Achi Chokyi Drolma is described in the Tibetan school of Buddhism as being the Dharma Protector of the Drikung Kagyu. Drikung Kagyu is described as one of the minor lineages of the Tibetan Buddhism school of Kagyu. This is often known as the “oral lineage” or the Whispered Transmission.
Achi Chokyi Drolma was first seen as being mentioned in the prophecy that was decreed in the Chakrasamvara Tantra. In this prophecy it was said that “The head of the Karma Dakinis will come to the area of Tidro cave in Drikung. This will be a mirmanakaya manifestation of Vajrayogini.”
Achi Chokyi Drolma’s birth is an interesting tale that starts in the 11th century in the Drikung area of Central Tibet. It is said that a married couple living there, Driza Dharzam and Nanam Chowopal, found that they were not able to conceive a child, which was something that their hearts desperately longer for. Hoping to find answers, they set out on a pilgrimage to the Swayambhu area of Nepal. There they prayed with all of their might for a child to be sent to them. One night the woman, Driza Dharzam, had a strange dream in which a bright and shining sun appeared in the sky in the East. The bright and strong sun radiated light in the ten directions and then dissolved into her womb. Her womb then radiated a brilliant light, filling the whole universe, and highlighting the country of her birth.
That very same night the husband, Nanam Chowopal, had his own interesting dream in which a rosary of brilliant white light shone from the Eastern Buddha field. He also dreamed that the clear white light entered the womb of his wife.
Upon awaking, the couple discussed the dreams of the night before and Nanam Chowopal is said to have said to his wife, “A very special son will soon be born to us. We should take much care until this child is born.”
The couple performed a traditional feast offering, known as a tsog, and together they prayed for their wishes to be fulfilled. They then returned to Drikung to wait out the birth of their long-awaited and much-desired son.
Much to their surprise, when the time arrived for the birth of their child, an exceptionally beautiful daughter was placed in their arms. She was born in Kyetrag Thang, and despite their belief that a son would be born to them, the couple was overjoyed with their new daughter. There were a number of interesting and auspicious signs on the day of her birth, and perhaps most remarkable of all was the baby herself. Her skin was of the purest white and it was said to have been radiating rays of light.
As the child grew, she became more and more beautiful, and more spiritual with each passing day. It is said that as a small child was often heard to be reciting the Tara mantra, and by the time that she turned three it is said that she was teaching the Tara mantra to those around her. She is said to have grown rapidly as the years passed. Unfortunately she lost her parents when she was very young, and she was then passed into the care of her devoted uncle.
As Achi Chokyi Drolma grew into a stunning young woman, she received numerous wedding proposals. Much to the chagrin of her uncle, Achi Chokyi Drolma refused them all and finally made the announcement to her uncle. “I will go to Kham and seek out a great yogi, who is himself descended from the noble clan of the Kyura. This yogi I will then marry. Our sons, daughters, and future generations will be extraordinary beings who will offer benefit to all sentient beings by spreading the essence of the Buddha’s teachings.”
Achi Chokyi Drolma then set out on her journey to Kham, which is located in Eastern Tibet. Traveling with a merchant, she was able to see much of the countryside, learning more about her world as they traveled. During the course of their journey, the arrived at Dentod Tsonrur, where Achi Chokyi Drolma said to the merchant with whom she was traveling, “This is where I need to stay.” The two departed ways and Achi Chokyi Drolma went on to seek out the great and revered saint Ame Tsultrim Gyatso. To him she said, “Although I have no attachment to this worldly life, if we come together as man and wife, our descendants will give birth to many wholly enlightened beings who will serve great benefits for the teachings of the Buddha.”
When their wedding day arrived, Ame Tsultrim Gyatso confessed that he was in fact very poor, and did not have any possessions or means of paying for their wedding ceremony. Achi Chokyi Drolma said to her betrothed, “Do not worry, I have the means to take care of this.” It is said that she then produced from her right pocket a damaru, which is a type of two-headed drum used in Buddhist ceremonies. From her left pocket she produced a kapala, which is a cup or bowl that is used in Buddhist Tantra and is typically made from a human skull. They are often elaborately carved and decorated with precious gems and metals like gold.
It is said that Achi Chokyi Drolma proceeded to beat on the damuru drum, while holding the kapala in her hand. She danced an enchanting and mystical dance, all while gazing into the heavens. Almost immediately it is said that their house was filled with the finest of drink and food, along with the most luxurious of garments for them to wear. Their wedding day was thus turned into an incredibly successful celebration for all in attendance.
Over the next several years Achi Chokyi Drolma gave birth to four exceptionally intelligent sons. All of her sons became scholars on the temporal and spiritual levels, as did their own children in due time.
It is said that at the time of her death, Achi Chokyi Drolma said to her followers, “I have knowingly taken birth into samsara, in an effort to fulfill my aspirations to provide protection for the teachings of the Buddha, and for the welfare of all sentient beings.” She led her followers to a very sacred cave where it is said that she transformed a human corpse into a tsog offering. Her followers who were able to partake of the tsog offering were granted the gift of supreme perfection. Achi Chokyi Drolma composed a sadhana of herself, which is a description for the planed means of accomplishing something, and she made a vow to protect the teachings of the Buddha. She also vowed to protect the very essence of the Buddha’s teachings that could appear in the future.
Achi Chokyi Drolma’s final words were documented as being “My activities through this body have come to an end.” She is said to have then flown up to the great Buddha Field on a great blue steed.