In the KulArnava Tantram, Lord Shiva says to Mother Goddess:

Shaive tattva parijyAnam gArude vishabhakshanam |
Jyotishe grahanam sAram kaulehanugrahanigrahau ||


The essence (sAra) of Shaiva scriptures is Tattva ParijyAna (i.e knowledge of Tattva-s or principles), that of Garuda scriptures is Visha Bhakshanam, the essence of Jyotisha scriptures is determination of eclipses and etc and that of Kaula scriptures is Anugraha and Nigraha Shakti.

KulArnava Tantram 11.71

Meanings of few of the terms are as given below:

Visha Bhakshanam- Consumption of poison. That is, the so-called Garuda scriptures grant the power by which one can digest even poison (Visha)

Anugraha Shakti- The power of bestowing grace. This is one of the powers that God and Guru have.

Nigraha Shakti- The power of subjugation or controlling. This also is one of the powers that God and Guru have. (For example, "Indriya Nigraha" means "control of the senses").

Which are these Garuda scriptures, by mastering which, one can digest even poison (or in other words make it ineffective)?

Garuda, of course, is the bird-mount of Lord Vishnu and he is against the snakes which in turn are linked to the most deadly poisons. So, that these scriptures might be related to Garuda can be guessed.

2 Answers 2


According to the Pratiṣṭhālakṣaṇasamuccaya of Vairocana, the Gāruḍa Tantras represent the first division of the Śākta Āgamas. In the first chapter of the essay by S. Sridhar Swaminathan, a list is given of these Gāruḍa tantras:

Haratantra, Hūṅkāratantra, Bindusāratantra, Kālāmṛtatantra, Devatrāsatantra, Sutrāsatantra, Śābaratantra, Kālaśābaratantra, Pakṣirājatantra, Śikhāyogatantra, Śikhāsāratantra, Śikhāmṛtatantra, Pañcabhūtatantra, Vibhāgatantra, Sūlyabhedavinirṇayatantra, Kālakāṣṭhatantra, Kālāṅgatantra, Kālakūṭatantra, Paṭadrumatantra, Kāmbojatantra, Kambalatantra, Kuṃkumatantra, Kālakuṇḍatantra, Kaṭahakatantra, Suvarṇarekhatantra, Sugrīvatantra, Totalātantra, Totalottarātantra.


Several of these are mentioned in a list of twelve viṣatantras in the Yogaratnāvalī of Śrīkaṇṭha:

The Yogaratnāvalī ascribed to Śrīkaṇṭha, a work of at least 1200 ślokas, in its introduction gives some information on the traditioni n this field. … In a second stage, four teachers (deśika), called Anīpa, Bahurūpa, Haṃsa and Vigraha, proclaimed the Tantras in the four ages of the world. Twelve viṣatantras are then enumerated (st. 8f.): Pakṣirāja, Śikhāyoga, Bindusāra, Śikhāmṛta, Tottala, …kūṭa, Kṛtsnāṅga, Tottalottara, Kaṭāha, Chāgatuṇḍa, Sugrīva and Karkaṭāmukha. Not one of these Not one of these titles is found in the catalogues, although we have a Sugrīvavaśaṃkaraṇīvidyā.


According to “The Canon of the Saivagama and the Kubjika Tantras”:

The Totala and Totallotara are the only Gāruḍatantras, and the Caṇḍāsidhāra the only Bhūtatantra, to which we find references. It seems, therefore, that most of these Tantras were lost at quite an early date.


Of course, there is also the thesis called “Gāruḍa Medicine” by Michael Slouber in which he discusses these Tantras. However, in the abstract he says they are an early medieval branch of Śaiva scriptures. Not sure what to make of this, but according to the earlier essay, the Śāktāgamas are in consonance with the Śaivāgamas and there exists only one slight minute difference in them, which is regarding Śakti.

Here is my attempt to further identify some of these tantras. if no sources are explicitly mentioned, then it comes from the above-said “Gāruḍa Medicine”.

Identification of Hara:

Mention is made to a Haramekhalā, “a Prakrit work on various subjects related to medicine probably written in the ninth century” .

Incidentally, a translation of it is the oldest surviving text in the Newari language of Nepal and dozens of manuscripts of it can be found there.

Regarding it's content:

The fifth verse of the opening chapter makes reference to Kurukullā and Bheruṇḍā, both Gāruḍa goddesses mentioned in many Gāruḍa Tantras and related works.


Verses 242–279 are on venomous snakes and insects. Verse 243 says that one who wears an amulet of Garuḍa made from the tooth of a hyena will not be overcome by fierce snakes. Verse 246 describes using a herbal paste smeared on one’s hand to be able to pick up a dangerous snake. The remaining verses in this section are herbal antidotes for poisons of the various types of snakes, scorpions, spiders, and insects. No mantras are given in this section.

Andrew Ollett in his “Language of the Snakes” mentions a published edition:

Hara’s Belt (Haramekhalā) of Mādhuka: (1) The Haramekhala of Māhuka . Ed. by K. Sāmbaśiva Śāstrī. Trivandrum: Government Press, 1936. Trivandrum Sanskrit Series 124. [Chapters 2-4 only.] (2) Śrīḥ Mādhukadhīrasahāyapaṇḍitaviracitā Haramekhalā Saṭīkā (Pūrvakhaṇḍaḥ). Ed. by Kṛṣṇaprasādaśarman. Kathmandu: Nepal Government Press, 1972.


Identification of Hūṅkāra or Hūṃkāra:

Some sources mention Hūṃkāra as one of the Siddhas: teachers of sacred text representing a tradition with common elements in Tantric Hinduism and Tantric Buddhism.


Mention is made of Hūṅkāra in a mantra dedicated to Bheruṇḍa in the Khagendramaṇidarpaṇa (dealing with various kinds of poisons and their treatment):

OM pakṣi ehi māye bheruṇḍa vijñāvijñā bhariyakaraṇḍe tantu mentu aghorāya hūṅkāra viṣaṃ nāśaya sthāvara jaṅgama kṛtrima akṛtrima viṣaṃ aṅgaja hūṃ phaṭ devadattasya viṣaṃ hara hūṃ phaṭ svāhā ||


According to Rigpa Shedra:

The Nyingma Gyübum attributes the tantra dedicated to Shri Heruka, entitled Pal Heruké Tukyi Gyü Galpo (Tib. Pal he ru ka’I thugs kyi rgyud gal po) to Humkara. According to the colophon, the tantra was revealed by Humkara from Uddiyana.


But if they are to be regarded as one and the same, I don’t know.

Identificaiton of Kālāmṛta:

There is mention of a work kālāmṛta and commentary in the Aufrecht’s Catalogus Catalogorum.


Identification of Devatrāsa:

Devatrāsa is mentioned as a source of the Kriyākālaguṇottara:

Devatrāsa is the name of a canonical Gāruḍa Tantra, a chapter in the Kriyākālaguṇottara, and the name of a mantra-deity invoked to cure poison. In the Kriyākālaguṇottara chapter, the Devatrāsa mantra is oṃ ha ha ha ha devatrāsāya haḥ, although the variant devatrāsaya does occur in some manuscripts. My interpretation is backed up by the name of the circuit in the text: “deva trāsaya” mantrapūjanam which shows that the author/compiler understands devatrāsaya as the name of the mantra-deity.

Identification of Śābara:

There is only mention of one Sabara Tantra (probably not the same).

Identification of Pakṣirāja:

The three-syllable Nīlakaṇṭha mantra (proṃ trīṃ ṭhaḥ) is found nearby in many of the same sources as mentioned for the Vipati, and it is still referred to, and probably still used, in modern times. It is likely a system taught in the lost tantra of the same name listed as a canonical Gāruḍa Tantra and one might similarly link the Vipati to the scripture called Pakṣirāja.

Identification of Śikhāmṛta, Śikhāsāra and Śikhāyoga:

They are referenced in the Niśvāsatattvasaṃhitā:

At the beginning Śiva states that these śikhā rituals are found in Gāruḍa, Bhūta, and Bhaginī Tantras, and indeed a number of canonical Gāruḍa Tantra titles do have śikhā in the name: Śikhāyoga, Śikhottara, Śikhāsāra, and Śikhāmṛta.

Regarding Śikhāyoga:

Reference to this is made to the Śikhāyoga (ritual) in the Tantrasārasaṃgraha and the Niśvāsakārikā:

The Nārāyaṇīya refers to Nārāyaṇa’s Tantrasārasaṃgraha, also known as the Viṣanārāyaṇīya. It draws on the canonical Gāruḍa Tantra called Śikhāyoga and other sources that are left unnamed.

In the forty-third chapter of the Niśvāsakārikā, verses 222–242ab, there is a section on śikhāyoga, the use of visualized śikhās (“rays of light”?) of varying color (black, red, white, yellow, or crystal) for various ends, but predominantly for destroying poison. At the beginning Śiva states that these śikhā rituals are found in Gāruḍa, Bhūta, and Bhaginī Tantras, and indeed a number of canonical Gāruḍa Tantra titles do have śikhā in the name: Śikhāyoga, Śikhottara, Śikhāsāra, and Śikhāmṛta.

The same is also quoted in the book “Early Tantric Medicine”:


Identification of Śūlyabhedavinirṇaya:

A possible synonym of the Śalyatantra:

A Tantra that survives in manuscripts that I do not have access to is called Śalyatantra. Kavirāj’s Tāntrik Sāhitya says that it deals with poison and possession, and notes that there appear to be two versions, one quite short with 150–400 verses, and another very long with 3,500–8,300 verses. It is a source text of the Kakṣapuṭa, which incidentally also draws on the Kriyākālaguṇottara among others. “Śalyatantra” does not come up in the lists of canonical Gāruḍa Tantras, but it could possibly be a synonym of the one referred to as Śūlyabhedavinirṇaya.

Identification of Kālakūṭa:

The Kālakūṭa is one of the canonical Gāruḍa Tantra titles found in the lists of the Śrīkaṇṭhīya et al. The word kālakūṭa has two basic meanings: the primordial poison that arose when the gods and demons churned the ocean, and a specific poisonous plant (probably Abrus precatorius) and/or the extracted poison thereof.

I have found several manuscripts in the database of the NGMCP that have Kālakūṭa in their titles, and one is indeed a Śaiva Tantra about curing poison, though unfortunately only one folio in length. It was filmed under the reel number B180/29.

One side is text, consisting of instructions for constructing the yantra with the proper mantras, and the other side is an illustration of the yantra itself. This may very well be a piece of the Kālakūṭa referred to in the canonical lists, but one cannot be certain on such slim evidence.

Identification of Kālāṅga:

One of the eighty-four Siddhas. Siddhas are often seen as the progenitors of Tantras and Yoga.


In another the Parākhya-tantra, Kālāṅga is said to be a serpent from Mahātala.


Identification of Suvarṇarekha:

Suvarṇarekhā is the name of a snakebite goddess:

References to the snakebite goddess Suvarṇarekhā are seen occasionally, but the passages are consistently brief. According to the lists of canonical Gāruḍa Tantras, there is one named Suvarṇarekha, and one wonders if it is possible that a whole scripture is condensed to only a verse or two in all surviving testimony. In a footnote,

The Śrīvidyārṇava writes suvarṇarekhiṇī to fit the meter, and the Svacchandapaddhati has the variant orthography suvarṇalekhinī. She is referred to a few verses below as suvarṇarekhā, whereas the Svacchandapaddhati reads the corrupted subalarekhā. Her primary descriptor here is “Eradicator of Snakes” (nirmūlinī bhujaṅgānāṃ).


According to the Saṃhitāsāra, which has three verses with commentary on her, the vidyā consists of seventeen syllables: oṃ suvarṇarekhe kukkuṭavigraharūpiṇi svāhā. These are arranged two-by-two on the petals of an eight-petaled lotus with oṃ in the center. The syllables are installed on the hand and body of the practitioner and visualized like cooling snowflakes covering the burning body of the bite victim.

A mantra for her is also found in the Khagendramaṇidarpaṇa, a medieval work in Kannada on Viṣaśāstra (Toxicology):

OM survarṇarekhā kukkuṭavigraharūpiṇi svāhā |


Identification of Totalā:

Totalā and Tvaritā are both synonyms of the goddess Padmā (Tripurabhairavī). Tvaritā is a snake-bite Goddess.

“The third verse of the Bhairavapadmāvatīkalpa – an important Jain tantric work from the eleventh century with significant dependencies on Śaiva tradition – runs as follows: Totalā, Tvaritā, Nityā, Tripurā, Kāmasādhanī: these are names of the goddess Padmā, and so is Tripurabhairavī.”

“Tvaritā “The Swift One” (tvaritā/tūrṇā/śīghrā) is a fitting title for a goddess whose most celebrated function was saving the lives of those bitten by venomous snakes such as a cobras, vipers, or kraits. Her ultimate origin may be lost in antiquity, but the earliest surviving source is one of the most widely cited canonical Gāruḍa Tantras called the Trottala.”

“I am aware of two surviving works that ascribe themselves to the Trottalatantra: the 700-verse Tvaritāmūlasūtra and the 200-verse Tvaritājñānakalpa. Both use the titles ‘Trottala’ and ‘Trottalottara’ interchangeably, although the latter is listed as a separate text in the canonical lists. The Tvaritāmūlasūtra positions itself as an extraction from the (presumably mythical) version of over 100,000 verses.”

  • First division of Shakta Agamas - what does this mean?
    – Rickross
    Feb 10, 2019 at 13:14
  • Also I can recognize only Todala and Shavara Tantram from the list
    – Rickross
    Feb 10, 2019 at 13:24
  • @Rickross, it means a classification of Shakta Tantras (of which there are four: Garuda, Vama, Daksina and Bhuta). According to the essay, “The texts of Śāktāgamas are called as Tantras. Pratiṣṭhālakṣaṇasamuccaya of Vairocana divides the Śāktatantras in to four parts viz. Gāruḍa, Vāma, Dakṣiṇa and Bhūta as listed below” Feb 10, 2019 at 13:25
  • @Rickross, Yeah I guess most are lost now... Or maybe some exist under a different title or have been culled into a digest. Unfortunately not much is known regarding them. Feb 10, 2019 at 13:26
  • Okay .. Yes I think they are lost now
    – Rickross
    Feb 10, 2019 at 13:27

This is a reference to the Garuda Tantras, a set of Agamas which are now lost. Here is what pages 39- 42 of this book say:

No Garuda or Bhuta Tantras have been found.... The Shrikanthiyasamhita that the number of Garudarantras was traditionally said to be twenty-eight[.]... While the Vamatantras are traditionally said to be concerned with the acquisition of siddhi, the Garudatantras are supposed to deal with magical remedies for snakebite and poisons[.]... The Totala and Totalottara are the only Garudatantras ... to which we find references. It seems, therefore, that most of these Tantras were lost at quite an early age.

The book also speculates that the Garuda Tantras might have some connection to the Garuda Purana, considering that it too has mantras to Garuda which target snakebites.

  • 3
    upvoted for the search on google. I made sure before posting that it can not be answered by just a (easy) google search but seems that was inadequate. But i am not selecting this as i need something far more substantial.
    – Rickross
    Nov 23, 2017 at 12:15
  • 3
    @Rickross Actually it wasn't by Googling, it was by looking in my physical copy of that Canon of the Saivagama book. In any case, I can add quotes from various Agamas to my answer. Nov 23, 2017 at 15:50
  • @keshavSrinivasan jayatirth, a madhva philosopher says in his work, NyayaSudha that by merely meditating on Garuda poison becomes ineffective. Nov 26, 2017 at 2:08
  • @Vishalprabhulawande Yes, and the Garuda Purana also describes how to pray to Garuda to make poison ineffective. Nov 26, 2017 at 2:19

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