The Five Female Buddhas are a set of figures visualized in meditation. They embody aspects of wisdom, and through visualizing them and reciting their mantras gradually something of that wisdom ‘rubs off’. Most of these five figures (known in Sanskrit as the Five Prajnas or ‘ Five Wisdoms’) have not played a very important role in the Buddhist tradition. They appear mainly in the tantric context as consorts of the five male figures known as the Five Jinas (‘Conquerors’ – of suffering) or the Five Dhyani Buddhas (‘Buddhas of meditation’).
This neglect of the Female Buddhas perhaps reflects something of the male-dominated ethos of some traditional Buddhism. However, in the West these figures seem to be meeting a need, and they are becoming popular within Triratna. In 2000 I was asked to provide some materials in connection with these beautiful figures, and I set to work during a year that I spent meditating in the Spanish mountains.
Some of the fruits of this work are pujas (sets of devotional verses) that I wrote for each of the five figures. You can download them here:
I have also written a book about them – The Five Female Buddhas – including a verse by verse commentary on the pujas.
As well as what I have been doing, there are other activities connected with these figures going on in Triratna. Several artists have painted them; there have retreats and weekends on them led by Order members; and people have included them in their personal practice.