Dakini and Yogini

Introduction and comparison

The Indian and Tibetan pantheon is full of female deities and demons that are variously classified as dakinis or yoginis. Sometimes, these terms are applied to an individual, at other times to whole groups of 6, 8 or 64 female deities. However, reading Tantric and other sacred texts, we also find the very same terms applied to certain historical figures; to (once) living women.

The following two definitions of these Sanskrit terms give a broad outline of who and what these women and deities are, further hypertext links will go into more detail regarding each of these groups and the manifold usage of these two names and titles.

Looking at these two types of deities from a Western point of view, where goddesses often occur in triple forms representing the virgin, mother and crone phases of many women's lives, it can be said that the yogini represents a younger type of female energy (like that of the princesses in the Tarot) than the dakini, who often represents characteristics and attributes more typical of the 'wise old woman', the crone or hag.

Such Jungian-style interpretation, however, makes no sense anymore when one realizes that many of these goddesses seem to belong to both categories, or - the other conclusion - that these Indo-Tibetan categories are not as rigidly defined as the Western mind often wishes or demands.

It is therefore that one can find, for example, that the famous Vajra Yogini belongs to the group of semi-wrathful dakinis.