Yeshe Tsogyel

Rita M. Gross

in A Garland of Feminist Reflections

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780520255852
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943667 | DOI:
Yeshe Tsogyel

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Yeshe Tsogyel, probably Tibet's most influential and famous female religious teacher and one of the world's most significant female religious exemplars, lived in the eighth century CE. Tsogyel's biography is told on two levels, on a “mythic” level, narrating the life of a great human religious teacher, and on the level of “sacred history,” narrating how enlightenment manifested in the form of Tsogyel. These two forms of the story can seem far apart, and the “sacred history” is often based on esoteric concepts. Tsogyel's biography is divided into eight chapters. Their titles summarize her life history well. In terms of biographical episodes, it presents a few examples of Tsogyel's relationships with women. In the narrative, she has many, many women students, of whom a few stand out. Tsogyel's biography, compared with biographies of other similar spiritual heroes in Vajrayana Buddhism, does not point to essential, basic differences based on gender that affect or enhance one's spiritual practice, though some more superficial differences probably occur.

Keywords: Yeshe Tsogyel; religious exemplars; sacred history; spiritual practice; Vajrayana Buddhism

Chapter.  7356 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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