She was born as a princess in the clan of Kharchen. According to some accounts her father was called Namkha Yeshe and her mother was Gewa Bum. In other histories, such as the Zanglingma and the biography revealed by Taksham Nüden Dorje, her father is named as Kharchen Palgyi Wangchuk, who is otherwise said to have been her brother. Yet another version names her father as Tökar Lek and her mother as Gyalmo Tso.
She became the consort of King Trisong Detsen before being offered to Guru Rinpoche as a mandala offering during an empowerment. She specialized in the practice of Vajrakilaya and experienced visions of the deity and gained accomplishment. In Nepal, she paid a ransom for Acharya Salé and took him as her spiritual consort. Through the power of her unfailing memory, she collected all the teachings given by Guru Rinpoche in Tibet and concealed them as terma. At the end of her life, it is said, she flew through the air and went directly to Zangdokpalri.
- See for example Tulku Thondup (1996) page 93
- Gyalwa Changchub and Namkhai Nyingpo, Lady of the Lotus-Born: The Life and Enlightenment of Yeshe Tsogyal, translated by Padmakara Translation Group, Shambhala 1999.
- Janet Gyatso, 'A Partial Genealogy of the Lifestory of Ye shes mtsho rgyal' in JIATS, no. 2, August 2006
- Keith Dowman, Sky Dancer: The Secret Life & Songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel, Snow Lion, 1997 (first edition published in 1983).
- Nam-mkha'i sNying-po, Mother of Knowledge: The Enlightenment of Yeshe Tsogyal, translated by Tarthang Tulku, Dharma Publishing, 1983.
- Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 61-70 (Includes brief verse biography by Jamgön Kongtrul).
- Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.