Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Nyima Zhonnu

Revealed Treasure

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Appearance
- Colour
- Guhyajnana Dakini
- Karma Yoga
- Lelung Zhepai Dorje
- Masterworks
- Confusions
- Others...

Nyima Zhonnu in the two examples below can be either red or yellow/orange in colour. She has a semi-peaceful/semi-wrathful appearance with three eyes and an open mouth with the teeth visible. The sculptural form resides at Nechung Monastery, Lhasa, Tibet. The scrollwork painting is a modern production.

Jeff Watt 12-2023

Biography Selection...

'Lelung's career as a religious savant was primarily directed toward ritual technologies for controlling, directing, and employing a huge pantheon of dharma protectors, and he made use of this expertise to explain his decision to take a sexual consort. The woman, named Dorje Kyabje (rdo rje skyabs byed), was the medium for a spirit known as Nyima Zhonnu (nyi ma gzhon nu), a special protector form of Secret Gnosis Ḍākinī. Their union is said to have been prophesied by Choje Lingpa; Lelung wrote that the "prophecies were so clear" that "even stupid cow-herders could understand them." He further claimed that sexually uniting would lead to widespread happiness among the people of China, Tibet, and Mongolia.[23] It also appears that Dorje Kyabje played an integral part of opening the doors to Pemako making her importance clear in his later aspiration prayer to Pemako by writing:

May the intentions of the one who opened this hidden land, Zhepai Dorje (bzhad pa'i rdo rje) and the mother of the victorious ones Lhachik Dorje Kyabche be accomplished just as they were made and may they remain stable and firm for and may they remain stable and firm for an ocean of eons![24]

Throughout his life Lelung took many other consorts but always according to the strict guidelines of the Secret Gnosis Ḍākinī teachings.[25] The current Eleventh Lelung Tulku writes about these practices:

In all the precious literatures of both old and new Tantras, this is explained as the most excellent speedy path. It was cultivated by many realised beings, who actualised the state of union, so how can anyone find fault with it?[26]

"Lelung taught the Secret Gnosis Ḍākinī cycle to numerous disciples, stating that most of his students who learned the practice of sexual yoga "attained control over their own psychic channels."[27] In the supplication prayer to the aforementioned Nyima Zhonnu these practices are described as:

The distilled essence of the consummation of the vehicle of the Great Secret, the path of the union of wisdom and means, of the primordial wisdom of emptiness and bliss.[28]

The same deity had also given Lelung a prophecy in 1730 that stated that sexually uniting with Mingyur Peldron would be of great benefit to sentient beings. Her biography (rje btsun mi 'gyur dpal gyi sgron ma'i rnam thar dad pa'i gdung sel) depicts Lelung in an unflattering light and stresses that she refused his advances; she even left the main monastery for her nearby retreat place in order to avoid further contact with Lelung. It should be mentioned that all his activities were ostensibly framed as tantric practice, and these occasions likely looked very different when described from other perspectives, including Lelung's biography. As Townsend writes "the point here is not to discredit Lelung but to demonstrate that he was portrayed as a foil for Mingyur Peldron,"[29] representing the types of behavior from which she wished to distance Mindroling. Activities such as these had been used as an excuse for the recent Dzungar persecution and destruction of Mindroling and therefore her refusal may not be the rejection of the tantric sexual practices themselves but a reaction to the climate in which they found themselves. It may also reflect the biases of its actual author, Khyungpo Repa Gyurme Wosel (khyung po ras pa 'gyur med 'od gsal, b. 1715), more than the opinion of Mingyur Peldron herself, as it was not written until 1782, forty two years after Lelung's death and thirteen years after Mingyur Peldron's death. However, this oft-cited moment requires further examination especially since Mingyur Peldron and Lelung were both student and teacher to one another.' (Biography, Tom Greensmith is a MPhil graduate in Tibetan and Himalayan studies from Oxford University. His completed dissertation focused on the “non-sectarian” (ris med) figure of the Fifth Sle lung bZhad pa’i rdo rje (1697-1740) and his journey to Pad+mo bkod in 1729. Published July 2018).

(See a very interesting article: Tantric Sex Partners, Actual and ‘Imagined’: Tibetan Karmamudra, and the Life and Times of Lelung Jedrung Zhepai Dorje).