Bodish bLa-ma & Gurun Shaman in Nepal, 7-8 [northern Gurun at Gyasumdo]


7. Daimones (bDud)

p. 141 hollow-backed goddess

p. 141

"She turned and saw a woman wearing a dress but her back was hollowed out. {"The West and East Greenlanders credit a skeletal backside to the sun woman." (BHH, p. 290)} ... Then the demon ... climbed on my back".

p. 141, fn. 1

"the demon enters the village in this manner, ... the first house ... . A family ... may put a sign in front of the door, warning ... not to come into their house first. The sign is a leaf rake sticking out of a basket, with a girl’s trouser hung over the top."

BHH = By Daniel Merkur : Becoming Half Hidden: Shamanism and Initiation among the Inuit. 1985.

pp. 140-147 exorcism of daimones




In "Tibet, local landlords would sponsor grand exorcisms, in which a scapegoat in the form of a beggar would be exiled from the village. Carrying gifts of clothes, he would also


carry away communal impurities and afflictions ... . ...

Tibetan exorcisms begin with such suspicion (rnam-rtog) of demonic affliction and proceed on the assumption that they can be ritually expelled or destroyed."


"tantric exorcism, the ... "fire offering" (sbyinseg)" : "he suddenly poured in alcohol. A blazing pillar of fire shot up and spread to every corner of the ceiling ... . After several seconds the fire was gone."


"Once the demon is caught in the trap, he is cursed and then taken in effigy out of the village, where he is ... thrown over a cliff."


"The Sri are the demons that were released from the Gurung underworld (Khro~-nasa) in the primal era. In the Sri exorcism, they are "pressed down," sent back into the underworld through a hole dug in the earth. The Sri demons are first lured into a tray ... . Their footprints are detected by sprinkling a thin layer of white ash on the tray, covered by a black ash layer. At the head of the tray is put the skull of a dog into which the Sri will be put as an imprisonment. ... .


the footprints, tiny way lines, have appeared. The ashes are put inside the dog skull. ... The Paju peers down through the hole into the Khro~-nasa underworld. He lowers the skull into the hole".


"The third type of curse attempts to turn back demons that were sent from the Gurung underworld (Khro~-nasa) by the "first" shaman Khro~ Paju. The Paju reverses this ... by reciting ... : "Go to the place where the radishes grow and where the sisi fly stays! ..."" [fn. 7 : "In Khro~-nasa, radishes and the "sisi" fly originate."]


"you are holding their hearts with a hook and you have a sling around their necks, their hands and feet bound with chains."

"the ground is ... to "crack open" when the lama stabs it with his ritual dagger. He peers down into the underworld below : "Through the crack you see nine levels. [fn. 9 : " "nine levels" indicates a Bonpo source in the text."] Below that is an ocean in which there is a nine-headed {Bon deities are often 9-headed} serpent demon (klu gi bdud) ... . He has a crocodile’s body ... with his open mouth emitting poisonous vapors." The lama lowers the imprisoned demons into the hole, ... they are "pressed down into the mouth of the serpent demon." The huge crocodile mouth is then itself "tied" and the serpent "sent back" into the ocean depths below the earth."

pp. 151-152 legend & ritual about a 3-headed bDud




"In the exorcism text, called "expelling the three-headed black one" (Gto nag mgo gsum), ... a three-headed demon child is born to an old woman because of her unnatural lust. ... Her husband tries to throw the child into the sea, but it protests ... . Then ... Yamantaka [Yama-antaka] "with twenty-one bull’s heads and forty-nine hands holding weapons with eight legs ..." ... swallows the three-headed demon". ...


The lama first "beguiles" (bslus) the demon into seeing what he is visualizing in his mind and tricks him into entering the effigy to receive it rather than seizing the life of the sponsor."

p. 152 the "three-tiered semiotic system"



its significance


phyi ‘external’

nos ‘nai:ve realism’ "At this level the demons would not be fooled".


nan ‘inner’

metaphorical meanings of tin (‘middling’) capacity


gsan ‘secret’

snags ‘mantra’ "actually transform the visualization into a reality that is efficacious."


8. Soul-calling

pp. 169-170 diagnosis from blood-pulse



diagnosis : __ hath stolen the soul


"flows very slowly in the right arm"

"one of the invisible gods"


"flows extremely fast in the left arm"

"a living witch"

170, fn. 1

"goes forward and backward"

"a live witch"

" "

"jumps up and down"


pp. 169-175 spiritual journey by shaman in quaest of patient’s lost soul


spiritual journey


"When the Gurung Paju recalls the soul, he calls it pla; the pronunciation "pla" suggests ... the Tibetan term (bla)."


"The search begins locally, the Paju calling out the names of goddesses of rock, soil, rivers, and trees to ask if the soul has been taken and hidden


in these regions. ... As the Paju and his aides proceed up the trail, the chant names the local villages ... . At midway point the pass the point called Black Water, regarded as one of the doors to the underworld. Farther on, they arrive at the top of the gigantic rock dome called Oble~, near Pisang ... . It is the Gurung land of the dead. ... In the Gurung death rite, the soul of the deceased is led up to the top of Oble~ dome by another shaman, the Ghyabre~. ... At the top of Oble~ dome they encounter a barking dog barring the way to the land of the dead ... .


The Paju chants : "Tie up the golden dog, tie up the silver dog." ... The occupants of the land of the dead tie the dog to the rock hitching post, a thin column of rock which sticks out of the top of the dome ... . ... New terrain is crossed northward, the chant taking note of four villages that are identified with ancient Gurung clan names. [fn. 2 : "These settlements are called (1) village of Trul, (2) village of Gyab-btsan, (3) village of Khro~-btsan, and (4) village of Jowo."] ... The search party ... begins to ascend to the sky. The climb is made up a "tree of the gods" that is "atop a mountain" that links earth and sky. The Pajus call the tree raja dong-bu ("king tree") {cf. Kingstree, SC}, and its white, red, and black leaves are identified with the Tibetan classifications lha, btsan, and bdud, here representing the upper, middle, and lower worlds. Above the tree a series of nine ladders reach up to a divine palace ["the heavenly palace in Mu gi Gompa"]. Arriving at the palace, the shaman loudly announces that he has come to retrieve the lost soul of a patient, whom he names. But the gates are locked. The Paju shouts to the gods inside, "Give me the golden and silver keys!" These are thrown to him, and he and his tutelary aides unlock the gates and enter. They gaze at the beautiful golden and silver pillars. ... The palace gods are conceived as a divine family, so the Paju begins by asking the children whether they have taken the soul. ... The birds who have come with him now turn into "seven goddesses." They begin to dance {cf. dancing birds in Classic of Mountains and Seas?}, putting on a show that will attract all of the inhabitants of the divine palace. As the crowd gathers to watch the beautiful dancers the Paju searches among the onlookers to see if the patient’s soul (pla) has been tricked into coming. "Dimly" he sees it and goes to speak to it ... to lure it back to the human world ... . ...


In his commentary, the Paju confirms that these are the words of bride enticement. They may be used when a boy courts a girl in the Rodi (meeting house), in which Gurung youth dance and sing through the night. ... When they put on all-night shows, each young man may search among the crowd for the girl of his choice who may have "come to watch." ...


As the soul (pla) draws near, he tries to seize it against its will and put it in his drum. {The same act of putting a recaptured soul into a drum for transport back to the human world is likewise performed by shamans in Siberia.} As he grabs it, the god who has stolen it may hold on; a tug of war results. When the Paju finally succeeds, he trembles, showing that the soul has been captured.

Now the captors rush out of the palace and back down the ladders. When they arrive again at the land of the dead on Oble~ dome, the guardian dog again bars their way, but the Paju throws it a bone ... . ... .


... down the trail ... the Paju fiercely scares away harming spirits that reside in certain areas, each trying to grab the patient’s soul away from him. ... there is a vicious demon agent who lives below Kato, and a malevolent btsan ... who resides above the waterfall at Donague.

Arriving back at the village in front of the patient’s home, the Paju must again entice the soul, to get it to go into the house and to enter the body of its owner. He shows it the ladder to the roof of the house {entry into a house via its roof is also characteristic of Pueblo Indians (in Arizona & New Mexico); some Siberians do likewise} ... . Once it has reached the roof, the Paju adroitly removes the ladder ... so that the soul now has no choice but to come down into the flower garden hanging from the ceiling inside the house. ... Suddenly the flowers flutter in the air. [fn. 5 : "The flower garland really does flutter."] ... The garland is put around the patient’s neck." "If the patient’s soul is not retrieved up to this point, he must go down into Khro~-nasa. . ... the Paju continued ..., following his tutelary aides down nine ladders into the underworld. Here, they encounter the spirit people of Khro~-nasa. ... these spirit beings are very tiny, but ... their crops and animals are of enormous size ... . ... The search party reaches the underworld, and again a dog barring the way must be tied up. ... Here, the Paju must plead with the Khro~-nasa owners to prove that one of the spirits in the underworld is in fact the soul of his human patient. ...


The Paju quickly obtains the soul from Khro~-nasa and returns it to the human world. This time it comes up, underneath the mountain effigy on the floor of the house. The soul enters into the four effigies on the tree branches, and then into the strings which have been tied to them. The strings are removed and tied around the neck of the patient."

pp. 175-176 Sa-skya diagnosis of signs of soul-loss




"First the patient tells the lama of the "signs" (rtag) of loss that have been experienced. Beyond the usual symptoms of lethargy and melancholia, the patient may be able to remember an experience of sudden fright which occasioned the loss .. . These signs are supported by dreams which the lama analyzes. If one dreams of walking naked in a strange land ... or of having one’s clothes pulled off ..., there probably has been soul loss. The testimony of one informant reveals ..., "... At the time of my soul loss, I dreamed that many great lamas had come to perform the funeral ... . Then I saw myself climbing a high cliff ..., looking over the cliff, and then falling off.""

"The textual scheme for soul recalling develops ... into a Tibetan Buddhist model that retains the


female caller in the form of the Tibetan Dakini [D.akini] ... . The patient’s body is represented by ... a tiny piece of turquoise (bla gyu) as seat of the soul" [fn. 6 : "If there is a sheep’s leg, the turquoise is embedded in it".]

pp. 176-178 Sa-skya luring-back of patient’s lost soul {a rite of Taoist provenience}




"At a certain point during the rite a male relative of the patient goes to the roof of the house and holds out ... the sheep’s leg, and the turquoise ... . He calls out, "Soul, come here!" (bla gugs o!) repeatedly ... . {Calling aloud by a relative from the roof to the soul to return is done for the dead in Taoist China.} The soul is thus "lured" (bslu) to return, but also the taker of the soul is induced to take a ransom substitute (glud) for letting it go. In this case the ransom ... is ... to the "black one [bdud demon] holding a black sling and led by a black dog with a black bird flying over.""

"The second technique involves luring ... by five peaceful Dakinis (mkha->gro-ma) ... sent out to search in the five directions ... . Following these five peaceful Dakinis, five wrathful Dakinis are


called. They are ... asked to lure the soul from fire, water, earth, air, and the Jungpo ghost. [fn. 7 : " "Jungpo" is the Tibetan name for wandering ghosts of the dead".] ... . ... even more wrathful Dakinis ... are ... emerging from "wrathful graves," one bearing a flaming arrow, another a flaming sling, another a flaming iron hook. ...

The ultimate fate of the soul is decided by a gambling dice contest ... . {dice-rituals are known in Bon : Mi-la ras-pa’s father was such a dice-player} The white die is rolled by a "white god" -- ... a male figure with a crown, ... living in a kingly palace and identified with the lineage guardian of the patient. On the other side is the "black demoness" (bdud-mo) represented by a black ... woman dressed in black, carrying a black sling (for tying up the soul) who rolls the black die. ...


As the gamblers begin, the demoness may win at first. ... The divination now becomes a parody, as the players merely roll the dice until the white side has the highest number." {Bon "divinations" are conducted in like manner.}


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