A detailed golden sculpture of a multi-faced and multi-armed deity set within an ornate circular aura.
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Imagine standing at the edge of a vast ocean, mesmerized by the ebb and flow of the waves. Just as the ocean holds countless mysteries beneath its surface, so too does the world of Vajrayogini in Vajrayana Buddhism. From her striking red appearance to her powerful symbolism, Vajrayogini embodies the transformative journey towards wisdom and compassion. But what exactly does this revered figure represent? And how does she guide practitioners on their path to liberation and enlightenment? As you dive deeper into the world of Vajrayogini, you will uncover the rich history, practices, and temples associated with this enigmatic deity.

Origin and Lineage

The origin and lineage of Vajrayoginī can be traced back to the 10th and 12th centuries, within the Mother Tantra class of Anuttarayoga Tantras. Vajrayoginī is a female deity who holds a prominent position in the Tantric pantheon. She is revered as the supreme deity of the Tantric pantheon and is associated with the practices of Chöd and the Six Yogas of Naropa.

Within the Anuttarayoga Tantra, Vajrayoginī is considered to be the embodiment of enlightened wisdom and compassion. She is visualized as a 16-year-old female with red skin, symbolizing her power and intensity. Her third eye of wisdom signifies her ability to perceive the true nature of reality. She is depicted holding a flaying knife and a skull cup, symbolizing her ability to cut through ignorance and attachment, and to offer the nectar of enlightenment.

Vajrayoginī's lineage can be traced through three main lineages of practice: Narokhachö, Maitrikhachö, and Indrakhachö. In the Cakrasaṃvara Tantra, she appears as the consort of Cakrasaṃvara, further establishing her significance within the Tantric tradition.

Vajrayoginī's temples in the Kathmandu Valley are highly revered in both Newar and Tibetan Buddhism. These temples serve as sacred spaces where practitioners can engage in rituals and practices dedicated to Vajrayoginī. Through these practices, practitioners seek to attain liberation and enlightenment, ultimately achieving the ultimate freedom of mind and spirit.


How does Vajrayogini's iconography convey spiritual qualities and symbolism? Vajrayogini's iconography, depicted in the form of a 16-year-old female with red skin and a third eye, holds significant spiritual meaning. Her red skin represents her fierce and passionate nature, while her youthful appearance symbolizes the purity and vitality of spiritual awakening. The third eye represents her ability to see beyond conventional reality and perceive the ultimate truth. Vajrayogini stands within a blazing fire, which signifies the transformative power of wisdom and the burning away of delusions and ignorance.

The various aspects of Vajrayogini's iconography convey spiritual qualities in profound ways. For instance, her holding a flaying knife and a skull cup holds deep significance. The flaying knife represents her ability to cut through the illusions of samsara and liberate beings from suffering. The skull cup, filled with blood, symbolizes the impermanence of life and the necessity of facing this truth to attain enlightenment. These gestures remind practitioners of the importance of embracing change and letting go of attachments.

Furthermore, Vajrayogini's iconography represents spiritual qualities such as control over energy, bliss, and compassion. Her flaming hair signifies her mastery over the inner fire of transformation and spiritual energy. The blissful expression on her face reflects the profound joy experienced by those who have attained enlightenment. Additionally, the compassionate gaze of Vajrayogini reminds practitioners of the importance of cultivating compassion towards all beings.


To delve into the practices of Vajrayogini, it is essential to understand the profound benefits and diligent commitment required to attain full enlightenment through this spiritual path. Vajrayogini practice offers a remarkable journey towards liberation, emphasizing the union of clear light and great bliss. This practice is classified into mother and father tantras, with the mother tantra being the principal path.

The practice of Vajrayogini brings immense merit and blessings to those who engage in it wholeheartedly. With diligent effort, practitioners can attain full enlightenment and transcend the cycle of birth and death. However, such attainment requires unwavering dedication and adherence to the prescribed practices.

Guru devotion plays a crucial role in Vajrayogini practice, as the guidance and blessings of an authentic teacher are essential for progress on this path. Daily sadhana, or spiritual practice, including mantra recitation and tsok offerings, are integral components of the Vajrayogini practice. These practices help purify the mind, cultivate inner wisdom, and deepen the connection with Vajrayogini.

The lineage of Vajrayogini practice is of utmost importance, as it ensures the transmission of blessings and attainments from one generation of practitioners to the next. A pure and unbroken lineage provides practitioners with the necessary support and guidance on their spiritual journey.

The ultimate goal of Vajrayogini practice is to ascend to Kechara, the pure land of Vajrayogini, within 14 lifetimes. For those on the medium scope of motivation, the aspiration is to meet Vajrayogini during the intermediate state between death and rebirth, known as the bardo.

Vajrayogini Temples

Located in Sankhu, Kathmandu, Nepal, the Vajrayogini Temple, also known as the Bodhisattvas Temple, was constructed by King Pratap Malla in the 16th century. This temple, dedicated to the goddess Vajrayogini, holds great cultural and historical significance. The main temple is a three-storied pagoda building that showcases intricate architectural details. Inside, there is a statue of Vajrayogini with a red face and three eyes, symbolizing her ferocious yet compassionate nature.

Unfortunately, the Vajrayogini Temple suffered extensive damage during the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015. The over 300-year-old temple required extensive restoration, with support from metals and wooden poles. The restoration efforts were spearheaded by the Sankhu Reconstruction Committee, highlighting the importance of preserving Nepal's cultural heritage.

The mythological origin of the Vajrayogini Temple is equally fascinating. It is believed that Vajrayogini emerged from a five-colored flame. The priests of the temple used surrounding caves for various rituals and services, eventually leading to the establishment of the town of Shankharapur near the temple.

The Vajrayogini Temple in Sankhu is not only a place of worship but also a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of Nepal. It serves as a reminder of the devotion and spiritual practices associated with Vajrayogini. The temple's architecture and the statue of Vajrayogini herself provide a visual representation of the goddess's power and significance.

Visiting the Vajrayogini Temple in Sankhu offers a unique opportunity to explore the ancient traditions and beliefs of Nepal. It is a place where you can witness the fusion of art, spirituality, and history. The temple stands as a symbol of freedom, inviting you to immerse yourself in the divine energy of Vajrayogini and the surrounding sacred atmosphere of Sankhu.


Emanations of Vajrayogini, known for their specific qualities and functions within the tantric Buddhist tradition, play integral roles in various tantric practices and rituals. These emanations are not mere representations or symbols, but embodiments of the enlightened qualities of Vajrayogini herself. Here are four significant aspects of Vajrayogini's emanations:

  • Samding Dorje Phagmo: Samding Dorje Phagmo is one of the prominent emanations of Vajrayogini. She is traditionally regarded as a nirmāṇakāya emanation of Vajravārāhī. Her presence inspires a sense of fearlessness and empowers practitioners to overcome obstacles in their spiritual journey.
  • Princess Chökyi Drönma: Princess Chökyi Drönma, a remarkable figure in the 15th century, initiated the Vajrayogini lineage. Her emanation represents the transformative power of Vajrayogini's wisdom, guiding practitioners towards self-realization and liberation.
  • Kālikā or Vajravārāhī: In Chöd practice, Vajrayogini appears as Kālikā or Vajravārāhī. This emanation embodies the fierce compassion of Vajrayogini, cutting through the ego and attachment to facilitate the practitioner's spiritual growth and ultimate freedom.
  • Key Roles in Tantric Practices: Vajrayogini's emanations hold essential positions in various tantric practices and rituals. They serve as guides, protectors, and sources of inspiration for practitioners on their spiritual path. Their presence brings forth the transformative power of Vajrayogini's enlightened energy, facilitating the practitioner's journey towards enlightenment.

Understanding the significance of Vajrayogini's emanations can enrich your spiritual practice and deepen your connection with the divine feminine energy. These emanations embody the qualities and functions that resonate with your desire for freedom, empowering you to embrace your true nature and transcend the limitations of the ego.