Interview with Vikram Zutshi

, February 19, 2018

In this interview with Vikram Zutshi, I summarize some of the key findings of Early Tantric Medicine.

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Sanskrit Transliteration Keyboard on Linux

, August 7, 2017

I have created an X keyboard layout that serves as a Linux equivalent to Toshiya Unebe’s “EasyUnicode” keyboard layout. Use It allows one to easily type all the standard letters with diacritical marks for roman transliteration of Sanskrit, Pali, and some other Indic languages.  To get “ā” for example, one can just hold the Windows […]

Posted in Linux, Uncategorized | No Comments » |

Early Tantric Medicine is Published

, January 8, 2017

I am pleased to announce the publication of my book Early Tantric Medicine by Oxford University Press.  It is now available in a US hardcover edition, as an eBook, and in a South Asian edition distributed by MLBD. I thank all those who supported this project and encouraged me over the years.

Posted in Gāruḍam, Sanskrit | 1 Comment » |

Snake-related News Pieces

, July 18, 2014

A fascinating piece from 1904 on snakes’ reputed power to hypnotize their prey: Aaron Ullrey Nag Pancami controversy over worship of live snakes: Courtesy Lance Nelson (RISA Listserv) Recent audio story from BBC Outlook about an out-of-work snake charmer from Bangladesh: Courtesy Alexander von Rospatt BBC report on the Million Death Study in […]

Posted in Gāruḍam, Uncategorized | No Comments » |

Support my Tantric Medicine Book Project

, May 17, 2013

I have launched a project page on Kickstarter to help me get my book on the Garudam medical tradition finalized and sent to a publisher this summer.  Please consider supporting this effort, and let people know about who might be interested in it.  But please do not post it unsolicited to any email LISTSERV, which […]

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments » |

Podcast on Curing Scorpion Sting with Mantras

, December 27, 2012

Dr. Lakshminaryanan tells the story of being envenomed by a scorpion sting as a child, and the miraculous mantra cure by a village “faith-healer.”  This is a modern-day Gāruḍika cure, and it is interesting to speculate with Dr. Laksminarayan on the possibility of mantra-mediated placebo effects. Scorpion Sting Podcast Source: Thanks to Rebecca Grapevine […]

Posted in Gāruḍam | 7 Comments » |

Jain Tantra: The Jvālāmālinīkalpa and Bhairavapadmāvatīkalpa

, December 3, 2012

In the medieval period, the Jains developed their own fascinating traditions of Mantra Śāstra, including useful sources that are closely related to the Gāruḍa and Bhūta Tantras. I am pleased to be able to offer digital etexts of the Jvālāmālinīkalpa (input by Aaron Ullrey) and its descendent, the Bhairavapadmāvatīkalpa (input by Michael Slouber).  The former […]

Posted in Bhūta Tantra, Gāruḍam, Sanskrit | 3 Comments » |

Review of My Dissertation

, November 28, 2012

My doctoral dissertation was recently reviewed by Dr. Dagmar Wujastyk.   The review is available at the following website:

Posted in Gāruḍam, Philology, Sanskrit | No Comments » |

Link about Garuḍa Sacrifice in the Atharvan Tradition

, August 27, 2012 This blogger occasionally writes posts related to Garuḍa.  This one is insightful for including ritual details in addition to the text and translation of the passage.

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Biting the snake that bites you

, August 23, 2012

The BBC recently reported that a man in Nepal bit to death the cobra that bit him because he had been told by a snake charmer that it would prevent the harmful effects of the venom. Here is the link: <>. What few people know about this odd practice is that it is ancient and […]

Posted in Gāruḍam | 1 Comment » |

क्षिप ॐ स्वाहा on the web

, January 25, 2012

The Vipati mantra became the Gāruḍa mantra par exellence by the tenth century.  I discuss its early and elaborate ritual system at length in my impending dissertation, and here I collect the web references to it that I cite.  Each is given some amount of explanation there, but here I simply list: […]

Posted in Gāruḍam | 3 Comments » |

Gāruḍikas in the Cinema

, January 20, 2012

SHREE KRISHNAPARUNTHU IMDB Entry: This 1984 Malayalam film by directors P. Bhaskaran and A. Vincent features actor Mohanlal as a neophyte Gāruḍika who battles various temptations from human and supernatural women while perfecting the famous Gāruḍa mantra.  His descent into debauchery and evil magic is long and dramatic, and only remedied at the end […]

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Haro vva Taṃḍavio

, May 19, 2011

“The violently shaking bite victim is like Hara dancing in a heap of ashes knocked loose by the shrieking hisses of Vāsuki [in as much as] his face is radiant with all of the [white] syllables [and since he] becomes free of the negative effects of the venom.” A verse from the 9th century Saṃhitāsāra […]

Posted in Gāruḍam | 1 Comment » |

Garuḍadaṇḍaka and Garuḍapañcāśat

, February 22, 2011

       I recently came across these two poetic compositions by the 14th century Śrīvaiṣṇava luminary Vedāntadeśika.   He was an initiate of the five-syllable “Garuḍa Mantra,” about which a chapter of my dissertation is largely devoted.  I have been scouring the web for modern knowledge of this mantra, which I had thought was long forgotten, and […]

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, January 21, 2011

  I am pleased to be able to offer an etext of the Viṣavaidyasārasamuccaya, perhaps the most recent Sanskrit composition on the topic of curing poison.   It was written by Cherukulappurath Krishnan Namboodiri from Kerala (1879–1966).  The current edition is enriched by the commentary of his disciple Valloor Sankaran Namboodiri (b.1917) and a translation by […]

Posted in Gāruḍam | 6 Comments » |

Suśruta on Determining Envenomation Status of a Patient

, October 16, 2010

The most common argument doctors, herpetologists, and global health authorities use against traditional medicine is that it only seems to work because most of the time the snake doesn’t inject a lethal amount of venom.  The implication, of course, is that traditional doctors are completely ignorant of this fact, or know it and don’t let […]

Posted in Gāruḍam | 2 Comments » |

Summary of the Kāśyapasaṃhitā/Garuḍapañcākṣarīkalpa

, August 20, 2010

  The Kāśyapasaṃhitā, aka Garuḍapañcākṣarīkalpa, is unique in that it is the only long text to survive that is exclusively about Gāruḍa Medicine.  It is a Pāñcarātra saṃhitā, and is included in canonical lists of the 108 scriptures of the Pāñcarātra school of tantric Vaiṣṇavism.  Notably it is shameless to admit  that it is a […]

Posted in Gāruḍam | 1 Comment » |

Jayatu Khaḍgarāvaṇaḥ

, August 11, 2010

  I have decided to make my 2007 MA Thesis available for download and I’d like to use this entry to introduce it.  The first 17 pages introduce the cult of Khaḍgarāvaṇa and the principal source of my thesis, the Kriyākālaguṇottara.  I consider this introduction and the theories I advance in it useful, but not […]

Posted in Bhūta Tantra | No Comments » |


, March 19, 2010

  Bheruṇḍā is an old, now obscure Gāruḍa goddess invoked to cure snakebite. She is part of a family of female deities with avian associations whose worship was widespread. Some “sisters” in this family are Tvaritā/Troṭalā, Kurukullā (Śaiva and Buddhist versions), Jāṅgulī, and Mahāmāyūrī. The history of this now obscure family remains an open question. […]

Posted in Gāruḍam | 7 Comments » |

LEDMAC User’s Group

, March 6, 2010

  My colleague Daniel Stender pointed out a new email group for LEDMAC users.  It has only been up for a couple of months, but when I posted a problem I was having getting LEDpar running I got several useful replies quickly.

Posted in XeTeX/LEDMAC | No Comments » |

An Important Distinction

, March 6, 2010

  I am usually thrilled to be able to work with old manuscripts.  The older it is, the more excited I get!  But excitement aside, we really need to be clear on the following distinction: the age of the manuscript is almost never equivalent to the age of the text it contains.  Hypothetical example:  A […]

Posted in Philology | No Comments » |

File Searching Speed

, February 5, 2010

Noticing that some of my colleagues get results for their GREP searches almost instantly, I began to wonder why my searches of all my Sanskrit etexts took close to 2 minutes.  They use grep from the command line (Terminal on OSX), and attributed the speed to that.  Not wanting to drop my one-stop application BBEdit, […]

Posted in GREP | 4 Comments » |

यमाताराजभानसलगाः (yamātārājabhānasalagāḥ)

, February 3, 2010

A handy mnemonic device for the gaṇas of Sanskrit meter. (taught to me by SDV)

Posted in Sanskrit | 1 Comment » |


, January 8, 2010

  My interest was piqued by Goudriaan and Gupta’s description of the Ākāśabhairavakalpa whose main deity, Ākāśabhairava, is “a fearsome winged deity, a manifestation of Bhairava, who is invoked in various ways–of course by means of mantras–for the sake of exorcism.” who “manifests [himself] in three forms, viz. Ākāśabhairava, Āśugāruḍa, and Śārabha…” (Hindu Tantric and […]

Posted in Bhūta Tantra, Gāruḍam | 2 Comments » |

Sample XeTeX/LEDMAC File

, November 27, 2009

I am attaching a sample file, MinimalExample.tex, containing only one verse, for newcomers to experiment with.  To typeset it one needs to have previously downloaded all of the packages listed in the first several lines: ledmac, fancyhdr, xunicode, and SDVerseMG.sty.  The last was kindly made available by Somadeva Vasudeva in order to easily reference variants […]

Posted in XeTeX/LEDMAC | 5 Comments » |

Lightbulb Moment

, May 5, 2009

When I was editing the 9th chapter of the Kriyākālaguṇottara for my MA thesis, I spent several hours trying to figure out pāda 25d, which I ended up marking as corrupt.  The palmleaf manuscript, oldest of the group, was indeed corrupt and hypometrical: kimedaṃ vikaryate.  I speculated about taking edaṃ as some kind of prākṛtic […]

Posted in Philology | 3 Comments » |

Critical Edition Typesetting Notes

, March 13, 2009

For my editing work, I am using XeTeX and ledmac, typeset in TeXshop on my Mac.  XeTeX is a modern incarnation of LaTeX, itself builing on TeX, that lets one type virtually any unicode script or font directly into the source file.  With the help of Somadeva Vasudeva’s handy character mapping converter, one has the […]

Posted in XeTeX/LEDMAC | 3 Comments » |

Visit to the Red Cross Snake Farm, Bangkok

, August 24, 2008

In transit to Nepal, my wife and I spent a few days in Bangkok and had the chance to visit the fascinating Red Cross Snake Farm in the Silom area of Bangkok.  Here they farm the most venomous snakes for venom extraction in order to make antivenom.  There is a nice lower level with specimins […]

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