27 August 2009

Vampires & The Tibetan Book of Death [Graphic]

He "will tie a rope around your neck and lead you away. He will cut off your head, rip out your heart, pull out your guts, lick your brains, drink your blood, eat your flesh, and gnaw your bones." He is Shinje, the Tibetan Lord of Death, who is also called Yama in nearby regions (Thurman 175) [Excerpt from the Tibetan Book of Death].

In the article about vampires of India, I mentioned the wrathful deities of Tibet and Nepal. You will recall that these deities were among the first named vampiric creatures (Konstantinos).

"Vampire qualities" may have first appeared "in the fang-like teeth of the carved images of...the Tibetan devil Yama" (Varma 13). "Stories of these weird gods who subsisted by drinking the blood of sleeping persons originated with the Hindus of ancient India. And Tibetan manuscripts concerning vampires were held in such high regard that they were embalmed to increase their sanctity...The vampire motif is an anthropomorphic theme, a human-animal, life-death configuration. The vampire kills and re-creates. He is the Destroyer and the Preserver, for the passive vampires of life turn into active ones after death" (Stuart 13).

In Tibet, "vampire folklore...followed their religious beliefs"(Konstantinos 24). Shinje is maintained as a true deity in Tibetan religion. "The King of Existence is also the Lord of Death, Shinje, the husband of Kali. Shinje drinks human blood as well as consumes both human and horse flesh. It is said he 'rests on the great flames of existence and subdues even the tortures of hell', thus Shinje is both dark and light" (Ford 86). The Tibetan incarnation of this god possessed a green body and carried the Wheel of Life in his clawed hand. He is also considered the Judge of the Dead.

However, Shinje is not the only vampiric entity to reside in Tibet. "Tibet, like India and China, possessed a rich pantheon" of "Wrathful Deities who appeared in The Tibetan Book of the Dead" (Melton 852). "In it fifty-eight blood-drinking deities are described. Those Wrathful Deities, as they were called (actually the description in the Tibetan Book of the Dead makes them seem more like entities than deities), inhabited the land of the dead. The Tibetans also believed that the spirits of the dead could inhabit corpses and cause them to rise and attack the living." (Konstantinos 24-25).

A dead body became a liability to neighbors, who often could not bury the body because the ground was "frozen hard during the winter" (Bell). Timber and other fuel was also in short supply, so bodies may have been dismembered to prevent them from changing into a dakini (also called khandro or khandroma in Tibet), which is "a type of Tibetan vampire" (Muses). Measures were taken to ensure complete destruction of a corpse after death. "Excarnation would seem one of the more effective methods of body disposal...In Tibet the process is particularly gruesome: the flesh is separated from the bones of the body by workers with knives rather than the birds that consume the flesh." "Here we see what an eternal embarrassment corpses can be" (Barber 171).

As in many vampire legends, the name, Dakini, may have originally referred a single entity, which was "the feminine energy principle, associated with knowledge and intelligence". This force could have been "either destructive or creative." The lofted Dakini was paired with Vidyadhara, as in this poetic passage: "Vidyadhara...will appear, white in colour, with a radiant smiling face, embracing his consort the White Dakini, dancing with a crescent knife and a skull full of blood, gesturing and gazing at the sky" (Purjavadi 107). "Iconographic representations tend to show the dakini as a young, naked figure in a dancing posture, often holding a skullcup (kapala) filled with menstrual blood or the elixir of life in one hand, and a curved knife (kartika) in the other. She may wear a garland of human skulls, with a trident staff leaning against her shoulder. Her hair is usually wild and hanging down her back, and her face often wrathful in expression, as she dances on top of a corpse, which represents her complete mastery over ego and ignorance" (Campbell 138).

Eventually, the image of dakini morphed to include a number of blood-drinking individuals. Legends describe "countless crowds of dakinis...wearing the six bone-ornaments, with drums, thigh-bone trumpets, skull-drums, banners made from the skins of youths, canopies made from human skin, ribbons of human skin and incense made from human flesh...filling all the regions of the universe so that they rock and tremble and shake" (Purjavadi 54-55). The dakinis are called Khandroma, which "means Sky-goer or Sky-dancer" (Nus-Idan-rdo-rje 224). They move in the air and cover the earth, spreading with them the tales of vampires. "Westerners have" often "viewed vampire lore as a fascinating but unsolved enigma, but the origins of" these myths may "lie in the mystery cults of Oriental civilizations" (Stuart 13).

Tingla thugen,


Barber, Paul. Vampires, burial, and death: folklore and reality

Bell, Charles. Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery: Trepan, Hernia, Amputation, Aneurism, and Lithotomy. (1821)

Campbell, June. (1996). "Traveller in Space: In Search of the Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism". George Braziller. ISBN 0-8076-1406-8 p. 138

Ford, Michael W. Adamu. Luciferian Tantra and Sex Magick.

Konstantinos. Vampires: the occult truth.

Melton, J Gordon. The vampire book: the encyclopedia of the undead.

Muses Realm. Vampires. 27 August 2009.

Nus-Idan-rdo-rje, Stag-sam. Sky dancer: the secret life and songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel.

Purjavadi, Nasr Allah. Peter Lamborn Wilson. Kings of love: the poetry and history of the Ni'matullahi Sufi order

Stuart, Roxana. Stage blood: vampires of the 19th century stage.

Thurman, RAF. The Tibetan Book of the Dead, trans, of Padma Sambhava.

Varma, Devendra. Varney the Vampire

No comments:

Post a Comment