The Taming of the Demons: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism
By Jacob P. Dalton
Yale University Press, 2011, $40; 336 pages
Reviewed by Rory Lindsay
There once stood a buddha coated in spiders, scorpions, and snakes. He had nine vile heads, enormous wings, eighteen hands clasping fearsome instruments, and spat fire as he trampled the beings underneath him. The perfection of compassion, he forced a trident into the torso of a ruthless demon named Rudra—a formerly devout Buddhist who became an enemy of the dharma after misunderstanding key doctrines—and consumed him, thereby ending his awful career. In the buddha’s stomach Rudra was purified, and after emerging from the buddha’s anus, he pledged allegiance to him and begged for liberation. The buddha offered teachings before finally destroying him, liberating him into emptiness and reconstituting him as a protector of the dharma.