The Mythology of the Tsogyal Latso Sandalwood Tree

Mythologies, Joseph Campbell taught, are not born from the mind. They come from the heart and thus they bring the world to life. At Tsogyal Latso, there are several beloved legends surrounding the ecology of Yeshe Tsogyal’s  birthplace.

One of these recounts that a naga chief, inspired by Tsogyal’s greatness, grew and carefully nurtured a sandalwood tree with a hundred vital essences extracted from the milk of a white lioness and a wishfulling cow. When the dakini was born, he offered it to her and her family. By nursing on the sap of this tree, Tsogyal grew in beauty and strength so quickly that in a few months, she became like an eight-year old child.

In 1980, when Gochen Tulku Sang Ngak Rinpoche visited Tsogyal Latso and found it in poor condition after the Cultural Revolution, he placed a pillar from this sandalwood tree inside the temple. Today, it is kept wrapped in silks inside the shrine cabinet and the tree continues to flourish next to the stupa marking the place of Tsogyal’s birth.

Yeshe Tsogyal's guardian and the guardian of Tsogyal Latso as well is the female protector Dorje Yudronma. In times past, through her blessings, the valley of Tsogyal Latso was filled with beautiful red and white sandalwood trees. —Lama Dechen Yeshe Wangmo