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.
In a pit the shape of an aśvattha tree leaf, which is the pure nature of the place of birth, one should light a fire with wood from the aśoka tree. One must then, in the prescribed way, perform one hundred and eight offerings of red lotus flowers. The fire should be obtained from the home of an actor. The offerings are to be smeared with the three sweets and presented together with the root mantra.
Next comes the diagram. One should draw a triangular maṇḍala on cotton smeared with the mark of the moon. Within it, one writes entreating words that include the names of the practitioner and the one to be won: “Let me succeed in attracting such and such a person!” As one enriches this with the root mantra, one should write with a paint of liquid lac, blood from one’s left ring finger, camphor, kunkuma, and musk.
If one wishes to increase insight one should, in the same pit as before, burn arka and karavīra with the sacrificial fire used for brahmin oblations. One should offer aṭarūṣaka leaves11 or sweet flag ten thousand times.
For removing poison, one should light a fire in the same basin with wood of the sandal tree, and in that offer the flowers of the piṇḍatagara. Thus one will become a curer of all poison. One will heal the different pains and bring peace.
As the negativities of speech completely disappear, one will be able to remove poison; when those of the mind disappear, insight will increase; and when the flaws of the body are exhausted, one will bring about enthrallment.
Hence, since this world is attached to nonvirtue, it does not gain accomplishment. Therefore, O sons of the victorious ones, you must act to benefit, and give up evil. By means of the specific gestures, the faults associated with the body certainly disappear [F.36.a] and, through the mantra, so do the faults associated with the composites of the tongue.
The faults associated with the mind fade away in those whose minds delight in meditation. With the joy of stainless faith, the cognitions of the body become unmoving—that is the time of the Buddha’s blessing. The one who sees with an eye free from evil and who possesses compassion will become king of the three worlds. With his power of merit superior because of generosity, he becomes the foremost on the surface of the earth, a benefactor endowed with diligence.
Having given up laziness, and by means of wisdom, he will not experience even a bit of the suffering of hell. Therefore, one relies on the wealth of the compassion of the sons of the victorious ones, and on their diligent conduct. Perceiving the buddhas in the center of the sky, one regards the buddhas by the power of concentration. Even in sleep one should always perceive oneself to be surrounded by the buddhas.
Now, to bring women fortune, another method shall be explained:
One should draw a lotus flower with seven petals and apply the seven syllables to it. In its center one should, according to the enthrallment procedure, write the name of the person to be enthralled, [F.36.b] supported by a pair of hrīḥ syllables. One should draw this on birch bark, or on cotton with flowers, and make it into a charm that is to be worn on the upper arm.
If one desires the attainment of a lord, one should draw a citron and, in its center, a bow. Inside the bow, one should draw a jewel-shaped lotus bud. In the center of the lotus bud is the syllable jrūṃ, surrounded by the seven syllables. One should draw this on a golden tablet and keep it in the upper part of the house. One should surround it with an outer garland of lotuses, and, on the eighth or twelfth day of the month, using a jar containing five types of jewels, one should take it down. Having washed and worshiped it, one should recite the mantra one hundred and eight times. Within a year, one will become the equal of Kubera. Such a charm should be worn correctly.
Next follows another method: on a Tuesday, if one finds a cowrie shell lying with its face up, one should place it in the palm of the hand and recite the mantra one hundred thousand times. If one plays dice, one will win.
Taking up the cowrie one should recite the Kurukullā mantra one hundred and eight times. On the twelfth or eighth day of the month, one should perform ablutions and make offerings. Then one should wrap the shell in silk and wear it on one’s arm. [F.37.a] Whoever does so will become a great master of riches. If one puts this shell in a box and hides it in the ground one will every day obtain a kārṣa’s worth of wealth.
This completes the third chapter.
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.