Featured image art: Troma Nagmo. From dharmatreasures.com
Krodhakali is a wrathful aspect of Vajrayogini, whose name means “the fierce Kali.” Her other Sanskrit names are Kalika, Krodheshwari, and Krishna Krodhini. Her Tibetan name Troma Nagmo means “the fierce black one.” In Tibet, she is also known as Phagmo Tronang, the “wrathful black Varahi”, which shows her connection with dakini Dorje Phagmo (Vajravarahi).
Krodhakali is depicted with a dark blue color and an extremely wrathful expression. She has one central face and a small brown pig head on the crown looking to the right. Her right hand holds a curved knife and the left a skullcup of blood to the heart. In the bend of the left elbow, appears a katvanga staff, representing the male aspect of the method (upaya). She is adorned with a tiara of five skulls, bone earrings, ornaments and a necklace of severed heads. Her left leg is extended in a half dance posture stepping on the heart of a human corpse. She is dwelling in the middle of a blazing mass of fire.
Krodhakali is associated with the innermost aspect of the nature of dakini, revealing the true nature of phenomena. She is inseparable from the enlightened body of the Buddha, which manifests on three levels (trikaya). As dharmakaya (the body of truth) she manifests in the form of Samantabhadri, as sambhogakaya (the body of joy) in the form of Vajravarahi and as nirmanakaya (manifested body) in the form of Vajra Krodhakali. The benefits of her practice are believed to unfold on several levels: on the external level it aims to remove attachment to the physical body, on the internal level to remove attachment to sensory objects, on a secret level to release desires and on the most secret to cut the attachment to the self. That is why the main practice associated with this wrathful goddess is Chod, in which the conceptions of the ego are cut by offering the body to various deities and demons. It is a skilful method of destroying attachment to the illusory self. The practice leads to the elimination of all difficulties that prevent the achievement of temporary and ultimate happiness, the accumulation of deep wisdom and spiritual merit, as well as the development of compassion to all beings.
The original practice of Krodhakali belongs to the Zhije School, whose teachers emphasized the pacification of all negative forces. This school was founded by the Indian teacher Phadampa Sange (?-1117), who brought it to Tibet. Another version of the origin of the practice is related to the 8th century Indian Tantric master Padmasambhava. Anticipating difficult times for Dharma in the future, he reveals the rare teachings of Troma Nagmo to his consort, Yeshe Tsogyal. She preserves them for future generations in a terma (“hidden treasure”). The terma was later discovered by Dudul Dorje (1615-72) of the Khatog Nyngma Sub-school, who is revered as the embodiment of one of Padmasambhava’s twenty-five disciples, named Drokben Khye Chung. The next reincarnations of Dudul Dorje, which preserved the practice, are Shechen Rabjam Tenpe Gyaltsen (1650-1704), Khordong Nuden Dorje (19th century), and Dudjom Lingpa (1835-1904).
Dudjom Lingpa received a live transmission (nye gyu) of Krodhakali’s teachings in a vision and initially kept them secretly, but later spread them among his disciples. The tradition is then continued by his reincarnation Dudjom Rinpoche Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje (1904-87), whose grandson Dunge Garab Rinpoche, who is revered as the second reincarnation of Dudjom Lingpa, keep it until nowadays.
Krodhakali’s main practice is found in the cycle Dudjom Tersar (“The New Treasures of Dudjom”), which is a hidden text discovered by Dudjom Lingpa and compiled by Dudjom Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje. It is called “True Attainment in the Tradition of Vajra Essence” and contains all the stages of Vajrayana practice, from Ngondro (preliminary practices) to the highest teachings of Dzogchen (Great Perfection). This cycle also contains Krodhakali’s sadhana, called “The Sun of Primordial Wisdom,” as well as the text of her Chod practice, “Troma Nagmo, the Extremely Wrathful Black Mother.”
Troma Nagmo appears as inseparable from Yeshe Tsogyal in the Chod practice “The Loud Laugh of the Dakini” from the Longchen Nyingthig Cycle, revealed by the Tibetan master of the Nyingma lineange Jigme Lingpa (1729-98).