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 preceding practice of bhūta-attendants is for the benefit of the vajra master. So is the following sādhana of the great bhūtinīs.391 Both will be thrilled, and joy will arise in the hearts of the bhūtinīs.
“First, the detailed instructions for the gentle sādhana are:
“The practitioner should recite the mantra392 in front of the blessed lord Great Wrath 100,000 times. This constitutes the preliminary practice. Then, on the day of the full moon, he should offer a pūjā according to his means, burn bdellium incense, and recite the mantra all night. A bhūtinī is certain to arrive at dawn. Upon her arrival, he should give her a welcome offering of sandalwood-scented water and say, ‘Welcome!’ She will reply, ‘Hey practitioner, what do you command me to do?’ He should say, ‘Please be my wife.’ [F.263.a] She will offer a divine elixir of long life, power substances, treasures, and a kingdom.
“The practitioner should draw the glorious bhūtinī on birch bark with saffron ink.393 Then at night, he should recite the mantra one thousand and eight times while naked in front of Vajradhara. She will swiftly arrive. He should make love to her as soon as she arrives and she will be pleased. She will offer him a kingdom394 and even raise him to the status of Indra. Taking him on her back, she will take him to heavenly realms. He will live one thousand395 years. If she does not comply she will, at that very moment, burst at the forehead, wither, and die.396
“The practitioner should perform the rites of killing and castigation in the center of the maṇḍala that was previously described. The bhūtinī will be killed in an instant. This has been said by Great Wrath himself.
“The practitioner should write a bhūtinī’s name with saffron. Then, stepping over it with his left foot and raising the vajra-scepter, he should repeat the syllable hūṁ397 seven times. He is certain to kill her instantly.”
|+||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.
Bühnemann, Gudrun. “Buddhist Deities and Mantras in the Hindu Tantras I: The Tantrasārasaṃgraha and the Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati.” Indo-Iranian Journal 42:4 (1999): 303–34.
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