Yogini, Naljorma

Skt., yogini
Tib., rnal-'byor-ma

  1. Most often the term is used for one or more goddesses within Hinduism, Buddhism and Tantra. Although the traditional number of these yoginis is said to be 64, various extant lists give different names and sometimes come to a different number; varying from school to school and from century to century. That the yoginis are no minor deities - as is often written - becomes clear when we recognize among them a great number of powerful and important Indian and Tibetan goddesses. Major text-sources describing and listing yoginis are the Tibetan Bardo Thödol and the Indian Kalika Purana. In the latter case, however, the term seems to be used rather indiscrimninately for a great variety of famous and lesser known goddesses.
  2. A female practitioner of Tantra, just as yogin or naljorpa (rnal-'byor-pa) indicates a male practitioner. For an example, see Yogini Mahasukhasiddhi.
  3. In both Hindu and Buddhist Tantra, yogini is also used as a title for initiated women practicing advanced rituals, for example the yoni puja or the stri puja.
  4. As a result of the definitions given above, the term has also been used to indicate and/or honor certain other women. It sometimes refers to a class of accomplished female ascetics who spread Tantric knowledge, is used for a shamaness or medicine-woman, and can sometimes indicate a woman temporarily possessed by the goddess.

See also Dakinis & Yoginis, Vajrayogini, Yoginis of the Kalika Purana, Yogini Tantra, Fierce & Powerful Cannibal Goddesses.