Female Deities of Tibetan Buddhism: Palden Lhamo

Did you know that Tibetan Buddhism has many different deities? The deities represent different aspects or elements that you may try to channel while meditating. Think of them as aspirational figures with capacities that you are growing, like compassion for yourself and those around you. During meditation you can gaze upon the visuals of the deities to remind yourself of what qualities you’re trying to cultivate and bring forth during your practice.

In Tibetan Buddhism there are Eight Dharmpalas, or wrathful protective deities. Wrathful deities are teachers and protectors, and their frightening appearances are meant to scare away evil and inspire people to devote more time to their practice. They also show us how negative energy and emotions can be transformed to the positive.

Only one of the Eight Dharmpalas, Palden Lhamo, is female. She is considered to be the protectress of Tibet and the Dalai Lama, vital and important tasks in Tibetan Buddhism.

It’s said that Palden Lhamo was married to a king who murdered his people and opposed the dharma. Paldem Lhamo swore to either reform her husband or to end his reign. Unfortunately, she couldn’t change her husband's character and soon came to see her son following in his father’s footsteps against the dharma. She took it upon herself to end his dynasty for the good of all.

For her actions, she was reborn into a hell realm and eventually escaped to Earth. But she was not able to find peace until the Buddha came to her and asked her to become a Dharmapala, giving her life a purpose.

Palden Lhamo also became the protector of all Dalai Lamas by promising aid to the first Dalai Lama, Gendun Drupa, at Lhama Ta-tso, or Oracle Lake. This lake is held in high regard and visited by high lamas when they wish to receive visions that will help them find the next Dalai Lama.

In the next few weeks, let’s try and channel Palden Lhamo by looking out for those around us and devoting time to our practice in honor of ourselves, the community, and world.

Reference Materials

"Palden Lhamo: Buddhist Dharmapala." O'Brien, Barbara. Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/palden-lhamo-450161 (accessed March 17, 2020).

Published on Mar 19 03 : 27 PM