Mandarava Thangka Painting

Long Life Dakini Mandarava

is also known as The Long Life Mandarava. Mandarava was the virtuous, and beautiful princess daughter of the royal couple in Zahor.

Mandarava is also known as, , . She is along with . She is one of the two principal consorts of great 8th century Indian teacher , a founder-figure of , described as a ‘’ by many practitioners.

Birth Place of Mandarava

Mandarava was born to a royal couple in Zahor, northeastern , amidst extraordinary signs. Her father was an incarnation of the ’s father Suddhodana, and her mother was a Dakini Mandarava was an incarnation of the female Buddha Pandaravasini, the consort of . Mandarava is considered to be a female -deity in or .

Mandarava Education

Although Mandarava’s loving parents fulfilled her every wish, as she grew up she was moved by the inevitability of in . She asked for her parents’ permission to devote her life to practice, and they consented on the condition that she remain in the palace.

In the upper chambers of the palace, Mandarava dedicated herself to studies until she became the greatest scholar in the land. She studied literature and , all the languages and dialects of eastern and western India, and poetics, logic, grammar, chanting, , and astrology.

By the age of thirteen, Mandarava had mastered all the sciences.

She studied the and took the with the Vimalaprajna. She inspired all of her palace maidens to enter the religious path.

Mandarava and her Marriage

However, her father would not assent to her request to become ordained as a nun. from every direction arrived requesting Mandarava’s hand in marriage and Mandarava’s father demanded that she marry one of them.

Repulsed by samsara, Mandarava escaped forced marriage and received monastic from a .

Acquiescing to her choice, the king sent her five hundred female attendants to join her in receiving ordination. Mandarava and her five hundred nun attendants then lived in their own heavily guarded palace.

Padmasambhava and Mandarava

Guru Padmasambhava with Yeshe Tsogyal and Mandarava


One day, Padmasambhava manifested before them and taught them all the Vajrayana . When the rumor of Padmasambhava’s residence in Mandarava palace reached the king, he became enraged that a commoner was involved with his daughter after she had refused marriage to all the neighboring kings.

He ordered to have Mandarava imprisoned in a pit and Padmasambhava burned . Instead of being burned, Padmasambhava transformed the funeral pyre into a lake of sesame oil, surrounded by a in the middle of which bloomed a huge flower on which he was seated amidst rainbows and clouds.

Realizing Padmasambhava was a manifestation of a Buddha, the king repented his negative behavior and appointed Padmasambhava as king of the land of Zahor. Padmasambhava and Mandarava taught the to all in the land.

Enlightenment in Maratika Cave in Nepal



Mandarava attained full alongside Padmasambhava in the famed Maratika Cave in . She was a fully realized spiritual adept, a , and a spiritual teacher.

Mandarava accompanied Padmasambhava to Maratika Cave, where they perfected practices pertaining to the union of Hayagriva and Vajravarahi.

They achieved ‘eternal life,’ which refers here to the unchanging realization of the ultimate nature of and phenomena.

Mandarava’s Journey to Kotala

On their return from Maratika, they subjugated heretics in the kingdom of Kotala. Mandarava withstood being raped and beaten by wrathful demons in the Yongdutsel and was able to overcome and convert them.

She tamed the cannibals in the land of Camara and brought them to practice the dharma. She displayed miracles in eight other charnel , taming the wrathful beings in each and converting them to the dharma.

Mandarava’s Journey to Zahor and

When she returned home, Mandarava taught the dharma for one year. Then she went with Padmasambhava to the kingdom of Oddiyana. However, Princess Prabhadhara was jealous of Mandarava and raised doubts about Padmasambhava with her father, King .

Although the king ordered to have Padmasambhava and Kotala burned to death, they transformed the into a lake and aroused the devotion of all, until everybody in the land of Oddiyana attained .

Kotala then traveled to to fulfill Padmasambhava’s command to subdue beings there.

When she had completed all of her beneficial activity, it was for her to depart from this world. Her became invisible and then manifested as a sphere of light, filling the entire sky. She departed to the Akanista Paradise of Padmavyuha and arose as the supreme secret consort of primordial .

Chapter 16 of mentions,

“Mandarava blossoms rain down, scattering over the Buddha and the great assembly.”

Spiritual Practice of Great wisdom Dakini – Mandarava

Mandarava Thangka

As spiritual practitioners, we receive encouragement and inspiration by reading the life stories of great and sublime teachers, and the inspiration we receive from their exemplary lives allows us to progress more swiftly along the path to liberation.

Because the appearance of everything we can know and experience depends on causes and circumstances, ordinary individuals embarking on the path must do so through a gradual process.

Princess Mandarava, however, already liberated from the cycle of suffering and perfectly omniscient, was not an ordinary individual.

She intentionally emanated into of ordinary existence in order to inspire beings and lead them through this gradual process, teaching them how to practice through her example.

The accounts of Mandarava’s remarkable lives illuminate the experiences of a great wisdom dakini who inspired everyone she met, turning their minds irrevocably toward liberation.

The Lives and Liberation of Princess Mandarava

In the thirty-eight chapters of this revelation [‘The Lives and Liberation of Princess Mandarava‘ is a treasure of Padmasambhava], one comes to know a (emanated manifestation) dakini who chose numerous times to enter the world as an aristocrat.

The purpose of this depiction is not to show us that only those of high status or are fortunate enough to have such opportunities, but to reveal that Mandarava was able and willing to renounce that which is most difficult to renounce, namely to the so-called pleasures of worldly life.

In each of her lifetimes, she unflaggingly forsakes fame and pleasures to for the benefit of others through example and skillful means. Her abandonment of the temporary pleasures that steal away precious time and opportunities for spiritual development the struggles facing modern-day Dharma practitioners.

Although Mandarava was a famous female practitioner, she ultimately defies gender distinctions, and her activities are timeless. The Dharma that Mandarava – and all sublime teachers like her – teaching is the path that transcends all relative distinctions made by ordinary individuals based on the ordinary habits of dualistic mind.

Vajrayana Buddhism and Female Deity

The notion that is male-oriented is misleading. Still, many women attempting to pursue the path may naturally become discouraged when they encounter strong cultural influence.

The more Dharma takes root in the West, however, the easier it becomes to relate directly to the Dharma, which is perfectly pure and free from biased distinctions, rather than focusing on the habits of ordinary individuals from foreign .

Mantra of Mandarava

Track of Mandarava


Om hrih bam jana dakini mandarava ayu siddhi ja hung


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About sadiksha

Namaste! I am a Nepali Art Dealer specialized in Mandala and Thangka paintings. I love to write articles about the monastic culture of the Himalayas.

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