Female Deities

Female Buddhas and Bodhisattvas according to Tibetan Buddhist tradition

White Tara

The enlightened women or female figures named below all come from Vajrayana or "Tibetan" Buddhism, the school of Mahayana which originated in India and later moved to Tibet and the other Himalayan countries.

Hence, most figures are identified first by their Sanskrit name, with the alternate Tibetan form appearing in parentheses (when it is the other way around, i.e. Achi Chkyi Drolma, Machig Labdron and Palden Lhamo, it is because their practices developed or were practised principally in Tibet).

Deities can be distinguished between four different types:

yidam: an enlightened meditational deity who embodies the union of wisdom and compassion, yet is not separate from the meditator

guru figure: a fully realised being whom one identifies wholly with one's spiritual guide

Dharma protector: usually portrayed as an enlightened being in wrathful form; a protector's primary function is to eliminate the spiritual obstacles hindering the practitioner

historical figure: someone who lived as a female human being on this earth and can be placed historically according to tradition

List of female Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Pictures of the different deities can be found on the website Himalayan Art Resources.

We recommend the following books:

  • Female Buddhas, by Glenn H. Mullin
  • Le Dictionnaire du Boudhisme de Philippe Cornu (in French)
  • Buddhist Goddesses of India, by Mirinda Shaw

This Webpage is certainly not complete. We apologize for any inaccuracy that may arise from ignorance or haste. Your corrections are most welcome. Thank you for giving us further information or offering pictures that we may show here

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