You are here

Revealing Khandromas in the Nyingma Treasure Tradition


Abstract for Online Program Book (maximum 1200 characters including spaces)

This paper examines the literary representations of the khandroma (lit. “sky-goer”) in Nyingma Treasure sources from the 14th to the 15th centuries. By introducing a taxonomy of different types of khandromas and her role in Treasure revelations, I argue that Nyingma Treasure literature has reorganized the khandromas into Buddhist categories and revamped them as the most important female persona in Buddhist lores. More importantly, the khandroma plays a vital role in the process of revealing concealed Treasures. In her participation in this process, she serves as a conduit of knowledge and wisdom and embodies a dialectic interaction between the theological and social aspects of gender in the Treasure tradition. The negotiation between these two aspects of gender allows us to propose a new hermeneutic framework in Tibetan Buddhism that takes into account the theological identity of the khandroma as divine conduits of wisdom, and at the same time queries how this identity is negotiated in her earthly emanations. I also consider relational agency as a Tibetan way of thinking about subjectivity that extends beyond individuality and relies more on karmic actions and divine emanations.