In this day of pandemics, is there a spiritual practice which is very efficacious for repelling epidemics and plagues? Other than hand washing, hand-sanitizer rubbing, mask wearing behavior? Or Chi-increasing (life-force-energy increasing) activities like Qigong, Tai Chi, yoga, getting out in nature, eating fresh local organic food, etc?
According to my Tibetan Buddhist teachers, there is such a practice! And it can be found in an obscure, less-well-known practice of Deity Yoga called Parnashavari.
Who or what is Parnashavari? She is one of the 21 Taras… and she has a most interesting story.
Here is a link to the 84,000 project’s version of her short Dharani (with accompanying notes and introduction): https://read.84000.co/translation/toh736.html
Parnashavari, which basically translates to “leaf-clad mountain woman” was a Pishatsi, or a semi-divine being (wild woman) who lived in the forests of southern Asia and the Himalayas. Whenever she showed herself, horrible things happened – plagues swept through the lands, epidemics spread throughout the region and she might even take some people with her and devour them. She was basically a demoness (according to the story or myth). But there is a happy ending of sorts…
After she showed herself multiple times and caused widespread fear and terror among any who lived near her forests, they prayed fervently that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would save them from her wrath and hunger. No one could help them until Bodhisattvas pleaded with Vajrayogini to intercede. She did, converting Parnashavari to the Dharma.
Then Parnashavari practiced the Buddha-Dharma day and night for hundreds and even thousands of years, purifying her negative karma and her mind-stream. Eventually she became fully enlightened, becoming the twentieth of the twenty-one Taras. As a Buddha, she came forth, and people were horrified again, as she still looked like a Pishatsi, a wild demon woman. But at that point, as a fully enlightened being, even if she had wanted to cause harm, she couldn’t because of her vows to benefit beings.
A highly realized teacher saw this in her wisdom eye, and told people that Parnashavari was now able to cure diseases (which she formerly caused) and prevent epidemics. And if the people prayed to her with faith and devotion, Parnashavari would even prevent harm and remove obstacles.
Recently, at least prior to January 2020, very few Buddhist practitioners did Parnashavari practice (deity yoga). But then the Corona Virus took the planet by storm, an epidemic turned pandemic. And suddenly, today most Holiness’ (heads of the Tibetan Buddhist lineages) are recommending that their followers accumulate Parnashavari practice.
It is a beautiful practice. If you are an individual with high acumen, it is worth getting the transmission or empowerment from an appropriate Tibetan Lama or teacher. Then there are several versions of the text available (not hard to find). Parnashavari really can help to remove obstacles – inner or outer and prevent disease.
Of course, keep up the mask wearing, hand washing and hand sanitizer use! We don’t want to create circumstantial karma – don’t give the virus the causes or conditions to take root.
Thank you for reading and may we all stay healthy and safe!