I’ve been discussing the Mahamaya Tantra with Ryan Damron who translated the text for the 84000 Project and is the Director of Education at Rangjung Yeshe Gomde California. Our discussion fits into this thread so here: In reference to the lyrics of a song sung by Dakinis he said:
“As you noticed in the footnote, the original verse was composed in an obscure Prakrit dialect. Rather than being in Sanskrit as the rest of the Tantra originally was, this verse is meant to render the vernacular language spoken by the dakinis. This verse is not exclusive to the Mahāmāyā Tantra; it can be found with major or minor variations in a number of works associated with the Yogini Tantras.”
“Usually, we read about the Dakinis having their own language and writing system. So would you hypothesize that the Dakini language is Prakrit? Or is Prakrit merely used to illustrate that the song is not of human origin?
By chance, I'm currently discussing the origins of the Dakinis on a web forum. Orissa and Assam are the leading contenders for the area of origin. Was Prakrit spoken in Orissa or Assam?”
“Though people (including me in my earlier email) speak of Prakrit, its much more accurate to speak of prakrits, plural. The prakrits are a class of literary languages that are derived from Sanskrit and are found in most genres of literature in pre-modern South Asia. Many works are entirely in a prakrit, but just as often prakrit passages are incorporated into Sanskrit texts, as in the case of the Mahāmāyā Tantra. It has become clear that the vast majority of these were not spoken languages (though some were probably close to spoken languages) but were used primarily in the composition literature. The prakrits found particular use in Sanskrit dramatic literature where upper class men all speak in Sanskrit but women, foreigners and the lower castes speak in a form of prakrit.
There are also distinct forms of prakrits that are reserved only for semi-divine beings like kinnaras, pishacas and dakinis. Dakinis are certainly not only found in Buddhist literature. They had been part of the pantheon of semi-divine South Asian deities for hundreds of years before they found their way into Buddhist tantric literature. When they do appear in Sanskrit narrative literature and poetry they speak in some form of prakrit, but I don't think there is only one form of prakrit that is specific to them. Many of the texts in which dakinis speak are not scriptural works, but are part of the secular canon with historically identifiable authors. These authors used whatever form they felt was most aesthetically appropriate or popular for the time and region. It is also clear from the frequent appearances South Asian literature that they were prominent in the popular cultural imagination and were not primarily of tribal origin as many people think.
Thus I think the attempt to associate the language of the dakinis, and thus the dakinis themselves, with any specific regions, especially tribal ones, is bound to fail. And I think you’re right in suggesting that the use of Prakrit was intended to point to the non-human nature of dakinis. Dakinis were likely never thought to originate anywhere specifically. There is certainly nothing in the vast body of South Asian literature that suggests the people of South Asia thought they were anything but semi-divine. They are traditionally considered liminal beings who frequent the margins of the social world. They derive their power from this liminality, which is why they have always been considered both powerful and dangerous. The structure of a Buddhist Yogini Tantra mandala with a wrathful male deity at the center surrounded by a horde of dakinis/yoginis encodes the traditional notion that it takes an extremely powerful person (most frequently male) to tame the dakinis and gain their power.
The suggestion that the dakinis originated in Assam or Orissa is probably based on the outdated notion that tantra itself is of tribal origin. This idea has been widely discredited because it is obvious from reading tantric literature that even the most transgressive, unorthodox practices are constructed upon long-established religious and non-religious practices of mainstream South Asian culture. This is true for tantric literature as well.
That was a lengthy answer, I hope it was at least somewhat clear. I don't pretend to be an expert on these things, this is just my understanding after years of studying, translating and practicing in this tradition.”
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.
-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra
"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."
-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats