The Five Consorts

Tib., phyag rgya ma lnga

1. Sometimes used as the collective name for the Five Wisdom Dakinis (as ‘consorts’ of the five Sambhogakaya Buddhas).

2. More often, the phrase is used to refer to the five major ‘spiritual consorts’ - living women - who practiced with Padmasambhava. When we read - in Padmasambhava’s biography - that they are described as the five women who had access to the master's heart, and knowing that their practices often entailed intimate union, we could just as well call them his five major lovers; a term more suited to understanding what was going on in modern terms. After all, ‘spiritual consort’ is one of the ways to translate the Tibetan sangyum.

At the same time, considering that it was Padmasambhava who first taught them how to practice the Profound Path of Skillful Means, they are also counted among his students; which is why they are often called his ‘close disciples’.

Each of these women is regarded as an emanation of the goddess Vajravarahi, and also as an incarnation of the above mentioned Five Wisdom Dakinis. Coming from various regions in the Himalayas, their names are listed here in the order in which they appear in the Padma Kathang Sheldrakma: