The Bhūtaḍāmara Tantra
Degé Kangyur, vol. 95 (rgyud ’bum, dza), folios 238.a–263.a
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
The Bhūtaḍāmara Tantra is a Buddhist esoteric manual on magic and exorcism. The instructions on ritual practices that constitute its main subject matter are intended to give the practitioner mastery over worldly divinities and spirits. Since the ultimate controller of such beings is Vajrapāṇi in his form of Bhūtaḍāmara, the “Tamer of Spirits,” it is Vajrapāṇi himself who delivers this tantra in response to a request from Śiva. Notwithstanding this esoteric origin, this tantra was compiled anonymously around the seventh or eighth century ᴄᴇ, introducing for the first time the cult of its titular deity. Apart from a few short ritual manuals (sādhana), this tantra remains the only major work dedicated solely to Bhūtaḍāmara.
This translation was produced by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the supervision of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. Wiesiek Mical translated the text from the Sanskrit manuscripts, prepared the Sanskrit edition, and wrote the introduction. Thomas Doctor then compared the translation against the Tibetan translation found in the Degé Kangyur and edited the text. Special thanks are owed to Dr. Péter-Dániel Szántó for making available his transcript of the manuscript, “Göttingen Xc 14/50 I,” which was our default source for the reconstruction of the Sanskrit text.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
“I will now teach the practice of female servants, who are distinguished by unlimited power and courage and who are honored throughout the universe. It was taught by Wrath himself for the benefit of humanity and brings numerous supreme accomplishments. Since it produces results even for those who are lazy, perpetrate evil, and lie, there is no need to mention those who are always peaceful, maintain their vows of chastity, and always recite the mantra of Great Wrath.
“It is said that one will become a master of white magic, a master of the sword,198 and will win the accomplishments of the rain of riches, the great treasure trove, the wish-fulfilling gem, the vase of fortune, and so forth. Since even a yakṣiṇī, a piśācī, a śālabhañjikā, and so forth [F.251.b] can be controlled through the sādhana, what need is there to mention other spirits? So the wise one has declared. One can instantly turn female spirits, nāgas, kinnaras, and others into male and female servants.199 Relying on this great sovereign Bhūtaḍāmara Tantra, the practitioner will instantly, completely, and definitively succeed if they so desire.
“Next in this most secret, great, sovereign Bhūtaḍāmara Tantra are the additional sādhanas. One will immediately succeed in turning the male and female spirits into obedient servants merely by reciting the mantra. One will quickly succeed by merely reciting the glorious Vajradhara, the supreme master Great Wrath.
“The mantra that is effective for removing obstacles:
“Oṁ, hrīḥ, hūṁ! Summon, summon such-and-such! Hūṁ hūṁ hūṁ, jaḥ!200
“One should recite the above wrathful mantra. The spirits will swiftly arrive after only one hundred and eight repetitions. They will all become male and female servants. If they don’t arrive quickly, their heads will burst through their eyes, and they will perish along with their families and clans.
“One should draw the likeness of the female spirit with bovine bezoar, step on it with one’s left foot, and recite the mantra one thousand and eight times. She will arrive immediately with exclamations of woe and say, ‘I am dying, I am dying. Hey practitioner, what do you command me to do?’ The practitioner should reply, ‘Hey spirit! Be my servant!’ She will perform the duties of a servant for one hundred years.201
“One should draw the likeness of the female spirit with bovine bezoar on birch bark, step on it with one’s left foot, and recite the mantra one thousand and eight times. She will arrive immediately. If she does not arrive immediately, one should throw mustard seeds at her face. The spirit will cry out and die, wasting away with fever. To bring her back to life, one should throw ghee and honey at her and she will revive. [F.252.a] Through this method, the spirit will perform the duties of a servant and will give clothes, ornaments, and food to the practitioner and two other people every day.
“One should stand at the door of a temple and recite the mantra one thousand and eight times. As a result, a spirit by the name of Kuñjaramati will arrive. When she does, one should offer a bali. She will say, ‘What can I do for you, my dear?’ The practitioner should reply, ‘Please be my mother.’ She will protect him as a mother would, and she will give clothes, ornaments, and food to him and four other people.”
|+||plus signs replace illegible text|
|]||a right square bracket marks the lemma, i.e., the adopted reading for which variants are adduced|
|°||an upper ring indicates truncation of a word|
|†||daggers enclose unintelligible text|
|A||Tokyo University Library (New 274 / Old 567)|
|B||Tokyo University Library (New 273 / Old 483)|
|G||Göttingen University Library (Göttingen Xc 14 / 50 I)|
|SM||Sādhanamālā, the sādhana of Bhūtaḍāmara (sādhana no. 264)|
|Tib.||Tibetan text of the Bhūtaḍāmara Tantra in the Degé canon (Toh 747)|
Bhūtaḍāmaratantram. Rāya, Kṛṣṇa Kumāra, ed. Vārāṇasī: Prācya Prakāśana, 1933.
Bhūtaḍāmaratantra. University of Göttingen Library, Xc 14/50 I.
Bhūtaḍāmaramahātantrarāja. University of Tokyo Library, New 274/Old 567.
Bhūtaḍāmaramahātantrarāja. University of Tokyo Library, New 273/Old 483.
Bhattacharyya, Benoytosh, ed., Sādhanamālā (pp. 512−28). Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1968.
’byung po ’dul ba zhes bya ba’i rgyud kyi rgyal po chen po (Bhūtaḍāmara Tantra). Toh 747, Degé Kangyur vol. 95 (rgyud ’bum, dza), folios 238.a–263.a.
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———. The Indian Buddhist Iconography Based on the Sādhanamālā and Other Cognate Sanskrit Texts and Rituals. Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1958.
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