Achi Chökyi Drolma is the principal Protector of Dharma (Dharmapāla) (1) of the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism (2).
Great-grandmother of Ratnashri Jigten Sumgön, the great Drikungpa, reincarnation of Nagarjuna and founder of the Drikung Kagyu line (whose birth she prophesied), she took an oath to protect the Teachings of the Buddha and all beings who invoke her.
She is also represented in the refuge tree Karma Kagyu as Achi Chödrön and manifests as Dharmapāla and Dakini in the life of Tertön Nyingma Tsasum Lingpa.
According to a prophecy from Cakrasaṃvara Tantra, it is said: “The principal Dakini Karma will come to the region of Tidro cave in Drikung. It will be a manifestation (nirmanakaya) of Vajrayogini ”.
Achi is unusual in that she is both a Dharma Protectress and an awakened Bodhisattva who can be considered a Yidam in the practice of meditation.
She is usually depicted sitting on a blue horse, or standing, holding a kapala in her left hand and a mirror in the right.
Achi’s practice has become so popular that it has been included in other lineages …
Around the 11th century in Shoto in the region of Drikung (Ü-Tsang), there was a family that could not conceive of children. The couple then went on a pilgrimage to Swayambhu in Nepal. They prayed fervently and one night Driza Dharzam dreamed that a radiant sun was appearing in the east, radiating light in ten directions and dissipating in his womb, emitting light that particularly illuminated his native land. On the same night, her husband Nanam Chöwöpal dreamed that a rosary of clear white light emanated from the Eastern Buddha Field and entered his wife’s womb.
In the morning, they recalled their dreams and Nanam Chöwöpal said: “A special son will be born to us; we will have to be very careful of ourselves until the birth of this child. » They made an offering of Ganachakra (Tsok), fervent prayers for the fulfillment of their wishes and returned to Drikung …
The moment of birth arrived and an extraordinary little girl was born in the place called Kyetrag Thang. Many auspicious signs appeared and from his body emanated the purest rays of white light.
As a child, Achi continually recited Tara’s mantra and from the age of three was teaching it. She lost her parents at a very young age and lived with her uncle. She was growing rapidly and was incredibly beautiful.
Many wanted to marry her but she refused any suitor, declaring: « I will go to Kham where a great Yogi from the noble clan of the Kyura race lives. I will marry this yogi and our children and their descendants will be extraordinary beings who will benefit everyone by spreading the Essence of the Teachings of the Buddha ”.
Accompanied by a merchant, she went to the Kham and set out to meet the great holy Soul Tsultrim Gyatso, to whom she declared: “Although I have no attachment to worldly life, if we unite, our descendants will bear many enlightened beings who will be of great benefit to the Teachings of the Buddha ”. Reluctant at first because wishing to devote his life only to the Dharma and having nothing, he allowed himself to be convinced …
On the wedding day, Ame Tsultrim Gyatso had no goods to offer for the ceremony. Drölma told her not to worry: spontaneously manifesting a Damaru and a Kapala, she danced, looking up at the sky. Immediately the house was filled with the finest foods and beverages, as well as the richest clothes, filling the guests with joy.
Achi gave birth to four sons: Namkhe Wangchuk, Pekar Wangyal, Sonam Pal and Kathung Trushi. Particularly intelligent, they became great scholars, both on a worldly and spiritual level. Pekar Wangyal in turn had four sons: Khenpo Dharma, Konchog Rinchen, Tsunpo Bar and Naljor Dorje, the father of the great Ratnashri Jigten Sumgön, the great Drikungpa, reincarnation of Nagarjuna.
Later, Achi said, “I knowingly originated in samsara in order to realize my aspirations for the protection of the Buddha’s Teachings and the welfare of all sentient beings. For this reason, I will grant ordinary and Supreme Siddhis to my disciples. «
She then led her devotees into a vast sacred cave called Tingring, the walls of which are adorned with numerous Termas (treasures) and spontaneously manifested statues of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Yidams, Dakinis and Dharmapālas. A human corpse was taken away which she transformed into a large Tsok offering. Ordinary and Supreme Siddhis were granted to those who took part in this Tsok …
She then composed the text of her own saadhana and undertook to protect the Teachings of the Buddha and those beings who would invoke her in the future.
Then, declaring: « My activities through this body have come to an end », she left without leaving her body, on her blue horse, for the pure land of Buddha …
(1) A female Dharmapāla is a unique characteristic of the Drikung lineage.
(2) Drikung Kagyu is one of the eight « minor » lineages of the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. « Major » here refers to the Kagyu lineages founded by immediate disciples of Gampopa (1079-1153), while « minor » refers to all lineages founded by the disciples of Gampopa’s main disciple, Phagmo Drupa (1110-1170) . One of these disciples, Jigten Sumgön (1143-1217), is the founder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage.