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.
“The practitioner should go to a temple of Vajrapāṇi, light bdellium incense, [F.255.b] and recite the mantra one thousand times at the three junctions of the day. Surasundarī is certain to arrive within a month. When she arrives she should be given a welcome offering of sandalwood-scented water. She will perform the duties of a mother, sister, or wife. If she becomes a mother, the practitioner must not hurt her feelings, and she will offer an elixir of long life every day, and also 100,000 dinars. If she becomes a sister, she will offer power substances and the elixir of long life. She will procure a celestial girl from the realm of the gods and offer her, and will be able to describe the past, present, and future. If she becomes a wife, she will fulfill every wish, and the practitioner will become immensely wealthy.
“The practitioner should go to a riverbank, draw a maṇḍala with sandalwood powder, offer an elaborate pūjā, and recite the mantra one thousand and eight times. Burning aloeswood incense, he should recite the mantra ten thousand times every day for seven days. On the seventh day he should offer an elaborate pūjā and recite the mantra all night. Manohāriṇī is certain to arrive at midnight. If she does not, she will die. She will say, ‘Please command me.’ The practitioner should reply, ‘Please be my servant.’ She will offer protection to one hundred and eight people from the practitioner’s close circle. She will offer one hundred dinars every day, which must be spent in its entirety. If the practitioner saves anything he will never receive more.
“The practitioner should go to a banyan tree266 and offer alcohol following the procedure prescribed for fish and meat. Drinking some himself, he should use the remainder for a welcome offering.267 He should recite the mantra one thousand times. On the seventh day, he should practice the same way at night. He should recite until Kanakavatī arrives in person at midnight, adorned with all kinds of jewelry and surrounded by a retinue of one hundred and eight. He should make love to her once she arrives, and she will become his wife. She will give clothes, adornments, and food to twelve people every day. She will also offer eight dinars.
“The practitioner should draw an image of Kāmeśvarī on birch bark with bovine bezoar, climb into bed alone, and recite the mantra one thousand times. Then, when one month has passed, [F.256.a] he should offer an elaborate pūjā, light a butter lamp, and recite the mantra silently. Then, at midnight, she is certain to arrive. Once she has arrived, she will generously offer sexual pleasure and will become his wife. Leaving behind divine adornments on his bed, she will depart at daybreak. The practitioner should not approach the wives of others, otherwise he will perish.
“She should be painted on a piece of canvas as a nubile woman of golden color, adorned with every type of jewelry and holding a blue lotus in her hand. The practitioner should worship her with jasmine flowers, burn bdellium incense, and recite the mantra one thousand and eight times for one month. At the end of the month he should offer a pūjā according to his means, light a butter lamp, and recite the mantra until Rati arrives in person at midnight. When she does, he should make love to her in silence.269 In this way she will become his wife. She will protect him and his close circle and will offer delicious divine foods, an elixir of long life, and twenty-five dinars.
“The practitioner should create a sandalwood maṇḍala in the upper part of his house. Burning bdellium incense, he should recite the mantra one thousand times for one month.270 Then, on the day of the full moon, he should offer a pūjā according to his means and recite the mantra until midnight, when Padminī is certain to arrive. When she does, he should make love to her. She will become his wife, grant divine pleasures bounteously, and offer an elixir of long life and power substances.
“The practitioner should perform this sādhana below an aśoka tree. Having offered perfume, flowers, and incense, along with a dish of meat, he should recite the mantra one thousand and eight times.271 Naṭī is certain to arrive within one month. When she does, she will become, in short, either a mother, or a sister, or a wife. If she becomes a mother, she will give delicious foods, a pair of garments, one hundred palas of gold, and the elixir of long life.272 If she becomes a sister, she will bring a celestial woman and offer her, even over a distance of one thousand leagues, She will also offer clothes, adornments, delicious foods, and the elixir of long life.273 [F.256.b] If she becomes a wife, she will offer a divine elixir of long life and eight dinars.274
“The practitioner should draw this yakṣiṇī on birch bark with saffron ink and, starting on the first day of the bright fortnight, spend one month reciting the mantra while making ritual offerings of perfume, flowers, and lamps at the three junctions of the day. Then, on the day of the full moon, he should offer a pūjā according to his means, light a butter lamp, and recite the mantra all night. Anurāgiṇī is certain to arrive at dawn. Once she has arrived, she will bounteously bestow the pleasures of sex and become his wife. She will offer a divine elixir of long life and one thousand dinars. The practitioner will live thousands of years.”
|+||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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