Buddhist Women – Tibet’s First Female Tulku (reincarnate lama)

Upcoming Events

White Tara Tsok Fundraiser & Birthday Celebration for Pema Khandro

With His Eminence Gyaldak Rinpoche

December 18, 2018
Join the joyful Community of Buddhist Yogis in Berkeley for an evening of Prayer, Practice and Celebration in honor of our Lama Pema Khandro Rinpoche’s Birthday!  Pema Khandro is the founder of Ngakpa Intl, Ngakpa House and co-founder of the Yogic Medicine Institute. Her greatest birthday wish is to realize the dream of Dakini Mountain […]
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Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

January 9, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
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Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

January 23, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

February 13, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

February 27, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

March 13, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

March 27, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

April 10, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

April 24, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

May 8, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

May 22, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

June 12, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

June 26, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

July 10, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

July 24, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

August 14, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

August 28, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

September 11, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

September 25, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

October 9, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

October 23, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

November 13, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
Closed

Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

November 27, 2019
A 30 minute guided meditation and online teaching with Pema Khandro. Free and open to the public. Click Here to Register What is Dakini Day? The Dakini (known in Tibetan as Khandro) is the principle of spacious dynamic wisdom in Tibetan Buddhism. This is a monthly class to support your meditation practice and meet the […]

Dzogchen Day Webcast

With Pema Khandro

December 11, 2019
Guided meditation and discussion with Pema Khandro. This 30 minute online class is free and open to Buddhist Yogis Sangha Members only. Click Here to become a Member Join online for this monthly class to practice meditation and discuss esoteric Buddhism with Pema Khandro. This class is a joyful opportunity to connect with the Buddhist Yogis […]
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About Sonam Peldren – Tibet’s First Female Tulku

This is the story of Sonam Peldren, a Tibetan yogini, is the earliest recorded female tulku. (1) She lived in thirteenth-fourteenth century Tibet.

Some Background

The system of finding a “tulku” (sprul sku) is one way that the Buddhist lineages are passed on through generations. Someone who is known as a tulku is recognized as a reincarnation of a previous Buddhist master. Some tulkus are associated with major institutions, such as the Karmapa or the Dalai Lama. Others are recognized regionally, or others by certain local traditions, particular lineages or particular monasteries. Sonam Peldren was the first Tibetan woman recognized as a tulku.

Sonam Peldren was recognized as a tulku at the end of her life, after she had already demonstrated her abilities. Such a late recognition is not uncommon for female tulkus. Most tulkus in Tibetan Buddhism are men and few have been women. Historically speaking, the manner of their recognitions varied, with men being recognized in childhood and women being recognized as tulkus after they had already demonstrated their abilities. This is described by Havnevik:

“While the position of the male tulku is institutionalized, this is not the case for female incarnations. Regardless of their abilities, young boys are installed in high positions as abbots and hierarchs of important monasteries, but this is not the case of girls. The recognition of tulkus is a matter of ascribed status…

Female incarnations can occasionally be recognized when they are young, like Jetsun Pema and Khandro Rinpoche. It seems to have been the rule that very few women who became eminent religious teachers and who were recognized as incarnations, were recognized as such only after having proved their abilities.”
– Havenik 133-134 (2)

The Story of Sonam Peldren

As a young girl, when a marriage was arranged for her, Sonam Peldren had refused the suitor chosen by her parents and said she was karmically destined to be married to Rinchen Pel from Kham. They married and she spent her life as a nomad, wandering from place to place with her husband.

Sonam Peldren was associated with various “miracles” such as breaking up a knife fight between four men by single handedly holding them apart. In the story of another miracle, when the horses were stolen in the middle of the night, she jumped onto a remaining horse, chased down the thieves and took the stolen horses back. (1)

During the last year of her life she had many visions and dreams. She gave religious teachings in the form of spontaneous songs. Even though she was not officially trained in Buddhism, these songs contained themes of all the Buddhist doctrines and practices including Mahamudra. Her legend says she had a miraculous death and appeared in the form of Vajrayogini to give messages to her husband after she died.

Sonam Peldren was finally recognized at the end of her life and due in great part to her miraculous death. She was recognized as an emanation of Dorje Phagmo, Vajrayogini. Even though she had proclaimed this identity outright while she was alive, it wasn’t until after many miracles, spontaneous songs and after the event when many relics were found at her death, her status as a tulku was confirmed.

Post-humonously she was recognized as the early progenitress of the Tibetan Samding Dorje Phakmo lineage. Her next incarnation was Chokyi Drolma.

(1) Bessenger, Suzanne. Echoes of Enlightenment: The Life & Legacy of Sonam Peldren. Dissertation, University of Virginia, 2010

(2) Havnevik, Hanna. Tibetan Buddhist Nuns: History, Cultural Norms and Social Reality. Oslo: Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. Print. 133-134

Additional Sources:

Diemberger, Hildegard, and Marilyn Strathern. When a Woman Becomes a Religious Dynasty: The Samding Dorje Phagmo of Tibet. Reprint edition. Columbia University Press, 2012. Print.

“Sonam Peldren.” The Treasury of Lives. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 June 2015.

Pema Khandro
Pema Khandro is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar, humanitarian, and teacher in the rare lineage of Tibet’s Buddhist Yogis. Raised in the west, ordained in the Nyingma lineage, enthroned as a tulku and trained as an academic, Pema Khandro presents both a traditional perspective and a modern voice. Read more at: https://www.pemakhandro.org/pema-khandro-extended-biography/