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

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Self-Paced Course: Medicine Buddha

With Pema Khandro, Aruna Rig'dzin and Satya Shiva

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A web-class co-hosted by the Buddhist Studies Institute & theYogic Medicine Institute. By donation [...]
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Self-Paced Course: Changing Your Karma

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Transforming Fear When Loved Ones are Dying – Online

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April 13, 2020
A Webcast to Support Your Resilience. Tips to practice self care and empathy, and how to be there for yourselves and others. By donation [...]
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Dakini Day Chod – Online

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April 17, 2020
Practice the Laughter of the Dakinis on Dakini Day, a practice of healing through ultimate compassion. Donations Welcome ~ No one turned away [...]
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Buddhist Philosophy Online, Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

April 22, 2020
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 […]
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Empathy Training – Online

With Pema Khandro, Aruna Rig'dzin and Satya Shiva

April 29 - May 20, 2020
This four week training will focus on how to be there for oneself and others through tough emotions, in stressful times and even when empathy is most difficult to come by.
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Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

May 6, 2020
In web-classes, meeting twice a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism[…]

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

May 13, 2020
In web-classes, meeting twice a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism[…]

Dakini Day Chod – Online

With Pema Khandro

May 17, 2020
Practice the Laughter of the Dakinis on Dakini Day, a practice of healing through ultimate compassion. Donations Welcome ~ No one turned away [...]
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Buddhist Philosophy Online, Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

May 27, 2020
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 […]
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Retreat with Pema Khandro

With Pema Khandro

May 29 - 31, 2020
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Retreat

June 1 - 7, 2020
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Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

June 3, 2020
In web-classes, meeting twice a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism[…]

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

June 10, 2020
In web-classes, meeting twice a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism[…]

Buddhist Philosophy Online, Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

June 24, 2020
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 […]
Register Now

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

July 1, 2020
Vajrayana Training is offered in modules with ten classes per year and six classes per module. The courses are non-sequential and can be taken in any order. In web-classes, meeting once a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism, make sense of empowerments, and go deep into understanding oneself, one’s […]

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

July 8, 2020
Vajrayana Training is offered in modules with ten classes per year and six classes per module. The courses are non-sequential and can be taken in any order. In web-classes, meeting once a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism, make sense of empowerments, and go deep into understanding oneself, one’s […]

Dzogchen Meditation Retreat

With Pema Khandro

July 21 - 26, 2020
Join Pema Khandro Rinpoche for a five-day meditation retreat in the lush meadows and scenic rolling hills of Northern California’s Tahoe National Forest. This retreat is an immersion in Tibetan Buddhism’s restorative practices to awaken [...]
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Buddhist Philosophy Online, Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

July 22, 2020
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 […]
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Free Intro to Meditation Instructor Training – Online

With Pema Khandro, Aruna Rig'dzin and Satya Shiva

August 3, 2020
Join Pema Khandro Rinpoche, Aruna Rig’zin and Satya Shiva for a free introduction to the upcoming Meditation Instructor Training.  The training details will be covered along with time for Q&A. For full details and curriculum, visit: https://ngakpa.org/meditation-teacher-training/
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Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

August 5, 2020
Vajrayana Training is offered in modules with ten classes per year and six classes per module. The courses are non-sequential and can be taken in any order. In web-classes, meeting once a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism, make sense of empowerments, and go deep into understanding oneself, one’s […]

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

August 12, 2020
Vajrayana Training is offered in modules with ten classes per year and six classes per module. The courses are non-sequential and can be taken in any order. In web-classes, meeting once a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism, make sense of empowerments, and go deep into understanding oneself, one’s […]

Buddhist Philosophy Online, Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

August 26, 2020
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 […]
Register Now

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

September 2, 2020
Vajrayana Training is offered in modules with ten classes per year and six classes per module. The courses are non-sequential and can be taken in any order. In web-classes, meeting once a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism, make sense of empowerments, and go deep into understanding oneself, one’s […]

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

September 9, 2020
Vajrayana Training is offered in modules with ten classes per year and six classes per module. The courses are non-sequential and can be taken in any order. In web-classes, meeting once a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism, make sense of empowerments, and go deep into understanding oneself, one’s […]

Buddhist Philosophy Online, Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

September 23, 2020
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 […]
Register Now

Vajra Sangha Retreat

With Pema Khandro

October 1 - 6, 2020
Closed Retreat, for the Vajra Sangha only.
Closed

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

October 7, 2020
Vajrayana Training is offered in modules with ten classes per year and six classes per module. The courses are non-sequential and can be taken in any order. In web-classes, meeting once a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism, make sense of empowerments, and go deep into understanding oneself, one’s […]

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

October 14, 2020
Vajrayana Training is offered in modules with ten classes per year and six classes per module. The courses are non-sequential and can be taken in any order. In web-classes, meeting once a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism, make sense of empowerments, and go deep into understanding oneself, one’s […]

Buddhist Philosophy Online, Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

October 28, 2020
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 […]
Register Now

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

November 4, 2020
Vajrayana Training is offered in modules with ten classes per year and six classes per module. The courses are non-sequential and can be taken in any order. In web-classes, meeting once a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism, make sense of empowerments, and go deep into understanding oneself, one’s […]

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

November 11, 2020
Vajrayana Training is offered in modules with ten classes per year and six classes per module. The courses are non-sequential and can be taken in any order. In web-classes, meeting once a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism, make sense of empowerments, and go deep into understanding oneself, one’s […]

Buddhist Philosophy Online, Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

November 25, 2020
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 […]
Register Now

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

December 2, 2020
In web-classes, meeting twice a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism[…]

Vajrayana Training – Online

With Pema Khandro

December 9, 2020
In web-classes, meeting twice a month, students will discover how to understand the pivotal principles of Tibetan Buddhism[…]

Buddhist Philosophy Online, Open Teaching Webcast

With Pema Khandro

December 23, 2020
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 […]
Register Now

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/