Malevolent Forces

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Malevolent Forces (bdud)

  • The archetypal malevolent force (Skt. māra) which attempted to impede the spiritual progress of Śākyamuni Buddha to enlightenment at Vajrāsana in India, by projecting images of desire and terror which were designed to interrupt his meditative equipoise. Four types of malevolent force (Skt. caturmāra) are recognised in classical Indian sources: 1) the impure psycho-physical aggregates (skandha) which are the product of an individual's own dissonant mentals states and negativity; 2) the dissonant mentals states (kleśa) which dominate the mind and cause it harm; 3) deva's son (devaputra) which provokes sensual desires and temptations; and 4) the lord of death (mötyupati) which brings ordinary death without choice, as a consequence of an individual's own past actions. More generally, within the Tibetan tradition, there are frequent references to the occurence of obstacles due to the presence of malevolent forces (bdud dang 'dre'i bar chad) both in Tibetan medical literature, where certain illnesses are described as being "demonically caused", and also in the tantras where specific rituals to overcome them are prescribed. Although such literature often describes these forces in animistic terms, ascribing to them personalities of their own, in a Buddhist context they are regarded as subtle physiological and psychological forces which obstruct the well-being of the individual. GD (from the Glossary to Tibetan Elemental Divination Paintings)