Dakini

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A dakini (Sanskrit: "sky dancer") is a Tantric priestess of ancient India who "carried the souls of the dead to the sky". This Buddhist figure is particularly upheld in Tibetan Buddhism. The dakini is a female being of generally volatile temperament, who acts as a muse for spiritual practice. Dakinis can be likened to elves, angels, or other such supernatural beings, and are symbolically representative of testing one's awareness and adherence to Buddhist tantric sadhana.

According to legend, members of the Indian royal castes and the wealthy nobility brought their deceased to the far North to visit the Shrine of the Dakini (located at the foothills of the Himalaya). Other legends mention a Tibetan myth which says dakini first appeared in a remote area "pure of man".

Dakini are timeless, inorganic, immortal, non-human beings who have co-existed since the very beginning with the Spiritual Energy. In some New Age belief systems, they are angelic. This New Age paradigm differs from that of the Judeo-Christian by not insisting on angels being bona fide servants of God. Moreover, an angel is the Western equivalent of a dakini. The behavior of dakini has always been revelatory and mysterious; they respond to the state of spiritual energy within individuals. Love is their usual domain — one explanation for dakini or angels supposedly living in the sky or heaven. Manifestations of dakini in human form occur because they supposedly can assume any form. Most often they appear as a human female. By convention, a male of this type is called a 'daka.

In Tibetan Buddhism and other schools closely related to Yogacara and Vajrayana practises, a dakini is considered a supernatural being who tests a practitioner's abilities and commitments. Many stories of the Mahasiddhas in Tibet contain passages where a dakini will come to perturb the would-be Mahasiddha. When the dakini's test has been fulfilled and passed, the practitioner is often then recognised as a Mahasiddha, and often is elevated into the Paradise of the Dakinis, a place of enlightened bliss. It should be noted that while dakinis are often depicted as beautiful and naked, they are not sexual symbols, but rather natural ones. There are instances where a dakini has come to test a practitioner's control over their sexual desires, but the dakini itself is not a being of passion.

Tantric sex may involve a "helper" dakini — a human female trained in Tantra Yoga — or an "actual" dakini. Both increase the level of erotic pleasure for the sexual participants by helping them focus on a non-physical state of spiritual joy and the physical pleasure of sex at the same time.

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