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Question
I've seen daka used to refer to a practitioner of tantric buddhism, female practitioners respectively dakini, while originally it seems refer to the class of spirit and then to female embodiment of enlightened energy. as a class of spirit is there such a thing as a daka. I've seen it refered as a class of yaksha which is dwarf like and crawls on its belly?  http://www.khandro.net/dakini_khandro.htm

Answer
Hi Michael,
Dakini is a more widely used term than daka, as perhaps you know. As far as things go today is concerned, you are quite right that a dakini is a female embodiment of enlightened energy, something like a spirit but on a higher level, in some cases effectively the same as a Buddha, but the term is elastic and can include something more like spirits and can refer to actual people.
The "ugly old" form of dakini comes up more often in older texts, whereas these days she is most often seen as attractive even though she may be wrathful to at least some extent.
In these contexts the dakini seems to be the central idea, and dakas are their male equivalents, but less important.
And of course, we are talking about an old culture, with elements from India as well as Tibet, and even from China too, so you probably have to live with the fact that there is no "one-size" definition to fit all cases.
Good luck with your research!

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Alex Wilding

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I have practiced and studied Tibetan Buddhism in the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions since the early 1970s, and have a good knowledge of theory, history and of the struggles of trying to practice the teachings, including meditation, while leading a normal, modern life. I am also available to provide background information for journalists.

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I have been a practitioner since the early 1970s; have run a small Buddhist centre in the English Midlands and was vice-president of Kagyu Benchen Ling e.V. in Germany, for whom I managed three large Buddhist summer-camps. More importantly, I maintain a habit of personal practice. I am the "owner" of the Kagyu list at Yahoo.

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My first degree was an M.A. from Oxford. I later obtained a Master of Philosophy degree for a research thesis in "Initiation in Tibetan Buddhism" from Leicester University. I also have engineering and educational qualifications.

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