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Garuda Rituals

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we see Red Garuda above the head of the Jonang Master, Kunchen Dolpopa.
Garuda7cc1f z.jpg

The Red Garuda is usually emblematic of fire, so the reference may be to the blazing of the fire of enlightenment, or a reference to Garuda’s protective qualites.

Kunchen Dolpopa was the first Jonang master to extensively teach Zhentong. In his most famous work, Mountain Dharma: An Ocean of Definitive Meaning (ri chos nges don rgya mtsho), Kunchen Dolpopa clarified the Zhentong view. These are referred to as the teachings of the “Heart’s Essence” (snying po’i don). As Kunchen Dolpopa’s Mountain Dharma and other Jonang texts were banned in the 17th century, they became extremely rare. In the 1970s and 1980s a few of these texts were re-discovered and re-printed, notably through the agency of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

From the same source:

The Red Garuda’s Cry to the Kalkins of Shambala

Imperial Drala[1] of all dralas, Kalki Lord of Life,

you are primordial existence.

You hold in your left hand the crystal mirror,

the living storehouse consciousness of all. ki

Imperial Drala of all dralas, Kalki Lord of Life,

you are primordial aspiration.

In your right hand you brandish a crystal sword,

the inner nature of the seventh defiled consciousness. so

Imperial Drala of all dralas, Kalki Lord of Life,

you are primordial power.

You wear the blazing golden armor of life

and the snow-white pennants on your helmet flutter in the wind.

You are the life of the six sense consciousnesses. a la la

Descend now on the swirling divine thread

that rises from our offering of longing.

Now with your shining blade,

slash like lightning through clouds of confused desires, doubts and calculation,

that distort and veil the splendor of your pure domain.

Riding on the great horse of moving wind itself,

releasing and binding the elements and space

with your firm command, like the roar of thunder,

show the fearless tiger of the living seas,

the all-conquering lion of the living wind,

the deathless eagle of the living fire,

and the sovereign dragon of the living earth.

Show the true realm and the righteous rule of Shambala!

Pure, real, undeluded, and uncontrived newness.

Show the true realm and the righteous rule of Shambala,

that is the intrinsic life force of all beings.

Swiftly, swiftly, please do this now!

ki ki so so ashe lha gyel lo tak seng khyung druk di yar kye (x3)

O Kalki Lord, in this faithless time,

please remain with us and do not depart.

Remain here, moving on the pathways of virtue.

Remain here, resting on the raging flames of existence.

Remain here, sustained by the flesh and blood of men and beasts.

Remain here, subduing the fears and delusions of all realms.

Remain here as our only sovereign and law.

Please remain by day and night

and sing to us in waking and in dreams.

om ah hum ho ham ksha


Red Garuda mantra (Bon):

hum tro ta ya ghar ru na

tri trom

ha ra nye lo yo so thun tu And a Garuda Gayatri (Hindu):

om tat-purushaya vidhmahe

suvarna pakshaya dhimahi

tanno garuda prachodayat om
Suvarna means ‘golden’, but gold is considered reddish in Asia.

This wonderful image and scritpures were kindly supplied by Tashi Nyima.

Learn more here:


Mu ruda-1.jpg
Crop ruda1.jpg

As with other Garuda Sadhanas, this one deals with defilements, illnesses and harm from spirits.

Garuda reduces his size to that of Mount Meru in order to be accessible for this practice.

I begin with Prostrations to the supreme deity Transcendental Wisdom Multi-Coloured Garuda, followed by Refuge in the Triple Gem.

Then there is Meditation on the Four Immeasurable Thoughts:

Equanimity, Loving Kindness, Compassion and Joyfulness.

After generating Special Bodhichitta to become Transcendental Wisdom Multi-Coloured Garuda for the sake of all beings, I begin the core practice. As with other sadhanas, you are advised not to self-generate as Transcendental Wisdom Multi-Coloured Garuda without the specific empowerment or HYT empowerment – simply perform the sadhana with Transcendental Wisdom Multi-Coloured Garuda in front.

From Emptiness, a seed syllable appears and transforms into the Naga King as a golden serpent, with my mind appearing above it as another seed syllable.

Light rays from this seed syllable radiate and pacify all sicknesses, spirit harm, negativities and obscurations which may harm me.

There then follows a detailed description of the self-generation and the forms of Buddha Garuda (white, at my throat), Jewel Garuda (gold, south), Lotus Garuda (red, west ), Karma Garuda (green, north) and Vajra Garuda (blue, east).

The seed syllables are then visualised in my body and Guru Vajrapani is invoked, taking a position at the crown of my head. All the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas merge into Vajrapani.

Offerings are then made to Guru Vajrapani, who then merges into me as the embodiment of the Refuges, and is asked for blessings.

I then become Transcendental Wisdom Multi-Coloured Garuda Vajrapani embodying all the 5 Buddha races/families , all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I ask the deity for blessing.

With the syllables clearly appearing at my heart I recite the Garuda Mantra as many times as possible:


(sometimes expressed as OM PA KSHIM SVAHA).

Finally there is a Dedication.


Here is a Youtube teaching by Tsem Tulku Rinpoche from a sadhana by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

The practice was taught during the SARS epidemic of 2004. Lama Zopa Rinpoche produced a practice from which Tsem Tulku taught. There are minor discrepancies e.g. ‘benza’ (Tibetan) instead of ‘vajra’ (Sanskrit).

Here is the Youtube teaching, in which Tsem Tulku explains the practice for those who have not received HYT empowerments and therefore cannot self-generate as Lord Garuda.

The videos are parts 3&4 of a 4-part instruction on White Tara and Black Garuda

The teachings on Black Garuda begin 37 minutes into Part 3:

Part 4 continues Black Garuda instruction and draws the threads of both practices together:

The source Lama Zopa (FPMT) document is available here:


Please don’t self-generate as Garuda without an HYT initiation. J

Tsem Tulku refers to Black Garuda as ‘BG’ at times in the videos. He switches from a light-hearted approach to a very serious delivery of this practice.

The practice is one I use often, as it has great power.


This practice should be done by someone who has previously received a highest yoga tantric initiation. If you do not have a highest yoga tantra initiation (even if you have a lower tantric initiation such as Great Chenrezig), you can still do this practice, but you do not visualize yourself as the deity. Instead, keep your ordinary form and visualize the deity outside of yourself – in the space in front of you, or at the crown of your head. If you are doing the practice with the deity outside of yourself, you will need to modify your visualization as indicated by the instructions in brackets, “[ ]”.


Opinions vary about the validity of receiving an initiation remotely. I have attended initiations where many people sat around 50 yards outside of the building where the initiation took place, receiving it via the TV. This was live. Others have given initiations via telecast over the internet.

There are two factors – space and time. Is it essential to be in the same place, or at the same time? Well, if the person giving the initiation is to be regarded as a Buddha, this activity transcends such limitations.

Whatever the view, here is the video. For those who regard Lochen Rinpoche as a Buddha transcending space and time then this may be regarded as a valid initiation. Others may simply choose to watch out of interest. In posting this via the website I am simply providing access to Youtube. The rest is down to you. :)

The practice of the Threefold Wrathful One is performed to purify diseases, malicious inlfictions, negativities and obscurations of the practitioner and others.

The initiation is broadcast in 7 parts and includes instructions for those who wish to take the initiation and for those who simply want to view it and receive the blessings of that experience.


Hindu/Yoga Garuda Mudra

In terms of deity interaction, the mudra works with the mantra to invoke the qualities and protection of Garuda.

In terms of Yoga , the Garuda Mudra activates the blood flow and the circulation. It also helps alleviate exhaustion.

  • Clasp your thumbs and place your hands, the right on top of the left with the palms facing inwards, on your lower abdomen. Remain in this position for about ten breaths.
  • Later slide your hands to the navel. Remain there for another ten breaths.
  • Then place your hands on the pit of the stomach and remain for another ten breaths.
  • After this, place your left hand on the sternum, turn your hands in the direction of your shoulders and spread your fingers.


Some sources have the hands the opposite way round, as shown here:


Buddhist Garuda Mudra

Pictorial Guide:

Garuda mudra

This mudra is used to purify offerings and beings, and to protect against obstructions such as those form illness and spirits. One example is its use prior to Kusali Tsog.

Note: Offerings to Garuda

In addition to offerings traditionally made to a Buddhist Tantric Deity, there was formerly a ‘red offering’ of flesh and blood to Garuda. In Tibet, in both Bon and Nyingma historically regarded Garuda in some aspects as a ‘bduddemonic force to be propitiated with such an offering. This practice has now been abandoned although it is not known if isolated practices continue.

Traditional Hindu Invocation of Garuda

Garuda emble.JPG
hastAgravisphurita-sha~NkhagadAsi-chakram |
AviShkR^itaM sapadi yena nR^isiMharUpam
nArAyaNaM tamapi vishvasR^ijaM namAmi ||

The mantras of garuDa, the vAhana of shrImannArAyaNa, are well known in the tantras. Though the upAsanA of gAruDa mantra is associated popularly with cure for snake bite or sarpabhaya nivR^itti, the mantra is used to procure various other benefits as well. gaRuDa is worshipped with different mantras in different forms such as mahAgaruDa, AshugaruDa, sarpAshana garuDa, prachaNDa garuDa, mAyA garuDa, sammohana garuDa, jvAlAmAlin, kUTagAruDa etc.

Some of the fruits ascribed to garuDopAsanA are:

dR^iShTaprayogabahuLaM dR^iShTAdR^iShTArthasAdhakam |
AkaraM sarvasiddhInAM divyaM paramagAruDam ||
AyurArogyavijayadhanadhAnyasamR^iddhidam |
putradaM vAkpradaM nR^INAM sarvasaubhAgyavardhanam ||
rAjavashyaM lokavashyaM shtrIpuMvashyaM tathaiva cha |
sarvarakShAkaraM puMsAM sarvashatrunibarhaNam ||
yuddhe tu vijayaM rAjA prApnuyAdyuddhadurmadaH |
sarvavyAdhiprashamanaM sarvama~Ngalama~Ngalam ||
saptakShudrakaraM mantraM saptakShudraharaM tathA |
kR^ityAshUnyakaraM chaiva kR^ityAshUnyaharaM tathA ||
shAntikaM paushTikaM chaiva aShTaishvaryakaraM param |
bahunA.tra kimuktena chaturvargaphalapradam ||

The primary application of the mantra is in the removal of different kinds of poison such as sthAvara, ja~Ngama, kR^itrima, sahaja, sha~NkA and hAlAhala. The upAsanA of the various garuDa mantras also bless the upAsaka with miraculous powers, mastery over snakes, health, wealth, success, prosperity, progeny, speech, victory in wars, freedom from enemies etc. The use of garuDa mantra in vashya, AkarShaNa, stambhana, mohana, ucChATana, mAraNa and unmAdana [kShudrasaptaka] are also described in the shAstras. The mantra is used for both abhichAra and pratyabhiChara. Similarly, gAruDa kR^ityA is of great might and can be used for offence or defense.

For laukika and AbhichArika prayogas, garuDa is visualized independently, with his shakti [lakShmIH, kIrtiH, jayA, mAyA] or attendants [suparNa, tArkShya, vainateya, bhIma], sporting various weapons. However, for protection or sAtvikopAsanA, garuDa is always visualized carrying shrImannArAyaNa. gAruDa mantras are classified into four types: bIja, piNDa, saMj~nA and pada and their use is based on the purpose of upAsanA. Pada mantra described in dakShiNAmUrti samhitA as also the pa~nchAkSharI mantra are popular among shrIvidyA upAsakas. In shrIkrama tantra, amR^ita garuDa is an a~Nga of dhanvantari, who in turn is the a~Nga of vAsudeva represented by the 12 syllabled mantra. The stuti mantra, which is technically a mAlA mantra, is used to offer puShpA~njali to garuDa.

The garuDa maNDala involves the worship of nine gAruDa mUrtis with their respective mantras. mahAgaruDa is stationed at the center of the maNDala surrounded by the eight mUrtis in the eight cardinal directions. mahAgaruDa is described as suvarNAbha [of golden complexion] below the knees, himaprabha [of white complexion] from waist below, ku~NkumAruNa [red like the rising sun] from neck and below and clear like the quartz above the neck. His left and right feet respectively exhibit the ku~nchita and svastika postures. His feet touch the pAtALa and head extends beyond the brahma loka. His nose is long, blue in color and terrifying whereas the ears are charming and decorated with mANikya kuNDalas. His face, shining with three eyes, is fierce due to the protruding sharp teeth. His eyes are tawny reddish in color (kapila varNa] and he is adorned with the best of ornaments. His hands are long and shoulders are gigantic. The nine great serpents form his ornaments. He wears ananta and guLika as bracelets in his two hands, vAsuki as the yaj~nasUtra, takShaka as the waist band, kArkoTaka as the necklace, padma and mahApadma as ear ornaments and sha~Nkha as the headgear. He is seated on a lotus and sports wings that extend infinitely in either direction. He shines with eight hands in which he holds sha~Nkha, chakra, sudhAkumbha, nAga, muShTi, gadA and khaDga. Two of his hands are engaged on serving the lotus feet of shrImannArAyaNa seated on his back, along with bhagavatI ramA. The garuDa pa~nchAkSharI kalpa from kAshyapa samhitA and garuDa kalpa of AkAshabhairava tantra deal extensively with the upAsanA of pakShirAja.

Aku~nchya sarvamaparaM pravisArya pAdam
tirya~NmukhaM chaTulachakravivR^ittasha~Nkham |
anyonyaghaTTitakaraM lalashabdayukta-
muDDIyamAnamanishaM smara duHkhashAntyai ||



  1. Drala: Tibetan: dra, enemy or opponent, and la, above; above the enemy; unconditioned wisdom and power beyond dualism; beyond opposites.