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

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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 […]

Skillful Means

With Pema Khandro

April 8 - May 6, 2019
Closed Retreat, for Vajra Sangha Members. Free for Sustainer Members and Above, or $90 Love offering [...]
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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 […]
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Buddhist Practice on Western Ground: Reconciling Eastern Ideals and Western Psychology

With Pema Khandro

April 17, 2019
Open Teaching, Pema Khandro interviews Dr. Harvey B. Aaronson Isn’t Anger sometimes appropriate? What is the difference between attachment and non-attachment in Psychology and Buddhism?  Is there self-esteem in a system that teaches no-self? What is Ego afterall? How do we find our voices in the context of the Eastern paradigms of the student-teacher relationship? These questions and more will be discussed with Dr. Harvey B. Aaronson, Lama, co-founder of Dawn Mountain, psychotherapist and author of Buddhist Practice on Western Ground: Reconciling Eastern Ideals and Western Psychology.
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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 […]
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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 […]

Invoking the 100,000 Dakinis

With Pema Khandro

June 7 - 9, 2019
Dakini Mountain ~ This meditation retreat will offer the extraordinary opportunity to chant and study Invoking the 100,000 Dakinis, an inspiring Tibetan Buddhist prayer from the Dakini’s Heart Essence.
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Dakini Mountain, Grand Opening Celebration

With Pema Khandro

June 9, 2019
Join Pema Khandro and the Community of Buddhist Yogis at Dakini Mountain for this auspicious occasion! Sunday June 9th, Grand Opening Celebration    
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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 […]
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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 […]
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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 […]

The Radiance Retreat – Detox and Rejuvenate

With Aruna Rig'dzin and Satya Shiva

July 25 - 28, 2019
Free your body of deep-seated toxins and undigested material. Far deeper than fasting can go, this weekend retreat will guide you in how to safely uproot the toxins that are buried in your system. You will be guided through a traditional cleanse based on the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese and Himalayan Medicine. The retreat also includes bliss yoga, meditation, organic vegetarian meals, and communion with nature for a holistic mind-body renewal. The retreat will be led by Aruna Rigdzin and Satya Shiva, directors of the Yogic Medicine Institute. They have offered private treatments, group cleanses and panchakarma retreats each…
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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 […]
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The Innermost Heart of Freedom: Dzogchen Meditation Retreat

With Pema Khandro

August 21 - 25, 2019
Dakini Mountain ~ This is a meditation retreat for the wired and weary to settle into focused calm, to rest into the nature of mind and tap into profound depths. This is the fourth Annual Dzogchen Retreat, five days of Buddhist meditation practices that will surprise you with the wonderful power and expansiveness of mind [...]
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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 […]
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Meditation Instructor Training

With Pema Khandro, Aruna Rig'dzin and Satya Shiva

September 14 - October 4, 2019
The Meditation Instructor Training supplies the fundamental knowledge and experience necessary to lead meditation classes and one-day meditation intensives [...]
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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 […]

Laughter of the Dakinis – Chod Retreat

With Chodpa Kunzang Dorje and Pema Khandro

October 4 - 6, 2019
This meditation retreat focuses on Buddhism’s esoteric practice for transforming the most difficult experiences into opportunities for awakening. It is a method which harnesses the heroic energy of enlightened intent to change neurotic mind patterns and heal from traumas.….[…]
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Chod & Chod Dances

With Chodpa Kunzang Dorje

October 7 - 10, 2019
Vajra Sangha Only ~ Closed Retreat. This meditation intensive focuses on Buddhism’s esoteric practice for transforming the most difficult experiences into opportunities for awakening. It is a method which harnesses the heroic energy of enlightened intent to change neurotic mind patterns and heal from traumas. It is a practice for opening to intrinsic wholeness, loving compassion, and natural resilience [...]
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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 […]
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Vajra Sangha Retreat

With Pema Khandro

October 10 - 13, 2019
Closed Retreat ~ The annual Vajra Sangha retreat is a private weekend retreat full of deep practice of meditation and study of Dzogchen, Buddhism’s esoteric philosophy. It is a celebratory reunion of the Vajra Sangha from all over the world. The retreat is led by Pema Khandro Rinpoche at her headquarters in Virginia, Khandro Ling.
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Group Leader Training

With Pema Khandro

October 15 - 17, 2019
The Group Leader Training Program serves the need for training leaders who will serve their local communities, to connect them with the tools for meditation practices and for studying fundamental Buddhist views. Click Here For More Details and Pre-Requisites [...]
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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 […]
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Public Program

With Pema Khandro

November 21, 2019
San Diego, Ca ~ Public Program
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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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New Years Retreat ~ Vajrasattva

January 20, 2020
Begin the New Year with a Day-long meditation retreat. You will practice Vajrasattva meditation, the practice cherished by Tibetan Buddhists for clearing past karma and restoring confidence and awakening compassion wisdom of your innermost mind. This retreat will be held in Los Angeles, Seattle, Santa Cruz, Grass Valley and Berkeley led by the Buddhist Yogi’s Sangha’s Meditation Instructors and Group Leaders [...]
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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/