What is a “Dakini” ?

In the Tibetan language the Sanskrit term DAKINI is rendered Khandroma (mkha’-‘gro-ma) meaning “she who traverses the sky” or “she who moves in space”; this is sometimes rendered poetically as “sky dancer” or “sky walker”. Ichnographically, their bodies are depicted curved in sinuous dance poses. They dance as they are active manifestations of energy or shakti. dakini (Sanskrit: “sky dancer”) is a Tantric priestess of ancient India who “carried the souls of the dead to the sky”. This Buddhist figure is particularly upheld in Tibetan Buddhism. The dakini is a female being of generally volatile temperament, who acts as a muse for spiritual practice. Dakinis can be likened to elves, angels, or other such supernatural beings, and are symbolically representative of testing one’s awareness and adherence to Buddhist tantric sadhana.According to legend, members of the Indian royal castes and the wealthy nobility brought their deceased to the far North to visit the Shrine of the Dakini (located at the foothills of the Himalaya). Other legends mention a Tibetan myth which says dakini first appeared in a remote area “pure of man”. Dakinis are timeless, inorganic, immortal, non-human beings who have co-existed since the very beginning with the Spiritual Energy. In some New Age belief systems, they are angelic. This New Age paradigm differs from that of the Judeo-Christian by not insisting on angels being bona fide servants of God.

Moreover, an angel is the Western equivalent of a dakini. The behavior of dakini has always been revelatory and mysterious; they respond to the state of spiritual energy within individuals. Love is their usual domain – one explanation for dakini or angels supposedly living in the sky or heaven. Manifestations of dakini in human form occur because they supposedly can assume any form. Most often they appear as a human female. By convention, a male of this type is called a ‘daka’. In Tibetan Buddhism and other schools closely related to Yogacara and Vajrayana practices, a dakini is considered a supernatural being who tests a practitioner’s abilities and commitments.

When the dakini’s test has been fulfilled and passed, the practitioner is often then recognized as a Mahasiddha, and often is elevated into the Paradise of the Dakinis, a place of enlightened bliss. It should be noted that while dakinis are often depicted as beautiful and naked, they are not sexual symbols, but rather natural ones. There are instances where a dakini has come to test a practitioner’s control over their sexual desires, but the dakini itself is not a being of passion. Tantric sex may involve a “helper” dakini – a human female trained in Tantra Yoga – or an “actual” dakini. Both increase the level of erotic pleasure for the sexual participants by helping them focus on a non-physical state of spiritual joy and the physical pleasure of sex at the same time.

Dakini is the Goddess of Life’s Turning Points. Distillations of archetypal emanations, the Dakinis represent those essence principles within the self which are capable of transformation to a higher octave. Dakinis are ‘sky dancers,’ heavenly angels devoted to the truth (dharma), woman consorts of and partners with the god-creators of India and Tibet. Dakini serves as instigator, inspirer, messenger, pushing the tantrika (aspirant) across the barriers to enlightenment. Dakini’s wrathful aspect is depicted by the mala of skulls. Her peaceful aspect is depicted by the lotus frond. Like Hindu goddess Kali, her role is to transmute suffering. Her left hand holds high the lamp of liberation. Dakini represent the sky being a womb symbol connoting emptiness, creativity, potentiality. They are objects of desire and also carriers of the cosmic energies that continually fertilize our human sphere. Dakinis bring us pleasure and spirituality. They provoke the enervating lust that brings life into being. They are poetic and cosmic souls, put here to tempt us to spirituality.

Dakinis are questing and testing agents. There are instances where a dakini has come to test an aspirant’s control over his or her sexual desires, but the dakini should not themselves be construed as beings of passion and sexuality. When the dakini’s test has been fulfilled and passed, the aspirant is often then recognized as a Mahasiddha and often elevated into the Dakini Paradise, a place of enlightened bliss.

So I share all of this in-depth knowledge of the technical meaning of a dakini because most people who come across Tantra think of the dakini’s role as a sexual equal, a sexual replacement of sorts. In truth, the dakini’s role is specifically as a guide to getting you understanding of your path to love through God. She is solely responsible for your own enlightenment and the path to true ecstasy in recognizing the divinity of love (and all of love’s powers) versus the superficial manifestation of love in lust.


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