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Pedro Manuel Castro Snchez

The Indian Buddhist The Indian Buddhist The Indian Buddhist The Indian Buddhist Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra : : : :
An Introduction to its History, Meanings and Functions An Introduction to its History, Meanings and Functions An Introduction to its History, Meanings and Functions An Introduction to its History, Meanings and Functions

MA Buddhist Studies, June !""

#ni$ersity o% Sunderland #ni$ersity o% Sunderland #ni$ersity o% Sunderland #ni$ersity o% Sunderland

Ac&no'ledge(ents Ac&no'ledge(ents Ac&no'ledge(ents Ac&no'ledge(ents

First and %ore(ost, I a( inde)ted to (y su*er$isor, Pro%essor Peter Har$ey %or
his unconditional and *atient guidance, %or &indly sharing 'ith (e se$eral *a*ers
+uite use%ul %or this dissertation, and a)o$e all, %or )ac&ing %ro( the start (y *ro,ect
and raising his al'ays thought-*ro$o&ing +uestions. I than& (y MA (ates Penelo*e
/a$is, Indro Marcantonio, Ada( Henderson, Brett Morris, and Ar,una 0anatunga %or
their use%ul co((ents and 'ords o% 'ar( su**ort.
I a( +uite grate%ul to /r. Tony 1. 2in 3Mantra Pu)lishing4s chie% editor5, and /r.
6ing 7eung %or their $ery generous donations that (ade it *ossi)le %or (e to en,oy
the *erusal o% The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahpiaka.
I a( $ery gratetul to /r. 2o&esh Chandra %or his 'ise 'ords o% ad$ice and
encourage(ent during our *ersonal (eeting at 8e' /elhi, and %or his gracious
donation o% an old dhra collection edited )y hi( and no' out o% *rint.
A nu()er o% Pro%essors and /octors ha$e )een $ery &ind and generous sharing
their dissertations, )oo&s, and *a*ers on mantras and dhras, 'hether in *rinted or
electronic %or(ats, or e$en in *hotoco*ies, they are: 0ichard McBride II, Jaco) /alton,
Ti)or Porci9, Christina Scherrer-Schau), 1ate Cros)y, 7ael Bentor, Jaan Braar$ig, J. F.
M. /esJardins, :ergely Hidas, South Co)lin, 8eil Sch(id, J;rgen Hanneder, Shingo
<inoo, /or,i 6angchu&, As&o Par*ola, Peter Bisscho*, Jac+ueline Filliozat, 0o)ert A.
7elle, and 2a()ert Sch(ithausen. Than&s to their sound scholarshi*, a large *art o%
the contents and sco*e o% this dissertation had i(*ro$ed in a signi%icant 'ay that I
'ould not ho*ed to en$isage at its initial stage= I a( $ery grate%ul to all o% the(,
I a( $ery grate%ul to the Shingon bhiku 0e$. My>sh> Taniguchi, 'ho had the
generosity, *atience, and courage to collect, scan and *hotoco*y a large a(ount o%
$ery hard to %ind *a*ers and )oo&s on dhras, through her contacts 'ith the
1>yasan #ni$ersity4s 2i)rary sta%%. I also than& to the 2i)raries4s sta%%s o% the 8a$a
8?land? #ni$ersity 38?land?, India5, and that o% the Indira :andhi 8ational Centre %or
Arts 38e' /elhi, India5, %or their hel* in %inding &ey (aterials %or this dissertation.
I than& 0a(9n 29*ez Soriano %or his e%%orts in getting a hard to %ind )oo& on
the Atharvaveda4s ari!ias in India, and I than& Juan Carlos Torices %or generously
sharing his Ti)etan canonical (aterials on dhras. A s*ecial than& is due to /e)ra
Beatty, 'ho &indly read the 'hole dissertation and corrected the <nglish.
And last )ut not least, I a( greatly than&%ul to Jose 2uis Moreno 'ho hel*ed
(e in (any 'ays, generously *ro$iding his ti(e, s&ill%ulness and resources on )ehal%
o% this dissertation, and to <lena Madro@al, 'ho +uietly su**orted all (y struggles
and had )een a true dhra %or (e along the 'ay.
Finally, I ac&no'ledge that the res*onsi)ility %or any errors o% %act or
inter*retation are solely (ine.

Ta)le o% Contents Ta)le o% Contents Ta)le o% Contents Ta)le o% Contents

Charts A

A)stract B

A))re$iations C

Introduction "D

Cha*ter ". History: /octrinal and Chronological /e$elo*(ent o% Dhras "A

".". 8on-Buddhist Factors %or the <(ergence o% Dhras "A
".".". Eedic Tradition "A
".".".". <arly Eedic Mantras "B
".".".. The Atharvaveda ari!ias4 Mantras "B
".".".D. "paniads# Phonetical Corres*ondences "C
".".".F. The GTruth Act4 3sat$akri$5 "H
".".. Tantric Tradition "H
"."..". Iai$a Pre-Mantra(?rgic Mantras "J
"."... Iai$a Mantra(?rgic Mantras !
".. Buddhist Factors %or the <(ergence o% Dhras "
"..". Mainstrea( Buddhis( "
"..".". <arly Mainstrea( Buddhist Attitudes to'ards Mantras "
"..".. arittas, Mahs%tras, and MtiksKMt&ks
"... Mah?y?na Buddhis( B
"...". Acce*tance o% the Soteriological Ealidity
o% 2anguage and Mantras B
".... Dhra Scri*tures H
"..D. Ea,ray?na Buddhis( D

Cha*ter . Meanings: Traditional /e%initions and Classi%ications o% Dhras DF

.". Pri(ary /e%initions DF
.".". Meanings o% the Ter( Dhra DF
.".. Synony(s and Co(*ound Ter(s DA
."..". Mantra'pada, Dhra'mantra-pada DA
."... (id$, (id$'mantra, Mah'vid$, (id$ra)*, (id$'dhra DB
."..D. +&da$a, +&da$a'dhra DC
."..F. (a)ra'pada, Dhra'va)ra'pada DC
.".D. Dhra *aired to other /har(a Lualities DH
.".D.". Dhra'mukha and ,amdhi'mukha DH
.".D.. Dhra and ratibhna DJ
.. Indian Mah?y?na /e%initions and Classi%ications F!
..". In SMtras F!
... In Treatises 3-stras5 F
.D. Indo-Ti)etan Ea,ray?na /e%initions and Classi%ications FF
.F. <ast Asian Ea,ray?na /e%initions and Classi%ications FC
.F.". In China FC
.F.. In Ja*an FJ

Cha*ter D. Functions: Dhras in Practice A"

D.". So(e Pre(ises on Dhra Practice A"
D."." <thical Foundations A"
D.".. 8on-ritual and 0itual A**roaches A
D.".D. Mundane and Su*ra(undane Acco(*lish(ents AA
D.. Mundane Dhra Practices AB
D..". Protection AB
D... Increase AC
D..D. /e%ence AH
D.D. Su*ra(undane Dhra Practices AJ
D.D.". /e*ositing Dhras in ,t%pas AJ
D.D.. 1ar(ic Puri%ication B"
D.D.D. Attaining <nlighten(ent B

Conclusions BA

A**endiN A: <arly Eedic Mantras 'ithin Buddhist Dhras BH
A**endiN B: Analysis o% t'o Dhra Ty*ologies C!
B-": GFor(ulaic4 Dhras C!
B-: GSylla)ic4 Dhras CA
A**endiN C: GFor(ulaic4 and GSylla)ic4 Dhras in
Mainstrea( Buddhist Schools CH
A**endiN /: Dhras 'ithin Mah?y?na ,%tras H"
A**endiN <: 0e%erences HF

Charts Charts Charts Charts

Chart ": The GFor(ulaic4 Dhra Pattern C"

Chart : The GArapa.ana4 Sylla)ary CC

A)stract A)stract A)stract A)stract

This dissertation deals 'ith the Buddhist dhra, (ainly understood as the
ter( selected )y Indian Buddhis( to assi(ilate the non-Buddhist notion o% mantra. In
the Introduction the t'o (a,or categories o% dhras are de%ined, i.e., the G%or(ulaic4
and Gsylla)ic4 dhras. In Cha*ter " the t'o sources %or the e(ergence o% dhras are
studied: the non-Buddhist source )eing %ocused on the non-Eedic, Eedic and Iai$a
Tantric %actors, and the Buddhist one )eing %ocused on se$eral (ainstrea( Buddhist
and Mah?y?na %actors. It continues 'ith a study on the Dhra Scri*tures4 e(ergence
and their inclusion 'ithin Ea,ray?na Tantras. Cha*ter *ro$ides a detailed su((ary
on the traditional de%initions o% the dhra ter(, its synony(s, co(*ound ter(s, and
its *airing 'ith other /har(a +ualities. It is %ollo'ed )y a sur$ey on ho' the dhra
ter( is de%ined and classi%ied according to &ey Indian Mah?y?na ,%tras and -stras,
and the Indo-Ti)etan and <ast Asian Ea,ray?na traditions. Cha*ter D is %ocused on the
dhra *ractice, %irst dealing 'ith its ethical )asis, its non-ritual and ritual
a**roaches, and its (undane and su*ra(undane acco(*lish(ents, and then the
(ain dhra *ractices are analysed intended %or 'orldly and soteriological *ur*oses.
The dissertation closes 'ith %i$e A**endices including a study on a set o% early Eedic
mantras a**earing 'ithin the Buddhist dhras, an analysis o% the G%or(ulaic4 and
Gsylla)ic4 dhras, a sur$ey on mantrasKdhras acce*ted )y se$eral (ainstrea(
Buddhist schools, and another one on mantrasKdhras 'ithin Mah?y?na Scri*tures,
and %inally, a G0e%erences4 list *ro$iding a co(*rehensi$e and u*dated )i)liogra*hy in
se$eral 6estern languages (ainly %ocused on Buddhist mantrasKdhras.

A))re$iations A))re$iations A))re$iations A))re$iations

O&a /surkalpa

AM. The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahpiaka: 0e%erences to
$olu(e, and mantra3s5 nu()er3s5= eg. AM.".BHBB.

Amo0 Amo0hap!a'h&da$a'dhra

/10a /r$a'sarvabuddh10avat'nma'dhra

Anir Anantamukha'nirhra'dhra's%tra

Aa Aashasrikpra)*pramit: 0e%erences to cha*ter3s5 and *age3s5

AE Atharvaveda: 0e%erences to )oo&, section3s5 and $erse3s5

Avat Avata2saka's%tra

/$u3 Aparamit$u3's%tra

4ala /r$a Mahbala'Nma'Mah$nas%tra: 0e%erences to *age3s5, and
line3s5 nu()er3s5.

BC< Be%ore the Christian <ra

4en 4enkenmitsunik$5ron

4hadra 4hadram$kra'v$karaa: 0e%erences to *aragra*h nu()er.

BHS/ 4uddhist +$brid ,anskrit 6rammar and Di.tionar$

4odhi (a)ra!ekhara$o0nuttarasam$aksambodhi.ittotpda'!stra

4on)i 4on)i shittan )imo narabi ni shaku0i

4ra) 4rahma)la'sutta

B# 4&hadra$aka "paniad: 0e%erences to cha*ter, section3s5 and
$erse3s5 nu()er3s5.

4ubh% 4uddhabh%m$upade!a

.7 .ir.a.

84D -ik ,amu..a$a9 A 8ompendium of 4uddhist Do.trine

CBSM Catalogue o% Buddhist Sans&rit Manuscri*ts in the Possession o%
the 0oyal Asiatic Society 3Hodgson Collection5

CCBT A 8atalo0ue of the 8hinese Translation of the 4uddhist Tripitaka:
0e%erences to Scri*ture nu()er.

C< Christian <ra

Ch. Chinese

C# 8hndo0$a "paniad: 0e%erences to cha*ter, section3s5 and
$erse3s5 nu()er3s5.

8und 8unddev'dhra's%tra

/B/h 8hinese',anskrit ,anskrit'8hinese Di.tionar$ of :ords and hrases as
"sed in 4uddhist Dhra

/BI Di.tionar$ of 4uddhist ;.ono0raph$: 0e%erences to $olu(e and
*age3s5 nu()er3s5.

/<B Di.tionnaire en.$.lop<di=ue du 4ouddhisme

Dhasa Dharmasa20raha

Div$ The Div$vadna> a 8olle.tion of Earl$ 4uddhist ?e0ends

/MT Di.tionar$ of Earl$ 4uddhist Monasti. Terms

DN D0ha Nik$a: 0e%erences to Sutta and *aragra*h3s5 nu()er3s5.

/#1 Dakshim%rti#s "ddhra'ko!a

Dur0a ,arvadur0atipari!odhana'tantra

Ekk 4ha0avat'pra)*pramit'sarva'tath0ata'mt'ekkar'nma

@A)B DC fA)B tuDluDnE )n0

6aa 6aapati'h&da$a

6orin 6orinku)im$5himitsushaku

6uh$a ,arvatath0atdhihna'h&da$a'0uh$adhtu'karaFamudr'

6usa 6uh$asam)a'tantra

HB: +GbG0irin: 0e%erences to $olu(e, and *age3s5 nu()er3s5.

+iH5 +iH5h5$aku

+T +eva)ra Tantra: 0e%erences to *art, cha*ter and $erse nu()er3s5.

IMT ;nventaire des Manus.ripts tib<tains de Touen'houan0: 0e%erences to
$olu(e, (anuscri*t, and teNt nu()er= eg. IMT.I.BKD.

Ja*. Ja*anese

J#B Iimin$a "paniad 4rhmaa: 0e%erences to cha*ter, section3s5
and $erse3s5 nu()er3s5.

1an Analyse du 1and,our

Jpa J!$apaparivarta's%tra: 0e%erences to $olu(e and cha*ter

Jru /r$valokite!vara'shasrikabhu)alo.ana'

Jo!a Abhidharmako!a'bh$a: 0e%erences to cha*ter3s5, section3s5
nu()er3s5, and letter3s5 in original teNt.

1# Jaha "paniad: 0e%erences to cha*ter, section3s5 and $erse3s5

?a1k ,addharmala1kvatra's%tram: 0e%erences to cha*ter and *age3s5

Mapa Mahparinirva's%tra: 0e%erences to $olu(e and *age3s5

Mta Mta10 ,%tra

M$% Mahm$%r'vid$r)*'s%tra

M/P2 Materials for a Di.tionar$ of the ra)*pramit ?iterature

MM The Mantra Mahodadhi of Mahidhara: 0e%erences to cha*ter
3tara10a5 and $erse nu()er3s5.

MN Ma))hima Nik$a:0e%erences to Sutta and *aragra*h3s5 nu()er3s5.

Mns Ma*)u!rnmasa20ti: 0e%erences to *age3s5 and $erse3s5

M Milindapa*ha: 0e%erence to *age3s5 nu()er3s5 in original teNt.

Mpp! Mahpra)*pramit'!stra: 0e%erences to $olu(e and *age3s5

Mps% Mahpr)*pramit's%tra

M, Mahs%tras: 0e%erences to $olu(e and *age3s5 nu()er3s5.

Msa Mah$nasa20raha: 0e%erences to $olu(e and *age3s5

Mslb Mah$nas%trlaKkra'bh$a: 0e%erences to cha*ter and $erse

M# MF%k$a "paniad: 0e%erences to cha*ter, section3s5 and
$erse3s5 nu()er3s5.

M%k M%lamadh$amakakrik: 0e%erences to cha*ter and $erse

P P?li

P</ ali'En0lish Di.tionar$

ph ra)*pramith&da$a's%tra: 0e%erences to section nu()er.

rati Mahpratisar'mahvid$r)*

rat$u rat$utpannabuddhasa2mukhvasthitasamdhi's%tra: 0e%erences
to cha*ter nu()er and *aragra*h letter.

uFa ,addharmapuFarka's%tram: 0e%erences to cha*ter and *age3s5

P$r !upatavratam: 0e%erences to section3s5 and $erse3s5 nu()er3s5.

:E3'(53',5 The erfe.tion of :isdom in Ei0ht Thousand ?ines L its (erse
,ummar$: 0e%erences to (erse Part 3:E'(5 include cha*ter and
$erse nu()er3s5 in original teNt= re%erences to ,%tra Part 3:E',5
include cha*ter, and *age nu()er3s5 in original teNt.

Ma0 Matna0uasa2.a$a'0th: 0e%erences to cha*ter3s5 and $erse

Ma0ot Matna0otravibh0a Mah$nGttaratantra'!stra

Matna Mahratnak%a's%tra

0CB M<pertoire du .anon bouddhi=ue sino')aponais

M0$ud M0$ud sde sp$i3i rnam par 0Na0 pa r0$as par br)od

Oam Oamukh'dhra

,ash ,an05 shki

IB -atapatha 4rmaa: 0e%erences to 1Pnda, AdhyPya, and BrP(ana
nu()er3s5 in original teNt.

SB28 The ,anskrit 4uddhist ?iterature of Nepal

S</ A ,anskrit'En0lish Di.tionar$

,0ol The ,%tra of 6olden ?i0ht9 4ein0 a translation of the

,hes ,hes b$a mdHod: 0e%erences to )oo& and *age3s5 nu()er3s5.

,h5)i ,h5)i)iss50i

,h5mo ,h5rai mokuroku

-ik -ik ,amu..a$a: 0e%erences to cha*ter and *age3s5 nu()er3s5.

S&t. Sans&rit

,it /r$a'sarvatath0atoasittapatr'nmapar)itaprat$a10irmah'

,N ,a2$utta Nik$a: 0e%erences to Part and *age3s5 nu()er3s5 in
original teNt.

-%rs% -%ra20ama's%tra: 0e%erences to $olu(e and *age3s5 nu()er3s5.

,usi ,usiddhikra's%tra

,uvar ,uvaraprabhsa's%tra

-%rsam -%ra20amasamdhi's%tra

T Taish5 Tripiaka 384ETA5: 0e%erences to %ascicle nu()er, *age,
register 3a, ), or c5, and line nu()er3s5= eg., T "!B! "!AcH-"""c"J.

TOB Di.tionaries of Tantra -stra or The Tantrbhidhnam

TA1 Tantrikbhidhnako!a: 0e%erences to $olu(e and *age3s5

T</ A Tibetan'En0lish Di.tionar$ with ,anskrit ,$non$ms

Ti). Ti)etan

TM/ Tibetan Tantri. Manus.ripts from Dunhuan0: 0e%erences to
(anuscri*t and teNt nu()er %ro( the India Q%%ice 2i)rary= eg.
TM/: "!DK 3In the original teNt re%erenced as IQ2 Ti) J "!DK5.

TP Tibskrit hilolo0$

Tri! Tri!araasaptati: 0e%erences to $erse nu()er3s5.

T# Taittir$a "paniad: 0e%erences to cha*ter, section3s5 and $erse3s5

"0ra "0raparip&..h's%tra

#&a "..humakalpa: 0e%erences to section3s5 and $erse3s5 nu()er3s5.

"n "n)i0i

"pka "p$akau!al$a's%tra: 0e%erences to *aragra*h3s5 nu()er3s5.

" "avi)a$'dhra's%tra

(ai's% (airo.anbhisa2bodhi's%tra

(ai'ta Mahvairo.anbhisa2bodhi'tantra: 0e%erences to *art, cha*ter
and section nu()er3s5 in original teNt.

(k (k$apadi$am'4rahmakFa3: 0e%erences to $erse nu()er3s5.

(arat -rva)raratiru'nma'dhra

(a!ek (a)ra!ekhara's%tra

EC A (edi. 8on.ordan.e

Pabao Pa bao Han0 )in0

Pon0 Pon0shi tuoluoni )in0

Introduction Introduction Introduction Introduction

According to the Ja*anese scholar H. 7oshi(ura, Gthe 'ord Gdhra4 'as
selected a(ong (any Buddhist technical ter(s to a)sor) the non-Buddhist idea o%
mantra4 3"JHC: H5. Ta&ing this assertion as a starting *oint, the leit(oti$ o% the *resent
dissertation 'ill )e to in$estigate and e$entually corro)orate its accuracy through its
(atching 'ith related historical, doctrinal, and teNtual data.
/es*ite the %act that dhras 'ere descri)ed and catalogued in the 6est %or
the %irst ti(e )y Brian H. Hodgson in "HH 3CBSM: DJ, F"-FD, FJ-A!= SB28: Nli-Nlii=
/a$idson, !!J: JJ-"!!5, the dhra re(ained %or al(ost t'o centuries on the
sidelines o% 6estern Buddhist studies, and only $ery recently has the dhra recei$ed
the scholarly attention it deser$es. Although a %e' eNcellent (onogra*hs on s*eci%ic
dhras ha$e a**eared, as 'ell as a %e' *a*ers %ocused on the dhras4 (eanings in
6estern languages, yet there is no 'or& co$ering this to*ic in a (ore co(*rehensi$e
'ay. There%ore, the %ore(ost ai( o% this dissertation is to *ro$ide, it is )elie$ed %or
the %irst ti(e, a *reli(inary o$er$ie' o% the dhra co$ering its history, (eanings,
and %unctions. Since the dissertation4s author is +uite a'are o% his hea$y li(itations to
carry out this *ro,ect, this dissertation should )e $ie'ed as 'hat in %act is, ,ust a %irst
intent dra'ing a rough *icture on a +uite co(*leN and rich su),ect in need o% %urther
As the %irst *art o% its title suggests, this dissertation 'ill %ocus eNclusi$ely on
the dhra as 'as concei$ed )y Indian Buddhis( and its s*read through Central
Asian, 8orthern, <ast Asian and Southern Buddhis(s. The dhra ter( is understood
here in a +uite s*eci%ic 'ay, including t'o ty*ologies recognized )y the dissertation4s
author 'ith the na(es o% G%or(ulaic4 and Gsylla)ic4 dhras. A G%or(ulaic4 dhra
consists o% a linguistic *attern in *rose, sonic or 'ritten, regarded as *ro(ulgated )y
Buddhas, Bodhisatt$as, andKor any deity acce*ted )y Buddhis( and endo'ed 'ith
their Gs*iritual su**ort4 3S&t. adhihna5, co(*osed )y one or (ore %or(ulas o%
certain Indic languages, that *ledges 3S&t. sama$a5 the attain(ent o% its (undane
andKor su*ra(undane goals i% the *rescri*tions esta)lished )y herKhis *ro(ulgator
are %ollo'ed. Qccasionally, the synony(ic eN*ressions o% Gdhra %or(ula4 or
GmantraQdhra4 'ill )e used to re%er to the sa(e (eaning as the G%or(ulaic4 dhra
does. By Gsylla)ic4 dhra a list o% sylla)les is understood, each o% 'hich is lin&ed to a
*articular state(ent or 'ord that e()odies a &ey as*ect o% Buddhist doctrine. There
are Gsylla)ic4 dhras issued %ro( a *articular arrange(ent o% sylla)les %ollo'ing
Buddhist to*ics, and there is another ty*e in 'hich the standard Sans&rit sylla)ary
3S&t. varapha5 is used to con$ey a set o% Buddhist doctrinal ter(s. Qccasionally, the
synony(ic eN*ressions o% Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary, or ,ust Gsylla)ary4 'ill )e used, to re%er
to the sa(e (eaning as the Gsylla)ic4 dhra does.
This dissertation is di$ided into three cha*ters, each one )eing %ocused on one
o% the three su),ects re%erred to 'ithin the dissertation4s title: the dhras4 history,
(eanings, and %uncions. Cha*ter " gi$es ans'ers to 'hy the dhra a**eared and
ho' it 'as included 'ithin the Buddhist doctrinalK*ractical cor*us, analysing the
non-Buddhist and Buddhist %actors %or the e(ergence o% dhras. The non-Buddhist
%actors include a set o% early Eedic mantras, the Atharvaveda ari!ias4 mantras, the
"paniads# *honetical corres*ondences, the Gtruth act4 3S&t. sat$akri$5, and the Tantric
Iai$a Pre-Mantra(?rgic and Mantra(?rgic mantras, that 'ere assi(ilated )y Indian
Buddhis( to *ro*itiate *rotection, the co((unication and identi%ication 'ith
cos(icKdi$ine entities, and the condensation and (e(orizing o% teachings. The
Buddhist %actors include an early acce*tance o% mantras 'ithin se$eral (ainstrea(
Buddhist (ina$as, %ollo'ed )y the ela)oration o% s*eci%ic teNts reconcila)le 'ith the
(antric *ers*ecti$e as the Thera$?da parittas, the Sar$?sti$?da and MMlasar$?sti$?da
Mahs%tras, and the A)hidhar(a4s mt&ks. In the sa(e $ein, the Mah?y?na acce*ted
Sans&rit as a suita)le language to con$ey its doctrines and si(ultaneously considered
language and mantras as (eans conduci$e to enlighten(ent. This %a$oura)le conteNt
sti(ulated, on the one hand, the inclusion o% non-Buddhist mantras and the Sans&rit
sylla)ary 'ithin Mah?y?na Scri*tures, and on the other hand, the creation o%
Buddhist sylla)aries and dhra %or(ulas ins*ired )y non-Buddhist *atterns, that
later 'ould gi$e rise to the Dhra Scri*tures and their inclusion 'ithin the
Ea,ray?na Tantras. Cha*ter ans'ers the +uestions o% 'hat is the dhra4s nature,
'hat are its &ey de%initions and classi%ications, and in 'hat sense could it )e
considered Buddhist. There%ore, this cha*ter *ro$ides a detailed su((ary on the
traditional de%initions o% the dhra ter(, its synony(s, co(*ound ter(s, and its
*airing 'ith other /har(a +ualities. It is %ollo'ed )y a sur$ey on ho' the dhra
ter( is de%ined and classi%ied according to &ey Indian Mah?y?na ,%tras and -stras,
and the Indo-Ti)etan and <ast Asian Ea,ray?na traditions. Cha*ter D ans'ers the
+uestion o% ho' dhras are seen to 'or&, %irst dealing 'ith their ethical )asis, their
non-ritual and ritual a**roaches, and their (undane and su*ra(undane
acco(*lish(ents, and then the (ain dhra *ractices intended %or 'orldly and
soteriological *ur*oses are su((arized.
This dissertation closes 'ith %i$e A**endices 'here to*ics )asically outlined
'ithin the dissertation4s )ody are analysed. They include a study on a set o% early
Eedic mantras assi(ilated 'ithin Buddhist dhras, an analysis o% the G%or(ulaic4 and
Gsylla)ic4 dhras, a sur$ey on mantrasKdhras 'ithin se$eral (ainstrea( Buddhist
schools, and another one on mantrasKdhras 'ithin Mah?y?na Scri*tures, and
%inally, a G0e%erences4 list (ainly %ocused on Buddhist mantrasKdhras.
:i$en that this dissertation delineates a *reli(inary o$er$ie' on dhras, it is
(ainly e(*hasizing a descri*ti$e a**roach, dra'ing any inter*retation %ro( the
dhra sources the(sel$es, alongside other docu(entary e$idences 3archaeological,
historical, li$ing *ractice, etc.5. In the sa(e $ein, this dissertation 'ill also address a
nu()er o% (isunderstandings and )iased $ie's on dhras, again ta&ing into account
those sa(e dhra sources to a$oid as (uch as *ossi)le any ar)itrary s*eculation on
the to*ic. 2astly, this dissertation *ays s*ecial attention to citing sources, so as to
gather an u*dated )i)liogra*hy on the Buddhist mantrasKdhras in so(e 6estern
languages, that 'ould su**le(ent H. P. Al*er4s )i)liogra*hy on mantras 3"JHJ: DC-
AD!5, 'hich scarcely (a&es any re%erences to the dhras.

Cha*ter " Cha*ter " Cha*ter " Cha*ter "

History: /octrinal and Chronological /e$elo*(ent o% History: /octrinal and Chronological /e$elo*(ent o% History: /octrinal and Chronological /e$elo*(ent o% History: /octrinal and Chronological /e$elo*(ent o% Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s ss s

".". 8on ".". 8on ".". 8on ".". 8on- -- -Buddhist Factors %or the <(e Buddhist Factors %or the <(e Buddhist Factors %or the <(e Buddhist Factors %or the <(ergence o% rgence o% rgence o% rgence o% Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s ss s

".".". ".".". ".".". ".".". Eedic Tradition Eedic Tradition Eedic Tradition Eedic Tradition

The Eedic tradition %inds in the 'ord 3S&t. v.5 its uni%ying %actor 3B#..F.""5.
The ter( v. enco(*ases all its (odalities, %ro( natural sounds, o% inani(ate o),ects,
o% ani(als, o% hu(ans and o% su*ernatural )eings, to the a)solute reality 3S&t.
brahman5 as sound 3S&t. !abda5 3Pingle, !!A: N$i, B-BD= B#.".D."= S</: JDB5. This
t'o%old nature o% language as )eing si(ultaneously a (undane reality and a s*iritual
one, is re%lected into the notion o% Gsylla)le4 3S&t. akara5, understood as the *ri(ary
and indi$isi)le *honic unity. According to its traditional ety(ology, )esides (eaning
Gsylla)le4, akara also (eans Gna karati or na k$ateR is that 'hich does not %lo' out or
*erish, hence the i(*erisha)le, the indestructi)le, the eternal4 3PadouN, "JJ!: "D=
J#B.I.F."-= Buitenen, "JAJ: "CJ= S</: D5.

The (undane and s*iritual nature o% v. is (ade (ani%est (ainly in t'o 'ays,
as cos(ogony and as Eedic re$elation. Pra,?*ati, the Gall-(a&er4 god 3S&t. vi!vakarm5,
created e$erything through na(ing e$ery *art o% the 'hole cos(os 'ith the Ggreat
utterances4 3mahv$h&tis5 3IB.II.".F.""5. The (edas are considered eternal and as
re$ealed 3S&t. !ruti5 )y the gods to the Gseers4 3S&t. &is5 through a su*ernatural
ins*iration, and the &is, 'ho 'ere endo'ed 'ith a s*iritual G$ision4 3S&t. dh35 a)le to
*ercei$e the Eedic &no'ledge, trans%or(ed it into language 3PadouN, "JJ!: Ni$=
:onda, "JBDa: BF= "JBD): BJ, CD-CF5. Just li&e Pra,?*ati did, the &is are seen to ha$e
identi%ied their disco$ery o% language 'ith the %aculty o% namin0, %or the %irst ti(e,
e$erything, esta)lishing in this 'ay an ontological corres*ondence )et'een 'ords
and o),ects. According to this corres*ondence, the na(e o% a gi$en thing is eN*ressing
the nature or essence o% the thing na(ed, thus, na(ing is not ,ust a con$entional
la)elling, )ut it is *ointing out to the indi$idual or s*eci%ic nature o% the )eingKthing
na(ed. There%ore, na(ing i(*lies calling u* or e$o&ing this sa(e nature inherent in
the )eingKthing itsel%. It is *recisely this sa(e corres*ondence )et'een 'ords and
o),ects that, on the one hand, is seen to )esto' e%%ecti$eness to mantras, and on the
other hand, allo's one to dra' conclusions regarding the nature o% things )ased on
their na(es, i.e., according to their ety(ology 3Bron&horst, "JJJ: H-"!5.

Indian Buddhis( did not re(ain i(*er(ea)le )e%ore this Eedic cos(o$ision
centered around v. and its in%luence 'as so signi%icant that Indian Buddhis( ended
u* assi(ilating those %actors o% v. reconcila)le 'ith its tenets. Here, three o% the(
'ill )e e(*hasized: 3"5 a set o% early Eedic mantras, and es*ecially those %ro( so(e
Atharvaveda ari!ias, 35 the "paniads# *honetical corres*ondences, and 3D5 the Gact

Qn the Mah?y?na and Ea,ray?na inter*retations o% akara, see sections .." and .D.

Qn the close relationshi* )et'een the ter(s Gna(e4 3nma5 and mantra, see neNt section. Qn
the a**lication o% the Eedic 'ordsKo),ects corres*ondence to dhras, see A**endiN B-" and
section D.."., and on its a**lication )y 1M&ai, see section .F..

o% truth4 3S&t. sat$akri$5. These %actors 'ill )e studied )elo' according to their
original *re(ises.

".".".". <arly Eedic ".".".". <arly Eedic ".".".". <arly Eedic ".".".". <arly Eedic Mantra Mantra Mantra Mantras s s s

The traditional Indian de%inition o% mantra is Gthat 'hich sa$es 3tr' Gto sa$e,
rescue45 the one 'ho, in thought, %or(ulates it, (editates u*on it 3man'54. According
to its ety(ology, ho'e$er, the ter( mantra is deri$ed %ro( the root man and is related
to the S&t. manas (eaning G(ind4 in a generic sense as G(ental and *sychical *o'ers4,
and 'ithin a Eedic conteNt, man also (eans Ge$o&ing, calling u*4, and is %re+uently
associated to the noun Gna(e4 3nma5. And the ending Rtra, indicates instru(entality,
and also G%aculty4 or G%unction4. Hence, a literal translation o% mantra 'ould )e that o%
Gan instru(ent o% thought4, e(*hasizing its *rag(atic %unction 37elle, !!D: ""5.
6ithin a Eedic conteNt though, mantra re%ers to 'ords endo'ed 'ith *o'er to e$o&e
cos(icKdi$ine %orces to carry the( into concrete actions, (ainly those o% a ritual
order 3:onda, "JBD): FH-A!, AA, AC5.
Qn a %or(al le$el, a Eedic mantra consists o% an utterance sha*ed as a G$erse4
3S&t. &.5 3%ro( the S0veda5, a Gchant4 or G(elody4 3S&t. sman5 3%ro( the ,maveda5, and
a (uttered G%or(ula4 3S&t. $a)us5 or one s*o&en aloud 3S&t. ni0ada5 3)oth %ro( the
Ta)urveda5 3Staal, "JHJ: FH5. To each Eedic mantra is assigned the &i 'ho re$ealed it, its
(eter 3S&t. .handas5, its *residing deity 3S&t. devat5, and the a**lication or *ur*ose
%or 'hich it is used 3S&t. vini$o0a5. The &no'ledge o% these %our %actors turns out to )e
indis*ensa)le %or a *ro*er use o% Eedic mantras 3Hanneder, "JJH: "AD5. The reason %or
this is that i% the *ractitioner understands and a**lies those %our %actors, sheKhe
'ould re*roduce through a sonic (i(esis act the original (odel 'hich constituted
the mantra 3Burchett, !!H: HDB5, *artici*ating in the %unda(ental $ision originating
the mantra, and o% its e%%ecti$eness *ledged 3S&t. sama$a5 )y its *ro(ulgator
3<ltschinger, !!": -C5.

Ho'e$er, Indian Buddhis( discarded those Eedic mantras o% a *oetic nature
and *re%erred instead, to assi(ilate those non-discursi$e (antric utterances o% an
i(*erati$e and e$ocati$e nature, a)le to *ro*itiate *rotection, the co((unication
and identi%ication 'ith cos(icKdi$ine entities, and the condensation and (e(orizing
o% teachings. Here, those Eedic (antric utterances 'hich a**ear (ost %re+uently in
Buddhist dhras are eN*ressions such as U2, +u2, ha, ,vh, and in so(e less
%re+uent cases, the mahv$h&tis are %ound as 'ell.

".".".. The ".".".. The ".".".. The ".".".. The Atharvaveda ari!i Atharvaveda ari!i Atharvaveda ari!i Atharvaveda ari!i a aa as4 s4 s4 s4 Mantra Mantra Mantra Mantras ss s

#nli&e the S0veda that re$ol$es around sacri%ice rituals, the Atharvaveda is
%ocused on mantras intended %or Gdrastically *ractical4 *ur*oses 3Moda&, "JJD: 5,
'hich turned it into a %a$oura)le rece*tacle to assi(ilate Indian local cults 3Staal,
!!H: CD5. The Atharvaveda ari!ias consist o% Ga**endices4 co(*le(enting and

Qn a si(ilar *rocess in the Buddhist dhras, see sections ".... *aragra*h 3a5 and
A**endiN B-".

For a study o% those mantras, see A**endiN A. Those sa(e mantras are located at the
)eginning andKor at the end o% the dhra %or(ulas and denote s*eci%ic %unctions, see
A**endiN B-".

eN*anding to*ics concisely treated in the Atharvaveda.
/irectly related to the *resent
dissertation are the ari!ias /surkalpa 3O&a5 and "..humakalpa 3#&a5, )ecause their
mantras4 %or(al *attern sho' a stri&ing si(ilarity 'ith Buddhist dhra %or(ulas.
Se$eral authors already *ointed out such si(ilarity: 2a EallSe Poussin recognized in
the GAtharvanamantras4 the *rototy*e o% the Gdhra collections4 3"HJA: FDB5, :oudriaan
descri)ed as Gdhras4 the mantras a**earing in #&a.J 3"JCH: C5, and Sanderson
noticed that the Garchaic style4 o% the "..humakalpa4s mantras 'as Gstrongly
re(iniscent4 o% those %ro( the Mah'm$%r'vid$r)*'s%tra 3!!C: "JJ-!!, n. "F5.
According to the research de$elo*ed here, the in%luence o% the /surkalpa and
"..humakalpa4s mantras on Buddhist dhra %or(ulas can )e seen in that those
ari!ias mantras *ro$ide a )asic %or(al *attern to )e assi(ilated and de$elo*ed later
)y the G%or(ulaic4 dhras.

Besides ta&ing such *attern though, Indian Mah?y?na also assi(ilated the
deities in$o&ed in those ari!ias4 mantras. /surkalpa4s mantras are dedicated to the
god 0udra, 'hich is the early %or( o% Ii$a, and those o% the "..humakalpa to
#cchuT(a, again a (odality o% 0udra 3TA1.I: A5. 2i&e'ise, so(e early G%or(ulaic4
dhras in$o&e #cchuT(a, other (odalities o% 0udra, and se$eral non-Eedic
goddesses, as is the case 'ith so(e early Tantric Iai$a mantras 3Sanderson, !!C: !!5.
This indicates that the li&ely G%or(ulaic4 dhras4 origin can )e %ound 'ithin a
su)stratu( 'here the ari!ias4 mantras assi(ilated a non-Eedic (antric lore that in
turn 'as assi(ilated )y an early Iai$a tradition and a Mah?y?na in transition to the

".".".D. ".".".D. ".".".D. ".".".D. "pani "pani "pani "pani ad ad ad ads ss s# ## # Phonetical Corres*ondences Phonetical Corres*ondences Phonetical Corres*ondences Phonetical Corres*ondences

In so(e "paniads *honetical corres*ondences are esta)lished )et'een certain
sylla)les and Eedic ter(s )eginning 'ith those sylla)les. Pra,?*ati taught the sylla)le
Gda4 and his disci*les eNtracted the notions o% Grestraint4 3dm$ata5, G)ounty4 3datta5,
and Gco(*assion4 3da$adhvam5 3B#.A.."-D5. In other "paniad are indicated the
*honetical corres*ondences o% the se$en%old S?(an chant: the sound hu2 is identical
to the inter,ection +i2, Gpra4 is identi%ied 'ith the ter( GIntroductory Praise4
3pra7stva5, the sound G4 'ith the GQ*ening4 37di5, Gud4 'ith the GHigh Chant4 3ud70tha5,
Gprati4 'ith the G0es*onse4 3prati7hra5, Gupa4 'ith the GFinale4 3upa7drava5, and the sound
ni is the GConcluding Chant4 3ni7dhana5 3C#..H."-D5.
The %unctioning o% these *honetical corres*ondences is +uite analogous to that
o% mantras, )ecause mantras esta)lish a Glin&age4 3S&t. bandhu5 )et'een cos(ic %orces
and ritual ele(ents that (a&e it a real and e%%icient one 36heeloc&, "JHJ: "!H5, and
si(ultaneously, those Glin&ages4 ser$e, on the one hand, as a (ne(onic guide to
re(e()er the se+uential G*rocedure4 3S&t. itikartav$at5 o% ritual, and on the other
hand, as a G(ediu( o% &no'ledge4 3S&t. prama5 o% its (eaning 3Ta)er, "JHJ: "FJ, n.
"A5. 2i&e'ise, and as the +uoted eNa(*le sho's, the *honetical corres*ondences
ser$e as a (ne(onic guide to *er%or( the S?(an chant )ecause the ter( GS?(an4

The ari!ias include se$enty t'o teNts dealing 'ith to*ics as ritual, (agic, astrology,
religious o)ser$ances, *honetics, etc., and 'ere co(*osed )et'een the second century BC< to
the %i%th century C< 3Moda&, "JJD: "J", FCD5.

Qn this G%or(ulaic4 dhra *attern, see A**endiN B-" and Chart ".

See section "."..".
esta)lishes Glin&ages4 )et'een the *arts o% the cos(os and hu(an )eings, and these
Glin&ages4 in turn, *ro*itiate )ene%its such as (undane *o'er and 'ealth 3C#.".B."-H=
/es*ite the %act that those "paniads# *honetical corres*ondences are not
re*roducing the Gal*ha)etical4 *attern sho'n )y the Gsylla)ic4 dhras and that there
is no e$idence o% any historical lin& )et'een )oth o% the(, ne$ertheless, the "paniads
gi$e e$idence o% the earliest instance o% *honetical corres*ondences used as
(ne(onic and s*iritual de$ice that 'ould )e re%lected u*on the Buddhist Gsylla)ic4
dhras 3HB:.EI.AC"a5.

".".".F. The GTruth Act4 3 ".".".F. The GTruth Act4 3 ".".".F. The GTruth Act4 3 ".".".F. The GTruth Act4 3,at$akri$ ,at$akri$ ,at$akri$ ,at$akri$ 5 55 5

Being de%ined as: GA %or(al declaration o% %act, acco(*anied )y a co((and or
resolution or *rayer that the *ur*ose o% the agent shall )e acco(*lished4
3Burlinga(e, "J"C: FJ5, the Gtruth act4 3sat$akri$5 %inds its origin in the Eedas.
to a$oid a *re(ature )irth, it is declared: GAs this great earth recei$es the e()ryos o%
eNistences, so let thine e()ryo )e (aintained, in order to )irth Ui.e., to )e )ornV a%ter
*regnancy4 3AE.EI."C."5. ,at$akri$ eNtracts its e%%ecti$eness %ro( the co(*lete tuning
o% the *roclai(er 'ith the sa(e realityKtruth 3sat$a5 that constitutes the cos(ic order
3S&t. &ta5. I% Eedic gods are sat$adharman, that is, Gha$ing Truth as their )asic la' or
*rinci*le4, li&e'ise, a hu(an )eing realizing to *er%ection his duty 'ithin the cos(os
'ill e()ody a di$ine *o'er ena)ling hi( to G)end cos(ic %orces to his 'ill4 3Bro'n,
"JBH: "C-"CF5.
This cos(ic *o'er is co((unicated through a true language o% a su*erhu(an
nature 36ay(an, "JHFa: DJ5, )ecause according to the Eedas, to s*ea& the truth is
identical to eN*ressing the uni$ersal G2a'4 3Dharma5 3B#.".F."F5. SheKhe 'ho (ay utter
the truth is *rotected )y the truth itsel%, as that (an 'ho 'as %alsely accused o%
ro))ery and 'as le%t i((une %ro( the ordeal )y Guttering the truth and co$ering
hi(sel% 'ith the truth4 3C#.B."B."-5. ,at$akri$ also i(*lies an utterance o% a ritual
nature, )ecause another (eaning o% kri$ is that o% Grite4, hence, sat$akri$ can )e
translated as Grite o% truth4, too 36ay(an, "JHFa: DJ-DJD5. 6ithin a Buddhist conteNt,
ho'e$er, the Thera$?da parittas originally grounded their e%%iciency on the sole
Gdeclaration o% truth4 3sa..akiri$5 3%irst century BC<5, to 'hich a ritual %ra(e'or& 'as
added later 3%i%th century C<5 3Sil$a, "JJ": "F"-"F5.

".".. ".".. ".".. ".".. Tantric Tradition Tantric Tradition Tantric Tradition Tantric Tradition

6hile Eedic mantras ser$e as the mediators )et'een cos(icKdi$ine %orces and
the ritual *rocess, Tantric mantras (ani%est the identit$ )et'een *ractitioner and
deity instead 36heeloc&, "JHJ: ""J5. Tantric mantras de*art %ro( the Eedic ones in
their linguistic structure too, re*lacing the Eedic *oetic %or(s %or sets o% ter(s

Qn the Gsylla)ic4 dhras, see A**endices B-, C, and / section 3)5.

It should )e noted, ho'e$er, that Gsat$akri$4 ter( does not a**ear in the Eedas as such, )ut
'ith synony(s as Gtrue s*eech4 3sat$a'v.5 or Gtruth-co((and4 3sat$dhishhnaK5. ,at$akri$
3P sa..akiri$5 ter( and its synony(s a**ear only in later Buddhist teNts such as the Itakas,
the Milindapa*ha, or the Div$vadna 3S</: ""DB= Burlinga(e, "J"C: FDF5.

Qn the parittas, see section ".."..

3%re+uently in,unctions5 related to sylla)les and *hone(es that, lea$ing aside their
se(antic (eaning or lac& o% it, only (a&e sense 'ithin a ritual conteNt 3Hanneder,
"JJH: "A!5. The t'o (ain (odalities o% Iai$a Tantric mantras 'ill )e analyzed )elo',
*re-Mantra(?rgic and Mantra(?rgic ones, 'hich Buddhist assi(ilation
a**roNi(ately coincides 'ith the t'o Tantric assi(ilation stages 'ithin Buddhis(:
the %irst stage centered around the Gincantation and ritual4 o% a standard Mah?y?na
3.7 third century C<5, and the second one during the Ea,ray?na syste(atization 3.7
se$enth and eighth century C<5 31a*stein, !!": FA5.

"."..". Iai$a Pre "."..". Iai$a Pre "."..". Iai$a Pre "."..". Iai$a Pre- -- -Mantra( Mantra( Mantra( Mantra(?rgic ?rgic ?rgic ?rgic Mantra Mantra Mantra Mantras ss s

As it 'as indicated )e%ore, the /surkalpa and "..humakalpa ari!ias mantras
in$o&e the *o'er o% 0udra, or one o% his $ariants as #cchuT(a 3G/esiccating UFireV45.
6ithin the Iai$a eNorcist tradition, #cchuT(arudra is in$o&ed as a *rotector against
e$il )eings 'ith mantras +uite si(ilar to those ari!ias mantras (entioned )e%ore,
and his (ain role is that o% re(o$ing i(*ure su)stances 3Sanderson, !!C: "JC-!!5.
Moreo$er, according to certain Iai$a Tantras, #cchuT(a is the %irst o% a series o% ten
0udras: #cchuT(a, Ia$ara, CaWXa, MataYga, :hora, 7a(a, #gra, Halahala, 1rodhin,
and Huluhulu 3TA1.I: A5.
It is highly signi%icant the corres*ondence sho'n )et'een these ten 0udras
3and their %e(ale counter*arts5 as they a**ear in the Iai$a mantras and their *arallels
in Buddhist dhras. The Iai$a Mah0aapativid$ includes a long mantra in$o&ing
#cchuT(a and the %e(ale consorts o% CaWXa 3CaWX?li5, MataYga 3MataYgZ5, and the
goddesses Pu&&asZ and C?(uWdZ 3Sanderson, !!C: "JJ-!!, n. "B5. And in certain
dhras in$o&ing #cchuT(a&rodha Mah?)ala, that is the Buddhist e+ui$alent o%
#cchuT(a, the non-Eedic goddesses Ia)ari, MataYgZ, and CaWX?li are also in$o&ed
34ala: AD.-D5. 2i&e'ise, in nu(erous *rotecti$e 3S&t. raka5 and dhra %or(ulas
a**ear in$ocations to a co((on set o% %i$e non-Eedic goddesses: :auri, :andh?ri,
CaWX?li, MataYgZ, and Pu&&asZ 3S&illing, "JJ: "AA= M,.I: BCH-BCJ5.
In all li&elihood,
see(ingly unintelligi)le eN*ressions such as Vhala hala4 and Ghulu hulu4 a**earing in a
nu()er o% mantrasKdhras 3M,.I: BHC= HarrisonKCo)lin, "JJJ: "AB= Filliozat, !!F: A!!5,
'ere originally in$ocations to the 0udras Halahala and Huluhulu, that later 'ere
assigned to the Buddhist H?l?hala A$alo&ite[$ara, 'hose iconogra*hy includes
distincti$e %eatures o% 0udraKIi$a 3Bhattacharyya, "JAH: "D-"DD5.
These data gi$e

The ter( G*re-Mantra(?rgic4 re%ers to the early ascetic tradition %ocused on Ii$a as 0udra
Pa[u*ati intended %or eNclusi$ely soteriological goals, and the GMantra(?rgic4 one 3lit. G*ath o%
mantras45 re%ers to a later tradition o*en to ascetics and lay*eo*le ali&e including (undane
goals, too 3Sanderson, "JHH: BBF-BBH5.

See 3'ith $ariants5 AM.".!, AC= AM..FA!= AM.D."DA= AM.F."FAD, "FCD= AM.A.HA=
AM."F.CHCJ, HD, HA= AM."A.HDAA= AM."B.JJHJ, "!"DD. The na(es o% those goddesses denote
Guntoucha)le4 Indian tri)al castes and occu*ations 3hunting, cleaning, cor*se handling, etc.5
3Sha', !!B: DJC-DJH5. Qn the continuity o% those tri)al castes and the Buddhist Ea,ray?na
Gacco(*lished ones4 3siddhas5, see /a$idson, !!: F-DD. Qn the goddess MataYgZ 'ithin a
Iai$a conteNt, see 1insley, "JJC: !J-. Qn the con$ersion o% the mahvid$dhar MataYgZ,
see A**endiN C.

In the in%luential /r$valokite!vara'mahkruika'dhra, A$alo&ite[$ara is $enerated 'ith a
nu()er o% Ii$a e*ithets and the eNcla(ation Ghulu hulu4 3Chandra, "JCJ: "F-"B5.
su**ort to the theory descri)ed )e%ore on the Buddhist origins o% G%or(ulaic4 dhras,
'hose *attern arose %ro( a su)stratu( (ade u* o% a non-Eedic (antric lore
assi(ilated )y the Atharvaveda ari!ias, and assi(ilated in turn and al(ost
si(ultaneously )y the Pre-Mantra(?rgic Iai$is( and a *roto-Tantric Mah?y?na.

"."... Iai$a Mantra(?rgic "."... Iai$a Mantra(?rgic "."... Iai$a Mantra(?rgic "."... Iai$a Mantra(?rgic Mantra Mantra Mantra Mantras ss s

Considered as s*eci%ic (odalities o% the 'ord4s energy 3S&t. vk!akti5, Tantric
mantras are characterized as )eing Gthe *honic, \eN*ressing] 3v.aka5, %or( o% a deity,
its su)tle %or(, its essence, its e%%icient as*ect4 3PadouN, "JJ!: DCH-DH!5. This
characteristic is usually identi%ied 'ith their Gseed sylla)le4 3S&t. b)a5 )ecause, sa$e
rare eNce*tions, Ga Tantric (antra is de%ined )y its b)a4 3Hanneder, "JJH: "FJ, n. H5.
According to a traditional de%inition: GAll (antras consist o% *hone(es and their
nature is that o% energy, Q dear Qne. 1no', ho'e$er, that this energy 3!akti5 is the
mt&k, 'hose nature is that o% Ii$a4 3tr. in PadouN, "JJ!: DCF5. In this sense, mt&k in
singular, lit. Glittle (other4, designates the G(atriN-energy4, the generati$e *o'er that
si(ultaneously creates and holds the mantras and the uni$erse. In *lural, the mt&ks
are the %i%ty *hone(es o% the Sans&rit sylla)le syste( 3S&t. varapha5, understood as
the )asis o% all mantras 3PadouN, "JJ!: "FC, n. "C!, "A"-"AD5. Hence, to &no' the
mt&ks4 nature and their !akti is e+ual to &no' the a)solute itsel%, es*ecially in its
t'o%old as*ect as the 'orld4s manifestationQreabsortion 3PadouN, "JJ!: CH, "A-"AD, n.

Besides assigning the Gseer4, the (eter 3in %act, an inner rhyth(5, the deity, and
the a**lication as the Eedic mantras, e$ery Tantric mantra includes a ritual o% (antric
Gi(*osition4 3S&t. n$sa5 and a deity4s G$isualization4 3S&t. dh$na5, 'here the mantra
sylla)les are Gi(*osed4 ritually on s*eci%ic *arts o% the )ody4s *ractitioner, and then
heKshe $isualizes hersel%Khi(sel% as identical to the deity 3MM.II.D-B= B;hne(ann,
"JJ": J-JD= PadouN, "JCH: BC-BH= "JH!: AJ-B"5. Moreo$er, usually e$ery Tantric
mantra is su)di$ided into three *arts: 3a5 an initial *art, its b)a, 3)5 a (iddle *art, its
!akti, and 3c5 a %inal *art, its 'edge 3klaka5 3B;hne(ann, "JJ": JD5. According to
other sources, the klaka *art can )e su)di$ided again into %i$e ty*es o% mantras:
Gheart-essence4 3h&da$a5, G'edge4 3klaka5, G'ea*on4 3astra5, Gcuirass4 3kava.a5, and
Gsu*re(e mantra4 3paramo mantra5 3Hanneder, "JJH: "AD-"AF5. The idea lying )ehind
those di$isions and su)di$isions, na(ely, that %ro( the concrete mt&ks o% a gi$en
mantra can arise (ore mantras, 'ill )e assi(ilated )y the Buddhist dhras according
to their o'n (odels.

2astly, another signi%icant as*ect o% Tantric mantras is that they hold a s*eci%ic
gender. According to se$eral Tantras, mantras are di$ided into G(ale4 ones 3pu2mantra5

The *resence o% this non-Eedic (antric lore 'ithin Buddhist dhras is also noticed )y
re%erences to %or(ulas in /ra$idian language 3GdrmiF mantrapad345 3M$%: DCJ, DHJ, FDJ5 and
to Gthe dhra o% Uthe deityV /ra$iXa4 34ala: A!."J5, see also A**endiN C.

Qn the notion o% mt&k 3P mtik5 in the Thera$?da A)hidha((a, see section "..".., on
the varapha in the Mah?y?na and the Ea,ray?na, see section "...". and A**endiN / section

See section .D. The mantra4s !akti 3)5 indicates the *art eN*ressing G'hat is to )e e%%ected4
3sdh$a5 %or such mantra and is e+ui$alent to the central *art o% a dhra, see A**endiN B-", n.

'ith ending eN*ressions such as hu2 and pha, and )eing used in rites o% su)duing,
G%e(ale4 ones 3strmantra5, also called Gvid$4, 'ith endings in svh and used in rites o%
eradication o% disease, or Gneuter4 ones, ending in nama3 3Go)eisance45 and used in
other rituals 36ay(an, "JHF): F"H-F!= B;hne(ann, "JJ": D!F5. This mantra
classi%ication )ased on gender 'ould )e assi(ilated )y Buddhist dhras, as 'ell.

". ". ". ".. Buddhist Factors %or the <(ergence o% . Buddhist Factors %or the <(ergence o% . Buddhist Factors %or the <(ergence o% . Buddhist Factors %or the <(ergence o% Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s ss s

"..". Mainstrea( Buddhis( "..". Mainstrea( Buddhis( "..". Mainstrea( Buddhis( "..". Mainstrea( Buddhis(

Q$erall, it can )e asserted that (ainstrea( Buddhis( initially re,ected mantras
and only assi(ilated the( later, %irst 'ithin their (ina$as and then 'ithin s*ecial
collections called (id$dhara'piakas or Dhra'piakas. It is a +uestion o% a co(*leN
*rocess that 'ill )e studied %ro( three a**roaches: 3"5 the early (ainstrea( Buddhist
attitudes o% re,ection and acce*tance o% mantras, 35 the e(*hasis on Buddhist
G*rotecti$e4 teNts )ased on the Gact o% truth4 3sa..akiri$5 as the Thera$?da parittas, and
those )ased on mantras as the Sar$?sti$?da and MMlasar$?sti$?da Mahs%tras, and the
role *layed )y the A)hidhar(a4s mt&ks as the %orerunners o% the Gsylla)ic4 dhras,
and 3D5 the acce*tance o% mantrasQdhras 'ithin Southern Buddhis( and their
syste(atization a(ong se$eral (ainstrea( Buddhist schools that 'ere *recursors o%
the Mah?y?na.

"..".". <arly Mainstrea( Buddhist Attitudes to'ards "..".". <arly Mainstrea( Buddhist Attitudes to'ards "..".". <arly Mainstrea( Buddhist Attitudes to'ards "..".". <arly Mainstrea( Buddhist Attitudes to'ards Mantra Mantra Mantra Mantras ss s

The Thera$?da Nik$as re,ected Eedic mantras on the )asis o% three argu(ents:
soteriological, ethical, and linguistic ones. The historical Buddha negated that &is
could ha$e a direct &no'ledge o% Brah(?, hence, their tradition lac&ed any
soteriological $alidity 3DN."D."-"A5. Fro( an ethical le$el, reciting mantras 'as
considered Ga 'rong (eans o% li$elihood4 34ra): AJ-B"5, and the Thera$?da (ina$a only
acce*ted as a Gtrue Brah(an4 so(eone 'ise and $irtuous 'ho Gdoes not con%ide in the
sound hu24 3P nihuhu2ka5 as a *rotecti$e and *uri%icatory (ethod 3Mc/er(ott, "JHFa:
FJ-A!5. And %ro( a linguistic le$el, mantras are ,ust a &ind o% deceit%ul language 'orth
o% Gre,ect and des*ise4 3DN."".A-C5.

8e$ertheless, Mah?s?^ghi&a, MahZ[?sa&a, Sar$?sti$?da, and MMlasar$?sti$?da
(ina$as ac&no'ledged so(e e%%icacy to mantras 'hen considered acts such as &illing
and ha$ing seN through mantras as a Gde%eat4 3S&t. pr)ika5 3,hes.E: "!C5. Moreo$er,
/har(agu*ta&a and MMlasar$?sti$?da (ina$as ad(itted using mantras 'ith *rotecti$e
and thera*eutical goals 3/a$idson, !!J: ""D-""B= Patha&, "JHJ: D-DH5.
The (ain
reason %or using those mantras 'as +uite a *rag(atic one: they de(onstrated their

See section .D. and A**endiN B-".

Ho'e$er, the South Asian Thera$?da acce*ted mantrasKdhras in an eNtra-canonical 'ay,
see A**endiN C.

/es*ite a %e' schools negating the(, Sar$?sti$?dins and others ad(itted the %i$e
Gsu*ernatural &no'ledges4 3S&t. abhi)*5 a(ong ordinary *ersons 3p&tha0)anas5 and non-
Buddhists 3Jo!a.EII.F"-d= Bareau, "JAA: "F!5. The abhi)* called Gsu*ernatural *o'er o%
conser$ation4 3dhihnik &ddhi5, is a)le, a(ong other %unctions, to e(*o'er mantras, hence,
it is hardly sur*rising that those (ainstrea( Buddhist schools 'ould acce*t mantra e%%icacy
3<ltschinger, !!": C"-C5. Qn dhihnik &ddhi, see section ".... *aragra*h 3a5.
e%%ecti$eness against the ten Gdangers4 or Ghindrances4 3PKS&t. antar$as5 lia)le to
o)struct a nor(al (onastic li%e, such as dangers %ro( the &ing, thie$es, 'ater, %ire,
hu(an )eings, non-hu(an )eings, 'ild ani(als, re*tiles, death or se$ere illness, and
%alling a'ay %ro( !la under certain co(*ulsion 3/MT: "A-"B5.
In so(e instances,
lo$ing-&indness 3P mett5 (editation *ro$ed not to )e ade+uately e%%ecti$e as sel%-
*rotecti$e de$ice against the antar$as, and 'as su**le(ented or e$en re*laced )y
other (ethods such as the Buddha4s co((e(oration and mantra recitation
3Sch(ithausen, "JJC: BC5. Those needs o% *rotection and *ro*hylaNis 'ere, a(ong
other causes, 'hat *ro(oted the a*otro*aic use o% certain Buddhist Scri*tures and
the inclusion o% mantras 'ithin so(e o% the(, that 'ill )e studied )elo'.

"..".. "..".. "..".. "..".. aritta aritta aritta arittas, s, s, s, Mah Mah Mah Mahs%tra s%tra s%tra s%tras, and s, and s, and s, and M MM Mtik tik tik tiksK sK sK sKM MM Mt t t t&k &k &k &ks ss s

/es*ite their re,ection o% the Eedas, Thera$?dins, Sar$?sti$?dins, and
MMlasar$?sti$?dins, a(ong others, ac&no'ledged so(e %eatures o% the Eedic
understanding o% language and mantras a)le to )e assi(ilated )y Buddhis( 'ithout
)etraying their tenets. Those schools e(*hasized three +ualities o% the Buddha4s
s*eech that could )e reconcila)le %or such *ur*ose: 3"5 the Buddha4s s*eech as
eN*ressing the truthKreality 3P sa..a= S&t. sat$a5, 35 its *rotecti$e *o'er, and 3D5 its
%aculty to %acilitate insight deri$ed %ro( its (e(orizing. These three +ualities got an
outstanding signi%icance in the parittas, the Mahs%tras, and the mtiksKmt&ks.
The P?li ter( paritta (eans G*rotection4 or Gsa%eguard4, and originally consists
o% a selection o% Nik$as4 ,uttas used %or *ro*hylactic goals, that is, Gto 'ard o%% or
o$erco(e dangers and *ro)le(s4, and )enedicti$e ones, Gto assure success in an
underta&ing and attain *ositi$e good4 3Har$ey: "JJD: AD-AB5.
There are a $ariety o%
*o'ers *ro*itiating the e%%icacy o% parittas, a(ong the(, stand out the *o'er o%
ethical $irtue 3PKS&t. !la5, the uni$ersal lo$ing-&indness 3mett5, the Three Je'els, the
conte(*lation o% enlighten(ent %actors 3P bo))ha10as5, the deities4 *o'er 3P $akkhas,
n0as, etc.5, and e$en the parittas4 sound, 'hose *itch induces (ind%ulness 3Piyadassi,
"JCA: "A-"B= :reene, !!F: AD-AF5. Ho'e$er, the *i$otal *o'er ena)ling parittas to )e
e%%ecti$e is that all o% the( are (odalities o% the Gact o% truth4 3sa..akiri$5 or Gtruth
utterance4 3P sa..ava))a5. 6hile the Eedic sat$akri$ is )ased on the *er%ect har(ony
)et'een onesel% and herKhis o'n duty 'ithin the cos(os 3&ta5, the Buddhist
sa..akiri$ instead, eNtract its *o'er %ro( the s*ea&ers4 ethical *er%ection: G3(oral5
truth is a natural %orce 'ith irresisti)le *o'er4 3Har$ey, "JJD: BC-BH, C!-C", CF5.
In this sense, it 'ould )e argued that sa..akiri$ is closely related to t'o
*o'ers o% the Buddha4s s*eech: the Buddha as a Gtruth-s*ea&er4, and the Buddha4s
GBrah(? Eoice4 3PKS&t. brahmasvara5. In the %irst case, Ghe is a s*ea&er 'hose 'ords are
to )e treasured, seasona)le, reasoned, 'ell-de%ined and connected 'ith the goal4
3DN7".J5, and in the second one, his $oice is Gdistinct, intelligi)le, (elodious, audi)le,
ringing, eu*honious, dee*, and sonorous4 3MN7J"."5, a *ersuasi$e $oice that G'hat he

The antar$as 'ere included and eN*anded 'ithin the dhras4 *rotecti$e )ene%its lists, see
section D..". Qn the continuity )et'een the antar$as and the d&adhrmikas, see A**endiN /
section 3a5.

Those t'o parittas4 goals are +uite a&in to the !ntika and pauika dhras4 %unctions, see
sections D..". and D... Besides those uses, ho'e$er, paritta co(*ilations )eca(e the )asis o%
t'o (onastic re$i$als in Sri 2an&a during the thirteenth century C< and the eighteenth
century C< 3Blac&)urn, "JJJ: DB!-DBA5, and no'adays, parittas are also used as %or(ati$e
hand)oo&s %or no$ices 3Piyadassi, "JCA: A= Sa(uels, !!A: DFB-DB!5.
says 'ill carry 'eight4 3DN7D!.D-F5. This (eans that the Buddha4s s*eech is *er%ect in
%or( and content and is a)le to trans%or( s*iritually the listeners4 li$es, as ha**ened
to 1onda@@a, 'ho o*ened his /ha((a4s eye a%ter listening to a Buddha4s ,utta

Ho'e$er, nor(ally paritta *ractice is %ocused on attaining (undane

)ene%its eNclusi$ely, and their e%%icacy can )e hindered )ecause o% karma o)structions,
de%ile(ents, and lac& o% %aith 3M."AF5. Both o% those as*ects, a(ong others,
distinguish parittas %ro( dhras, )ecause (any dhras 'ere seen to )e a)le to
o$erco(e those %actors *re$enting paritta e%%ecti$eness. Although )oth parittas and
dhras (ay share co((on %unctions o% *rotection and increase, ne$ertheless,
clai(ing that Gthe dhra is the counter*art o% paritta4 as does H. Saddhatissa 3"JJ":
"C5, is inaccurate.
2astly, it is signi%icant that so(e parittas such as the
Mahsama$a'sutta 3DN7!5 and the /ni$a'sutta 3DN7D5, a(ong others, in$o&e the
*resence o% non-Eedic and Eedic deities as *rotectors o% the Buddhist co((unity.
S*eci%ically, there is a core-set o% deities that 'ill re(ain constant as /har(a4s
*rotectors: the GFour :reat 1ings4 3S&t. .atvri mahr)ka$ika5 Eai[ra$aWa,
/h_tar?T`ra, EirMXha&a, and EirM*?&Ta, the gods Indra 3or Ia&ra5 and Brah(?
Sah?^*ati, %ollo'ed )y their hosts o% (inor deities. This %act gi$es e$idence o% an
early incor*oration o% local cults 'ithin Indian Buddhis( that 'ill )e de$elo*ed 'ith
the Mah?y?na and the Ea,ray?na.
And not only that, as it 'ill )e seen )elo', the
(antric language o% those deities 'ill )e identi%ied as buddhava.ana through its
inclusion 'ithin the Mahs%tras.
Around the Fth century C<, Sar$?sti$?dins and MMlasar$?sti$?dins eNtracted
%ro( their /0amas a selection o% Scri*tures, called Mahs%tras 3G:reat ,%tras45, 'hose
(ain %unction 'as that o% o$erco(ing religious o**onents and (alignant )eings
3M,.II: F-D!5. A(ong the(, the Mahsam)a's%tra, the /ni$a's%tra, and the
(ai!lprave!a's%tra contain mantras. In the Mahsam)a's%tra an asse()ly o% deities
3(ost o% the( goddesses5 gather in order to conte(*late the Buddha and to &ee* o%%
M?ra4s hosts, then, the deities announce their *ur*ose to *rotect the ,%tra and
*ro(ulgate mantras and ritual *rescri*tions 3M,.I: BF-BB"= M,.II: ADC-AF5. In the
/ni$a's%tra, Eai[ra$aWa descri)es the GFour :reat 1ings4 and their retinues, 'hose
*ro(ulgated to the Buddha *rotecti$e mantras %or the Sangha. The neNt day, the
Buddha teaches those sa(e mantras to the (onastic co((unity 3M,.I: BB-BJF= M,.II:
ACA-ACC5. In the (ai!lprave!a's%tra, the Buddha $isits Eai[?lZ city in order to eradicate
an e*ide(ic and )y reciting a long mantra, and )y the *o'er o% the Buddha and that o%

It 'ould )e argued that the Buddhist assi(ilation o% the thirty t'o G(ar&s o% the :reat Man4
3brahmasvara is one o% the(5 %ro( the Eedic lore 3DN7D.".D= F.A5, together 'ith all the
(entioned s*eech +ualities o% the Buddha, could )e understood as a Buddhist
ada*tationKans'er to t'o *arallel doctrines already a**earing in the "paniads: the ulti(ate
reality as e()odied s*eech 3B#.".D."5, and Dharma and truth4s s*eech are identical

P. Har$ey rightly noticed that Gthe *o'er o% dhras eNceeds that o% parittas4 3"JJD: HD, n. C5.
Qn the (undane and su*ra(undane dhra goals, see sections D.. and D.D.

Qn the sy()iosis )et'een Indian Buddhis( and local cults, see Coo(aras'a(y, !!": F-DC=
Sutherland, "JJ": Cha*. F= Cohen, "JJH: DJJ-F!!= /eCaroli, !!F: "HB-"HC= 0uegg, !!H: "J-J.
Qn the continuity o% such Gcore-set4 o% deities 'ithin Mah?y?na, see rat$u."F<, uFa.I: =
Aa.D.A-B, :E',.III.A!-A"= ,uvar: DB-AF, ,0ol: F-FF, and in Ea,ray?na, see (ai's%: "!= ,usi: HC-
HJ= Bhattacharyya, "JDD: DB"-DBD. Qn the GFour :reat 1ings4 iconogra*hy, see /BI.D: CC-CCA.
the deities, the e*ide(ic ceased 3M,.I: BJB-CDH= M,.II: AJD-AJC5.
These three
Mahs%tras are signi%icant %or the Dhra's%tras %or three reasons: 3"5 including
mantras 'ithin those Mahs%tras entailed their legiti(ation as GBuddha 6ord4
3buddhava.ana5. I% the Sar$?sti$?da (ina$a, a(ong others, already recognized as
buddhava.ana the gods4 /har(a *reaching 32a(otte, "JHD-F: B5, Sar$?sti$?dins and
MMlasar$?sti$?dins 'ent a ste* %urther including as buddhava.ana the deities4 mantras
a**ro$ed )y the Buddha. The assi(ilation o% this (antric language re%lects a
Gcon$ersion de$ice4 )ased on the %ollo'ing eNchange: the con$erters 3i.e., Buddhists5
con$ey the /har(a to the those con$erted 3i.e., tri)alKlo'er caste *o*ulations5, 'hile
in return, they assi(ilate a Gne'4 and *o'er%ul &ind o% buddhava.ana: the con$erteds4
(antric lore. This Gcon$ersion de$ice4 ado*ted t'o (odalities: the Buddha a**ro$es
the deities4 mantras 3Mahsam)a's%tra and /ni$a's%tra cases5, or the Buddha is
*resented as the su*re(e source o% the (antric lore 3(ai!lprave!a's%tra case5, and
)oth (odalities 'ill )e re*roduced 'ithin the Dhra's%tras.
35 These Mahs%tras
set u* a )asic Scri*tural *attern that 'ill )e re*roduced )y the Dhra's%tras,
consisting o% a narrati$e 'here an issue is addressed to the Buddha and he gi$es a
solution through the *ro(ulgation or a**ro$al o% a mantraKdhra, the descri*tion o%
their )ene%its, and e$entually, gi$ing ritual *rescri*tions.
And 3D5, these three
Mahs%tras 'ill )e identi%ied later as Dhra's%tras and classi%ied as Jri$ Tantras
'ithin the Ti)etan Buddhist canon 3M,.II: CH-HF5. All those %actors indicate, on the one
hand, a continuity )et'een the non-Eedic and Eedic (antric lore and the
mantrasKdhras o% Indian Buddhis(, and on the other hand, a *an-Indian and
transectarian use o% those mantras, )ecause Gthey 'ere e(*loyed )y Buddhists o% all
$nas4 3M,.II: CA5.
The ,an0ti'sutta understands the %aculty o% (e(ory 3P. sati= S&t. sm&ti5 as a
*rotection gi$ing %actor 3P ntha'karaa'dhamm5:

3)5 he has learnt (uch, and )ears in (ind and retains 'hat he has learnt. In these
teachings, )eauti%ul in the )eginning, the (iddle and the ending, 'hich in s*irit and
in letter *roclai( the a)solutely *er%ected and *uri%ied holy li%e, he is dee*ly learned,
he re(e()ers the(, recites the(, re%lects on the( and *enetrates the( 'ith 'isdo(
a 3i5 he is (ind%ul, 'ith a great ca*acity %or clearly recalling things done and said long
ago 3DN.DD.D.D5.

The mahv$h&tis has already )een descri)ed as the condensation o% the three
(edas, 'hose recitation and )odily G'earing4 )esto' &no'ledge and *rotection,
in the Buddhist case, the sa(e idea is detected )ut %or(ulated di%%erently:
re(e()ering that )earing in onesel% the Buddhist teachings )esto's *rotection, this
esta)lishes a solid )asis %or their %urther realization. This close relationshi* )et'een
(e(ory and *rotection is (ade e$ident 'ithin the se(antic %ield o% the P?li ter( sati,
that des*ite )eing co((only translated as G(ind%ulness4, in %act its *ri(ary sense is
that o% G(e(ory4, or Gre(e()ering4 and G)earing in (ind4 3P</: BC), BJC)5. That is

Those Mahs%tras *arallels the narrati$e o% three aritta'suttas: the Mahsama$a'sutta, the
/ni$a'sutta, and the Matana'sutta, res*ecti$ely 3Piyadassi, "JCA: C!-H", "!D-""F, D!-DF5.

See section ".... *aragra*h 3a5 and A**endiN C.

Qn this dhras4 narrati$e *attern, see section ".... *aragra*h 3a5.

See A**endiN A.
'hy the Dhammasa10ai considers the ter( dhraat, 'hose (eaning is that o%
G)earing Uin (indV4, to )e a synony( o% sati 3:ethin, !!C: DB-DC5, that also (eans
G'earing, )eing dressed 'ith4, and it is related to dhraa G'earing, (antaining,
sustaining, &ee*ing u*, )earing in (ind, re(e()rance4 3P</: DF"a5, and dharati Gto
hold, )ear, carry, 'ear, to )ear in (ind4, and in turn the P?li dharati is deri$ed %ro(
the S&t. dharati, 'hose root dh& is identical to the ter( dhra 3P</: DF!a= 6hitney,

Although the ter( dhra does not a**ear in the Thera$?da Nik$as, one o% its
*ri(ary (eanings as )eing a condensed %or(ula a)le to unleash innu(era)le /har(a
teachings, is already *resent 'ithin the Thera$?da notion o% G(atriN4 or G(other4 3P
mtik= S&t. mt&k5. Mtik is understood as the Abhidhamma4s generator, )ecause
according to the 1assa*a4s Mohavi..hedan: GThe 'ord mtik is used )ecause o% the
)egetting, loo&ing a%ter and )ringing u* o% dha((as and (eanings 'ithout end or
li(it li&e a (other4 3tr. in :ethin, "JJ: "B"5.
In a s*eci%ic sense, the mtiks consists
o% lists o% ite(s organized according to a syste( o% nu(erical *rogression and ter(s
lin&ed )y dou)lets-tri*lets 3eg. non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusion5, eNtracted %ro(
Scri*tures such as the ,an0ti'sutta and others. Arisen %ro( su)tle conte(*lati$e
states, the mtiks allo's the condensation and (e(orizing o% large cor*us o%
teachings, *ro$ide a (a* o% the *ath, and (ay constitute a (editati$e *ractice
conduci$e to insight 3:ethin, "JJ: "B!-"BC5, hence, mtiks and Gsylla)ic4 dhras
share rele$ant co((on %actors. /es*ite the %act that Gsylla)ic4 dhras are not )ased
on lists o% ite(s )ut they are )uilt u* %ro( the %irst sylla)les o% &ey doctrinal ter(s,
,ust li&e the mtiks, Gsylla)ic4 dhras allo's the condensation and (e(orizing o% a
great deal o% teachings, they *ro$ide a *ath4s (a*, and ser$e as conte(*lati$e
(ethods to attain the true nature o% eNistence 3Pagel, !!Ca: """-""A5.
that one 'ho is a s*ecialist in Gretaining the mtiks4 3P mtikdhara5 is also a
G*rotector o% /ha((a4 3P dhammarakkha5, and )oth %unctions are si(ilar to those
)elonging to the Bodhisatt$a, 'ho, according to the AsaYga4s 4odhisattvabh%mi: GFinds
,oy in the su((aries 3mt&k5 o% the piaka4 and attains dhras 3Braar$ig, "JHA: "-
As 'ill )e seen )elo', parittas, Mahs%tras, mtiksKmt&ks, and a (antric lore
acce*ted )y se$eral (ainstrea( Buddhist schools, 'ould )e assi(ilated and re-
ela)orated )y Mah?y?na Buddhis( according to its o'n outloo&.

Qn the ety(ology o% the ter( dhra, see .".". Qn the dhras as *rotecti$e Ga(ulets4 to )e
'orn, see Hidas, !!C: "J!-"JH= Sen, "JBA: C!-C.

Qn the Tantric mt&ks, see section "."... Qn the dhras as condensed %or(ulas, see
section .F.. Qn the e()ryological %unction o% the Mah? 8i&?ya mantra Gsa2 vi dh pu ka $a pa4,
understood as the condensation o% the se$en Abhidhamma )oo&s and 'hich sylla)les are
$ie'ed as G(others4 3mtiks5, see BizotK2agirarde,"JJB: F", and Castro-Snchez, !"!: C, Chart

Qn the Gsylla)ic4 dhras, see A**endices B- and / section 3)5.

Qn the G%or(ulaic4 and Gsylla)ic4 dhras 'ithin so(e (ainstrea( Buddhist schools, see
A**endiN C.

"... Mah "... Mah "... Mah "... Mah?y?na Buddhis( ?y?na Buddhis( ?y?na Buddhis( ?y?na Buddhis(

Indian Mah?y?na introduced t'o decisi$e changes that 'ould consolidate the
legiti(ization as buddhava.ana o% the (antric lore held )y the (ainstrea( Buddhist
schools already re%erred to: 3"5 a soteriological $alidation o% language and mantras
re%lected in the Sans&ritization o% Mah?y?na, understood as the Buddhist ans'er to
the rising o% Sans&rit literature in the early centuries C<, and )eing sti(ulated )y
Buddhist leaders o% a Brah(anical origin 36ay(an, "JBA: ""F5, and 35 the *assage
%ro( a Scri*tural Gclosed canon4 )ased on an oral trans(ission, to an Go*en4 one
allo'ing a %urther eN*ansion through 'ritten Scri*tures issued %ro( $isionary
eN*eriences 3Mc/er(ott, "JHF): D5.
As 'ill )e studied )elo', the e(ergence o% this
Mah?y?na Go*en canon4 'as 'hat allo'ed the 'ides*read inclusion o% V%or(ulaic4 and
Gsylla)ic4 dhras 'ithin Mah?y?na Scri*tures, and *articularly, 'hat allo'ed the
ela)oration o% the Dhra Scri*tures.

".. ".. ".. "...". Acce*tance o% the Soteriological Ealidity o% 2anguage and .". Acce*tance o% the Soteriological Ealidity o% 2anguage and .". Acce*tance o% the Soteriological Ealidity o% 2anguage and .". Acce*tance o% the Soteriological Ealidity o% 2anguage and Mantra Mantra Mantra Mantras ss s

The Sans&rit language, )esides )eing acce*ted )y the Mah?y?na %or its
technical *recision and cultural *restige 32a(otte, "JAH: BDF-BAC5, 'as also acce*ted
as a (ediu( conduci$e to enlighten(ent. Pro)a)ly, the %irst ste* to'ards this
direction 'as recognizing the Mah?y?na ,%tras as written (ani%estations o% the
Buddha4s G/har(a-)ody4 3S&t. dharma'k$a5:

And 'hen one learns it, one should care%ully analyze it gra((atically, letter )y letter,
sylla)le )y sylla)le, 'ord )y 'ord. For as the dhar(a-)ody o% the *ast, %uture and
*resent Tath?gatas is this dhar(a-teNt authoritati$e 3Aa.H.C-H= :E'

As is the case 'ith the Brah(ans4 gra((atical training, a (astery o% the
Sans&rit gra((ar )eca(e one o% the hall(ar&s o% Bodhisatt$a training, 'ho 'anted
to Gac+uire the s&ill in the cognition o% sounds4 3S&t. ruta)*nakau!al$a5 3Mps%: "B5.
And %or that *ur*ose, the Bodhisatt$a 'ill %ollo' Sudhana4s eNa(*le, 'ho $isited the
gra((arian Megha to teach hi( a dhra 'hose recitation )esto's an o(niscient
elo+uence 3S&t. pratibhna5 and is a)le to trans%or( hi( into an irre$ersi)le 3S&t.
avaivartika5 Bodhisatt$a 3Avat: ""HJ-""J"5.
Hence, Sans&rit gra((ar )eca(e a
(editati$e *ractice through reciting, (e(orizing, 'ritting, and teaching s*eci%ic
,%tras4 *aragra*hs as i% they 'ere mantras 31ent, "JH: DF-DA5.
This eN*lains that

The Mah?y?na arose si(ultaneously to the *roli%eration o% a non-Buddhist 'ritten
$isionary literature in India 3%irst or second century BC<5, and this Mah?y?na acce*tance o%
'ritten Scri*tures 'as a &ey %actor %or its sur$i$al 3McMahan, "JJH: AA, BF5.

Qn dhra and pratibhna, see section .".D.. The avaivartika state coincides 'ith the
acco(*lish(ent o% the Gcon$iction o% the non-arising o% dharmas4 3S&t.
anutpattikadharmaknti5 and locates the Bodhisatt$a on the eighth stage 3S&t. bh%mi5 to
Buddhahood 3Pagel, "JJA: "HB-"HC= /ayal, "JD: "D5. Qn the avaivartika state as a
su*ra(undane dhra goal, see sections D.D.". and D.D..

2i&e'ise, Bhart_hari 3%i%th century C<5 recognized Sans&rit gra((ar as Ga gate'ay to
li)eration4 3(k."F5, and his gra((atical treatises 'ere included 'ithin the curriculu( o% the
Buddhist uni$ersity o% 8?land? 3Ta&u&usu, "HJB: "CH-"H!= Biardeau, "JBF: AA-B!5.
Mah?y?na 'ould include s*ecial sylla)aries as the Garapa.ana4 and the standard
Sans&rit sylla)ary 3varapha5 'ithin se$eral Mah?y?na Scri*tures, as (ne(onic and
conte(*lati$e (eans to realize Buddhist teachings 3Mps%: "B!-"B= Mapa.I: !"-!C5.
<$en a co((entary o% the in%luential Mahparinirva's%tra 'ent so %ar as to
ac&no'ledge the Geternal4 3akara5 and GineNhausti)le4 3aka$a5 nature o% the Sans&rit
sylla)ary and its Gin$ention4 %ro( age to age )y the god Brah(? 3HB:.II: ""C5.

8e$ertheless, this Sans&ritizaton did not necessarily i(*ly a Mah?y?na
recognition o% Sans&rit as the Buddha4s Gsacred language4. In %act, on a relati$e le$el,
such language (astery 'as included 'ithin the Bodhisatt$a4s Gdetailed and thorough
&no'ledges4 3S&t. pratisa2vids5 and 'as (ainly used to s&ill%ully teach the /har(a to
*eo*le, )ecause Gthe teaching o% )oth the /har(a and 3its5 (eaning ha**ens only
through s*eech and &no'ledge4 3Mslb.bEIII.DB5= and on a de%initi$e le$el, language is
su),ected to a rigorous deconstruction di$esting it o% any rei%ication that
de(onstrates its ina)ility to eN*ress ulti(ate reality: GQne cannot *ro*erly eN*ress
the e(*tiness o% all dhar(as in 'ords4 3Aa."H."CF= :E',.bEIII.DFH5. 6hen
con%ronted 'ith mantrasKdhras though, this linguistic deconstruction 'as
understood in t'o di%%erent 'ays: %or the (ainstrea( Mah?y?na, mantrasKdhras
re$eal their e(*tiness as a Gno-(eaningness4 3S&t. nitarthath5 e(*hasizing the
ineN*ressi)le nature o% all dharmas, %or the Ea,ray?na instead, mantrasKdhras re$eal
their e(*tiness as *roducers o% innu(era)le (eanings.

Concerning the Mah?y?na doctrinal assi(ilation o% mantras, an early re%erence
indicates that mantras 'ere re,ected due to their Gheretical4 origins 3rat$u."FB5, 'hile
another source ac&o'ledges mantra e%%icacy and its li&ely use a(ong Buddhists
3Jpa7F.FH5. But it is in the Aashasrikpra)*pramit's%tra and its $ersi%ied *art, the
Matna0uasa2.a$a'0th 3"st century BC<, Conze, !!!: "5, 'here the (antric lore got
an unreser$ed acce*tance. Qne *assage re%ers to mantra *o'er 3S&t. mantra'bala5 as a
(eta*hor %or the unsu**orted *o'er o% suchness 3S&t. tathat5 3Ma0.C.A= :E'(.
bbEII.A5, 'hile the other *assage re%ers to the mantras and vid$s4 attaining as a (ar&
o% the irre$ersi)le Bodhisatt$a 3Aa."C."BC= :E',.bEII.DDC5. In *ractical ter(s
though, the irre$ersi)le Bodhisatt$as are identi%ied 'ith the GDharma'*reachers4 3S&t.
dharmabhakas5, considered as +uite ad$anced Bodhisatt$as 'ho are $ery near to the
attain(ent o% Buddhahood.
And i% the dharmabhakas 'ere the ins*irers o% the
Mah?y?na ,%tras and their legiti(ate *ro(ulgators 3MacLueen, "JH: B!= /re'es,
!!B: FB-FC5, they 'ere, (oreo$er, the introducers o% the $eneration to the GFour
:reat 1ings4, Ia&ra, and Brah(? Sah?^*ati, and the *ractice o% their mantras 'ithin
Mah?y?na, through Gin$ocation %or(ulae4 3S&t. karaapada5, and the only ones
authorized to recite and trans(it the( 3Pagel, !!Ca: B!-B"5. This i(*lies that, in all
li&elihood, the dharmabhakas also introduced the di%%erent understandings o%

Ho'e$er, this a**roach 'as not %ollo'ed )y other Mah?y?na strea(s, see )elo' and
section .."., and it 'as acce*ted )y the Ea,ray?na )ut 'ith a &ey di%%erence: the varapha
is not created )y Brah(? )ut Ga**ears s*ontaneously %ro( suchness4 34on)i: "DJ5. Qn the
mantras as issued %ro( the dharmat, see section .D.

Qn the Mah?y?na a**roach to mantrasKdhras, see sections ..". and ..., and on the
Ea,ray?na a**roach, see sections .D., .F.". and .F.. Qn the Bodhisatt$a4s pratisa2vids, see
section .".D..

I% the irre$ersi)le Bodhisatt$a is located in the eighth bh%mi 3see n. DF a)o$e5, the
dharmabhaka is located in the ninth one, identi%ied 'ith the pratisa2vids (astery 3/re'es,
!!B: FH-A"5.
dhra conce*t 'ithin the Mah?y?na ,%tras, and later on, they ins*ired the Dhra
Scri*tures, as 'ell. In the %irst case, the dhra conce*t *assed through se$eral stages
)e%ore )eco(ing a (ature Dhra Scri*ture,
and concerning the second case, it 'ill
)e studied )elo'.

".... ".... ".... ".... Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra Scri*tures Scri*tures Scri*tures Scri*tures

Fro( the third century C< to the eighth century C<, a ne' (odality o%
Buddhist Scri*ture a**eared in India and s*read through Central Asia, Ti)et, and <ast
Asia, in %act, a ne' $ersion o% buddhava.ana, 'here the G%or(ulaic4 dhras )eca(e
the core o% the ,%tra4s narrati$e 3Scrensen, !""): "B5. The success and 'ide
disse(ination o% those Scri*tures 'as such, that Arthur 6aley rightly called it
G/h?raWZ-Buddhis(4 3as +uoted in McBride, II, !!A: HC5. It can )e seen in the arising o%
the Dhra Scri*tures the %irst consolidation o% the non-Eedic, Eedic and early Iai$a
(antric lores 'ithin Indian Buddhis(, as a result o% a long *rocess o% assi(ilation and
re-ela)oration that )egan, at least, three centuries )e%ore 3S&illing, "JJ: "BF5.

A(ong the &ey socio-religious %actors contri)uting to the e(ergence o% the Dhra
Scri*tures, t'o %actors already dealt 'ith stand out as the Buddhist assi(ilation o%
local cults and their (antric lore %ro( the second century BC< to the third century C<
3S&illing, "JJ: "BF5, and the Sans&ritization o% Indian Mah?y?na, and a third one
should )e added, the Brah(anical re$i$al %ocused on Eedic rituals esta)lished )y the
:u*ta dynasty 3D!-A!! C<5, interactingKco(*eting against an institutionalized
Mah?y?na led )y the 7og?c?ra school 3Matsunaga, "JCC: "C"= Staal, !!H: DDC5.

And a(ong the li&ely reasons lying )ehind the disse(ination and sur$i$al o%
the Dhra Scri*tures, %our 'ould )e e(*hasized:
3"5.- re.iseness. The Dhra Scri*tures o%%er a *recise sense o% their nature and
(ethods, contrasting 'ith the $ague re%erences to those to*ics a**earing in standard
Mah?y?na ,%tras. For instance, a ,%tra re%ers to a Bodhisatt$a 'ho Ghas recei$ed the
dhras4, )ut does not s*eci%y 'hich ones 3Aa.D!.A= :E',.bbb.A"!5, in other
Scri*ture dhra is de%ined )oth as G(e(ory4 and the G(eans4 to attain it 3Braar$ig,
"JHA: "H5, )ut again, this Scri*ture does not s*eci%y 'hat these G(eans4 concretely
entail. The Dhra Scri*tures instead, re$eal 'ith *reciseness the dhra goals and
their concrete (ethods o% *ractice to attain the(.

35.- ra.ti.alit$. Q$erall, Dhra Scri*tures lea$e aside discussions on doctrinal
to*ics, and are %ocused instead on a dhra %or(ula *resented as a *ractice ca*a)le o%
acco(*lishing a concrete goal, 'hether (undane or su*ra(undane, or )oth. In %act,

Qn those stages o% dhras 'ithin Mah?y?na ,%tras, see A**endiN /.

The second Buddhist consolidation o% those (antric lores 'ould )e esta)lished )y the
Indian Ea,ray?na, %ro( the (id-se$enth to the (id-ele$enth centuries C< 3/a$idson, !!:

Qn the dhra (astery o% AsaYga and Easu)andhu, see Chi(*aKChatto*adhyaya, "JC!: "BB-
"C= /a$idson, !!J: "DJ= and sections ... and D.".". Qn the dhra (astery o% M?dhya(i&a
authors as Bha$?$i$e&a, see Beal, "HHF: ii, F-B, and section .D, and on I?ntide$a4s, see
-ik.EI."DJ-"F, 84D: "DB-"F!.

See section D."..
%or (ost Dhra Scri*tures there is no di$iding line )et'een (undane and
su*ra(undane goals, since )oth are $ie'ed as an interrelated 'holeness.

3D5.- Effe.tiveness. :i$en that Dhra Scri*tures condensate nu(erous
teachings 'ithin their %or(ulas, they *resent the(sel$es as a short-cut to
enligthen(ent and as a ra*id (ethod to attain any goal 3Chou, "JFA: AH5. According
to their o'n clai(s, the Dhra Scri*tures sho' e%%ecti$e, %easi)le, and $eri%ia)le
(ethods to realize the desired goals, ada*ting their *rescri*tions to the
characteristics o% any *erson, and e$en indicating the concrete signs and ti(e in
'hich their results can )e (ade (ani%est.

3F5.- Dhras as Meli.s. Se$eral Dhra Scri*tures identi%ied the(sel$es as
GDharma'k$a relics4 and 'ere used to consecrate st%pas and i(ages, hence, the st%pa
consecrated )y those dhras )eca(e a Gli$ing Buddha )ody4 and the *ractitioner
getting in touch 'ith it could easily attain (undane and su*ra(undane )ene%its.
The Dhra Scri*tures collected )y the Chinese and Ti)etan Buddhist canons
testi%y, on the one hand, an o)$ious *roo% o% their *roli%eration, and on the other
hand, the di%%iculty to classi%y the( neatly )ecause o% their $ersatile nature. In the
%irst case, the Chinese Buddhist canon contains at least one hundred %ourteen
Scri*tures entitled as GDhra's%tras4 3Ch. tuoluoni )in05 30CB: H-""5, )ut it also
includes nu(erous dhrasQmantras 'ithin other ,%tras, Tantras, ritual teNts, etc.,
that according to the The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahpiaka, co(e to "!,F!
The Ti)etan Buddhist canon contains ninety siN Dhra Scri*tures,
entitled as GDhra4, GJalpa4, and G(id$4, )esides nu(erous Tantras containing dhra
%or(ulas 31an: AB"-ABD, ABB5. And in the second case, the deno(ination o% GDhra
Scri*ture4 is an eNtensi$e one, including )asically %our teNtual (odalities:
3a5.- ,in0le ,.riptures: <ntitled as GDhra4 or GDhra-s%tra4, also includes
Scri*tures entitled as GMah$nas%tra4 3eg. 4ala5, and others as G(id$ra)*i4 3eg. M$%,
rati5, or G+&da$a4 3eg. 6aa5. In (ost cases those Scri*tures are di$ided into t'o *arts:
a narrati$e one, 'here a concrete issue is addressed to the historical Buddha, and a
*ractical one, 'here the Buddha or another authority 3Bodhisatt$a, deity, etc.5
a**ro$ed )y hi(, *ro(ulgates a dhra %or(ula as the solution to the raised issue,
*raising its )ene%its and clai(ing the *ledge 3sama$a5 o% its e%%icacy.
A %eature o% %ore(ost rele$ance %or those Scri*tures is that the dhra %or(ula
is *resented as buddhava.ana, uttered )y the Buddha or issued %ro( his craneal
*rotu)erance 3S&t. ua5 3,it: J!-J"5, %ro( his eye)ro's 3rati: "JD5, or it is clai(ed
that the dhra %or(ula has )een *ro(ulgated )y the Buddha and endo'ed 'ith his
Gs*iritual su**ort4 or G)lessing4 3S&t. adhihna5 3Anir: "!D= T "!3)5 C"Dc"C-"J, 6uh$a:
F5. The adhihna is an attri)ute o% the Buddhas4 G*er%ection o% *o'er4 3S&t.
prabhvasa2pad5, 'hich allo's the( to create, trans%or(, and conser$e 3adhihna5
an eNternal o),ect 3Jo!a.EII.DF-c5. Those three %unctions corres*ond to three
(odalities o% the Gsu*ernatural *o'er4 3S&t. &ddhi5, consisting o% the Gsu*ernatural
*o'er o% conser$ation4 3dhihnik &ddhi5 in Gthe thing that the (agician consecrates

See sections D.".D, D.. and D.D.

See sections D.".., D.D.., and D.D.D.

See section D.D.".

See detailed su((aries o% the Dhra Scri*tures and other esoteric teNts 'ithin the
Chinese canon in :ie)el, !"", and those eNtra-canonical ones in Scrensen, !""a.
WadhitihatiX )y saying, \(ay this thing )e thus] is ter(ed adhihna. This thing is the
o),ect Wpra$o)anaX o% this &ddhi> or this &ddhi is *roduced in this thing: thus this &ddhi is
called dhihnik4 3Jo!a.III.J-d, *. D", n. 5. The Buddhas gi$e their adhihna to the
dhras to endo' the( 'ith e%%icacy and eNtend their *o'er inde%initely. Moreo$er,
the adhihna can )e gi$en not only )y Buddhas, )ut )y Bodhisatt$as and deities, too.
2i&e'ise, the *rescri*tions %or the dhra *ractice *artici*ate o% the *ro(ulgator4s
adhihna and *ledge 3sama$a5, 'ho secures its e%%ecti$eness i% herKhis *rescri*tions
are strictly %ollo'ed 3<ltschinger, !!": F-C, B-CF5.

A(ong the earliest Dhra-s%tras stand out the Mahm$%r'vid$r)*'s%tra
3The ,.ripture of the Yueen of (id$s of the 6reat> 6olden ea.o.k5, o% high signi%icance %or
the early <ast Asian esoteric Buddhis(, 'hose Sans&rit original dates %ro( the third
century C< 3Scrensen, !!Ba: J"-J, "!J5. In its narrati$e, a (on& is su%%ering %ro(
sna&e)ite and the Buddha trans(itted to Onanda the Mahm$%r dhra to )e recited
)y hi( to the *oisoned (on&, regarded as an in%alli)le antidote against *oison.
Moreo$er, the Buddha a**ro$es the recitation o% mantrasKvid$sKdhras %ro( a large
host o% deities intended to *rotect the Sangha %ro( all &inds o% dangers, since Gtrue
'ords eli(inate *oisons4 3M$%: FAH5.

3)5.- Dhra Mitual Manuals 3S&t. Dhra'vidhis5: A great nu()er o% Dhra-
s%tras contain a third *art, %ocused on ritual *ractices 3vidhi5 directly related to the
,%tra4s dhra %or(ula 3Co**, !"": "CB5. Ho'e$er, originally the vidhis circulated
inde*endently .7 (id-%i%th century C<, to )e attached to the Dhra-s%tras a%ter the
siNth century C<. The success%ul s*reading o% the Dhra'vidhis lies in that the eNact
%ollo'ing o% their *rescri*tions is seen to e$o&e the deity4s *resence and o)taining the
desired goals. The Dhra'vidhis esta)lished the teNtual )asis %or the early Buddhist
Tantras4 e(ergence 3/alton, !"!: "F-"A5.

3c5.- Dhra 8olle.tions 3S&t. Dhra'sa20rahas5: Q% a 'ide di%%usion in India,
8e*al, and Ti)et, the Dhra'sa20rahas consist o% a selection o% dhra %or(ulas to )e
recited 'ithin a liturgical conteNt, and nor(ally are di$ided into three *arts: an
in$itation to (undane deities as 'itnesses and recitation4s )ene%iciaries, the dhra
%or(ulas the(sel$es, and a closing *art 'ith *raises and *rayers 3/alton, !"!: A-"!5.
A(ong the (ost *o*ular Dhra'sa20rahas, stand out the a*.arak 3GFi$e

Qn the Bodhisatt$as4 adhihna on mantras, see section ..., on the %unction o% adhihna
in the Ea,ray?na mantras, see section .D. So(e Buddhist schools ad(itted the dhihnik
&ddhi in non-Buddhist mantras, see section ".."."., n. "J. Qn the sama$a role in the Eedic
mantras, see section "."."."., and in the dhras, see A**endiN B-". Qn the /har(a&Zrti 3B!!-
BB! C<5 de%inition o% mantra4s e%%icacy as eNclusi$ely related to a hu(an dhihnik &ddhi, see
<ltschinger, !!H: CH-H".

The Atharvaveda already descri)ed a mantra in$o&ing a *eacoc& as antidote against sna&es
*oison 3AE.EII.AB.C5. The Mahm$%r4s narrati$e core is )ased on the Jhandha and Mora
parittas 3Piyadassi, "JCA: DC-DH, F"-F= 2S$i, "J"Aa: !-"5, and the deities4 lists a**earing into
the Mahsama$a and /ni$a parittas are re*roduced in the Mahm$%r 3Przylus&iK2alou,
"JDH: F"-FF5, 'hich in turn, are identical to their *arallels Mahsam)a and /ni$a
Mahs%tras already descri)ed in section "..".. Qn another &ey early Dhra Scri*ture
entitled Mta10's%tra, see A**endiN C, n. "HA.

See section "..D. Qn the Dhra'vidhis, see section D.".. Ho'e$er, there are instances o%
early Dhra's%tras 3.7 second-third centuries C<5 including )oth dhra %or(ulas and rituals,
see A**endiN C, n. "HA.

Protections45 3:ellner, "JJD: "C, n. DJ5, and ,aptavra 3GSe$en /ays45 collections
3:rdn)old, !!": DC5, still in use a(ong 8e*alese Buddhist 8e'ars.

3d5.- Dhra Antholo0ies 3S&t. Dhra'sammu.a$as5: These are one o% the three
(odalities ado*ted )y the Dhra Scri*tures in China.
Qne o% the (ost outstanding
is the Tuoluoni Hi )in0 3S&t. Dhrasammu.a$a's%tra5 3T J!"5, co(*iled )y Ati&M`a
)et'een BAD-BAF C<. Besides including a $ast selection o% Dhra-s%tras and dhra
%or(ulas, the Tuoluoni Hi )in0 descri)es nu(erous rituals, es*ecially, that o% the
consecration 3S&t. abhieka5 and %ire sacri%ice 3S&t. homa5, )eco(ing a *i$otal 'or&
that 'ould antici*ate a (ature <ast Asian Ea,ray?na 3Stric&(ann, "JJB: C-HC, "DD-
"DB5. A later and highly rele$ant Dhra'sammu.a$a is the +uadrilingual DaHan0
=uanHhou 3G:reat Collection o% dhras45 in Manchu, Chinese, Mongolian, and Ti)etan,
co(*iled )et'een "CFH-"CAH under (andate o% the Ling e(*eror Lianlong 3"C""-

:i$en that Ati&M`a4s Tuoluoni Hi )in0 is an a)ridged $ersion o% a (id$dhara'piaka
3/u+uenne, "JHH: D5, it is li&ely that the Dhra'sammu.a$as could )e the direct
descendants o% the earlier (id$dharaKDhra'piakas already (entioned. Judging )y
their contents, the (id$dharaKDhra'piakas include early *rotecti$e mantras
3-ik.EI."FD= 84D: "F!5, and Scri*tures 'ith a three%old di$ision o% rites,
acco(*lish(ents 3S&t. siddhis5, and Buddha Clans 3S&t. kulas5, as the ,ubhuparip&..h
and the ,usiddhikara 32alou, "JAA: C"-C5, %or this reason they 'ere classi%ied later as
the earliest Jri$ Tantras. According to the testi(onies o% 7i,ing 3BDA-C"D C<5 and
6uNing 3e-BCF C<5, the (id$dharaKDhra'piakas 'ere *resented as a Gne' teaching4
o% great *restige in India 3Cha$annes, "HJF: "!"-"!A= 2i-&ouang, "JDA: HD-HF, n. 5.
Those piakas ad$ocate the (odel o% the vid$dhara, lit. G)earer o% &no'ledge4, as a
hu(an )eing a)le to trans%or( hi(sel% into a Gsu*er(an4 or G(an-god4 through a
mantraKdhra *ractice 3Buitenen, "JAH: D!H5.

The Dhra-s%tras4 hy)rid nature, 'hose narrati$es (a&es the( si(ilar to the
standard Mah?y?na ,%tras, )ut their ritual (ethods relate the( to the Tantras, locate
the( into a %rontier area )et'een Mah?y?na and Ea,ray?na 3TM/: NNii5, 'hich other
authors ha$e descri)ed as G*roto-Tantric4 3Stric&(ann, "JJB: "J-"DD5, or Gesoteric4

See other Dhra'sa20rahas in CBSM: F"-FD, FJ-A!= IMT.I.F"!-F""= SB28: H!-H", JD-JA. Qn the
*arallels )et'een the a*.arak collection and so(e Thera$?da parittas, see S&illing, "JJ:

The other t'o are translations o% Indian Dhra-s%tras, and Scri*tures ela)orated in China
3Ga*ocry*hal45 )ut )ased on Indic originals 3Stric&(ann, "JJB: C-CD= Fran&e, "JHF: D!-DDF5.

Lianlong 'as seriously in$ol$ed in dhras and 'anted to restore their original Indic
*ronunciations 36ang, "JJA: "FJ-"A"= 7uya(a, !!!: "BB= Berger, !!D: DJ5. The conte(*orary
The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahpiaka 3!!"5 is an i(*ro$ed re*roduction o% the DaHan0

The vid$dharas ha$e their origin in the non-Buddhist Gse(igods4 or G(en-gods4 3S&t.
div$amnuas5 3Przylus&i, "JDH: "A5, and they are descri)ed as )eing a)le to %ly, to change
sha*e at 'ill, al'ays young and Gacco(*lished4 3siddhas5 in (antric lore 3:ra%e, !!B: "DA-"DB5.
The vid$dharas are (entioned in the Milindapa*ha and certain Itakas 32;ders, "JDJ: J!-JD5,
they *lay a &ey role in so(e early Buddhist Tantras 3Przylus&i, "JD: D!B-D!C5, and are the
*recursors o% the siddha (odel ad$ocated )y a (ature Indian Ea,ray?na 3/a$idson, !!: "C!-

3Scrensen, !!B): AC-AH5.
0egardless the de)ata)le accuracy o% those designations,
the docu(entary e$idence sho's an indis*uta)le %act: GThere is in %act a historical
connection )et'een the earlier dhra teNts and the later Buddhist Tantras. The
earliest teNtual *recursors o% the Tantras are dhra'collections4 3:ray, !!A: FC5.

"..D. Ea,ray "..D. Ea,ray "..D. Ea,ray "..D. Ea,ray?na Buddhis( ?na Buddhis( ?na Buddhis( ?na Buddhis(

A(ong the %ore(ost Ea,ray?na contri)utions to the dhras, t'o stand out:
endo'ing the( 'ith so*histicated de%initions 'hich identi%y the( de%initely as
mantras, and 'ith a doctrinal and (ethodological syste(atization inco(*ara)le to
their %or(er generalized *resentations. According to the earliest classi%ication o% the
Indo-Ti)etan Tantras, Buddhaguhya 3the eighth century C<5 esta)lished t'o
su)classes 'ithin the Jri$ Tantra category: the Ggeneral Tantras that are co(*ilations
o% ritual (anuals4 3Ti). sp$i#i .ho 0a bsdus pa#i r0$ud5, and the Gdistinct Tantras4 3Ti). b$e
bra0 0i r0$ud5. #nder the %or(er ty*e he included teNts such as the ,usiddhikara 3,usi5
or the ,ubhuparip&..h, i.e., co(*ilations o% ritual (anuals 3vidhi5, 'hile that under
the second ty*e Buddhaguhya included teNts such as the Mahvairo.anbhisa2bodhi'
tantra 3(ai'ta= (ai's%5. This (eans that (ost o% the earliest Jri$ Tantras are co(*osed
)y Dhra'vidhis, hence, those ritual (anuals esta)lished Ga &ey de$elo*(ental )ridge
)et'een the earlier dhras and the later tantras4 3/alton, !"!: "A-"B, n. DD5. In later
classi%ications, Indo-Ti)etan Ea,ray?na recognized the dhras as a ty*e o% Jri$
3GAction45 and 8ar$a 3GConduct45 Tantras: GThe action and conduct tantras are
distinguished as %i$e ty*es according to style o% *resentation alone: sutras, tantras,
s&ills, detailed rituals, and retention (antras Usi.V 3dharani54 3,hes.E: CD-CF5.

It had )een argued that Jri$ and 8ar$a Tantras lac& any soteriological goals,
there%ore, dhra *ractice 'ould li(it itsel% to eNclusi$ely (undane goals
36illia(sKTri)e, !!!: !A-!H5. Ho'e$er, the Dhra Scri*tures the(sel$es re%ute
such )iased clai(, and de(onstrate instead a (ore co(*leN e$idence: there are
dhras 'ith only (undane goals, others 'ith (undane and su*ra(undane goals,
and still others 'ith eNclusi$ely su*ra(undane goals.
Moreo$er, in the
Ma*)u!rm%lakalpa and the Mahvairo.anbhisa2bodhi'tantra the %irst soteriological

/es*ite so(e authors considering the Dhra Scri*tures as )elonging to the GMantranaya4,
understood as a stage *re$ious to the Ea,ray?na 36illia(sKTri)e, !!!: "JB, n. H5, such
inclusion is *ro)le(atic %or t'o reasons: GMantranaya4 'as indenti%ied as synony( o%
GEa,ray?na4 )y later Ea,ray?na authors 3f(i, !!H: D!C-D!H5, and GMantranaya4 is not
a**lica)le to the <ast Asian Ea,ray?na. Qn the other hand, clai(ing that the Dhra
Scri*tures are unrelated to Ea,ray?na Tantras as does Hartzell 3"JJC: AD-AB5, is co(*letely
'ithout %oundation, see )elo' and section "..D. 2i&e'ise, it had )een ac&no'ledged Gthe
e(ergence o% tantric (aterials out o% the dhra literature4, des*ite that those tantric
(aterials included *ractices alien to standard Dhra Scri*tures 3/a$idson, !"": D5.

The other categories o% Tantras are To0a, Mah$o0a, and To0in Tantras 36illia(sKTri)e,
!!!: !J-"C5.

The *i$otal Jri$ Tantra Ma*)u!rm%lakalpa includes )oth (undane and su*ra(undane goals
36allis, !!: "J-D5, and the sa(e occurs 'ith the se(inal 8ar$a Tantra
Mahvairo.anbhisa2bodhi'tantra 3(ai'ta.I.C= bIII.A!5. Qn the (undane and su*ra(undane
dhra goals, see sections D.. and D.D.

rationales %or Buddhist dhrasQmantras are articulated, 'hich locates the( neatly
'ithin a doctrinal and (ethodological Ea,ray?na conteNt.

But )eing %aith%ul to their %luidic nature, dhra %or(ulas are not only located
'ithin Jri$ and 8ar$a Tantras, )ut they permeate through the 'hole s*ectru( o%
Ea,ray?na Scri*tures, esta)lishing Ggenetic connections4 )et'een early and late
Tantric teNts 3Cant'ellKMayer, !"!: CC-CH5. To +uote ,ust a %e' eNa(*les, one o% the
acco(*lish(ents %or the initiated to the To0a Tantra ,arvatath0atatattvasa20raha is
that o% GUthe (astery o%V /h?raWZs4 3Sanderson, !!J: "DF5= according to an Indo-
Ti)etan tradition, Gdhra'mantras o% Mah?yoga Tantra, 7oga Tantra, Cary? Tantra
and 1riy? Tantra4 should )e inserted %or consecrating st%pas 3Bentor, "JJA: AB5= the
8akrasa2vara'tantra, one o% the *i$otal To0in Tantras, is ritually treated as a Gdhra'
dharmak$a relic4 3:ray, !!A: FC-FH, n. B and C5= and dhra %or(ulas are included
'ithin Mah$o0a Tantras as the 6uh$asam)a'tantra 36usa: JH-D!B, DD5, To0in Tantras
as the +eva)ra'tantra 3+T.I..D= II.A.FA-FC5, or ritual (anuals as the
8akrasa2varabalividhi 3Finot, "JDF: AC5.
6ithin the <ast Asian Ea,ray?na, it is *recisely the ter( dhra 'hat 'as
selected to de%ine this tradition.
The contents o% this esoteric lineage are )ased on
the Scri*tures, dhras, and mudrs that Gthe re$ered Eairocana UBuddhaV entrusted
to the )odhisatt$a Ea,ra*?Wi4 until reaching the Indian ancestor A(ogha$a,ra
3Qrlando, "JH": "DA5, and the initiatic trans(ission o% dhras is realized through a
Gconsecration4 ritual 3S&t. dhra$abhieka5 3Chou, "JFA, HF, n. B5. And to distinguish
clearly the Buddhist dhra %ro( the /aoist Gs*ell4 3Ch. Hhou5, 'hich it 'as co((only
con%used 'ith in China, A(ogha$a,ra co(*osed a nor(ati$e de%inition on the
(eaning o% the ter( dhra, 'here it is identi%ied eN*licitly as mantra 3Pon0: "A"-"AF=
McBride, II, !!A: "!J5.

In the sa(e line, the Ja*anese successor o% the esoteric lineage 1M&ai 3CCF-HDA
C<5, descri)ed his school as the Gmantra'dhra'piaka4 3Ja*. shin0on'darani'H55, and as
e(anating %ro( the Buddha Mah?$airocana4s Dharma'k$a and )eing only accessi)le
through consecration 3abhieka5 3A)S, "JJJ: "JC-"JH5. 1M&ai4s e(*hasis on the idea
that the Buddha as Dharma'k$a acti$ely *reaches the /har(a 3Ja*. hosshin sepp55,
$alidated (antric language as )eing )oth a (eans to attain enlighten(ent and as a
*er%ect eN*ression o% it 3Payne, !!B: CJ5. And it is *recisely the dhra Gsecret
%unction4 as )eing a)le to Gunleash countless (eanings %ro( 'ithin each letter o% a
'ord4 'hich un$eils the innu(era)le contents o% the Dharma'k$a4s *reaching 3A)S,
"JJJ: BF, C"5.
The dhra de%initions and classi%ications according to Mah?y?na
and Ea,ray?na 'ill )e dealt 'ith in the neNt cha*ter.

See section .D.

An institutional Ea,ray?na lineage 'as esta)lished in China )y the Indian (asters
Iu)ha&arasigha 3BDC-CDA5, Ea,ra)odhi 3BC"-CF"5, and A(ogha$a,ra 3C!A-CCF C<5 3Chou, "JFA:

See section .F.".

See section .F..
Cha*ter Cha*ter Cha*ter Cha*ter

Meanings: Traditional /e%initions and Classi%ications o% Meanings: Traditional /e%initions and Classi%ications o% Meanings: Traditional /e%initions and Classi%ications o% Meanings: Traditional /e%initions and Classi%ications o% Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s ss s

.". Pri(ary /e%initions .". Pri(ary /e%initions .". Pri(ary /e%initions .". Pri(ary /e%initions

.".". Meanings o% the ter( .".". Meanings o% the ter( .".". Meanings o% the ter( .".". Meanings o% the ter( Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra

I% it had )een stated that Gthe Buddhist ter( dhra is a()iguous4 3:yatso,
"JJ: "CD5, *ro)a)ly this is due (ore to so(e 6estern inter*retations o% the ter(,
than to the accuracy o% its se(antic %ield. Certainly, translating dhra ,ust as Gs*ell4
36addell, "J": "AB5, G(agic %or(ula4 3BHS/: HF)5, G(antric *rayer4 3:ellner, "JJD:
"H5, or as a Gshort (ne(onic string o% 'ords4 3Snellgro$e, !!: "5, had contri)uted
to li(iting its (eaning, and to a certain eNtent, to (isunderstanding it.
Fro( (ore accurate a**roaches, dhra had )een inter*reted as Gretaining in
(e(ory 3dhraa5, )oth as the *rocess itsel% and the (eans to )ring it a)out4
3Braar$ig, "JHA: "J5, and Ggras* a to hold 3'hether in one4s (ind or nature or
other'ise5 and to understand 3including in the sense o% \to ha$e the &nac& %or]54
3Co**, !!H: FJD-FJF5. A recent *olyse(ic dhra inter*retation identi%ies it as a
GcodeKcoding4 o% Buddhist 'ordsKsounds understood as mantras, and
linguisticKcogniti$e s&ills such as &no'ledge, analogical thin&ing, (e(ory, and
elo+uence 3/a$idson, !!J: "F"-"F5. Fro( a conte(*lati$e side, according to a
conte(*orary inter*retation o% the Thera$?da Mah? 8i&?ya, the dhra is concei$ed
as a G(ental %or(ation4 3P sa1khra5 co(*osed o% s*iritual sylla)ic %or(ulas that,
through its conte(*lati$e culti$ation 3P bhvan5, the (editator is a)le to *uri%y his
(ind and li)erate it %ro( the conditioned 3Bizot, "JCB: HA, n. ", "F!-"F"5. And
according to the Ea,ray?na that clearly identi%es dhra as mantra, a dhra Gis a
$essel that )ears, holds, *reser$es, and contains a linguistic s*ace that is occu*ied )y
the %orce o% so(e enlightened )eing4 36allis, !!: D!5. 6hile those inter*retations
rightly *oint out di$erse as*ects directly related to the dhra ter(, its ety(ological
analysis, ho'e$er, 'ill yield a clearer understanding o% their %oundations.
The Sans&rit noun Gdhra4 deri$es %ro( the root dh& Gto hold4, and shares such
root, a(ong others, 'ith the ter( dharmZn, G)earer, su**orter, arranger4, that is the
old %or( o% the Eedic dhZrman, Gthat 'hich is esta)lished or %ir(, stead%ast decree,
statute, ordinance, la'4 36hitney, "HHA: HF-HA= S</: A"!, A"5. In a *ri(ary sense, the
%e(inine noun Gdhra4 (eans Gany tu)ular $essel o% the )ody= the earth4, and is
deri$ed %ro( the $er) Gdhraa4, Gholding, )earing, &ee*ing 3in re(e()rance5,
retention, *reser$ing, *rotecting, (aintaining, *ossesing, ha$ing4 3S</: A"A5.
ety(ological (eaning is re%lected in the traditional translations o% the ter( dhra to
the Chinese as Gco(*letely retaining4 3Ch. Hon0.hi5, and to the Ti)etan as Gholder4 3Ti).
0Hu1s5, related to the *er%ect tense 0Hu1 %ro( the root 3dHin pa Gto lay hold o%, to seize4
3Mpp!.IE: "HAF5. 8e$ertheless, the (eaning o% this Gholding4 is t'o%old: G]/h?raWZ]
descri)es )oth 'hat is gras*ed, or held to, and the (eans )y 'hich one does so. Qne
can dh?raWZ a dh?raWZ, in other 'ords, and \dh?raWZ] na(es the +uality o% )eing that
allo's this4 3Co**, !!A: "BH5.

Qn the (eanings o% the P?li ter( Gdhraa4, see section ".."..
It is *recisely this t'o%old (eaning o% dhra, understood on the one hand as a
contentK%aculty, and on the other hand, as a (eans to attain it, 'hich allo'ed it to )e
selected )y Buddhists to assi(ilate the mantra4s se(antic %ield. As it 'ill )e
de(onstrated 'ith the dhra#s traditional de%initions re%erred to )elo', all o% the(
&ee* the )asic (eaning o% dhra as a contentK%aculty that is held to, 'hether
G(e(ory4, G*rotection4, G$irtue4, G&no'ledge4, etc. Ho'e$er, the synony(s and
co(*ound ter(s o% dhra denote a se(antic %ield that un(ista&a)ly identi%ies it
'ith the ter( mantra, understood as the means through 'hich those
contentsK%aculties that are held to are realized.

.".. Synony(s and Co(*ound Ter(s .".. Synony(s and Co(*ound Ter(s .".. Synony(s and Co(*ound Ter(s .".. Synony(s and Co(*ound Ter(s

#ndou)tedly, this is a co(*leN area that had raised so(e con%usion a(ong
se$eral authors, hence, a )asic *ro%ile 'ill )e o%%ered 'hich, ho*e%ully, 'ill clari%y to
so(e eNtent the se(antic richness o% dhra ter(.
T. S&oru*s&i already rightly *ointed out concerning the ter(s mantra, h&da$a,
and vid$ that: GQn the )asis o% their %unda(ental notion o% (ystic recitation they can
)e considered one. Ho'e$er, each one o% the( has its *articular signi%icance4 3Dur0a:
"""5. 2i&e'ise, the )asic *rinci*le esta)lished here asserts that the ter(s dhra,
mantra, vid$, h&da$a, va)rapada, and their co(*ounds, are identical )ecause all o%
the( )elong to the unco((on language o% mantra= hence, they only di%%er in their
s*eci%ic %unctions, 'hich as 'ill )e (ade e$ident )elo', are %luidic and according to
di%%erent conteNts though, they e$en )eco(e interchangea)le.

."..". ."..". ."..". ."..". Mantra Mantra Mantra Mantra' '' 'pada pada pada pada, , , , Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra ' '' 'mantra mantra mantra mantra- -- -pada pada pada pada

/es*ite the %act that there is no Buddhist de%inition %or the ter( mantra 'ithin
Mah?y?na ,%tras, in the 4odhimaFala'ekkara'ua'.akra's%tra the Buddha is na(ed
as Gmantra4 and Ggreat mantra4, and turns his /har(a 'heel G'ith innu(era)le &inds o%
mantras4 34en: DH-DJ5.
6hat there are in Mainstrea( and Mah?y?na Buddhist Scri*tures are
re%erences to the ter( mantra, designed as Gmantra4, or Gmantra'pada4, i.e., Gmantra'
'ords4 3M,.II: CF= HarrisonKCo)lin, "JJJ: "A"5, and also to the *airing Gdhra'mantra'
pada4 3uFa.bbI.DD-DA5. Q$erall, mantra'pada denotes a %or(ula %acilitating any
(undane or su*ra(undane goal o% the Buddhist *ractitioner, and dhra'mantra'
pada has )asically the sa(e (eaning, as Gmantra''ords o% dhras4 3/ayal, "JD: BC5,
although this )asic (eaning (ay $ary according the conteNt. Thus, in so(e cases
Gmantra'pada4 and Gdhra'pada4 are used as synony(s and as interchangea)le ter(s,
indicating in this 'ay their Gidentity o% re%erence4 3samnadhikarana5 3/a$idson, !!J:
""C5, 'hile in others, the ter(s Gmantra'pada4, Gdhra'mantra'pada4, and Gdhra'pada4
a**ear se*arately )ut 'ithin identical conteNt, )eing understood as synony(ous

Qn the Eedic (eaning o% mantra as Gan instru(ent o% thought4, see section ".".".". In so(e
Dhra's%tras ho'e$er, a dhra %or(ula is si(ultaneously $ie'ed as a means to attain the
goal and the goal itsel%, eg. a Mahpratisar dhra %or(ula is descri)ed Gas e+ual to the heart
o% all the Tath?gatas4 3rati: !B5. This $ie' 'ill )e de$elo*ed 'ithin Ea,ray?na, see sections
.D. and .F.

eN*ressions denoting a set o% mantras intended %or (undane and su*ra(undane goals
3rati: "C-"H5.

."... ."... ."... ."... (id$ (id$ (id$ (id$ , ,, , (id$ (id$ (id$ (id$ ' '' 'mantra mantra mantra mantra, , , , Mah Mah Mah Mah ' '' 'vid$ vid$ vid$ vid$ , , , , (id$ (id$ (id$ (id$ra) ra) ra) ra)* ** * , , , , (id$ (id$ (id$ (id$ ' '' 'dh dh dh dhra ra ra ra

The %e(inine Sans&rit noun vid$ is deri$ed %ro( the root Gvid4 Gto &no'4, )eing
identical to the ter( G(eda4, hence, it (eans G&no'ledge4, Gscience4, Glearning4
36hitney, "HHA: "AJ= S</: JBD-JBF5. And one o% the &ey (eans to attain vid$ is )y
reciting the vid$ mantras. It 'ould )e re(e()ered here that the mahv$h&tis4
mantras eNtract the Gsa*4 o% the three%old Eedic &no'ledge, 'hich denotes a natural
connection )et'een (edas and vid$. Ho'e$er, the notion o% vid$ as mantra is
originated 'ith the %or(ulas re$ealed )y non-Eedic goddesses, as the GSe$en Mothers4
3sapta'mt&ks5, Ia)ari, C?(uWXa, CaWXi&a, /Mrga, 1?lar?tri, etc., assi(ilated later into
the Atharvaveda. A *roo% o% this lies in the authoritati$e Dev ura, true co(*endiu(
o% non-Eedic goddesses4 vid$ mantras according to the Atharvaveda4s *rescri*tions
3:u*ta, !!: D-DD, DC5.

The Thera$?da Nik$as re,ected the vid$s 3P vi))5 G:andh?ra4 and GMaWi&a4 as
*ro*er (eans to attain the *o'ers o% in$isi)ility and reading others4 (inds 3DN."".A-
C5, ho'e$er, the Abhidharmako!a acce*ted those vid$s 3Jo!a.EII.FCc-d, AB)5. 6ith his
(astery o% the 0ndhr'vid$, it is said that AsaYga 'as a)le to trans%er hi(sel%
instantaneously to the Tusi`a hea$en 3Chi(*aKChatto*adhyaya, "JC!: "BB5. The
,uvarabhsottama's%tra includes the goddess IrZ4s vid$'mantra 3,uvar: B"= ,0ol: A"5,
and the JraFav$%ha's%tra descri)es its in%luential siN-sylla)le mantra Go2 maipadme
h%24 as a mah'vid$ 3Studhol(e, !!: B"5.
But it is into the Dhra Scri*tures
'here, )esides identi%ying vid$ as dhra 'ith the co(*ound vid$'dhra 3M$%:
DCH, n. FJ, DHB5, its %e(inine +uality is e(*hasized calling it Gvid$'+ueen4 3vid$'ra)*5,
although it is concealed as the Buddha4s (antric 'isdo(. In se$eral Dhra's%tras the
vid$'ra)*s e(anate as light %ro( the Buddha4s )ody, 'hether %ro( his ua 3,it: J!-
J"5, or %ro( his eye)ro's 3rati: "JD5. 6ithin the Dhra'vidhis and the early Jri$
Tantras, ho'e$er, the vid$'ra)*s re$eal their %e(inine nature as )eing
si(ultaneously dhra %or(ulas and *ersoni%ied goddesses, )eco(ing ritual re%erents
3Hidas, !"!: FH"-FHD5 and (odels %or $isualization and sel%-identi%ication 3S&t. ia'
devat5 3Porci9, !!!: "F-"B= Przylus&i, "JD: D!H-D"!5, and a (ature Ea,ray?na 'ould
identi%y vid$ as a G%e(ale mantra4.

The sa(e thing occurs 'ith the co(*ound Gmantra'dhra4, )eing understood as an
a**ositional co(*ound indicating a dhra that is a mantra 3mantra eva dhra5 3/a$idson,
!!J: ""C5. This is *recisely the (eaning o% the Gmantra'dhra4 co(*ound in the AsaYga4s
4odhisattvabh%mi, see section ... Qn the Gdhra'mantra4 co(*ound in the Ea,ray?na, see
sections .D. and .F.

So(e o% those vid$ mantras a**ear in Buddhist Tantras 3(ai'ta.IE.""= (ai's%: CD5. Qn the non-
Eedic goddesses 'ithin Buddhist dhras, see section "."..".

Qn other re%erences to the Gmah'vid$4 as mantra, see A**endiN / section 3a5.

See section .D. Qn vid$ as a G%e(ale mantra4 'ithin the Iai$a Tantric conteNt, see section
"."... Qn the iconogra*hy o% the t'el$e dhras or vid$'ra)*s, see /BI.D: JA=
Bhattacharyya, "JAH: DDC-DF.

."..D. ."..D. ."..D. ."..D. + ++ +&da$a &da$a &da$a &da$a, , , , + ++ +&da$a &da$a &da$a &da$a' '' 'dh dh dh dhra ra ra ra

The ter( h&da$a, lit. Gheart4, or Gessence4, a**ears in the Dhra Scri*tures
ado*ting three (eanings: 3"5 as a title o% a Scri*ture, h&da$a denotes Gthe essence or
+uintessence o% that 'hich is re+uired %or acco(*lishing a *o'er%ul su*ernatural
result4, i.e., the dhra %or(ulas, rituals and )ene%its included 'ithin a gi$en
Scri*ture, eg. the Amo0hap!a'h&da$a'dhra 3Amo0: J!, n. "D5. 35 As a synony( o%
dhra, h&da$a also indicates the co(*lete set o% dhra %or(ulas included 'ithin a
Scri*ture: GI shall no' recite a this +&da$a na(ed Amo0hap!a a4 3Amo0: JA5. And 3D5,
h&da$a also designates a Gmantra-essence4 3h&da$a'mantra5, understood as the deity4s
Gsonic )ody-(ind4, that des*ite )eing %unctionally e+ui$alent to the Tantric Gseed-
mantra4 3b)a'mantra5, di%%ers in its %or(, )ecause the h&da$a'mantra consists o% se$eral
sylla)les 3Snellgro$e, !!: "F"5.

The ter( h&da$a also a**ears as the co(*ound h&da$a'dhra, denoting the
Gessential dhra4 o% a deity a&in to herKhis h&da$a'mantra, although it is not used to
in$o&e the deity4s )ody-(ind itsel%, )ut to in$o&e the essential +ualities that
characterize a gi$en deity. For instance, the ,arvadur0atipari!odhana'tantra re%ers to
the %i$e Ea,ra*?Wi4s h&da$a'dhras *ro*itiating his *o'ers to re(o$e all o)structions
and *aci%ying all sorro's 3Dur0a: F-FA, "HH, "J!5. 2i&e'ise, the Mahm$%r4s h&da$a'
dhra condensates all her *rotecti$e *o'ers and its recitation Geradicates co(*letely
all e$ils and (is%ortunes4 3M$%: DCJ-DH"5.

."..F. ."..F. ."..F. ."..F. (a)ra (a)ra (a)ra (a)ra' '' 'pada pada pada pada, , , , Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra ' '' 'va)ra va)ra va)ra va)ra' '' 'pada pada pada pada

It is signi%icant that se$eral Mah?y?na Scri*tures as the "p$akau!al$a's%tra
3"pka.""!, n. "D!5 and others, re%er to a se(antic e+ui$alence )et'een dhra and
va)ra'pada ter(s. Basically, va)ra'padas Gare &ey'ords that identi%y or su( u* central
*re(ises o% Buddhist thought4, i.e., )eing si(ilar to the Abhidhamma4s mtiks and the
Gsylla)ic dhras4, va)ra'padas ser$e as (ne(onic su**ort to organize signi%icant
teachings and sti(ulate (ind4s trans%or(ation 3Pagel, !!Ca: -F, HA-HB, "!J5.
According to the Matna0otravibh0a, a va)ra'pada is a ter( eN*ressing the (eaning o%
enlighten(ent in a %a$oura)le 'ay to its attaining 3Gpada45, )ut such (eaning is as the
dia(ond 3Gva)ra45, di%%icult to *enetrate %or an untrained (ind 3Ma0ot: "F5. In (ore
*recise ter(s, the ,arvadharmprav&ttinirde!a's%tra de%ines va)ra'padas as G'ords o%
reality and thusness a identical 'ith s*ace and corres*ond to a'a&ening a they are
'ords Uthat *ertain toV the non-di%%erentia)le /har(adh?tu and engage 'ith the non-
esta)lished state4. Ho'e$er, it is the Matna.%Faparip&.h's%tra that descri)es how Gto
engage4 'ith va)ra'padas, as )eing through the dhra'va)ra'padas: GIt is to engage
'ith all 'ords )y (eans o% a single 'ord a it is a 'ord that is i(*erisha)le a the
letter GA4 is the i(*erisha)le 'ord. 6hen one has engaged 'ith the letter GA4, one
engages 'ith all sylla)les4 3tr. Pagel, !!Ca: CA-CB5.
To this *re$ious Mah?y?na identity o% va)ra'pada as an Gi(*erisha)le4 3aka$a5
sylla)le, ie. GA4, understood as a dhra holding Gall sylla)les4, 'as %ollo'ed naturally
)y the Ea,ray?na identity o% va)ra'pada as mantra.
The JraFav$%ha's%tra descri)es
the mantra Go2 maipadme h%24 as a G*hrase 'hich is a va)ra 'ithout e+ual

Qn the h&da$a'mantra and its $ariants, see section .D.

Qn the Eedic (eaning o% the Gi(*erisha)le 'ord4, see section ".".". Qn the Mah?y?na and
Ea,ray?na inter*retations o% the sylla)le GA4, see sections ..". and .D. res*ecti$ely.
3asamava)rapadam5= an indestructi)le va)ra 3abhed$ava)rapadam54 3Studhol(e, !!:
"FC5, and the Mahvairo.anbhisa2bodhi'tantra identi%ied as va)ra'pada a dhra'mukha
and a vid$'ra)* G'hich transcends all (undane states o% eNistence4 3(ai'ta.III.EII.BA5.
But no' it 'ill )e dealt 'ith the (ost co((on dou)le associations o% dhra ter(.

.".D. .".D. .".D. .".D. Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra *aired to other /har(a +ualities *aired to other /har(a +ualities *aired to other /har(a +ualities *aired to other /har(a +ualities

.".D.". .".D.". .".D.". .".D.". Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra ' '' 'mukha mukha mukha mukhas and s and s and s and ,am ,am ,am ,amdhi dhi dhi dhi' '' 'mukha mukha mukha mukhas ss s

In se$eral Mah?y?na Scri*tures it is asserted that the irre$ersi)le Bodhisatt$as
o)tain Gdhra'doors4 3dhra'mukhas5 and Gconcentration-doors4 3samdhi'mukhas5
3Mps%: J= Matna: ""A5. Q$erall, a dhra'mukha (eans Gthose su*erior recollecti$e
'isdo(s 'hich are a)le to su**ort i((easura)le Buddha +ualities and hold the(
'ithout %ailure4, so that Gin one eN*ression it can su**ort all eN*ressions4, 'hereas a
samdhi'mukha re%ers to Gthose su*erior conte(*lations 'hich include all the $arious
concentrations4, i.e., they are samdhis allo'ing the realization o% nu(erous samdhis=
and are called Gdoors4 G)ecause they engender all conditioned (erits and all
unconta(inated states4, that is, they e()ody the li(itless accu(ulation o% the
Bodhisatt$a4s (erit and 'isdo( 34ubh%: "AJ-"B!, !5.

Fro( a s*eci%ic le$el, according to the AsaYga4s /r$ade!anvikh$pana'!stra, a
dhra'mukha is the Gacco(*lish(ent o% the *enetration o% sylla)les a 6ith this
*o'er o% recollection, 'ithin a single letter he can illu(inate, distinguish, and %ully
re$eal e$ery &ind o% o),ect, 'hether indicati$e o% de%ile(ent or *urity4 3Tr. /a$idson,
!!J: "A5, and %or the DC fA)B tuDluDnE )n0 3AJ-AJF C<5, a dhra'mukha is analogous to
the Gearth4, ena)ling the *roduction o% Gall dharmas all s%tras, all 'ords, all their
di%%erent (eanings4 and can sustain the( all 3Tr. Q$er)ey, !"!: BF5. Q)$iously, %or
those Scri*tures dhra'mukha is e+ual to a soteriological language (astery, )ut, ho'
to attain ite The Mahpra)*pramit'!stra understands dhra'mukhas not as
language (astery as such, )ut as three dhras to o)tain it: 3"5 the Gdhra retaining
'hat is listened4 3!rutadhara'dhra5, that includes %our (ethods: (e(ory culti$ated
through analogies, a samdhi to de$elo* (e(ory, mantra *ractice to o)tain dhras,
and (e(ory acu(ulated %ro( *ast li$es= 35 the Gdhra entering into Uthe true
characteristicV o% the articulated sounds4 30hoaprave!a'dhra5, i.e., to &no' that
sounds and 'ords are i(*er(anent and Gutterly e(*ty4 3at$anta'!%n$a5= and 3D5, the
Gdhra *enetrating the sylla)les4 3akaraprave!a'dhra5, i.e., to conte(*late the
Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary gras*ing its e(*ty nature 3Mpp!.IE: "HBF-"HBH5.

Fro( the %ourteen samdhis descri)ed in the Mahpra)*pramit'!stra, stand
out the Gsamdhi that does not %orget any dharma4, the samdhi allo'ing Gthe
&no'ledge o% all articulated sounds and all languages4, the Gsamdhi o$erco(ing the
&ing o% all dhras4, and the Gsamdhi o% the uni$ersal elo+uence4 3samanta'pratibhna5.

According to 7og?c?ra sources, in the Bodhisatt$a4s tenth bh%mi, that is e+ual to
Buddhahood, the ulti(ate reality 3S&t. dharmadhtu5 is identi%ied as the dhra'
mukhasKsamdhi'mukhas4s co(*lete (astery 3Msa.II: "JJ5. At that stage, the dhras )eco(e
Gco(*letely *uri%ied and great4 and the Bodhisatt$a relies on the( to Gillu(inate the holy
/har(a and u*hold it al'ays4 3Mslb.bEIII.C-CF5. Qn the dharmadhtu, see section .D. and n.

8ote the re%erences to Gmantra *ractice to o)tain dhras4, see section ..., and to the
Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary conte(*lation, see A**endiN B-.

At %irst sight, this teNt e(*hasizes an inter*lay )et'een dhras, samdhis, and
pratibhna, understood as three interrelated +ualities 'here the gro'ing o% a single
one sti(ulates that o% the others. Ho'e$er, the teNt also recognizes certain
di%%erences a(ong the(: 'hereas the dhras re(ain 'ithin the Bodhisatt$a4s
(ental continuu( li%e a%ter li%e, the samdhis instead, disa**ear a%ter death=
(oreo$er, it is the samdhi *ractice ,oined to the 'isdo( o% e(*tiness that *roduces
the dhras, )ecause the Bodhisatt$a, G%or all )eings4 sa&e, ha$e to hold dhras to
(aintain the +ualities4 3Mpp!.IE: "HCA-"HCC5.

.".D.. .".D.. .".D.. .".D.. Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra and and and and ratibh ratibh ratibh ratibhna na na na

Another %re+uent *airing %ound in ,%tras is the %act that the Bodhisatt$as
G*ossessed the dhras[ they 'ere gi%ted 'ith elo+uence 3pratibhna54 3-%rsam: ""C=
"pka: "= uFa.I.= Matna: "FJ, FC5. The Sans&rit ter( pratibhna is ety(ologically
related to prati'bh', Gto shine u*on, co(e into sight, )ut also to a**ear to the (ind, to
%lash u*on the thought, occur to, )eco(e clear or (ani%est4, and usually denotes Ga
sudden thought, a +uic& understanding or insight4, and e$en (eans Gthe *o'er o%
understanding all &inds o% sounds 'ithout e%%ort4 3:onda, "JBDa: D"H5.
6ithin a
Mah?y?na conteNt, pratibhna (eans G+uic&-'ittedness, ins*iration4 3BHS/: DBB)5,
)eing a highly signi%icant %aculty %or the Bodhisatt$a in herKhis %unction as
dharmabhaka, 'hether as an attri)ute that legiti(ates herKhis o'n Scri*tural
authority, as G'hen the Buddha in$ites Su)hMti to s*ea&, 'ith the 'ords \(ay it )e
clear to you] 3pratibhtu te54 3MacLueen, "JH: A!5, and as a *i$otal %aculty in herKhis
role as /har(a *reacher. In the last case, pratibhna is one o% the %our Gdetailed and
thorough &no'ledges4 3pratisa2vids5: 3"5 dharma'pratisa2vid: &no'ledge o% all
*heno(ena in all their na(es and %or(s= 35 artha'pratisa2vid: &no'ledge o% all
*heno(ena in all their characteristics and (eanings= 3D5 nirukti'pratisa2vid:
&no'ledge o% all *heno(ena in all their ety(ological eN*lanations, and the
&no'ledge o% all languages= 3F5 pratibhna'pratisa2vid: &no'ledge o% the $er)al
distinctions o% all &inds, that together 'ith the dhras and other +ualities, constitute
the essential %actors that any dharmabhaka needs %or a success%ul /har(a4s
s*reading 3/ayal, "JD: A", AJ-BJ5.

The pratisa2vids4 characteristics de(onstrate their %ocus on a language
(astery intended (ainly %or soteriological goals, hence, their association 'ith
dhras is hardly sur*rising, ho'e$er, the ,%tras usually re%er %irst to dhras and
then to pratibhna, 'hich suggests a $ie' in 'hich realizing dhras %irst is a
necessary )asis to *roduce pratibhna: GThe Bodhisatt$a 'ho )ears in (ind these
dh?raWZs 'ill co(e %ace to %ace 'ith all the %lashes o% insight and all analytical
&no'ledges 3pratibhna'pratisa2vida54 3Mps%: FHH-FHJ5.

The Bodhisatt$a4s s&ill%ulness Gin the cognition o% sounds4 'ill )e re(e()ered here 3Mps%:
"B5= %or instance, the Central Asian dhra (aster Fotudeng 3e-DFJ C<5 G'hen he heard the
sound o% )ells, he 'ould %oretell e$ents there%ro(, and Uthese *ro*heciesV 'ere ne$er once
un%ul%illed4 36right, "JFH: DDH5.

Qn the dharmabhakas4 pratisa2vids and mantra (astery, see section "..."., and n. DH.

.. Indian Mah .. Indian Mah .. Indian Mah .. Indian Mah?y?na /e%initions and Classi%ications ?y?na /e%initions and Classi%ications ?y?na /e%initions and Classi%ications ?y?na /e%initions and Classi%ications

..". In ..". In ..". In ..". In , ,, ,%tra %tra %tra %tras ss s

As 'as said )e%ore, dhra ter( 'as closely lin&ed to Mah?y?na ,%tras %ro(
their )eginnings.
The 4uddhabh%m$upade!a e$en co((ented u*on the eN*ression Gat
one ti(e4 %ro( the sentence GThus ha$e I heard at one ti(e4, as Ghe 'ho enunciated
3this doctrine5 has attained dhras and, in one 'ord, in one instant, he 'as a)le to
con$ey all doctrines4 34ubh%: C5. Hence, the *resent section 'ill %ocus on an o$er$ie'
on the dhra4s understandings according to se$eral Mah?y?na ,%tras %ollo'ing a
chronological order.
Q$erall, the ra)*pramit's%tras already esta)lished the se(inal %oundations
to the e(ergence o% G%or(ulaic4 and Gsylla)ic4 dhras, and at the sa(e ti(e, they
constitute the earliest Mah?y?na re%or(ulation o% those non-Eedic, Eedic and Iai$a
(antric %actors assi(ila)le to Buddhis(, as *rotection, (e(orizing and condensation
o% &no'ledge, elo+uence, s*iritual realization through language, and the identity
)et'een language and ulti(ate reality.

Already it 'as stated that the Aashasrikpra)*pramit's%tra recognized
mantras and vid$s as an attri)ute o% the irre$ersi)le Bodhisatt$a, and the sa(e
Scri*ture identi%ied itsel% as a mah'vid$, )esto'ing %i$e Gad$antages e$en here and
no'4 3d&adhrmikas5 to the Bodhisatt$a G'ho )ear it in (ind4 3dhra$is$ati5: a$oiding
dis*utes, har(onious s*eech, a$oiding to )e &illed in )attle, o(niscience, and getting
sa%ety in those *laces 'here the Scri*ture is de*osited 3Aa.D.C-J= :E',.III.A!-AC5.

In the Mahpr)*pramit's%tra, a%ter o)taining the dhras and *roducing the
pratisa2vids, the Bodhisatt$a re(e()ers the /har(a Ge$en a%ter he has died4 until he
'ould attain o(niscience 3Mps%: AD5, and is Ga)le to utter and retain in his (ind all
the languages, agreed sy()ols and (eaning%ul sounds4 3Mps%: AF"5. Moreo$er, the
Bodhisatt$a culti$ates the recognition that Gthis dee* *er%ection o% 'isdo( is the
entrance to all the sylla)les and the door to the dh?raWZs4 3Mps%: FHH5, and this
realization is o)tained through conte(*lating the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary, 'hich 'ill
allo' herKhi( a &ind o% detach(ent in 'hich sheKhe G'ill not )e tied do'n )y any
sounds, he 'ill acco(*lish e$erything through the sa(eness o% all dhar(as, and he
'ill ac+uire the s&ill in the cognition o% sounds4 3Mps%: "B5. 2ater on, the
ra)*pramith&da$a's%tra 'ould su((arize all %actors already re%erred to 'ithin its
mantra, as )eing identical to the ra)*pramit, and descri)ed as: GA great mantra, a
great vid$'mantra, the ut(ost mantra, the une+ualled mantra, allayer o% all su%%ering4
3ph.EIII5. 2astly, %or the 4ha0avat'pra)*pramit'sarva'tath0ata'mt'ekkar'nma,
the ra)*pramit is identical to the sylla)le GA4 3Ekk: !"5.

See A**endiN / section 3a5.

Qn these non-Buddhist (antric )ac&grounds, see sections ".".". and ".".., and on their
in%luence u*on Mah?y?na, see section "...

Qn the relationshi* )et'een antar$as, d&adhrmikas, and mantraQdhra *ractice, see
A**endiN / section 3a5, n. "JA, and section D..".

This identi%ication denotes an esoterization o% the ra)*pramit Scri*tures 3Conze, !!!:
HC5. Qn the sylla)le hAi4s Ea,ray?na (eaning, see section .D.

Besides the ra)*pramit's%tras, in other Mah?y?na Scri*tures the dhra
conce*t gradually 'ould )eco(e (ore eN*licit in ter(s o% de%inition and (ethods.
6hat %ollo's is a )asic sur$ey o% the (ost rele$ant teNts on this res*ect.

The A)ta!atrukauk&t$avinodan's%tra 3"FC-"HB C<5 de%ines dhra as (e(ory,
intelligence, elo+uence, and the ca*acity to G(aintain the Buddha4s lineage4 3Tr. Pagel,
!!Ca: HD, n. BC5. Here dhra is understood (ore as &no'ledge and a soteriological
language (astery than as ,ust (e(ory, (oreo$er, it adds the %actor o% G*reser$ing4
the /har(a, denoting thus the dhra4s *rotecti$e %aculty. /es*ite the %act that this
,%tra does not include any *rotecti$e mantras, the conte(*orary Druma'kinnara'r)a'
parip&..h's%tra 3.7 "C!-"J! C<5 does, including a mantra'pada %or the G*rotection,
*reser$ation and de%ense4 o% the ,%tra and the Sangha 3HarrisonKCo)lin, "JJJ: "A"5,

'hich (a&es eN*licit the identi%ication o% dhra as a mantra ca*a)le o% G(aintaining
the Buddha4s lineage4. Ho'e$er, the later Aka$amatinirde!a's%tra 3BA-D"B C<5 'ill
narro' dhra4s de%inition as (e(ory itsel% and the (eans o% retaining in (e(ory
the Buddha4s teachings 3Braar$ig, "JHA: "H5, )ut 'ithout s*eci%ying 'hat those (eans
'ould )e. The conte(*orary 4hadram$kra'v$karaa 3BA-D"B C<5 o%%ers a hint on
the nature o% those G(eans4 'hen it *oints out Gto ai( at understanding the hidden
sense o% the Tath?gata4s teaching )y (eans o% setting 'ords and letters in the right
order4, as one o% those (eans to attain dhra 34hadra.""A5.
But it is the Tath0atamahkarunirde!a's%tra 3BA-D"B C<5 that o%%ers the (ost
detailed account o% dhra *ractice, descri)ing eight dhras that Gser$e *ri(arily to
secure the trans(ission o% the /har(a and there)y contri)ute to uni$ersal
li)eration4. Most o% those dhras re$ol$e around language (astery: the a)ility to
condense any nu()er o% teachings 'ithin the sound GA4, Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary4s
conte(*lation, and the %our pratisa2vids4 acco(*lish(ent, esta)lishing thus Ga close
lin& )et'een dhra, scri*tural (e(ory and teaching4 3Pagel !!C): "CA-"H!5.
In the sa(e $ein, nu(erous Scri*tures e(*hasized the $alue conduci$e to
enlighten(ent o% the sylla)le GA4, as the Ju!alam%lasa2pari0raha's%tra 3DHF-F"C C<5:
Gthe *ortal to Uthe soundV GA4 is a *ortal that leads to i(*erisha)le gnosis 3)*na5 and
elo+uence 3pratibhna54. 8e$ertheless, GA4 is not (ani%esting an eternal *rinci*le as the
Eedic and Iai$a Tantric GA4 does= instead, the Mah?y?na chose it )ecause it is
e(*hasizing GA4 as the *ri$ati$e *article Ga4 in Sans&rit gra((ar, de(onstrating in
this 'ay the ine%%a)le and inde%ina)le nature o% language and all dharmas 3Pagel,
!!Ca: BD-BF, n. A"5. Accordingly, the Mah?y?na a**roach to language is %ocused, on
the one hand, to *ro$e its con$entional nature lac&ing any inherent eNistence, and on
the other hand, its ina)ility to eN*ress ulti(ate reality, that %or de%inition, is
ineN*ressi)le, G%or not in the letters is the *er%ection o% 'isdo(4 3Mps%: !J5. In the last
analysis, the Mah?y?na (astery o% language is ai(ed at its deconstruction. The
sylla)les are GineNhausti)le4 3aka$a5 not )ecause they are eternal as the (edas clai(,
)ut )ecause their gra((atical (eaning, as that o% all dharmas, Ghas no *ro*er reality4
34hadra.""F5. For instance, conte(*lating the sylla)le GEA4 *ro(*ts that Gthe sound o%
the *aths o% s*eech Wvkpatha0hoshaX has )een +uite cut o%%4 3Mps%: "B!5.

The dates are o% the %irst ,%tra4s Chinese translation according to CCBT: "H, "B", CF, DA, CJ,
and FA, res*ecti$ely.

See A**endiN / section 3c5.

Qn this Mah?y?na language4s deconstruction, see section "...".
%aith%ul to this *osition, the G(eaningless4 nature o% mantrasKdhras 'ill )e
e(*hasized )y AsaYga.

... In Treatises 3 ... In Treatises 3 ... In Treatises 3 ... In Treatises 3-stra -stra -stra -stras5 s5 s5 s5

#ndou)tedly, the t'o (ost in%luential de%initions o% dhra 'ithin a
Mah?y?na conteNt a**ear in the Mahpra)*pramit'!stra attri)uted to 8?g?r,una
3%ourth century C<5, and in the AsaYga4s 4odhisattvabh%mi 3.7 D"!-DJ! C<5. Their
in%luence 'ould )e *ro,ected on successi$e Mah?y?na and Ea,ray?na teNts. The
Mahpra)*pramit'!stra gi$es the %ollo'ing de%inition o% dhra:

/h?raWZ a (eans Ga)le to (aintain4 3dhraa5, or Ga)le to dis*el4 3vidhraa5. As %or
)eing a)le to (aintain, once one has collected all 'holeso(e dhar(as 3ku!aladharma5,
one is a)le to (aintain the( 3dhra$ati5 so that they do not scatter or )eco(e lost. It
is li&e an intact $essel 3bh)ana5, 'hich, 'hen it is %illed 'ith 'ater, the 'ater does not
lea& out. As %or )eing a)le to dis*el, the un'holeso(e roots 3aku!alam%la5 that Uare
'ont to )eV )orn in the (ind are dis*elled 3vidhra$ati5 and not )orn. I% there is the
desire to co((it e$il, Uthe /h?raWZV 'ill ta&e hold and not allo' onesel% to co((it it.
This /h?raWZ either is associated to the (ind 3.ittasa2pra$ukta5 or is dissociated to the
(ind 3.ittavipra$ukta5= is either de%iled 3ssrava5 or unde%iled 3ansrava5. It is %or(less
3r%p$a5, in$isi)le 3anidar!ana5, and unhindered 3aprati0ha5= it is contained 'ithin one
ele(ent 3dhtu5, 'ithin one sense %ield 3$atana5, 'ithin one aggregate 3skandha5, that
is, the /har(adh?tu, the /har(?yatana, and the Sa^s&?ras&andha a Moreo$er, the
Bodhisatt$a 'ho *ossess the /h?raWZ, due to the *o'er o% his (e(ory 3sm&tibala5, is
a)le to &ee* and not %orget all teachings he hears 3!rutadharma5 3Mpp!.I: D"C-D"H5.

Here dhra is understood (ainly as a G(ental %or(ation4 3sa2skra5 contained
'ithin the GSa^s&?ras&andha4, that *rotects the *ractitioner through a dou)le
%unction o% holding the 'holeso(e dharmas and a$oiding the un'holeso(e ones, and
as already had )een noted, this Gdhra'sa2skra4 goes 'ith the Bodhisatt$a4s (ental
continuu( through all herKhis eNistences. As to the +uestion o% ho' to realize this
dhra, in another *assage %ro( the Mahpra)*pramit'!stra se$eral (ethods are
descri)ed, a(ong others, those dhra'mukhas o% mantra *ractice and Garapa.ana4
sylla)ary4s conte(*lation 3Mpp!.IE: "HBF-"HBH5.
Here again the )asic t'o%old
understanding o% dhra is %ound as a %aculty holding attri)utes as *rotection,
(e(ory, &no'ledge and ethics, and as a (ethod to attain it. In this case, as %aculty,
dhra is understood as a G(ental %or(ation4 a)le to hold the 'holeso(e and re,ect
the un'holeso(e, and as (ethod, dhra is (ostly related to a language (astery also
including mantras and the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary, that can )e understood as Gsonic
%or(ations4 endo'ed o% soteriological e%%icacy, hence, this *ro$es that dhra ter(
'as selected to assi(ilate the non-Buddhist notion o% mantra.
Ho'e$er, the
identi%ication o% dhra as mantra is still not (ade %ully eN*licit )y the
Mahpra)*pramit'!stra, to do that, it should )e turned to the %our%old dhra
de%inition according to the AsaYga4s 4odhisattvabh%mi:

See the !rutadhara'dhra and the akaraprave!a'dhra on section .".D.".

Qn dhra4s de%inition as G(ental %or(ation4, see section .".". Qn the Eedic, Iai$a Tantric
and Indo-Ti)etan Ea,ray?na de%initions o% mantra, see sections "."."."., "."..., and .D.

Because o% s*ace li(itations, here the long AsaYga teNt 'ill )e su((arized.
-GDharma'dhra: By herKhis (e(orizing and 'isdo( %aculties, the
Bodhisatt$a retains innu(era)le teachings 3Dharmas5 in their na(es, *hrases, and
-Artha'dhra: It is the sa(e as the *re$ious one, )ut here the (eanings 3artha5
o% those teachings are retained.
-Mantra'dhra: i.e., Ga dhra that is a mantra4. Because o% herKhis samdhi
(astery, the Bodhisatt$a Gs*iritually su**orts4 3adhihita5 the mantra''ords 3mantra'
padas5, )eco(ing thus Gsu*re(ely e%%ecti$e and in%alli)le4 to a**ease the distresses o%
sentient )eings.
-4odhisattva'knti'lbh$a'dhra: i.e., Gthe dhra 'hich gi$e rise to the
rece*ti$ity o% a Bodhisatt$a4. It consists in (editating on the sense o% a mantra
*ro(ulgated )y the Buddha as Gtad$ath ii mii kii bhiknti padni svh4, until it is
realized that these mantra-'ords ha$e no (eaning, this, na(ely Gno-(eaningness4
3nitarthath5, is indeed their (eaning.
Then, the Bodhisatt$a realizes the (eaning o%
all dharmas as %ollo's: the (eaning o% the Go'n )eing4 3svabhva5 o% all dharmas is not
co(*letely re$ealed )y any nu()er o% 'ords= the a)sence o% eN*ressi)le essence is
the (eaning o% their essence 3tr. Inaga&i, in Anir: "F-"A= 1a*stein, !!": DC-DH5.
This AsaYga4s dhra de%inition is highly signi%icant )ecause it (a&es the
identi%ication o% dhra clear as mantra 'ithin a Mah?y?na *rescri*ti$e %ra(e'or&.
Although AsaYga 'as not eN*licit on ho' to attain dharma'dhra and artha'dhra,
it is +uite li&ely that mantras also 'ere used %or that *ur*ose, as the +uoted *assage
%ro( the Mahpra)*pramit'!stra (ade it clear.
Concerning mantra'dhra, AsaYga
adds to the standard dhra +ualities as *rotection, (e(ory, and &no'ledge, a &ey
soteriological one as Gsu%%ering4s allayer4, 'hich indicates a tendency de$elo*ed later
%or those dhras %ocused on the re(o$al o% &ar(ic o)structions.
In other *laces o%
the 4odhisattvabh%mi, AsaYga re%ers to the Bodhisatt$a4s samdhi (astery as the *o'er
endo'ing o% adhihna to mantras and (a&ing the( e%%ecti$e %or t'o reasons: )ecause
the Bodhisatt$a attained a s*ecial dh$na called Gdis*enser o% s*iritual su**ort4
3adhih$aka5 ha$ing as its o),ect the relie% o% )eings and that *ro$ides a )asis %or
mantra e%%icacy 3<ltschinger, !!": BB-BC5, and )ecause the Bodhisatt$a4s bodhi.itta,
)eing a)le to (a&e e%%ecti$e any &ind o% mantras and vid$s to heal sentient )eings4
ills 36angchu&, !!C: "BF5.
2astly, the bodhisattva'knti'lbh$a'dhra identi%ies
mantra *ractice 'ith realizing the e(*ty and ineN*ressi)le nature o% all *heno(ena,
hence, it %ollo's the language4s deconstructi$e a**roach characteristic o% the
But AsaYga4s dhra de%inition 'as not li(ited to ,usti%ying mantra
*ractice 'ithin Mah?y?na, it also in$ol$ed Ga doctrinal 'arrant %or the eN*ansion o%
*ractices allied 'ith those o% esoteric Buddhis(4 31a*stein, !!": DH5. 8o' the
Ea,ray?na understandings o% dhra 'ill )e studied.

In %act, this is a G(eaningless4 mantra 3:yatso, "JJ: "CB5. Ho'e$er, on the su**osed
dhras4 unintelligi)ility, see A**endiN B-".

See the !rutadhara'dhra in section .".D.".

See section D.D..

Qn adhihna a**lied to dhras, see section ".... *aragra*h 3a5.

See sections "...". and ..".
.D. Indo .D. Indo .D. Indo .D. Indo- -- -Ti)etan Ea,ray Ti)etan Ea,ray Ti)etan Ea,ray Ti)etan Ea,ray?na /e%initions and Classi%ications ?na /e%initions and Classi%ications ?na /e%initions and Classi%ications ?na /e%initions and Classi%ications

As 'as stated *re$iously, 'ith the Ea,ray?na, dhra is identi%ied as mantra
and 'as o),ect o% ela)orated rationales, highlighting those %ro( the Ma*)u!rm%la'
kalpa, the Mahvairo.anbhisa2bodhi'tantra, and the (a)ra!ekharamah0uh$a$o0a'tantra,
that 'ill )e su((arized )elo'.

According to the Ma*)u!rm%lakalpa, the buddhava.ana consists o%
mantrasKdhras uttered )y Gall Buddhas4 throughout ti(e. The mantrasKdhras arise
%ro( the Buddhas and Bodhisatt$as4 (editati$e a)sor*tion, or in (ore concrete
ter(s, )ecause o% their G*o'er o% (iraculous trans%or(ation4 3S&t. vikurvaa'bala5,
Buddhas and Bodhisatt$as the(sel$es are trans%or(ed into mantrasKdhras 36allis,
!!: D"-DF5.
The ter( vikurvaa (eans Gthe ca*acity to e%%ect, )y sheer *sychic
*o'er, the trans%or(ation, dis*lace(ent or (ulti*lication o% the hu(an )ody4, and
this *o'er e(anates %ro( Bodhisatt$as 'ho ha$e acco(*lished ulti(ate reality or
the GDharma 0eal(4 3dharmadhtu5 in its as*ect o% (ani%estation o% (agical
*roductions 3:9(ez, "JCC: A, H5.

There%ore, the mantrasKdhras are linguistic s*aces occu*ied )y the
consciousness and energy o% enligthened )eings, sonic e()odi(ents o% their *o'er.
That is 'hy each mantraKdhra has a s*eci%ic %unction: soteriological Gessence
mantras4 3h&da$a'mantras5, Gall-acco(*lishing4 Gnear-essence mantras4 3upah&da$a'
mantras5, Gin$ocation mantras4 3hvnana'mantras5, and so on.
The Ma*)u!rm%lakalpa
ac&no'ledged the inclusion o% mantras %ro( the Atharvaveda and those )elonging to
Iai$a and EaiTWa$a deities as a con$ersion de$ice, 'hich re%lected a conteNt +uite
inclined to religious eclecticis(.

The Mahvairo.anbhisa2bodhi'tantra re%ers to Bodhisatt$as that )ecause o%
their *ure (inds, o)tain Gdhras in unli(ited languages, sounds and tones4 3(ai'
ta.I.I."D5, 'hich allo's the( to &no' others4 (inds, *reser$ing the Buddhas4

Qn the %irst t'o Tantras, see section "..D. n. AB. The se$enth century C<
(a)ra!ekharamah0uh$a$o0a'tantra 3a))re$iated as (a)ra!ekhara5 is the (ain eN*lanatory
Scri*ture o% the To0a Tantras 3M0$ud: A5.

Qne o% the na(es o% the Dhra Scri*ture /r$a Mahbala'Nma'Mah$nas%tra is that o%
)eing the G(agical trans%or(ation 3vikurvaa5 o% the Tath?gata4, in the sense that such
Scri*ture G'ill acco(*lish the Tath?gata4s acts4 a%ter his parinirva 34ala: B".F-A, BF.C-"C5.

According to the Mah?y?na, dharmadhtu has as its %oundation the dharmat, i.e., the
%unda(ental *urity o% all dharmas )ecause they are unoriginated, its goal is the buddhat, i.e.,
the s*here o% a Buddha4s gnosis, including the sco*e and range o% his actions, its *ath is the$, i.e., the culti$ation o% the ulti(ate o),ect o% enlighten(ent, and it also includes the
accu(ulation o% the 'holeso(e roots, )ringing all )eings to enlighten(ent, and the
(ani%estation o% (agical *roductions 3:9(ez, "JCC: H-J5. See the dharmadhtu as identical
to the mantras4 dharmat, )elo'.

Qn so(e o% these categories 'ithin a dhra %or(ula, see )elo'.

As strategies e(*hasizing its su*re(acy, the Ma*)u!rm%lakalpa clai(ed that those non-
Buddhist mantras 'ere in %act *ro(ulgated )y the Bodhisatt$a Ma@,u[rZ disguised as one o%
the Hindu deities 36allis, !!: FB-FJ5, it also stated that all non-Buddhist mantras and rituals
are e%%ecti$e i% they are recited in %ront o% the Ma*)u!rm%lakalpa4s maFala 3:rano%%, !!!: F!F-
F!J5. Qn the dhra *ractice in a ritual conteNt, see section D."..

teachings and getting their *rotection 3M;ller, "JCB: ""C5. Besides recognizing those
standard dhra %eatures though, this Tantra ela)orated a mantra theory also
a**lica)le to dhras that 'ill )e su((arized )elo'.
The ter( mantra re%ers to Buddhas and Bodhisatt$as )ecause they are endo'ed
'ith G&no'ledge4 3man'5 and G*rotection4 3'tra5. GMantra4 also re%ers to the 'ords 3pada5
o% their li)eration (ethods and to the sylla)les trans%or(ing into Buddhas and
Bodhisatt$as 3(ai'ta.I.I.D5. /es*ite Buddhas and Bodhisatt$as *ro(ulgating mantras,
they do not create the(, )ecause the mantras4 nature is identical to the intrinsic
nature o% all dharmas 3dharmat5.
/es*ite the mantras4 dharmat )eing unconditioned,
it is a)le to endo' 'ords and sylla)les 'ith Gs*iritual su**ort4 3adhihna5, and this
su**ort is t'o%old: a relati$e one, understood as 'ords and sylla)les (ani%esting the
Buddhas and Bodhisatt$as4 +ualities and realizations, and an a)solute one, as sylla)les
(ani%esting the intrinsic e(*tiness o% all *heno(ena.
This t'o%old relati$e and
a)solute nature o% mantra is re%lected in its )asic unit, the Gsylla)le4 3akara5,
understood as an Gunchanging intrinsic nature4 endo'ed 'ith three characteristics:
3"5 sylla)le as sound, denotes mantra sylla)les and are Gunchanging4 )ecause their
sound .onstantl$ (ani%est the Buddhas and Bodhisatt$as4 acco(*lish(ents= 35
sylla)le as G<nlighten(ent-Mind4 3bodhi.itta5, re%ers to the intrinsic nature o%
suchness 3tathat5, %unda(entally (ani%esting itsel% as the sylla)le GA4, understood as
the essence o% all mantras and )eing identical to bodhi.itta 34odhi: F"5= and 3D5 sylla)le
as energy, since all sylla)les de*end on the sylla)le GA4, this is the G$ital-energy4 3)iva5
and the Gli%e-%orce4 3pra5 o% all sylla)les. This G$ital-energy4 o% GA4 is t'o%old: relati$e
one, )ecause the rest o% sylla)les could not )e uttered i% they lac&ed the sylla)le GA4,
and a)solute one, )ecause the sylla)le GA4 *roduces the &no'ledge 3)*na5 realizing
that Gall *heno(ena are *ri(ordially un)orn and unarisen4 3(ai'ta.II.b.J-"!= II.bEIII.D-

8e$ertheless, the *roducing constancy o% the sylla)le GA4 li(its itsel% to )e the
cause %or all /har(a acco(*lish(ents and Gall Scri*tural /har(a4 3(ai'ta.II.b."!5,
hence, it is not a cos(ogonical andKor a (eta*hysical constancy as it is the case 'ith

Such identity is also re%erred to in the ,arvatath0atatattvasa10raha'tantra 3<ltschinger, !!":
"5. Here a *arallel is esta)lished 'ith a *i$otal aNio( already signaled in the Nik$as, i.e., i%
the Buddhas do not create the /ha((a, )ut they disco$er it )ecause Gthe sta)leness o% the
/ha((a4 3P. dhammahitat5 Gstill *ersists4 3,N.II.A5, li&e'ise, the Buddhas do not create the
mantras, )ut they *ro(ulgate the( )ecause Gtheir intrinsic nature Ui.e., their dharmatV has
al'ays )een *resent4 3(ai'ta.II.II.H"5. Ho'e$er, there is a &ey di%%erence )et'een )oth
a**roaches: the Nik$as4 dhammahitat is sta)le only )ecause its nature is a Gfi\ed .ondition4
3,N.II.A, n. A", *. CF"5, i.e., it al'ays re(ains 'ithin the conditioned s*here o% reality, the
Mah?y?naKEa,ray?na4s dharmat instead, gi$en that it is identical to the dharmadhtu 3see n.
J! a)o$e5, is a Gfi\ed non'.ondition4 ca*a)le o% o*erating 'ithin the conditioned, )ecause
according to 8?g?r,una, nirva and dharmat are )oth Gnon-arisen and non-ceased4
3M%k."H.C5. Qn the Ea,ray?na mantras4 dharmat, see )elo'.

This Tantra recognizes t'o &inds o% adhihna: the dharmat4s as it is re%erred to a)o$e, and
the Buddha4s, on this, see )elo'. Qn the Buddhas4 adhihna on dhras, see section "....
*aragra*h 3a5.

C%. the (eaning o% GA4 according to the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary, see A**endiN B-, Chart , 8o.

the Eedic and Iai$a Tantric akara.
#ndou)tedly, 'ith this understanding o% akara,
the Ea,ray?na a**roach di%%ers %ro( the deconstructi$e Mah?y?na one already
re%erred to, ho'e$er, )oth a**roaches also di%%er on ho' they understand e(*tiness,
not in its nature itsel%, )ut in its linguistic %unctioning. I% the Mah?y?na concei$es
e(*tiness as ineN*ressi)le, the Ea,ray?na instead, e(*hasizes e(*tiness4s *o'er to
*roduce innu(era)le (eanings.
Put in di%%erent ter(s, i% the Mah?y?na illu(inates
mantrasKdhras to eNhaust the( into silence, the Ea,ray?na illu(inate the( to
unleash their enlightening sonicKlinguistic *o'er.

2i&e'ise, i% the Iai$a Tantric mantra realization is )ased eNclusi$ely on a Ggrace
act4 )esto'ed )y the a)solute as 0udraKIi$a 3Sanderson, "JHH: BBA5, that o% Ea,ray?na
instead, only 'ill )e (ani%ested through the concurrence )et'een the dharmat4s
constant trans%or(ati$e *o'er and se$eral causes and conditions 3(ai'ta.II.EI."C5.
A(ong those conditions, stand out ethical *urity 3(ai'ta.III.E.J5, generating bodhi.itta,
understanding /e*endent Arising 3(ai'ta.II.EI."!5, $isualizing the deity and reciting
the mantra *ro*erly, and the Buddha4s adhihna 3(ai'ta.II.EI.JA5.

According to the (a)ra!ekhara, the characteristic o% mantras is identical to the
(ind o% all Buddhas, to /har(a4s realization, and *osseses the dharmadhtu. This
three%old mantra characterization is (ani%ested )y three ty*es o% mantras: 3a5 Gsecret
mantra4 3S&t. 0uh$a'mantra5, 3)5 G&no'ledge mantra4 3S&t. vid$'mantra5, and 3c5
Gdhra'mantra4. The 0uh$a'mantra is called Gmantra4 )ecause it *rotects the (ind %ro(
signs 3%ro( sense o),ects5 and discursi$e thought 3vikalpa5, and )ecause it is the non-
duality o% $oid 3man'5 and co(*assion 3'tra5, and it is Gsecret4 )ecause it is outside the
sco*e o% non-Buddhist gods and GHZnay?na4 *ractitioners. The vid$'mantra denotes
Gcountering avid$ 3nescience5 )y o$erco(ing the dar&ness o% *assion and )y
o$erco(ing de%ile(ents4, and the character o% the dhra'mantra is Gto hold the
Buddha-dhar(as= its holding is called Gholding o% dharmas4 and G$irtue4 3Tr. 6ay(an,
"JJ!: BF-BA5.
This three%old mantra classi%ication 'ould )e retained )y later authors 'ho,
'hile &ee*ing their )asic characteristics, 'ould also add to the( ne' %actors.
According to the Bh?$a$i$e&a4s Tarka)vla, the 0uh$a'mantra re$eals the esoteric

See sections ".".".". and "."... I% the Nik$as e(*hasize metaphori.all$ that Buddha4s
/ha((a has only Gone taste4, that o% li)eration 3P dhammavina$o ekaraso vimuttiraso5 3Mpp!.III:
"AHH, n. "5, li&e'ise, Ea,ray?na e(*hasizes literall$ that the Buddha4s /har(a has only Ga
constant sound4, that o% Buddhahood.

As 1a&u)an *ut it: G<Notericis( Ui.e. Mah?y?naV eN*lains that *rinci*le decidedly lac&s
eN*ression. <sotericis( Ui.e. Ea,ray?naV eN*lains that *rinci*le has countless eN*ressions4
36orin: BB5. Qn the Dharma'k$a4s *reaching 3hosshin sepp55, see section .F..

As illustration o% )oth a**roaches, there is the %ollo'ing eNchange 'ithin a 1orean
SjnKdhra *ractice conteNt: GThe (aster as&ed a (on& a Ho' a)out the dhra o% no
characterse The (on& ans'ered: UThat isV the character a. The (aster said: That is one
characterk The (on& had no ans'er. The (aster said: 7ou are no' (ani%esting the True
6ayk4 3Scrensen, !!A: BB-BC5. Ho'e$er, %or the Ea,ray?na a**roach Gthe e(*tiness o%
language and conce*tual thought is ,ust as e(*ty as anything else, and that since e(*tiness
(ar&s the character o% a'a&ened consciousness, the e(*tiness o% language and conce*tual
thought is ,ust as (uch a'a&ened consciousness4 3Payne, !!B: JB, n. BD5. Qn the dhra
%aculty to unleash (eanings, see section .F..

Qn the ethicalKdoctrinal %oundations %or the dhraQmantra *ractice, see section D.".".
(eaning o% the sylla)les eN*ressing the Buddha4s &no'ledge and )esto's the *o'er
to acco(*lish one4s o'n 'ishes, the vid$'mantra eNtinguishes the de%ile(ents 3kle!a5,
and the dhra'mantra *aci%ies (isdeeds and counteracts its roots 3Tr. 1a*stein, !!":
According to the ninth century C< Ti)etan leNicon ,0ra sb$or bam 0n$is, the
0uh$a'mantra Gca*tures and secretly in$o&es the deity o% the (antra4, the vid$'mantra
is an Gantidote to ignorance, e()odied as a goddess4,
and the dhra'mantra retains
'ithout %orget%ulness and ac+uires s*ecial se+uences 3Tr. 1a*stein, !!": AF, n. DF5.
And according to the /ru&*a 1agyu scholar Pe(a 1ar*o 3"AC-"AJ C<5, 'ho
identi%ied mantras as Tantras, the 0uh$a'mantras are Tantras that eN*ound the (ethod
as*ect o% the (ale deity, the vid$'mantras are Tantras that eN*ound the 'isdo(
as*ect o% %e(ale deity, and the dhra'mantras recollect the i(*ort o% 0uh$a and vid$
mantras, and also are Tantras including )oth (ale and %e(ale as*ects o% one Tantra
3,hes.E: FAC, n. C!5.
Fro( a di%%erent *ers*ecti$e, the Indian J@ana$a,ra 3ele$enth century C<5
understood dhra as a long %or(ula (ade u* o% a series o% mantras G)ecause it retains
(any (eanings and ter(s4, and recognized t'o ty*es: a vid$'dhra i% it e$o&es a
%e(ale deity, and a mantra'dhra i% it e$o&es a (ale deity 36ay(an, "JHF): F"-F5.
In the sa(e $ein as J@ana$a,ra4s, it 'as esta)lished a dhra di$ision co(*osed
)asically o% three &inds o% mantras: a Groot mantra4 3m%la'mantra5, an Gessence mantra4
3h&da$a'mantra5, and a Gnear-essence mantra4 3upah&da$a'mantra5 3M0$ud: ""B-""H, n.

To su((arize, the Indo-Ti)etan Ea,ray?na, )esides ac&no'ledging the
Mah?y?na dhra4s %aculties as (e(ory, $irtue accu(ulation and language (astery,
identi%ied it as a ty*e o% mantra, as a mantra co(*osed )y se$eral mantras, and as a
ty*e o% non-dual Tantra, and in all those cases in$ol$ed, the dhra4s soteriological
nature 'as e(*hasized. 8o' the <ast Asian Ea,ray?na understandings on the dhra
'ill )e studied.

.F. <ast Asian Ea,ray .F. <ast Asian Ea,ray .F. <ast Asian Ea,ray .F. <ast Asian Ea,ray?na /e%initions and Classi%ications ?na /e%initions and Classi%ications ?na /e%initions and Classi%ications ?na /e%initions and Classi%ications

.F.". .F.". .F.". .F.". In China In China In China In China

The use o% incantatory %or(ulas or Gs*ells4 3Ch. Hhou5 as antidote against
diseases and de(onic in%luences already 'as *ractised )y early Chinese /aoists,
hence, the introduction o% Buddhist mantrasQdhras in China 3second-third centuries
C<5 'as recei$ed 'ith great interest 31ieschnic&, "JJC: H-HD5. Ho'e$er, the a**arent
rese()lance )et'een Hhou and mantrasQdhras caused con%usions and contro$ersies

Bh?$a$i$e&a4s de%initions are inserted into his de%ence on mantra e%%icacy as (editation
(ethod 3bhvankra5 conduci$e to enlighten(ent, as he eN*ressed it against a GIr?$a&a4
criticis( alleging the non-Buddhist origin o% mantras, their irrationality, and lac& o% any
soteriological $alue 3Braar$ig, "JJC: DD-DB= 1a*stein, !!": F!-FD5.

As it 'as de%ined )y A)hay?&aragu*ta 3ele$enth century C<5: GFor the *ur*ose o%
eli(inating nescience 3avid$5 and *ro(oting clear $ision 3vid$5 are the vid$s4 36ay(an,
"JHF): F"5. Qn the vid$'mantra and its synony(s, see section ."...

According to a traditional inter*retation, the m%la'mantra in$o&es the a'a&ened )ody o% a
deity, the h&da$a'mantra its a'a&ened s*eech, and the upah&da$a'mantra its (ind 3,hes.EIII:
DD, n. C5. For a (ore co(*leN dhra4s di$ision, see Amo0: JA-JH.

)et'een /aoists and Buddhists. To recti%y such a situation, A(ogha$a,ra, 'ho
Gsho'ed su*eriority *articularly in dh?raWZ4 3Chou, "JFA: D!5, co(*osed the Pon0shi
tuoluoni )in0 3A 8omplete E\pli.ation of the Meanin0 of Dhras5, 'here a nor(ati$e
de%inition o% dhra is esta)lished, 'hich 'ill )e su((arized )elo'.
The mantrasQdhras condense the accu(ulation o% Buddhas4 enlighten(ent,
and their sylla)les and 'ords recei$e their adhihna.
A(ogha$a,ra de%ines %our
ter(s: Genco(*assing retention4 3S&t. dhra= Ch. tuoluoni5, Gtrue 'ords4 3S&t. mantra=
Ch. Hhen$an5, Gsecret 'ords4 3S&t. 0uh$a'mantra= Ch. mi$Zn5, and Gillu(ination4 3S&t.
vid$= Ch. min05, a**lying to each one %our categories: 3"5 Gdharma4 3i.e., Gnature45, 35
G(eaning4, 3D5 Gsamdhi4 3i.e., G*ractice45, and 3F5 GteNt4 or Ghearing4 3i.e., Glinguistic
-Dhra: Its Gdharma4 is the re(o$al o% de%ile(ents and attaining the
dharmadhtu teachings. Its G(eaning4 is the o)taining o% elo+uence and the
understanding o% innu(era)le teachings 'ithin the (eaning o% a single sylla)le. Its
Gsamdhi4 de$elo*s uncounta)le samdhis, the %i$e abhi)*s, allo'ing re)irth in any o%
the siN *lanes o% eNistence. Its GteNt4 is re(e()ering all the Scri*tures %ore$er.
-Mantra: Its Gdharma4 is the dharmadhtu understood as mantra.
Its G(eaning4
corres*onds to e(*tiness, and each o% its sylla)les contains the characteristic o%
reality. Its Gsamdhi4 is arranging the mantra4s sylla)les u*on a (oon disc and
concentrating the (ind u*on it. Its GteNt4 are all 'ords and sylla)les, %ro( o2 to svh.
-6uh$a'mantra: Its Gdharma4 is the non-Buddhist mantras and those o% the
Ir?$a&as and Pratye&a)uddhas, together 'ith their rites and acco(*lish(ents
Its G(eaning4 is only understood )y Buddhas and Bodhisatt$as. Its Gsamdhi4
is the i(*osition o% its sylla)les on the )ody to trans%or( its coarse %or( into a su)tle
Its Ghearing4 is the secret trans(ission o% those mantras, their *ractices and
-(id$: Its Gdharma4 is the re(o$al o% ignorance and de%ile(ents. Its G(eaning4
is the yogic understanding o% the ra)*pramit. Its Gsamdhi4 is the conte(*lation o%
its seed sylla)les 'ithin the (ind4s (oon disc. Its Ghearing4 is gras*ing the /har(a,
the delusion4s re(o$al, and the acco(*lish(ent o% bodhi.itta.

6hether they are one-sylla)le mantras or (yriad-sylla)le ones, they are all
na(ed dhras, mantras, 0uh$a'mantras, and vid$s 3Pon0: "A"-"AF5.
A(ogha$a,ra de%inition o% dhra *ro$ides three &ey ele(ents: as included
'ithin the teNt4s title, dhra denotes a general designation integrating all ty*ologies
o% (antric eN*ressions= as a *articular ty*ology, dhra, )esides including its
standard %aculties as (e(ory, elo+uence, and samdhi, its soteriological $alue as a

Qn the Buddhas4 adhihna on dhras, see section ".... *aragra*h 3a5.

Qn the identity o% mantras and dharmadhtu understood as dharmat, see section .D.

Here it is i(*licitly ac&no'ledged the non-Buddhist origin, i.e., non-Eedic, Eedic and
Iai$a, o% those mantras assi(ilated )y so(e (ainstrea( Buddhist schools, see section "..".".
and A**endiN C.

See (ai'ta.II.bIb. Qn the Iai$a Tantric n$sa, see section "."...

Qn the vid$'mantra4s de%initions, see sections ."... and .D. Here the vid$4s G(eaning4
(ay )e eN*lained )y the continuity )et'een the vid$'mantra4s %e(inine nature, and that o%
the ra)*pramit as the G(other o% all Buddhas4 )ecause Gthe all-&no'ledge o% the Tath?gatas
has co(e %orth %ro( her4 3Aa."."A-"B= :E',.bII.AD-AA5.
re(o$er o% de%ile(ents and acco(*lisher o% dharmadhtu is also recognized, and
*articularly, its a)ility to condense in one sylla)le innu(era)le ,%tras= and %ro( a
%or(al le$el, dhra is identi%ied as a mantra regardless o% the nu()er o% sylla)les it
(ay contain, hence, dhra is interchangea)le 'ith mantra, 0uh$a'mantra, and
As 'ill )e analysed )elo', 1M&ai 'ould highlight the co(*rehensi$e nature o%
dhra and its %unction as (eaning condenser.

.F.. In Ja*an .F.. In Ja*an .F.. In Ja*an .F.. In Ja*an

It should )e re(e()ered here that 1M&ai e(*hasized the a)ility o% the
Dharma'k$a to *reach the /har(a 3hosshin sepp55, and the &ey role *layed )y the
dhra to un$eil the innu(era)le contents o% such *reaching.
This $ast se(antic
*otential o% the dhra lies in its co(*rehensi$e nature. The Chinese (aster o% 1M&ai,
Huiguo 3CFB-H!A C<5, taught hi( that the ter(s vid$, Hhou, 0uh$a'mantra, and mantra
Gillustrate only a li(ited as*ect o% dhra4, i.e., dhra as vid$ re$eals 'isdo(4s light,
as Hhou eli(inates (is%ortune, as 0uh$a'mantra *oints to the secret o% the dhra, and
as mantra suggests that dhra contains only truth and no %alsehood. 1M&ai acce*ted
this co(*rehensi$e understanding o% dhra and concei$ed mantra 3Ja*. shin0on5 ter(
as denoting the esoteric %unction o% dhra as Gto unleash countless (eanings %ro(
'ithin each letter o% a 'ord. Because o% this, dhra is translated as s5)i, the container
o% all4 3A)S, "JJJ: BD-BF5. 1M&ai intre*reted this translation as Gcontainer o% all4 'ith
the (eaning o% G'ithin a single letter all teachings are contained, 'ithin a single
dhar(a all dhar(as are contained, 'ithin a single (eaning all (eanings are
contained, and 'ithin a single sound all $irtues are stored4 34on)i: "F!5.
Such dhra %aculty Gto unleash countless (eanings4 is )ased on a *rinci*le
holding t'o corres*ondences: 3"5 the corres*ondence )et'een Gsound4, Gsign4 and
Greality4, and 35 the corres*ondence and inter*enetration )et'een ele(ents,
languages on all *lanes o% eNistence, signs o% sense o),ects, and the Dharma'k$a.
According to 1M&ai, no Gsound4 is ar)itrary, )ut it in$aria)ly eN*resses the na(e o%
so(ething, and this is ter(ed Gsign4. Thus, a na(e in$aria)ly e$o&es the essence o% an
o),ect, and this is called Greality4, and the distinctions )et'een Gsound4, Gsign4, and
Greality4 are called their G(eanings4.
For instance, mantras corres*ond to Gsounds4,
their sylla)les and na(es corres*ond to Gsigns4, and the real characteristics o% the
di$erse deities, i.e., their acco(*lish(ents and $irtues, corres*ond to Greality4 3,h5)i:
HB, HJ5. 2i&e'ise, the %i$e ele(ents 3earth, 'ater, %ire, 'ind, and s*ace5 are the
original essence o% sound, hence, all o% the( ha$e acoustic $i)rations, and corres*ond

Qn this as*ect the <ast Asian Ea,ray?na di%%erentiates %ro( the Ti)etan Ea,ray?na, 'hich
usually designates dhras as Glong mantras4 3/<B: DBJ5.

See sections "..D. and .D. n. JC. +osshin sepp54s notion is already tracea)le in se$eral
Mah?y?na sources, as this one: Gthe Buddhas o% the Body o% the la' 3dharmak$abuddha5 thro'
)ea(s 3ra!mi5 'ithout ceasing and *reach the la' 'ithout ceasing, )ut )ecause o% their %aults,
those )eings do not see the( and do not listen to the(4 3Mpp!.I: AFB5. See (ore sources in 4en:

Although 1M&ai is assu(ing here the Eedic corres*ondence )et'een 'ordsKo),ects 3see
section ".".".5, he does it e(*hasizing its G(eaning%ul4 as*ect )ut 'ithout rei%ying it into an
Geternal4 or G%iNed4 one, )ecause the ulti(ate nature o% all na(es, mantras, and sylla)les is
e(*ty and un)orn, see )elo', and sections .D. and .F.".

to %i$e sylla)les, %i$e Buddhas, etc.
And languages on all *lanes o% eNistence arise
%ro( sound, and li&e'ise occurs 'ith the sense o),ects4 na(es or Gsigns4 and their
constituti$e aggregates, and the Dharma'k$a (eans that all dharmas 3i.e., Gsounds4,
Gsigns4, Gele(ents4, G*lanes4 languages4, and Gsense o),ects45 are originally un)orn, and
this corres*ond to Greality4 3,h5)i: J!-"!D5.

Co(ing )ac& to the dhra4s %unction as Gcontainer o% all4 already (entioned, it
'ill )eco(e clear 'ith the esoteric inter*retation (ade )y 1M&ai on AsaYga4s %our%old
dhra de%inition:
the dharma'dhra consists o% the %act that Ga dhar(a
re*resented )y a single letter itsel% %or(s the )asis %or U&no'ingV all other dhar(as. In
each letter all dhar(as are held4= the artha'dhra (eans that G'ithin a single letter is
enco(*assed the (eanings o% all the teachings4= the mantra'dhra entails that 'hen
reciting this single letter all su%%erings are relie$ed and enlighten(ent is gained= and
the knti'lbh$a'dhra consists in the unceasing *ractice o% this single letter, then
one 'ill eli(inate all delusions, a%%lictions, and &ar(ic hindrances and suddenly
realize the innate 'isdo( o% enlighten(ent. 1M&ai concludes e(*hasizing his
*rinci*le )ased on the corres*ondenceKinter*enetration a% all dharmas 3see a)o$e5,
)ecause Gthe (eaning o% any single letter contains 'ithin it the truth o% the (eanings
o% all other letters4 34on)i: "F"5.
According to this 1M&ai4s inter*retation, dhra goes
)eyond the *osition assigned )y AsaYga as one (odality o% dhra concei$ed as
mantra'dhra, and )eco(es a mantra a)le to acco(*lish the %our *ur*oses o% the
AsaYga4s de%inition, i.e., dhra is a mantra co(*osed )y one or (ore sylla)les 'hich
conte(*lation allo's the /har(a4s (e(orizing and understanding, and also is a)le to
re(o$e all su%%erings and attain enligthen(ent. Moreo$er, i% the Mah?y?na a**roach
di%%erentiates dhra as %acultyKcontent and the (eans to attain it, %or 1M&ai )oth
(eanings are su)su(ed 'ithin the dhra as mantra. And on the *ractices, and
(undane andKor su*ra(undane goals o% the dhras 'ill )e dealt 'ith in the neNt

Qn those +uinary Ea,ray?na corres*ondences, see 6orin: CA-J= HB:.I: F-A= 7a(asa&i,
"JHH: "A!-"A"= 6illia(sKTri)e, !!!: "".

Accordingly, Gthe (any utterances (ade )y the tongue are all (antras4 3(ai's%: "DH5,
although in *ractical ter(s, the <ast Asian Ea,ray?na 3and 1M&ai5 recognized Sans&rit 3i.e., the
siddham sylla)ary5 as the only Gsacred language4 a)le to *reach and realize the /har(a 34on)i:
"FC= ,h5mo: "FF5. Ho'e$er, such linguistic eNclusi$is( is not %ollo'ed )y the Dhra
Scri*tures nor )y the Indo-Ti)etan Ea,ray?na, see A**endiN B-".

See section ...

This %ollo's the ra)*pramit teaching asserting G'ithin a single letter all letters are
contained, and 'ithin all letters each single letter is contained4 34on)i: "F!, n. "B= /a$idson,
!!J: "B5.
Cha*ter D Cha*ter D Cha*ter D Cha*ter D

Functions: Functions: Functions: Functions: Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s in s in s in s in Practice Practice Practice Practice

D.". So(e Pre(ises on D.". So(e Pre(ises on D.". So(e Pre(ises on D.". So(e Pre(ises on Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra Practice Practice Practice Practice

D."." <thical Foundations D."." <thical Foundations D."." <thical Foundations D."." <thical Foundations

So(e Dhra Scri*tures *resent the(sel$es as a *ath *articularly indicated
%or those 'ho ha$e co((ited hea$ily un'holeso(e actions, such as the (onastic
Gde%eats4 3pr)ikas5, or the %i$e acts o% Gi((ediate4 retri)ution 3S&t. nantar$a5 34en:
FF5. <$en %or other Dhra's%tras, %ollo'ing an ethical conduct a**ears as irrele$ant:
GUThis dhraV 'ill )esto' success to sheKhe 'ho is ethically *ure, to sheKhe 'ho is
i(*ure, to sheKhe 'ho is %asting, to sheKhe 'ho is not %asting, and e$en, to sheKhe
engaged in a(orous *leasures4 34ala: B!.F-B5. But it 'ould )e (ista&en to inter*ret
those clai(s as an in$itation to (oral laNity. In %act, their goal is to e(*hasize the
dhras4 a)ility to counteract 'hate$er noci$e past karma (ay still hinder a present
*ossi)ility o% s*iritual acco(*lish(ent %or the indi$idual. Ho'e$er, des*ite the %act
that dhras de%ine the(sel$es as endo'ed 'ith +uasi Go(ni*otent4 *uri%ying and
trans%or(ati$e $irtues, those $irtues do not *reclude an ethical res*onsi)ility: GThe
*reli(inary stage Uo% a dhra ritualV 'ill )e achie$ed i% one stands i((o$a)le in the
(oral *rece*ts 'ithout dou)ting, e$en i% one 'ere ill-)eha$ed %or(erly4 3-ik.EI."DJ=
84D: "DC5.
But going )eyond those Scri*tural clai(s, in *ractical ter(s all (odalities o%
traditional Buddhist ethics, i.e., (ina$a, Mah?y?na, and Ea,ray?na ones, esta)lish the
necessary %oundations %or a *ro*er dhra *ractice. Already it had )een noted that
mantra *ractice 'as acce*ted 'ithin (ina$as o% se$eral (ainstrea( Buddhist
2i&e'ise, the (ina$a also constitutes the ethical )asis a(ong the Mah?y?na
and Ea,ray?na dhra *ractitioners. To +uote ,ust a %e' eNa(*les, )e%ore his death,
Easu)andhu 3D!-F!! C<5 sa' a (on& *loughing his %ield, and said: GThe 2a' o% the
Teacher is degenerated4, then recited thrice the "avi)a$'dhra in the re$erse
order and died 3Chi(*aKChatto*adhyaya, "JC!: "CF5. Q% the dhra (aster Fotudeng
it 'as said Gthat 'ine had not *assed his teeth, that he had not eaten a%ter noon, that
he had ne$er acted 'ithout re%erence to his $o's, that he 'as desiresless and
unsee&ing4 36right, "JFH: DBC5. And A(ogha$a,ra 'as considered a Sar$?sti$?da
(ina$a (aster 3Qrlando, "JH": "DB, "AB5, )eing lauded )y e(*eror /ai-zong )ecause he
Gheld %ir(ly the (ina$a4 and Gguarded the !las4. In %act, a signi%icant grou* o% Chinese
(on&s )elonging to the G(ina$a school4 3Ch. Ii]lB H5n05 also *ractised Ea,ray?na,
)ecause they %ound a co((on )asis lying )ehind the Gright *rocedures4 o% esoteric
rituals 3vidhi5 and a sound (onastic de*ort(ent 3Chou, "JFA: D"D5.
Concerning the Mah?y?na and Ea,ray?na ethical conteNt, the arising and
sta)ilization o% the bodhi.itta is an essential condition to acco(*lish dhra
The Trisama$ar)a asserts that: GHe 'hose thought o% enlighten(ent is
%ir(, and his (ind %ree %ro( attach(ent, he need ha$e no dou)t, and his ai( is al'ays
acco(*lished4 3-ik.EI."F!= 84D: "DC5, and the ,ubhuparip&..h'tantra states that Gone
'ill )e ruined4 i% mantras are recited 'ithout ha$ing generated bodhi.itta 36angchu&,

See section "..".". and A**endiN C.

Qn the bodhi.itta as condition to mantras4 e%%iciency, see section ...
!!C: "AH5. Besides the bodhi.itta, ho'e$er, an understanding o% Mah?y?na teachings is
also necessary, i.e., (aintaining disci*line, ha$ing sel%-control, culti$ating
co(*assion, and a gras*ing o% the Interde*endent Arising, to *roduce success in
dhra *ractice G'ith only a little hardshi*4 3(ai'ta.II.EI."!= III.EII.AF5.

Those %actors 'ere integrated 'ithin a co((on ethics %or all Tantras and
su((arized in the G%our great root *ledges4: to ha$e a correct $ie' o% the
con$entional, i.e., the )elie% in the la' o% causality= not to %orsa&e the Three Je'els= to
sa%eguard the bodhi.itta= and not re,ect the true initiation 3abhieka5 3,hes.E: D!5.
8e$ertheless, the Jri$ Tantras4 ethics, 'hich o$erall is %ollo'ed )y (ost Dhra
Scri*tures, *rescri)es, )esides a (ainstrea( Buddhist ethics, s*eci%ic *rece*ts o% a
(ar&edly ritual nature. 8o' those %ro( the ,usiddhikra's%tra 'ill )e descri)ed as a
re*resentati$e eNa(*le %or the 'hole tradition:
3"5 to ta&e re%uge, 35 to con%ess
negati$e deeds, 3D5 to generate bodhi.itta, 3F5 to (a&e as*irational 'ish 3praidhna5 on
the strength o% ha$ing studied the Tantras and )eing &no'ledgea)le a)out ritual
*rocedures, 3A5 to (a&e an earnest e%%ort to *ractise gi$ing, 3B5 to )e %ree %ro(
greediness, 3C5 to )e endo'ed 'ith co(*assion, 3H5 to )e endo'ed 'ith *atience or
rece*ti$ity, 3J5 to )e endo'ed 'ith )ene$olence, 3"!5 to )e endo'ed 'ith diligence,
3""5 *ractising the siN &inds o% recollection Ui.e. the Three Je'els, (orality, generosity,
and deitiesV, 3"5 to listen to $arious teachings, 3"D5 to analyse the( 'ith de$otion,
3"F5 to recite tantric ritual *rocedures 3vidhi5, 3"A5 to (a&e o%%erings o% mantras and
mudrs, 3"B5 to dra' maFalas, 3"C5 to initiate the G%our retinues4 Ui.e., bhikus, bhikuns,
upsakas, upsiksV 'ho ha$e a correct $ie' and %ir( bodhi.itta, 3"H5 to eN*ound
Tantras to those 'ho a)ide )y their *ledges, and 3"J5 to *ro*agate Tantric Scri*tures
36angchu&, !!C: D!"5.

Another outstanding %eature o% Ea,ray?na ethics is that mantrasKdhras
the(sel$es are *art o% the *ledges, such as Gto ha$e i(*artial and non-,udg(ental
%aith in 0uh$a'mantras, vid$'mantras, and dhra'mantras4 3,hes.E: D5, to (a&e
o%%erings to mantra %or(ulas, not a)andoning h&da$as and mantras, not disclosing
mantras, and not interru*ting mantras. <$en a (ethod to (a&e a(ends %or the
se$erest transgression, i.e., the a)andon(ent o% bodhi.itta, consists o% reciting mantras
36angchu&, !!C: D!B, DF, DJ, DAF5. To su((arize, the Buddhist ethics o% all $ehicles
esta)lishes the &ey %oundations %or a sound dhra *ractice, and &ee*ing their
*rece*ts, $o's, and *ledges is essential to Gs'i%tly gain s*iritual attain(ents4 3,hes.E:
J5. 7et, to such ethics can )e added, or not, ritual *rescri*tions.

D.".. 8on D.".. 8on D.".. 8on D.".. 8on- -- -ritual and 0itual a**roaches ritual and 0itual a**roaches ritual and 0itual a**roaches ritual and 0itual a**roaches

/e*ending on 'hich are their Scri*tural sources, the dhra %or(ulas (ay
ado*t t'o *ractical a**roaches: one non-ritual or GeNoteric4, and one ritual or

Qn the conditions to mantras4 acco(*lis(ent according to the Mahvairo.anbhisa2bodhi'
tantra, see section .D.

This Scri*ture o%%ers one o% the (ost detailed $ersions o% a (ature Gdhra ethics4, %or
other eNa(*les, see ,hes.E: D"-DF, and 6angchu&, !!C: JA-D!F. 8ote that the ,usiddhikra'
s%tra )elongs to certain (id$dhara'piakas, see sections ".... *aragra*h 3d5 and "..D. Qn the
dhra ritual *ractice, see section D."..

Ho'e$er, dhras can )e *ractised 'ithout %ollo'ing such ritual *rece*ts or any ritual
*rescri*tions, see section D."..

Gesoteric4. In the %irst case, the *ro(ulgator 3Buddha, Bodhisatt$a, or deity5 utters the
dhra %or(ula and *ro(ises its e%%icacy and concrete )ene%its to herKhis reciter, )ut
does not *ro$ide any s*eci%ic (ethod to *ractise it= this is the a**roach %ollo'ed )y
(ost a**ended dhras on Mah?y?na ,%tras.
In the second case, instead, the
*ro(ulgator, )esides *ro(ising the dhra4s e%%icacy and )ene%its, eNtends herKhis
e%%icacy4s *ledge 3sama$a5 to its ritual *rescri*tions, and this is the a**roach %ollo'ed
)y (ost Dhra Scri*tures, hence, i(*lying a shi%t %ro( the eNoteric s*here to the
esoteric one.

Ho' are )oth a**roaches a**lied in *racticee The non-ritual a**roach is +uite
straight%or'ard, consisting o% reciting the dhra %or(ula a (ini(u( o% three ti(es,
a %igure already )eing in use in so(e early Buddhist %or(al acts and Eedic rituals.

Ho'e$er, there are cases 'here a dhra %or(ula is eNtracted %ro( a Dhra's%tra to
)e recited the *rescri)ed nu()er o% ti(es eNoterically 'ithin a co((unal conteNt.
Classical eNa(*les o% this &ind o% *ractice 'ere the G*er(anent recitation4 o% the
"avi)a$'dhra t'enty one ti(es e$ery day )y all (onastics, intended to *rotect
the Chinese e(*ire 31uo, !!F-!!A: FCJ5, or the *u)lic dhras4 recitations %or
healing *ur*oses carried out )y (onastics in (edie$al Ja*an 3A)S, "JJJ: "B!-"BD5. The
non-ritual a**roach also includes a *ri$ate recitation o% dhras along 'ith other
sacred teNts 3,%tras, $erses, etc.5 as *art o% a daily liturgy 3:ellner, "JJD: HD5, or an
intensi$e recitation to attain a concrete goal, such as reciting H!!,!!! ti(es the
8unddev'dhra to re(o$e Gall his or her deadly &ar(ic transgressions created since
)eginningless ti(e4 3T "!CC "HAa!-, 8und: "5, or e$en a dhra recitation intended
%or se$eral *ur*oses as *art o% the daily (onastic schedule, such as it is *ractised )y
the <ast Asian Ch4anKSjnKlen Buddhist (onasticis(s 3Bodi%ord, !"": JA-JD!5.
Be%ore dealing 'ith the dhras4 ritual a**roach, it 'ould )e con$enient to
su((arize its origins. It 'as stated )e%ore that the re$elation o% Eedic and Iai$a
mantras include their Ga**lication4 3vini$o0a5, )eing descri)ed 'ith detail in the ritual
G*rocedures4 3S&t. kalpa5 including their *ractice (ethods and *rece*ts 3Moda&, "JJD:
"D5. A synony( o% kalpa is that o% G*rescri*tion4 or Gritual (anual4 3vidhi5, containing
instructions so detailed that ha$e the %aculty o% in$iting or su((oning the mantra4s
deity, )ecause not only the mantra )ut its kalpaQvidhi as 'ell eNtract their *o'er %ro(
the e%%icacy4s *ledge 3sama$a5 secured )y the mantra4s re$ealer 3<ltschinger, !!": A,
D5. /es*ite )eing already included 'ithin the Atharvaveda and its ari!ias, the
kalpaQvidhi sti(ulated the rising during the :u*ta *eriod 3D!-A!! C<5 o% a ne' genre
o% ritual teNts such as the Iai$a /0amas, the I?&ta Tantras, and the EaiTWa$a ,amhits,
)eing re*licated )y the Buddhist Jalpas 36allis, !!: "5 and Dhra'vidhis, that %irst
circulated inde*endently to )e adhered later to the Dhra's%tras 3/alton, !"!: "F-

See A**endiN / section 3c5.

See sections ".... *aragra*hs 3a5 and 3)5, and "..D. The nature o% such shi%t 'as rightly
eN*ressed )y 0. A)S: GQne o% the %eatures that distinguish esoteric scri*tures %ro( eNoteric
Mah?y?na sMtras is this shi%t %ro( sMtra reading to ritual action as a nor(ati$e (ethod o%
(astering the teNt4 3"JJJ: "BC5.

For instance, the three%old re*etition o% the re%uge %or(ula, or the three%old re*etition o%
the Eedic sacri%icial %or(ulas 36ay(an, "JHF): F"A-F"B5.

See section "...., *aragra*hs 3a5 and 3)5.
The dhras4 ritual a**roach %unctions in an identical 'ay to their non-
Buddhist (odels, al)eit &ee*ing its o'n *articularities. The *ro(ulgator utters the
dhra %or(ula and its )ene%its, *ledging that the *ractitioner 'ill attain the( i%
sheKhe %ollo's eNactly its ritual *rescri*tions. The dhra rituals (ay %all 'ithin t'o
general categories: rituals 'here no *re$ious Gconsecration4 3abhieka5 is needed, and
rituals in 'hich one is indeed needed. In the %irst case, a dhra recitation is
*rescri)ed along 'ith the *er%or(ance o% a *rotecti$e ritual s*ace deli(ited )y a
maFala, 'hich is 'orshi**ed 3p%)5 'ith di$erse o%%erings such as la(*s, incense,
scents, non %er(ented )e$erages, and $egetarian dishes 3M$%: DBC-DBH, FAJ5. Qther
rituals add to the maFala a *ainted i(age 3S&t. pratim'vidhi5 o% a Buddha,
Bodhisatt$a, or deity, to 'hich o%%erings are (ade and in %ront o% 'hich is recited the
dhra %or(ula a *rescri)ed nu()er o% ti(es. This recitation is *receded )y a ritual
)ath, a $egetarian diet, the %or(ulation o% bodhi.itta and )ene$olence to'ards all
)eings 3Amo0: JJ-D!!= rati: -C5. In so(e Dhra's%tras the ritual 'riting o% the
dhra %or(ula is e(*hasized, and its 'earing around one4s ar( or nec& 3rati: !C5,
or its insertion into st%pas, or hanging it in )anners, high *laces, gates, etc. 3,it:
And in the second case, dhra *ractice is *receded )y an abhieka ritual 34ala:
AJ.D-A5, 'here )esides including those ele(ents already descri)ed, dhra4s recitation
is co()ined 'ith the *er%or(ance o% hand gestures 3S&t. mudrs5, and the
$isualization o% a (ore ela)orated maFala and pratim designs, concluding 'ith a %ire
ritual o%%ering 3S&t. homa5 3,usi: "A!-"A"5.

Although at %irst sight this dhra ritual *ractice (ay contradict the re,ection
o% Eedic ritualis( ad$ocated )y the early Buddhis( 3DN.A.-C5, in %act, the dhra
ritual should )e $ie'ed as a s&ill%ul ada*tation to a +uite ritualized non-Buddhist
conteNt, )ut 'ithout )etraying the %unda(ental Buddhist tenets.
I% the (ainstrea(
Buddhist ethics asserts that the 'holeso(e actions are 'holeso(e in the(sel$es and
hence, they *roduce 'holeso(e results 3Har$ey, !!!: "C5, the Dhra's%tras added to
this the vidhi4s ritual e%%icacy, )ut al'ays *receded )y a right ethical intention. Thus,
the Dhra's%tras uni%ied the Buddhist notion o% karma as Gintentional action4 3Har$ey,
!!!: "B-"C5, 'ith the Eedic conce*tions o% karma as Gsacri%icial act4 and Gcreati$e act4
3:oudriaan, "JCH: "-5. Ho'e$er, ho' to deal 'ith the issue o% so(eone ethically
*ure 'ho *er%or(s rightly a dhra ritual )ut does not attain the desired goale To

Qn the Eedic antecedent o% Gin$esting4 onesel% 'ith a mantra as *rotection, see A**endiN A.
Qn dhras4 insertion into st%pas and related *ractices, see section D.D.".

/es*ite its re,ection in the Nik$as 34ra): AH-AJ5, the Eedic homa 'ould )e assi(ilated )y
the Ea,ray?na. Basically, the Eedic homa is a )an+uet o%%ered to a deity through %ire o)lations,
and to this eNternal ritual, the Buddhist homa added to it an internal conte(*lation, 'here
the o%%iciator, a%ter identi%ying hersel%Khi(sel% 'ith the deity, G)urns4 the G%uel4 o% herKhis
de%ile(ents 'ith the G%ire4 o% insight 3Stric&(ann, "JJB: DFC, DAH-DAJ5. Qn the (ental %ire
o%%erings in Hinduis( and Buddhis(, see Bentor, !!!: B!F-B!C. There are also Buddhist homas
'ith (undane goals, see section D.".D., )elo'.

In %act, in DN.A."H-C Eedic sacri%ice is not re,ected in toto, )ut so(e o% its as*ects are
ad(itted a%ter )eing Gethicized4, as the acce*tance o% non-)loody o%%erings 3ghee, oil, etc.5, and
o% so(e Eedic sacri%icial *rescri*tions, eg. the donations to Brah(ans and ta&ing ascetic $o's
3vrata5 3Moda&, "JJD: "JJ, JH-D!"5, )eing reinter*reted in Buddhist ter(s as Ggi%ts to $irtuous
ascetics4, G*ro$iding shelter %or the Sangha4, and ta&ing re%uge in the Three Je'els and
underta&ing *rece*ts 3DN.A.-A5. Pro$iding %eeding to Brah(ans o% G*ure conduct4 is a &ey
*rere+uisite %or the e%%icacy o% so(e Iai$a Tantric mantras 3MM.II.C-H5.
this li&ely issue the Dhra's%tras *ro$ided di%%erent ans'ers, so(e o% the( including
an Gesca*e clause4 noting that the dhra %or(ula (ight not succeed Gdue to the
%ruition o% *ast karma4 3S&illing, "JJ: "FH-"FJ5, 'hile others signaled an increase o%
the nu()er o% recitations until getting its eN*ected result 3T "!CC "HA)-D, 8und: "5.
But (ost Dhra's%tras are seen to ha$e secured an indis*uta)le e%%ecti$eness to their
%or(ulas 3Amo0: JH-JJ= ,it: "B= rati: !5, al)eit they 'ill not )e e%%ecti$e i% the
*ractitioner has not %aith in the( 3T "!B! "!CaB-C= Jru: "BH-"BJ5. So(e Dhra'
s%tras e$en (ention a (aNi(u( o% se$en years to attain their goals 3/a$idson, !!J:
"DC= ,uvar: B", ,0ol: A5.

D.".D. Mundane and Su*ra(undane Acco(*lish(ents D.".D. Mundane and Su*ra(undane Acco(*lish(ents D.".D. Mundane and Su*ra(undane Acco(*lish(ents D.".D. Mundane and Su*ra(undane Acco(*lish(ents

Qne o% the (ost signi%icant as*ects o% dhra %or(ulas is to integrate
G(undane4 3S&t. laukika5 and Gsu*ra(undane4 3S&t. lokottara5 goals as an interrelated
This Gholistic4 nature o% dhras 'as rightly gras*ed )y the
HuayanKEa,ray?na (aster /aozhen 3ele$enth century C<5, 'ho recognized in the
dhras ten inherent $irtues: 3"5 they guarantee national security 3*rotection %ro(
ene(ies, %ro( astrological and natural disasters, %ro( %a(ily dissension, %ro( cro*
%ailure, %ro( drought, etc.5, 35 they *urge de%ile(ents and eNorcize ghosts, 3D5 they
cure illnesses and increase )lessings, 3F5 they guarantee the (iraculous achie$e(ent
o% things sought, 3A5 they ensure re)irth in *aradise, 3B5 they are the %ont o% all
teachings and *ractices, the (other o% all Buddhas, 3C5 they ena)le the easy *ractice
o% ada(antine *rotection %or the G%our retinues4, 3H5 they con%ir( the e+uality o%
ordinary )eings 'ith Buddhas, 3J5 they e%%ect a'a&ening )y )oth o'n *o'er and
other *o'er, 3"!5 they are o% such $alue that e$en Buddhas still cherish the(
3:i(ello, !!F: DH5. As it 'ill )e seen )elo', des*ite eNisting Dhra's%tras only
%ocused on one goal, the (ost in%luential o% the( are Gall-*ur*ose4, i.e., they e()race a
'ide s*ectru( o% goals, (undane and su*ra(undane ali&e.

There%ore, those Gall-*ur*ose4 Dhra's%tras are *resented as mediators
)et'een the conditioned and unconditioned *lanes o% reality, )ecause as )eing a
(odality o% buddhava.ana, they are seen as e()odying in sound and 'riting the
Buddhas4 *resence: GBy the *o'er o% this s%tra Uand dhraV all Buddhas and
Bodhisatt$as, and e$en all devas are arri$ing4 34ala: BF."-5. And this Buddhas4
(ediator *resent as dhras is not only *ointing to a 'orld4s transcendence, )ut also,
to the attaining o% Gall his desires, as the Buddhas ha$e said4 3rati: DA5. In this as*ect,
ho'e$er, the dhras are (ore closely related to the Ea,ray?na a**roach, and hence,
'ith their Eedic and Iai$a *redecessors, than 'ith the trans(undane a**roach
ad$ocated )y the Nik$as 3DN."B.B.C5 and the (ainstrea( Mah?y?na 3-ik.bI= 84D:

This %eature is already tracea)le in the Nik$as, 'here is asserted the *ossi)ility to attain
Arahantshi* a%ter ,ust se$en years o% *racticing the satipahnas 3DN..= MN."!.FB5.

Qn )oth dhra goals, see sections D.. and D.D. This is also the case 'ith the Garapa.ana4
sylla)ary4s Gad$antages4 3Mps%: "B5.

This is also the case 'ith (any in%luential Eedic and Iai$a Tantric mantras. For instance,
the *i$otal Eedic 0$atr mantra is used during the initiation ritual o% )eco(ing a Brah(an
3upana$ama5 3Staal, !!H: "D-"B5, and %or thera*eutical goals 30omu, "JHB: D, FD, BD5= and
the Tantric Hanu(?n mantra can )e used %or *rotecti$e, thera*eutical, increase, and o%%ensi$e
goals 3MM.bIII."F-DJ5.

I% the dhras descri)e the(sel$es as endo'ed 'ith su*re(e and
irresisti)le %aculties 3M$%: FAD= rati: DC5, this is )ecause o% their nature as
buddhava.ana eN*ressing 'hat is true, a higher *o'er is deri$ed a)le to counteract the
in%erior *o'er e()odied )y the re%erents to 'hich dhras are %ocused 3eg.
de%ile(ents, *ast har(%ul karma, dangers, de(ons, diseases, others sects4 mantras,
etc.5. 6hate$er (ay )e the en$isaged dhra and its goal, it is al'ays re*roducing this
hierarchical *rinci*le: the dhra (ani%ests itsel% as endo'ed o% a higher *o'er than
its o**onent4s.
Sections D.. and D.D. 'ill deal 'ith the (ost characteristic dhras4
goals as they a**ear in so(e o% their (ost in%luential Dhra's%tras.
The three *arts
o% section D.. are re%lecting an ada*tation o% the Jri$ Tantras4 classi%ication collecting
the (undane acco(*lish(ents according to the rites o% G*aci%ication4 3!ntika5,
Gincrease4 3pauika5, and Gsu),ugation4 3bhi.ruka5, that des*ite the %act that it does
not al'ays corres*ond eNactly 'ith the dhra goals, is e(*loyed here %or heuristic
And section D.D. su((arizes so(e o% the (ost outstanding dhras4
su*ra(undane goals, as they are re%lected in se$eral ritual and conte(*lati$e
*ractices 'ides*read a(ong Mah?y?na and Ea,ray?na Buddhis(s.

D.. Mundane D.. Mundane D.. Mundane D.. Mundane Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra Practices Practices Practices Practices

D..". Protection D..". Protection D..". Protection D..". Protection

The early use o% mantras 'ithin so(e (ainstrea( Buddhist schools as an
antidote against the antar$as had already )een noted, )eing %ollo'ed )y the
Mah?y?na4s d&adhrmikas.
2i&e'ise, the dhras counteract those sa(e dangers
and still others in a (ore detailed 'ay. 6ithin this conteNt, the (ain dhras4
%unction is *ro$iding *rotection and i((unity against noNious agents, technically
called G*aci%ication4 or Gre(o$al o% cala(ities4 3!ntika5 3,usi: "H"5. The dhras are
regarded as )eing a)le to *rotect the *ractitioner %ro( a large nu()er o% dangers and
o)structions *ro$o&ed )y the %ollo'ing categories o% har(%ul %actors:
4$ adverse' .onditions. So(e dhras o%%er *rotection against all
&inds o% des*otis(, tyranny, in$asion, or any (ilitary con%lict 3Amo0: JJ= rati: DF=
,it: "!D5.
4$ human bein0s. Certain dhras include *rotection against hostile indi$iduals
*ro(oting en$y, gossi*, slander, *er,ury, +uarrels, ro))ery, etc., and e$en those 'ho
use )lac& (agic and destructi$e mantras to har( others 3(arat: C-"!= ,it: ""!-"", ""=
6addell, "HJA: F-FF5.

As it is the case 'ith dhra *ractice, 'ith the Iai$a mantra *ractice Gone can attain a
UreligiousV (erit, 'orldly *ros*erity, sensual *leasure, and li)eration4 3B;hne(ann, "JJ: C5.

So(e Dhra's%tras (a&e such hierarchical *rinci*le eN*licit: the ,ittapatr'vid$ra)*4s
*o'er is higher than all non-Buddhist mantras and other Buddhist mantras considered in%erior
3,it: "!J-""5, or the (a)ratuFa'dhra is su*erior against Eedic mantras to sto* raining
36addell, "J"F: F"-F5.

8ote that i% identical dhras4 +uotations a**ear %or di%%erent %unctions, this (eans that
such dhras are Gall-*ur*ose4 ones.

This three%old classi%ication co(es %ro( the Eedic tradition 3:oudriaan, "JCH: JA5.

See sections "..".". and ..".
4$ non'human bein0s. So(e dhras *ro$ide long and detailed lists o% s*irits or
de(ons 3S&t. 0raha5 o% a har(%ul or a()i$alent nature, 'ho can *ro$o&e night(ares,
diseases, *re(ature death, *ossession, etc. 3(arat: C5. An in%luential dhra )y its
*o'er against Gthe danger o% *ossession )y all &inds o% de(ons4 includes the na(es o%
no less than siNty siN &inds o% such )eings, %ro( aggressi$e gods 3devas5 to
Gconsciousness-stealers4 3.itthri5 3,it: "!F-"!J5.
4$ wild andQor poisonous animals. As 'as re%erred to %re+uently here, the
*rotection against *oisonous ani(als 3*articularly sna&es5 'as one o% the %ore(ost
reasons to acce*t mantras a(ong early Buddhists. The dhras added *rotection
against 'ild ani(als such as (ungooses, lions, tigers, )ears, hyenas, 'ild ya&s, and
'ol$es, and *oisonous ones such as (os+uitoes, %lies, )ees, horse%lies, scor*ions, and
o% course, sna&es 3,it: "!-""= M$%: DC5.
4$ natural elements. /angers co(ing %ro( a negligent handling o% %ire and
'ater, or natural disasters such as earth+ua&es, stor(s, and droughts ruining har$ests
3M$%: FAF5, 'ere *re$ented 'ith dhras )y go$ern(ents sensiti$e to Buddhis(. Qne
o% the (a,or A(ogha$a,ra4s dhra *o'ers 'as *roducing rain in the eNact ti(e to
a$oid droughts, and 'ith enough a(ount to a$oid %loods 3Chou, "JFA: JH-JJ, D!F-
4$ astral The dhras counteract negati$e astral con,unctions
ca*a)le o% distur)ing those acti$ities ruled )y the lunar calendar, and those o% an
un%a$oura)le *ersonal astral chart 3,it: JH= M$%: FFB-FA!= :rdn)old, !!": DC5.
4$ diseasesQdeath. 6ithout dou)t, this is the category (ost re%erred to in the
dhras, a)le to counteract the G%our hundred %our diseases4 3M$%: FAA5, *ro$o&ed )y
an i()alance o% )odily ele(ents, )y $iruses, *oisonings, s*irits, and a$oiding any &ind
o% unnatural death, i.e., a *re(ature one, *ro$o&ed )y accidents, eNecution, and
(urder 3Amo0: J"= /10a: A= 4ala: AC."-"C= rati: C-H= ,it: ""F-"!= (arat: H-J5.
2i&e'ise, so(e Dhra's%tras and the (edical treatises o% E?gh)a`a 3se$enth century
C<5, descri)e re(edies )ased on (edicinal su)stances and e(*o'ered 'ith dhras
3Amo0: JH-JJ= T "!B! ""!a!-""!cB, Jru: "J-"JJ= 0omu, "JHB: H-DC5.
The reason %or such *reciseness in namin0 the danger 3s*irit, disease, etc.5 %ro(
'hich onesel% is *rotected )y the dhra, lies in the Eedic notion *ostulating the
corres*ondence )et'een the )eingKo),ect itsel% and the na(e that designate it.

Including the har(%ul agents4 na(es 'ithin a Dhra's%tra4s teNt or e$en 'ithin its
dhra %or(ula itsel%, is e+ual to neutralizeKdissol$e their *o'er )ecause they are
Gen$elo*ed4 under the dhra4s higher *o'er.
2i&e'ise, in$o&ing the na(es o% the
s*iritual entities or 'ise )eings 'ho trans((itted the dhra, constitutes a &ey
condition to o)tain its *o'ers 3M$%: FA!-FA"5.

D.. D.. D.. D... Increase . Increase . Increase . Increase

The dhras not only *rotect %ro( dangers, they also *ro*itiate %actors o%
Gincrease4 3pauika5, that according to its traditional de%inition includes longe$ity,
re,u$enation, health, $itality, and the de$elo*(ent o% $irtues and desires 3,usi: "HF5.
Q$erall, the Dhra's%tras are seen as *ro(oting the %ollo'ing categories o% pauika:

See section ".".". and 'ithin a Buddhist conteNt, see section .F..

According to the Indian (agic, Gen$elo*ing4 the na(e o% a G$icti(4 or G*atient4 3sdh$a5
'ithin the sylla)les o% a mantra entails to Gen$elo*4 the sdh$a4s indi$iduality itsel% 3:oudriaan,
"JCH: HH5.
+ealth. This i(*lies )asically that Gall his illnesses disa**ear4 and Glong-lasting
'ea&ness ceases4 3rati: DD5, and Ga disease 'ill not occur in his )ody= 'hen a disease
caused )y karman has arisen, it 'ill +uic&ly )e cured4 3Amo0: JD5.
(italit$. Qne4s health needs to )e increased 'ith Gstrength4 3,it: "B5, Genergy,
*o'er, $igour and sel%-con%idence4 3rati: DD5, and ha$ing a Gs(ooth, handso(e and
slender4 )ody, 'hile &ee*ing it a'ay %ro( G'hate$er ro)s the $ital strength4 3Amo0:
@e.undit$. A$oiding in%ertility, getting an a)undant *rogeny o% healthy as*ect,
a nor(ally de$elo*ed %oetus, and that herKhis )irth (ay )e sa%e and *ainless, are the
goals %re+uently %ound in dhras 34ala: AC."F-"J= T "!3)5 C"F)"-, 6uh$a: B= T "!B!
""!)F-A, Jru: "JB= rati: "JC, J= ,it: "B5. This need o% %ecundity is also eN*anded
to trees and her)s4 gro'ing, and to the *ro*er ri*ening o% %ruits and cro*s 3T "!B!
"""cB, Jru: !D-!F= rati: "D5.
?on0evit$. 8u(erous Dhra's%tras e%%ect an eNtension o% one4s li%e Ga%ter it has
reached its UnaturalV li(it4 3rati: DD5, so that, according to se$eral sources, it can
reach one hundred years 3/$u3: JF5. Hence, it is e(*hasized to get a long li%e 3T
"!3)5 C"F)D-F, 6uh$a: A-B5 and )eing a)le to Gsee the )rightness o% one hundred
autu(ns4 3M$%: DBB, FFD5.
rosperit$. <radicating %ore$er *o$erty 3/$u3: JB5, the Gacco(*lish(ent o%
'ealth4 36aa: DFF5, G*ros*erity 'ithout e%%ort4 3T "!3)5 C"F)"J-!, 6uh$a: B5, the
a)undance Gin (oney and grain4 3rati: D!5, or o)taining clothes, (oney, gold, or
co's 34ala: B!.DF-DA5, is intended %or the *ros*erity o% the Buddhist co((unity.
;ntelle.tual fa.ulties. Se$eral dhras related to %e(ale deities are recited to
attain s*eci%ic intellectual %aculties, such as the Ea,ra[a^&ala4s to Gdee*ly re(e()er4
the /har(a study 3Bongard-2e$in, !!!: "C5, and a)o$e all the Saras$atZ4s, )esto'ing
(e(ory, elo+uence, &no'ledge, and s&ill%ulness in all &inds o% learning and Gsuccess
in the *er%or(ance o% $arious arts4 3,uvar: AB, ,0ol: FA, FH= 2ud$i&, !!C: "AH-"B", "HH-
"J!5. 2i&e'ise, the dhras o% the Bodhisatt$as O&?[agar)ha and Ma@,u[rZ are recited
to o)tain (e(ory, elo+uence, and the &no'ledge o% Gall Scri*tures4 and Gall scholastic
'or&s4 3A)S, "JJJ: CF= Mns: FD-FF5.
,upernormal Jnowled0es 3abhi)*5. #ndou)tedly, the (ost reiterated abhi)*
'ithin the Gsylla)ic4 dhras 3Mps%: "B5 and the Dhra's%tras, is that o%
re(e()ering one4s %or(er eNistences 3S&t. )tismara5, G'here$er he is )orn, in each
)irth he 'ill re(e()er all *re$ious )irths4 3/$u3: JF= 6aa: DFF= rati: D!= ,it: "F=
Scho*en, !!A): !-!A5.

D..D. /e%ence D..D. /e%ence D..D. /e%ence D..D. /e%ence

The Eedic tradition ela)orated a third set o% acco(*lish(ents %ocused on
Gini(ical actions4 3S&t. bhi.ara5 in order to 'ard o%% dangers and ene(ies o% di$erse
The Ea,ray?na assi(ilated such a**roach )ut (oderated )y Buddhist ethics
'ith the generic ter( o% Gsu),ugation4 3bhi.ruka5, including actions as G(a&ing close
%riends hate one another, or (a&ing Uyour %oeV seriously ill, or causing his retainers to
scatter, or stulti%ying hi(4. 8e$ertheless, those har(%ul actions are only directed Gto

/bhi.ara (ay include, a(ong others, actions such as Gcausing dissension4 3vidveaa5,
Geradication4 3u..ana5, and Gli+uidation4 3mraa5 3:oudriaan, "JCH: B, DBA5. "..ana (eans
de*ri$ing a *erson o% an o),ect or re(o$ing the( %ro( a location, and mraa (eans ta&ing a
*erson4s li%e 3Burchett, !!H: H"C5. Qn the original (eaning o% the mantra ha as a Gcounter-
attac&4 against an bhi.ara ritual, see A**endiN A.
*unish 'ic&ed *eo*le 'ho a co((it $arious sins, or $iolate the )odhisatt$a4s *ure
code o% disci*line, or slander the Three Je'els, or re)el against their teachers and
Moreo$er, a *ro*er bhi.ruka action only can )e carried out 'ithout anger
and resent(ent and in a controlled 'ay, *aying *articular attention to a$oid ta&ing a
*erson4s li%e 3,usi: "HC-"HH5.

Ho'e$er, 'ithin the Dhra's%tras 'here the bhi.ruka %aculty is in$o&ed, it
ta&es generally the %or( o% a su)tle 'rath 3S&t. krodha5, that can )e directed to
re(o$e hea$y (ental de%ile(ents 3kle!a5 o)structing an e%%ecti$e (editation 34ala:
AA.D!-F"5, or )eco(ing a (eans to create an Gar(our4 or G)ody o% )lazing %la(e4 a)le to
destroy Gall ene(ies4, i.e., Gall (isdeeds and o)structions4 3rati: !C5, or also can )e
trans%or(ed into a G*sychic de%ence4 %ocused against all &inds o% %ears, e$il s*irits,
(ale$olent (agic, contagious diseases, *hysical *ains, and ini(ical *eo*le 3(arat: A-

D.D. Su*ra(undane D.D. Su*ra(undane D.D. Su*ra(undane D.D. Su*ra(undane Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra Practices Practices Practices Practices

D.D.". /e*ositing D.D.". /e*ositing D.D.". /e*ositing D.D.". /e*ositing Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s in s in s in s in ,t ,t ,t ,t%pa %pa %pa %pas s s s

As 'as said )e%ore, identi%ying so(e Dhra's%tras as GDharma'k$a relics4
i(*lied the *rolongation o% a *re$ious idea identi%ying the Mah?y?na Scri*tures as
GDharma relics4.
This grou* o% Dhra's%tras consititues a s*eci%ic genre 'ides*read
through the Asiatic Buddhist 'orld, and re$ol$es around the idea that to introduce
into a st%pa one or (ore o% those Dhra's%tras is e+ual to the *lacing innu(era)le
Buddhas, their *hysical relics, and the totality o% Buddhist teachings into such st%pa,
i.e., those Dhra's%tras )eco(e the Buddhas4 GDharma Body relics4 3S&t. Dharma'k$a'
!arras5 3Bentor, "JJA: A-AD= Scho*en, !!Ac: D"!-D""5.

Basically, the Indo-Ti)etan classi%ications recognize three &inds o% relics: 3"5
the relics o% the Tath?gata4s Dharma'k$a, identi%ied as dhras, 35 the relics o% his
cor*oreal su)stance, and 3D5 the relics o% his gar), and the %irst ones are considered as
the highest 3M0$ud: "!C5. These are inserted in the %or( o% se$eral Dhra's%tras and
Ea,ray?na Tantras 'ithin *ro(inent locations o% the st%pa, so(eti(es in its
u**er(ost ti*, eN*ressing that the dhras are Gthe essence o% the Buddha4, 'hile in
others they are inserted into the u**er, lo'er and (iddle *arts o% the st%pa, sho'ing
in this 'ay the identity )et'een the Buddha4s *hysical )ody, i.e., the st%pa itsel%, and
his Geighty-%our thousands hea*s o% Dharmas4, i.e., the Dharma'k$a'!arras 3Bentor,

Qn a *recedent o% bhi.ruka against so(e G/ha((a4s critics4 )y the deity Ea,ra*?Wi 3P
Ea,ira*?Wi5 in the Thera$?da Nik$as, see DN.D."."= MN.DA."F.

8e$ertheless, under ad$erse circu(stances, bhi.ruka can trans%or( into a Gde%ensi$e
'ea*on4. So(e (asters %ro( Ei&ra(a[Zla (onastery *er%or(ed bhi.ruka rituals to re*el
Musli( in$aders 3Chi(*aKChatto*adhyaya, "JC!: D!C, DC-DH5, and using the sa(e (ethods,
A(ogha$a,ra hel*ed to *aci%y the An 2u-shan re)ellion 3Qrlando, "JH": 5 and neutralized an
atte(*t to in$ade the Chinese e(*ire 3Chou, "JFA: D!A-D!B5.

See section ".... *aragra*h 3F5.

The (ost in%luential Dhra's%tra related to st%pas is the "avi)a$'dhra's%tra 3"5,
see )elo'= %or other si(ilar Dhra's%tras, see Scherrer-Schau), "JJF: C"-C"J, and Bentor,

"JJA: A-AD= Martin, "JJF: JH, D!", D!F-D!A5. <+ui$alent ideas are %ound 'ithin <ast
Asian Buddhis(, 'here the "avi)a$'dhra's%tra4s Dharma'k$a'!arras and
related Dhra's%tras, not only 'ere identi%ied as the Buddhas4 GDharma Body4, )ut also
'ith the three GBodies4 o% all Buddhas o% the three ti(es, hence, to enshrine those
Dhra's%tras into a st%pa, i.e., the Dharma'k$a'!arras, is e+ual to enshrine all
Buddhas4 Bodies into it 3Shen, !!": BJ-C5.
In all li&elihood, the *ractice o% inserting dhras into the st%pas as a
(eritorius action a)le to %ul%ill all 'ishes Gat 'ill4 3T "!3)5 C"F), 6uh$a: B5, and the
daily dhras4s recitation to attain longe$ity, re)irth into a Pure 2and, or e$en, to
attain Gthe unsur*assed bodhi4 3T JC! DB!a"", ": H5, sti(ulated the in$ention o%
*rinting in China 3se$enth century C<5. Thus, a Mahpratisar'dhra4s Chinese
translation secures that i% Gso(eone *rint or co*y Uthe dhraV and carry it 'ith
herKhi(, all herKhis noci$e acts and hea$y transgressions 'ill )e re(o$ed at once4
3/rnge, "JJJ: J-D!5.

Ho'e$er, the *o*ularity o% so(e o% those Dhra's%tras did not lie as (uch in
their insertion into st%pas as in their *u)lic dis*lay. This is the case o% the "avi)a$'
dhra's%tra, that according to one o% its &ey *assages, i% a "avi)a$'dhra4s
'ritten co*y is hung on the ti* o% a )anner *ole, and 'hoe$er sees it, stands close )y,
or is touched )y its shado' or )y its dust 'hen the 'ind )lo's, sheKhe 'ill )e
li)erated %ro( )eing re)orn into the three un%ortunate *lanes 3ani(als, hungry
s*irits, and hells5, and 'ill recei$e the *rediction )y all Buddhas o% )eing irre$ersi)le
3avaivartika5 %ro( the su*re(e enlighten(ent 3T JC! DB!aB-)"B, ": H= 1uo, !!B:
This *assage originated in China the creation o% the Gdhra UstoneV )anners4
3Ch. tuoluoni'.huan05, &no'n in the 6est as Gdhra'*illars4, consisting in (ost cases,
in the "avi)a$'dhra's%tra4s inscri*tion or that o% its dhra %or(ula on
octagonal stone colu(ns, )eing 'ides*read through all China %ro( se$enth century
C< until thirteenth century C< 31uo, !!B: DC-F= !!A-!!B: FB"-FBB5.
into stone, the dhra is trans%erring its sonic e%%icacy to the $isi)le and tangi)le
s*heres, and 'ith such sonic e(*o'er(ent o% the (atter, this sa(e (atter is in turn
a)le to e(*o'er, i.e., the dhra'*illar4s dust and shado's Gha$e the sa(e +ualities
that the scri*tural 'ords ha$e4, hence, the dhra'*illar is acting in an autono(ous
'ay as the Buddha4s s*o&en utterance 3Co**, !!A: B-D5.

The earliest *rinted docu(ent in the 'orld %ound until no', is a dhra %or(ula in
Sans&rit %ound in the Chinese city o% bi4an 3.. BA!-BC! C<5, %ollo'ed )y a Dhra's%tra *rinted
in C! 3Pan, "JJC: JCH-JCJ5. The dhras4 *rinting 'as introduced later into 1orea 3CA" C<5
3Barrett, !!": F5, and 'as s*read to Ja*an 3.. CBF-CC! C<5 3Hic&(an, "JCA: HJ5.

Qn the avaivartika state and mantraQdhra *ractice, see sections "...". n. DF, and D.D..,

Qn Gdhra'*illars4 in 1orea, see Scrensen, !!B): CB-CJ. The "avi)a$'dhra's%tra
)eca(e so *o*ular, that in so(e instances, its (odality as Gdhra'*illar4 'as trans%or(ed
into a co(*leN GmaFala'*illar4 synthesizing the 'hole <ast Asian Ea,ray?na4s teachings
3Ho'ard, "JJC: DA-F5, or this dhra 'as re*resented as )eing held in lecterns 'ithin se$eral
/unhuang4s (ural *aintings 3Sch(id, !"!: B-"H5.
D.D.. 1ar(ic *uri%ication D.D.. 1ar(ic *uri%ication D.D.. 1ar(ic *uri%ication D.D.. 1ar(ic *uri%ication

It had )een argued that the early dhras4 *rotecti$e %unctions directed
against the negati$e conse+uences o% *re$ious karma, e$ol$ed to'ards a dhras4
soteriological use as antidotes against their causes, i.e., the de%ile(ents 3/a$idson,
!!J: "DF5. 8e$ertheless, the Scri*tural e$idence contradicts, to so(e eNtent at least,
such clai( )ecause (ost Dhra's%tras assert the re(o$al o% )oth the har(%ul e%%ects
o% &ar(a as 'ell as the (ental de%ile(ents causing the(. For instance, a Dhra's%tra
clai(s its *o'er to re(o$e %or(er transgressions and har(%ul deeds and their de%iled
causes, i.e., lust 3r0a5, hatred 3dvea5 delusion 3moha5, *ride 3mana5 and arrogance
3mada5 3,it: "B5, and other Dhra's%tra, )esides eli(inating Gthe dangerous
conse+uences o% actions4, also Groots out all UtheirV latent i(*ressions4 3S&t. vsans5
3rati: "H, 5.
6hat is detecta)le, ho'e$er, are t'o di%%erent a**roaches
concerning the &ar(ic *uri%ication4s method and its results. Qn the one hand, there are
Dhra's%tras *ostulating generalized (ethods and results deri$ed %ro( such
*uri%ication, such as securing longe$ity, a$oiding an un%ortunate re)irth, )irth into a
Pure 2and 3T "!3)5 C"F)C, 6uh$a: B5, or attaining su*re(e enlighten(ent 3T JC!
DB!aF, "9 C5, and on the other hand, there are Dhra's%tras descri)ing $ery
concrete *uri%ication4s (ethods and results. The %ocus 'ill turn no' to so(e o% those
As a general *re(ise, the (ost co((on ty*es o% har(%ul karma to )e *uri%ied
as %ound in the Dhra's%tras are the accu(ulation o% serious transgressions Gsince
)eginningless ti(e4 3T "!CC "HAa-D, 8und: "5 such as the %i$e nantar$as, and the
three root de%ile(ents *er*etuating re)irth 3r0a'dvea'moha5, also &no'n as the
Go)structions o% de%ile(ents4 3S&t. kle!varaa5 31uo, "JJF: "DC-"DH5.
Another (ore
co(*rehensi$e classi%ication di$ides de%ile(ents into three &inds: 3"5 Go)structions o%
$eNation4 including )oth the Go)structions o% de%ile(ents4 3kle!varaa5 and the
Go)structions to &no'ledge4 3S&t. )*e$varaa5, 35 Go)structions o% endo'(ent4, i.e.,
o)structions due to (ental and *hysical de%ects, and 3D5 Go)structions o% karma4
3karmvaraa5 3Ste$enson, "JHB: BF, n. BF5.

See (ore eNa(*les in T "!3)5 C"FcB-C, 6uh$a: C= T JC! DAJcF-A, ": C= T "!B! "!Ca!-H,
Jru: "BC-"BJ.

Mainstrea( Buddhis( *osited three &inds o% o)structions: 3"5 the Go)structions o% karma4
3S&t. karmvaraa5 identi%ied 'ith the %i$e nantar$as including (atricide, *atricide, the
&illing o% an Arhat, schis(, and 'ounding the Tath?gata 'ith thoughts o% hatred. They are
said o% Gi((ediate retri)ution4 )ecause a%ter death, the transgressor is re)orn in hells 'ithout
*assing through the inter(ediate state= 35 the Go)structions o% de%ile(ents4 3kle!varaa5
including the re%erred to root de%ile(ents and their deri$ations= and 3D5 the Go)struction o%
retri)ution4 3S&t. vipkvaraa5. Those o)structions *re$ent the re)irth in %a$oura)le
destinations and attaining li)eration 3Jo!a.IE.JAc-d.JB5. Qn vipkvaraa, also &no'n as
Go)structions o% endo'(ent4, see )elo', and n. "FC.

To kle!varaa, rooted in the )elie% in a sel% that clings to GI4 and G(ine4, the 7og?c?ra added
)*e$varaa, that Gco$ers o$er the inde%ecti)le Ui.e. un%ailingV nature o% &no'a)les and causes
the( not to a**ear in the (ind4, )ecause the )elie% in a sel% that clings to all i(agined things,
(ental states o% ignorance, the lo$e to things, and a%%ection %or (alicious thoughts 34ubh%:
!B5. The Go)structions o% endo'(ent4 are those such as congenital )lindness or dea%ness,
ha$ing a short li%e, hereditary sic&nesses, etc., eN*erienced in the *resent li%e, )ut as result o%
har(%ul actions co((itted in *re$ious li$es 3Mpp!.I: FHB-FJJ= Avat: C"B5.

According to the 8unddev'dhra's%tra, the *uri%ication4s (ethod consists o%
reciting the CundZ4s dhra %or(ula a %iNed nu()er o% ti(es, nor(ally !!,!!!,
C!!,!!!, or H!!,!!! ti(es, until onesel% eN*eriences an aus*icious oneiric signal, such
as G$o(iting a 'hite su)stance such as a thic& *aste o% rice4 3T "!CC "HA)D-A, 8und:
This recitation (ay )e co()ined 'ith the CundZde$Z4s mudr and $isualizing her
i(age, and her dhra can )e recited in a loud $oice, in a so%t $oice audi)le only to
onesel%, or )y 'ay o% Gada(antine4 recitation, that is, G)y actually s*ea&ing the dhra
)ut 'ith )arely *erce*ti)le (o$e(ent o% li*s and tongue 3\under one4s )reath,] as it
'ere54 3:i(ello, !!F: DC5.
The Mahvaipul$a'dhra's%tra is descri)ing a di%%erent
(ethod, 'here *eriods o% dhra recitation are co()ined 'hile 'al&ing around a
Buddha4s i(age 'ith *eriods o% sitting (editation, 'here the (ind is %ocused on the
non-a**rehension 3anupalabdhit5 o% all *heno(ena, and according the
transgression4s seriousness, this *ractice (ust )e re*eated a %iNed nu()er o% ti(es
and days.
The aus*icious sign re$ealing a success%ul *ractice is that o% clearly
conte(*lating a Buddha4s i(age 'hile onesel% is recei$ing %ro( hi( his adhihna,
the bodhi.itta a'a&ening, and the *rediction o% )eing irre$ersi)le 3avaivartika5 along
the *ath to su*re(e enlighten(ent 3S'anson, !!!: "D, D"5. The Gsecret essence4 o%
this dhra *ractice though, is that o% realizing a true insight o% the GMiddle 6ay4 that
the dhra e()odies: G6hen Uthe *ractitionerV discerns the sound o% the $oice 'hile
he is reciting the dhra, he %inds that the sound cannot )e a**rehended. It is 'ithout
any sel%-su)stance a It is neither e(*ty nor eNistent4 3Ste$enson, "JHB: BF-BA5.

D.D.D. Attaining <nlighten(ent D.D.D. Attaining <nlighten(ent D.D.D. Attaining <nlighten(ent D.D.D. Attaining <nlighten(ent

Q'ing to the dhras condensing large teachings 'ithin their sylla)les,
recitingKconte(*lating these entailed a drastic reduction o% the ti(e re+uired to
(aster the(, hence, dhras )eca(e a Gshort-cut to enlighten(ent and the luc&y sea
to release a A )odhisatt$a, ha$ing e*ito(ized all the (editations in one string Ui.e.
dh?raWZV, 'ould suddenly )e ele$ated in ran& and a**roach su*re(e enlighten(ent4
3Chou, "JFA: AH5. :i$en that each Dhra's%tra descri)es its o'n a**roach to attain
enlighten(ent, it 'ill descri)ed )elo' ,ust t'o eNa(*les %ro( the (ost
re*resentati$e ones.
Perha*s the si(*lest a**roach is sho'n )y the Oamukh'

CundZ 3or Cund?5 is one o% the (ost i(*ortant dhra goddesses o% 8orthern and <ast
Asian Buddhis(s )ecause her s*ecialization in *uri%ying har(%ul karma, and gi$ing su**ort to
/har(a *ractice 3Sha', !!B: BA-CA5. Qn CundZ4s iconogra*hy, see /BI.D: HFJ-HBB.

Besides those three (ethods, the <ast Asian Ea,ray?na included t'o (ore: the Gsamdhi
recitation4 consisting o% a *urely (ental recitation 'ithout (o$ing the tongue, and the Glight
recitation4, 'hether silently or aloud, light strea(ing %ro( the (outh is $isualized 3A)S, "JJJ:
"A= 7a(asa&i, "JHH: ""B-""C5. The Indo-Ti)etan Ea,ray?na *osits a 'his*ered and (ental
recitations, )oth a**lied to the dhra sylla)les4 sha*e or to their sound 3M0$ud: "HC-"J"5.

Qn eN*eriencing anupalabdhit 'hile conte(*lating the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary, see A**endiN

C%. the dhra'mukhas o% the 0hoaprave!a'dhra and the akaraprave!a'dhra, see section

Qn other eNa(*les o% soteriological dhrans, see -%rs%.EI: CB-"B"= Pon0: "DF= Studhol(e,
!!: "FC= 6allis, !!: "J-D= 1o$es, !!J: "A-"DJ.
dhra 3G,i\ Doors dhra#5, 'here siN eN*eriencesK&no'ledges are descri)ed )y the
Buddha: 3"5 (a&ing &no'n the su%%ering eN*erienced )y the Buddha, 35 sharing 'ith
all )eings the Buddha4s s*iritual )liss, 3D5 ac&no'ledging one4s o'n har(%ul actions,
3F5 &no'ing that M?ra acts against the Buddha, 3A5 identi%ying the su*re(e
&no'ledge concerning all )eings 'ith the Buddha4s 'holeso(e roots, and 3B5 &no'ing
that Buddha4s li)eration is use%ul to )eings i% onesel% does not re(ain either in sa2sra
or in nirva 3Oam: "!-""5. According to Easu)andhu4s co((entary, those GSiN /oors4
are related to siN goals 3artha5 $alid %or all dhras in general, that can also )e a**lied
to the Oamukh'dhra thus: 3"5 the co(*letion o% insight, 35 the *o'er o%
co(*assion4s *urity, 3D5 the *uri%ication o% one4s strea( o% )eing, 3F5 co(*rehension
o% i(*edi(ents caused )y others, 3A5 su((ation o% the %actors o% a'a&ening, and 3B5
the reality and correct &no'ledge 'hich are these %actors4 %ruit 3/a$idson, !!J: "DJ5.
The Oamukh'dhra4s %or(ula, uttered )y the Buddha %ro( his residence in the
Iuddh?$?sa hea$ens, re%ers to the co(*lete *uri%ication o% the )ody, s*eech, and
(ind %ro( all de%ile(ents, and the acco(*lish(ent o% the ulti(ate reality 3S&t.
paramrtha5. The %or(ula ha$e to )e recited siN ti(es a day, and i% one re(ains
detached %ro( all &inds o% acts, one 'ill attain +uic&ly the su*re(e enlighten(ent
3Oam: ""5.

The Anantamukha'nirhra'dhra's%tra recei$ed a $ersi%ied co((entary )y
J@?nagar)ha 3C!!-CB! C<5 to )e (e(orized and used as a (anual, and gi$en that ,ust a
%e' Mah?y?na Scri*tures hold this &ind o% co((entary, this i(*lies that the
Anantamukha'nirhra'dhra's%tra 'as considered a Scri*ture deser$ing a *articular
attention 3Schoening, "JJ": DF-DA5. The (ain *ur*ose o% this Scri*ture is GUtoV )eco(e
unretrogressi$e and +uic&ly attain the highest, *er%ect Bodhi4 3Anir: HC5. To
acco(*lish it, the ,%tra descri)es three (ethods: 3"5 the recitation-(editation into a
G%or(ulaic4 dhra or dhra'mantra'pada, 35 the recitation-(editation into a
Gsylla)ic4 dhra, and 3D5 the $isualization o% a maFala co(*osed )y the Gsylla)ic4
dhra and the i(ages o% the Bodhisatt$as and $akas re%ered to in the ,%tra.
The Anantamukha'nirhra4s %or(ula has recei$ed the adhihna %ro(
innu(era)le Buddhas 3Anir: "!D5 and includes three *ractices: 3"5 the Gsylla)le-
dhra4, consisting o% the dhra'mantra'pada4s recitation acco(*anied )y a
(editation 3dh$na'$o0a5 on their sylla)les, 'ithout getting attached to their
characteristics o% eNistence or non-eNistence 3Anir: BB-BH5. 35 The G(eaning-dhra4,
also called Gthe *ractice o% non-cognition o% o),ect4, that is e+ual to Gattain the dhra4
(ani%ested )y the dhra'mantra'pada. It consists o% realizing the e(*tiness o% all
dharmas G)y )eing su**orted )y the letters 'hich contain all the su*re(e teachings
and (eanings4, i.e., the dhra'mantra'pada4s recitation-(editation is intended to
realize the %our pratisa2vids 3Anir: "!!-"!"5.
And 3D5 the Gsylla)le-(eaning-dhra4,
also called G'isdo('dhra4, consisting into the alternated *ractice o% 3"5 and 35, i.e.,
%irst the dhra'mantra'pada is recited, and then it is %ollo'ed )y (editating on its
Ginconcei$a)le4 nature 3Anir: "!C-"!H5.
The Anantamukha'nirhra'dhra's%tra descri)es another (ethod to Gattain the
dhra4 )ased on a Gsylla)ic4 dhra co(*osed )y eight sylla)les, 'here each sylla)le
is concei$ed as a Gdoor4 to attain a &ey teaching4s insight: 3"5 Gpa4 3paramrtha5 the

Ho'e$er, certain Oamukh'dhra4s Ti)etan $ersions clai( that enlighten(ent 'ill only
)e attained a%ter se$en li$es o% *ractice 3Oam: "D, n. H5.

Qn the pratisa2vids, see sections "...". and .".D..
nonsu)stantiality o% all dharmas= 35 Gla4 3lakaa5 the (ar&s and no-(ar&s o% the
Tath?gata4s dharma'k$a= 3D5 Gba4 3bla5 the non-duality )et'een ignorant *ersons and
'ise ones= 3F5 G)a4 3)ti5 the non-arising and non-*erishing o% )eings su),ect to )irth,
old age, death, and a)sence o% )irth, old age, and death= 3A5 Gka4 3karma5 realization o%
karmas and re'ards, and their a)sence= 3B5 Gdha4 3dharmadhtu5 it is e+ual to the
$oidness, %or(lessness, and desiressness= 3C5 G!a4 3!amatha5 tran+uilization and its
a)sence, entry into the suchness 3tathat5 o% all dharmas= 3H5 Gka4 3kana5 all dharmas
are (o(entary and originally tran+uil, ineNhausti)le, i(*erisha)le, causeless, and in
a state o% eNtinction. The eight sylla)les4 insight is realized through a cogniti$e
*rocess 'here si(ultaneously their (eanings are discerned and intuiti$ely *ercei$ed
3Anir: ""D-""F, "D"-"DH5.
2astly, J@?nagar)ha )rie%ly descri)es a $isualization ritual
o% a maFala co(*osed )y the Gsylla)ic4 dhra4s eight sylla)les related to the i(ages
o% eight Bodhisatt$as and eight $akas, descri)ed as the *rotectors o% the
Anantamukha'nirhra'dhra's%tra4s teachings and their *ractitioners. It is signi%icant
that it 'as J@?nagar)ha hi(sel% 'ho ela)orated the maFala (ethod a%ter it 'as
re$ealed to hi( through a drea( 3Anir: "J-"D!5, 'hich denotes a rele$ant eNa(*le o%
a *rogressi$e Dhra's%tras4s esoterization that 'ould cul(inate 'ith their
identi%icaton as Jri$ Tantras.

The co()ined *ractice o% those three (ethods is conduci$e to attain the
GTran+uil State4, i.e., the Gnirva o% no a)iding4 3apratihita'nirva5, understood here
as the kle!varaa and )*e$varaa4s re(o$al, the r0a'dvea'moha4s eNtinction, and
acco(*lishing the Gsu*re(e enlighten(ent4 3sa2bodhi5, concei$ed as a three%old
realization that, according to di%%erent cases, can li)erate )eings %ro( un%ortunate
destinies, or can locate the( on hea$enly *lanes, or e$en can li)erate the( de%initely
%ro( sa2sra 3Anir: """5.

The t'o descri)ed eNa(*les o% soteriological Dhra's%tras e(*hasize their
non-dual nature, that o% )eing si(ultaneously (eans to attain ulti(ate reality and
*er%ect eN*ressions o% such reality in sonicK'ritten %or(s. This dhra4s non-dual
nature 'as eNactly gras*ed )y the %ollo'ing descri*tion o% a G%or(ulaic4 dhra called
the Gdhra o% nonde%ile(ent4 included 'ithin the ,uvaraprabhsa's%tra, that 'ho is
a)le to (aster it, (a&es herKhi( as Gno di%%erent %ro( the Buddhas4. According to the
7i,ing4s Chinese translation, it goes li&e this:

As you ha$e said, the dhra is not )ound to a *articular direction or location. 8or is
it de$oid o% a *articular direction or location. It is neither a *heno(enon nor a
non*heno(enon. It )elongs neither to the *ast, nor to the %uture, nor to the *resent.
It is neither an e$ent nor a none$ent, neither a cause nor a noncause, neither a
*ractice nor a non*ractice. It is su),ect neither to the rising nor to the ceasing o%
things 3tr. )y A)S, "JJJ: F"5.

Qn an e+ui$alent *rocess 'ith the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary4s conte(*lation, see section
A**endiN B-. 8ote that 'ith this (ethod, language and its conce*tual )asis is not
deconstructed )ut conte(*lated creati$ely %ro( 'ithin its e(*tiness, see section .D. and n.

See sections "..D. and D."..

Qn kle!varaa, )*e$varaa, and r0a'dvea'moha4s eli(ination, see section D.D.. and n. "FB
and "FC.

Conclusions Conclusions Conclusions Conclusions

A%ter al(ost t'o (illenniu( o% )eing rooted on Indian soil )e%ore the ad$ent
o% Buddhis(, the Eedic tradition, that has in the mantras its origins and identity,
esta)lished a sacred conce*tion o% language understood as (ani%estation o% the
a)solute, as (eans to trans%or( reality, and as *rotecti$e and (ne(onic (eans,
'hich 'ould cast its *i$otal in%luence on Indian Buddhis(. Q$erall, des*ite the %act
that early Buddhis( re,ected mantras, such re,ection denoted (ore a Buddhist
intention to institutionally di%%erentiate itsel% %ro( its Eedic ri$al, than a re,ection to
mantra e%%icacy per se. This can )e seen in that )esides mantras, other Eedic linguistic
%actors such as the sat$akri$, and *erha*s the *honetical corres*ondences as are
%ound 'ithin so(e "paniads, 'ere also acce*ted and re-ela)orated )y the
(ainstrea( Buddhis( according to its o'n criterion.
Shortly a%ter the historical Buddha4s disa**earance, the early Buddhist
re,ection against mantras ga$e ground to their *rogressi$e acce*tance, (ainly
)ecause o% a dee*ly rooted *an-Indian )elie% on mantras already esta)lished as a Gta&en
%or granted $alue4 since centuries )e%ore, and also )ecause so(e (ainstrea( Buddhist
schools ad(itted the %i$e abhi)*s a(ong non-Buddhist *eo*le, )eing one o% those
abhi)*s that o% e(*o'ering mantras through the Gsu*ernatural *o'er o%
conser$ation4 3dhihnik &ddhi5. Fro( those *re(ises, the Buddhist acce*tance o%
mantras and the other Eedic linguistic %actors already re%erred to )asically ado*ted
t'o (odalities according to the characteristics and di%%erent concerns o% each
Buddhist school: a Gcanonical4 (odality and an GeNtra-canonical4 one.
The Gcanonical4 (odality, )eing (ainly re*resented )y the Sar$?sti$?dins,
MMlasar$?sti$?dins, and /har(agu*ta&as, )egan to discreetly introduce mantras
through the door o% their (ina$as, )eing used as antidotes against the antar$as and as
thera*eutical (eans. 2ater on, Sar$?sti$?dins and MMlasar$?sti$?dins introduced
(ore mantras in so(e Mahs%tras and other Scri*tures, and those mantras 'ere o% a
non-Eedic origin and *ro(ulgated either )y so(e deities or 'ere attri)uted to the
Buddha hi(sel%, hence, this (antric lore )eca(e buddhava.ana and also 'as used as a
Gcon$ersion de$ice4 to integrate se$eral tri)al *eo*les to Buddhis(. In a si(ilar $ein,
Mah?s?^ghi&as, Siddh?rthi&as, /har(agu*ta&as, A*ara[ailas, and PMr$a[ailas 'ent a
ste* %urther and ela)orated s*eci%ic G)as&ets4 called either (id$dhara'piakas or
Dhra'piakas, 'hich held a signi%icant (antric lore 'hich 'ould )e assi(ilated in
turn )y the Mah?y?na and the Ea,ray?na.
The GeNtra-canonical4 (odality is re*resented )y the Thera$?da school and
certain Southern Buddhist unortho*raNical ra(i%ications such as the Southeast Asian
Thera$?da Mah? 8i&?ya and the Bur(ese :eikHa (o$e(ent, a(ong others. At the
)eginning the Thera$?da only acce*ted its ethicized $ersion o% the Eedic sat$akri$ as
one o% the (ain doctrinal %oundations o% their parittas, ho'e$er, a lasting
Mah?y?naKEa,ray?na in%luence le%t in Sri 2an&a, the ancient Ang&or &ingdo(, and
Bur(a, allo'ed that a later Thera$?da 'ould acce*t so(e mantras and dhras
inserted in a nu()er o% parittas and other liturgical teNts.
To such (antric lore already assi(ilated )y (ost o% the (ainstrea( Buddhis(,
the Mah?y?na added three &ey %actors: the ado*tion o% Sans&rit language, an o*en
canon in continuous eN*ansion, and the ela)oration o% the ter( Gdhra4 'hich
endo'ed to such early (antric lore o% a Buddhist identity. Thus, the Mah?y?na
recognized as dhra se$eral instances, such as a 'hole early Mah?y?na Scri*ture,
sylla)aries de$ised as (ne(onic and soteriological (eans, (antric %or(ulas intended
%or *rotecti$e, (ne(onic and su*ra(undane goals, that %irst 'ould )e a**ended to
se$eral ,%tras to %inally )eco(e (ature Dhra's%tras and early Buddhist Tantras.
Although it had )een argued that a su**osed original (eaning o% dhra as G(e(ory4
'as %orgotten, to )e re*laced later )y a sense o% dhra as Gmantra4, the teNtual
e$idence de(onstrates ,ust the o**osite, the early Eedic and Iai$a Tantric (eanings
o% mantra as including *rotecti$e, (ne(onic, teachings condenser, and soteriological
(eans, 'ere co(*letely assi(ilated )y the Buddhist dhras and 'ere trans(itted
through generations to )e trans%or(ed into t'o (ain categories: the G%or(ulaic4 and
Gsylla)ic4 dhras, 'hich des*ite ha$ing se*arate origins, )oth ended u* )eing
identi%ied and integrated 'ithin the stage o% an early Indian Ea,ray?na.
As is the case 'ith the Eedic and Iai$a Tantric se(antic %ield o% the ter(
mantra, 'hich allo's its identi%ication 'ithin ritual, *rotecti$e, (ne(onic and
soteriological conteNts, the sa(e occurs 'ith the se(antic %ield o% the ter( dhra,
'hose se(antic eNtent allo's it to )e identi%ied 'ith cogniti$e %aculties such as
(e(ory, &no'ledge, $irtue, *rotection, teachings condenser, etc, and as the (eans to
attain all o% the(. /es*ite the %act that at %irst sight the ter( dhra see(s to )e
diluted on a loose linguistic $agueness, on a closer scrutiny instead, dhra &ee*s
re$ealing its eNtraordinary linguistic nature and constantly sho's its relation to
language (astery, as is the case 'ith the ter( mantra. 2i&e'ise, i% the Eedic and Iai$a
Tantric mantra is related to a 'hole constellation o% synony(s and *aired ter(s, again
the sa(e occurs 'ith the ter( dhra, also related to a large nu()er o% synony(s,
co(*ound ter(s, and *aired to other Buddhist +ualities. And i% the Eedic and Iai$a
Tantric mantras *resent the(sel$es as secure (eans to attain any (undane and
su*ra(undane goal, so it is 'ith Buddhist dhras as 'ell. Ho'e$er, going )eyond
those %unctional *arallels )et'een the Eedic and Iai$a Tantric mantras and the
Buddhist dhras, it is signi%icant to e(*hasize their rele$ant di%%erences 'hich
'ould rid dhras o% )eing ,ust (ere i(itations o% their non-Buddhist re%erents to
)eco(e 'hat in %act they are, an ela)orated *roduct o% the Indian Buddhist creati$e
Fro( a %or(al le$el, this dissertation had de(onstrated that the dhras
%ollo' a *attern originated on certain non-Eedic mantras assi(ilated later )y the
Atharvaveda ari!ias and so(e early Iai$a Tantras, 'hich neatly di%%erentiate the
dhras %ro( the standard Eedic and Iai$a Tantric mantras. Fro( a linguistic le$el,
'hereas the Eedic and Iai$a Tantric mantras strictly re*roduce the Eedic Sans&rit and
classical Sans&rit *honological rules, the Buddhist dhras instead, are re*roduced
into a large $ariety o% Indic languages. And %ro( a doctrinal le$el, 'hereas the Eedic
and Iai$a Tantric mantras are understood as sonic %or(s o% an a)solute and eternal
brahman, the Buddhist dhras instead, are (ani%esting the e(*tiness o% all dharmas
'hich can )e understood %ro( t'o a**roaches: the Mah?y?na one e(*hasizing the
ineN*ressi)le nature o% e(*tiness, and the Ea,ray?na one e(*hasizing its ca*a)ility
to *roduce innu(era)le (eanings.
According to all that had )een eN*ounded, it can )e asserted that, i% under the
generic ter( o% Gvipa!$an4 the Indian Buddhis( assi(ilated and recreated according
to its o'n *ers*ecti$e the early non-Buddhist yogic tradition re$ol$ing around
realizing the truth through a conte(*lati$e silence, li&e'ise, under the generic ter(
o% Gdhra4 the Indian Buddhis( assi(ilated and recreated according to its o'n
*ers*ecti$e the early non-Buddhist ritual tradition re$ol$ing around realizing the
truth through the 'ord4s *o'er. Although the early Buddhis( )egan integrating
eNclusi$ely the Gtradition o% the silence4, only 'ould )e +uestion o% di$erse conditions
%or that Indian Buddhis(, this ti(e under its (ainstrea(, Mah?y?na, and Ea,ray?na
(odalities, 'ould ended u* to integrate also the Gtradition o% the 'ord4. And are
*recisely those )oth traditions 'hat are sha*ing the co((on su)stratu( 'hich gi$es
lasting su**ort and ins*iration to the conte(*orary Southern, 8orthern, and <ast
Asian Buddhis(s, and as it could not )e other'ise, to 6estern Buddhis( as 'ell.

A**endiN A A**endiN A A**endiN A A**endiN A

<arly Eedic <arly Eedic <arly Eedic <arly Eedic Mantra Mantra Mantra Mantras 'ithin B s 'ithin B s 'ithin B s 'ithin Buddhist uddhist uddhist uddhist Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s ss s

This A**endiN is %ocused on a s*eci%ic set o% Eedic mantras )eing %re+uently
%ound 'ithin (ost Buddhist dhra %or(ulas. As already sho'n in their cos(ogonical
the three mahv$h&tis Gbh%r4 3Gearth45> Gbhuva34 3Gat(os*here45> and Gsvar4
3Gs&y45 ha$e a *i$otal signi%icance %or the Eedic tradition. 2i&e'ise, %ro( the
conte(*lation o% the mahv$h&tis the Gsa*4 o% the three%old Eedic &no'ledge is
eNtracted: %ro( bh%r the S0veda, %ro( bhuva3 the Ta)urveda, and %ro( svar the
,maveda 3J#B.I.".D-A, II.J.C= T#.".A.5. The mahv$h&tis corres*ond to se$eral *arts o%
the hu(an )ody i(*lying its 'holeness: bh%r corres*ond to the head, bhuva3 to the
ar(s, and svar to the %eet 3B#.A.A.D-F5, hence, the mahv$h&tis )esto' )odily
prote.tion. Thus, a Brah(an secures herKhis identi%ication 'ith the Eedas 'hen
sheKhe G'ears4 u*on herKhi( the mahv$h&tis4 (icro-(acrocos(ic *o'er 3C#.D."A.D-
C5. The %ore(ost %unction o% the mahv$h&tis, ho'e$er, is that o% carrying out a
Guni$ersal eN*iation4 3S&t. sarvapr$a!.itta5 3J#B.III."C.-D5. 0eciting the mahv$h&tis
has the *o'er to atone any (ista&e co((itted during the *er%or(ance o% Eedic
sacri%ices and their e$il conse+uences 3IB.bI.A.H.B5, and this sa(e *o'er is a**lied to
any deli)erate or unintentional o%%ences. The idea lying )ehind here is that 'hate$er
disorder can )e restored through the mahv$h&tis, )ecause they are the sonic
e()odi(ent o% the 'orld4s creation in its original *er%ection 3:onda, "JHD: DA, FJ-

Fro( a s*iritual le$el, the mantra U2 is a $ehicle to attain the hea$ens 3svar0a5
3J#B.III."D."!5 and to )eco(e i((ortal 3C#.".F.F-A5. Fro( a (undane le$el though, U2
denotes assent to'ards the 'hole creation 3C#.".".H5, and &no'ing U24s (eaning
entails satis%ying all desires 31#.."B5. Thus, U2 is recited (ainly to *ro*itiate the
aus*icious )eginning o% se$eral Eedic rituals 3C#.".H5, and es*ecially, those related to
'el%are and *ros*erity 3EC: D"!-D""5. Another signi%icant %unction o% U2 is that o%
memoriHin0: U2 is recited at the )eginning and at the end o% a Eedic *assage4s reading
to secure its retention 3Par*ola, "JH": "JB-"JC5.

The mantra +u2 3and its $ariants "m> +um, y +%25 has an early (eaning
related to U2 as an inter,ection o% Gassent4, and is also used to connect the %inal and
initial *arts o% so(e $erses in se$eral Eedic rituals 3Par*ola, "JH": !H-!J= S</: "D!"=
EC: "!C!5. Ho'e$er, the (ost co((on Eedic 3and Tantric5 (eaning o% +u2 is that o%
)eing the Gar(or4 mantra, 'hose *ronunciation *uri%ies and *rotects %ro( e$il
in%luences 36heeloc&, "JHJ: "!C5.

See section ".".".".

The mahv$h&tis a**ear in se$eral Buddhist dhras to *ro*itiate a success%ul generati$e
*rocess, 'hether a %etal de$elo*(ent 3rati: !"5, or a s*iritual one 36usa: D"B= Snellgro$e,
!!: D!-D", AB-AC, n. DD5. For (ore eNa(*les, see AM..H!B, HF= AM.C.DD"= AM."!.FCF!,

Qn the Buddhist (eanings o% U2, see A**endiN B-" *aragra*h 35.

The Thera$?da (ina$a criticized this $ie', see section "..".". 6ithin a Iai$a and Buddhist
Tantric conteNt, +u2 denotes the G%ierce side o% the deity4 36ay(an, "JHA: DB5, hence, +u2
The mantra ha re*roduces an ono(ato*oeia denoting Gcrash4, Gcrac&4 3S</:
C"B5, or a Ghorse4s hoo$es4 sound 3/#1: "B5, and 'as originally uttered as a Gcounter-
attac&4 against an Gini(ical action4 3S&t. bhi.ara54s ritual 3AE.IE."H.D5. That is 'hy the
(ost co((on a**ellati$e o% ha is that o% )eing the G'ea*on-mantra4 3S&t. astra'
mantra5 3S</: "= TA1.I: "BD= TOB: C, J"= 6heeloc&, "JHJ: "!C-"!H5. Besides its
*rotecti$eKo%%ensi$e use, ha is also e(*loyed to re(o$e de(onic entities
o)structing the s*iritual *ractice 3P$ra..H5, and %ro( a yogic le$el, its sound G*uri%ies
the ade*t4s coarse and su)tle )odies4 3PadouN, "JH!: HB, n. "5.

A%ter uttering the mantra ,vh, Pra,?*ati did the %irst o%%ering to the %ire god
Agni 3IB.II..".F5. According to its traditional ety(ology, ,vh alludes to the
Pra,?*ati4s o'n greatness 3sva5 'ith 'hich he s*o&e 3ha5 to Agni, counteracting in
this 'ay Agni4s destructi$e $oracity directed against Pra,?*ati and to the 'orld
3IB.II..F.B5. Hence, the mantra ,vh )eca(e the o)lation4s utterance par e\.ellen.e in
Eedic rituals 3B#.A.H.", n. H, *. D"= S</: "HF= EC: "!AB-"!AH5.

also is na(ed as the Gcuirass4 3kava.a5, G'rath4 3krodha5, and G*reser$ati$e4 3varma5 mantra 3S</:
BF, D, JB= TOB: FD, FC, J"5. Qn the <ast Asian Ea,ray?na (eaning o% +%2 as synony( o%
dhra, see "n: "A.

Qn the Buddhist (eanings o% ha, see A**endiN B-" *aragra*hs 35 and 3F5, and Finot,
"JDF: B!, CC.

Qn the Buddhist (eanings o% ,vh, see A**endiN B-" *aragra*hs 35 and 3F5.

A**endiN B A**endiN B A**endiN B A**endiN B

Analysis o% t'o Analysis o% t'o Analysis o% t'o Analysis o% t'o Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra Ty*ologies Ty*ologies Ty*ologies Ty*ologies

This A**endiN is di$ided into t'o *arts: GA**endiN B-"4 dealing 'ith the
G%or(ulaic4 dhras, and GA**endiN B-4 dealing 'ith the Gsylla)ic4 dhras. Besides
*ro$iding again de%initions %or the ter(s G%or(ulaic4 and Gsylla)ic4 dhras and
analysing their %or(al *atterns, the *resent A**endiN 'ill clari%y t'o co((on
(isunderstandings concerning dhras, the %irst one, that dhras 3i.e., the
G%or(ulaic4 ones5 Gare not *ro*erly (eaning%ul4 3Mc/er(ott, "JCA: JB, n. A5, or that
they are 'ritten in an Gunintelligi)le ,argon4 3SB28: J"5, and the second one, that the
Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary and its $ariants 3i.e., the Gsylla)ic4 dhras5 are *ri(arily
G(ne(onic de$ices4 3"0ra: J"-J, n. AFJ5.

A**endiN B A**endiN B A**endiN B A**endiN B- -- -": GFor(ulaic4 ": GFor(ulaic4 ": GFor(ulaic4 ": GFor(ulaic4 Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s ss s

A G%or(ulaic4 dhra consists o% U"V a linguistic *attern in *rose, sonic or
'ritten, UV regarded as *ro(ulgated )y Buddhas, Bodhisatt$as, andKor any deity
acce*ted )y Buddhis( and endo'ed o% their Gs*iritual su**ort4 3adhihna5, UDV
co(*osed o% one or (ore %or(ulas o% certain Indic languages, UFV that *ledges
3sama$a5 the attain(ent o% its (undane andKor su*ra(undane goals i% the
*rescri*tions esta)lished )y herKhis *ro(ulgator are %ollo'ed. Here only seg(ents
U"V and UDV o% this de%inition 'ill )e studied.

Pre$iously, note had )een (ade o% the stri&ing si(ilarity )et'een the %or(al
structure o% se$eral mantras %ro( the Atharvaveda ari!ias /surkalpa and
"..humakalpa and that o% the dhra %or(ulas, and it 'as argued that Indian
Buddhists eNtracted a *attern %ro( the %or(al structure o% those mantras that they
then re*roduced 'ithin (ost o% their dhra %or(ulas.
6hat %ollo's is an analysis
o% the %our *arts o% the G%or(ulaic dhra44s *attern, %irst, *ro$iding a co(*arati$e
analysis )et'een the /surkalpa4s Groot-mantra4 3m%la'mantra5 and a dhra %or(ula
in$o&ing Ea,ra*?Wi %ro( the ,usiddhikara's%tra, and then, *ro$iding an analysis o% the
G%or(ulaic dhra44s *attern as is understood in Buddhist Scri*tures and according to
certain conte(*orary inter*retations. The /surkalpa4s Groot-mantra4 reads:

o2 namo rudr$a> o2 kauke kaukapattre subha0a suri rakte
raktavsase> atharvaas$a duhite 0hore 0horakarmakrike
amukaK hana hana daha daha pa.a pa.a mantha mantha
tvad daha tvat pa.a $van me va^am na$a3 svh7

Qg, o)eisance to 0udra: og, Q *ungent one, thou o% the *ungent
lea%, )lessed ?suri, reddish one, thou o% the reddish gar(ent, Q
daughter o% the athar$an, non-terri%ic one, non-terri%ic 'onder
'or&er 3deed-*er%or(er5, Gso-and-so4 s(ite, s(ite, )urn, )urn,
coo&, coo&, crush, crush, so long )urn, so long coo&, until thou
hast )rought Uhi(V into (y *o'er: s$?h? 3ed. and tr. O&a: "CA, "H!5.

Qn seg(ents UV and UFV, see sections ".... *aragra*h 3a5, and D."..

See section "."."..
The ,usiddhikara's%tra4s Ea,ra*?Wi dhra reads:

namo ratnatra$$a> nama! .aFava)rapa$e mah$akasenanpata$e>
o2 hara hara va)ra matha matha va)ra dhuna dhuna va)ra hana hana va)ra
Udaha daha va)raV pa.a pa.a va)ra dala dala va)ra dra$a dra$a va)ra
vidra$a vidra$a va)ra .hinda .hinda va)ra bhinda bhinda va)ra h%2 pha7

Ho(age to the Three Je'elsk Ho(age to Eiolent Ea,ra*?Wi, great
:eneral o% the $akask U2, seize, seize, Q va)rak destroy, destroy,
Q va)rak sha&e, sha&e, Q va)rak slay, slay, Q va)rak )urn )urn,
Q va)rak roast, roast, Q va)rak s*lit, s*lit, Q va)rak tear, tear, Q va)rak
tear UasunderV, tear asunder,Q va)rak cut, cut, Q va)rak s*lit, s*lit,
Q va)rak h%2 phak 3,usi: D!-D!D5.

A %or(al co((on *attern is detecta)le in )oth teNts, co(*osed )y %our *arts:
3"5 a salutation (antric sentence, 35 a )eginning mantra 'ord 3generally, the
(onosylla)le o25, 3D5 a mantra3s5 %or(ula3s5, and 3F5 a closing mantra %or(ula andKor
mantra 'ord3s5 3generally, eN*ressions as svh, h%2, and pha5. This %our%old *attern
'ill )e a**lied to )oth eNa(*les in the %ollo'ing Chart:

Pattern4s Pattern4s Pattern4s Pattern4s
Parts Parts Parts Parts
/surkalpa /surkalpa /surkalpa /surkalpa4s 4s 4s 4s mantra mantra mantra mantra ,usiddhikara ,usiddhikara ,usiddhikara ,usiddhikara' '' 's ss s%t %t %t %tra ra ra ra4s 4s 4s 4s dh dh dh dhra ra ra ra
A salutation
o2 namo rudr$a namo ratnatra$$a> nama!

A )eginning
mantra 'ord
o2 o2
A Mantra3s5

kauke kaukapattre subha0a
suri rakte raktavsase>
atharvaas$a duhite 0hore
0horakarmakrike amukaK
hana hana daha daha pa.a
pa.a mantha mantha tvad
daha tvat pa.a $van me
va^am na$a3

hara hara va)ra matha matha va)ra
dhuna dhuna va)ra hana hana
va)ra Udaha daha va)raV pa.a pa.a
va)ra dala dala va)ra dra$a dra$a
va)ra vidra$a vidra$a va)ra
.hinda .hinda va)ra bhinda bhinda

A closing
svh h%2 pha

Chart ": The GFor(ulaic4 Dhra Pattern 3Based on O&a: "CA, "H!, and ,usi: D!-D!D5.

GDaha daha va)ra4 had )een added 3in s+uare )rac&ets5 %ollo'ing ,usi: DF, n. "", )ecause it
a**ears in the ,%tra4s Ja*anese, Chinese and Ti)etan $ersions. 6hereas in the /surkalpa the
ter(s Ghana> daha> pa.a# are used in rites o% Gini(ical action4 3abhi.ar5, in the Ea,ra*?Wi dhra
instead, are used to )ring a stolen article )ac& 3,usi: D!5. Those sa(e ter(s a**ear in other
dhras to *ro*itiate health and longe$ity 3M$%: F!H-F!J5, re(o$al o% de%ile(ents 34ala: ed.
C.F, tr. AA.DB-DJ5, and *rotection against ene(ies and )lac& (agic 3(arat: C-"= rati: ""-""D,

Although such *attern is not uni%or(ly %ollo'ed )y all G%or(ulaic4 dhras,

ho'e$er, it is the (ost re*roduced one, and in %act, such *attern is 'hat de%ines
%or(ally a G%or(ulaic4 dhra 3see seg(ent U"V5, sho'ing one o% its (ost distincti$e
characteristics that di%%erentiates it clearly %ro( the standard Eedic and Iai$a Tantric
8o' those *attern4s %our *arts 'ill )e studied according to their Buddhist
understanding and so(e conte(*orary inter*retations.
3"5.- A salutation (antric sentence: The G%or(ulaic dhras4 usually )egin 'ith
a set o% salutations 3S&t. namaskras5, in honour to the three Je'els, to the Buddha, to
the Bodhisatt$a, or to the deity in$o&ed )y the dhra. It (eans that the aus*icious
*resence o% those in$o&ed entities is su((oned, and it is a 'ay to gi$e a general
identity to the %or(ula 3eg. three Je'els5 and a s*eci%ic one 3eg. Ea,ra*?Wi5 3see
eNa(*le a)o$e5.
35.- A )eginning mantra 'ord: 8or(ally, this )eginning mantra 'ord is
related to the closing mantra 'ord 3c%. Part F5, and indicates the dhra4s concrete
*ur*ose. Thus, the 'ord U2 at the )eginning and the 'ord svh at the end re%ers to
its use in *aci%ying cala(ities 3S&t. !ntika5 3(ai's%: BH= ,usi: "DF5, the 'ord U2 at the
)eginning and the 'ords +%2 ha at the end re%er to its use in su((oning, and the
'ords +%2 ha at the )eginning and end are %or use in su),ugating 3S&t. bhi.ruka5,
the 'ord Nama3 at the )eginning and end are %or use in increasing )ene%its 3S&t.
pauika5 3(ai's%: BH5, But according to a di%%erent inter*retation, dhras 'ith no
)eginning and end 'ords as descri)ed, are a)le to acco(*lish increasing )ene%its
3,usi: "DF5.
The (onosylla)le U2 is the (ost used as G)eginning mantra 'ord4, and
ac+uired, a(ong others, the Buddhist (eanings o% )eing the sonic (ani%estation o%
the Buddha4s three )odies 3S&t. trik$a5, o% ta&ing re%uge and )o'ing to the three
Je'els, and o% denoting a $ast o%%ering 36orin: J5. Fro( an esoteric sense, U2 (eans
Gthe %ul%ill(ent o% the three )odies4 and Gthe )asis and (other o% all (antras4 3#nno,
!!F: "AH, "C"-"C5.

3D5.- A Mantra3s5 %or(ula3s5: This *art constitutes the dhra4s Gse(antic
cor*us4 *ro*er, the *art eN*ressing in re%erential and (eaning%ul ter(s the e%%ect the
dhra *ro*oses to (ani%est into the (undane andKor su*ra(undane *lanes o%
This *art is concei$ed as a *rose (antric utterance co(*osed o% se$eral
characteristic %eatures, a(ong the(, the %ollo'ing stand out:
3a5.-Alliterations: #ndou)tedly, this is one o% the G%or(ulaic4 dhras4
distincti$e %eatures, re*roduced again and again in (ost o% the(. It consists o%

There are so(e early dhras lac&ing *arts 3"5, 35, and 3F5 3eg. AM.".BHCD-BHJA5, and so(e
that instead o% )eginning 'ith o2, )egin 'ith the ter( Gtad$ath4 3Pabao: "AB= AM.".BHJB-
BHJH5, and those that only include *arts 35, 3D5, and 3F5 3eg. AM.".BJ!A-BJ!C5.

See sections ".".".". and "."...

Qn the (eanings o% !ntika, pauika, and bhi.ruka, see sections D.."., D..., and D..D.

According to the Thera$?da Mah? 8i&?ya, U2 is re*resented 'ith an in$erse %or( and
)ro&en do'n as GMA A #4, and those sylla)les esta)lish a set o% corres*ondences, see Castro-
Snchez, !"!: B, Chart ".

This *art is e+ui$alent to the *ortion o% the Iai$a tantric mantra that declares G'hat is to )e
e%%ected4 3sdh$a5 )y the mantra into the 'orld. The relationshi* )et'een the mantra and the
sdh$a *arallels that )et'een language and reality 37elle, !!D: !-", F5. This sdh$a *art is
e+ui$alent to the mantra4s !akti, see section "."..., n. "B.
re*eating an identical ter(, usually in nd. sing. i(*erati$e act, 'ith the intention to
intensi%y the dhra4s e%%ect 36ay(an, "JHA: DA5= and it signi%ies Ga co((and o% the
s*ea&er, )ut shades o%% into a de(and, and eNhortation, an entreaty, and eN*ression o%
earnest desire4 3Amo0: BJ5. Although the (ost co((on alliteration is dou)le 3see
eNa(*le a)o$e5,
in so(e instances, a single ter( is re*eated %our, and e$en ten
ti(es 3M$%: F"H-FH5.
3)5.-GE\haustion4: It (eans Gthe enu(eration o% all, or nearly all, o% a set or
*aradig( class, 'hether se(antic or *honetic4, eNhausting Gthe directional
*ossi)ilities o% language4 37elle, !!D: "A5. Such de$ice sta(* to the dhra a tendency
to co(*rise and do(inate all linguistic *ossi)ilities intended )y the %or(ula, as in
Gkara kara, kiri kiri, kuru kuru4 3Amo0: JB5, eN*ressing i(*erati$es o% (ulti*le action
36ay(an, "JHA: DA-DB5. The co()ination o% alliterations and GeNhaustions4 intensi%ies
the dhra4s trans%or(ati$e *o'er 3Amo0: BJ5.
3c5.-Au0mentation: It consists o% re*eating a 'ord or conce*t 'ith *rogressi$e
increase o% intensity 37elle, !!D: "F5. Qne 'ell-&no'n eNa(*le is the
ra)*pramith&da$a's%tra4s vid$: Go2 0ate 0ate pra0ate prasa20ate bodhi svh4
3ph.EIII5, i.e. Go2 gone, gone, gone )eyond, gone co(*letely )eyond, enlighten(ent,
svh4 32o*ez, "JJ!: DAB5.
3d5.-G"nintelli0ible4 terms: Qccasionally, the dhras (ay include ter(s
considered as Gunintelligi)le4 ones. For instance, there are three ter(s a**earing $ery
%re+uently: Ghili4, Gmili4, and Gkili4, and those ter(s a**ear, to na(e ,ust a %e' eNa(*les,
in thera*eutical %or(ulas as Ghili mili4 30omu, "JHB: "C= -ik.EI."F= 84D: "F!5, against
sna&es ones as Gili mili phu3 phu34 3+T.I..D5, or 'ithin Gall-*ur*ose4 dhras as Ghili hili,
mili mili, kili kili4 3rati: D5. Se$eral theories can eN*lain the origin and (eaning o%
those so-called Gunintelligi)le4 ter(s, %or instance, those ter(s and si(ilar ones (ay
re%er to certain deities4 na(es, as the vid$r)a 1Zli&Zli 3,usi: !", HH5,
or they (ay
co(e %ro( the s*irits or gods4 languages in$o&ed )y the %or(ula 3:oudriaan, "JCH:
CH5, or they (ay )e e(erged %ro( a state o% (editati$e a)sor*tion 36hita&er, "JBD:
", n. H5, or they (ay )e ono(ato*oeias, as the god Hanu(an4s b)a'mantra Gkilikili
vuvu4 3c%. +T.I..D, a)o$e5 i(itating the (on&ey4s noise Gto %righten others4 3/#1: 5.
The dhra4s Scri*tural and ritual conteNt 'ould *ro$ide the &eys to clari%y 'hich o%
those theories, or others, (ay )e a**lica)le to each case. Any'ay, it should )e ta&en
into account that the dhras are in$o&ing or su((oning the *resence o% a gi$en
Gother4, hence, those ter(s are not nonsensical, )ut are seen as only intelligi)le %or the
entities in$o&ed and %or those initiated into such language 3Ta()iah, "JBH: "CC-"CH5.

3e5.-ersonaliHations: In (ost dhras a**ears the clause Gmama4 3Gyour na(e
here45, signaling the *lace 'here to insert the na(e o% the dhra4s recitation
)ene%iciary, or the na(e o% that one 'ho s*onsored a (assi$e dhra4s co*ying
3Hidas, !!H: A, n. J!= Co**, !!A: "JF-"JA5.
3%5.-Terms related to spe.ifi. rites: Besides the )eginning and end mantra 'ords
3c%. Part 5, it is *ossi)le to &no' the ritual *ur*ose o% a gi$en dhra according to
'hich ter(s it (ay include. A !ntika dhra (ay include ter(s such as G!nti'kuru4

See also /B/h: D, "!, "C, C, DB, DC, FA, A!, A", B, HB, "!J, """.

See the 0udras4 na(es 'ithin se$eral mantras and dhras, in section "."..".

As it 'as stated )y the MZ(?gsa&a Ia)ara: GIn cases 'here the (eaning is not intelligi)le,
it is not that there is no (eaning= it is there al'ays, only *eo*le are ignorant o% it4 3as +uoted
in Co'ard, "JHJ: "BB5.

3Grender aus*icious45, or G!ama4 3Gre(o$e45, a pauika one include ter(s such as Gpui4
3Gincrease )ene%it45, or Gbala4 3Gstrength45, and an bhi.ruka one, 'ords such as Ghana4
3Gstri&e45, or Gbha*)a4 3Gshatter45 3,usi: "D-"DD5.
3g5.-hrases of suppli.ation: 6ith the *ur*ose o% in%using radiant energy 3S&t.
te)as5 to an o),ect and (a&ing it e%%ecti$e, G*hrases o% su**lication4 are inserted a%ter
the initial, (iddle, and %inal *arts o% a dhra, such as G)vala4 3Ge(it light45 and G)vla$a4
3Gcause to e(it light45 3,usi: B5.
3F5.- A closing mantra %or(ula andKor mantra 'ord3s5: Besides the closing
mantra 'ords related to those o% the )eginning already re%erred to in Part " 3see
a)o$e5, so(e dhras including G*hrases o% su**lication4 end 'ith the three 'ords
+%2, ha and ,vh to intensi%y its *o'er 3,usi: B5.
The a)o$e *oints de(onstrate that the G%or(ulaic dhras4, %ar %ro( )eing
Gunintelligi)le4 or G(eaningless4, are a &ind o% language 'ith se(antically identi%ia)le
contents )ased on *er%or(ati$e eN*ressions 3Payne, "JJH: "!5. This dhra language,
ho'e$er, does not %ollo' the *ara(eters o% an ordinary co((unication, )ut those
only concerned 'ith s*iritual and ritual goals that are 'hat *ro$ide the( 'ith their
sense 36allis, !!: D!5. The dhras di%%er %ro( con$entional language )ecause they
%acilitate states o% (ental concentration and insight, )eing a)le to get in touch 'ith
(undaneKsu*ra(undane entities, and e$en attaining the unconditioned 3Ta()iah,
"JBH: !B, n. C5. Said in di%%erent 'ords, dhra language is not intended %or
discri(inati$e *roli%eration 3S&t. prapa*.a5, )ut only %or ritual and transcendental
goals 3PadouN, "JJ!: DCD, DCC5.

Concerning the languages o% dhras 3see de%inition4s seg(ent UDV5, it is
signi%icant to clari%y that, on the contrary to the Eedic and Iai$a Tantric mantras
%ollo'ing eNclusi$ely the Sans&rit *honology 3Staal, "JHJ: B"5, the Buddhist
mantrasQdhras are co(*osed o% se$eral Indic languages. The
Mahvairo.anbhisa2bodhi'tantra ac&no'ledges as one category o% the Gnature o%
mantras4 that o% the Glocal languages4, i.e., Gthose that are s*o&en in accordance 'ith
'hate$er language is used in each region4 3(ai'ta.II.II.H!5, and other Ea,ray?na sources
ad(it mantras and Tantras in Sans&rit, Pra&rit, A*a)hra^[a, and Ia)ari 32a(otte,
"JAH: B"F5, and as already ha$e )een noted, there are dhrans in /ra$idian 3Bernhard,
"JBC: "B-"BF5 and P?li 3BizotK2agirarde,"JJB: "F-"B, A-H5.
In *ractical ter(s,
ho'e$er, the dhrans retained a characteristic %eature o% any non-Eedic, Eedic and
Iai$a Tantric mantra: a large *art o% its e%%icacy is directly related to a *ro*er

This (ay eN*lain the inclusion o% dhra %or(ulas 'ithin ,%tras e(*hasizing
discri(inati$e conce*tualization 3S&t. v0vikalpa5 as a danger to acco(*lishing ulti(ate
reality. Thus, out o% siNteen Mah?y?na Scri*tures %ocused on the ulti(ate reality4s
ineN*ressi)ility 32ugli, !"!: "DJ-"F!5, nine o% the( include re%erences to dhras 3Pagel,
!!C): "BD-"BF, n. H and n. D"5.

Another (antric language related to the Ia)ari and the /ra$idian is the Pai[?cZ, designated
as bh%tabh 3Gthe language o% bh%tas or ghosts45, s*o&en )y deities such as $akas, rkasas
and n0as, see 1ono', "J"!: JA-"!!, ""H= :rierson, "J": BC-CD= Master, "JFD: DJ-F. Qn the
(astery o% non-hu(an languages as one o% the Buddha4s Gcon$ersion de$ices4, see section
"..".D., and as a Bodhisatt$a4s attri)ute, see Mps%: AF", and Pagel, !!Ca: BH. Qn the /ra$idian
mantrasKdhrans, see section ".".."., n. "F, and A**endiN C.

enunciation in its original language, hence, it is also related to its untranslata)ility
3PadouN, "JHC: "!= Co**, !!A: "H!-"HD5.

A**endiN B A**endiN B A**endiN B A**endiN B- -- -: GSylla)ic4 : GSylla)ic4 : GSylla)ic4 : GSylla)ic4 Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s ss s

By Gsylla)ic4 dhra a list o% sylla)les is understood each o% 'hich is lin&ed to a
*articular state(ent or 'ord that e()odies a &ey as*ect o% Buddhist doctrine. In (ost
cases, the sylla)aries connect the sylla)les *honetically to head'ords, and the
sylla)les constitute, sa$e rare cases, the %irst sylla)le o% the corres*onding head'ord.
There are Gsylla)ic4 dhras issued %ro( a *articular arrange(ent o% sylla)les
%ollo'ing Buddhist to*ics, and there is another ty*e in 'hich the standard Sans&rit
sylla)ary 3varapha5 is used to con$ey a set o% Buddhist doctrinal ter(s 3Pagel,
!!Ca: "H-DH5. In either o% )oth cases and as it 'as said )e%ore, the goals %or all
Gsylla)ic4 dhras are identical: they ser$e as (eans to (e(orize /har(a to*ics,
descri)e a (a* to the Buddhist *ath, and are conte(*lati$e (ethods conduci$e to

#ndou)tedly, the (ost in%luential Gsylla)ic4 dhra is that na(ed Garapa.ana4,
'hich according to one o% its earliest and (ost 'ides*read Mah?y?na $ersions,
includes %orty three sylla)les, concei$ed as Gdoors4 3mukhas5 to attain an insight to &ey
Buddhist teachings.
So(e authors, ho'e$er, ha$e insisted in that the *ri(ary
%unction o% the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary is an Gaid to (e(orisation4 3Pagel, !!Ca: F, n.
A5, and that the sonic sylla)les and their gra*hic signs )y the(sel$es are (ore
i(*ortant to allo' easy (e(orisation than the conce*ts they designate, )ecause
those conce*ts change according to di%%erent $ersions 3/a$idson, !!J: "F-"A5.
8e$ertheless, 'ithout +uestioning the relati$e $alidity o% those $ie's, an i(*artial
o)ser$ation o% the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary itsel% along 'ith its Scri*tural conteNt,
de(onstrates that the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary, )esides )eing used as a (ne(onic de$ice,
is a)o$e all a (eans o% s*iritual realization.
Just a *reli(inary reading o% their contents, 'ill sho' that all the Garapa.ana4
sylla)ary4s head'ords *oint to eN*eriencing the Gnona**rehension4 3S&t.
anupalabdhit5 o% an inherent eNistence in any dharma, 'hether conditioned or
unconditioned, 'hich is a *i$otal tenet o% the ra)*pramit's%tras 3:E',.Ib.!A-!C=
Mps%: H!, "!"5, and as their co((entaries re*eat, such eN*erience is e+uated to
gras*ing the Gtrue characteristic4 3S&t. bh%talakaa5 o% all dharmas, i.e., their lac& o%
any characteristic 3Mpp!.III: b2II5. The soteriological %unction o% the Garapa.ana4
sylla)ary is de(onstrated again )y the akaraprave!a'dhra, re$ol$ing around the

8orthern, Central Asian, and <ast Asian Buddhis(s (ade *articular e%%orts to transliterate
as %aith%ully as *ossi)le the dhrans4 Indic original sounds. For instance, Ti)etans de$ised a
s*eci%ic set o% letters to re*roduce eNactly Sans&rit sylla)les 3T</: N$iii-NNi5, Sogdians de$ised
s*ecial diacritical (ar&s to transliterate dhrans 32a EallSe PoussinK:authiot, "J": BDF-BDA5,
and Chinese and Ja*anese %ocused on the Indic siddham scri*t to re*roduce mantrasKdhras
34on)i: "F-"FD= :uli&, "JAB: FA-"DH5.

See sections "..".., and A**endices C, and / section 3)5.

See Chart )elo'. For a detailed study o% the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary and its $ariants, see
Pagel, !!Ca: "H-DH= %or its earlier $ersions, see Brough, "JCC, Mu&her,ee, "JJJ, and Salo(on,
"JJ! and "JJD.

conte(*lation o% their sylla)les.
Fro( the %irst instant in 'hich the Bodhisatt$a
listens to the sylla)le GA4, sheKhe *enetrates i((ediately the %act that Gall dharmas are
un*roduced %ro( the $ery )eginning4, and the sa(e *rocess is re*eated 'ith the rest
o% the sylla)les, and as sheKhe is listening to the(, *enetrates e$en (ore into the
Gtrue characteristic4 3bh%talakaa5 o% all dharmas 3Mpp!.IE: "HBB-"HBH5.

In the sa(e $ein, another %eature to )e e(*hasized here is the Gcircularity4 o%
the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary, )ecause it )egins 'ith Gall dharmas are un*roduced %ro( the
$ery )eginning4 38o. "5, and ends 'ith Gin their ulti(ate and %inal station dharmas
neither decease nor are they re)orn4 38o. FD5, thus, *ointing to the unconditioned
nature o% all dharmas and encouraging the *ractitioner to its realization. This
Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary4s Gcircularity4 )eca(e the )asis o% the Ea,ray?na (ethod on the
Gre$ol$ing dhra4, consisting o% a (editation on the regular and re$erse order on the
(eanings o% the indi$idual sylla)les constituting the Garapa.ana4 dhran or other
mantras arranged in a G'heel o% letters4, 'here G)oth the %inal UletterV and the initial
UletterV co(e to the sa(e thing4, i.e., Gi% the cause is ina**rehensi)le, then it is %ro(
the $ery )eginning un)orn U8o. "V= i% it is %ro( the $ery )eginning un)orn, then it
neither increases nor decreases U8o. FDV a then it is the /har(a )ody o% the
Tath?gata4 3"n: "!J, ""F-""C, n. "F5.
There%ore, the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary 'ent )eyond a Mah?y?na s*here to )e
assi(ilated )y the Ea,ray?na and reinter*reted as the Gmantras4 (ethod4, and as the
Ggates o% the samdhis to the eN*erience o% reality4 3(ai'ta.II.II.HF-HB5, and %or 1M&ai, the
Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary is Gthe &ing o% mantras4 'hich Geradicates su%%ering and )esto's
ha**iness4 3,h5)i: J5. The Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary 'as e$en *ersoni%ied as the
Bodhisatt$a GAra*acana Ma@,u[rZ4 3Bhattacharyya, "JAH: "!-""= /BI.: DCJ-DH!5,
)eco(ing a *i$otal %igure in nu(erous G(eans o% acco(*lish(ent4 3S&t. sdhanas5 and
in%luential ritual teNts as the Ma*)u!rnmasa20ti 3Mns: .C5.
Qther Gsylla)ic4
dhras eN*erienced a si(ilar esoterization *rocess, a**earing integrated along
G%or(ulaic4 dhras 'ithin the sa(e Scri*ture. In the DC fA)B tuDluDnE )n0 3AJ-AJF C<5,
the G%or(ulaic4 dhras ser$e as re(o$ers o% negati$e in%luences and the Gsylla)ic4
dhra GA-1A-8A4 induces the *roduction o% teachings 3Q$er)ey, !"!: ""5, and in the
Anantamukha'nirhra'dhra's%tra, )oth G%or(ulaic4 and Gsylla)ic4 dhras are
intended %or attaining Buddhahood 3Anir: BA-HC, ""D-"FF5.

See section .".D.".

Qne o% the Garapa.ana4 *ractice4s Gt'enty ad$antages4 is that o% Gthe cognition o% the
eNtinction o% the out%lo's4 3Mps%: "B5.

The Ti)etan Buddhist canon contains se$eral sdhanas %ocusing on the Garapa.ana4
sylla)ary 3TP: DH, ""C5.

Qn this Dhra's%tra4s *ractice, see section D.D.D.


8o. 8o. 8o. 8o. Sylla)le Sylla)le Sylla)le Sylla)le Head'ord3s5 Head'ord3s5 Head'ord3s5 Head'ord3s5 Insight Insight Insight Insight
" A d$anutpannatvd All dharmas 3Alldh.Kalldh.5 are un*roduced %ro( the $ery
)eginning 3d$anutpannatvd5.
0A ra)as Alldh. are 'ithout dirt 3ra)as5.
D PA paramrtha Alldh. ha$e )een eN*ounded in the ulti(ate sense 3paramrtha5.
F CA .$avana The decease 3.$avana5 or re)irth o% any dh. cannot )e
a**rehended, )ecause alldh. do not decease, nor are they re)orn.
A 8A nman The na(es 3nman5 o% alldh. ha$e $anished.
B 2A lokaQlat Alldh. ha$e transcended the 'orld 3loka5= the causes and conditions
o% the cree*ing *lant 3lat5 o% cra$ing ha$e )een utterly destroyed.
C /A dnta'damatha GTa(ed4 3dnta5 and Gta(ing4 3dnta'damatha5 ha$e )een
H BA bandhana The )onds 3bandhana5 ha$e de*arted %ro( alldh.
J pA Famara The tu(ult 3Famara5 o% alldh. has $anished.
"! SHA sha0a 8o attach(ent 3sha0a5 in any dhar(a is a**rehended= they are
neither attached nor )ound.
"" EA vkpatha'0hosha The sound o% the *aths o% s*eech 3vkpatha'0hosha5 has )een +uite
cut o%%.
" TA tathat Alldh. do not de*art %ro( Suchness 3tathat5.
"D 7A $athvad The nona**rehension o% any %act 3$athvad5.
"F SHqA shambha The nona*. o% a su**ort 3shambha5.
"A 1A kraka The nona*. o% an agent 3kraka5.
"B SA samat The nona*. o% sa(eness 3samat5= alldh. ne$er stray a'ay %ro(
"C MA mamakra The nona*. o% (ine-(a&ing 3mamakra5.
"H :A 0amana The nona*. o% (otion 30amana5.
"J STHA sthna The nona*. o% su)sistence 3sthna5.
! JA )ti The nona*. o% )irth 3)ti5.
" IEA !vsa The nona*. o% a *rinci*le o% li%e 3!vsa5.
/HA dharmadhtu The nona*. o% the 0eal( o% /har(a 3dharmadhtu5.
D IA !amatha The nona*. o% cal(ing-do'n 3!amatha5.
F 1HA kha The nona*. o% the sa(eness o% s*ace 3kha5.
A 1rA ka$a The nona*. o% the eNtinction 3ka$a5.
B STA stabdha <ach dh7 is %iNed 3stabdha5 in its *lace, and ne$er lea$es it.
C JsO )*na The cognition 3)*na5 cannot )e a**rehended.
H 0TA mrt$a The (ortality 3mrt$a5 cannot )e a**rehended.
J HA hetu A root-cause 3hetu5 cannot )e a**rehended.
D! BHA bha0a A )rea&ing-u* 3bha0a5 cannot )e a**rehended.
D" CHA .hedana A cutting-o%% 3.hedana5 cannot )e a**rehended.
D SMA smarana A re(e()rance 3smarana5 cannot )e a**rehended.
DD HEA hvna The true a**ellations 3hvna5 cannot )e a**rehended.
DF TSA utsha The 'ill-*o'er 3utsha5 cannot )e a**rehended.
DA :HA 0hana Things and *ersons are not a**rehended each as one solid (ass
DB qHA vihpana The nona*. o% %a)ricated a**earances 3vihpana5.
DC tA raa The stri%e 3raa5 has de*arted.
DH PHA phala 8o %ruit 3phala5 is a**rehended.
DJ S1A skandha 8o aggregates 3skandhas5 are a**rehended.
F! 7SA $sara _ )ar 8o decay 3$sara _ )ar5 is a**rehended.
F" ICA !.arana The nona**rehension o% good conduct 3!.arana5.
F qA alo The nona**rehension o% the other shore 3alo5.
FD pHA niFha The nona**rehension o% unsteadiness. In their ulti(ate and %inal
3niFha5 station dharmas neither decease nor are they re)orn.

Chart : The GArapa.ana4 Sylla)ary 3)ased on Mps%: "B!-"B, and Conze, "JAA: "!-"5.

A**endiN C A**endiN C A**endiN C A**endiN C

GFor(ulaic4 and GSylla)ic4 GFor(ulaic4 and GSylla)ic4 GFor(ulaic4 and GSylla)ic4 GFor(ulaic4 and GSylla)ic4 Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s in Mainstrea( Buddhist Schools s in Mainstrea( Buddhist Schools s in Mainstrea( Buddhist Schools s in Mainstrea( Buddhist Schools

Besides the Mahs%tras4 mantras already re%erred to,
(ore *i$otal mantras are
%ound 'ithin other Sar$?sti$?da and MMlasar$?sti$?da teNts. It should )e e(*hasized
here that the "pasena's%tra, included 'ithin the ,a2$ukt0ama o% )oth schools, 'here
has the Buddha e(*o'ering a mantra against sna&e)ites 'ith his G%or(ulation o%
truth4: gi$en that the Buddha has G&illed4 the three G*oisons4 o% greed, hatred, and
delusion, the sna&e *oison, too, is G&illed4 3Sch(ithausen, "JJC: ""-"D5. There is also a
mantra %or healing ocular diseases in a second century C< Sar$?sti$?da4s Avadna
collection 3Pabao: "AA-"AC5 38a&a(ura, "JH!: "DJ, "!C, n. FD5, and the GsiN sylla)les
mantra4 3aFakari'vid$5 *ro(ulgated )y the Buddha in the second or third century C<
Sar$?sti$?da4s -rd%lakarvadna 3Div$: B"D-B"F5. In this teNt the incor*oration o% the
(antric lore )elonging to the Gholders o% &no'ledge4 3S&t. vid$dhara5 and to the
%ollo'ers o% the non-Eedic goddess MataYgZ into Buddhis( is dra(atized, through the
(onastic ordination o% GPra&_ti4 3Gnature45, daughter o% the mahvid$dhar MataYgZ,
that, des*ite %alling in lo$e 'ith Onanda, %inally she )eca(e a nun through the
Buddha4s (antric *o'er.

6ithin the sa(e line o% the Buddhist incor*oration o% local cults, the
con$ersion to Buddhis( o% the GFour :reat 1ings4 through a dhra %or(ula is
signi%icant. According to the second century C< Sar$?sti$?da4s Abhidharma'
mahvibh'!stra 38a&a(ura, "JH!: "!C5, the Buddha4s gi%t %or languages allo'ed hi(
to teach the /har(a in Sans&rit to /h_tar?T`ra and EirMXha&a, in a )ar)arian
language 3mle..ha5 to Eai[ra$aWa, and in /ra$idian 3drviFa or drmiF5 to EirM*a&Ta,
'ith the dhra Gne mne dapphe daFapphe4, understood as a su((ary o% the GFour
<nno)ling Truths4 3Bernhard, "JBC: "BD-"BF= 2a(otte, "JAH: B!H-B!J5.
Abhidharma'mahvibh'!stra also includes a series o% mantras 3called vid$s5 %or
thera*eutical and a*otro*aic goals 3McBride, II, !!A: "!H-"!J, n. CJ5. 2i&e'ise, the
MMlasar$?sti$?da (ina$a contains se$eral *rotecti$e mantras, s*ecially, a mantra
against sna&e)ites that 'ill rea**ear in an eN*anded $ersion 'ithin the in%luential
Mah'm$%r'vid$r)*'s%tra 3S&illing, "JJ: "AB-"AC= Patha&, "JHJ: D-DB5.
The /har(agu*ta&a school 3third century BC<5 'as %ounded )y /har(agu*ta,
'ho allegedly recei$ed teachings and mantras %ro( Maudgaly?yana 3/e(iS$ille, "JD:
B"5. In the /har(agu*ta&a (ina$a is (entioned %or the %irst ti(e the sylla)les Ga'ra'pa'
.a'na4 as an eNa(*le o% recitation %or the set o% sylla)les 3akara5 'ith (ne(onic and
soteriological goals, 'hich indicates the earliest use o% a Gsylla)ic4 dhra )e%ore the

See section ".."..

For an earlier account o% the -rd%lakarvadna, see Mta: "BB-"C!. A Chinese $ersion o%
this teNt 3T "D!!5 translated in D! C<, includes rituals and siN dhrans and can )e considered
one o% the earliest Dhra's%tras 3Chou, "JFA: F5. Qn the goddess MataYgZ, see section
".".."., on the vid$dharas, see section "...., n. AD.

Such dhra a**ears in M$%: FDH-FDJ, and is %unctionally a&in to the P?li rosary chant Vdu>
sa> ni> ma4, co(*osed )y the t'o %irst letters o% Gdukkha> samuda$a> nirodha> ma00a4 3Har$ey,
"JJD: HD, n. C5. Qn the mantras and dhras in /ra$idian, see section "."..". n. "F, and
A**endiN B-".
Mah?y?na 32S$i, "J"A): FF!, n. "5, and the sa(e (ina$a also includes *rotecti$e and
thera*eutical mantras 3/a$idson, !!J: ""D-""B5. The GBa,aur Collection4, o% a li&ely
/har(agu*ta&a origin 3.7 late %irst century C<5, includes a %rag(ent o% the Garapa.ana4
sylla)ary and a mantra 3lit. a vid$5 o%%ered )y the 8?ga &ing Manas$in to the Buddha
as antidote against the antar$as 3Strauch, !!H: "H, DC-FC5.

/es*ite its a)sence in the Thera$?da Nik$as, mantras 3P mantas5 and dhras
%ound an eNtra-canonical *lace 'ithin South and Southeast Asian Thera$?da. They
de(onstrate a *ersistent i(*act le%t )y a Mah?y?naKEa,ray?na esta)lished in Sri
2an&a %ro( the third to the ninth century C< 3Mudiyanse, "JBC: "-J= Chandra, !!!:
"""5, in the ancient Ang&or e(*ire %ro( the tenth to the %i%teenth century C< 3Harris,
!!A: "F-A5, and in Bur(a %ro( the ele$enth to the nineteenth century C< 3Bizot,
The Sri 2an&an paritta lore uses teNts such as the ,val'paritta, 6ini'paritta,
Abhisambhidhna'paritta, Ialanandana'paritta, and Ara$aka'paritta containing
Mah?y?na dhra %or(ulas and esoteric diagra(s 3S&t. $antras5, and the Mandee'
0th is recited including Tantric b)a'mantras, and the ,arvrakaka'mantra and $antra
in$o&ing eight Mah?y?na Bodhisatt$as as *rotecti$e de$ices, as 'ell. So(e canonical
parittas are recited a %iNed nu()er o% ti(es 3C, ", ",!!!, and "!!,!!! ti(es5, as it is
*rescri)ed in the Iai$a and Ea,ray?na mantra (ethods. Moreo$er, there is a (onastic
mantra (asters4 lineage 3mantr.r$as5, the JoFadeni$a aramparva, %ocused on
eNorcis( ser$ices 3Chanda'i(ala, !!C: "A-B5. 2i&e'ise, Sri 2an&an traditional
(edicine *reser$es thera*eutic mantras %ro( a Ea,ray?na origin 32iyanaratne, !!":
The Southeast Asian Thera$?da Mah? 8i&?ya *reser$ed until the t'entieth
century C< the recitation o% the ,alkarivi)'sutta, ;ndasva, Dhraa'paritta, Displa'
paritta, /dhraa'paritta, Mahvira'paritta, Dibbamanta'Dhrai$a'paritta, and
Mahdibba'manta containing Mah?y?na dhra %or(ulas, along 'ith other dhra
%or(ulas co(*osed )y the(sel$es.
And the conte(*orary Bur(ese Buddhist
esoteric (o$e(ent :eikHa 3%ro( the P vi)), S&t. vid$5, integrated )y (onastics and
lay*eo*le ali&e, is )ased on a (antric tradition related to Eedic and Tantric lores
called 0andhr'vi)).

Besides the mantra *ractice %ollo'ed )y those schools, other (ainstrea(
Buddhist schools assi(ilated a gro'ing (antric lore that ended u* getting a canonical
status. Mah?s?^ghi&as 3Beal, "HHF: ii, "BF-"BA5, Siddh?rthi&as 36alser, !!A: AD5,
/har(agu*ta&as 3/e(iS$ille, "JD: B!-B"5, A*ara[ailas, and PMr$a[ailas 3Tri!.AC-AH5,
ela)orated and trans(itted a ne' Scri*tural G)as&et4 3S&t. piaka5, called (id$dhara'
piaka %or those schools, or called 'ith its synony( o% Dhra'piaka )y the

The na(e Garapa.ana4 is dra'n %ro( the %irst %i$e sylla)es a'ra'pa'.a'na o% a co(*lete
sylla)ary containing %orty t'o or %orty three sylla)les, its early language is the :?ndh?rZ
38orth 6est India5 and 'as created .7 %irst or second century C< 3Salo(on, "JJ!: AB, AJ= 2S$i,
"JDC: DB5. Qn the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary, see A**endices B- Chart , and / section 3)5.

See Filliozat, !!F: FJJ-A!", A!B-A!C, A"!, A"-A"D= Jaini, !!"): A!C-A"D= Bizot, "JCB: C, HA,
n. ".= Castro Snchez, !"!: B-H, Charts "-D.

See Pran&e, "JJA: DA!= FergusonKMendelson, "JH": BH-C"= Mendelson, "JB": ABF, n. . The
0andhr'vi)) 3S&t. 0andhr'vid$5 is regarded as )esto'ing *o'ers o% in$isi)ility, a )ody4s
(ulti*licity, and %lying 3P</: FF= DN."".A-C= Jo!a.EII.FCc-d5. Qn the vid$ mantras, see section

Mah?s?^ghi&as, that, together 'ith the traditional Tripiaka and a 4odhisattva'piaka,
esta)lished a *ri(ary doctrinal and institutional core %ro( 'hich 'ould de$elo* the
Mah?y?na and then the Ea,ray?na.

So(e Scri*tures re%er to the Dhra'piaka as a Mah?y?na esoteric canon 34en: FD-FA5, and
to the (id$dhara'piaka as a deno(ination %or the Ea,ray?na canon as a 'hole 3,hes7EI: CD-CF=
Cha$annes, "HJF: "!"-"!F5, or as a section 'ithin it 3/alton, !"!: "B, n. DD= 2alou, "JAA: C"-C5.
These data de(onstrate that Indian Mah?y?na should )e $ie'ed Gas a *ri(arily teNtual
*heno(enon that arose and de$elo*ed 'ithin the institutional conteNt o% (ainstrea(
Buddhis(4 3/re'es, !!B: "B!5.

A**endiN / A**endiN / A**endiN / A**endiN /

Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s 'ithin Mah s 'ithin Mah s 'ithin Mah s 'ithin Mah?y?na ?y?na ?y?na ?y?na , ,, ,%tra %tra %tra %tras ss s

The co(*leN *rocess o% the Buddhist assi(ilation o% mantras initiated 'ithin
so(e (ina$as, the Mahs%tras, and other (ainstrea( Buddhist Scri*tures already
continued 'ithin Mah?y?na through se$eral stages %ro( 'hich three o%
the (ost rele$ant 'ill )e su((arized here, ta&ing into account that the dates
indicated are +uite a**roNi(ated and in a %e' cases, di%%erent dates o% stages o$erla*.

3a5. 3a5. 3a5. 3a5.- -- - Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s ss s as Identical to Mah as Identical to Mah as Identical to Mah as Identical to Mah?y?na ?y?na ?y?na ?y?na , ,, ,%tra %tra %tra %tras ss s

The earliest re%erences to the dhra ter( 'ithin Mah?y?na identi%y it 'ith
so(e ,%tras, that is, the 'hole ,%tra is $ie'ed as a dhra. The "p$akau!al$a's%tra
3%irst century BC<5 is also na(ed as a G/octrinal syste( o% the Bodhisatt$a collection
&no'n as the GIncantation o% the Irre$ersi)le 6heels, the /ia(ond 6ord, the 8on-
arising o% All Pheno(ena4 3Avaivartika'.akra'dhra'va)rapada'sarvadharmnutpda'
bodhisattva'pitaka'dharmapar$$a5, that only 'ith its listening, allo's Bodhisatt$as Gto
attain con$iction that *heno(ena are unarising4 3"pka.""!, n. "D!5.
Signi%icant here
is the identi%ication o% dhra 'ith its synony( ter( Gdia(ond 'ord4 3va)rapada5, )oth
understood as /har(a 'ords 'hose sole listening *ro(*ts insight.
Another early
,%tra is sel%-de%ined as a dhra directed to those 'ho Gu*hold the True /har(a 'hen
the last age arri$es4 3rat$u.AF-"5.

Besides these indirect re%erences though, it can )e said that the earliest
identi%ication o% dhra as mantra )egan 'ith a *re$ious identi%ication o% ,%tra as
vid$, this last ter( )eing a synony( o% mantra. The Aashasrikpra)*pramit's%tra
de%ines itsel% as a Ggreat lore4 3S&t. mah'vid$5 )esto'ing %i$e Gad$antages e$en here
and no'4 3S&t. d&adhrmikas5 3Aa.D.C-J= :E',.III.AA5, and li&e'ise, the
ra)*pramith&da$a's%tra4s mantra is a mah'vid$ Gallayer o% all su%%ering4 3ph.EIII5.
As 'ill )e seen, the *rotecti$e and soteriological %unctions o% mah'vid$ and dhra
are e+ui$alent, hence, )oth are included 'ithin the mantra4s se(antic %ield.

See sections "..".". and "..".., and A**endiN C.

Qn anutpattikadharmaknti, see section "...". and n. DF. In Hinduis( the co(*lete
4ha0avad0t is ritually recited as a single long mantra 3mlmantra5 %or s*iritual 'el%are or
curing illness 3Hanneder, "JJH: "A5.

Qn the relationshi* )et'een dhra and va)rapada ter(s, see section ."..F.

Dhra's%tras %re+uently re%er to the(sel$es as teNts %a$oura)le %or Gthe last age4, i.e., one
o% an Ga*ocaly*tic eschatology4 3Stric&(ann, "JJ!: HB-HJ= !!: "!F5.

Qn its Eedic )ac&ground, see section ".".".". 6ithin the ra)*pramit's%tras4 conteNt,
vid$4s range o% (eanings (ay include: G&no'ledge4, Glore4, Gsciences4, Gsecret lore4, and
G(agical %or(ula4 3M/P2: DAF5. There is continuity )et'een the early mantras counteracting
the antar$as 3see section "..".".5 and the %i$e d&adhrmikas )esto'ed )y the
Aashasrikpra)*pramit's%tra as a mah'vid$ 3Strauch, !!H: F"-F5. Qn these
d&adhrmikas, see section ..". Qn mah'vid$ and dhra, see section ."...

Fro( a di%%erent *ers*ecti$e, the eN*anded ra)*pramit's%tra $ersions 3%irst
century C<, Conze, !!!: "!5 con%late t'o (eanings o% the ter( dhra, i.e., as
identical to the 'hole ,%tra, and as the Garapa.ana4 sylla)ary, called as Gdhra-doors4
3dhra'mukhas5, or si(*ly na(ed as Gdhras4: GI ha$e taught this *er%ection o%
'isdo( as a dh?raWZ. 6hen you )ear in (ind those dh?raWZs o% the *er%ection o%
'isdo( Ui.e., the Garapa.ana4 sylla)aryV, you )ear all dhar(as in (ind4 3Mps%: FHJ5.
Here dhra can )e understood si(ultaneously as the ulti(ate reality or goal, and as
(ethod to attain such goal, and this t'o%old dhra nature 'ould )e de$elo*ed )y the
G%or(ulaic4 dhras.

3)5. 3)5. 3)5. 3)5.- -- - Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s ss s as Sylla)aries in Mah as Sylla)aries in Mah as Sylla)aries in Mah as Sylla)aries in Mah?y?na ?y?na ?y?na ?y?na , ,, ,%tra %tra %tra %tras ss s

The Chinese Buddhist canon &ee*s t'enty siN teNts, (ost o% the( Scri*tures,
co(*osed )et'een the third century C< to the ele$enth century C<, 'here t'o ty*es
o% sylla)aries a**ear, the Garapa.ana4 3and its $ariants5 in nineteen teNts, and the
Sans&rit sylla)ary 3varapha5 in the re(aining se$en 3HB:.EI.ABA-AC5. The *attern
%ollo'ed )y )oth sylla)aries is identical: each sylla)le corres*onds *honetically to the
%irst sylla)le 3or a di%%erent one5 o% a set o% selected &ey Buddhist ter(s, and their
(e(orizingKconte(*lation 'or&s in a +uite si(ilar 'ay as the Abhidhamma4s
The arapa.ana and varapha sylla)aries 'ere later assi(ilated )y the
Ea,ray?na, the %irst one )eing understood as Gmantra teachings4 3(ai's%: FJ-A"5, and the
second one as the Gal*ha)et hlet there )e successi4 3S&t. siddham mt&k5 $ie'ed as a
Gsacred language4 used )y the Buddhas to *reach 34on)i: "FD-"FC5.
2i&e'ise, s*eci%ic
sylla)les %ro( )oth sylla)aries 'ere identi%ied as b)a'mantras 3:uli&, "JAB: H"-J!5, and
su((aries or *artial sets o% the varapha sylla)ary )eca(e dhrasQmantras
3+T.I.".B= IMT.I.A!K5.

3c5. 3c5. 3c5. 3c5.- -- - A**endage o% A**endage o% A**endage o% A**endage o% Dh Dh Dh Dhra ra ra ra s as s as s as s as Mantra Mantra Mantra Mantras in Mah s in Mah s in Mah s in Mah?y?na ?y?na ?y?na ?y?na , ,, ,%tra %tra %tra %tras s s s

In the Druma'kinnara'r)a'parip&..h's%tra a**eared the earliest Buddhist
mantra in a Mah?y?na ,%tra 'ith a relia)le date 3.7 "C!-"J! C<5. It is a mantra
*ro(ulgated )y the GFour :reat 1ings4 intended to *rotect the Sangha %ro( hostile
in%luences and securing the ,%tra4s dura)ility. Although the %or(ula is na(ed as
Gmantra''ords4 3mantra'pada5, its nature and %or(al structure is )asically identical to
later dhra %or(ulas, hence, it can )e said that this sa(e %or(ula is the %irst case o% a
Buddhist dhra understood as mantra and not as a sylla)ary 3HarrisonKCo)lin, "JJJ:
"FJ-"CF5. This tendency continued into a %e' Scri*tures, as the second century C<
,addharmapuFarka's%tra, the %ourth century C< ,addharmala1kvatra's%tra
38a&a(ura, "JH!: "HB, D"5 and others 3Matna: DA-DB= ,uvar: AB-AH, B", ,0ol: FB-FH, A"5. It
had )een argued that those dhras 'ere a**ended to %a(ous ,%tras %or the sa&e o%
*ro*agation 3Pagel, !!": FA5, )ut the e$idence, at least in so(e cases, de(onstrates
that they 'ere a**ended (ainly %or the )ene%it and *rotection o% the dharmabhakas

See sections .".". and D.D.D.

See section "..".. and A**endiN B-.

In a technical sense, siddham mt&k or siddhamt&k re%ers to a late siNth century C< scri*t
'hich a**eared in the :u*ta e(*ire o% 8orthern India, and 'as used )y the <ast Asian
Ea,ray?na %or transcri)ing dhrasKmantras 3Salo(on, "JJH: DJ-F!= ,h5mo: "FF5.
3uFa.bbI.DF-DB= ?a1k.Ib."!B5, and also as condensations o% the 'hole ,%tra, i.e.,
the dhra recitation entailed the recitation o% the 'hole ,%tra 3?a1k.Ib."!B5. Q$erall,
in this stage the dhra conce*t gets t'o senses: it designates a ,%tra4s cha*ter
including mantras, and it is identi%ied 'ith the ter( mantra, as in the eN*ression
Gdhra'mantra''ords4 3dhra'mantra'pada5.
The tendency o% such dhra
a**endage, ho'e$er, 'ould last a short ti(e, )eing changed into a ne' one in 'hich
the dhra %or(ulas 'ould )eco(e the ,%tras4 &eystones 3Pagel, !!Ca: AH, n. FJ5.

Qn the ter( dhra'mantra'pada, see section ."..".
A**endiN < A**endiN < A**endiN < A**endiN <

0e%erences 0e%erences 0e%erences 0e%erences

Pri(ary Sources Pri(ary Sources Pri(ary Sources Pri(ary Sources

8olle.tions 8olle.tions 8olle.tions 8olle.tions

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-The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahpiaka 3ed. Tony 1. 2in5, !!", "H Eols., Tai*ei,
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,in0le :orks ,in0le :orks ,in0le :orks ,in0le :orks

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8ontribution C l#<tude des divinit<s mineures du bouddhisme tantri=ue9 /r$a Mahbala'Nma'
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The @lower Urnament ,.ripture 3tr. T. Cleary5, "JJD, Boston, Sha()ala.

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