The pre-Tibetan Buddhist origins of Shri Devi, the Tibetan dPal.ldan.lha.mo, can be traced back to the Brahmanic goddess Durga. In Tibet, Shri Devi is the only goddess amongst the eight dharmapalas or defenders of the faith. Over time she became ever more popular and the 1st Dalai Lama (1391-1475) incorporated her into the pantheon of deities to which the dGe.lugs.pa order were particularly devoted. In the end she became not only the protector of this order and the 1st Dalai Lama's monastery, Tashilunpo, but also protectress of Lhasa.
A legend relates that she once lived on the island of Lanka (considered to be modern Sri Lanka) and was married to its ruler, the king of the rakshas or demons. She desired to convert all of island's inhabitants to Buddhism, if necessary by force. She vowed that if she could not convert her husband then she would murder their son. Unable to convert him, Shri Devi accordingly killed her child, making his skin into a saddle and fleeing on a mule over the sea of blood to the Himalayas. In an attempt to stop her, her demon husband shot a poisoned arrow that hit the mule's rump. However through her magic, Shri Devi turned it into an eye, which is clearly visible on the bronze figure near the tail.