Niguma was born in Kashmir, a Muslim country, in a region called the Land of Great Magic. During the time of the previous Buddha, this land had been covered by water, and a Naga king was in possession of it. An arhat, who was a disciple of the Buddha of that time, longed to erect a temple there, so he went to ask the naga king for a piece of solid ground. The naga king promised one, but only as big as the arhat’s body could cover when he was sitting in meditation. The arhat gratefully accepted what was offered, and when the time came to take possession of the land, he performed a miracle: his sitting body covered the whole of that land. The naga king kept his promise, and the whole new land was offered to the arhat, whose name was Nyimay Gung.
With his miraculous power, the arhat made all the water disappear, and a magnificent temple and monastery were soon built there. People in the surrounding regions began to take notice of this new landscape and, especially, its most beautiful temple. They wanted to live there and discussed how to go about it. They finally decided to invite a great magician who could create a city all round the temple. Once he had done this and before he could undo his magical creation (as magicians are wont to do), the people destroyed him. So the settlement continued there, and the district acquired the reputation of a land of great magnificence and great magic.
This special place later became the birthplace of many mahasiddhas, among them Naropa. And here too was born the great female Bodhisattva Niguma, who by auspicious coincidence happened to be born as the sister of Naropa, in a virtuous, noble family. In former lives she had generated the enlightened mind and followed the path of the Bodhisattvas. She now chose voluntary birth as a woman who would benefit and liberate others.
During three previous incalculable eons of time, she actualized her training on the spiritual path. In the continuity of that path, during this lifetime she received a little instruction from a few accomplished spiritual masters and, based on their teaching, directly saw the truth of the nature of reality. Her illusory body of obscuring emotions appeared as a pure body of enlightenment.
Niguma received the ultimate teachings directly from Vajradhara, the primordial Buddha, in the form of personal initiation into all levels of the teachings —Sutra, Abhidharma, and Tantra. As a result, she manifested as a tenth stage Bodhisattva; this means that even the subtlest obscurations were dispelled, so that her mind became one with the mind of the Buddha, attaining the Three Bodies of perfect Enlightenment. From her lifetime to this present day, she continues to manifest whatever subtle or more material form is necessary to benefit beings over limitless time. In Âparticular, she watches over those who preserve her lineage with a compassion that knows no distance; she blesses them and ensures the success of their enlightened activity.
Niguma far exceeded the stage of awakening of all but a very few before or after her in that she received a large corpus of instruction directly from Buddha Vajradhara. In a Supplement to the History of the Lineages, Taranata relates that she gained realization after just one week of meditation: The account of the wisdom dakini Niguma as the sister of Naropa and so on is well known everywhere. It should be added that she received a few instructions from the master Lavapa of the East. After meditating with the master for one week, she became a wisdom dakini, who exhibited a rainbowlike physical form and attained spiritual realization that reached awakening’s eighth stage. It is said that Lavapa of the East’s body dissolved into light, leaving only a palm-sized portion of the crown of his head behind. He was also known as Lavapa the Younger.She is called Nigu, Nigupta in Sanskrit, said to mean ìdefinite secretî or ìdefinitely hidden,î although her name is really from the dakinis’ symbolic language.
I love that Shangpa site. It was done, I believe, by Lama Denis in France, and is run by students or dharma brothers of his, I think. My involvement is only as an admirer, and as someone who's signed up for their forum.