What is the meaning of 'Khandro'? Who is a Dakini?

What is the meaning of 'Khandro'? Who is a Dakini? What are the qualities of a Dakini?

The term 'Khandro' literally means 'one who walks in the sky.' There are many levels of Khandros or Dakinis, with some being very precious and others less so. But first and foremost, 'Khandro' is primarily a term.

There might be many Dakinis around, some originating from the Dharmakaya, dedicated to enlightened activities for benefiting sentient beings. Some have attained the realization of the development stage; some are at the perfection stages. They may have realization at various levels. Their external appearance could be anything, good or bad.

The word ‘Khandro' can be used for different things. However, those who demonstrate capabilities in realizing Emptiness and Bodhicitta and embody these precious qualities are the best. That's what I believe defines a true Khandro. What we consider precious is Bodhicitta and the view of Emptiness generated in one’s mindstream. If such qualities exist in a woman’s mind, she is very precious.

It is not someone who sits on a throne, wears specific garments or hats, has colorful appearances and attire, or displays certain mannerisms that define the qualities we seek in a Dakini. These are not considered good qualities. The true precious qualities we seek in a Dakini as a role model are kindness, truthfulness, and the diligent cultivation of Bodhicitta and the view of Emptiness.

Whether Dakinis, Dakas, or Lamas, their value lies in their benefit to the world. A kind heart endowed with Bodhicitta, qualities of truthfulness, and a deep sense of altruism—not just in words but through lived experience—makes them truly precious. Be they Dakinis or Lamas, we will hold them as qualified or precious if they possess these qualities. Anyone with an unmistaken mind is considered precious. 

Without these qualities, having big titles, various expressions, colorful garments, or hyping things up does not make someone truly valuable. Deities like Arya Tara or Yogini are manifestations of the true nature of our minds, which is what makes them precious. Arya Tara or Yogini do not exist externally. Therefore, those who manifest the true nature of the mind embody the essence of Dakinis. At that point, all women would naturally be Dakinis and all men would be Dakas.

However, due to our lack of understanding of the nature of our minds, we are misled by attachment, grasping, aversion, and our effort to defeat enemies and protect loved ones. In the grip of attachment and aversion, we act terribly. The nature of our mind becomes obscured. The mind's nature is like the sun; we are mistaken by believing in the clouds that obscure it. 

If you wonder how Arya Tara exists internally, she is the manifestation of the union of Emptiness and compassion in various appearances, forms, colors, and expressions. All positive qualities are encompassed in the nature of our mind. Negativities such as so-called ghosts and adversaries do not exist externally but within our ignorance. Ignorance is our troublemaker. It's a mistaken mind. Self-cherishing is the real ghost, inflicting harm on ourselves and others. Thus, we possess both negativities and positivities. Ignorance is only adventitious, and there are ways to eradicate the mistaken mind. The nature of our mind, Rigpa or primordial wisdom, exists primordially and is pure and precious.

It is important to remember that things do not become precious just because they are given a name. We are often in the dark about this. For example, when a Lama gives us a name, we might think, "Oh, my Lama gave me this precious name, and the name is Tara, so I am Tara." This is a mistaken thought. You can name a cat Tara or a donkey Tara. We can give any name to anyone or anything.

If you are wealthy or happen to be a beautiful woman and you are given a beautiful name, you should be skeptical. It’s just a name and may carry some blessings but nothing more. Don't think you're somebody special, or it will cause big problems. You are what you are; that's the reality. And in reality, your attachment and aversion are akin to a donkey.

It's easy to give names to the rich, the beautiful, and others like them. For a sick person or a beggar, it's usually not the case. Beggars or poor people are not typically approached with offers like, "Here, let me give you a name." Some Lamas, influenced by the eight worldly concerns, may name someone wealthy or physically attractive, saying, "I'll name you Tara or Yogini." This can make you feel special and believe you are someone or something because of the bestowed name.

However, receiving a name from a Lama should be seen as receiving blessings, not as becoming exceptionally special. True specialness comes from possessing qualities like knowledge, abilities, and love—that is, unsurpassable omniscience, capabilities, and love. We need to understand ourselves. It is our own reality that we need to know.