The Practice Manual of Noble Tārā Kurukullā
- tshul khrims rgyal ba
Degé Kangyur, vol. 81 (rgyud ’bum, ca), folios 29.b–42.b
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
Warning: Readers are reminded that according to Vajrayāna Buddhist tradition there are restrictions and commitments concerning tantra. Practitioners who are not sure if they should read this translation are advised to consult the authorities of their lineage. The responsibility for reading this text or sharing it with others who may or may not fulfill the requirements lies in the hands of readers.
The Practice Manual of Noble Tārā Kurukullā is the most comprehensive single work on the female Buddhist deity Kurukullā. It is also the only canonical scripture to focus on this deity. The text’s importance is therefore commensurate with the importance of the goddess herself, who is the chief Buddhist deity of magnetizing, in particular the magnetizing which takes the form of enthrallment.
The text is a treasury of ritual practices connected with enthrallment and similar magical acts—practices which range from formal sādhana to traditional homa ritual, and to magical methods involving herbs, minerals, etc. The text’s varied contents are presented as a multi-layered blend of the apotropaic and the soteriological, as well as the practical and the philosophical, where these complementary opposites combine together into a genuinely spiritual Buddhist work.
Translation by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee.
Translated by Thomas Doctor from the Tibetan of the Degé Kangyur, with continuous reference to an English translation and critical edition of the extant Sanskrit manuscripts by Wieslaw Mical. English text edited by Gillian Parrish.
This translation has been completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The canvas should be woven with thread spun by a female of fair complexion. Both she and the weaver should eat milk-porridge.
Upon a lotus seat, wearing an upper garment of red cloth, jewel earrings, and a jewel diadem, [F.30.b] she displays the mudrā granting fearlessness with her lower right hand, and with her second right hand holds an arrow that she draws to the tip of her ear.3 In her upper left hand she holds a bow, and in the second left, a red utpala. Crowned by Amitābha, dwelling in a cave in the mountains, she is Kurukullā.
Below Kurukullā is Rāhu, and above him, Kāmadeva with his spouse. Above Kāmadeva there is a moon disk, and upon the moon disk a red lotus seat. On this seat one must paint the Blessed Lady with all her beautiful features, and then consecrate her image. In front of the painting, from the eighth through the full moon day, one should perform the eighteenfold pūjā, and recite the mantra. This is the heart essence of Tārā:
oṃ kurukulle hrīḥ hūṃ svāhā
This is the mantra. Having done the preliminary propitiation consisting of one hundred thousand recitations, next, on a buddha-day in the month of Kārttika, Vaiśakha, or Āṣāḍha, having bathed at dawn and observed the restoration of vows ceremony, the practitioner should offer a complete pūjā.
He should present a feast for the congregation of listeners, and next offer a feast with gifts for the community of those practicing the secret mantra of the Great Vehicle. Placing his right knee on the ground, and with his robe thrown over one shoulder, he should receive the desired accomplishments. He should salute and ask the pardon of the saṅgha of listeners and the community of those who delight in the Great Vehicle.
Having gone to the place where the painting of the Blessed Lady is displayed, this knowledge holder should, for the sake of the desired accomplishments, enter meditation and recite the mantra one hundred thousand times for each of its syllables.
This was the first chapter, the instructions for the practice of painting.
Abbreviations (notes 1–22)
|H||Lhasa (zhol) Kangyur|
|K||Kangxi Peking Kangyur|
|KY||Yongle Peking Kangyur|
See Appendix Prologue for abbreviations in notes 23–900.
The bibliography contains the publications that we have referred to as well as background reading on Kurukullā and Tārā in India and Tibet. Information on the Sanskrit manuscripts consulted is given at the beginning of the critical edition.
’phags ma sgrol ma ku ru kulle’i rtog pa (Āryatārākurukullākalpa). Toh. 437, Degé Kangyur, vol. 81 (rgyud ’bum, ca), folios 29.b–42.b.
’phags ma sgrol ma ku ru kulle’i rtog pa. Toh. 437, bka’ ’gyur (dpe bsdur ma) [Comparative Edition of the Kangyur], krung go’i bod rig pa zhib ’jug ste gnas kyi bka’ bstan dpe sdur khang (The Tibetan Tripitaka Collation Bureau of the China Tibetology Research Center). 108 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 2006–9, vol. 81, pp. 127–69.
’phags ma sgrol ma ku ru kulle’i rtog pa. Stok 403. Stok Palace Kangyur (stog pho brang bris ma). Leh: smanrtsis shesrig dpemzod, 1975–80, vol. 95 (rgyud ’bum, nga), folios 316.b–435.a.
Bandurski, Frank (1994). Übersicht über die Göttinger Sammlung der von Rahula Sankrtyayana in Tibet aufgefundenen buddhistischen Sanskrit-Texte (Funde buddhistischer Sanskrit-Handschriften, III). (Sanskrit-Wörterbuch der buddhistischen Texte aus den Turfan-Funden: Beiheft ; 5). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1994.
Bendall, Cecil. Catalogue of the Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts in the University Library, Cambridge, p. 178, 1992.
Beyer, Stephan. The Cult of Tārā: Magic and Ritual in Tibet. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973.
Bhattacharyya, Benoytosh. The Indian Buddhist Iconography: mainly based on the Sādhanamālā and cognate Tāntric texts of rituals. 2nd edition. Calcutta: K.L. Mukhopadhyay, 1958.
Bhattacharyya, Benoytosh, ed. The Sādhanamālā. 2nd edition. Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1968.
Matsunami, Seiren (1965). A Catalogue of the Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Tokyo University Library. Tokyo: Suzuki Research Foundation, 1965.
Mehta, R. N. “Kurukullā, Tārā and Vajreśī in Śrīpura.” In Tantric Buddhism: Centennial Tribute to Dr. Benoytosh Bhattacharyya, edited by N.N. Bhattacharyya. Reprint. New Delhi: Manohar, 2005.
Pandey, Janardan Shastri, ed. Kurukullākalpaḥ. Rare Buddhist Texts Series, 24. Sarnath, Varanasi: Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, 2001.
Shaw, Miranda Eberle. Buddhist Goddesses of India, ch. 22. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.
Snellgrove, David. The Hevajra Tantra: a critical study. London, New York: Oxford University Press, 1959.
Willson, Martin. In Praise of Tārā: Songs to the Saviouress: source texts from India and Tibet on Buddhism’s great goddess, selected, translated, and introduced by Martin Willson. Boston, MA.: Wisdom Publications, 1996.