According to the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, Palden Lhamo is one of the three Dharmapals, the protectors and defenders of the Bouddha Dharma, and the only female deity in the group of three, together with Mahakala and Yamantaka. Known as one of the most wrathful female deities of Buddhism, she is revered as the special protector of the city of Lhasa, the Dalai Lamas of Tibet, and the Gelukpa Order, the most dominant sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
Palden Lhamo is depicted as almost naked, riding a mule whose haunch is marked with an eye. She is adorned with a five-skull crown, indicating that she has extinguished the five poisons of life, namely greed, anger, ignorance, pride, and jealousy. While the Tantric symbol of the sun of wisdom shines from her navel, and her hair is adorned with a crescent moon of compassion, dancing flames roar, and black storm clouds swirl around her. Her naked body is wreathed in snakes and adorned with bone ornaments, along with a long necklace of fifty skulls, symbolizing the fifty worldly states of mind that must be cut off. She carries a brimming skull cup in his left hand, filled with brains deluded by confusion, superstition, and misconception. In her right hand, she holds aloft a sandalwood club marked with a vajra, a ritual weapon symbolizing the properties of a thunderbolt, her weapon to conquer the demon of death. She is accompanied by a Lion-headed Dakini at her rear and a Makara-headed Dakini in front of her, who are enlightened female divinities, symbolizing the general play of energy in the phenomenal world. They serve Palden Lhamo and help to extend her power to purify and transform both the upper world of the conscious mind and the underworld of the unconscious.
Palden Lhamo means Glorious Goddess, a Tibetan form of the ancient Indian goddess Shridevi, which means Graceful Lady. She is also known as Magzor Gyalmo and Remati, and as Remati she was married to Shinje or Yama, an evil-doing king of Lanka, whose passion was to murder and execute his subjects unnecessarily and aimed to wipe out Buddhism from his kingdom as he was an enemy of the dharma and probably felt that it would create hindrances to his bloodthirsty activities.
However, Remati was strongly against bloodshed and vowed to reform her husband or to end his dynasty. But although she tried for many years, she failed in her mission to rectify her husband, and even her son was growing up following the steps of his father, she decided to take extreme measures. Finally, a day came when the king was for hunting, she killed his son, skinned him, drank his blood in his skull as a kapala or cup, and ate his flesh. After that, she used his skin to make a saddle, place it on her mule, and left the palace, heading towards the north, to her home in Tibet. In the meantime, as Shinje returned and discovered the hideous act of his wife, the enraged king grabbed his bow and with a loud curse shot a poisoned arrow into the air that missed Remati, but stuck the haunch of her mule. Remati healed the injury and transformed the spot of the wound into an eye to watch over the twenty-four regions, and wished her own success to be the one to end the lineage of the despotic kings of Lanka.
According to some other version of the story, after her death, Remati was reborn in hell for her sin. But she fought her way out to the world above, stealing a sword and a bag of diseases from the hell-protectors. However, as she found no peace or purpose to live, she started to pray to the Buddha for a reason to live, when the Buddha Vajradhara (tantric Shakyamuni) appeared before her and instructed her to protect the Dharma.
As she agreed, she emerged as a Dharmapala, associated with the Lion-headed Dakini (Simhamukha) behind her and the Dragon-headed Dakini (Makaravaktra) in front of her, holding the reins of the mule. All of them are surrounded by the four Goddesses of the Seasons, the five Sisters of Long Life, and the twelve Tenma goddesses, the twelve guardian deities in Tibetan Buddhism.