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A Biography of Tamdrin Lhamo

Tamdrin Lhamo[1] was born to a noble family in 1923, the Water Pig Year of the fifteenth sexagenary cycle, at a place called Nyakla Gar[2] in Rachukado[3] in the district of Gonjo in Chamdo.[4] Her father was Nyakla Jangchub Dorje, and her mother was Drimé Wangmo.[5]

Tamdrin Lhamo received and practised her father’s treasure teachings, including The Compendium of the Ocean of Dharma,[6] consisting of some forty large volumes, along with their empowerments, transmissions, and pith instructions. In particular, having continuously engaged in the instructions on the winds from her father’s treasure teaching of Vajravārāhī, in seven-day cycles over some twenty-one weeks, she remained for a week distilling the essence of space. Specifically, she practised the quintessence of her father’s treasure teachings, the Yangtik Nakpo Sergyachen.[7]

This ḍākima had the manifest ability to remove cataracts by using [a single strand of] her hair. Her breast milk was the best for purifying eye diseases, drib diseases,[8] and other ailments. She was not the least bit familiar with the usual attachment felt towards relatives and friends nor animosity towards foes. [As a result], she cared for many disciples, such as monks and laypeople.

On the morning of the twenty-seventh day of the second month of the Tibetan Earth Sheep Year, 1979, in her fifty-seventh year, within a state in which the two purposes are accomplished spontaneously, she called upon all her disciples and relatives, such as those from Serka and Tserong,[9] who were close to her residence and issued a statement:

‘You shouldn’t be sad now — there is no end to birth other than death. Even though my [original] lifespan was fifty-two years because of my Lama Rinpoche’s care and due to having given birth to my young daughter, I was able to prolong my life by a few years. Also, I have seen the face of Vajravārāhī on a few occasions. Now, I must go to the Paradise Arrayed in Turquoise Petals[10] for a while. Do not hold onto my body out of attachment.’

This, amongst other things, is what she said.

That night, her mind departed for the sake of others. Her relics were kept for seven days, and nothing remained of her entire body other than a form measuring twenty-six centimetres or just over one handspan,[11] as the rest dissolved into light. In that area, a crowd numbering thousands all saw that display of passing away plainly before their very own eyes. Many of the people who previously apportioned blame to her requested forgiveness.




[1] rta mgrin lha mo, 1923–1979, BDRC P210

[2] nyag bla sgar, BDRC G596

[3] ra chu rka do

[4] chab mdo go 'jo, BDDRC G2182

[5] nyag bla byang chub rdo rje, BDRC P211; dri med dbang mo

[6] bka' 'dus chos kyi rgya mtsho

[7] yang tig nag po gser gyi rgya can

[8] grib nad is a type of disease brought about by planetary spirits that causes states of unconsciousness, strokes, and other symptoms, such as pimples.

[9] gser rka; rtse rong

[10] G.yu lo bkod pa'i shing is the Buddhafield of Tārā.

[11] mkhyid lhag gang tsam is the distance between a thumb and little finger.


Photo Credit: Himalayan Art Resources

Published: November 2021

Edited: April 2022


don rdor and bstan 'dzin chos grags. 1993. “rta mgrin lha mo”. In mi sna, pp. 1022–1024. par gzhi dang po, bod ljongs mi dmangs dpe skrun khang. BDRC W19803


Tamdrin Lhamo was a twentieth-century yoginī of the Nyingma monastery Nakla Gar in Chamdo. Her father was the treasure revealer and Dzogchen master Nakla Jangchub Dorje.


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20th Century





A Biography of Tamdrin Lhamo

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