Niguma received a transmission of the four
complete empowerments of tantra directly from Buddha Vajradhara. Her
instructions form the corpus of the Shangpa meditation practices, and today,
three-year retreats offered at Kalu Rinpoche centers around the world include
the Six Yogas of Niguma. Niguma was Naropa's sister, or perhaps his wife. We
don't know the exact relationship between them because the Tibetan text
employs the term lcam mo which can mean either sister or wife.
Sukhasiddhi, the other dakini in the lineage,
is always presented as peaceful, beautiful, and ripe with blessings that she
continually bestows on the lineage. She was banished from her home at age
fifty-nine, became a beer merchant, and received teachings from the adept
The founder of the Shangpa lineage, the yogi
Khyungpo Naljor, names both women as two of his four root Lamas.
The dakini, female and playful--although
sometimes wrathful--is emblematic of the tantric view of reality. When
Khyungpo Naljor meets with the lion-faced dakini Singhamukha, for example, she
tells him, "The supreme instruction is / To recognize the dakini as your own
The stories of Niguma and Sukhasiddhi are the
first biographies in the book Like an Illusion: Lives of the Shangpa Kagyu
Masters. Details on the book are available here.