The term bhuta (or bhut – from bhu – to become) has a variety of meanings, depending on context. It can be taken to refer to a ghost – particularly one which attacks or possesses; or a demon (in the Greek, rather than the Judeo-Christian sense of the word). In tantra practice, Bhuta Suddhi is a ritual of bodily purification in which the sadhaka ‘destroys’ the gross elements in the body and then creates a ‘divine’ body by means of visualisation, mantra, and nyasa. Suddhi is derived from sudh – ‘to purify’.
In the context of Bhuta Suddhi, the Bhutas are the Five Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Space (ether).
Bhutas are also part of Siva’s attendant horde of restless spirits – the ganas.
Bhutesvara – “Lord of Ghosts” is an epithet of Lord Siva.
- The Purification of the Body by Gavin Flood, in Tantra in Practice, David Gordon White (ed.), Princeton University Press, 2000.
- Lakshmi Tantra Shakti L. Gupta (transl.) Motilal
- Ghosts: Life and death in North India Freed & Freed, AMNH Papers No.72
see also the entries on Tattvas for discussion of the Elemental Bhutas with regard to various Tattva schema.