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.
Then, each of the great female spirits who roam charnel grounds stood up, bowed at the lord’s feet, and offered him her heart mantra.
The ultimate heart mantra:
Oṁ hrīḥ hūṁ aḥ!
Oṁ hūṁ! Summon them, summon! Guard the pledge of all female spirits! Kill, kill! Bind, bind! Trample them, trample them! Hey! Hey you, great wild one who inhabits charnel grounds, please come swiftly! Dhruṃ phaṭ!35
Oṁ, shake, shake! Shake thoroughly, shake! Run, run! Drive them on, drive them on! Enter, enter! Strike, strike! Stay, stay! Guard the pledge! Hey, hey you who roam charnel grounds! Hūṁ! Phaṭ phaṭ! Svāhā!36
Oṁ, move, move! Burn them, burn! O great spirit, you who are fond of and well disposed toward practitioners! Go, go! Go in various directions, go! Summon the spirits, summon! Make them speak, make them speak! Break the evil demons, break them! Seize them, seize! Hūṁ hūṁ! Phaṭ phaṭ! Hrīḥ svāhā!37
Oṁ, Jarjaramukhī! Harm, harm! Overwhelm them with sorrow!39 You inspire fear in all enemies! Strike, strike! Burn, burn! Cook, cook! Murder, murder! You diminish the chances of my untimely death. [F.242.a] You instill fear in all nāgas. You are the loud-laughing queen of all the spirits. Thā thā thā thā! Dhā dhā dhā dhā! Oṁ oṁ oṁ oṁ! Svāhā!40
Oṁ, Kamalalocanī who is fond of humans! Dispeller of all suffering! Fond of practitioners!41 Conquer, conquer! You of divine beauty! Hrīḥ! Seize, seize! Jaḥ jaḥ! Hūṁ hūṁ! Phaṭ phaṭ! Homage to you! Svāhā!42
Oṁ, Dhudhurī, the piśācī who performs tasks!44 Speak, speak! Shake them up, shake! You who are worshipped by great asuras, split them, split! Break, break! O great piśācī who performs tasks! “Hey! Hey, practitioner! What can I do for you?” Hrīḥ! Hūṁ hūṁ! Phaṭ phaṭ! Svāhā!45
Oṁ, shake them, shake! Move, move! Summon them, summon them! Break, break! Paralyze, paralyze! Bewilder, bewilder! You with fangs that flash like lightning! You who grant the best indestructible accomplishment! Ha ha ha! Hūṁ hūṁ! Phaṭ phaṭ! Svāhā!46
“Form your left hand into a fist49 and extend your index finger.
“Hold your fists together and extend both index fingers while enclosing the little fingers, and then position this mudrā at your mouth.
“Form your left hand into a fist and extend your middle finger.
“The mudrā is the same as before, but the middle finger should be bent at a sharp angle and the ring finger extended.
“The mudrā is the same as before, but you should fold the ring finger inward while extending the little finger.
“Form your right hand into a fist and extend your index finger.
“The mudrā is the same as before, but the index finger should be bent and the middle finger extended.
“Form your right hand into a fist and extend your little finger.”
|+||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.
Bhattacharyya, Benoytosh. “The Cult of Bhūtaḍāmara.” Proceedings and Transactions of the Sixth All-India Oriental Conference: 349−70. Patna: Bihar and Orissa Research Society, 1933.
———. The Indian Buddhist Iconography Based on the Sādhanamālā and Other Cognate Sanskrit Texts and Rituals. Calcutta: Firma K. L. Mukhopadhyay, 1958.
Bühnemann, Gudrun. “Buddhist Deities and Mantras in the Hindu Tantras I: The Tantrasārasaṃgraha and the Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati.” Indo-Iranian Journal 42:4 (1999): 303–34.
Cabezón, José Ignacio. The Buddha’s Doctrine and the Nine Vehicles. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Pal, Pratapaditya. Hindu Religion and Iconology According to the Tantrasāra. Los Angeles: Vichitra Press, 1981.