Ayu Khandro, (Ayu Khandro Dorje Paldrön) (1838–1953) was a teacher of Dzogchen and Tantric Buddhism in East Tibet. She was a student of both Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Nyala Pema Dündul.....Ayu Khandro was held to be an incarnation of Vajrayogini. She spent many dozen years in dark retreat and also practiced and taught a tantric long-life practice and was an adept chödpa......She is said to have transmitted her knowledge and gave empowerments to Chogyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche.
Excerpts From: Tsultrim Allione's "Women of Wisdom"......
Namkhai Norbu: "after a journey of three days, we arrived at A-Yu Khadro's place in Dzongsa. She lived in a little stone hut near a river in a meadow under the cliff face of a mountain to the east of a small Sakya monastery. The hut was tiny; with no windows." She had two assistants, an old man, Palden, and an old nun, Zangmo. They were also strong practitioners of yoga and meditation.
We were very happy and amazed to see this situation. When we entered Khadro's room for the first time, only one butter lamp was lit. She was 113 at that time, but she did not look particularly ancient. She had very long hair that reached her knees. It was black at the tips and white at the roots. Her hands looked like the hands of a young woman. She wore a dark-red dress and a meditation belt over her left shoulder. During our visit we requested teachings, but she kept saying that she was no one special and had no qualifications to teach.
...the next meeting she told me that she had had an auspicious dream that night of her teacher, Jamyang Khentse Wangpo.5 He had advised her to give me the teachings of Khadro Sangwa Kundu,6 his gongter. This was not the teaching I had asked for, but was a teaching she had received from him directly which she had practiced extensively. .....The next day around eleven we began the initiation of Khadro Sangdu. From that day on, every morning she gave teachings including the practices of the subtle nerves and the subtle breath. In the afternoon at the end of her meditation session, she gave further explanation of the Khadro Sangdu and the Chod of Machig Lapdron, the Zinba Rangdrol. This was the Chod practice she had done for many years when she was younger.
A month later, she began the Yang-Ti, one of the most important of the Dzog Chen teachings in the most advanced Upadesha series, having to do with the practice in the dark. This teaching took five days. Then she began teaching on the Longchen Nying Thig. ....
in the Year of the Wood Bird, 1885, in the first month on the day of the dakini I began a seven-year retreat. From the beginning I spent most of my time doing the practice in the dark. At first this was sometimes difficult so I alternated the dark and light,* but the majority of the time was spent in complete darkness.
Ayu Khandro....."When I was fifty-three, in the Year of the Iron Rabbit, 1891, in the fifth month on the day of Padma Sambhava, when I was doing practice in the dark, I had a vision. I saw a very clear sphere; inside it were many dakinis carrying another sphere with the form of Jamyang Khentse Wongpo inside. I was sure this meant that he had been invited by the dakinis to leave this world of suffering.....Although I still had seven months before the end of the seven years I had promised myself to complete, I decided it was more important to see him before he left his body. So I left my hut and a few days later went directly to him in Dzongsar.....http://www.khandro.net/book-womenofwisdom.htm
(Dark retreat (Tibetan: mun mtshams) refers to advanced practices in the Dzogchen lineages of the Nyingmapa, Bönpo and other schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The time period dedicated to dark retreat varies from a few hours to decades. Dark Retreat in the Himalayan tradition is a restricted practice only to be engaged by the senior spiritual practitioner under appropriate spiritual guidance. This practice is considered conducive for navigating the bardo at the time of death and for realising the rainbow body. The traditional dark retreat requires stability in the natural state and is only suitable for advanced practitioners. Ayu Khandro and Dilgo Khyentse are examples of modern, if not contemporary, practitioners of significant periods of Dark Retreat sadhana. Ayu Khandro performed the Yang-Ti (Tibetan), an advanced practice of the Dzogchen Upadesha, a version of the Dark Retreat.)
A-yu Kha'dro www.khandro.net Tsultrim Allione's Women of Wisdom is a compilation of the namthars several remarkable women of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Many of these biographies are hagiography, since legendary aspects are included.