— Number 14 / June 2008
to cause enemies to go insane, to destroytheir wealth, or to drive them away.The
(ca. 8thcentury CE) is generally considered oneo the earliest extant Buddhist tantras.
This key scripture describes the basicarchitecture o tantric practice and isvenerated by several schoolso Tibetan Buddhism—particularly the Gelukpas, whotake it as the central tantra.
,Buddha Vajradhara givesinstructions or undertakingthe destruction o evil-doers:[M]aking an image o the enemywith the excrement and urine o those who ollow the great Dharma,wrathully burn it in a ire o thorn-wood, and even the Buddhawill certainly perish. […] So hesaid black mustard-seeds, salt, oil,poison, and thorn-apple [datura],these are taught as the supremedestroyers o all the Buddhas.
(ca. late 8th century CE) is highlyvenerated in Tibet to this day. It states:“Should the well-equipoised one immolatemustard oil with crows’ wings and [thevictim’s name] in a
re, he willimmediately be expelled or killed.”
also tellsthat a
can drive an enemy insaneusing magical implements, including acharnel ground cloth bound around the “veintoxicants”. The Tibetan commentatorBudön Rinchen Drup explains that “veintoxicants” reers to the root, stem, leaves,fower, and ruit o the datura plant
—all o which contain psychoactive alkaloids.
Inanother reerence to datura, the tantra claimsthat immolating “one hundred and eightgolden ruits” (
, explicated as“datura ruit” by the commentatorJayabhadra) will allow one tobecome insubstantial.
(ca. 10th century CE) containsinstructions or killing an enemy sayingthat the practitioner should perorm a rite:“naked, with disheveled hair and acingsouth, draw the sixteen-section wheel o
[…] on a shroud invenom, blood, salt, black mustard,
juiceusing a pen made rom a raven eather orrom human bone.”
This tantra also provides instructionsor using the ash o datura wood tomagically break a relationship between aman and woman, or to drive people away.
Datura ruit may be used in magical ritualsto drive an enemy insane:[…The practitioner] takes
ruit and, mixing it with humanlesh and worm-eaten sawdust,oers it in ood or drink. He recitesthe mantra and that person willinstantly go insane and then diewithin seven days.
and to destroy wealth:Then i, wanting to turn wealth intopoverty, [he] perorms a hundredand eight burnt oerings at night ina re o cotton using
ruit,(that wealth) will indeed becometrifing.
Datura was sometimes includedin ritual ire oerings that may haveproduced psychoactive smoke. Akey eleventh century commentary onthe
describes: “When the oblationis oered in the octagonal pot, [ona ire made with
aggots, withthorn-apples [datura] and
oered into the ire, it accomplishesstupeactions [o the enemy] […]”.
has been identied as milkweed and
This compound “becomes anointment for the eyes. Afterapplying it one revolves aroundand around like a bee.”
deities in tantric Buddhism are said to beond o datura,
which is sometimes usedas a ritual oering to placate these deities.
Reerences to datura in the pre-eleventhcentury
havebeen used to argue on behal o an OldWorld origin o
Cannabis Leaf, Image by Tganja
The psychoactive eects o daturahave long been recognized in Tibet. Thereligious author Sachen Kunga Nyingpo(1092–1158) used the eects o datura toillustrate how our senses can be distorted,writing: “When datura […] is eaten,appearances maniest as yellow.”
Thethird Dodrup Chen Rinpoche (1865–1926),a Tibetan scholar-yogi, compares a cryptic“nectar rendering liberation” to the powero datura. He writes, “[I] one takesthe nectar by itsel the [subtle body]will receive blessings spontaneouslyand excellent accomplishments will beachieved, like being intoxicated by alcohol[…] and being deluded with visions byDatura or thorn apple[…]”.
Datura intoxication may have beenwidespread in
Indian Esoteric Buddhism
, Ronald M. Davidsonobserves:[M]any o the
scripturesdiscuss ointments and drugs,especially those applied to theeyes or eet. The use o the variousspecies o datura (especially[
]) is particularlyevident. Sometimes termed the“crazy datura” (
’s datura,” it was generallyemployed as a narcotic paste or aswood in a re ceremony and couldbe easily absorbed through the skinor the lungs.
The use o datura in various rites isprescribed by a number o seminal tantrasthat exerted a proound infuence on Indianand Tibetan religious culture. Most o the known datura reerences pertain tomagico-religious rites o attack intended