Belmo Shakyadevi

ཤཱཀྱ་དེ་ཝི་
shAkya de wi
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Author: Samye Institute
Last Updated: August 15, 2022

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Belmo Shakyadevi (sometimes known as Shakyadema) was one of Guru Rinpoche’s five principal consorts. There is little biographical information but she appears to have been born as a princess to a Nepalese king named Punyadhara. According to one of those legends, her mother died in childbirth. Shakyadevi was abandoned beside the corpse of her mother in a charnel ground. However, she survived thanks to a group of monkeys who nurtured her.

When she grew up she became a yogini and resided near Sankhu, a pilgrimage place outside Kathmandu. It is said that when Padmasambhava met her he observed that her hands and feet were webbed like a goose. Seeing these signs, he recognized her as a wisdom ḍākinī and took her as his spiritual consort. She received teachings from him and she became his spiritual support. 

She was said to be the mind emanation of Vajravārāhī.

At Yangleshö, present-day Pharping in Nepal, the two practiced the sādhana of Yangdak Heruka. At that time, obstructive spirits had caused a three-year drought, bringing the suffering of famine and disease. Padmasambhava asked his teachers in India for the appropriate teaching to pacify them. Two men returned, laden with the tantras and commentaries of Vajrakilaya, and the moment they reached Nepal, the obstacles were pacified. 

Guru Rinpoche and Shakyadevi practiced on the mandala of the nine deities of Vishuddha Heruka. After practicing for a long time, they had a pure vision of Vishuddha and the Vajrakilya deities. Together they performed the combined sadhana of Vishuddha and Vajrakilya and achieved the third vidyādhara level of mahãmudrā. It is said that Shakyadevi attained the indestructible rainbow body as a fully-realized practitioner. 

When Yeshe Tsogyel visited Yangleshö, these two former consorts of Guru Rinpoche met and discussed the dharma, mingling their minds. In one account, after Yeshe Tsogyel offered gold and beseeched Shakyadevi for teachings, she began by speaking these words:

O welcome, sister, consort of our only Teacher!

The doctrines that I hold are few.

But through the compassion of the holy Orgyen Sambha,
I have teachings needed at the time of birth and death:
The union of the phases of Creation and Perfection;
The Great Seal, Mahamudra;
Instruction on the Clear Light and the Body of Illusion.

These, whereby the “bardo-womb” is emptied,
Are the teachings of Nepali Shakyadema.

Changchub, Gyalwa., Nyingpo, N., Tsogyal, Yeshe. Lady of the Lotus-Born: The Life and Enlightenment of Yeshe Tsogyal. United Kingdom: Shambhala, 2002, p. 56.