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.
Once when young Rāhulabhadra had gone to Rājagṛha to receive alms, he went to the Veṇuvana grove, and there descended into a long pond to wash his alms bowl. While there, he, the son of Yaśodharā, was mistaken for a white ascetic and so was pulled into the pond. At that time the young Rāhulabhadra recited this spell. No sooner had he recited the mantra than—just like someone emerging from his house—he arrived in the presence of the Blessed One.
Having approached the Lord, he said, “Father, I have seen the power of the secret mantra which you have granted.”
The Blessed One asked, “Where have you seen that?”
“In the presence of the nāgas. Therefore, I request that the Blessed One teach this mantra, so that other beings too may be protected by it.”
So then, at that very time and on that occasion, the Lord dispatched Vajrapāṇi, and benevolently granted this mantra and this manual of instruction to the listeners and the bodhisattvas, to the monks and nuns, and to the male [F.39.b] and female lay practitioners. Therefore, children of noble family, one who creates a sandalwood maṇḍala and reads this mantra and this manual of instructions will not be harmed by poison, will not die from poison, and will have no fear of boils, eczema, leprosy, disease, nāgas, snakes, tigers and other beasts of prey, weapons, enemies, poverty, or untimely death. None of these will occur.
In order to protect the Teachings, the Lord granted Mahākāla the demoness Hārītī, whom he had nourished from his own alms bowl. She, however, was lacking in fortune because of her former bad deeds. She was not agreeable to Mahākāla, and so he did not stay with her, did not love her, and did not protect the Teachings either. She therefore became depressed, and in order to enthrall Mahākāla this Kurukullā compendium was taught. From then on, her fortune became vast and excellent. For that reason, children of noble family, if you wish to enthrall sentient beings you should familiarize yourselves with this mantra and this manual of instructions.
It also came to pass that Sunanda’s son was born handsome and good looking, athletic and in possession of auspicious marks, and yet nevertheless dull-witted.
Sunanda therefore said to the Blessed One, “O Lord, my son was born handsome and good looking, athletic and in possession of auspicious marks, and yet nevertheless dull-witted. How, O Lord, may he develop insight? Lord, if this child becomes literate he shall become a protector of your doctrine.”
Upon hearing this, the Blessed One, with words preceded by mindfulness, [F.40.a] spoke this manual of practice and gave this mantra. As soon as he had done so, Sunanda’s son, Rohiṇīkumāra by name, acquired insight. By the twelfth year he was free from being intimidated by any of the treatises, as he was thoroughly acquainted with all of the crafts and arts. Therefore, children of noble family, in order to accumulate great insight, you should study this very mantra and its manual of practice.
When the Blessed One, noble Avalokiteśvara, had spoken these words, the entire retinue, and the whole world with its gods, humans, demigods, and gandharvas, rejoiced and praised the words of the Blessed One.
This completes “The Practice Manual of Noble Tārā Kurukullā.”
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.