क्षिप ॐ स्वाहा on the web

The Vipati mantra became the Gāruḍa mantra par excellence 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:

There are even more links and references, but these are representative.

Gāruḍikas in the Cinema

IMDB Entry: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0156072/
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 with the help of a mature mantravadin.  If only I understood Malayalam, there would be so many fascinating details to relate from this film.
I devote the better part of a chapter in my dissertation to the five-syllable Gāruḍa mantra, so I was delighted when Pondicherry scholar S.A.S. Sharma pointed out this film to me.  It reinforces my thesis that the mantra, and of course this entire profession, is important and well known, yet not acknowledged or understood by the scholarly community.

Haro vva Taṃḍavio

Photo from Flickr page of Prasad R.N.

“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 of Śaṅkuka, a work inspired by the Gāruḍa Tantras.  I am editing selections of it with Harunaga Isaacson.

Garuḍadaṇḍaka and Garuḍapañcāśat


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 have been pleased to discover that it is quite widely known–just not among scholars.  In another post I will discuss some of the other interesting sites where this mantra surfaces on the web, but here I want to point out that the majority of hits for search terms like “garuda mantra” return results related to Swami Desikan.  These two pieces are dedicated to Garuḍa, and make special mention of his five-syllable mantra in the beginning and end.  The five divisions of the Garuḍapañcāśat correlate to the five syllables of the mantra.  Deśika’s consummate skill as a poet is evident in verses like:

kiṃ nirghātaḥ kim arkaḥ paripatati divaḥ kiṃ samiddho ‘yam aurvaḥ
kiṃsvit kārasvarādrir nanu viditam idaṃ vyomavartmā garutmān /
āsīdaty ājihīrṣaty abhipatati haraty atti hā tāta hāmbeti
ālāpodyuktabhillākulajaṭharapuṭaḥ pātu naḥ patrināthaḥ // 15 //

I have typed in each text in Unicode and uploaded them here: Garuḍapañcāśat and Garuḍadaṇḍakam.  Below are links to the ebook versions which have English explanations of the verses, background about Swami Desikan, and many nice pictures.  The last link is to an audio recording of Sunder Kidambi reciting the Garuḍadaṇḍakam. Enjoy!


Amṛtavarṣī Garuḍa” by Sri. P. Chandradasan From the cover of the 2006 edition published by Ullannoor Mana Trust.

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 Dr. K.P. Madhu.  The translated forward, life sketches, and introductions are a pleasure to read and help the scholar to understand the context of this still living tradition of poison healing, therefore serious students of our topic will want to seek out the printed edition.  I received two copies from Dr. Madhu and have deposited one in the UC Berkeley library.  It should be available for interlibrary loan in the coming months.
The text is primarily a compilation of previous works aiming to give students a unified textbook that covers the basics of viṣavaidya.  It does, however, have some unique features and formulas and is anyhow based on a body of literature that is difficult to come by outside of Kerala.  It is divided into two sections, a purvārdha and an uttarārdha, however the verse numbering restarts part way through the uttarārdha so I label it as sections two and three in the etext.  The introduction by Ashtavaidyan Vaidyamathom Valiya Narayanan Namboodiri (translated from the 1961 Malayalam edition) says that the pūrvārdha treats viṣavijñāna whereas the uttarārdha treats viṣacikitsā.  This is not accurate.  The first half of the pūrvārdha is indeed more theoretical and discusses such classic matters as determining if a case is curable or incurable, questioning the messenger, omens, vital points, levels of envenomation, and types of snakes.  The latter half of the pūrvārdha, however, is focused on treating the bites of the cobras, vipers, and kraits, clearly a matter of viṣacikitsā.  The first part of the uttarārdha (section two in the etext numbering) is about healing the bites/stings of various animals other than snakes: that of rodent, scorpion, spider, rabid dog, mongoose, cat, etc.  We need not be surprised by the non-venomous animals in the list; infection caused by any bite, especially deep punctures, can lead to symptoms effectively similar to envenomation.  The third section in the etext (latter part of the uttarārdha) describes various multi-purpose remedies and first aid measures.
The 2006 edition comes with five useful appendices.  The first gives the recipe for a drug called Kāñcī, synonymous with Dhanyāmla, which is mentioned but not explained in verse 1.103.  Appendix II gives metric equivalents for the weights and measures used in the text and Appendix III is on denaturation of some poisonous ingredients.  Appendix IV is on using the viṣahārilehya to diagnose the type of snake responsible for a bite.  The last appendix lists the medicinal plants mentioned in the text by Sanskrit name, Sanskrit synonyms, Latin name, and Malayalam name.

Suśruta on Determining Envenomation Status of a Patient

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 on in order to trick their patients with false success stories.  Unfortunately this initially persuasive argument has little basis in reality and can easily be turned around by saying that antivenom only seems to work because most of the time a lethal amount of venom is not injected.  I am well aware that in an ideal world the doctor will only use antivenom when signs of envenomation are present, when the snake species is identified as one treatable by the available antivenom, and when it has been determined that the patient will not have an acute allergic response to the antivenom.  Unfortunately we don’t live in such an ideal world.  A recent report on snakebite in Cambodia revealed the shocking news that NONE of the antivenom available and IN USE in Cambodia as of 2009 is valid for Cambodian snakes.  The article also featured a chart on the outcomes of snakebite cases in the few hospitals in Cambodia keeping records of it, and usually the death rate was fairly low (<10%) to medium (20%).  Since they were using the wrong antivenom in many cases, and the doctors were often unsure about how to use the antivenom, how many of the deaths might be attributed to allergic reaction to the “medicine”?  Not an ideal world at all.
My point here is NOT to argue that one shouldn’t go to the hospital for antivenom treatment, but at the same time we cannot accept invalid arguments from a medical industry in which things like the Cambodia example can happen.  Dismissing traditional medicine out of hand, which is to say without having any knowledge of it, is unscientific. Scrupulous scientists will agree and desire to test the various medicines used in a given traditional pharmacology.  See my preliminary list of some such evaluations.
For my part, let me start by pointing out a striking passage in the Suśrutasaṃhitā, dating back at least 1,800 years and still in use among physicians of Āyurveda.  This passage nicely illustrates the awareness of determining envenomation status in a spiderbite victim:
5.8.75| lūtāviṣaṃ ghoratamaṃ durvijñeyatamaṃ ca tat |
            duścikitsyatamaṃ cāpi bhiṣagbhirmandabuddhibhiḥ ||
5.8.76| saviṣaṃ nirviṣaṃ caitadityevaṃ pariśaṅkite |
             viṣaghnameva kartavyamavirodhi yadauṣadham ||
5.8.77| agadānāṃ hi saṃyogo viṣajuṣṭasya yujyate |
             nirviṣe mānave yukto ‘gadaḥ saṃpadyate ‘sukham ||
5.8.78| tasmāt sarvaprayatnena jñātavyo viṣaniścayaḥ |
             ajñātvā viṣasadbhāvaṃ bhiṣagvyāpādayennaram ||
“Spider venom is extremely vehement and difficult to diagnosis, and it is nearly impossible for dim-witted doctors to cure it. Thinking ‘Is the patient envenomed or not?’ he wavers on which poison-destroying medicine could be used without causing problems.  Indeed, the use of antidotes is indicated for one who is envenomed, [but] an antidote used on a person that is not envenomed will cause trouble. Therefore all efforts should be used to settle the diagnosis of envenomation.  If the doctor does not know the true state of envenomation, he might kill the man.”

Summary of the Kāśyapasaṃhitā/Garuḍapañcākṣarīkalpa

A Russell’s Viper (गोनस)

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 recast of Śaiva Gāruḍa material (1.10–15).  Vaiṣṇava elements are present, but only few and far between.  Conspicuously absent are the usual mantras to Śiva in his many forms.  The text is valuable for the many details it gives about Gāruḍa mantras and ritual procedures.  I made this summary for my own research purposes, but perhaps it will be useful to others too.   My 2008 etext of the whole text can be downloaded from the Centre for Tantric Studies.
•    Chapter 1      Core mantras
•    frame dialogue
•    3–6, the various types of mantras
•    7–10, frame, attributed to Śiva
•    11–15, frame, specific location and context of Śiva teaching it to Dhara.
•    16–28, the five-syllable mantra of Garuḍa and its many uses
•    29, the teaching has specifically Vaiṣṇava elements here
•    30–31, karanyāsa on both hands
•    32–33, varying order of nyāsa for different effects
•    34–42, aṅgamantras
•    43–44, Gāruḍa gāyatrī
•    45–50, mudrā, with mantra and visualization
•    51–56?, piṇḍa mantra
•    57–63, pada mantra, aka Kūṭagāruḍam
•    64–65+mantra, mantrapāṭha
•    66–67+mantra, another mantra or mantrapāṭha continued?
•    68–end, stutimantra, several specifically Vaiṣṇava epithets used here.
•    Chapter 2     Navakoṣṭhadhyāna
•    1–2, constructing the 9 koṣṭhas as a Māhendra maṇḍala, god (Garuḍa) in the middle
•    3, colors used for nyāsa in the practitioner’s body
•    4–10, visualization of Garuḍa with bhūṣaṇas, etc.
•    11–16ab, visualization of Viṣṇu and Śrī, also in the middle koṣṭha with Garuḍa
•    16cd–17, the eastern koṣṭha with Suparṇa
•    18–20, the southern koṣṭha with a 16 armed Garuḍa
•    21–22, the western koṣṭha with Vainateya
•    23–24, the northern koṣṭha with Tārkṣya
•    25–26, the southeast with Lakṣmī
•    27, the southwest with Kīrti
•    28, the northwest with Jayā
•    29, the northeast with Māyā
•    30, all four goddesses should be meditated on as equal to Lakṣmī
•    31–32, instructions for use
•    33–34, five primary yantras of Garuḍa introduced
•    35–42, vahniyantra
•    many details
•    40–41, wear the yantra for all-purpose protection
•    42, prose chunk of more details about the structure and use of the yantra
•    43–45, “anyayantra” for healing envenomation
•    four petaled lotus
•    46–48, (another yantra or another possible configuration?) used for viṣasaṃkramaṇa
•    śaṅkāviṣārteṣu
•    49–end, ārādhanavidhi
•    51, nyāsa of Viṣṇu on Garuḍa
•    53, yāga for ādhāraśakti
•    54, worship of various gods, followed by worship of the “pañcārṇamanu” (vipati).
•    Chapter 3     Uses of the Mantra
•    1–3, the viniyoga of the mantra (vipati-pañcārṇa and ancillary)
•    4–25ab, various diseases and conditions one can cure or effect based on what type of material is used for the homa fire.
•    25cd– 27, procedure for causing uccāṭana
•    28–29, procedure for maraṇa
•    30–31, procedure for jvarakaraṇa
•    32–36, procedure for mohana
•    37–40=end, procedure for rakṣā/all purpose yantradharaṇa
•    Chapter 4      Snakes and Poisons 101
•    1–2, homage and question
•    3–4ab, the five types of poison taught by Śambhu: sthāvara, jaṅgama, kṛtrima, grahaja, and śaṅkāviṣa.
•    4–5 list of chapter topics:
•    symptoms and stages of poison
•    vital points
•    messenger types
•    good and bad locales
•    the thirteen omens
•    one who knows these basics is a vidvān
•    6, the eight divine nāgas
•    7, the four types of earthy snakes
•    darvīkara, maṇḍalin, rājila, vaitaka
•    8–13, the behavior and appearance of snakes presided over by each of the eight nāgas
•    14–15, the four caste groups of the eight nāgarājas
•    16–18, other facts about snakes
•    19, where they live
•    20–22, the marks of ordinary snakes
•    23, the doṣas aggravated by each type
•    24, probably about the conditions under which a snake will bite
•    25–26ab, there are thirty-six types of cobras, sixteen maṇḍalin, thirteen rājila, eleven vaitaka
•    26cd–27ab, the months of gestation
•    27cd–28, baby snakes and their gender
•    29, the qualities of snakes born in certain months
•    30, fangs come in after they open their eyes and see the sun
•    31, the four main venomous fangs and their names
•    32, after a month they leave the mother, after six months they are a hand in length and slough their skin
•    33, animals that prey on snakes, lifespan of 100 years if not killed
•    34, two-hundred and forty non-venomous teeth, four venomous
•    35–39, astrological periods of the day and week assigned to each nāga and Gulika.
•    40, snakebite is fatal during these periods (just times of Gulika?)
•    41ab, the practitioner should not do rituals for people bitten during inauspicious times
•    41cd–43, the four types of bite
•    43ef–44, the eight reasons a snake will strike
•    45–52, the symptoms of bites by each type
•    45, bhīta
•    46, unmatta
•    47, kṣudārta
•    48, ākrānta
•    49, viṣadarpa
•    50, sthānārthin
•    51, vairin
•    52, kālacodita
•    53, symptoms of a saviṣa bite, otherwise nirviṣa
•    54–59, symptoms of a fatal bite (kāladaṣṭa)
•    60–61, divination for diagnosis of curability
•    62, kāladaṣṭa summary in Maṇḍākrānta meter
•    63–70, stages of envenomation ending in kāladaṣṭa (so a less severe bite can progress to the point of incurabilty, not necessarily incurable from the beginning)
•    71–73, inauspicious places to be bitten by a snake
•    74–75, vital spots on the body in which a snakebite is deadly/dangerous (nindita).
•    76, signs of an auspicious messenger
•    77–82, signs of an inauspicious messenger
•    83–84, general pointers about handling messengers
•    85–90, the nāgas paired and assigned to the directions
•    this seems to be used as a divination tool, the spot the messenger decides to sit on is used to determine things about the snake and the victim
•    91, words that come up in conversation with the messenger and their portent
•    92–93, reading the movements of the messenger as omens
•    94–100, more about reading between the lines of what the messenger says
•    101–107, more omens
•    108, bad asterism to be bitten under
•    109, bad days of the month
•    110 (end), bad times of day to be bitten
•    Chapter 5    Specific operations with the Vipati, Herbal remedies
•    1, opening praise
•    2, in praise of the mantra (?)
•    3–8, operations with the vipati mantra by varying order of the syllables
•    9, Kurukullā mantra
•    10, installation of the element maṇḍalas in the body of the practitioner
•    long prose mantra, mainly involving invocation of eight nāgas
•    mantra where syllables are assigned to each of the eight nāgas
•    11, sarpākārṣaṇamantra
•    12, sarpoccāṭaṇamantra
•    13, long mantra section, Vaiṣṇava, good for the four aims of man
•    14–15, paramārādhanakrama (long mantra section, ritual prescriptions, Vaiṣṇava elements)
•    includes mantras to use with the navakoṣṭha layout in chapter 2.
•    mantras in homage to each element (bhūta)
•    mantra in homage to each of the eight nāgas, also asks them to remove the poison
•    ends with a statement that it is to be done daily and makes the practitioner “śrīgaruḍavat” for all ritual actions, i.e. empowers him to act as Garuḍa.
•    16–24, back to the astrological topic of Gulika’s position in chapter 4.
•    25, prathamayantra, sarvarakṣākaram
•    26, dvitīyayantra, asādhyaviṣaharam
•    27, tṛtīyayantra, vikhaṇḍitakṣvelaharam
•    28, caturthayantra, saṃkrāmaṇakṛd
•    29, pañcamayantra, use not specified, but it is drawn on water and applied to patient by chanting
•    30, sarpoccāṭanayantra
•    kurukullā vidyā included
•    31, phaṇivadha
•    32, viṣasaṃhāra
•    kurukullā vidyā included
•    eṣa sudarśana gāruḍo viṣasaṃhāraḥ
•    33–35, prescription for gathering herbs (mantra)
•    34, another mantra, sounds Vedic
•    36, Aṅgadūṣaṇīvidyānyāsavidhi
•    37, for Rats (against rat-bite)
•    this tag “ākhūṇāṃ”, is doubtful, seems to be about snake poison
•    38, mantra for removing swelling
•    39–45, ākhuviṣanāśana mantras
•    46, vṛścikamantra
•    47, gardabhāśvādiviṣāpaha
•    48, Krimikīṭādiviṣāpaha
•    mantra begins with homage to Viṣṇu
•    49–50, sthāvaraviṣāpaha
•    51–52, yantrāntaravidhāna
•    Kurukullā vidyā used.
•    51, sarpoccāṭana yantra
•    52, stobhaka saṃhāraka yantra
•    53–55, descriptions of the element maṇḍalas
•    56, using the earth maṇḍala for stambhana
•    57, using the water maṇḍala (for nirviṣīkaraṇa)
•    58, using the fire maṇḍala for viṣa(stobha)
•    59, using the wind maṇḍala for saṃkrāmaṇa
•    60–61, using the space maṇḍala for sarpasaṃhāra
•    62, summing up uses of the element “yantras”
•    63ab, a mantra in code
•    63cd, uses of said mantra
•    64ab, a mantra in code
•    64cd, uses of said mantra
•    65ab, a mantra in code
•    65cd, uses of said mantra
•    66ab, a mantra in code
•    66cd, uses of said mantra
•    67ab, a mantra in code
•    67cd, uses of said mantra
•    68, summing up
•    69–80(end), Tārkṣyahasta
•    Chapter 6    Medicinal herbs, mantra/yantra, snake charming
•    1–2, seems to be about vital points, some doubts
•    3–7, seems to be about the phases of the moon in relation to efficacy of herbs, some doubts.
•    8–19, procedure for gathering herbs
•    10, nice verse about origin of medicinal herbs
•    11–18, mantras used for gathering herbs
•    20–36, nāgākṛṣṭi
•    21–31, yantra and mantras calling on nāgas and Garuḍa
•    34, having been drawn there, one can command them to take back their own poison and they will do it.
•    35, this vidyā is like an obedient wife when perfected
•    36–44, sarpoccāṭanamantra
•    involves the Vipati mantra
•    45–48, sarpasaṃhārayantra
•    uses Kurukullā vidyā
•    throw it in the snake’s hole
•    49–78(end), snake charming
•    mantras
•    59, smearing body and hands with medicinal herbs
•    61, a mudrā for paralysing the snake
•    63, making the hand into the shape of a cobra hood
•    68, the Kurukullā vidyā
•    Chapter 7    Mantras for the Eight Nāgas
•    1–4, Anantahṛdaya mantra, and statement that it is effective at removing the poison of one bitten by a snake of Ananta’s class.
•    5–7ab, Vāsukihṛdaya mantra
•    7cd–10, Takṣakahṛdaya mantra
•    11–13, Kārkoṭakahṛdaya mantra
•    14–16, Padmahṛdaya mantra
•    17–20ab, Mahāpadmahṛdaya mantra
•    20cd–24, Śaṅkhapālahṛdaya mantra
•    25–28ab, Gulikahṛdaya mantra
•    28cd–31(end), general procedures
•    Chapter 8    Darvīkara
•    1ab, introduction to the next three chapters stating the 4 types of snakes
•    1cd–3ab, symptoms of cobra bite
•    3cd–31, herbal medicines for cobra bite
•    thus, herbal remedies vary by species, while mantras do not, or vary according to the spiritual class of which nāga presides over the earthly snake.
•    several recipes are good for both plant and animal poisons
•    these are taken nasally and as ointments, where the next section is only as ointment
•    32–40, herbal medicinal ointments (añjana)
•    40–47, herbal medicinil ointments (lepana); what is the difference between añjana and lepana?
•    48–51, medicinal drinks
•    48–49, mentions wide efficacy, not just cobra bite
•    52–53, medicinal eatables
•    54–58, medicinal pills
•    Chapter 9    Maṇḍalin
•    1–3, symptoms of viper bite
•    4–49, herbal preparations for viper bite
•    5, a drink
•    6, an eatable
•    7, an ointment
•    16, a fumigant
•    50–65, mantras for viper bite
•    66–67, formula for constipation and retention of urine
•    68–86 (end), more herbal formulas for viper bite
•    Chapter 10    Rājila
•    1–2ab, symptoms of Rājila bite
•    odd in its brevity
•    2cd–13, herbal remedies for Rājila bite
•    14, mantra
•    16–45(end), herbal remedies
•    Chapter 11    Medicine for the Sixteen Rats
•    The divisions between sections is difficult to discern, so I have only made a tenuous first guess based on where the name is given.  Only 14 rats are named.  Some symptoms and herbal formulas are given for each.
•    1–6ab, Kulacandrasya
•    6cd–7, Bhayānakasya
•    8–9, Karaghnasya
•    10–11ab, Krūrasya
•    11cd–13, Ugrasya
•    14–15, Bhṛtakasya
•    16–18ab, Tīkṣṇasya
•    18cd–20ab, Meghanādasya
•    20cd–22ab, Kumudasya
•    22cd–26, Siṃhāsyasya
•    27–28ab, Sunāsasya
•    28cd–30, Sudantasya
•    31–32, Sulabhasya
•    33–34, Sugarbhasya
•    35–67, general purpose formulas for ākhuviṣa
•    68–76ab, mantra for ākhuviṣa called “Śṛṅkhala” (chain)
•    76cd–77ab, rodenticide formula
•    77cd–82, mantra
•    83–89 (end), herbal formulas
•    Chapter 12    Spiders, scorpions, gardabha, rabid dog, frogs, lizards, cats, etc.
•    3–5ab, mantra
•    Vipati mantra used
•    mantra seems to be called “Bhānu”
•    5cd–11ab, herbal formulas
•    11cd, scorpion sting medicine starts
•    12–15ab, mantra
•    14, mantra to Viṣṇu
•    15cd–17ab, herbs for scorpion sting
•    17cd start of gardabhāśvādi section, (or gardabha-śvābhyāṃ as in 21a?)
•    18–21ab, mantra
•    22cd–26ab, remedies for catbite and wildcat bite
•    26cd, jackel
•    27ab, centipede
•    27cd, frog
•    28, fish poison
•    28cd, mantra to Viṣṇu for “kṛmikīṭādika”
•    30, kīṭaviṣa
•    33–34, the classic rabid dog mantra
•    35–42, rabies formula
•    43–66 (end), plant poison antidotes
•    43–51, mantras, several parallels with Aṣṭāṅgahṛdaya and others
•    52–66, herbal antidotes to plant poisons
•    Chapter 13    Abhiṣeka
•    2, it is secret
•    3, it removes all sin, is beneficent, allows one to control people
•    4, removes all disease, cures possion, poisons
•    5, good for infertility too
•    6, astrological timing
•    7, choosing an auspicious location
•    8–11, setting up a complete and ornamentd maṇḍapa
•    12, eight pots, rice, yantra
•    13, yāga, yantrārcana
•    14–15, more vidhis
•    16, involves recalling the Vainateya-manu
•    18–19, gems required
•    20–23, plant materials offered
•    24–25, music and singing offerings
•    26–27, visualization of Garuḍa
•    34, gāruḍa mantra recitation 1,008 times
•    35–43 (end), more specific instructions
(end of text; edition follows with a long passage attributed to Nārāyaṇīya 3, but differs from that)

Jayatu Khaḍgarāvaṇaḥ

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 the strongest part of the thesis.  In particular, my understanding of the nature of the KKGU and of the Bhūta Tantra genre has shifted considerably in the three years since I wrote this MA thesis.
More current are my studies of the manuscripts themselves and the critical edition and translation of the ninth chapter of the Kriyākālaguṇottara that form the larger part of the thesis.  Chapter 9, 10, and 11 of the KKGU form the “Khaḍgarāvaṇakalpa”, and are the most detailed source on this interesting figure that survive, to my knowledge.
In the future I would like to do a detailed study on the relationships between the Bhūta and Gāruḍa tantras.  I don’t think it is as simple as published comments make it sound, i.e. that they both deal with pragmatic magical topics and so were typically found together by default.  In fact many ritual procedures are identical for exorcism and countering poison, and differ only in the principal mantra employed by, or rather called on to possess, the practitioner.  More to come.


Bearded Vulture

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. Bheruṇḍā, Tvaritā, and Kurukullā’s names often come up in lists of the (usually) nine Nityā goddesses, a cult which also is practically unstudied but the scriptures of which survive in several Nepalese manuscripts.
The word Bheruṇḍā also refers to a type of bird, which Dave (1985: Birds in Sanskrit Literature) identifies as either a Bearded Vulture, Adjutant Stork, or Dodo (397–399). The first two are pictured above and both seem quite possible.

Adjutant Stork

Some Sanskrit texts that have passages on Bheruṇḍā include Saṃhitāsāra (unpublished Nepalese manuscripts), Gāruḍapurāṇa, Nāradamahāpurāṇa, Brahmāṇḍapurāṇa, Yogaratnāvalī (unpublished, but manuscripts widespread), Mahāyāgakrama (Muktabodha etext), the commentary to Bhairavapadmāvatīkalpa (Jhavery 1944), and Svacchandapaddhati (Muktabodha etext). Sanderson 2009: 48fn15 has a few useful comments and references on the Nityā cult.