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Bardo Thödol for a Woman from Kumik 

Kanya Kanchana  

Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra (Tibetan: Kuntuzangpo) in yabyum with his consort Primordial Dakini Samantabhadri (Tibetan: Kuntuzangmo) from the 19thC Bardo Thödol mural, Chenrezig Lakhang, Lamayuru monastery, Ladakh
Photo credit: Kaya Dorjay Angdus, 2010; provided by Kristin Blancke.

Lhamo Dolma: You have died. 


Lhamo Dolma of Kumik village, child of noble family, you are now dead. 


Light of this world is fading. Light of the next is yet to come.  

In this umbra, Lhamo Dolma, death has arrived. It is time. 



who chomped mountains like tsampa 

laughing, drank rivers like po cha, 

you are now dead? 


Lhamo Dolma: Do not be uncertain. 


Some went ahead. Others yet will follow.  

Remember your practice, your average capacities. 


Your hypnagogic hair, 

your three-jewel eyes, 

your Changtang mind,  

average capacities.  


Lhamo Dolma: Listen without distraction. 


In the bardo of becoming, there is no stopping. 

See things as they are, and be on your way. 


Ache, leave us your fires, 

your yaks, your jewels. 

Leave us the blood 

your fontanelle drains. 

Leave us your breath, 

your body, your ash.   

3 of 3 

Leave us, leave us, 

and do not look back. 


Lhamo Dolma: Listen with attention. 


Swarming, roaring, within the bright, 

a thousand thunders, remember tonight. 


The chang is a lake.  

The night is a wheel. 

My heart is a flag. 

You inbetween. 


Photo credit: Savita Rani, 2019 

Kanya Kanchana is a poet and translator from India. Her writing has appeared in POETRY, Anomaly, Asymptote, TrinityJoLTLitro, Paper Darts, and The Common. Her translations have appeared in Exchanges, Asymptote, Waxwing, Circumference, Aldus, and Muse India. Her poetry was shortlisted for the 2019 Disquiet Prize.