I recall Rinpoche first telling this story of a mahasiddha making offerings to his dakini teacher many years ago during a fantastic teaching called Gurus For Hire. Since then, Rinpoche had re-told this story a number of times and it never failed to fascinate me.
Over the years, I tried to look for the story in books like Masters of Enchantment (I thought it could be one of the 84 Mahasiddhas) and also in the Lamrim but the mahasiddha evades me. 10 years had elapsed and I had finally found the story while I was reading Kyungpo Naljor’s biography to Rinpoche. It turns out that Kyungpo Naljor was the mahasiddha that I was looking for and he was making offerings to his dakini teacher, Niguma. Rinpoche retold the story to me in the way he remembers reading it years ago. I was so bowled over, I almost cried.
Here is the story of Kyungpo Naljor meeting Niguma for the very first time…
According to the Blue Annals, Khyungpo Naljor asked his teachers whether anyone in India had met the Buddha Vajradhara, the source of the Buddhist tantras. They replied that Niguma, reputedly the sister of Naropa, had done so. So Khyungpo Naljor set out to seek her out. After much trials and tribulations, he finally finds her in the Sosa charnal ground in East India. He requested for transmission, to which she replied “I am a flesh-eating dakini! When my retinue returns, you will be devoured. Get out now!”
When he pressed her, she demanded gold, “To request secret mantra mahayana requires gold. If there’s gold, I’ll do it.” Thus, he offered her 500 gold pieces. Taking his gold, she flung it into the forest without so much as looking in the direction of where she had flung the gold to. Soon after, her retinue of dakinis formed a mandala, bestowing on Khyungpo Naljor the initiation of the Illusory Body and Dream Yoga, two sections that make up the Nigu Chodrug, or Six Yogas of Niguma. Niguma then transported him to a golden mountain summit where she bestowed the complete Six Yogas, the Dorje Tsikang and the Gyuma Lamrim. She prophesied that the teachings should stay secret until the seventh lineage holder, she being the second after Vajradhara.
Rinpoche’s explanation is as follows…
The lady tantric guru-dakini Niguma. She was dark, skinny and stayed in charnel grounds to practice. I like how when she was offered the gold, she just chucked it into the forest without a care or concern for it. That the gold offering was not for her or her pleasure, but to collect merit for Khyungpo Naljor so she can transmit the highest teachings to him. Resting on the merits of non-attachment, she can confer the practice. By offering gold he offers his attachments. To our supreme guru, don’t make excuses for negativities of body, speech but offer it up once and for all. Don’t be afflicted by them anymore and enter into the door of egoless practice. Don’t wait. It’s a small price to pay for liberation from ourselves!!!