gser chos phyi ma bzhi’i snying po. TBRC W1PD45495. 39: 260-262.
  • Instructions on practices associated with a dakini during the sampannakrama according to the shangs pa bka’ brgyud. mkha’ ‘gro rnam gsum gyi gdams pa. TBRC W1PD45495. 39: 308-317.
  • Advice and explanation on practices associated with a dakini during the sampannakrama according to the shangs pa bka’ brgyud. mkha’ ‘gro rnam gsum gyi zhal gdams gung bsgrigs te nyams su len bde ba. W1PD45495. 39: 318-324.
  • Song to Niguma. ni gu’i mgur in Ni gu’i chos drug grub pa’i dgongs rgyan, jo nang brtse chen mtho slob rtag brtan lnga rig dar rgyas gling, TBRC W1KG5786: 184.

For a talk on Shangpa Kagyu by Translator/scholar Lama Sarah Harding, see this video here.


  • Dung dkar blo bzang ‘phrin las. 2002.Dung dkar tshig mdzod chen mo. Beijing: Krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, pp. 433-434.
  • Gtsug lag ‘phreng ba. 1986. Chos ‘byung mkhas pa’i dga’ ston. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, vol. 2, pp 546.4 ff.
  • Ni gu’i chos drug grub pa’i dgongs rgyan, jo nang brtse chen mtho slob rtag brtan lnga rig dar rgyas gling, TBRC W1KG5786. ‘Ornament of the Enlightened Intention of the Practice of the Six-yogas of Niguma’, an anthology of Shangpa instructions and poems on the Six Dharmas of Niguma by various Jonang authors (2010).
  • Sarah Harding Niguma, Lady of Illusion. Ithaca, New York, USA, 2011
  • Kalu Rinpoche. 1970. Shangs pa gser ‘phreng. Leh: Sonam W. Tashigangpa.
  • Matthew Kapstein, “The Shangs-pa bKa’-brgyud: an unknown school of Tibetan Buddhism”. In Studies in Honor of Hugh Richardson, ed. Michael Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi. Warminster: Aris and Phillips, 1980 pp. 138-144.
  • Kapstein, Matthew T. 2005. “Chronological Conundrums in the Life of Khyung po rnal ‘byor: Hagiography and Historical Time.” Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies, vol. 1, no. 1.
  • Roerich, George, trans. 1996.The Blue Annals. 2nd ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidas, pp. 728-
  • Smith, Gene. 2001. “The Shangs pa Bka’ brgyud Tradition.” InAmong Tibetan Texts. Boston: Wisdom Publications, pp. 53-57..
  • Riggs,Nicole,  Like an Illusion: Lives of the Shangpa Kagyu Masters, Dharma Cloud Pr, 2001.
  • Sheehy, Michal, On the Shangpa and Jonangpa, Jonang Foundation website, 2009.
  • Timeless Rapture: Inspired Verse of the Shangpa Masters, compiled by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, translated and introduced by Ngawang Zangpo, Snow Lion, 2003.
  • 2nd Dalai Lama. Tantric Yogas of Sister Niguma, Snow Lion Publications, 1st ed. U. edition (May 1985),


[i] Eight Practice Lineages aka the Eight Great Chariots of the Practice Lineage (sgrub brgyud shing rta chen mo brgyad) — the eight principal traditions which ‘transported’ the Buddhist teachings from India to Tibet. They are:

  1. Nyingma—the teachings of the kama, terma and pure vision traditions within the Nyingma School of Ancient Translations, which had come down in an aural lineage transmitted by countless learned and accomplished masters, all thanks to the kindness of Khenpo Shantarakshita, Guru Padmasambhava and the Dharma-King Trisong Deutsen.
  2. Kadam—the divine teachings of the Old and New Kadam traditions, founded by the incomparable and glorious Lord Jowo Atisha and further developed through the magnificent efforts of Lobsang Drakpa, who was Manjushri in person.
  3. Lamdré/Sakya—the essential instructions of the ‘Path with its Result’ (Lamdré), the heart-essence of the mahasiddha Virupa, which came down to the glorious Sakyapa founders and their heirs, and were then passed on by the various lineages including those of Sakya, Ngor and Tsar (sa ngor tsar gsum).
  4. Marpa Kagyü—the four streams of teachings within the Kagyü tradition that stems from Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa, and branched into the four major and eight minor Kagyü lineages.
  5. Shangpa Kagyü—the golden doctrine of the dakini Niguma from the glorious Shangpa Kagyü, which comes from the learned and accomplished Khyungpo Naljor.
  6. Kalachakra/’Six Branch Practice of Vajrayoga’ (sbyor drug)—the ‘Six-Branched Application’, which emphasizes the Vajra Yoga of the perfection stage of the splendid Kalachakra, and which came to Tibet from the noble Dharma-kings of India and others such as Kalapada in early, intermediate and later phases, and developed into seventeen traditions, which were then brought together and passed on by the renunciate Tukjé Tsöndru and others.
  7. Shyijé and Chö—the noble teachings of the ‘Pacifying of Suffering’ Tradition coming from Padampa Sangyé together with the profound teachings on the objects of severance, or Chö, which were passed on by Machik Lapdrön and others.
  8. ‘Approach and Accomplishment of the Three Vajras’—the teachings bestowed on the mahasiddha Orgyenpa Rinchen Pal by the mother of the buddhas, Vajrayogini herself.

The Jonang and Gelug schools are not part of this list because they formed within Tibet. See

[ii] Harding (2011) explains:

“The elusiveness of Niguma is typical of the lore of the dakini, the very embodiment of liminal spiritual experience. Additionally the difficulty of pinpointing historical information may well be due to the lack of ancient sources from India and the lack of concern about such mundane matters by the Tibetan masters who encountered her in dreams and visions and maybe in person. After all, when confronted with the blazing apparition of the resplendent and daunting dark dakini bestowing cryptic advice, a background check would be rendered irrelevant. Indian Buddhist hagiographies are virtually unknown, whether of men or women. In Tibet, where hagiography became a prolific genre in its own right, those of women are extremely rare, for all the usual reasons. It is in the experience of those heroes who encountered the dakini that one finds the most information, and these experiences are invested with the value of spiritual meaning.”

[iii] Biography by Sherab Drime (Thomas Roth) at Rangjung Yeshe Wiki,

[iv] “Lhawang Drakpa was born in Tö, Western Tibet. At first he received training in the Upper Drukpa Kagyü tradition as well as in the Oral Tradition of Rechungpa. He also received the teachings of the Nyingma school. Later, after he had met with Jetsün Künga Drölchok and attended upon him, he received the transmissions and teachings of the Jonang and Sakya schools. All of these teachings he received in their entirety, with nothing whatsoever left out. Most importantly however, he received from Künga Drölchok the complete transmission of the teachings and practices of the Shangpa Kagyu, which were closest to his heart. Putting these teachings into practice, he truly erected the victory banner of accomplishment. Experiences and realisations were overflowing from within, and he fully mastered the practices of channels and subtle energies. He attained the deathless vajra-body and lived for more than 120 years. Where the Sakya, Kagyü, Jonang and Shangpa traditions are concerned, he had many students who came to study and practice these under him. In particular, he passed on the Shangpa tradition in its entirety into the hands of its owner, the All-knowing Jetsün Jonang Tāranātha, and invested him with the responsibility of its continuation. Shortly after this, he passed away into other realms. The majority of his precious remains were enshrined in a golden reliquary in Draktö called Tashi Öbar. For as long as it remains as a support for the offerings of beings, it will be a cause for their rebirth in the pure realms.  Chöku Lhawang Drakpa later manifested as one of the masters of Droggé monastery (jo nang ‘brog dge dgon nges don bsam ‘grub gling), which is to the present day one of the largest and most important Jonang monasteries in Amdo.” (Taken from Shangpa Kagyu Network and Foundation website).

[v] Collected Works by Taranatha (1575-1634). Scanned from reprints acquired from Takten Puntsok Ling Monastery. Pages and orderions are missing from the example printed. Includes Dolpopa’s commentary on the Uttaratantra in vol. 17. gsung ‘bum/_tA ra nA tha (rtag brtan phun tshongs gling gi par ma.  TBRC W22277. c. namgyal & tsewang taru, leh. 1982-1987. Block Print.

[vi] Collected Works by Taranatha (1575-1634). Combines versions from the Dzamtang and Ladakh printings. jo nang rje btsun tA ra nA tha’i gsung ‘bum dpe bsdur ma. Published by krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang 2008.  TBRC W1PD45495.