Some goddesses are commonly worshipped in Buddhist and Hindu Tantric traditions. tArA, vajrayogini, ChinnamastA and vajravArAhI are best examples. Usually it is not easy to trace how and when these adaptations took place. In the case of mahAchInakrama tArA , a special form of tArA, it has long been suspected that the goddess was imported from the Buddhist pantheon into the Hindu tArAkula pantheon.Buddhist mahAchInakrama tArA is iconographically identical to one of several existing forms of tArA described in tArAkula tantras. Same mantra is employed for both goddesses. Colophon of bhaTTAchArya’s edition of sAdhanAmAlA states that nAgArjuna took the tradition of mahAchInakrama tArA from the inhabitants of bhoTa country (भोटेषु उद्धृतम् ). He identified bhoTadesha (Tibet ) with mahAchIna and concluded that mahAchInakramatArA worshipped by native inhabitants of Tibet probably professing the Bon religion of Tibet, entered the Buddhist pantheon with the Tantric nAgArjuna in the 7CE. Western scholar Tucci identified mahAchInadesha with kaNvara in the upper Sutlej valley.bhAratI held it to be included in the entire region to the north of the himAlaya, Tibet and at least parts of Mongolia and western China. BAgachi thought it to refer to Mongolia. ShAstrI and Weller held that it refers to China. Sarkar interpreting shaktisaNgamataNtra identified mahAchIna with Tibet .
mahAchInakramatArA is said to have been introduced to India by vashiShTa, who received the transmission from buddha in mahAchInadesha..
मयि आराधनाचारं बुद्धरूपी जनार्दनः ॥
जगामाचारविज्ञानवाञ्छया बुद्धरूपिणम् ।
ततो गत्वा महाचीनदेशे ज्ञानमयो मुनिः ॥
बौद्धदेशेऽथर्ववेदे महाचीने सदा ब्रज |
तत्र गत्वा महाभावं विलोक्य मत्पदाम्बुजम् ॥
rudrayAmala and brahmayAmala have famous story of buddhavashiShTha vRRittAntaH. brahmA’s son vashiShTa, who worshipped the goddess tArA with austerities and vedic path unsuccessfully for a long time, is advised by the goddess herself to go to the mahAchInadesha and follow the atharvanic practice of left hand tArAkula. An intresting form of godess is discribed in buddhavashiShThavRRittAntaH
सा देवी परमा शक्तिः सर्वसङ्कटतारिणी । कोटिसूर्यप्रभा नीला चन्द्रकोटिसुशीतला ॥ स्थिरविद्युल्लताकोटिसदृशी कालकामिनी । सर्वस्वरूपा सर्वाद्या धर्माधर्मविवर्जिता ॥ शुद्धचीनाचाररता शक्तिचक्रप्रवर्तिका । अनन्तानन्तमहिमा संसाराणवतारिणी ॥
बुद्धेश्वरी बुद्धरूपा अथर्ववेदशाखिनी ॥
सा पाति जगतां लोकां स्तस्या कर्म चराचरम् ॥
Words shuddhachInAchAraratA , buddheshvarI, buddharUpA and atharvavedashAkhinI are to be noticed .
(१) shuddhachInAchAraratA – One who is worshiped by chInAchAra
(२) buddheshvarI- Deity worshiped by buddha
(३) buddharUpA – One having form of buddha
(४) atharvavedashAkhinI- Deity Belonging to branch of atharvaveda.
Intrestingly a text tAropaniShat is there belonging to saubhAgya kANDa of atharvaveda.This upnishad is solo shrutipramANa for tArA worship . click here to read tAropaniShat Teachings of buddha to vashiShTha is well-preserved in tArAkula text mahAchInakramasAra tantra alias AchArasAra tantra.
click here to download mahAchInakramasAra manuscript
Buddhist mahAchInakrama tArA bears akShobhya on her head. This is because the deities of the vajrayAna pantheon are considered emanations of five families of buddhas ( paNchatathAgatakula). In buddhist iconography of tArA he is desipated as buddha .
tArAkula discription of akShobhya on head of tArA is unusual and requires explanation. akShobhya is interpreted as an epithet of shiva. According to toDalatantra, shiva is called ‘ unshakeable’ because he drank the deadly halAhala poison without agitation .akShobhya is genraly decipated as having the form of a snake or akShobhya shiva sitting on a snake on TArA’s head. While the snake is absent from the Buddhist images. In the tArAkula tradition akShobhya also figures as the RiShi of tArAmaNtra .
The bone ornaments (paNchamudrA) of the goddess were interpreted as a garland of five skulls on her forehead . Buddhist kartRRi appears as a kind of dagger with a diamond sceptre on its handle, in contrast to its tArAkula representation as a pair of scissors .
In Buddhist sAdhanAmAlA goddess’s mUla mantra is given as OM hrIM trIM hUM phaT in Buddhist tradition , tArAkula tradition has preserved the variant strIM for trIM. The same mantra is employed for ekajaTI who shares many iconographical characteristics with mahAchInakramatArA . The mantra is said to grant eloquence and turn the yogin into a great poet. This must be the effect of the seed syllable trIM contained in it, which, according to the passage produces similar results when recited by itself. Meditative verses for mahAchIna kramatArA are
प्रत्यालीढपदां घोरां मुण्डमालाप्रलम्बिताम् ।
खर्वलम्बोदरां भीमां नीलनीरजराजिताम् ॥१॥
त्र्यम्बकैकमुखां दिव्यां घोराट्टहासभासुराम् ।
सुप्रहृष्टां शवारूढां नागाष्टकविभूषिताम् ॥२॥
रक्तवर्तुलनेत्रां च व्याघ्रचर्मावृतां कटौ ।
नवयौवनसम्पन्नां पञ्चमुद्राविभूषिताम् ॥३॥
ललज्जिह्वां महाभीमां सदंष्ट्रोत्कटभीषणाम् |
खड्गकर्त्रिकरां सव्ये वामोत्पलकपालधाम् ॥४॥
पिङ्गोग्रैकजटां ध्यायात् मौलावक्षोभ्यभूषिताम् ।
भावनाचलनिष्पत्तौ भवेद् योगी महाकविः ॥५॥
To be continued…………