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.
At this point the sattvavajrī mudrā should be displayed, a flower should be offered to the circle, and the words “praticcha vajra hoḥ” be spoken. Then, as the cover is removed, the maṇḍala is to be revealed. In the best case, the flower has fallen in the center. If it has fallen on the arrow, the student will be capable of performing the acts of enthrallment. If it has fallen on the giver of fearlessness, the student should study the removal of poison. If it has fallen on the utpala, it is the development of insight that should be studied. And if it has fallen on the bow, omniscient wakefulness is to be pursued.
At the time of the entry, the following should be declared: “You must not speak of this supreme secret of all the thus-gone ones in front of anyone who has not entered this maṇḍala. Your samaya vow would definitely degenerate. Having failed to avoid the distressful, you would certainly die and fall into hell.”
After that the samayas are to be given with the words, “The Three Jewels must never be abandoned…,” and so forth, just as it is extensively taught in the tantra. The oath is to be administered with the following words:
namo ratnatrayāya. namaḥ sarvabuddhabodhisattvebhyaḥ. namo ˈṣṭasarpapudgalāya. namaḥ samastebhyo buddhakoṭibhyaḥ.. tadyathā. oṁ hrīḥ hrīḥ hrīḥ sarvanāgānām anantakulānāṃ vāsukikulānāṃ takṣakakulānāṃ śaṅkhapālakulānāṃ karkoṭakulānāṃ padmakulānāṃ mahāpadmakulānāṃ kulikakulānāṃ varāhakulānāṃ puṇḍarīkakulānāṃ ghanakulānāṃ meghakulānāṃ jaladakulānāṃ jaladharakulānāṃ jīmūtakulānāṃ saṃvartakulānāṃ vasantakulānāṃ airāvatakulānāṃ kumudakulānāṃ kahlārakulānāṃ saugandhikakulānāṃ hana hana śareṇa bandha bandha cāpena tāḍaya tāḍaya utpalena bhītānām abhayaṃ dehi pralayakāla iva jaladhāram avatāraya varṣaṃ [F.38.b] tān nāgān vaśīkuru kuru phuḥ kulāpaya kulāpaya phuḥ phuḥ, oṁ kurukulle hrīḥ hūṁ phaṭ svāhā phaṭ16
With this mantra, one should draw the maṇḍala with gaur dung. As prescribed, one should draw an eight-petaled lotus with sandalwood paste and place on its petals, starting from the eastern one, Ananta and the others—the eight nāgas—using candied sugar and bdellium. When the moon is in the Rohiṇī lunar house, one should perform a hundred and eight recitations, offer incense to the nāgas, and make offerings. If it does not begin to rain, they should be washed with wine and tormented with the fire of khadira wood. Doing this will bring rain. However, if the nāgas do not send rain, leprosy will break out.
This is to be carried out by a knowledge holder who is a performer of rites. Afterward, they should be gathered and released in a great river.
One who wishes to stop excessive rainfall should obtain a snake from a snake charmer, anoint it with sandalwood paste, and feed it milk. One should pronounce this mantra over it seven times, put it in a red, unbaked jar, and seal it with the great seal. Breaking the vase will make the rain stop immediately.
The king, along with his sons and queens, should bathe on the fifth day of the waning moon. They should obtain the root of pratyaṅgirā, blend it with milk or ghee, and having poured it into a silver dish, they should drink it. If the dish is offered to an ordained monk there will not be any danger from snakes for one year. Moreover, if, because of its unvirtuous actions, [F.39.a] a snake does bite, the snake itself will die. Success comes with seven repetitions of the mantra.
Also, if one wishes to cure leprosy, one should, by means of this very mantra, neutralize a poison and then ingest it. This will cure leprosy.
If one recites the root mantra over water, and then uses that water to wash the wound from a snake bite, that will remove the poison.
Moreover, if one wishes to see nāgas, one should pronounce the mantra upon a red utpala petal one hundred thousand times for each of its syllables. The petal should then be tossed into a pond, or the like, that is inhabited by nāgas and blessed. This will make the females of the nāgas tremble. They will request orders from the practitioner: “What shall we do, O lord?” The practitioner of mantra should then request what he wishes.
This was the fourth 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.