Narodakini

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Narodakini

Narodakini, fragment. From exoticindiaart.com

Narodakini is a Tantric goddess and a manifestation of Vajrayogini, originated from the tradition of the Indian Buddhist Mahasiddha Naropa (956-1040). She manifested before him and transmitted exoteric teachings and practices. It is also believed that she is his spiritual partner. Another name for the goddess is Narokhechari (Tib. Narokhachoma, “the one who moves in the space”). Both names express the profound nature of dakini – female emanations of wisdom, and the prefix “na” indicates the connection with the tradition of Naropa.

Narodakini is often described with the epithet Sarvabuddhadakini, meaning “the Dakini of all the Buddhas” or Nadidakini in connection with the notion that she is a goddess who has purified the channels of subtle energy (Skt. nadi, Tib. tsa).

Narodakini appeared in late Indian Buddhism and rose to popularity in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, especially in the Kagyu School. She is also honored as a patron of the Sakya School.

Narodakini in the Drukpa Kagyu tradition. From himalayanart.org

The iconography of Narodakini is typical for Vajrayana goddesses. She is red in color, with one wrathful face and three eyes. Her right hand holds a curved knife (kartari, drigug) with a gold vajra handle. Her left hand holds a white skullcup (kapala) from which she drinks sacred substance and on her left shoulder rests a trident with symbolic elements (katvanga). Her body is adorned with a tiara of skulls, various bone ornaments, bracelets, and a necklace of freshly severed heads. She stands naked, surrounded by the flames of the primordial wisdom, stepping on the bodies of Kalaratri and Bhairava – the wrathful manifestations of the Hindu God Shiva and his wife Parvati.

In Tibetan art, Narodakini is often depicted in multi-figure compositions, together with various deities or teachers. In a thangka of the Drukpa Kagyu School, she is depicted as a central figure, surrounded by five additional figures. At the top, in the celestial space is Buddha Vajradhara, who is worshiped in Kagyu as primordial Buddha. At the left is the Indian mahasiddha Tilopa (Naropa’s teacher) and at the right side is a Tibetan yogi. At the bottom left is the wrathful deity Humkara and at the bottom left is the female protector Yudronma. Such compositions are related to particular practices of the Tibetan Buddhist schools.

Pure land of Narodakini. From himalayanart.org

Some of the most impressive images of Narodakini depict her pure land Khechara. In her paradise she is standing at the center of a mandala with a three levels palace. At the bottom of the first level is dharmodaya (Tib. chojung, “the source of reality”) – the mystical hexagram, which is associated with a continuous source of femininity. The goddess is located at the center of dharmodaya, surrounded by offering goddesses. At the second level is a gathering of enlightened teachers, and at the third level is Vajradhara himself.

At the top right and left side of the composition are four teachers, all wearing monastic robes and four offering goddesses. At the bottom left are the two skeletons Arya Shmashana Adhipati (Tib. Palden Durtro Dagpo, “lords of the charnel ground”) who serve as special protectors of the practice of Narodakini. At the right side is the wealth deity Jambhala (Tib. Dzambala).

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