Bodish bLa-ma & Gurun Shaman in Nepal, 2-6 [northern Gurun at Gyasumdo]









Hierarchy & narrative memory



Shamanic sacrifice



The red offering



Underworld serpent-deities (kLu)



Guardian deities (bTsan)



Daimones (bDud)






Ghyabre~ shaman



Bodish death-rite



Good & Evil eras



0. Introduction

pp. 8-9 the 2 types of Gurun shaman

p. 8 regional terms

p. 9

so-west Gurun

northern Gurun




"The Ghyabre~ is a complete death cult specialist who guides the Gurung soul to the land of the dead ... . {cf. black-hatted Taoist}



The Paju is the specialist in exorcisms, and recalls the soul when it is lost or stolen through ritual journeys to the upperworld and underworld."

p. 8 ladders to other worlds

Shamans "visit Khro~-nasa, the Gurung underworld, going down the nine ladders. {[Borneo] there is in the west a descent over edge of a cliff, via ladder, into the netherworld}

The upper world is also reached by nine ladders, arriving at a mansion in Mu, the Gurung term for sky." {[Kem] heaven can be reached via ladder}


2. Hierarchy & narrative memory

pp. 42-44 parthenogenesis; bestiality

p. 42

"A woman who was a Jomo was weaving when she saw a hailstone fall in front of her. ... she ate it, and later became pregnant. She ... hid in a cave, where she had the child."

p. 43

"Buddha Chenresig [Skt. Avalokites`vara] came into Tibet in the form of a monkey Bodhisattva. He lived in a cave ... . But a "rock cliff demoness" [brag sin-mo] found him and begged

p. 44

him to take her as his wife ... . The monkey returned to the Buddha field of Chenresig. {the earthly and heavenly aspects of the deity thus acting separately, and being veritably mutual "doubles"} But Chenresig said, "You should return and marry her ... ." .The monkey Bodhisattva returned and married the demoness, and they had offspring."

p. 43, fn. 4 names of the 4 "upper" clans










3. Shamanic sacrifice

pp. 64-67 immolation of deer; dough effigy of bird




"A wild deer is caught alive in the wilderness by a male cult of "hunters" and returned to the village. ...

Yukaghir ... after a shaman enticed a deer’s spirit from the "owner of the earth,"a real deer would be found by a hunting party."


"The bird, Kle-Nyima [‘sun’ (fn. 2)], ... originated fro above. He first fell down into a cloud, the region of the gods [lha]. He then fell further into midspace, the region of the btsan."

"The Kle brought rain down from the sky." [p. 66 "the Ghyabre~ shamans beat their drums, as the mode of requesting rain from the sky."]


"The Khro~-nasa people came up from the underworld."

"The Khro~ brought vegetation up from below."


"The tree has "grown up out of the netherworld" ..., and

its branches are occupied by Kle-Nyima the bird".


"the heart, which he quickly tears out of the deer’s body and puts on a rock altar beneath the tree .

Clanging his cymbals, the main Ghyabre~ chants and watches the heart that is still pumping up and down."

p. 66 (repeated on p. 111) metallic directional locks {cf. directions of metallic world-ages}

"Open the __ lock

of the __ ."









pp. 70-71summoning of shaman to return from the netherworld




"Khro~ Paju ... went back to Khro~-nasa ... . ... . ... two of the Paju’s former apprentices decided to call the first Paju back by going down to the underworld : They found the door in the earth and went down. When they arrive they saw that Khro~-nasa was different from the earth. The people were very small. ... They could carry water in a barley stem, and they had to build bridge over the footprints of the chickens. There were four lakes, one blue, one red, one white, and one black. The two apprentices saw Paju plowing his field, but he could not see them. To get his attention they burnt incense. {Envoys found Odusseus "ploughing with an ass and ox yoked together ... . When he pretended not to recognize his distinguished guests, [until] his sanity ... established, [he]was obliged to" (GM 160.f).} ... The two apprentices ... begged Khro~ Paju to return to the human world. ... So he went.


When Khro~ Paju emerged into the human world he saw ... people had to eat ... no meat, only spinach."

GM = Robert Graves : The Greek Myths. 1955.

pp. 71-73 obtaining of golden deer from the netherworld; reduction superfluous suns


vengeance of the netherworld-folk


"The hunter saw a golden horned deer and shot it, but the arrows bounded off the jewels in its body. ... he lay down to sleep. He saw in a dream an earth-guardian spirit, who said, "I am the owner of the deer. You can have it only if you give me a fish from the southern valley and a bird from the northern mountains." The hunter woke up, ... then found the deer tracks, which led down to the underworld. ... The hunter now plunged down into the underworld with his dog, chasing the deer. He climbed down nine ladders and entered Khro~-nasa. His dog ran ahead and he could not find it. He saw the tiny people and asked them if they had seen his dog and the deer. ... After three days the hunter found the dog and killed the deer. He promised to leave the exchange gift at the door that leads out of the underworld. But reaching the door, he escaped into the human world without leaving a share for the people of Khro~-nasa. ...


It was the curse of the people of Khro~-nasa ..., causing nine suns to appear in the sky. ... The bird said, "If you allow me to make my home atop the great Wishing Tree, the I can remove the other suns." Everyone agreed ... . With these the bird ... danced all night, reducing the nine suns to one." {In Chinese myth, the superfluous suns are themselves birds; an archer shooteth them (There is a mythic dancing bird in the Classic of Mountains and Seas.)}

73, fn. 10

[detail from Galantso] "One day a boy took an egg form the nest in the tree of this bird that had warned humans not to disturb it. After that humans could no longer talk with animals."


4. The red offering

p. 85 kings of the 3 categories of deities





color of body





white cloth

red shawl



with-fulfilling gem


daimon’s sling


turquoise dragon

snow lion {snow leopard}

garud.a (khyun)


5. Underworld serpent-deities (kLu)

p. 100 the nature of kLu

p. 100

"The palace of the klu is in a large ocean with nine kingdom areas. The klu meadows are blue. Red cows and bulls run here and there".

p. 100, fn. 10

The klu kings are led by their leader dGa>-bo >Jogs-pa ... .

The eight chief ministers have names such as

Mirror-faced One,

Snake-Headed One, etc.

Commoner klu have names such as

Dragon Sounder,

Fruit Ripener".

p. 101 remedies for damaged kLu

to cure a kLu afflicted with __

burn __

damaged skin

"a snake skin"

damaged palms

"the palm of a crocodile"

damaged skull

"the foam of the ocean"

paralyzed hands and feet

wan-po lak-pa ("a tree glue")

p. 103 detriments to humans from neglecting the kLu

"If the klu are poor, humans become poor ... .

If klu get sick, so do humans.

So we must look after the klu."


6. Guardian deities (bTsan)

p. 118, fn. 1 locations of deities which perch on one’s body

__ lha (‘__ god’)


deity’s nature

pho (‘male’)

under left armpit

"is directly inherited as the patriline’s guardian deity."

dgra (‘warrior’)

on right shoulder

"fierce, protecting aspect of that same guardian."

yul (‘area’)

in forehead

"where one happens to be born".

z^an (‘mother’s brother’)


"is inherited as the guardian deity of the mother’s patriline."

"Men insist than only males have these gods within, a view that women, tight-lipped, refuse to comment on. Tibetan men of low birth are also said to have no gods within them, a view that low-status males themselves openly reject."

pp. 118-119 functions of bTsan




"the second of the Tibetan area gods, called btsan ... is red. The btsan are fierce warriors, spirit residues of historical kings and heroes. {cf. Chinese worship of historic military generals, and Vietnamese worship of historic kings and queens, princes and princesses} A btsan ... is a fierce, red, helmeted warrior dressed in a kingly robe. Btsan are usually found


located atop red cliffs, waterfalls, or mountain passes." [p. 119, fn. 2 : "Mountain passes are often the seat of a btsan which resides in a lha tho ("stone pile") on which travelers put juniper branches".]

pp. 119-120, 122 paju shaman’s The>u-bRan tutelary-spirit




There are "male and female The>u-brang ... . The male image, holding the trident as weapon of defense, is often seen pinned over the door of Gurung households after the Paju has finished his exorcism. ... The Paju claims it has seven forms in all, sometimes appearing as an animal, a child, a man, etc. ... . During the Paju’s ritual performance, the male and female The>u-brang who aid him often operate as searchers to find ... who


has stolen a personal item or wealth from a client. ... the male and female The>u-brang carry a bag and stick and their feet point backward. At a minimum, they must have ... "wings" ... so they can "fly out and search." When they fly out, they are accompanied by porcupine quills called dung-shing that are "shot" from the quiver held by the Paju. The quills are said to light the way during the search by sending sparks of flame."


"the search process returns him to the primordial period "when animals and humans could converse," and all beings "cooperated as equals.""

p. 119, fn. 4 "Tibetans use the term The>u-brang, Kang-pa gcig-pa (One-Legged One), Ber-ka >sug khen (Cane-Using One). The Paju ... in rituals ... often refers to The>u-brang as Badza." {With this one-legged god, who is to "go to the house of the blacksmith ... in his furnace" (p. 120), cf. the Kic^e` god "Tohil ... standing on one leg to make fire" (MBDL, p. 223).}

MBDL = Dennis Tedlock : Popol Vuh: the Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life.

pp. 120-121 search-localities, with means of discovery at each ["The chant begins with the Paju’s calling spirits of ancient "guru" Pajus into his body ..., his body shaking as they enter." (p. 120)]



mode of recovery



"If it is hidden in his furnace, take it out with his tongs."



"dig it up, using a pick."



"If it is hidden at the bottom, the fish will go down and retrieve it and bring it to you."



"Ask the bird that lives there to fly behind the waterfall and retrieve it for you."



"If it is hidden there, then ask the deer that lives on the mountain to get it for you."


"crevasse between the cliffs"

"send the small chepari [froglike animal] to retrieve it."


"in a tree"

"A woodpecker in the tree will retrieve it for you".



"Ask the lama’s nine ... students to dig under the house to find it."


"the great mountain"

"The lama will cast a spell and send the dagger to retrieve it."



"Get the lightning from the sky to crack the earth and enter the underworld to retrieve it."

pp. 122-123 the paju’s implements for rituals




"The first is the "father stone," a "meteorite from the sky" which strikes ... from above with lightning. ...

The second is the "mother stone," a volcanic rock from Kho~-nasa underworld. It is sent out "from below" to roam the earth in four directions ... .


In order to terrify demons, the Paju has at his disposal four dog canine teeth, with which he conjures up the image of a mad dog.

There is also a tiger whisker for conjuring up a wild tiger, from which the demon ... flees in fear."

pp. 123-124 shooting the lin-ga




Aimed at in archery-contest from the sacred boulder (residence of the yul lha), are "figures of male and female demons. They are naked and their sexual organs are prominent. ...


There is much banter about the phallic nature of the arrows {could they repraesent spurting semen virile?}, implying sexual conquest as well, particularly when the arrow strikes the naked female demoness." {cf. S^an-dynasty "shamaness ... "to strip naked" ("REACh", p. 130) ; and the Skidi shooting of a woman who symbolized the morning star }

"REACh" = Edward H. Schafer : "Ritual Exposure in Ancient China" HARVARD JOURNAL OF ASIATIC STUDIES, Vol. 14, No. 1/2 (Jun., 1951), pp. 130-184.


Stan Royal Mumford : Himalayan Dialogue : Tibetan Lamas and Gurung Shamans in Nepal. U of WI Pr, Madison, 1989.