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Pedro Manuel Castro Sánchez

The Indian Buddhist Dhāra
An Introduction to its History, Meanings and Functions

MA Buddhist Studies, June 2011

University of Sunderland

First and foremost, I am indebted to my supervisor, Professor Peter Harvey for
his unconditional and patient guidance, for kindly sharing with me several papers
quite useful for this dissertation, and above all, for backing from the start my project
and raising his always thought-provoking questions. I thank my MA mates Penelope
Davis, Indro Marcantonio, Adam Henderson, Brett Morris, and Arjuna Ranatunga for
their useful comments and words of warm support.
I am quite grateful to Dr. Tony K. Lin (Mantra Publishing’s chief editor), and Dr.
Wing Yeung for their very generous donations that made it possible for me to enjoy
the perusal of The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahāpiṭaka.
I am very gratetul to Dr. Lokesh Chandra for his wise words of advice and
encouragement during our personal meeting at New Delhi, and for his gracious
donation of an old dhāraṇī collection edited by him and now out of print.
A number of Professors and Doctors have been very kind and generous sharing
their dissertations, books, and papers on mantras and dhāraṇīs, whether in printed or
electronic formats, or even in photocopies, they are: Richard McBride II, Jacob Dalton,
Tibor Porció, Christina Scherrer-Schaub, Kate Crosby, Yael Bentor, Jaan Braarvig, J. F.
M. DesJardins, Gergely Hidas, South Coblin, Neil Schmid, Jürgen Hanneder, Shingo
Einoo, Dorji Wangchuk, Asko Parpola, Peter Bisschop, Jacqueline Filliozat, Robert A.
Yelle, and Lambert Schmithausen. Thanks to their sound scholarship, a large part of
the contents and scope of this dissertation had improved in a significant way that I
would not hoped to envisage at its initial stage; I am very grateful to all of them,
I am very grateful to the Shingon bhikṣuṇī Rev. Myōshō Taniguchi, who had the
generosity, patience, and courage to collect, scan and photocopy a large amount of
very hard to find papers and books on dhāraṇīs, through her contacts with the
Kōyasan University’s Library staff. I also thank to the Libraries’s staffs of the Nava
Nālandā University (Nālandā, India), and that of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for
Arts (New Delhi, India), for their help in finding key materials for this dissertation.
I thank Ramón López Soriano for his efforts in getting a hard to find book on
the Atharvaveda’s Pariśiṣṭas in India, and I thank Juan Carlos Torices for generously
sharing his Tibetan canonical materials on dhāraṇīs. A special thank is due to Debra
Beatty, who kindly read the whole dissertation and corrected the English.
And last but not least, I am greatly thankful to Jose Luis Moreno who helped
me in many ways, generously providing his time, skillfulness and resources on behalf
of this dissertation, and to Elena Madroñal, who quietly supported all my struggles
and had been a true dhāraṇī for me along the way.
Finally, I acknowledge that the responsibility for any errors of fact or
interpretation are solely mine.


Table of Contents








Chapter 1. History: Doctrinal and Chronological Development of Dhāraṇīs


1.1. Non-Buddhist Factors for the Emergence of Dhāraṇīs
1.1.1. Vedic Tradition Early Vedic Mantras The Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭas’ Mantras Upaniṣads’ Phonetical Correspondences The ‘Truth Act’ (satyakriyā)
1.1.2. Tantric Tradition Śaiva Pre-Mantramārgic Mantras Śaiva Mantramārgic Mantras
1.2. Buddhist Factors for the Emergence of Dhāraṇīs
1.2.1. Mainstream Buddhism Early Mainstream Buddhist Attitudes towards Mantras Parittas, Mahāsūtras, and Mātikās/Mātṛkās
1.2.2. Mahāyāna Buddhism Acceptance of the Soteriological Validity
of Language and Mantras Dhāraṇī Scriptures
1.2.3. Vajrayāna Buddhism


Chapter 2. Meanings: Traditional Definitions and Classifications of Dhāraṇīs


2.1. Primary Definitions
2.1.1. Meanings of the Term Dhāraṇī
2.1.2. Synonyms and Compound Terms Mantra-pada, Dhāraṇī-mantra-pada Vidyā, Vidyā-mantra, Mahā-vidyā, Vidyārajñī, Vidyā-dhāraṇī Hṛdaya, Hṛdaya-dhāraṇī Vajra-pada, Dhāraṇī-vajra-pada
2.1.3. Dhāraṇī paired to other Dharma Qualities Dhāraṇī-mukha and Samādhi-mukha Dhāraṇī and Pratibhāna
2.2. Indian Mahāyāna Definitions and Classifications
2.2.1. In Sūtras
2.2.2. In Treatises (Śāstras)
2.3. Indo-Tibetan Vajrayāna Definitions and Classifications
2.4. East Asian Vajrayāna Definitions and Classifications
2.4.1. In China
2.4.2. In Japan




Non-ritual and Ritual Approaches Ethical Foundations 3. Functions: Dhāraṇīs in Practice 51 3. Increase Some Premises on Dhāraṇī Practice 3.2.Chapter Mundane Dhāraṇī Practices 3.1.1. Mundane and Supramundane Accomplishments Karmic Purification 3. Defence 3. Attaining Enlightenment 51 51 52 55 56 56 57 58 59 59 61 62 Conclusions 65 Appendix A: Early Vedic Mantras within Buddhist Dhāraṇīs Appendix B: Analysis of two Dhāraṇī Typologies B-1: ‘Formulaic’ Dhāraṇīs B-2: ‘Syllabic’ Dhāraṇīs Appendix C: ‘Formulaic’ and ‘Syllabic’ Dhāraṇīs in Mainstream Buddhist Schools Appendix D: Dhāraṇīs within Mahāyāna Sūtras Appendix E: References 68 70 70 75 4 78 81 84 . Supramundane Dhāraṇī Practices 3.3.3. Depositing Dhāraṇīs in Stūpas 3. Protection 3.

Charts Chart 1: The ‘Formulaic’ Dhāraṇī Pattern 71 Chart 2: The ‘Arapacana’ Syllabary 77 5 .

mainly understood as the term selected by Indian Buddhism to assimilate the non-Buddhist notion of mantra. its synonyms.e.Abstract This dissertation deals with the Buddhist dhāraṇī. The dissertation closes with five Appendices including a study on a set of early Vedic mantras appearing within the Buddhist dhāraṇīs. Chapter 3 is focused on the dhāraṇī practice. a ‘References’ list providing a comprehensive and updated bibliography in several Western languages mainly focused on Buddhist mantras/dhāraṇīs. It continues with a study on the Dhāraṇī Scriptures’ emergence and their inclusion within Vajrayāna Tantras. and its mundane and supramundane accomplishments. and its pairing with other Dharma qualities. 6 . the ‘formulaic’ and ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs. i. and then the main dhāraṇī practices are analysed intended for worldly and soteriological purposes. first dealing with its ethical basis. and the Buddhist one being focused on several mainstream Buddhist and Mahāyāna factors. Vedic and Śaiva Tantric factors. and another one on mantras/dhāraṇīs within Mahāyāna Scriptures. an analysis of the ‘formulaic’ and ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs.. Chapter 2 provides a detailed summary on the traditional definitions of the dhāraṇī term. In the Introduction the two major categories of dhāraṇīs are defined. a survey on mantras/dhāraṇīs accepted by several mainstream Buddhist schools. and the Indo-Tibetan and East Asian Vajrayāna traditions. its non-ritual and ritual approaches. In Chapter 1 the two sources for the emergence of dhāraṇīs are studied: the non-Buddhist source being focused on the non-Vedic. and finally. compound terms. It is followed by a survey on how the dhāraṇī term is defined and classified according to key Indian Mahāyāna Sūtras and Śāstras.

BHSD Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary Bodhi Vajraśekharayogānuttarasamyaksambodhicittotpāda-śāstra Bonji Bonji shittan jimo narabi ni shakugi Brajā Brahmajāla-sutta BU Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad: References to chapter. eg.12. circa. The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahāpiṭaka: References to volume.6866. section(s) and verse(s) number(s). CBD Śikṣā Samuccaya: A Compendium of Buddhist Doctrine 7 . Bubhū Buddhabhūmyupadeśa c. BCE Before the Christian Era Ben Benkenmitsunikyōron Bhadra Bhadramāyākāra-vyākaraṇa: References to paragraph number. AM. Avat Avataṃsaka-sūtra Āyuḥ Aparamitāyuḥ-sūtra Bala Ārya Mahābala-Nāma-Mahāyānasūtra: References to page(s). and line(s) number(s). section(s) and verse(s) number(s). and mantra(s) number(s). Amog Amoghapāśa-hṛdaya-dhāraṇī Āṅga Ārya-sarvabuddhāṅgavatī-nāma-dhāraṇī Anir Anantamukha-nirhāra-dhāraṇī-sūtra Aṣṭa Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā: References to chapter(s) and page(s) number(s). AV Atharvaveda: References to book.Abbreviations Āka Āsurīkalpa AM.

a Collection of Early Buddhist Legends DMT Dictionary of Early Buddhist Monastic Terms DN Dīgha Nikāya: References to Sutta and paragraph(s) number(s). and page(s) number(s).CBSM Catalogue of Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts in the Possession of the Royal Asiatic Society (Hodgson Collection) CCBT A Catalogue of the Chinese Translation of the Buddhist Tripitaka: References to Scripture number. Cundī Cundīdevī-dhāraṇī-sūtra DBDh Chinese-Sanskrit Sanskrit-Chinese Dictionary of Words and Phrases as Used in Buddhist Dhāraṇī DBI Dictionary of Buddhist Iconography: References to volume and page(s) number(s). DEB Dictionnaire encyclopédique du Bouddhisme Dhasa Dharmasaṃgraha Divy The Divyāvadāna. section(s) and verse(s) number(s). DUK Dakshiṇāmūrti’s Uddhāra-kośa Durga Sarvadurgatipariśodhana-tantra Ekāk Bhagavatī-prajñāpāramitā-sarva-tathāgata-mātā-ekākṣarā-nāma Făjù Dà făjù tuóluóní jīng Gaṇa Gaṇapati-hṛdaya Gorin Gorinkujimyōhimitsushaku Guhya Sarvatathāgatādhiṣṭhāna-hṛdaya-guhyadhātu-karaṇḍamudrādhāraṇī-sūtra Gusa Guhyasamāja-tantra HBG Hôbôgirin: References to volume. 8 . CE Christian Era Ch. Chinese CU Chāndogya Upaniṣad: References to chapter.

MN Majjhima Nikāya:References to Sutta and paragraph(s) number(s). Laṅkā Saddharmalaṅkāvatāra-sūtram: References to chapter and page(s) number(s). and letter(s) in original text. Māta Mātaṅgī Sūtra Māyū Mahāmāyūrī-vidyārājñī-sūtra MDPL Materials for a Dictionary of the Prajñāpāramitā Literature MM The Mantra Mahodadhi of Mahidhara: References to chapter (taraṅga) and verse number(s).I. Kāru Āryāvalokiteśvara-sāhasrikabhujalocananirmāṇavistaraparipūrṇāsaṅga-mahākāruṇika-dhāraṇī Kośa Abhidharmakośa-bhāṣya: References to chapter(s). Mapa Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra: References to volume and page(s) number(s). chapter and verse number(s). IMT Inventaire des Manuscripts tibétains de Touen-houang: References to volume. References to page(s) and verse(s) 9 . Jap. section(s) and verse(s) number(s).Hizō Hizōhōyaku HT Hevajra Tantra: References to part. Kan Analyse du Kandjour Kāpa Kāśyapaparivarta-sūtra: References to volume and chapter number. section(s) number(s). MP Milindapañha: Reference to page(s) number(s) in original text. manuscript. section(s) and verse(s) number(s).6/3. KU Kaṭha Upaniṣad: References to chapter. Mppś Mahāprajñāpāramitā-śāstra: References to volume and page(s) number(s). Mns Mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti: number(s). Japanese JUB Jāiminīya Upaniṣad Brāhmaṇa: References to chapter. IMT. eg. and text number.

PWE(-V)(-S) The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines & its Verse Summary: References to Verse Part (PWE-V) include chapter and verse number(s) in original text. Puṇḍa Saddharmapuṇḍarīka-sūtram: References to chapter and page(s) number(s). section(s) and verse(s) number(s). Mslb Mahāyānasūtrālaṁkāra-bhāṣya: References to chapter and verse number(s).Mpsū Mahāprājñāpāramitā-sūtra MS Mahāsūtras: References to volume and page(s) number(s). P Pāli PED Pali-English Dictionary Pph Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya-sūtra: References to section number. Mūkā Mūlamadhyamakakārikā: References to chapter and verse number(s). Pvr Pāśupatavratam: References to section(s) and verse(s) number(s). Ragot Ratnagotravibhāga Mahāyānôttaratantra-śāstra Ratna Mahāratnakūṭa-sūtra RCB Répertoire du canon bouddhique sino-japonais Rgyud Rgyud sde spyiḥi rnam par gźag pa rgyas par brjod Ṣaṇm Ṣaṇmukhī-dhāraṇī 10 References to volume and page(s) References . Ragā Ratnaguṇasaṃcaya-gāthā: References to chapter(s) and verse number(s). references to Sūtra Part (PWE-S) include chapter. Prati Mahāpratisarā-mahāvidyārājñī Pratyu Pratyutpannabuddhasaṃmukhāvasthitasamādhi-sūtra: to chapter number and paragraph letter. MU Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad: References to chapter. Msa Mahāyānasaṃgraha: number(s). and page number(s) in original text.

Sanskrit Sitā Ārya-sarvatathāgatoṣṇīṣasitātapatrā-nāmaparājitapratyaṅgirāmahāvidyārajñī SN Saṃyutta Nikāya: References to Part and page(s) number(s) in original text. TED A Tibetan-English Dictionary with Sanskrit Synonyms Tib. Adhyâya. and line number(s). T 1060 105c8-111c19. page. Susi Susiddhikāra-sūtra Suvar Suvarṇaprabhāsa-sūtra Śūrsam Śūraṃgamasamādhi-sūtra T Taishō Tripiṭaka (CBETA): References to fascicle number. b.Sashī Sangō shīki ŚB Śatapatha Brāmaṇa: References to Kânda. Skt. SBLN The Sanskrit Buddhist Literature of Nepal SED A Sanskrit-English Dictionary Sgol The Sūtra of Golden Suvarṇabhāsottamasūtra Shes Shes bya mdzod: References to book and page(s) number(s). Śūrsū Śūraṃgama-sūtra: References to volume and page(s) number(s). eg. register (a. Tibetan Light: Being a translation of the page(s) 11 . TĀB Dictionaries of Tantra Śāstra or The Tantrābhidhānam TAK Tantrikābhidhānakośa: References to volume and number(s).. or c). and Brâmana number(s) in original text. Shōji Shōjijissōgi Shōmo Shōrai mokuroku Śikṣā Śikṣā Samuccaya: References to chapter and page(s) number(s).

Varat Śrīvajraratiru-nāma-dhāraṇī Vaśek Vajraśekhara-sūtra VC A Vedic Concordance Zabao Za bao zang jing Zong Zongshi tuoluoni jing 12 . eg. section(s) and verse(s) number(s). Ugra Ugraparipṛcchā-sūtra Uka Ucchuṣmakalpa: References to section(s) and verse(s) number(s). TU Taittirīya Upaniṣad: References to chapter. chapter and section number(s) in original text. Un Unjigi Upka Upāyakauśalya-sūtra: References to paragraph(s) number(s). TMD: 103/2 (In the original text referenced as IOL Tib J 103/2). TP Tibskrit Philology Triś Triśaraṇasaptati: References to verse number(s).TMD Tibetan Tantric Manuscripts from Dunhuang: References to manuscript and text number from the India Office Library. Uṣṇī Uṣṇīṣavijayā-dhāraṇī-sūtra Vai-sū Vairocanābhisaṃbodhi-sūtra Vai-ta Mahāvairocanābhisaṃbodhi-tantra: References to part. Vāk Vākyapadiyam-Brahmakāṇḍaḥ: References to verse number(s).

The 13 . 2009: 99-100). ‘the word ‘dhāraṇī’ was selected among many Buddhist technical terms to absorb the non-Buddhist idea of mantra’ (1987: 8). By ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇī a list of syllables is understood. yet there is no work covering this topic in a more comprehensive way. each of which is linked to a particular statement or word that embodies a key aspect of Buddhist doctrine. a preliminary overview of the dhāraṇī covering its history. East Asian and Southern Buddhisms. adhiṣṭhāna). and only very recently has the dhāraṇī received the scholarly attention it deserves. This dissertation is divided into three chapters. Occasionally. composed by one or more formulas of certain Indic languages. Davidson. Hodgson in 1828 (CBSM: 39. and functions. the dhāraṇī remained for almost two centuries on the sidelines of Western Buddhist studies. Yoshimura. including two typologies recognized by the dissertation’s author with the names of ‘formulaic’ and ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs. that were assimilated by Indian Buddhism to propitiate protection. the leitmotiv of the present dissertation will be to investigate and eventually corroborate its accuracy through its matching with related historical. 49-50. analysing the non-Buddhist and Buddhist factors for the emergence of dhāraṇīs. and textual data. Therefore. the communication and identification with cosmic/divine entities. and/or any deity accepted by Buddhism and endowed with their ‘spiritual support’ (Skt. 41-43. and there is another type in which the standard Sanskrit syllabary (Skt. meanings. the foremost aim of this dissertation is to provide. the Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭas’ mantras. as well as a few papers focused on the dhāraṇīs’ meanings in Western languages. the ‘truth act’ (Skt. each one being focused on one of the three subjects referred to within the dissertation’s title: the dhāraṇīs’ history. regarded as promulgated by Buddhas. this dissertation will focus exclusively on the dhāraṇī as was conceived by Indian Buddhism and its spread through Central Asian. Despite the fact that dhāraṇīs were described and catalogued in the West for the first time by Brian H. The non-Buddhist factors include a set of early Vedic mantras. Taking this assertion as a starting point. A ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇī consists of a linguistic pattern in prose. the synonymic expressions of ‘dhāraṇī formula’ or ‘mantra/dhāraṇī’ will be used to refer to the same meaning as the ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇī does. The dhāraṇī term is understood here in a quite specific way. this dissertation should be viewed as what in fact is. varṇapāṭha) is used to convey a set of Buddhist doctrinal terms. SBLN: xli-xlii. that pledges (Skt. sonic or written. Although a few excellent monographs on specific dhāraṇīs have appeared.Introduction According to the Japanese scholar H. Bodhisattvas. the Upaniṣads’ phonetical correspondences. Since the dissertation’s author is quite aware of his heavy limitations to carry out this project. Chapter 1 gives answers to why the dhāraṇī appeared and how it was included within the Buddhist doctrinal/practical corpus. and the Tantric Śaiva Pre-Mantramārgic and Mantramārgic mantras. meanings. Northern. Occasionally. samaya) the attainment of its mundane and/or supramundane goals if the prescriptions established by her/his promulgator are followed. As the first part of its title suggests. or just ‘syllabary’ will be used. doctrinal. and funcions. There are ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs issued from a particular arrangement of syllables following Buddhist topics. and the condensation and memorizing of teachings. it is believed for the first time. just a first intent drawing a rough picture on a quite complex and rich subject in need of further refinements. the synonymic expressions of ‘arapacana’ syllabary. satyakriyā). to refer to the same meaning as the ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇī does.

a ‘References’ list mainly focused on Buddhist mantras/dhāraṇīs.). Alper’s bibliography on mantras (1989: 327530). on the one hand. this dissertation will also address a number of misunderstandings and biased views on dhāraṇīs. and the Indo-Tibetan and East Asian Vajrayāna traditions. that would supplement H. the creation of Buddhist syllabaries and dhāraṇī formulas inspired by non-Buddhist patterns. this dissertation pays special attention to citing sources. Lastly. They include a study on a set of early Vedic mantras assimilated within Buddhist dhāraṇīs. and its pairing with other Dharma qualities. followed by the elaboration of specific texts reconcilable with the mantric perspective as the Theravāda parittas. alongside other documentary evidences (archaeological. and on the other hand. Therefore. compound terms. what are its key definitions and classifications. historical. living practice. and another one on mantras/dhāraṇīs within Mahāyāna Scriptures. so as to gather an updated bibliography on the Buddhist mantras/dhāraṇīs in some Western languages. and finally. it is mainly emphasizing a descriptive approach. which scarcely makes any references to the dhāraṇīs. 14 . and in what sense could it be considered Buddhist. this chapter provides a detailed summary on the traditional definitions of the dhāraṇī term. In the same vein. a survey on mantras/dhāraṇīs within several mainstream Buddhist schools. drawing any interpretation from the dhāraṇī sources themselves. and the Abhidharma’s mātṛkās. In the same vein. and then the main dhāraṇī practices intended for worldly and soteriological purposes are summarized. Chapter 3 answers the question of how dhāraṇīs are seen to work. This favourable context stimulated. again taking into account those same dhāraṇī sources to avoid as much as possible any arbitrary speculation on the topic. and their mundane and supramundane accomplishments.Buddhist factors include an early acceptance of mantras within several mainstream Buddhist Vinayas. Chapter 2 answers the questions of what is the dhāraṇī’s nature. the Mahāyāna accepted Sanskrit as a suitable language to convey its doctrines and simultaneously considered language and mantras as means conducive to enlightenment. This dissertation closes with five Appendices where topics basically outlined within the dissertation’s body are analysed. the inclusion of non-Buddhist mantras and the Sanskrit syllabary within Mahāyāna Scriptures. an analysis of the ‘formulaic’ and ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs. Given that this dissertation delineates a preliminary overview on dhāraṇīs. It is followed by a survey on how the dhāraṇī term is defined and classified according to key Indian Mahāyāna Sūtras and Śāstras. P. the Sarvāstivāda and Mūlasarvāstivāda Mahāsūtras. first dealing with their ethical basis. its synonyms. their non-ritual and ritual approaches. that later would give rise to the Dhāraṇī Scriptures and their inclusion within the Vajrayāna Tantras. etc.

1. This twofold nature of language as being simultaneously a mundane reality and a spiritual one.11).2. see section 2..24. Therefore.1. hence the imperishable.Chapter 1 History: Doctrinal and Chronological Development of Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs 1. and especially those from some Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭas.. BU. Prajāpati. śruti) by the gods to the ‘seers’ (Skt. naming is not just a conventional labelling.4. of animals.1. according to their etymology (Bronkhorst.3. 1963a: 64. is reflected into the notion of ‘syllable’ (Skt. akṣara). 1959: 179.21. for the first time. see next section. of humans and of supernatural beings. dhīḥ) able to perceive the Vedic knowledge. Vedic Tradition The Vedic tradition finds in the word (Skt.3. understood as the primary and indivisible phonic unity. see Appendix B-1 and section 3. Buitenen. besides meaning ‘syllable’. According to this correspondence. and on its application by Kūkai. The term vāc encompases all its modalities. SED: 936). 15 . The Vedas are considered eternal and as revealed (Skt. vāc) its unifying factor (BU.1. on the one hand. Gonda.11). and on the other hand. brahman) as sound (Skt. (2) the Upaniṣads’ phonetical correspondences. 273-274). According to its traditional etymology.2. 1990: 13. the ṛṣis are seen to have identified their discovery of language with the faculty of naming.4. akṣara also means ‘na kṣarati or na kṣīyate– is that which does not flow out or perish. and (3) the ‘act 1 On the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna interpretations of akṣara.1-2. created everything through naming every part of the whole cosmos with the ‘great utterances’ (mahāvyāhṛtis) (ŚB. It is precisely this same correspondence between words and objects that. ṛṣis) through a supernatural inspiration. three of them will be emphasized: (1) a set of early Vedic mantras.1.1 and 2.2 Indian Buddhism did not remain impermeable before this Vedic cosmovision centered around vāc and its influence was so significant that Indian Buddhism ended up assimilating those factors of vāc reconcilable with its tenets. 2 On the close relationship between the terms ‘name’ (nāma) and mantra. Just like Prajāpati did. naming implies calling up or evoking this same nature inherent in the being/thing itself.1 The mundane and spiritual nature of vāc is made manifest mainly in two ways. everything. 1990: xiv. JUB. 2005: xvi. who were endowed with a spiritual ‘vision’ (Skt. but it is pointing out to the individual or specific nature of the being/thing named.4.1.2. NonNon-Buddhist Factors for the Emergence Emergence of Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs 1. On the application of the Vedic words/objects correspondence to dhāraṇīs. allows one to draw conclusions regarding the nature of things based on their names. 262-263. see sections 2. to the absolute reality (Skt. and the ṛṣis. the indestructible. the eternal’ (Padoux. establishing in this way an ontological correspondence between words and objects. transformed it into language (Padoux.II. śabda) (Pingle. the name of a given thing is expressing the nature or essence of the thing named. is seen to bestow effectiveness to mantras.e. 1999: 8-10).I. Here. 1963b: 269. as cosmogony and as Vedic revelation. the ‘all-maker’ god (Skt. SED: 3). i.2. of inanimate objects. thus. from natural sounds. viśvakarmā).

The Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭas consist of ‘appendices’ complementing and 3 On a similar process in the Buddhist dhāraṇīs.1.2. she/he would reproduce through a sonic mimesis act the original model which constituted the mantra (Burchett.2. Within a Vedic context though. indicates instrumentality. Huṃ. 255. chandas). ṛc) (from the Ṛgveda). participating in the fundamental vision originating the mantra. the term mantra is derived from the root man and is related to the Skt. the communication and identification with cosmic/divine entities. To each Vedic mantra is assigned the ṛṣi who revealed it.2. its meter (Skt. and in some less frequent cases. the Atharvaveda is focused on mantras intended for ‘drastically practical’ purposes (Modak. however. 1963b: 248-250. According to its etymology. and the application or purpose for which it is used (Skt. nigada) (both from the Yajurveda) (Staal. and of its effectiveness pledged (Skt. Indian Buddhism discarded those Vedic mantras of a poetic nature and preferred instead. 1989: 48).1. satyakriyā). see Appendix B-1. These factors will be studied below according to their original premises. and a muttered ‘formula’ (Skt. 2003: 11). a ‘chant’ or ‘melody’ (Skt. 1998: 153). 2008: 836). to assimilate those non-discursive mantric utterances of an imperative and evocative nature. emphasizing its pragmatic function (Yelle. devatā). Svāhā. manas meaning ‘mind’ in a generic sense as ‘mental and psychical powers’. And the ending –tra. a Vedic mantra consists of an utterance shaped as a ‘verse’ (Skt.3 However. viniyoga). The knowledge of these four factors turns out to be indispensable for a proper use of Vedic mantras (Hanneder. those Vedic mantric utterances which appear most frequently in Buddhist dhāraṇīs are expressions such as Oṃ. calling up’. and also ‘faculty’ or ‘function’. and within a Vedic context. man also means ‘evoking.1. and the condensation and memorizing of teachings. a literal translation of mantra would be that of ‘an instrument of thought’. samaya) by its promulgator (Eltschinger. Phaṭ. 2001: 22-27). Hence.‘to save. 257).4 1. and is frequently associated to the noun ‘name’ (nāma). 1.1. Here. see Appendix A. sāman) (from the Sāmaveda). 2008: 73). 4 For a study of those mantras. the mahāvyāhṛtis are found as well. On a formal level. paragraph (a) and Appendix B-1. which turned it into a favourable receptacle to assimilate Indian local cults (Staal.of truth’ (Skt. able to propitiate protection.2. formulates it. rescue’) the one who. yajus) or one spoken aloud (Skt. mantra refers to words endowed with power to evoke cosmic/divine forces to carry them into concrete actions. see sections 1. mainly those of a ritual order (Gonda. The Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭ Pariśiṣṭa ṣṭas’ Mantras Mantras Unlike the Ṛgveda that revolves around sacrifice rituals. Early Vedic Mantras Mantras The traditional Indian definition of mantra is ‘that which saves (trā. meditates upon it (man-)’. its presiding deity (Skt.1. 16 . in thought. 1993: 2). The reason for this is that if the practitioner understands and applies those four factors. Those same mantras are located at the beginning and/or at the end of the dhāraṇī formulas and denote specific functions.

14).5. This indicates that the likely ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇīs’ origin can be found within a substratum where the Pariśiṣṭas’ mantras assimilated a non-Vedic mantric lore that in turn was assimilated by an early Śaiva tradition and a Mahāyāna in transition to the Vajrayāna. Āsurīkalpa’s mantras are dedicated to the god Rudra.7 1. etc. and on the other hand.hāra).. and the sound ni is the ‘Concluding Chant’ (ni.gītha).1. phonetics.9 (1978: 227).1. because mantras establish a ‘linkage’ (Skt. and as the quoted example shows. the sound ‘ā’ with the ‘Opening’ (ā. again a modality of Rudra (TAK. Likewise. other modalities of Rudra.expanding topics concisely treated in the Atharvaveda. Upaniṣ Upaniṣads ads’ Phonetical Correspondences In some Upaniṣads phonetical correspondences are established between certain syllables and Vedic terms beginning with those syllables.di). and several non-Vedic goddesses. 1989: 149.drava). 473). and were composed between the second century BCE to the fifth century CE (Modak. and those of the Ucchuṣmakalpa to Ucchuṣma. ‘upa’ with the ‘Finale’ (upa.1-3). Prajāpati taught the syllable ‘da’ and his disciples extracted the notions of ‘restraint’ (dāmyata).2. those ‘linkages’ serve.2. The functioning of these phonetical correspondences is quite analogous to that of mantras.dhana) (CU. because their mantras’ formal pattern show a striking similarity with Buddhist dhāraṇī formulas. itikartavyatā) of ritual. pramāṇa) of its meaning (Taber.3. astrology. 2007: 200).8. 17 .6 Besides taking such pattern though. ‘prati’ with the ‘Response’ (prati. 1993: 191.I: 225).2. as is the case with some early Tantric Śaiva mantras (Sanderson. as a ‘medium of knowledge’ (Skt. n.stāva). and Sanderson noticed that the ‘archaic style’ of the Ucchuṣmakalpa’s mantras was ‘strongly reminiscent’ of those from the Mahā-māyūrī-vidyārājñī-sūtra (2007: 199-200. 15). ‘pra’ is identified with the term ‘Introductory Praise’ (pra. ‘bounty’ (datta). ‘ud’ with the ‘High Chant’ (ud. the phonetical correspondences serve as a mnemonic guide to perform the Sāman chant because the term ‘Sāman’ 5 The Pariśiṣṭas include seventy two texts dealing with topics as ritual. According to the research developed here. see Appendix B-1 and Chart 1. Likewise. Indian Mahāyāna also assimilated the deities invoked in those Pariśiṣṭas’ mantras.1-3).1. as a mnemonic guide to remember the sequential ‘procedure’ (Skt. n.5 Directly related to the present dissertation are the Pariśiṣṭas Āsurīkalpa (Āka) and Ucchuṣmakalpa (Uka). which is the early form of Śiva. some early ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇīs invoke Ucchuṣma. 7 See section 1. 6 On this ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇī pattern. magic. and ‘compassion’ (dayadhvam) (BU. bandhu) between cosmic forces and ritual elements that make it a real and efficient one (Wheelock. on the one hand. Several authors already pointed out such similarity: La Vallée Poussin recognized in the ‘Atharvanamantras’ the prototype of the ‘dhāraṇī collections’ (1895: 436).1. Goudriaan described as ‘dhāraṇīs’ the mantras appearing in Uka. 1989: 108). and simultaneously. religious observances. the influence of the Āsurīkalpa and Ucchuṣmakalpa’s mantras on Buddhist dhāraṇī formulas can be seen in that those Pariśiṣṭas mantras provide a basic formal pattern to be assimilated and developed later by the ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇīs. In other Upaniṣad are indicated the phonetical correspondences of the sevenfold Sāman chant: the sound huṃ is identical to the interjection Hiṃ.

Within a Buddhist context. the Upaniṣads give evidence of the earliest instance of phonetical correspondences used as mnemonic and spiritual device that would be reflected upon the Buddhist ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs (HBG. a human being realizing to perfection his duty within the cosmos will embody a divine power enabling him to ‘bend cosmic forces to his will’ (Brown. ṛta).. because according to the Vedas. Despite the fact that those Upaniṣads’ phonetical correspondences are not reproducing the ‘alphabetical’ pattern shown by the ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs and that there is no evidence of any historical link between both of them.571a). The ‘Truth Act’ (Satyakriy (Satyakriyā Satyakriyā) Being defined as: ‘A formal declaration of fact. satyakriyā can be translated as ‘rite of truth’. She/he who may utter the truth is protected by the truth itself. accompanied by a command or resolution or prayer that the purpose of the agent shall be accomplished’ (Burlingame. 10 On the parittas. 1.1).VI. the Milindapañha. If Vedic gods are satyadharman.16.establishes ‘linkages’ between the parts of the cosmos and human beings. 1991: 141-142). 18 . it is declared: ‘As this great earth receives the embryos of existences. This cosmic power is communicated through a true language of a superhuman nature (Wayman.10 1.1. replacing the Vedic poetic forms for sets of terms 8 On the ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs.1.2. however. Satyakriyā (P saccakiriyā) term and its synonyms appear only in later Buddhist texts such as the Jātakas.9 Thus. hence. however. because another meaning of kriyā is that of ‘rite’. Satyakriyā also implies an utterance of a ritual nature. the ‘truth act’ (satyakriyā) finds its origin in the Vedas.1. too (Wayman.e. 1917: 429).2. Tantric mantras manifest the identity between practitioner and deity instead (Wheelock. and D section (b).1. ‘having Truth as their basic law or principle’.1. that is.4. the Theravāda parittas originally grounded their efficiency on the sole ‘declaration of truth’ (saccakiriyā) (first century BCE). 1984a: 392). and these ‘linkages’ in turn. nevertheless.4. propitiate benefits such as mundane power and wealth (CU.1. 1984a: 392-393).6. as that man who was falsely accused of robbery and was left immune from the ordeal by ‘uttering the truth and covering himself with the truth’ (CU.1-9). to speak the truth is identical to expressing the universal ‘Law’ (Dharma) (BU. Tantric Tradition While Vedic mantras serve as the mediators between cosmic/divine forces and the ritual process.17. see Appendices B-2. but with synonyms as ‘true speech’ (satya-vāc) or ‘truth-command’ (satyādhishṭhānaṁ).1-8. Satyakriyā extracts its effectiveness from the complete tuning of the proclaimer with the same reality/truth (satya) that constitutes the cosmic order (Skt.6. so let thine embryo be maintained. to be born] after pregnancy’ (AV. 1989: 119). 1968: 172-174). Burlingame.14).VI. that ‘satyakriyā’ term does not appear in the Vedas as such. likewise. see section 1. or the Divyāvadāna (SED: 1136.7. to which a ritual framework was added later (fifth century CE) (Silva. Tantric mantras depart from the Vedic ones in their linguistic structure too. in order to birth [i. 1917: 434).8 1. 9 It should be noted. to avoid a premature birth. C.1-2).2.

1999: 156.450. 8225.I: 225).) (Shaw. 13 In the influential Āryāvalokiteśvara-mahākāruṇika-dhāraṇī. Avalokiteśvara is venerated with a number of Śiva epithets and the exclamation ‘hulu hulu’ (Chandra. Mataṅgī.5336. pre-Mantramārgic and Mantramārgic ones.1.3662.8355.1453. see Appendix C. and the goddesses Pukkasī and Cāmuṇdī (Sanderson. third century CE). Ugra. Śaiva PrePre-Mantramārgic Mantramārgic Mantras Mantras As it was indicated before. Ucchuṣma is the first of a series of ten Rudras: Ucchuṣma. Halahala. Yama. and Huluhulu (TAK.13. 10133. 1997: 209-222.1. 2007: 197-200). 2001: 245). The two main modalities of Śaiva Tantric mantras will be analyzed below. and his main role is that of removing impure substances (Sanderson.2285.2.(frequently injunctions) related to syllables and phonemes that. AM.8. in numerous protective (Skt. 257. leaving aside their semantic meaning or lack of it.6872. 2006: 397-398). 3800. Caṇḍa. 1958: 132-133). seventh and eighth century CE) (Kapstein. The names of those goddesses denote ‘untouchable’ Indian tribal castes and occupations (hunting. 1988: 664-668). Within the Śaiva exorcist tradition.220. Gandhāri. 2002: 224-233. AM. AM. Mataṅgī.5.I: 687. On the goddess Mataṅgī within a Śaiva context. Likewise. It is highly significant the correspondence shown between these ten Rudras (and their female counterparts) as they appear in the Śaiva mantras and their parallels in Buddhist dhāraṇīs. Śavara. ‘path of mantras’) refers to a later tradition open to ascetics and laypeople alike including mundane goals.11 1. the Āsurīkalpa and Ucchuṣmakalpa Pariśiṣṭas mantras invoke the power of Rudra. only make sense within a ritual context (Hanneder. 1979: 14-16). AM. AM. AM. 2007: 199-200.2-3). 3775. Ucchuṣmarudra is invoked as a protector against evil beings with mantras quite similar to those Pariśiṣṭas mantras mentioned before. AM.4.3310. were originally invocations to the Rudras Halahala and Huluhulu. Caṇḍāli.12 In all likelihood. And in certain dhāraṇīs invoking Ucchuṣmakrodha Mahābala. Krodhin. AM.9989. see Davidson. AM.2.3. which Buddhist assimilation approximately coincides with the two Tantric assimilation stages within Buddhism: the first stage centered around the ‘incantation and ritual’ of a standard Mahāyāna (c. AM. the non-Vedic goddesses Śabari. according to certain Śaiva Tantras. Filliozat. 1473. see Kinsley. and the second one during the Vajrayāna systematization (c. AM. 1992: 155. Harrison/Coblin.10. corpse handling. whose iconography includes distinctive features of Rudra/Śiva (Bhattacharyya. too (Sanderson. etc. On the continuity of those tribal castes and the Buddhist Vajrayāna ‘accomplished ones’ (siddhas). and the ‘Mantramārgic’ one (lit. 3320.1352. and Pukkasī (Skilling.7.14. cleaning.15. and Caṇḍāli are also invoked (Bala: 53. AM. 19 .7879. that later were assigned to the Buddhist Hālāhala Avalokiteśvara. rakṣa) and dhāraṇī formulas appear invocations to a common set of five non-Vedic goddesses: Gauri. n. Moreover. 3817.12.1. that is the Buddhist equivalent of Ucchuṣma. 2004: 500). Ghora. 8223. MS. The Śaiva Mahāgaṇapatividyā includes a long mantra invoking Ucchuṣma and the female consorts of Caṇḍa (Caṇḍāli). Mataṅga (Mataṅgī).I: 678-679). seemingly unintelligible expressions such as ‘hala hala’ and ‘hulu hulu’ appearing in a number of mantras/dhāraṇīs (MS.7462. 3790. On the conversion of the mahāvidyādharī Mataṅgī. 12 See (with variants) AM.13 These data give 11 The term ‘pre-Mantramārgic’ refers to the early ascetic tradition focused on Śiva as Rudra Paśupati intended for exclusively soteriological goals. Mataṅga.16. or one of his variants as Ucchuṣma (‘Desiccating [Fire]’). 1998: 150). 16).

n. Padoux. nyāsa) and a deity’s ‘visualization’ (Skt. its wedge (kīlaka) (Bühnemann. whose nature is that of Śiva’ (tr. its bīja. every Tantric mantra includes a ritual of mantric ‘imposition’ (Skt. n. ‘wedge’ (kīlaka). 439) and to ‘the dhāraṇī of [the deity] Draviḍa’ (Bala: 50. its essence.3-6. In plural. 16 See section 2. n. to know the mātṛkās’ nature and their śakti is equal to know the absolute itself. the generative power that simultaneously creates and holds the mantras and the universe. Tantric mantras are characterized as being ‘the phonic. Hence. vākśakti). “expressing” (vācaka). and then he/she visualizes herself/himself as identical to the deity (MM. an inner rhythm).14 1. ‘cuirass’ (kavaca). its subtle form. 1980: 59-61). This characteristic is usually identified with their ‘seed syllable’ (Skt.2. that from the concrete mātṛkās of a given mantra can arise more mantras. another significant aspect of Tantric mantras is that they hold a specific gender. 1990: 147. Śaiva Mantramārgic Mantras Mantras Considered as specific modalities of the word’s energy (Skt.3. where the mantra syllables are ‘imposed’ ritually on specific parts of the body’s practitioner. and ‘supreme mantra’ (paramo mantra) (Hanneder. The mantra’s śakti (b) indicates the part expressing ‘what is to be effected’ (sādhya) for such mantra and is equivalent to the central part of a dhāraṇī. 20 . 171. see Appendix B-1.1. ‘a Tantric mantra is defined by its bīja’ (Hanneder. form of a deity.2. 8).16 Lastly.II. and (c) a final part. Bühnemann. the deity. 15 On the notion of mātṛkā (P mātikā) in the Theravāda Abhidhamma. O dear One. bīja) because. According to other sources. its efficient aspect’ (Padoux.19). varṇapāṭha) to the theory described before on the Buddhist origins of ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇīs.. According to several Tantras. 152-153. 1990: 374). however. see section 1. In this sense. and assimilated in turn and almost simultaneously by the Pre-Mantramārgic Śaivism and a proto-Tantric Mahāyāna. the kīlaka part can be subdivided again into five types of mantras: ‘heart-essence’ (hṛdaya). 389. 151-153). its śakti. n. and Appendix D section (b). 170. usually every Tantric mantra is subdivided into three parts: (a) an initial part. 186). understood as the basis of all mantras (Padoux. whose pattern arose from a substratum made up of a non-Vedic mantric lore assimilated by the Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭas. that this energy (śakti) is the mātṛkā. on the varṇapāṭha in the Mahāyāna and the Vajrayāna.1. 1978: 67-68. 1998: 153-154).2. dhyāna). 1990: 78. (b) a middle part. 1991: 292-293. mātṛkā in singular. According to a traditional definition: ‘All mantras consist of phonemes and their nature is that of energy. lit. the mātṛkās are the fifty phonemes of the Sanskrit syllable system (Skt. namely. The idea lying behind those divisions and subdivisions. will be assimilated by the Buddhist dhāraṇīs according to their own models. Know. see section 1. Moreover. save rare exceptions. 1990: 378-380). in Padoux. especially in its twofold aspect as the world’s manifestation/reabsortion (Padoux. the meter (in fact.2.1. ‘little mother’. mantras are divided into ‘male’ ones (puṃmantra) 14 The presence of this non-Vedic mantric lore within Buddhist dhāraṇīs is also noticed by references to formulas in Dravidian language (‘drāmiḍā mantrapadāḥ’) (Māyū: 379. and the application as the Vedic mantras. 1991: 293). 1998: 149. ‘weapon’ (astra).2. see also Appendix C.15 Besides assigning the ‘seer’. designates the ‘matrix-energy’.

abhijñā) among ordinary persons (pṛthagjanas) and nonBuddhists (Kośa.3. pārājika) (Shes. Mahīśāsaka. Moreover. it can be asserted that mainstream Buddhism initially rejected mantras and only assimilated them later.41-d. and Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinayas acknowledged some efficacy to mantras when considered acts such as killing and having sex through mantras as a ‘defeat’ (Skt. and Appendix B-1. 2001: 71-72). 18 However. Early Mainstream Buddhist Attitudes towards Mantras Mantras The Theravāda Nikāyas rejected Vedic mantras on the basis of three arguments: soteriological. 1989: 32-38). and linguistic ones. On ādhiṣṭhānikī ṛddhi. 1984b: 418-420. see section 1. 1984a: 49-50). first within their Vinayas and then within special collections called Vidyādhara-piṭakas or Dhāraṇī-piṭakas. Sarvāstivādins and others admitted the five ‘supernatural knowledges’ (Skt. Pathak. and (3) the acceptance of mantras/dhāraṇīs within Southern Buddhism and their systematization among several mainstream Buddhist schools that were precursors of the Mahāyāna. (2) the emphasis on Buddhist ‘protective’ texts based on the ‘act of truth’ (saccakiriyā) as the Theravāda parittas.1. Bühnemann. and being used in rites of subduing. is able.11.13. 1. ending in namaḥ (‘obeisance’) and used in other rituals (Wayman. Mahāsāṃghika. reciting mantras was considered ‘a wrong means of livelihood’ (Brajā: 59-61). their tradition lacked any soteriological validity (DN. and the Theravāda Vinaya only accepted as a ‘true Brahman’ someone wise and virtuous who ‘does not confide in the sound huṃ’ (P nihuhuṃka) as a protective and purificatory method (McDermott.1. among other functions. also called ‘vidyā’. Sarvāstivāda. 1955: 140).2.with ending expressions such as huṃ and phaṭ.19 The main reason for using those mantras was quite a pragmatic one: they demonstrated their 17 See section 2. The abhijñā called ‘supernatural power of conservation’ (ādhiṣṭhānikī ṛddhi).VII. And from a linguistic level. mantras are just a kind of deceitful language worth of ‘reject and despise’ (DN. see Appendix C.2. It is a question of a complex process that will be studied from three approaches: (1) the early mainstream Buddhist attitudes of rejection and acceptance of mantras. paragraph (a). it is hardly surprising that those mainstream Buddhist schools would accept mantra efficacy (Eltschinger.17 1. Buddhist Factors for the Emergence of Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs 1.2. or ‘neuter’ ones.12-15). Dharmaguptaka and Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinayas admitted using mantras with protective and therapeutical goals (Davidson. the South Asian Theravāda accepted mantras/dhāraṇīs in an extra-canonical way. 2009: 113-116. 19 Despite a few schools negating them. 1991: 304).2. From an ethical level.1. The historical Buddha negated that ṛṣis could have a direct knowledge of Brahmā. as well. to empower mantras.2. ‘female’ ones (strīmantra).2.18 Nevertheless. This mantra classification based on gender would be assimilated by Buddhist dhāraṇīs. 1. Mainstream Buddhism Overall.V: 107). and the role played by the Abhidharma’s mātṛkās as the forerunners of the ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs. and those based on mantras as the Sarvāstivāda and Mūlasarvāstivāda Mahāsūtras. ethical. hence. with endings in svāhā and used in rites of eradication of disease.2. hence.5-7). Bareau. 21 .

1. the universal loving-kindness (mettā). These three qualities got an outstanding significance in the parittas.2.1. that is. among them. Parittas. 1993: 67-68. and Mātikās/ s/Mātṛkā ṛkās Despite their rejection of the Vedas. the Three Jewels. 1. Parittas. and was supplemented or even replaced by other methods such as the Buddha’s commemoration and mantra recitation (Schmithausen. 22 . the contemplation of enlightenment factors (P bojjhaṅgas). well-defined and connected with the goal’ (DN. The Pāli term paritta means ‘protection’ or ‘safeguard’. stand out the power of ethical virtue (P/Skt. acknowledged some features of the Vedic understanding of language and mantras able to be assimilated by Buddhism without betraying their tenets.20 In some instances. reptiles. see Appendix D section (a). and nowadays.9). wild animals.2. melodious. On the continuity between the antarāyas and the dṛṣṭadhārmikas. and in the second one. among other causes. his voice is ‘distinct. extract its power from the speakers’ ethical perfection: ‘(moral) truth is a natural force with irresistible power’ (Harvey. antarāyas) liable to obstruct a normal monastic life. śīla). Samuels. fire. ‘to assure success in an undertaking and attain positive good’ (Harvey: 1993: 53-56). 2004: 53-54). paritta compilations became the basis of two monastic revivals in Sri Lanka during the thirteenth century CE and the eighteenth century CE (Blackburn. however. it would be argued that saccakiriyā is closely related to two powers of the Buddha’s speech: the Buddha as a ‘truth-speaker’. Those schools emphasized three qualities of the Buddha’s speech that could be reconcilable for such purpose: (1) the Buddha’s speech as expressing the truth/reality (P sacca.91. and Mūlasarvāstivādins. and even the parittas’ sound. see sections 3. and falling away from śīla under certain compulsion (DMT: 15-16). 1999: 360-365). among others. 1975: 5.21 There are a variety of powers propitiating the efficacy of parittas. and benedictive ones. and 3. the deities’ power (P yakkhas. 1975: 15-16. reasoned. that will be studied below. Theravādins. water. In this sense. Greene. and (3) its faculty to facilitate insight derived from its memorizing. and the Buddha’s ‘Brahmā Voice’ (P/Skt. human beings. and originally consists of a selection of Nikāyas’ Suttas used for prophylactic goals. the Mahāsūtras. see section 3. 2005: 346-360).2. what promoted the apotropaic use of certain Buddhist Scriptures and the inclusion of mantras within some of them. brahmasvara). audible. thieves.1. whose pitch induces mindfulness (Piyadassi.). 21 Those two parittas’ goals are quite akin to the śāntika and pauṣṭika dhāraṇīs’ functions. (2) its protective power. ringing. In the first case. Those needs of protection and prophylaxis were. a persuasive voice that ‘what he 20 The antarāyas were included and expanded within the dhāraṇīs’ protective benefits lists. Besides those uses. 74).2. Skt. intelligible. Sarvāstivādins. and the mātikās/mātṛkās. the pivotal power enabling parittas to be effective is that all of them are modalities of the ‘act of truth’ (saccakiriyā) or ‘truth utterance’ (P saccavajja). such as dangers from the king.1. and sonorous’ (MN. death or severe illness. Mahāsūtra Mahāsūtras.effectiveness against the ten ‘dangers’ or ‘hindrances’ (P/Skt. While the Vedic satyakriyā is based on the perfect harmony between oneself and her/his own duty within the cosmos (ṛta).21). ātikās/M ātṛkās āsūtras. loving-kindness (P mettā) meditation proved not to be adequately effective as selfprotective device against the antarāyas. ‘he is a speaker whose words are to be treasured. 1997: 67). nāgas. euphonious. satya). However. 70-71. deep. ‘to ward off or overcome dangers and problems’. etc. seasonable. non-human beings. parittas are also used as formative handbooks for novices (Piyadassi.2. the Buddhist saccakiriyā instead.2.

see Coomaraswamy. distinguish parittas from dhāraṇīs.24 And not only that. Specifically. called Mahāsūtras (‘Great Sūtras’).4.V.3. the Āṭānāṭiya-sūtra.22 However.50-51. because many dhāraṇīs were seen to be able to overcome those factors preventing paritta effectiveness. 1933: 361-363. and lack of faith (MP. see Pratyu. then. see Vai-sū: 10. Saddhatissa (1991: 127). the mantric language of those deities will be identified as buddhavacana through its inclusion within the Mahāsūtras. Ruegg. together with all the mentioned speech qualities of the Buddha. DeCaroli.20) and the Āṭānāṭiya-sutta (DN.1.1. Virūḍhaka. and 3. On the ‘Four Great Kings’ iconography. who opened his Dhamma’s eye after listening to a Buddha’s Sutta (SN. This fact gives evidence of an early incorporation of local cults within Indian Buddhism that will be developed with the Mahāyāna and the Vajrayāna. and their efficacy can be hindered because of karma obstructions. 1991: Chap. 4.32).21). 1998: 399-400. n. On the continuity of such ‘core-set’ of deities within Mahāyāna. In the Āṭānāṭiya-sūtra.3. Dhṛtarāṣṭra. This means that the Buddha’s speech is perfect in form and content and is able to transform spiritually the listeners’ lives. Cohen. invoke the presence of non-Vedic and Vedic deities as protectors of the Buddhist community. On the mundane and supramundane dhāraṇī goals.14). and the Vaiśālīpraveśa-sūtra contain mantras.3. among others. Bhattacharyya. 23 . 7).2. 23 P. the gods Indra (or Śakra) and Brahmā Sahāṃpati. the deities announce their purpose to protect the Sūtra and promulgate mantras and ritual prescriptions (MS. and Dharma and truth’s speech are identical (BU.3: 772-775. as happened to Kondañña. 2008: 19-29. normally paritta practice is focused on attaining mundane benefits exclusively. could be understood as a Buddhist adaptation/answer to two parallel doctrines already appearing in the Upaniṣads: the ultimate reality as embodied speech (BU.I: 662-694.23-24). Sarvāstivādins and Mūlasarvāstivādins extracted from their Āgamas a selection of Scriptures.I: 2. In the Vaiśālīpraveśa-sūtra.III. and in Vajrayāna. and Virūpākṣa. as it will be seen below.3. 2001: 4-37.23 Lastly. there is a core-set of deities that will remain constant as Dharma’s protectors: the ‘Four Great Kings’ (Skt. In the Mahāsamāja-sūtra an assembly of deities (most of them goddesses) gather in order to contemplate the Buddha and to keep off Māra’s hosts. Among them. Suvar: 36-54. followed by their hosts of minor deities. defilements. the Buddha visits Vaiśālī city in order to eradicate an epidemic and by reciting a long mantra. Around the 4th century CE. see DBI. Aṣṭa.5). claiming that ‘the dhāraṇī is the counterpart of paritta’ as does H.30.II: 4-30). 2004: 186-187.154).3. is inaccurate.says will carry weight’ (DN. whose promulgated to the Buddha protective mantras for the Sangha. PWE-S. the Buddha teaches those same mantras to the monastic community (MS. Susi: 287289.14E.II: 575-577). Vaiśravaṇa describes the ‘Four Great Kings’ and their retinues. whose main function was that of overcoming religious opponents and malignant beings (MS. Sgol: 24-44. Both of those aspects. Although both parittas and dhāraṇīs may share common functions of protection and increase. MS. 4. The next day. nevertheless.423). Sutherland. Harvey rightly noticed that ‘the power of dhāraṇīs exceeds that of parittas’ (1993: 83. Puṇḍa.25-26. catvāri mahārājākayika) Vaiśravaṇa.II: 537-542). 24 On the symbiosis between Indian Buddhism and local cults. and by the power of the Buddha and that of 22 It would be argued that the Buddhist assimilation of the thirty two ‘marks of the Great Man’ (brahmasvara is one of them) from the Vedic lore (DN.I: 624-661.1. among others. it is significant that some parittas such as the Mahāsamaya-sutta (DN. see sections 3. the Mahāsamāja-sūtra. MS.

a continuity between the non-Vedic and Vedic mantric lore and the mantras/dhāraṇīs of Indian Buddhism. recites them. If the Sarvāstivāda Vinaya.3).2.e.27 And (3). the description of their benefits. 103-114.33. or the Buddha is presented as the supreme source of the mantric lore (Vaiśālīpraveśa-sūtra case).e.. because ‘they were employed by Buddhists of all yānas’ (MS. he is deeply learned. 1983-4: 6). in fact its primary sense is that of ‘memory’. The mahāvyāhṛtis has already been described as the condensation of the three Vedas. and both modalities will be reproduced within the Dhāraṇī-sūtras. and eventually.25 These three Mahāsūtras are significant for the Dhāraṇī-sūtras for three reasons: (1) including mantras within those Mahāsūtras entailed their legitimation as ‘Buddha Word’ (buddhavacana). or ‘remembering’ and ‘bearing in mind’ (PED: 672b.26 (2) These Mahāsūtras set up a basic Scriptural pattern that will be reproduced by the Dhāraṇī-sūtras. MS. that despite being commonly translated as ‘mindfulness’. All those factors indicate.2. this establishes a solid basis for their further realization. This close relationship between memory and protection is made evident within the semantic field of the Pāli term sati.I: 696-738. 27 On this dhāraṇīs’ narrative pattern. and bears in mind and retains what he has learnt. the epidemic ceased (MS. a pan-Indian and transectarian use of those mantras.the deities. the middle and the ending. beautiful in the beginning. Sarvāstivādins and Mūlasarvāstivādins went a step further including as buddhavacana the deities’ mantras approved by the Buddha. In these teachings.II: 75).2. the same idea is detected but formulated differently: remembering that bearing in oneself the Buddhist teachings bestows protection. whose recitation and bodily ‘wearing’ bestow knowledge and protection. 1975: 70-81.2..3. 26 See section 1. he remembers them. This ‘conversion device’ adopted two modalities: the Buddha approves the deities’ mantras (Mahāsamāja-sūtra and Āṭānāṭiya-sūtra cases). these three Mahāsūtras will be identified later as Dhāraṇī-sūtras and classified as Kriyā Tantras within the Tibetan Buddhist canon (MS. and on the other hand. That is 25 Those Mahāsūtras parallels the narrative of three Paritta-suttas: the Mahāsamaya-sutta. tribal/lower caste populations).II: 593-597). The assimilation of this mantric language reflects a ‘conversion device’ based on the following exchange: the converters (i. 697b). giving ritual prescriptions.2. paragraph (a).II: 78-84). respectively (Piyadassi. sati. 24 . they assimilate a ‘new’ and powerful kind of buddhavacana: the converteds’ mantric lore. among others. 28 See Appendix A. on the one hand. while in return. reflects on them and penetrates them with wisdom … (i) he is mindful. smṛti) as a protection giving factor (P nātha-karaṇa-dhammā): (b) he has learnt much. with a great capacity for clearly recalling things done and said long ago (DN. Buddhists) convey the Dharma to the those converted (i. consisting of a narrative where an issue is addressed to the Buddha and he gives a solution through the promulgation or approval of a mantra/dhāraṇī. already recognized as buddhavacana the gods’ Dharma preaching (Lamotte.2. and the Ratana-sutta. see section 1. Skt. which in spirit and in letter proclaim the absolutely perfected and purified holy life. the Āṭānāṭiya-sutta. The Sangīti-sutta understands the faculty of memory (P. 30-34). paragraph (a) and Appendix C.28 and in the Buddhist case.

that one who is a specialist in ‘retaining the mātikās’ (P mātikādhara) is also a ‘protector of Dhamma’ (P dhammarakkha). keeping up. see Appendices B-2 and D section (b). being dressed with’. 1985: 2122). dharati. and serve as contemplative methods to attain the true nature of existence (Pagel. and Castro-Sánchez.1. and both functions are similar to those belonging to the Bodhisattva. hence. the mātikās consists of lists of items organized according to a system of numerical progression and terms linked by doublets-triplets (eg. 2007: 36-37). whose root dhṛ is identical to the term dhāraṇī (PED: 340a. 32 On the ‘formulaic’ and ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs within some mainstream Buddhist schools. non-hatred. Sen. sustaining. and dharati ‘to hold. Arisen from subtle contemplative states. mātikās and ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs share relevant common factors. mātikās/mātṛkās. looking after and bringing up of dhammas and meanings without end or limit like a mother’ (tr. and in turn the Pāli dharati is derived from the Skt. who. 2007a: 111-115). understood as the condensation of the seven Abhidhamma books and which syllables are viewed as ‘mothers’ (mātikās). just like the mātikās. mantaining.2. see Hidas. see 2. mātṛkā). Chart 2. 30 On the Tantric mātṛkās. Mahāsūtras. and a mantric lore accepted by several mainstream Buddhist schools. 2007: 190-198. see Bizot/Lagirarde. bearing in mind. they provide a path’s map. As will be seen below. 1992: 161). remembrance’ (PED: 341a). 1992: 160-167). bear. whose meaning is that of ‘bearing [in mind]’.1. Mātikā is understood as the Abhidhamma’s generator. Whitney. see section 2. parittas. ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs allows the condensation and memorizing of a great deal of teachings.30 In a specific sense. wear. that also means ‘wearing. see Appendix C. 31 On the ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs.2. On the embryological function of the Mahā Nikāya mantra ‘saṃ vi dhā pu ka ya pa’.1. one of its primary meanings as being a condensed formula able to unleash innumerable Dharma teachings.32 29 On the etymology of the term dhāraṇī.why the Dhammasaṅgaṇi considers the term dhāraṇatā. 25 . 1965: 70-72. because according to the Kassapa’s Mohavicchedanī: ‘The word mātikā is used because of the begetting. would be assimilated and reelaborated by Mahāyāna Buddhism according to its own outlook. in Gethin. carry. is already present within the Theravāda notion of ‘matrix’ or ‘mother’ (P mātikā.29 Although the term dhāraṇī does not appear in the Theravāda Nikāyas. to bear in mind’. the mātikās allows the condensation and memorizing of large corpus of teachings. On the dhāraṇīs as protective ‘amulets’ to be worn. and it is related to dhāraṇa ‘wearing.2. Skt.4. non-greed. according to the Asaṅga’s Bodhisattvabhūmi: ‘Finds joy in the summaries (mātṛkā) of the piṭaka’ and attains dhāraṇīs (Braarvig. Despite the fact that ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs are not based on lists of items but they are built up from the first syllables of key doctrinal terms. provide a map of the path.31 Moreover. see section 1. non-delusion). and may constitute a meditative practice conducive to insight (Gethin. 2010: 7. to be a synonym of sati (Gethin. On the dhāraṇīs as condensed formulas.1996: 41. 1885: 84-85). extracted from Scriptures such as the Sangīti-sutta and others.

see section 2. understood as the Buddhist answer to the rising of Sanskrit literature in the early centuries CE.28.14). dharma-kāya): And when one learns it. and 3.2. 1964: 255-260). 1958: 634-657).33 As will be studied below. syllable by syllable. who wanted to ‘acquire the skill in the cognition of sounds’ (Skt.2. 26 . and particularly. 34 On dhāraṇī and pratibhāna. Sanskrit grammar became a meditative practice through reciting. bhūmi) to Buddhahood (Pagel. writting. Mahāyāna Mahāyāna Buddhism Indian Mahāyāna introduced two decisive changes that would consolidate the legitimization as buddhavacana of the mantric lore held by the mainstream Buddhist schools already referred to: (1) a soteriological validation of language and mantras reflected in the Sanskritization of Mahāyāna.1.2.1. what allowed the elaboration of the Dhāraṇī Scriptures. the emergence of this Mahāyāna ‘open canon’ was what allowed the widespread inclusion of ‘formulaic’ and ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs within Mahāyāna Scriptures. 1965: 114). future and present Tathāgatas is this dharma-text authoritative (Aṣṭa. was also accepted as a medium conducive to enlightenment.1. rutajñānakauśalya) (Mpsū: 162). and being stimulated by Buddhist leaders of a Brahmanical origin (Wayman. anutpattikadharmakṣānti) and locates the Bodhisattva on the eighth stage (Skt.35 This explains that 33 The Mahāyāna arose simultaneously to the proliferation of a non-Buddhist written visionary literature in India (first or second century BCE). and his grammatical treatises were included within the curriculum of the Buddhist university of Nālandā (Takukusu. who visited the grammarian Megha to teach him a dhāraṇī whose recitation bestows an omniscient eloquence (Skt. Probably. to an ‘open’ one allowing a further expansion through written Scriptures issued from visionary experiences (McDermott. the Bodhisattva will follow Sudhana’s example.2. PWES. and teaching specific Sūtras’ paragraphs as if they were mantras (Kent. 1896: 178-180.1.2. 1995: 186-187. the first step towards this direction was recognizing the Mahāyāna Sūtras as written manifestations of the Buddha’s ‘Dharma-body’ (Skt. As is the case with the Brahmans’ grammatical training. Acceptance of the Soteriological Validity of Language and Mantras Mantras The Sanskrit language. 1932: 213). a mastery of the Sanskrit grammar became one of the hallmarks of Bodhisattva training. avaivartika) Bodhisattva (Avat: 1189-1191). 35 Likewise.2. 1. see sections 3.2. 264).3. 1. Dayal. besides being accepted by the Mahāyāna for its technical precision and cultural prestige (Lamotte.3. Biardeau. 1984b: 32). memorizing. For as the dharma-body of the past.1.227-228.34 Hence.3. 1982: 324-325). 1998: 255. one should carefully analyze it grammatically. and this Mahāyāna acceptance of written Scriptures was a key factor for its survival (McMahan. letter by letter.XXVIII.461-462). and (2) the passage from a Scriptural ‘closed canon’ based on an oral transmission. Bhartṛhari (fifth century CE) recognized Sanskrit grammar as ‘a gateway to liberation’ (Vāk. And for that purpose.2. word by word. On the avaivartika state as a supramundane dhāraṇī goal. The avaivartika state coincides with the accomplishment of the ‘conviction of the non-arising of dharmas’ (Skt. pratibhāna) and is able to transform him into an irreversible (Skt.

Drewes. On the Bodhisattva’s pratisaṃvids. while another source ackowledges mantra efficacy and its likely use among Buddhists (Kāpa. as mnemonic and contemplative means to realize Buddhist teachings (Mpsū: 160-162. 2006: 246-247). 37 On the Mahāyāna approach to mantras/dhāraṇīs. this Sanskritizaton did not necessarily imply a Mahāyāna recognition of Sanskrit as the Buddha’s ‘sacred language’. moreover.27.4..I: 201-207). see sections 2. and the practice of their mantras within Mahāyāna.36). for the Vajrayāna instead. One passage refers to mantra power (Skt.167.38 And if the dharmabhāṇakas were the inspirers of the Mahāyāna Sūtras and their legitimate promulgators (MacQueen.18.5). they were.48).XVIII. an early reference indicates that mantras were rejected due to their ‘heretical’ origins (Pratyu.36 Nevertheless.. Mapa.Mahāyāna would include special syllabaries as the ‘arapacana’ and the standard Sanskrit syllabary (varṇapāṭha) within several Mahāyāna Scriptures. on a relative level. mantra-bala) as a metaphor for the unsupported power of suchness (Skt. mantras/dhāraṇīs reveal their emptiness as a ‘no-meaningness’ (Skt. and Brahmā Sahāṃpati. while the other passage refers to the mantras and vidyās’ attaining as a mark of the irreversible Bodhisattva (Aṣṭa. see below and section 2. tathatā) (Ragā. 38 If the irreversible Bodhisattva is located in the eighth bhūmi (see n. PWE-S.5. 2. But it is in the Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā-sūtra and its versified part. In practical terms though.348). Even a commentary of the influential Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra went so far as to acknowledge the ‘eternal’ (akṣara) and ‘inexhaustible’ (akṣaya) nature of the Sanskrit syllabary and its ‘invention’ from age to age by the god Brahmā (HBG.II: 117). see sections 2. mantras/dhāraṇīs reveal their emptiness as producers of innumerable meanings. Śakra. and the only ones authorized to recite and transmit them (Pagel.337).XVII. 34 above). In fact. XXVII. nitarthathā) emphasizing the inexpressible nature of all dharmas. Conze. On the mantras as issued from the dharmatā. through ‘invocation formulae’ (Skt. the irreversible Bodhisattvas are identified with the ‘Dharma-preachers’ (Skt.17. and 2.2.XVIII. This implies that.1. 2000: 1).1.3. and it was accepted by the Vajrayāna but with a key difference: the varṇapāṭha is not created by Brahmā but ‘appears spontaneously from suchness’ (Bonji: 139).1. PWE-S.2. When confronted with mantras/dhāraṇīs though.2. PWE-V..1. where the mantric lore got an unreserved acceptance.14B). pratisaṃvids) and was mainly used to skillfully teach the Dharma to people. 27 .3. the dharmabhāṇakas also introduced the different understandings of 36 However.2.2. such language mastery was included within the Bodhisattva’s ‘detailed and thorough knowledges’ (Skt. language is subjected to a rigorous deconstruction divesting it of any reification that demonstrates its inability to express ultimate reality: ‘One cannot properly express the emptiness of all dharmas in words’ (Aṣṭa. 1982: 60. see section 2. and on a definitive level. identified with the pratisaṃvids mastery (Drewes. this approach was not followed by other Mahāyāna streams.4. the Ratnaguṇasaṃcaya-gāthā (1st century BCE.4.174. ākarṣaṇapada). the introducers of the veneration to the ‘Four Great Kings’. 2007a: 60-61). the dharmabhāṇaka is located in the ninth one. dharmabhāṇakas).37 Concerning the Mahāyāna doctrinal assimilation of mantras.2. considered as quite advanced Bodhisattvas who are very near to the attainment of Buddhahood. see section 2. and 2. this linguistic deconstruction was understood in two different ways: for the mainstream Mahāyāna. because ‘the teaching of both the Dharma and (its) meaning happens only through speech and knowledge’ (Mslb. and on the Vajrayāna approach. 2006: 248-251).3. in all likelihood.

2. interacting/competing against an institutionalized Mahāyāna led by the Yogācāra school (Matsunaga. a Sūtra refers to a Bodhisattva who ‘has received the dhāraṇīs’. three centuries before (Skilling. 1992: 164). whether mundane or supramundane. For instance. contrasting with the vague references to those topics appearing in standard Mahāyāna Sūtras.42 (2). reveal with preciseness the dhāraṇī goals and their concrete methods of practice to attain them.2. 40 The second Buddhist consolidation of those mantric lores would be established by the Indian Vajrayāna.39 and concerning the second case. 39 On those stages of dhāraṇīs within Mahāyāna Sūtras. Vedic and early Śaiva mantric lores within Indian Buddhism. Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇī Scriptures From the third century CE to the eighth century CE. as a result of a long process of assimilation and re-elaboration that began.510). 1. four would be emphasized: (1). in fact.VI. Staal. 41 On the dhāraṇī mastery of Asaṅga and Vasubandhu. 28 .Preciseness. CBD: 136-140.1.40 Among the key socio-religious factors contributing to the emergence of the Dhāraṇī Scriptures. The Dhāraṇī Scriptures instead. or both.1. 1992: 164).. and on Śāntideva’s. 2005: 87). the dhāraṇī concept passed through several stages before becoming a mature Dhāraṇī Scripture. see Chimpa/Chattopadhyaya. PWE-S. The Dhāraṇī Scriptures offer a precise sense of their nature and methods. 2009: 139. 1884: ii.2. as well.dhāraṇī concept within the Mahāyāna Sūtras.252.3.41 And among the likely reasons lying behind the dissemination and survival of the Dhāraṇī Scriptures. see Appendix D. two factors already dealt with stand out as the Buddhist assimilation of local cults and their mantric lore from the second century BCE to the third century CE (Skilling. and later on.Practicality. 2002: 117-118).30. 1970: 166172. and are focused instead on a dhāraṇī formula presented as a practice capable of accomplishing a concrete goal. and a third one should be added. Davidson. The success and wide dissemination of those Scriptures was such. and 3. II. see Beal. a new modality of Buddhist Scripture appeared in India and spread through Central Asia. In the first case. 1985: 18). and section 2. Tibet. they inspired the Dhāraṇī Scriptures. but does not specify which ones (Aṣṭa.2.1. On the dhāraṇī mastery of Mādhyamika authors as Bhavāviveka. Dhāraṇī Scriptures leave aside discussions on doctrinal topics. 2008: 337). it will be studied below. 1977: 171. where the ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇīs became the core of the Sūtra’s narrative (Sørensen.2. this Scripture does not specify what these ‘means’ concretely entail. 2011b: 162).139-142. the Brahmanical revival focused on Vedic rituals established by the Gupta dynasty (320-500 CE).XXX. but again. and sections 2.. Overall.2. in other Scripture dhāraṇī is defined both as ‘memory’ and the ‘means’ to attain it (Braarvig. and East Asia. from the mid-seventh to the mid-eleventh centuries CE (Davidson. 224-226. and the Sanskritization of Indian Mahāyāna. that Arthur Waley rightly called it ‘Dhāraṇī-Buddhism’ (as quoted in McBride. see Śikṣā. It can be seen in the arising of the Dhāraṇī Scriptures the first consolidation of the non-Vedic. 42 See section 3. at least. In fact. a new version of buddhavacana.

2011a. ṛddhi). Prati). promulgates a dhāraṇī formula as the solution to the raised issue. uṣṇīṣa) (Sitā: 90-91). that according to the The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahāpiṭaka. and ‘Vidyā’.3.. 45 See section 3. the denomination of ‘Dhāraṇī Scripture’ is an extensive one. the difficulty to classify them neatly because of their versatile nature. and those extra-canonical ones in Sørensen.Single Scriptures: Entitled as ‘Dhāraṇī’ or ‘Dhāraṇī-sūtra’. Gaṇa). or ‘Hṛdaya’ (eg.43 (3). Given that Dhāraṇī Scriptures condensate numerous teachings within their formulas.3. 44 See sections 3. Māyū. but it also includes numerous dhāraṇīs/mantras within other Sūtras.3.2. and on the other hand.402 formulas. Several Dhāraṇī Scriptures identified themselves as ‘Dharma-kāya relics’ and were used to consecrate stūpas and images.1. ritual texts. ‘Kalpa’.2. transform. uttered by the Buddha or issued from his craneal protuberance (Skt. on the one hand. T 1022(b) 713c17-19. 3. the stūpa consecrated by those dhāraṇīs became a ‘living Buddha body’ and the practitioner getting in touch with it could easily attain mundane and supramundane benefits..Effectiveness.3. In most cases those Scriptures are divided into two parts: a narrative one. In the first case.3. and even indicating the concrete signs and time in which their results can be made manifest.Dhāraṇīs as Relics. hence. and 3. where the Buddha or another authority (Bodhisattva. and 3. they present themselves as a short-cut to enligthenment and as a rapid method to attain any goal (Chou. 29 .. the Chinese Buddhist canon contains at least one hundred fourteen Scriptures entitled as ‘Dhāraṇī-sūtras’ (Ch. an obvious proof of their proliferation. also includes Scriptures entitled as ‘Mahāyānasūtra’ (eg. including basically four textual modalities: (a). tuoluoni jing) (RCB: 82-121). 1945: 258). come to 10. 566). Guhya: 4).1. Tantras. 2011. etc.1. where a concrete issue is addressed to the historical Buddha.) approved by him.. and a practical one. and others as ‘Vidyārajñi’ (eg. 3. consisting of the ‘supernatural power of conservation’ (ādhiṣṭhānikī ṛddhi) in ‘the thing that the magician consecrates 43 See sections 3. And in the second case. deity. Those three functions correspond to three modalities of the ‘supernatural power’ (Skt. and verifiable methods to realize the desired goals. A feature of foremost relevance for those Scriptures is that the dhāraṇī formula is presented as buddhavacana. entitled as ‘Dhāraṇī’.45 The Dhāraṇī Scriptures collected by the Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist canons testify. 46 See detailed summaries of the Dhāraṇī Scriptures and other esoteric texts within the Chinese canon in Giebel. adapting their prescriptions to the characteristics of any person. which allows them to create. adhiṣṭhāna) (Anir: 103. and conserve (adhiṣṭhāna) an external object (Kośa. etc. The adhiṣṭhāna is an attribute of the Buddhas’ ‘perfection of power’ (Skt..2.3.44 (4). praising its benefits and claiming the pledge (samaya) of its efficacy. prabhāvasaṃpad).. or it is claimed that the dhāraṇī formula has been promulgated by the Buddha and endowed with his ‘spiritual support’ or ‘blessing’ (Skt. since both are viewed as an interrelated wholeness. feasible.for most Dhāraṇī Scriptures there is no dividing line between mundane and supramundane goals. the Dhāraṇī Scriptures show effective.46 The Tibetan Buddhist canon contains ninety six Dhāraṇī Scriptures. from his eyebrows (Prati: 193).34-c). Bala).VII. According to their own claims. besides numerous Tantras containing dhāraṇī formulas (Kan: 561-563.

Nepal. 2011: 176).. 109). stand out the Pañcarakṣā (‘Five 47 On the Bodhisattvas’ adhiṣṭhāna on mantras. see section 3. mid-fifth century CE. Moreover. a monk is suffering from snakebite and the Buddha transmitted to Ānanda the Mahāmāyūrī dhāraṇī to be recited by him to the poisoned monk. The Mahāmāyūrī’s narrative core is based on the Khandha and Mora parittas (Piyadassi. second-third centuries CE) including both dhāraṇī formulas and rituals. In its narrative. who secures its effectiveness if her/his prescriptions are strictly followed (Eltschinger. and normally are divided into three parts: an invitation to mundane deities as witnesses and recitation’s beneficiaries.1.47 Among the earliest Dhāraṇī-sūtras stand out the Mahāmāyūrī-vidyārājñī-sūtra (The Scripture of the Queen of Vidyās of the Great.2.1. to be attached to the Dhāraṇī-sūtras after the sixth century CE. of high significance for the early East Asian esoteric Buddhism. and in the dhāraṇīs.49 (c). Golden Peacock). 2010: 14-15).56.. On another key early Dhāraṇī Scripture entitled Mātaṅgī-sūtra. see Appendix B-1. see Appendix C. 41-42. 30 .2. regarded as an infallible antidote against poison. n. The Dhāraṇī-vidhis established the textual basis for the early Buddhist Tantras’ emergence (Dalton.1.. On the Dhāraṇī-vidhis. “may this thing be thus” is termed adhiṣṭhāna. focused on ritual practices (vidhi) directly related to the Sūtra’s dhāraṇī formula (Copp. n. 1915a: 20-21). 1975: 37-38. see section 1. the adhiṣṭhāna can be given not only by Buddhas. the Buddha approves the recitation of mantras/vidyās/dhāraṇīs from a large host of deities intended to protect the Sangha from all kinds of dangers. the Dhāraṇī-saṃgrahas consist of a selection of dhāraṇī formulas to be recited within a liturgical context.2. see Appendix C.1. Among the most popular Dhāraṇī-saṃgrahas.1. or this ṛddhi is produced in this thing: thus this ṛddhi is called ādhiṣṭhānikī’ (Kośa. 48 The Atharvaveda already described a mantra invoking a peacock as antidote against snakes poison (AV. The Buddhas give their adhiṣṭhāna to the dhāraṇīs to endow them with efficacy and extend their power indefinitely. are identical to their parallels Mahāsamāja and Āṭānāṭiya Mahāsūtras already described in section 1.2. 2008: 278-281. and Tibet. 185. but by Bodhisattvas and deities. 2001: 24-27.3.3. the dhāraṇī formulas themselves. and a closing part with praises and prayers (Dalton.(adhitiṣṭhati) by saying.9-d. n.48 (b). Dhāraṇī-vidhis): A great number of Dhāraṇīsūtras contain a third part. see section 1. This thing is the object (prayojana) of this ṛddhi. n. 2). Dhāraṇī-saṃgrahas): Of a wide diffusion in India. whose Sanskrit original dates from the third century CE (Sørensen. 185.Dhāraṇī Ritual Manuals (Skt. 19.Dhāraṇī Collections (Skt. On the Dharmakīrti (600660 CE) definition of mantra’s efficacy as exclusively related to a human ādhiṣṭhānikī ṛddhi. 2010: 5-10). 2006a: 91-92. since ‘true words eliminate poisons’ (Māyū: 458). on the function of adhiṣṭhāna in the Vajrayāna mantras.1. the prescriptions for the dhāraṇī practice participate of the promulgator’s adhiṣṭhāna and pledge (samaya). On the samaya role in the Vedic mantras. too.. Moreover. 49 See section 1. However.7).VII. which in turn. there are instances of early Dhāraṇī-sūtras (c. p. 1938: 41-44). 31. see section 2.2. 62-74). Likewise.2.. see section 2.2. see Eltschinger. originally the vidhis circulated independently c. The successful spreading of the Dhāraṇī-vidhis lies in that the exact following of their prescriptions is seen to evoke the deity’s presence and obtaining the desired goals.III.1. and the deities’ lists appearing into the Mahāsamaya and Āṭānāṭiya parittas are reproduced in the Mahāmāyūrī (Przyluski/Lalou. Lévi. Some Buddhist schools admitted the ādhiṣṭhānikī ṛddhi in non-Buddhist mantras. However.

and Buddha Clans (Skt.410-411. The vidyādharas are mentioned in the Milindapañha and certain Jātakas (Lüders. 1995: 149-151. kulas). or ‘esoteric’ 50 See other Dhāraṇī-saṃgrahas in CBSM: 41-43. On the parallels between the Pañcarakṣā collection and some Theravāda parittas. as the Subāhuparipṛcchā and the Susiddhikara (Lalou. Dhāraṇīsammucaya-sūtra) (T 901).52 Given that Atikūṭa’s Tuoluoni zi jing is an abridged version of a Vidyādhara-piṭaka (Duquenne. 2). 2000: 166. and are the precursors of the siddha model advocated by a mature Indian Vajrayāna (Davidson.VI.I. 1955: 71-72). it is likely that the Dhāraṇī-sammucayas could be the direct descendants of the earlier Vidyādhara/Dhāraṇī-piṭakas already mentioned. compiled by Atikūṭa between 653-654 CE. 2006: 135-136). 1988: 322).Dhāraṇī Anthologies (Skt. 1923: 306-307). A later and highly relevant Dhāraṇī-sammucaya is the quadrilingual Dazang quanzhou (‘Great Collection of dhāraṇīs’) in Manchu. always young and ‘accomplished’ (siddhas) in mantric lore (Grafe. n. 2003: 39). 2001: 372). 53 The vidyādharas have their origin in the non-Buddhist ‘semigods’ or ‘men-gods’ (Skt.143. 93-95. 1996: 72-87. for this reason they were classified later as the earliest Kriyā Tantras. IMT. 39). 51 The other two are translations of Indian Dhāraṇī-sūtras. Those piṭakas advocate the model of the vidyādhara. Berger. According to the testimonies of Yijing (635-713 CE) and Wuxing (?-674 CE). to change shape at will. Chinese. CBD: 140). the Vidyādhara/Dhāraṇī-piṭakas were presented as a ‘new teaching’ of great prestige in India (Chavannes. Franke. 1939: 90-93). ‘bearer of knowledge’. see Skilling. and Tibetan. homa). and Saptavāra (‘Seven Days’) collections (Grönbold. the Tuoluoni zi jing describes numerous rituals. 31 . locate them into a frontier area between Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna (TMD: xxii). n. Dhāraṇī-sammucayas): These are one of the three modalities adopted by the Dhāraṇī Scriptures in China. The contemporary The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahāpiṭaka (2001) is an improved reproduction of the Dazang quanzhou.. compiled between 1748-1758 under mandate of the Qing emperor Qianlong (17111799). 1996: 72-73. which other authors have described as ‘proto-Tantric’ (Strickmann. becoming a pivotal work that would anticipate a mature East Asian Vajrayāna (Strickmann. and Scriptures elaborated in China (‘apocryphal’) but based on Indic originals (Strickmann. 1894: 101-105. the Vidyādhara/Dhāraṇī-piṭakas include early protective mantras (Śikṣā. divyamānuṣas) (Przyluski. SBLN: 80-81. 1984: 320-334). 49-50. 1992: 180-182. 133136). but their ritual methods relate them to the Tantras. and they are described as being able to fly. 1993: 127. abhiṣeka) and fire sacrifice (Skt. Yuyama. they play a key role in some early Buddhist Tantras (Przyluski. and Scriptures with a threefold division of rites. that of the consecration (Skt.50 (d). accomplishments (Skt. still in use among Nepalese Buddhist Newars. 1935: 83-84. Judging by their contents.53 The Dhāraṇī-sūtras’ hybrid nature. siddhis). Li-kouang. Besides including a vast selection of Dhāraṇī-sūtras and dhāraṇī formulas. 1996: 129-133). especially. 1958: 308). Mongolian. 2002: 170171). as a human being able to transform himself into a ‘superman’ or ‘man-god’ through a mantra/dhāraṇī practice (Buitenen. lit.51 One of the most outstanding is the Tuoluoni zi jing (Skt. whose narratives makes them similar to the standard Mahāyāna Sūtras. 1938: 125).Protections’) (Gellner. 52 Qianlong was seriously involved in dhāraṇīs and wanted to restore their original Indic pronunciations (Wang.

The earliest textual precursors of the Tantras are dhāraṇī-collections’ (Gray. and retention mantras [sic] (dharani)’ (Shes. 2000: 209-217). others with mundane and supramundane goals. 1. see below and section 1. n. and demonstrate instead a more complex evidence: there are dhāraṇīs with only mundane goals. 2010: 15-16. tantras. and ‘Mantranaya’ is not applicable to the East Asian Vajrayāna. while that under the second type Buddhaguhya included texts such as the Mahāvairocanābhisaṃbodhitantra (Vai-ta. bye brag gi rgyud). 2000: 205-208). compilations of ritual manuals (vidhi). the Dhāraṇī Scriptures themselves refute such biased claim. This means that most of the earliest Kriyā Tantras are composed by Dhāraṇī-vidhis. two stand out: endowing them with sophisticated definitions which identify them definitely as mantras.2. and still others with exclusively supramundane goals. 55 The other categories of Tantras are Yoga. Under the former type he included texts such as the Susiddhikara (Susi) or the Subāhuparipṛcchā.7. such inclusion is problematic for two reasons: ‘Mantranaya’ was indentified as synonym of ‘Vajrayāna’ by later Vajrayāna authors (Ōmi.54 Regardless the debatable accuracy of those designations. 56 The pivotal Kriyā Tantra Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa includes both mundane and supramundane goals (Wallis. and 3. and Yoginī Tantras (Williams/Tribe. 2002: 19-23). those ritual manuals established ‘a key developmental bridge between the earlier dhāraṇīs and the later tantras’ (Dalton. and the same occurs with the seminal Carya Tantra Mahāvairocanābhisaṃbodhi-tantra (Vai-ta. Vajrayāna Vajrayāna Buddhism Among the foremost Vajrayāna contributions to the dhāraṇīs.3. n.2. dhāraṇī practice would limit itself to exclusively mundane goals (Williams/Tribe. XIII.e. the documentary evidence shows an indisputable fact: ‘There is in fact a historical connection between the earlier dhāraṇī texts and the later Buddhist Tantras. On the mundane and supramundane dhāraṇī goals. therefore.3. 8). it had been acknowledged ‘the emergence of tantric materials out of the dhāraṇī literature’.3. On the other hand. 2006b: 57-58). Buddhaguhya (the eighth century CE) established two subclasses within the Kriyā Tantra category: the ‘general Tantras that are compilations of ritual manuals’ (Tib.V: 273-274). Indo-Tibetan Vajrayāna recognized the dhāraṇīs as a type of Kriyā (‘Action’) and Carya (‘Conduct’) Tantras: ‘The action and conduct tantras are distinguished as five types according to style of presentation alone: sutras.55 It had been argued that Kriyā and Carya Tantras lack any soteriological goals.(Sørensen. understood as a stage previous to the Vajrayāna (Williams/Tribe. 32 . 2011: 23). In later classifications. Mahāyoga. According to the earliest classification of the Indo-Tibetan Tantras. in the Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa and the Mahāvairocanābhisaṃbodhi-tantra the first soteriological 54 Despite some authors considering the Dhāraṇī Scriptures as belonging to the ‘Mantranaya’. despite that those tantric materials included practices alien to standard Dhāraṇī Scriptures (Davidson.. Likewise. 33). skills.I. Vai-sū). 2005: 427). spyi’i cho ga bsdus pa’i rgyud).56 Moreover.50). 2008: 307-308).2. is completely without foundation. claiming that the Dhāraṇī Scriptures are unrelated to Vajrayāna Tantras as does Hartzell (1997: 253-256). hence. 2000: 196. see sections 3. and with a doctrinal and methodological systematization incomparable to their former generalized presentations. and the ‘distinct Tantras’ (Tib. i. However. detailed rituals.

validated mantric language as being both a means to attain enlightenment and as a perfect expression of it (Payne. 2009: 134). 1999: 264. 59 See section 2. is ritually treated as a ‘dhāraṇīdharmakāya relic’ (Gray. Amoghavajra composed a normative definition on the meaning of the term dhāraṇī. shingon-darani-zō). And to distinguish clearly the Buddhist dhāraṇī from the Daoist ‘spell’ (Ch. the Japanese successor of the esoteric lineage Kūkai (774-835 CE). where it is identified explicitly as mantra (Zong: 151-154.58 The contents of this esoteric lineage are based on the Scriptures. described his school as the ‘mantra-dhāraṇī-piṭaka’ (Jap. one of the pivotal Yoginī Tantras.2.59 In the same line. Yoga Tantra. 62).rationales for Buddhist dhāraṇīs/mantras are articulated.57 But being faithful to their fluidic nature.60 The dhāraṇī definitions and classifications according to Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna will be dealt with in the next chapter. 1995: 256). 1945. hosshin seppō). and mudrās that ‘the revered Vairocana [Buddha] entrusted to the bodhisattva Vajrapāṇi’ until reaching the Indian ancestor Amoghavajra (Orlando. according to an IndoTibetan tradition. but they permeate through the whole spectrum of Vajrayāna Scriptures. 2005: 427-428. 271).3. Yoginī Tantras as the Hevajra-tantra (HT.4. 58 An institutional Vajrayāna lineage was established in China by the Indian masters Śubhakarasiṁha (637-735). 1981: 135). dhāraṇīs. And it is precisely the dhāraṇī ‘secret function’ as being able to ‘unleash countless meanings from within each letter of a word’ which unveils the innumerable contents of the Dharma-kāya’s preaching (Abé. and Amoghavajra (705-774 CE) (Chou. dhāraṇī formulas are not only located within Kriyā and Carya Tantras. ‘dhāraṇī-mantras of Mahāyoga Tantra. II. Vajrabodhi (671-741). 57 See section 2. 26 and 27). 2005: 109).45-47). 33 . 60 See section 2. establishing ‘genetic connections’ between early and late Tantric texts (Cantwell/Mayer.4. 284. 2010: 77-78). n. and dhāraṇī formulas are included within Mahāyoga Tantras as the Guhyasamāja-tantra (Gusa: 298-306. dhāraṇyabhiṣeka) (Chou. n.2. Caryā Tantra and Kriyā Tantra’ should be inserted for consecrating stūpas (Bentor. McBride. and as emanating from the Buddha Mahāvairocana’s Dharma-kāya and being only accessible through consecration (abhiṣeka) (Abé. it is precisely the term dhāraṇī what was selected to define this tradition. 1999: 197-198). which locates them neatly within a doctrinal and methodological Vajrayāna context. 2006: 79). 1934: 57).I. 1945: 251-307). or ritual manuals as the Cakrasaṃvarabalividhi (Finot. 332). Kūkai’s emphasis on the idea that the Buddha as Dharma-kāya actively preaches the Dharma (Jap. and the initiatic transmission of dhāraṇīs is realized through a ‘consecration’ ritual (Skt.32. To quote just a few examples. one of the accomplishments for the initiated to the Yoga Tantra Sarvatathāgatatattvasaṃgraha is that of ‘[the mastery of] Dhāraṇīs’ (Sanderson. which it was commonly confused with in China.5. Within the East Asian Vajrayāna. the Cakrasaṃvara-tantra.1. zhou). II.

its etymological analysis. statute. and contains a linguistic space that is occupied by the force of some enlightened being’ (Wallis. dhāraṇī had been interpreted as ‘retaining in memory (dhāraṇa). and linguistic/cognitive skills such as knowledge. Certainly. ordinance. 2002: 122). that is the old form of the Vedic dhárman. however. 61 On the meanings of the Pāli term ‘dhāraṇa’.1. steadfast decree. 1. and is derived from the verb ‘dhāraṇa’. 1912: 156). The Sanskrit noun ‘dhāraṇī’ derives from the root dhṛ ‘to hold’. 512). n. having’ (SED: 515). 2002: 30). and eloquence (Davidson. SED: 510. ‘holding. the dhāraṇī is conceived as a ‘mental formation’ (P saṅkhāra) composed of spiritual syllabic formulas that. among others. 140-141). the meditator is able to purify his mind and liberate it from the conditioned (Bizot. related to the perfect tense gzuṅ from the root ḥdzin pa ‘to lay hold of. and the means by which one does so. Nevertheless. or held to. and to a certain extent. through its contemplative cultivation (P bhāvanā).2. had contributed to limiting its meaning. One can dhāraṇī a dhāraṇī. and shares such root.1. law’ (Whitney.1. according to a contemporary interpretation of the Theravāda Mahā Nikāya. or as a ‘short mnemonic string of words’ (Snellgrove. 1993: 128). While those interpretations rightly point out diverse aspects directly related to the dhāraṇī term. translating dhāraṇī just as ‘spell’ (Waddell. Meanings of the term Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇī If it had been stated that ‘the Buddhist term dhāraṇī is ambiguous’ (Gyatso. bearing. and to the Tibetan as ‘holder’ (Tib. the meaning of this ‘holding’ is twofold: ‘”Dhāraṇī” describes both what is grasped. retention.61 This etymological meaning is reflected in the traditional translations of the term dhāraṇī to the Chinese as ‘completely retaining’ (Ch. preserving. arranger’. ‘magic formula’ (BHSD: 284b). ‘mantric prayer’ (Gellner. maintaining. ‘bearer. And according to the Vajrayāna that clearly identifes dhāraṇī as mantra. keeping (in remembrance). both as the process itself and the means to bring it about’ (Braarvig. A recent polysemic dhāraṇī interpretation identifies it as a ‘code/coding’ of Buddhist words/sounds understood as mantras. protecting. with the term dharmán. the earth’.Chapter 2 Meanings: Traditional Definitions and Classifications of Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs 2. to misunderstanding it. and “dhāraṇī” names the quality of being that allows this’ (Copp. 1985: 19). in other words. zongchi). 1885: 84-85. From a contemplative side. 34 . a dhāraṇī ‘is a vessel that bears. and ‘grasp … to hold (whether in one’s mind or nature or otherwise) and to understand (including in the sense of “to have the knack for”)’ (Copp. supporter. probably this is due more to some Western interpretations of the term. preserves. will yield a clearer understanding of their foundations.IV: 1854). memory. analogical thinking. ‘that which is established or firm.2. holds. than to the accuracy of its semantic field. gzuṅs). see section 1. 1992: 173). In a primary sense. possesing. Primary Definitions 2. 2008: 493-494). From more accurate approaches. 2005: 168).1. the feminine noun ‘dhāraṇī’ means ‘any tubular vessel of the body. 2009: 141-142). to seize’ (Mppś. 1976: 85.

1. vidyā. hence. 1932: 267). i.1. they only differ in their specific functions. or ‘mantra-pada’. the synonyms and compound terms of dhāraṇī denote a semantic field that unmistakably identifies it with the term mantra. ‘virtue’.1. hṛdaya. being understood as synonymous 62 On the Vedic meaning of mantra as ‘an instrument of thought’. which allowed it to be selected by Buddhists to assimilate the mantra’s semantic field.62 2. the basic principle established here asserts that the terms dhāraṇī. MantraMantra-pada. and vidyā that: ‘On the basis of their fundamental notion of mystic recitation they can be considered one. mantra. vajrapada.1. hṛdaya. and dhāraṇī-mantrapada has basically the same meaning. and ‘dhāraṇī-pada’ appear separately but within identical context. 1999: 151). see sections 2. and 2.233-235). Likewise. will clarify to some extent the semantic richness of dhāraṇī term. this is a complex area that had raised some confusion among several authors.XXI.. This view will be developed within Vajrayāna. mantra-pada denotes a formula facilitating any mundane or supramundane goal of the Buddhist practitioner.1. 35 . which as will be made evident below. Harrison/Coblin. ‘knowledge’. are fluidic and according to different contexts though. designed as ‘mantra’. understood on the one hand as a content/faculty. Skorupski already rightly pointed out concerning the terms mantra. What there are in Mainstream and Mahāyāna Buddhist Scriptures are references to the term mantra. each one of them has its particular significance’ (Durga: 111). T. a Mahāpratisarā dhāraṇī formula is described ‘as equal to the heart of all the Tathāgatas’ (Prati: 206). Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīṇī-mantramantra-pada Despite the fact that there is no Buddhist definition for the term mantra within Mahāyāna Sūtras. In some Dhāraṇī-sūtras however. Overall. see section 1. understood as the means through which those contents/faculties that are held to are realized. although this basic meaning may vary according the context. Synonyms and Compound Terms Undoubtedly. ‘protection’. However. they even become interchangeable. a basic profile will be offered which.II: 74. eg. and their compounds. Thus. in some cases ‘mantra-pada’ and ‘dhāraṇī-pada’ are used as synonyms and as interchangeable terms. 2009: 117). hopefully. indicating in this way their ‘identity of reference’ (samānadhikarana) (Davidson. the terms ‘mantra-pada’. and on the other hand. However.It is precisely this twofold meaning of dhāraṇī. etc. a dhāraṇī formula is simultaneously viewed as a means to attain the goal and the goal itself.2. As it will be demonstrated with the dhāraṇī’s traditional definitions referred to below. 2. all of them keep the basic meaning of dhāraṇī as a content/faculty that is held to. ‘mantrawords’ (MS. and also to the pairing ‘dhāraṇī-mantrapada’ (Puṇḍa. as ‘mantra-words of dhāraṇīs’ (Dayal.e.2. are identical because all of them belong to the uncommon language of mantra. ‘dhāraṇī-mantra-pada’.4.3. while in others. pada.1. whether ‘memory’. and turns his Dharma wheel ‘with innumerable kinds of mantras’ (Ben: 38-39). as a means to attain it. hence. in the Bodhimaṇḍala-ekākṣara-uṣṇīṣa-cakra-sūtra the Buddha is named as ‘mantra’ and ‘great mantra’.

2010: 481-483) and models for visualization and self-identification (Skt. Vidyā Vidyā-mantra. SED: 963-964).2.. On the iconography of the twelve dhāraṇīs or vidyā-rajñīs. The Suvarṇabhāsottama-sūtra includes the goddess Śrī’s vidyā-mantra (Suvar: 61. On the ‘dhāraṇī-mantra’ compound in the Vajrayāna. and the Kāraṇḍavyūha-sūtra describes its influential six-syllable mantra ‘oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ’ as a mahā-vidyā (Studholme. 237). Vidyā Vidyā. With his mastery of the gāndhārī-vidyā. the Abhidharmakośa accepted those vidyās (Kośa. 386). This is precisely the meaning of the ‘mantra-dhāraṇī’ compound in the Asaṅga’s Bodhisattvabhūmi. it is said that Asaṅga was able to transfer himself instantaneously to the Tusiṭa heaven (Chimpa/Chattopadhyaya. 36 . it means ‘knowledge’. true compendium of non-Vedic goddesses’ vidyā mantras according to the Atharvaveda’s prescriptions (Gupta. assimilated later into the Atharvaveda. as the ‘Seven Mothers’ (sapta-mātṛkās). Dūrga. In several Dhāraṇī-sūtras the vidyā-rajñīs emanate as light from the Buddha’s body. 2009: 117). 1958: 337-342.63 2. which denotes a natural connection between Vedas and vidyā.1. and a mature Vajrayāna would identify vidyā as a ‘female mantra’. the vidyā-rajñīs reveal their feminine nature as being simultaneously dhāraṇī formulas and personified goddesses. being understood as an appositional compound indicating a dhāraṇī that is a mantra (mantra eva dhāraṇī) (Davidson. A proof of this lies in the authoritative Devī Purāṇa. see DBI. see section 2. Vai-sū: 73). see section 1.11. It would be remembered here that the mahāvyāhṛtis’ mantras extract the ‘sap’ of the threefold Vedic knowledge. 1885: 159.65 But it is into the Dhāraṇī Scriptures where. ‘science’.2. see section 1.expressions denoting a set of mantras intended for mundane and supramundane goals (Prati: 217-218). On the nonVedic goddesses within Buddhist dhāraṇīs. ‘learning’ (Whitney. see Appendix D section (a). the notion of vidyā as mantra is originated with the formulas revealed by non-Vedic goddesses. Przyluski.2. iṣṭadevatā) (Porció. 64 Some of those vidyā mantras appear in Buddhist Tantras (Vai-ta. hence. On vidyā as a ‘female mantra’ within the Śaiva Tantric context. Vidyāraj Vidyārajñ ārajñī. however. being identical to the term ‘Veda’. 1923: 308-310). becoming ritual referents (Hidas. 1970: 166).VII. Mahā Mahā-vidyā vidyā. 65 On other references to the ‘mahā-vidyā’ as mantra.2. or from his eyebrows (Prati: 193). however. 56b). although it is concealed as the Buddha’s mantric wisdom. Within the Dhāraṇī-vidhis and the early Kriyā Tantras.64 The Theravāda Nikāyas rejected the vidyās (P vijjā) ‘Gandhāra’ and ‘Maṇika’ as proper means to attain the powers of invisibility and reading others’ minds (DN. its feminine quality is emphasized calling it ‘vidyā-queen’ (vidyā-rajñī).66 63 The same thing occurs with the compound ‘mantra-dhāraṇī’.2. 2002: 232-233.1. Caṇḍika.57). 66 See section 2. Vidyā Vidyā-dhāra dhāraṇī āraṇī The feminine Sanskrit noun vidyā is derived from the root ‘vid’ ‘to know’. Kālarātri. However.3. 2000: 14-16.2. Sgol: 51).3: 925. Cāmuṇḍa.2. whether from his uṣṇīṣa (Sitā: 9091). mantra.IV.1. Śabari.11.1.47c-d. And one of the key means to attain vidyā is by reciting the vidyā mantras. n. 49.4. etc. 2002: 61). Bhattacharyya. and 2. besides identifying vidyā as dhāraṇī with the compound vidyā-dhāraṇī (Māyū: 378. see sections 2.3.

rituals and benefits included within a given Scripture.1. hṛdaya also indicates the complete set of dhāraṇī formulas included within a Scripture: ‘I shall now recite … this Hṛdaya named Amoghapāśa …’ (Amog: 295).1. that despite being functionally equivalent to the Tantric ‘seedmantra’ (bīja-mantra). For instance. i. hṛdaya denotes ‘the essence or quintessence of that which is required for accomplishing a powerful supernatural result’. because the hṛdaya-mantra consists of several syllables (Snellgrove. According to the Ratnagotravibhāga.. although it is not used to invoke the deity’s body-mind itself. On the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna interpretations of the syllable ‘A’. i. 37 . Pagel.4. but such meaning is as the diamond (‘vajra’). To this previous Mahāyāna identity of vajra-pada as an ‘imperishable’ (akṣaya) syllable. 2002: 141). see section 1. VajraVajra-pada. Hṛdayaṛdaya-dhāra dhāraṇī āraṇī The term hṛdaya. denoting the ‘essential dhāraṇī’ of a deity akin to her/his hṛdaya-mantra. 190). but to invoke the essential qualities that characterize a given deity.2.. the dhāraṇī formulas. 85-86. vajra-padas ‘are keywords that identify or sum up central premises of Buddhist thought’. Likewise. In more precise terms.1. understood as a dhāraṇī holding ‘all syllables’.1. the Sarvadurgatipariśodhana-tantra refers to the five Vajrapāṇi’s hṛdaya-dhāraṇīs propitiating his powers to remove all obstructions and pacifying all sorrows (Durga: 42-45. When one has engaged with the letter ‘A’. the Amoghapāśa-hṛdaya-dhāraṇī (Amog: 290. it is the Ratnacūḍaparipṛchā-sūtra that describes how ‘to engage’ with vajra-padas. a vajra-pada is a term expressing the meaning of enlightenment in a favourable way to its attaining (‘pada’). hṛdaya also designates a ‘mantra-essence’ (hṛdaya-mantra). appears in the Dhāraṇī Scriptures adopting three meanings: (1) as a title of a Scripture.2. 188. see section 2. see sections 2.110. n.2. n. 2007a: 75-76). vajra-padas serve as mnemonic support to organize significant teachings and stimulate mind’s transformation (Pagel. respectively.3. pada.67 The term hṛdaya also appears as the compound hṛdaya-dhāraṇī. lit. And (3).3. the Sarvadharmāpravṛttinirdeśa-sūtra defines vajra-padas as ‘words of reality and thusness … identical with space and correspond to awakening … they are words [that pertain to] the non-differentiable Dharmadhātu and engage with the nonestablished state’. being similar to the Abhidhamma’s mātikās and the ‘syllabic dhāraṇīs’. refer to a semantic equivalence between dhāraṇī and vajra-pada terms.e. was followed naturally by the Vajrayāna identity of vajra-pada as mantra. the Mahāmāyūrī’s hṛdayadhāraṇī condensates all her protective powers and its recitation ‘eradicates completely all evils and misfortunes’ (Māyū: 379-381). However. eg. one engages with all syllables’ (tr. and 2. differs in its form. ‘heart’. 109).1. 13).3. Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīṇī-vajravajra-pada It is significant that several Mahāyāna Scriptures as the Upāyakauśalya-sūtra (Upka. 130) and others. Basically. 2. 68 On the Vedic meaning of the ‘imperishable word’. understood as the deity’s ‘sonic body-mind’. (2) As a synonym of dhāraṇī. ie.e. Hṛdaya.2. or ‘essence’. as being through the dhāraṇī-vajra-padas: ‘It is to engage with all words by means of a single word … it is a word that is imperishable … the letter ‘A’ is the imperishable word. ṛdaya. 2007a: 2-4.68 The Kāraṇḍavyūha-sūtra describes the mantra ‘oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ’ as a ‘phrase which is a vajra without equal 67 On the hṛdaya-mantra and its variants. difficult to penetrate for an untrained mind (Ragot: 142). ‘A’.

how to attain it? The Mahāprajñāpāramitā-śāstra understands dhāraṇī-mukhas not as language mastery as such. and for the Dà făjù tuóluóní jīng (592-594 CE). to know that sounds and words are impermanent and ‘utterly empty’ (atyanta-śūnya)..e. and (3). a dhāraṇī-mukha is the ‘accomplishment of the penetration of syllables … With this power of recollection. the ‘samādhi overcoming the king of all dhāraṇīs’.e. that is.2.65). see Appendix B-2. distinguish.2. they are samādhis allowing the realization of numerous samādhis.. but. i. stand out the ‘samādhi that does not forget any dharma’. Overbey. 90. they embody the limitless accumulation of the Bodhisattva’s merit and wisdom (Bubhū: 159-160. On the dharmadhātu. whether indicative of defilement or purity’ (Tr.69 From a specific level. mantra practice to obtain dhāraṇīs.1.72-74). whereas a samādhi-mukha refers to ‘those superior contemplations which include all the various concentrations’.IV: 1864-1868). and the Mahāvairocanābhisaṃbodhi-tantra identified as vajra-pada a dhāraṇī-mukha and a vidyā-rajñī ‘which transcends all mundane states of existence’ (Vai-ta. within a single letter he can illuminate.e. all their different meanings’ and can sustain them all (Tr. an indestructible vajra (abhedyavajrapadam)’ (Studholme.XVIII.VII. in the Bodhisattva’s tenth bhūmi.1. so that ‘in one expression it can support all expressions’. and are called ‘doors’ ‘because they engender all conditioned merits and all uncontaminated states’. a samādhi to develop memory. 2002: 147). see section 2.II: 199). according to the Asaṅga’s Āryadeśanāvikhyāpana-śāstra. Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇī paired to other Dharma qualities 2. 70 Note the references to ‘mantra practice to obtain dhāraṇīs’. to contemplate the ‘arapacana’ syllabary grasping its empty nature (Mppś. Davidson.. 220). all words.3. (2) the ‘dhāraṇī entering into [the true characteristic] of the articulated sounds’ (ghoṣapraveśa-dhāraṇī). 2009: 125). see section 2. i. that includes four methods: memory cultivated through analogies. 2010: 64). for those Scriptures dhāraṇī-mukha is equal to a soteriological language mastery. and to the ‘arapacana’ syllabary contemplation. 38 . dharmadhātu) is identified as the dhāraṇīmukhas/samādhi-mukhas’s complete mastery (Msa. 69 According to Yogācāra sources.III. the ‘dhāraṇī penetrating the syllables’ (akṣarapraveśa-dhāraṇī). and n. Dhāra Dhāraṇī mukhas and Samādhi Samādhimukhas āraṇīṇī-mukhas ādhi-mukhas In several Mahāyāna Scriptures it is asserted that the irreversible Bodhisattvas obtain ‘dhāraṇī-doors’ (dhāraṇī-mukhas) and ‘concentration-doors’ (samādhi-mukhas) (Mpsū: 92. and memory acumulated from past lives.70 From the fourteen samādhis described in the Mahāprajñāpāramitā-śāstra. a dhāraṇī-mukha is analogous to the ‘earth’. 2. Obviously. Ratna: 115). a dhāraṇī-mukha means ‘those superior recollective wisdoms which are able to support immeasurable Buddha qualities and hold them without failure’. the ultimate reality (Skt. enabling the production of ‘all dharmas all sūtras.. and the ‘samādhi of the universal eloquence’ (samanta-pratibhāna). At that stage.(asamavajrapadam). the dhāraṇīs become ‘completely purified and great’ and the Bodhisattva relies on them to ‘illuminate the holy Dharma and uphold it always’ (Mslb. but as three dhāraṇīs to obtain it: (1) the ‘dhāraṇī retaining what is listened’ (śrutadhara-dhāraṇī).1. that is equal to Buddhahood.3. Overall.3. i. and fully reveal every kind of object. But now it will be dealt with the most common double associations of dhāraṇī term. the samādhi allowing ‘the knowledge of all articulated sounds and all languages’.

the Central Asian dhāraṇī master Fotudeng (?-349 CE) ‘when he heard the sound of bells. and even means ‘the power of understanding all kinds of sounds without effort’ (Gonda. they were gifted with eloquence (pratibhāna)’ (Śūrsam: 117. because the Bodhisattva. with the words “may it be clear to you” (pratibhātu te)’ (MacQueen.2. 72 On the dharmabhāṇakas’ pratisaṃvids and mantra mastery. the text also recognizes certain differences among them: whereas the dhāraṇīs remain within the Bodhisattva’s mental continuum life after life. understood as three interrelated qualities where the growing of a single one stimulates that of the others. have to hold dhāraṇīs to maintain the qualities’ (Mppś.71 Within a Mahāyāna context. 2. pratibhāna means ‘quick-wittedness.2. However. the Sūtras usually refer first to dhāraṇīs and then to pratibhāna. this text emphasizes an interplay between dhāraṇīs. to flash upon the thought. In the last case. being a highly significant faculty for the Bodhisattva in her/his function as dharmabhāṇaka.IV: 1875-1877). 1948: 338). ‘to shine upon. as ‘when the Buddha invites Subhūti to speak. their association with dhāraṇīs is hardly surprising. and the knowledge of all languages. ‘for all beings’ sake.At first sight. Ratna: 149. and pratibhāna. Puṇḍa.2. come into sight. Upka: 1. a quick understanding or insight’. 427). 39 . hence.3. pratibhāna is one of the four ‘detailed and thorough knowledges’ (pratisaṃvids): (1) dharma-pratisaṃvid: knowledge of all phenomena in all their names and forms. he would foretell events therefrom. Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇī and Pratibhāna Pratibhāna Another frequent pairing found in Sūtras is the fact that the Bodhisattvas ‘possessed the dhāraṇīs. however. and usually denotes ‘a sudden thought. for instance. 1982: 50).2. 1963a: 318). occur to.. The Sanskrit term pratibhāna is etymologically related to prati-bhā-. and [these prophecies] were never once unfulfilled’ (Wright. (4) pratibhāna-pratisaṃvid: knowledge of the verbal distinctions of all kinds. which suggests a view in which realizing dhāraṇīs first is a necessary basis to produce pratibhāna: ‘The Bodhisattva who bears in mind these dhāraṇīs will come face to face with all the flashes of insight and all analytical knowledges (pratibhāna-pratisaṃvida)’ (Mpsū: 488-489). 259-269).1. inspiration’ (BHSD: 366b). see section 1. and n.1. (3) nirukti-pratisaṃvid: knowledge of all phenomena in all their etymological explanations. samādhis.72 The pratisaṃvids’ characteristics demonstrate their focus on a language mastery intended mainly for soteriological goals. the samādhis instead. become clear or manifest’.I. disappear after death. 71 The Bodhisattva’s skillfulness ‘in the cognition of sounds’ will be remembered here (Mpsū: 162). whether as an attribute that legitimates her/his own Scriptural authority. moreover. that together with the dhāraṇīs and other qualities. constitute the essential factors that any dharmabhāṇaka needs for a successful Dharma’s spreading (Dayal. and as a pivotal faculty in her/his role as Dharma preacher. 38. it is the samādhi practice joined to the wisdom of emptiness that produces the dhāraṇīs. but also to appear to the mind. (2) artha-pratisaṃvid: knowledge of all phenomena in all their characteristics and meanings. 1932: 251.

50-57). avoiding to be killed in battle.27-29.2.1. Indian Mahāyāna Mahāyāna Definitions and Classifications 2. and he will acquire the skill in the cognition of sounds’ (Mpsū: 162). 2000: 87). as being identical to the Prajñāpāramitā. and is ‘able to utter and retain in his mind all the languages. and the same Scripture identified itself as a mahā-vidyā. the Prajñāpāramitā-sūtras already established the seminal foundations to the emergence of ‘formulaic’ and ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs. eloquence. and on their influence upon Mahāyāna. the Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya-sūtra would summarize all factors already referred to within its mantra. Hence.3.3. memorizing and condensation of knowledge.2. the present section will focus on an overview on the dhāraṇī’s understandings according to several Mahāyāna Sūtras following a chronological order. after obtaining the dhāraṇīs and producing the pratisaṃvids. Lastly.2. omniscience. the unequalled mantra. see Appendix D section (a).1. they constitute the earliest Mahāyāna reformulation of those non-Vedic. the Bodhisattva remembers the Dharma ‘even after he has died’ until he would attain omniscience (Mpsū: 532).1.1. dhāraṇī term was closely linked to Mahāyāna Sūtras from their beginnings. 195.III. 74 On these non-Buddhist mantric backgrounds. as protection. the Bodhisattva cultivates the recognition that ‘this deep perfection of wisdom is the entrance to all the syllables and the door to the dhāraṇīs’ (Mpsū: 488). and 1. a great vidyā-mantra.2. and getting safety in those places where the Scripture is deposited (Aṣṭa. for the Bhagavatī-prajñāpāramitā-sarva-tathāgata-mātā-ekākṣarā-nāma.75 In the Mahāprājñāpāramitā-sūtra. 40 .2. Vedic and Śaiva mantric factors assimilable to Buddhism. Overall. spiritual realization through language. Later on. see section 2. In Sūtras ūtras As was said before. he was able to convey all doctrines’ (Bubhū: 7). see section 1.VIII). which will allow her/him a kind of detachment in which she/he ‘will not be tied down by any sounds. bestowing five ‘advantages even here and now’ (dṛṣṭadhārmikas) to the Bodhisattva ‘who bear it in mind’ (dhārayisyati): avoiding disputes. Moreover. the Prajñāpāramitā is identical to the syllable ‘A’ (Ekāk: 201).2. 75 On the relationship between antarāyas.1. he will accomplish everything through the sameness of all dharmas. and described as: ‘A great mantra. allayer of all suffering’ (Pph. and the identity between language and ultimate reality. in one word. agreed symbols and meaningful sounds’ (Mpsū: 541).73 The Buddhabhūmyupadeśa even commented upon the expression ‘at one time’ from the sentence ‘Thus have I heard at one time’. as ‘he who enunciated (this doctrine) has attained dhāraṇīs and. in one instant. PWE-S. harmonious speech. the utmost mantra. dṛṣṭadhārmikas.76 73 See Appendix D section (a). n. see sections 1. 76 This identification denotes an esoterization of the Prajñāpāramitā Scriptures (Conze. and this realization is obtained through contemplating the ‘arapacana’ syllabary. and section 3.74 Already it was stated that the Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā-sūtra recognized mantras and vidyās as an attribute of the irreversible Bodhisattva.. On the syllable «A»’s Vajrayāna meaning.2. and at the same time. and mantra/dhāraṇī practice.

2. establishing thus ‘a close link between dhāraṇī. the contemporary Druma-kinnara-rājaparipṛcchā-sūtra (c. 35. Most of those dhāraṇīs revolve around language mastery: the ability to condense any number of teachings within the sound ‘A’.Besides the Prajñāpāramitā-sūtras. instead.1. but without specifying what those means would be. For instance. the Mahāyāna approach to language is focused. Here dhāraṇī is understood more as knowledge and a soteriological language mastery than as just memory.115). that for definition. n. scriptural memory and teaching’ (Pagel 2007b: 175-180). 2007a: 63-64. n. 1985: 18). respectively. is inexpressible. intelligence. ‘arapacana’ syllabary’s contemplation. see section 1. 79 On this Mahāyāna language’s deconstruction. in other Mahāyāna Scriptures the dhāraṇī concept gradually would become more explicit in terms of definition and methods. but because their grammatical meaning.77 The Ajātaśatrukaukṛtyavinodanā-sūtra (147-186 CE) defines dhāraṇī as memory. 2007a: 83. 79. on the one hand. denoting thus the dhāraṇī’s protective faculty. and the capacity to ‘maintain the Buddha’s lineage’ (Tr. preservation and defense’ of the Sūtra and the Sangha (Harrison/Coblin. and the four pratisaṃvids’ accomplishment. and 425. What follows is a basic survey of the most relevant texts on this respect.78 which makes explicit the identification of dhāraṇī as a mantra capable of ‘maintaining the Buddha’s lineage’.2. describing eight dhāraṇīs that ‘serve primarily to secure the transmission of the Dharma and thereby contribute to universal liberation’. numerous Scriptures emphasized the value conducive to enlightenment of the syllable ‘A’. the Mahāyāna mastery of language is aimed at its deconstruction. to prove its conventional nature lacking any inherent existence. it adds the factor of ‘preserving’ the Dharma. ‘for not in the letters is the perfection of wisdom’ (Mpsū: 209). 41 . eloquence. The contemporary Bhadramāyākāra-vyākaraṇa (265-316 CE) offers a hint on the nature of those ‘means’ when it points out ‘to aim at understanding the hidden sense of the Tathāgata’s teaching by means of setting words and letters in the right order’. 170-190 CE) does. as one of those means to attain dhāraṇī (Bhadra.79 Being 77 The dates are of the first Sūtra’s Chinese translation according to CCBT: 182. 67). But it is the Tathāgatamahākaruṇānirdeśa-sūtra (265-316 CE) that offers the most detailed account of dhāraṇī practice. In the last analysis. and on the other hand. including a mantra-pada for the ‘protection. contemplating the syllable ‘VA’ prompts that ‘the sound of the paths of speech (vākpathaghosha) has been quite cut off’ (Mpsū: 160). In the same vein. as the Kuśalamūlasaṃparigraha-sūtra (384-417 CE): ‘the portal to [the sound] ‘A’ is a portal that leads to imperishable gnosis (jñāna) and eloquence (pratibhāna)’. 1999: 151). as that of all dharmas. However. ‘A’ is not manifesting an eternal principle as the Vedic and Śaiva Tantric ‘A’ does. demonstrating in this way the ineffable and indefinable nature of language and all dharmas (Pagel. Despite the fact that this Sūtra does not include any protective mantras. 74. 161. 78 See Appendix D section (c). its inability to express ultimate reality. moreover. Pagel. ‘has no proper reality’ (Bhadra. Accordingly. the later Akṣayamatinirdeśa-sūtra (265-316 CE) will narrow dhāraṇī’s definition as memory itself and the means of retaining in memory the Buddha’s teachings (Braarvig. The syllables are ‘inexhaustible’ (akṣaya) not because they are eternal as the Vedas claim. Nevertheless.114). 51). the Mahāyāna chose it because it is emphasizing ‘A’ as the privative particle ‘a’ in Sanskrit grammar.

Here dhāraṇī is understood mainly as a ‘mental formation’ (saṃskāra) contained within the ‘Saṃskāraskandha’.1. is either defiled (sāsrava) or undefiled (anāsrava). and as a method to attain it. knowledge and ethics. [the Dhāraṇī] will take hold and not allow oneself to commit it.I: 317-318). this proves that dhāraṇī term was selected to assimilate the non-Buddhist notion of mantra. which. one is able to maintain them (dhārayati) so that they do not scatter or become lost.2. and 2. 310-390 CE). once one has collected all wholesome dharmas (kuśaladharma). those dhāraṇī-mukhas of mantra practice and ‘arapacana’ syllabary’s contemplation (Mppś. the unwholesome roots (akuśalamūla) that [are wont to be] born in the mind are dispelled (vidhārayati) and not born. that can be understood as ‘sonic formations’ endowed of soteriological efficacy. when it is filled with water.1. 82 Because of space limitations. and in the Asaṅga’s Bodhisattvabhūmi (c.faithful to this position.1. In this case. within one sense field (āyatana). As for being able to maintain.1. Their influence would be projected on successive Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna texts. here the long Asaṅga text will be summarized. the Dharmadhātu. and as method. it is contained within one element (dhātu). the identification of dhāraṇī as mantra is still not made fully explicit by the Mahāprajñāpāramitā-śāstra.3. that is. in another passage from the Mahāprajñāpāramitā-śāstra several methods are described. The Mahāprajñāpāramitā-śāstra gives the following definition of dhāraṇī: Dhāraṇī … means ‘able to maintain’ (dhāraṇa). see section 2. Śaiva Tantric and Indo-Tibetan Vajrayāna definitions of mantra. the Dharmāyatana. the water does not leak out.2. it should be turned to the fourfold dhāraṇī definition according to the Asaṅga’s Bodhisattvabhūmi:82 80 See the śrutadhara-dhāraṇī and the akṣarapraveśa-dhāraṇī on section 2. and unhindered (apratigha). As to the question of how to realize this dhāraṇī.1. As for being able to dispel. see sections 1.80 Here again the basic twofold understanding of dhāraṇī is found as a faculty holding attributes as protection.. In Treatises (Śāstra (Śāstras) Śāstras) Undoubtedly. On the Vedic. is able to keep and not forget all teachings he hears (śrutadharma) (Mppś. memory. and the Saṃskāraskandha … Moreover.3. within one aggregate (skandha). or ‘able to dispel’ (vidhāraṇa). 1. to do that. as faculty. that protects the practitioner through a double function of holding the wholesome dharmas and avoiding the unwholesome ones. 42 . the Bodhisattva who possess the Dhāraṇī.1. this ‘dhāraṇī-saṃskāra’ goes with the Bodhisattva’s mental continuum through all her/his existences. among others.81 However. invisible (anidarśana). the ‘meaningless’ nature of mantras/dhāraṇīs will be emphasized by Asaṅga. respectively. hence.2.2. dhāraṇī is mostly related to a language mastery also including mantras and the ‘arapacana’ syllabary.1.1. 81 On dhāraṇī’s definition as ‘mental formation’. This Dhāraṇī either is associated to the mind (cittasaṃprayukta) or is dissociated to the mind (cittaviprayukta). and as already had been noted. due to the power of his memory (smṛtibala). 2. If there is the desire to commit evil.IV: 1864-1868).. It is formless (ārūpya). dhāraṇī is understood as a ‘mental formation’ able to hold the wholesome and reject the unwholesome. the two most influential definitions of dhāraṇī within a Mahāyāna context appear in the Mahāprajñāpāramitā-śāstra attributed to Nāgārjuna (fourth century CE). It is like an intact vessel (bhājana).

43 . phrases. and knowledge. the Bodhisattva ‘spiritually supports’ (adhiṣṭhita) the mantra-words (mantrapadas). Asaṅga adds to the standard dhāraṇī qualities as protection. but here the meanings (artha) of those teachings are retained.2.83 Then. see Appendix B-1.84 Concerning mantra-dhāraṇī.2. Asaṅga refers to the Bodhisattva’s samādhi mastery as the power endowing of adhiṣṭhāna to mantras and making them effective for two reasons: because the Bodhisattva attained a special dhyāna called ‘dispenser of spiritual support’ (adhiṣṭhāyaka) having as its object the relief of beings and that provides a basis for mantra efficacy (Eltschinger. 2007: 164).1.-‘Dharma-dhāraṇī: By her/his memorizing and wisdom faculties. ‘a dhāraṇī that is a mantra’. hence.. 84 See the śrutadhara-dhāraṇī in section 2.86 Lastly.1. paragraph (a).e. It consists in meditating on the sense of a mantra promulgated by the Buddha as ‘tadyathā iṭi miṭi kiṭi bhikṣānti padāni svāhā’.2. However. Now the Vajrayāna understandings of dhāraṇī will be studied.3.3. 86 On adhiṣṭhāna applied to dhāraṇīs. is indeed their meaning.2. 2001: 66-67). and because the Bodhisattva’s bodhicitta. -Mantra-dhāraṇī: i. this is a ‘meaningless’ mantra (Gyatso. ‘the dhāraṇī which give rise to the receptivity of a Bodhisattva’. until it is realized that these mantra-words have no meaning.2. on the supposed dhāraṇīs’ unintelligibility. and phonemes. Although Asaṅga was not explicit on how to attain dharma-dhāraṇī and artha-dhāraṇī. Because of her/his samādhi mastery. being able to make effective any kind of mantras and vidyās to heal sentient beings’ ills (Wangchuk. Inagaki. 83 In fact. 1992: 176).2. namely ‘no-meaningness’ (nitarthathā). This Asaṅga’s dhāraṇī definition is highly significant because it makes the identification of dhāraṇī clear as mantra within a Mahāyāna prescriptive framework. see section 1.87 But Asaṅga’s dhāraṇī definition was not limited to justifying mantra practice within Mahāyāna. becoming thus ‘supremely effective and infallible’ to appease the distresses of sentient beings. memory. the bodhisattva-kṣānti-lābhāya-dhāraṇī identifies mantra practice with realizing the empty and inexpressible nature of all phenomena. the absence of expressible essence is the meaning of their essence (tr.e. it also involved ‘a doctrinal warrant for the expansion of practices allied with those of esoteric Buddhism’ (Kapstein.1. and 2. 2001: 238). -Bodhisattva-kṣānti-lābhāya-dhāraṇī: i. 85 See section 3. in Anir: 14-15. the Bodhisattva retains innumerable teachings (Dharmas) in their names.2. 87 See sections 1. Kapstein. the Bodhisattva realizes the meaning of all dharmas as follows: the meaning of the ‘own being’ (svabhāva) of all dharmas is not completely revealed by any number of words. it follows the language’s deconstructive approach characteristic of the Mahāyāna. 2001: 237-238).1.85 In other places of the Bodhisattvabhūmi. a key soteriological one as ‘suffering’s allayer’. as the quoted passage from the Mahāprajñāpāramitā-śāstra made it clear. which indicates a tendency developed later for those dhāraṇīs focused on the removal of karmic obstructions. -Artha-dhāraṇī: It is the same as the previous one. this.. it is quite likely that mantras also were used for that purpose.

The seventh century CE Vajraśekharamahāguhyayoga-tantra (abbreviated as Vajraśekhara) is the main explanatory Scripture of the Yoga Tantras (Rgyud: 25). which reflected a context quite inclined to religious eclecticism. by sheer psychic power. i. the mantras/dhāraṇīs are linguistic spaces occupied by the consciousness and energy of enligthened beings. 64. including the scope and range of his actions.91 The Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa acknowledged the inclusion of mantras from the Atharvaveda and those belonging to Śaiva and Vaiṣṇava deities as a conversion device.92 The Mahāvairocanābhisaṃbodhi-tantra refers to Bodhisattvas that because of their pure minds.I. 92 As strategies emphasizing its supremacy. or in more concrete terms.2. see section 3. That is why each mantra/dhāraṇī has a specific function: soteriological ‘essence mantras’ (hṛdaya-mantras). 56. IndoIndo-Tibetan Vajrayāna Vajrayāna Definitions and Classifications As was stated previously. and the manifestation of magical productions (Gómez.. 90 According to the Mahāyāna. the sphere of a Buddha’s gnosis. bringing all beings to enlightenment.24-25. i. On the dhāraṇī practice in a ritual context. i. ‘all-accomplishing’ ‘near-essence mantras’ (upahṛdayamantras). Buddhas and Bodhisattvas themselves are transformed into mantras/dhāraṇīs (Wallis. See the dharmadhātu as identical to the mantras’ dharmatā. 2002: 31-34).7-17). and it also includes the accumulation of the wholesome roots.e. vikurvaṇa-bala).I.3. dhāraṇī is identified as mantra and was object of elaborated rationales. and the Vajraśekharamahāguhyayoga-tantra. 44 . that will be summarized below.2. the Mahāvairocanābhisaṃbodhi-tantra.88 According to the Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa. 1977: 228-229). sounds and tones’ (Vaita. with the Vajrayāna.13). obtain ‘dhāraṇīs in unlimited languages. sonic embodiments of their power. the transformation. the cultivation of the ultimate object of enlightenment.3. its path is the bodhicaryā. n.89 The term vikurvaṇa means ‘the capacity to effect. the buddhavacana consists of mantras/dhāraṇīs uttered by ‘all Buddhas’ throughout time..1. because of their ‘power of miraculous transformation’ (Skt. its goal is the buddhatā. the Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa claimed that those nonBuddhist mantras were in fact promulgated by the Bodhisattva Mañjuśrī disguised as one of the Hindu deities (Wallis. see section 1. 228). which allows them to know others’ minds. highlighting those from the Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa. 2002: 46-49). in the sense that such Scripture ‘will accomplish the Tathāgata’s acts’ after his parinirvāṇa (Bala: 61. 89 One of the names of the Dhāraṇī Scripture Ārya Mahābala-Nāma-Mahāyānasūtra is that of being the ‘magical transformation (vikurvaṇa) of the Tathāgata’. see below.e.. dharmadhātu has as its foundation the dharmatā. displacement or multiplication of the human body’. ‘invocation mantras’ (āhvānana-mantras). 1977: 225. it also stated that all non-Buddhist mantras and rituals are effective if they are recited in front of the Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa’s maṇḍala (Granoff. The mantras/dhāraṇīs arise from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas’ meditative absorption. below. 91 On some of these categories within a dhāraṇī formula.90 Therefore. and this power emanates from Bodhisattvas who have accomplished ultimate reality or the ‘Dharma Realm’ (dharmadhātu) in its aspect of manifestation of magical productions (Gómez. the fundamental purity of all dharmas because they are unoriginated. 2000: 404409).2.e. preserving the Buddhas’ 88 On the first two Tantras. and so on.

and absolute one.I. On the Vajrayāna mantras’ dharmatā.II. on this.II. nirvāṇa and dharmatā are both ‘non-arisen and non-ceased’ (Mūkā. Besides recognizing those standard dhāraṇī features though. fundamentally manifesting itself as the syllable ‘A’. but they promulgate them because ‘their intrinsic nature [i.II. Despite Buddhas and Bodhisattvas promulgating mantras. denotes mantra syllables and are ‘unchanging’ because their sound constantly manifest the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas’ accomplishments. they do not create them.e. hence. On the Buddhas’ adhiṣṭhāna on dhāraṇīs. the Mahāyāna/Vajrayāna’s dharmatā instead.. the ‘syllable’ (akṣara).. if the Buddhas do not create the Dhamma.95 Nevertheless. 51.3).81). and (3) syllable as energy. as syllables manifesting the intrinsic emptiness of all phenomena. Here a parallel is established with a pivotal axiom already signaled in the Nikāyas. it is not a cosmogonical and/or a metaphysical constancy as it is the case with 93 Such identity is also referred to in the Sarvatathāgatatattvasaṅgraha-tantra (Eltschinger. n. because the mantras’ nature is identical to the intrinsic nature of all dharmas (dharmatā).e.2. However. the producing constancy of the syllable ‘A’ limits itself to be the cause for all Dharma accomplishments and ‘all Scriptural Dharma’ (Vai-ta. and an absolute one. there is a key difference between both approaches: the Nikāyas’ dhammaṭṭhitatā is stable only because its nature is a ‘fixed condition’ (SN. 95 Cf.2. (2) syllable as ‘Enlightenment-Mind’ (bodhicitta). the Buddhas do not create the mantras.18. because the syllable ‘A’ produces the knowledge (jñāna) realizing that ‘all phenomena are primordially unborn and unarisen’ (Vai-ta.10). 1976: 117). this Tantra elaborated a mantra theory also applicable to dhāraṇīs that will be summarized below. refers to the intrinsic nature of suchness (tathatā).I..93 Despite the mantras’ dharmatā being unconditioned. dhammaṭṭhitatā) ‘still persists’ (SN. their dharmatā] has always been present’ (Vai-ta. ‘Mantra’ also refers to the words (pada) of their liberation methods and to the syllables transforming into Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (Vai-ta. 741). because according to Nāgārjuna. Chart 2. see below. The term mantra refers to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas because they are endowed with ‘knowledge’ (man-) and ‘protection’ (-tra). No. and this support is twofold: a relative one.X. II. paragraph (a). 2001: 122).25.7).II. understood as an ‘unchanging intrinsic nature’ endowed with three characteristics: (1) syllable as sound. since all syllables depend on the syllable ‘A’. understood as words and syllables manifesting the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas’ qualities and realizations. 90 above). see below. 94 This Tantra recognizes two kinds of adhiṣṭhāna: the dharmatā’s as it is referred to above. is a ‘fixed non-condition’ capable of operating within the conditioned. and the Buddha’s.X. it is able to endow words and syllables with ‘spiritual support’ (adhiṣṭhāna).II. it always remains within the conditioned sphere of reality.2. see Appendix B-2. 45 .XVIII. i. This ‘vital-energy’ of ‘A’ is twofold: relative one. i. understood as the essence of all mantras and being identical to bodhicitta (Bodhi: 241).34). given that it is identical to the dharmadhātu (see n.9-10. this is the ‘vital-energy’ (jiva) and the ‘life-force’ (prāṇa) of all syllables. but they discover it because ‘the stableness of the Dhamma’ (P. because the rest of syllables could not be uttered if they lacked the syllable ‘A’.II. likewise.teachings and getting their protection (Müller. see section 1.94 This twofold relative and absolute nature of mantra is reflected in its basic unit.e. p. the meaning of ‘A’ according to the ‘arapacana’ syllabary.25). 1.

1.1. not in its nature itself.e. 63). guhya-mantra). The master said: You are now manifesting the True Way!’ (Sørensen.97 Put in different terms.II. both approaches also differ on how they understand emptiness. 97 As Kakuban put it: ‘Exotericism [i.4. see section 2.VI. the Vajrayāna instead. and that since emptiness marks the character of awakened consciousness.96 Undoubtedly. only will be manifested through the concurrence between the dharmatā’s constant transformative power and several causes and conditions (Vai-ta.II. n. however.the Vedic and Śaiva Tantric akṣara. If the Mahāyāna conceives emptiness as inexpressible. Wayman. Esotericism [i.98 Likewise. see section 3. would also add to them new factors. generating bodhicitta. to Dharma’s realization.2. Vajrayāna emphasizes literally that the Buddha’s Dharma has only ‘a constant sound’.V. and because it is the nonduality of void (man-) and compassion (-tra). the characteristic of mantras is identical to the mind of all Buddhas. and it is ‘secret’ because it is outside the scope of non-Buddhist gods and ‘Hīnayāna’ practitioners.VI. 1988: 665).e. and (c) ‘dhāraṇī-mantra’.1. 46 .2. visualizing the deity and reciting the mantra properly. and the character of the dhāraṇī-mantra is ‘to hold the Buddha-dharmas.4. On the dhāraṇī faculty to unleash meanings. The vidyā-mantra denotes ‘countering avidyā (nescience) by overcoming the darkness of passion and by overcoming defilements’. there is the following exchange within a Korean Sŏn/dhāraṇī practice context: ‘The master asked a monk … How about the dhāraṇī of no characters? The monk answered: [That is] the character a. 98 As illustration of both approaches. if the Mahāyāna illuminates mantras/dhāraṇīs to exhaust them into silence.VI. This threefold mantra characterization is manifested by three types of mantras: (a) ‘secret mantra’ (Skt. However. if the Śaiva Tantric mantra realization is based exclusively on a ‘grace act’ bestowed by the absolute as Rudra/Śiva (Sanderson. see section 2. the Vajrayāna illuminate them to unleash their enlightening sonic/linguistic power.2. with this understanding of akṣara.10). According to the Bhāvaviveka’s Tarkajvāla. and posseses the dharmadhātu. n. that of liberation (P dhammavinayo ekaraso vimuttiraso) (Mppś. This threefold mantra classification would be retained by later authors who. 1990: 64-65). (b) ‘knowledge mantra’ (Skt. emphasizes emptiness’s power to produce innumerable meanings. If the Nikāyas emphasize metaphorically that Buddha’s Dhamma has only ‘one taste’. 99 On the ethical/doctrinal foundations for the dhāraṇī/mantra practice. The master said: That is one character! The monk had no answer.1. understanding Dependent Arising (Vai-ta. 1).95).99 According to the Vajraśekhara. stand out ethical purity (Vai-ta. the guhya-mantra reveals the esoteric 96 See sections 1. for the Vajrayāna approach ‘the emptiness of language and conceptual thought is just as empty as anything else.III: 1588.1.2.17). and 1. likewise. On the Dharma-kāya’s preaching (hosshin seppō). Vajrayāna] explains that principle has countless expressions’ (Gorin: 266). 2006: 96. The guhya-mantra is called ‘mantra’ because it protects the mind from signs (from sense objects) and discursive thought (vikalpa).1.III. Mahāyāna] explains that principle decidedly lacks expression.II. that of Vajrayāna instead. the emptiness of language and conceptual thought is just as much awakened consciousness’ (Payne. its holding is called ‘holding of dharmas’ and ‘virtue’ (Tr. but in its linguistic functioning. and the Buddha’s adhiṣṭhāna (Vai-ta. that of Buddhahood.9). vidyā-mantra). the Vajrayāna approach differs from the deconstructive Mahāyāna one already referred to. Among those conditions. 2005: 66-67). while keeping their basic characteristics.

meaning of the syllables expressing the Buddha’s knowledge and bestows the power
to accomplish one’s own wishes, the vidyā-mantra extinguishes the defilements (kleśa),
and the dhāraṇī-mantra pacifies misdeeds and counteracts its roots (Tr. Kapstein, 2001:
248).100 According to the ninth century CE Tibetan lexicon Sgra sbyor bam gnyis, the
guhya-mantra ‘captures and secretly invokes the deity of the mantra’, the vidyā-mantra
is an ‘antidote to ignorance, embodied as a goddess’,101 and the dhāraṇī-mantra retains
without forgetfulness and acquires special sequences (Tr. Kapstein, 2001: 254, n. 34).
And according to the Drukpa Kagyu scholar Pema Karpo (1527-1592 CE), who
identified mantras as Tantras, the guhya-mantras are Tantras that expound the method
aspect of the male deity, the vidyā-mantras are Tantras that expound the wisdom
aspect of female deity, and the dhāraṇī-mantras recollect the import of guhya and vidyā
mantras, and also are Tantras including both male and female aspects of one Tantra
(Shes.V: 457, n. 70).
From a different perspective, the Indian Jñanavajra (eleventh century CE)
understood dhāraṇī as a long formula made up of a series of mantras ‘because it retains
many meanings and terms’, and recognized two types: a vidyā-dhāraṇī if it evokes a
female deity, and a mantra-dhāraṇī if it evokes a male deity (Wayman, 1984b: 421-422).
In the same vein as Jñanavajra’s, it was established a dhāraṇī division composed
basically of three kinds of mantras: a ‘root mantra’ (mūla-mantra), an ‘essence mantra’
(hṛdaya-mantra), and a ‘near-essence mantra’ (upahṛdaya-mantra) (Rgyud: 116-118, n.
To summarize, the Indo-Tibetan Vajrayāna, besides acknowledging the
Mahāyāna dhāraṇī’s faculties as memory, virtue accumulation and language mastery,
identified it as a type of mantra, as a mantra composed by several mantras, and as a
type of non-dual Tantra, and in all those cases involved, the dhāraṇī’s soteriological
nature was emphasized. Now the East Asian Vajrayāna understandings on the dhāraṇī
will be studied.
2.4. East Asian Vajrayāna
Vajrayāna Definitions and Classifications
2.4.1. In China
The use of incantatory formulas or ‘spells’ (Ch. zhou) as antidote against
diseases and demonic influences already was practised by early Chinese Daoists,
hence, the introduction of Buddhist mantras/dhāraṇīs in China (second-third centuries
CE) was received with great interest (Kieschnick, 1997: 82-83). However, the apparent
resemblance between zhou and mantras/dhāraṇīs caused confusions and controversies

Bhāvaviveka’s definitions are inserted into his defence on mantra efficacy as meditation
method (bhāvanākāra) conducive to enlightenment, as he expressed it against a ‘Śrāvaka’
criticism alleging the non-Buddhist origin of mantras, their irrationality, and lack of any
soteriological value (Braarvig, 1997: 33-36; Kapstein, 2001: 240-243).

As it was defined by Abhayākaragupta (eleventh century CE): ‘For the purpose of
eliminating nescience (avidyā) and promoting clear vision (vidyā) are the vidyās’ (Wayman,
1984b: 421). On the vidyā-mantra and its synonyms, see section

According to a traditional interpretation, the mūla-mantra invokes the awakened body of a
deity, the hṛdaya-mantra its awakened speech, and the upahṛdaya-mantra its mind (Shes.VIII:
233, n. 7). For a more complex dhāraṇī’s division, see Amog: 295-298.


between Daoists and Buddhists. To rectify such a situation, Amoghavajra, who
‘showed superiority particularly in dhāraṇī’ (Chou, 1945: 302), composed the Zongshi
tuoluoni jing (A Complete Explication of the Meaning of Dhāraṇīs), where a normative
definition of dhāraṇī is established, which will be summarized below.
The mantras/dhāraṇīs condense the accumulation of Buddhas’ enlightenment,
and their syllables and words receive their adhiṣṭhāna.103 Amoghavajra defines four
terms: ‘encompassing retention’ (Skt. dhāraṇī; Ch. tuoluoni), ‘true words’ (Skt. mantra;
Ch. zhenyan), ‘secret words’ (Skt. guhya-mantra; Ch. miyán), and ‘illumination’ (Skt.
vidyā; Ch. ming), applying to each one four categories: (1) ‘dharma’ (i.e., ‘nature’), (2)
‘meaning’, (3) ‘samādhi’ (i.e., ‘practice’), and (4) ‘text’ or ‘hearing’ (i.e., ‘linguistic
-Dhāraṇī: Its ‘dharma’ is the removal of defilements and attaining the
dharmadhātu teachings. Its ‘meaning’ is the obtaining of eloquence and the
understanding of innumerable teachings within the meaning of a single syllable. Its
‘samādhi’ develops uncountable samādhis, the five abhijñās, allowing rebirth in any of
the six planes of existence. Its ‘text’ is remembering all the Scriptures forever.
-Mantra: Its ‘dharma’ is the dharmadhātu understood as mantra.104 Its ‘meaning’
corresponds to emptiness, and each of its syllables contains the characteristic of
reality. Its ‘samādhi’ is arranging the mantra’s syllables upon a moon disc and
concentrating the mind upon it. Its ‘text’ are all words and syllables, from oṃ to svāhā.
-Guhya-mantra: Its ‘dharma’ is the non-Buddhist mantras and those of the
Śrāvakas and Pratyekabuddhas, together with their rites and accomplishments
(siddhis).105 Its ‘meaning’ is only understood by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Its ‘samādhi’
is the imposition of its syllables on the body to transform its coarse form into a subtle
one.106 Its ‘hearing’ is the secret transmission of those mantras, their practices and
-Vidyā: Its ‘dharma’ is the removal of ignorance and defilements. Its ‘meaning’
is the yogic understanding of the Prajñāpāramitā. Its ‘samādhi’ is the contemplation of
its seed syllables within the mind’s moon disc. Its ‘hearing’ is grasping the Dharma,
the delusion’s removal, and the accomplishment of bodhicitta.107
Whether they are one-syllable mantras or myriad-syllable ones, they are all
named dhāraṇīs, mantras, guhya-mantras, and vidyās (Zong: 151-154).
Amoghavajra definition of dhāraṇī provides three key elements: as included
within the text’s title, dhāraṇī denotes a general designation integrating all typologies
of mantric expressions; as a particular typology, dhāraṇī, besides including its
standard faculties as memory, eloquence, and samādhi, its soteriological value as a

On the Buddhas’ adhiṣṭhāna on dhāraṇīs, see section paragraph (a).


On the identity of mantras and dharmadhātu understood as dharmatā, see section 2.3.


Here it is implicitly acknowledged the non-Buddhist origin, i.e., non-Vedic, Vedic and
Śaiva, of those mantras assimilated by some mainstream Buddhist schools, see section
and Appendix C.



See Vai-ta.II.XIX. On the Śaiva Tantric nyāsa, see section

On the vidyā-mantra’s definitions, see sections and 2.3. Here the vidyā’s ‘meaning’
may be explained by the continuity between the vidyā-mantra’s feminine nature, and that of
the Prajñāpāramitā as the ‘mother of all Buddhas’ because ‘the all-knowledge of the Tathāgatas
has come forth from her’ (Aṣṭa.12.125-126; PWE-S.XII.253-255).


remover of defilements and accomplisher of dharmadhātu is also recognized, and
particularly, its ability to condense in one syllable innumerable Sūtras; and from a
formal level, dhāraṇī is identified as a mantra regardless of the number of syllables it
may contain, hence, dhāraṇī is interchangeable with mantra, guhya-mantra, and
vidyā.108 As will be analysed below, Kūkai would highlight the comprehensive nature of
dhāraṇī and its function as meaning condenser.
2.4.2. In Japan
It should be remembered here that Kūkai emphasized the ability of the
Dharma-kāya to preach the Dharma (hosshin seppō), and the key role played by the
dhāraṇī to unveil the innumerable contents of such preaching.109 This vast semantic
potential of the dhāraṇī lies in its comprehensive nature. The Chinese master of Kūkai,
Huiguo (746-805 CE), taught him that the terms vidyā, zhou, guhya-mantra, and mantra
‘illustrate only a limited aspect of dhāraṇī’, i.e., dhāraṇī as vidyā reveals wisdom’s light,
as zhou eliminates misfortune, as guhya-mantra points to the secret of the dhāraṇī, and
as mantra suggests that dhāraṇī contains only truth and no falsehood. Kūkai accepted
this comprehensive understanding of dhāraṇī and conceived mantra (Jap. shingon) term
as denoting the esoteric function of dhāraṇī as ‘to unleash countless meanings from
within each letter of a word. Because of this, dhāraṇī is translated as sōji, the container
of all’ (Abé, 1999: 263-264). Kūkai intrepreted this translation as ‘container of all’ with
the meaning of ‘within a single letter all teachings are contained, within a single
dharma all dharmas are contained, within a single meaning all meanings are
contained, and within a single sound all virtues are stored’ (Bonji: 140).
Such dhāraṇī faculty ‘to unleash countless meanings’ is based on a principle
holding two correspondences: (1) the correspondence between ‘sound’, ‘sign’ and
‘reality’, and (2) the correspondence and interpenetration between elements,
languages on all planes of existence, signs of sense objects, and the Dharma-kāya.
According to Kūkai, no ‘sound’ is arbitrary, but it invariably expresses the name of
something, and this is termed ‘sign’. Thus, a name invariably evokes the essence of an
object, and this is called ‘reality’, and the distinctions between ‘sound’, ‘sign’, and
‘reality’ are called their ‘meanings’.110 For instance, mantras correspond to ‘sounds’,
their syllables and names correspond to ‘signs’, and the real characteristics of the
diverse deities, i.e., their accomplishments and virtues, correspond to ‘reality’ (Shōji:
86, 89). Likewise, the five elements (earth, water, fire, wind, and space) are the
original essence of sound, hence, all of them have acoustic vibrations, and correspond

On this aspect the East Asian Vajrayāna differentiates from the Tibetan Vajrayāna, which
usually designates dhāraṇīs as ‘long mantras’ (DEB: 369).

See sections 1.2.3. and 2.3. n. 97. Hosshin seppō’s notion is already traceable in several
Mahāyāna sources, as this one: ‘the Buddhas of the Body of the law (dharmakāyabuddha) throw
beams (raśmi) without ceasing and preach the law without ceasing, but because of their faults,
those beings do not see them and do not listen to them’ (Mppś.I: 546). See more sources in Ben:

Although Kūkai is assuming here the Vedic correspondence between words/objects (see
section 1.1.1.), he does it emphasizing its ‘meaningful’ aspect but without reifying it into an
‘eternal’ or ‘fixed’ one, because the ultimate nature of all names, mantras, and syllables is
empty and unborn, see below, and sections 2.3. and 2.4.1.


16. the East Asian Vajrayāna (and Kūkai) recognized Sanskrit (i.. i.e. although in practical terms. the mantra-dhāraṇī entails that when reciting this single letter all sufferings are relieved and enlightenment is gained. ‘elements’. if the Mahāyāna approach differentiates dhāraṇī as faculty/content and the means to attain it. etc. see Appendix B-1. 2009: 126). In each letter all dharmas are held’. and the Dharma-kāya means that all dharmas (i. and this correspond to ‘reality’ (Shōji: 90-103). afflictions. Shōmo: 144).e. However. the siddham syllabary) as the only ‘sacred language’ able to preach and realize the Dharma (Bonji: 147. and also is able to remove all sufferings and attain enligthenment. Davidson. and the kṣānti-lābhāya-dhāraṇī consists in the unceasing practice of this single letter. 2000: 211. for Kūkai both meanings are subsumed within the dhāraṇī as mantra. HBG. 113 114 See section 2. dhāraṇī goes beyond the position assigned by Asaṅga as one modality of dhāraṇī conceived as mantra-dhāraṇī. ‘the many utterances made by the tongue are all mantras’ (Vai-sū: 138). 112 Accordingly. and likewise occurs with the sense objects’ names or ‘signs’ and their constitutive aggregates. the artha-dhāraṇī means that ‘within a single letter is encompassed the meanings of all the teachings’. 111 On those quinary Vajrayāna correspondences. such linguistic exclusivism is not followed by the Dhāraṇī Scriptures nor by the Indo-Tibetan Vajrayāna. and karmic hindrances and suddenly realize the innate wisdom of enlightenment. n.2. Yamasaki. it will become clear with the esoteric interpretation made by Kūkai on Asaṅga’s fourfold dhāraṇī definition:113 the dharma-dhāraṇī consists of the fact that ‘a dharma represented by a single letter itself forms the basis for [knowing] all other dharmas. and within all letters each single letter is contained’ (Bonji: 140. then one will eliminate all delusions. and ‘sense objects’) are originally unborn. ‘planes’ languages’. ‘sounds’. Williams/Tribe. This follows the Prajñāpāramitā teaching asserting ‘within a single letter all letters are contained.e.111 And languages on all planes of existence arise from sound.I: 4-5. And on the practices. 50 . because ‘the meaning of any single letter contains within it the truth of the meanings of all other letters’ (Bonji: 141). Kūkai concludes emphasizing his principle based on the correspondence/interpenetration af all dharmas (see above).to five syllables. and mundane and/or supramundane goals of the dhāraṇīs will be dealt with in the next chapter.. five Buddhas. ‘signs’. and becomes a mantra able to accomplish the four purposes of the Asaṅga’s definition. 1988: 150-151.112 Coming back to the dhāraṇī’s function as ‘container of all’ already mentioned. Moreover.2.. dhāraṇī is a mantra composed by one or more syllables which contemplation allows the Dharma’s memorizing and understanding. see Gorin: 275-292.114 According to this Kūkai’s interpretation.

1. to she/he who is impure. However.1. or the five acts of ‘immediate’ retribution (Skt.24-26). Mahāyāna. that he was desiresless and unseeking’ (Wright.116 The Trisamayarāja asserts that: ‘He whose thought of enlightenment is firm. 1945: 313). even if one were ill-behaved formerly’ (Śikṣā. see section 2. to she/he who is fasting. he need have no doubt. 1981: 136. Concerning the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna ethical context. that he had not eaten after noon. the Vinaya also constitutes the ethical basis among the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna dhāraṇī practitioners. 116 On the bodhicitta as condition to mantras’ efficiency. despite the fact that dhāraṇīs define themselves as endowed with quasi ‘omnipotent’ purifying and transformative virtues. 1948: 367). But it would be mistaken to interpret those claims as an invitation to moral laxity. and said: ‘The Law of the Teacher is degenerated’. Some Premises on Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇī Practice 3. before his death. and Appendix C. Even for other Dhāraṇī-sūtras.1. In fact. 51 .VI. their goal is to emphasize the dhāraṇīs’ ability to counteract whatever nocive past karma may still hinder a present possibility of spiritual accomplishment for the individual. To quote just a few examples. then recited thrice the Uṣṇīṣavijayā-dhāraṇī in the reverse order and died (Chimpa/Chattopadhyaya.139. to she/he engaged in amorous pleasures’ (Bala: 60.2. i.VI. a significant group of Chinese monks belonging to the ‘Vinaya school’ (Ch. being lauded by emperor Dai-zong because he ‘held firmly the Vinaya’ and ‘guarded the śīlas’. the arising and stabilization of the bodhicitta is an essential condition to accomplish dhāraṇī practice. In fact.Chapter 3 Functions: Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs in Practice 3. And Amoghavajra was considered a Sarvāstivāda Vinaya master (Orlando. in practical terms all modalities of traditional Buddhist ethics. 156). Jièlù zōng) also practised Vajrayāna. and Vajrayāna ones. Of the dhāraṇī master Fotudeng it was said ‘that wine had not passed his teeth.1 Ethical Foundations Some Dhāraṇī Scriptures present themselves as a path particularly indicated for those who have commited heavily unwholesome actions. to she/he who is not fasting.2. and the Subāhuparipṛcchā-tantra states that ‘one will be ruined’ if mantras are recited without having generated bodhicitta (Wangchuk. CBD: 137). and his aim is always accomplished’ (Śikṣā. Vasubandhu (320-400 CE) saw a monk ploughing his field. and even. establish the necessary foundations for a proper dhāraṇī practice. Vinaya. and his mind free from attachment. 115 See section 1.140.. ānantarya) (Ben: 44). But going beyond those Scriptural claims.115 Likewise. that he had never acted without reference to his vows. CBD: 137).e.2. because they found a common basis lying behind the ‘right procedures’ of esoteric rituals (vidhi) and a sound monastic deportment (Chou. following an ethical conduct appears as irrelevant: ‘[This dhāraṇī] will bestow success to she/he who is ethically pure. Already it had been noted that mantra practice was accepted within Vinayas of several mainstream Buddhist schools. 1970: 174).1. those virtues do not preclude an ethical responsibility: ‘The preliminary stage [of a dhāraṇī ritual] will be achieved if one stands immovable in the moral precepts without doubting. such as the monastic ‘defeats’ (pārājikas).

cultivating compassion. generosity. Besides the bodhicitta. and one ritual or 117 On the conditions to mantras’ accomplisment according to the Mahāvairocanābhisaṃbodhitantra. 52 . to make offerings to mantra formulas. (6) to be free from greediness.2. (13) to analyse them with devotion. the belief in the law of causality. maintaining discipline. 2007: 301). NonNon-ritual and Ritual approaches Depending on which are their Scriptural sources. the Three Jewels. (10) to be endowed with diligence.VI.. to safeguard the bodhicitta.. (2) to confess negative deeds. an understanding of Mahāyāna teachings is also necessary. besides a mainstream Buddhist ethics. Yet. (18) to expound Tantras to those who abide by their pledges. not to forsake the Three Jewels. vidyā-mantras.. the Kriyā Tantras’ ethics. having self-control. and dhāraṇī-mantras’ (Shes. upāsikās] who have a correct view and firm bodhicitta. i. and a grasping of the Interdependent Arising. i.2. which overall is followed by most Dhāraṇī Scriptures. dhāraṇīs can be practised without following such ritual precepts or any ritual prescriptions.2. to such ethics can be added. and pledges is essential to ‘swiftly gain spiritual attainments’ (Shes. 324. Nevertheless.e. the abandonment of bodhicitta. prescribes.V: 230). (17) to initiate the ‘four retinues’ [i. To summarize. (16) to draw maṇḍalas. and not reject the true initiation (abhiṣeka) (Shes.2.1. such as ‘to have impartial and non-judgmental faith in guhya-mantras.10. III.V: 232). to produce success in dhāraṇī practice ‘with only a little hardship’ (Vai-ta.2. vows.V: 229).. (12) to listen to various teachings. (5) to make an earnest effort to practise giving.119 Another outstanding feature of Vajrayāna ethics is that mantras/dhāraṇīs themselves are part of the pledges.e. (8) to be endowed with patience or receptivity. 2007: 295-304. (9) to be endowed with benevolence.3. see Shes. (15) to make offerings of mantras and mudrās. upāsakas. 118 This Scripture offers one of the most detailed versions of a mature ‘dhāraṇī ethics’.e. (11) practising the six kinds of recollection [i. see sections 1. and Wangchuk.1. i. (14) to recite tantric ritual procedures (vidhi). consists of reciting mantras (Wangchuk. the Buddhist ethics of all vehicles establishes the key foundations for a sound dhāraṇī practice.II. Now those from the Susiddhikāra-sūtra will be described as a representative example for the whole tradition:118 (1) to take refuge.2007: 158). not abandoning hṛdayas and mantras. paragraph (d) and 1.1. and (19) to propagate Tantric Scriptures (Wangchuk. see section 3.V: 231-234. ritual prescriptions. 2007: 306.e. (7) to be endowed with compassion. bhikṣus. the dhāraṇī formulas may adopt two practical approaches: one non-ritual or ‘exoteric’. and deities]. and keeping their precepts. however.2. specific precepts of a markedly ritual nature.117 Those factors were integrated within a common ethics for all Tantras and summarized in the ‘four great root pledges’: to have a correct view of the conventional. 354). see section 3. (4) to make aspirational wish (praṇidhāna) on the strength of having studied the Tantras and being knowledgeable about ritual procedures. Note that the Susiddhikārasūtra belongs to certain Vidyādhara-piṭakas. 119 However.54). (3) to generate bodhicitta. 329. for other examples.2. and not interrupting mantras.e. 3. bhikṣunīs.3. morality. not disclosing mantras. Even a method to make amends for the severest transgression. On the dhāraṇī ritual practice. or not.VII. see section 2.

a figure already being in use in some early Buddhist formal acts and Vedic rituals.2. containing instructions so detailed that have the faculty of inviting or summoning the mantra’s deity. the kalpa/vidhi stimulated the rising during the Gupta period (320-500 CE) of a new genre of ritual texts such as the Śaiva Āgamas. 2004-2005: 479). but does not provide any specific method to practise it. hence. intended to protect the Chinese empire (Kuo. 2001: 25.2. the threefold repetition of the refuge formula. kalpa) including their practice methods and precepts (Modak.) as part of a daily liturgy (Gellner. verses. instead. Before dealing with the dhāraṇīs’ ritual approach. such as reciting 800. 53 . 2010: 1415). the promulgator (Buddha. 123 See section 1. being described with detail in the ritual ‘procedures’ (Skt. implying a shift from the exoteric sphere to the esoteric one. or the threefold repetition of the Vedic sacrificial formulas (Wayman. there are cases where a dhāraṇī formula is extracted from a Dhāraṇī-sūtra to be recited the prescribed number of times exoterically within a communal context. A synonym of kalpa is that of ‘prescription’ or ‘ritual manual’ (vidhi).2. The non-ritual approach also includes a private recitation of dhāraṇīs along with other sacred texts (Sūtras. that first circulated independently to be adhered later to the Dhāraṇī-sūtras (Dalton. 122 For instance. The nature of such shift was rightly expressed by R.121 How are both approaches applied in practice? The non-ritual approach is quite straightforward. the Śākta Tantras. 2002: 12) and Dhāraṇī-vidhis. Cundī: 1). 2011: 925-930). paragraphs (a) and (b). paragraphs (a) and (b). and this is the approach followed by most Dhāraṇī Scriptures. Abé: ‘One of the features that distinguish esoteric scriptures from exoteric Mahāyāna sūtras is this shift from sūtra reading to ritual action as a normative method of mastering the text’ (1999: 167). 1993: 123). Despite being already included within the Atharvaveda and its Pariśiṣṭas. besides promising the dhāraṇī’s efficacy and benefits. or an intensive recitation to attain a concrete goal. it would be convenient to summarize its origins. It was stated before that the revelation of Vedic and Śaiva mantras include their ‘application’ (viniyoga). because not only the mantra but its kalpa/vidhi as well extract their power from the efficacy’s pledge (samaya) secured by the mantra’s revealer (Eltschinger. such as it is practised by the East Asian Ch’an/Sŏn/Zen Buddhist monasticisms (Bodiford. 1999: 160-163).2. In the first case. Bodhisattva.123 120 See Appendix D section (c).‘esoteric’. consisting of reciting the dhāraṇī formula a minimum of three times. 32). Classical examples of this kind of practice were the ‘permanent recitation’ of the Uṣṇīṣavijayā-dhāraṇī twenty one times every day by all monastics. and 1. or deity) utters the dhāraṇī formula and promises its efficacy and concrete benefits to her/his reciter.3.. 1993: 283). or the public dhāraṇīs’ recitations for healing purposes carried out by monastics in medieval Japan (Abé. this is the approach followed by most appended dhāraṇīs on Mahāyāna Sūtras.120 In the second case. 1984b: 415-416). etc.2. being replicated by the Buddhist Kalpas (Wallis.2.122 However.2. or even a dhāraṇī recitation intended for several purposes as part of the daily monastic schedule. extends her/his efficacy’s pledge (samaya) to its ritual prescriptions. and the Vaiṣṇava Samhitās. 121 See sections 1. the promulgator.000 times the Cundīdevī-dhāraṇī to remove ‘all his or her deadly karmic transgressions created since beginningless time’ (T 1077 185a20-22.

but without betraying the fundamental Buddhist tenets. 298-301). but always preceded by a right ethical intention. On the mental fire offerings in Hinduism and Buddhism.5. oil. 358-359).1. with the Vedic conceptions of karma as ‘sacrificial act’ and ‘creative act’ (Goudriaan. but some of its aspects are admitted after being ‘ethicized’. see section 3. 1978: 221-222). scents. a vegetarian diet. Prati: 222-227). they produce wholesome results (Harvey.22-27). how to deal with the issue of someone ethically pure who performs rightly a dhāraṇī ritual but does not attain the desired goal? To 124 On the Vedic antecedent of ‘investing’ oneself with a mantra as protection.18-27 Vedic sacrifice is not rejected in toto. mudrās). 1996: 347.3. 2000: 604-607. below. Other rituals add to the maṇḍala a painted image (Skt. dhāraṇī practice is preceded by an abhiṣeka ritual (Bala: 59. the Dhāraṇī-sūtras added to this the vidhi’s ritual efficacy. and of some Vedic sacrificial prescriptions. However. as the acceptance of non-bloody offerings (ghee. and the visualization of a more elaborated maṇḍala and pratimā designs. Basically. the Dhāraṇī-sūtras unified the Buddhist notion of karma as ‘intentional action’ (Harvey. 1993: 199. 459). eg. ‘burns’ the ‘fuel’ of her/his defilements with the ‘fire’ of insight (Strickmann. 125 Despite its rejection in the Nikāyas (Brajā: 58-59). Thus. the formulation of bodhicitta and benevolence towards all beings (Amog: 299-300.The dhāraṇīs’ ritual approach functions in an identical way to their nonBuddhist models. gates. high places. to which offerings are made and in front of which is recited the dhāraṇī formula a prescribed number of times. ‘providing shelter for the Sangha’. where the officiator. the dhāraṇī ritual should be viewed as a skillful adaptation to a quite ritualized non-Buddhist context.125 Although at first sight this dhāraṇī ritual practice may contradict the rejection of Vedic ritualism advocated by the early Buddhism (DN. in DN. or deity. in fact. 54 . (Sitā: 127). and rituals in which one is indeed needed. and to this external ritual. or its insertion into stūpas.7-8). The dhāraṇī rituals may fall within two general categories: rituals where no previous ‘consecration’ (abhiṣeka) is needed. 2000: 16-17). the Vedic homa would be assimilated by the Vajrayāna.3-5). the donations to Brahmans and taking ascetic vows (vrata) (Modak.5. and vegetarian dishes (Māyū: 367-368. 126 In fact.. the Buddhist homa added to it an internal contemplation.1. In some Dhāraṇī-sūtras the ritual writing of the dhāraṇī formula is emphasized. This recitation is preceded by a ritual bath. and its wearing around one’s arm or neck (Prati: 207). see Bentor. dhāraṇī’s recitation is combined with the performance of hand gestures (Skt. being reinterpreted in Buddhist terms as ‘gifts to virtuous ascetics’. Bodhisattva.3. pratimā-vidhi) of a Buddha. a dhāraṇī recitation is prescribed along with the performance of a protective ritual space delimited by a maṇḍala. non fermented beverages. incense.126 If the mainstream Buddhist ethics asserts that the wholesome actions are wholesome in themselves and hence. concluding with a fire ritual offering (Skt.5. homa) (Susi: 150-151). The promulgator utters the dhāraṇī formula and its benefits. etc.22-25). see section 3. see Appendix A.II. On dhāraṇīs’ insertion into stūpas and related practices. and taking refuge in the Three Jewels and undertaking precepts (DN. which is worshipped (pūjā) with diverse offerings such as lamps. There are also Buddhist homas with mundane goals. albeit keeping its own particularities. or hanging it in banners. pledging that the practitioner will attain them if she/he follows exactly its ritual prescriptions.124 And in the second case. In the first case. 2000: 17). the Vedic homa is a banquet offered to a deity through fire oblations. after identifying herself/himself with the deity. where besides including those elements already described.). Providing feeding to Brahmans of ‘pure conduct’ is a key prerequisite for the efficacy of some Śaiva Tantric mantras (MM. etc.

(8) they confirm the equality of ordinary beings with Buddhas. Cundī: 1). 2008: 213-216). albeit they will not be effective if the practitioner has not faith in them (T 1060 107a26-27. than with the transmundane approach advocated by the Nikāyas (DN. the dhāraṇīs are more closely related to the Vajrayāna approach. those ‘all-purpose’ Dhāraṇī-sūtras are presented as mediators between the conditioned and unconditioned planes of reality.e. (10) they are of such value that even Buddhas still cherish them (Gimello. For instance. as the Buddhas have said’ (Prati: 235). (2) they purge defilements and exorcize ghosts. Mundane and Supramundane Accomplishments One of the most significant aspects of dhāraṇī formulas is to integrate ‘mundane’ (Skt. but also.2. mundane and supramundane alike. As it will be seen below. 2009: 137.). MN.7) and the mainstream Mahāyāna (Śikṣā. 128 On both dhāraṇī goals. Sitā: 126. But most Dhāraṇī-sūtras are seen to have secured an indisputable effectiveness to their formulas (Amog: 298-299.3.14-39). (4) they guarantee the miraculous achievement of things sought. because as being a modality of buddhavacana.128 This ‘holistic’ nature of dhāraṇīs was rightly grasped by the Huayan/Vajrayāna master Daozhen (eleventh century CE). the pivotal Vedic gāyatrī mantra is used during the initiation ritual of becoming a Brahman (upanayama) (Staal. and the Tantric Hanumān mantra can be used for protective. i. they are seen as embodying in sound and writing the Buddhas’ presence: ‘By the power of this sūtra [and dhāraṇī] all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. lokottara) goals as an interrelated wholeness. with their Vedic and Śaiva predecessors. who recognized in the dhāraṇīs ten inherent virtues: (1) they guarantee national security (protection from enemies. (5) they ensure rebirth in paradise. (7) they enable the easy practice of adamantine protection for the ‘four retinues’. the mother of all Buddhas. from family dissension. Some Dhāraṇīsūtras even mention a maximum of seven years to attain their goals (Davidson. to the attaining of ‘all his desires.129 Therefore. 55 . despite existing Dhāraṇī-sūtras only focused on one goal.22.46). 243. Sgol: 52).21-22).this likely issue the Dhāraṇī-sūtras provided different answers. they embrace a wide spectrum of goals. where is asserted the possibility to attain Arahantship after just seven years of practicing the satipaṭṭhānas (DN. 129 This is also the case with many influential Vedic and Śaiva Tantric mantras. and 3.XIII. CBD: 127 This feature is already traceable in the Nikāyas. (9) they effect awakening by both own power and other power. and for therapeutical goals (Roşu.16.3. some of them including an ‘escape clause’ noting that the dhāraṇī formula might not succeed ‘due to the fruition of past karma’ (Skilling. Kāru: 168-169). and hence. from crop failure. and even all devas are arriving’ (Bala: 64. Suvar: 61. the most influential of them are ‘all-purpose’. 1986: 223. from astrological and natural disasters.127 3. however. Prati: 220).10. increase.XI.1. from drought. while others signaled an increase of the number of recitations until getting its expected result (T 1077 185b2-3. 263).22. etc. 2004: 238).6. therapeutical. see sections 3. laukika) and ‘supramundane’ (Skt.. And this Buddhas’ mediator present as dhāraṇīs is not only pointing to a world’s transcendence. In this aspect. 1992: 148-149). This is also the case with the ‘arapacana’ syllabary’s ‘advantages’ (Mpsū: 162). and offensive goals (MM. (3) they cure illnesses and increase blessings. (6) they are the font of all teachings and practices.

sensual pleasure. tyranny. perjury. is employed here for heuristic reasons. 1992: 72). diseases.2. the dhāraṇīs counteract those same dangers and still others in a more detailed way.). 131 Some Dhāraṇī-sūtras make such hierarchical principle explicit: the Sitātapatrā-vidyārajñī’s power is higher than all non-Buddhist mantras and other Buddhist mantras considered inferior (Sitā: 109-112). that despite the fact that it does not always correspond exactly with the dhāraṇī goals.2. Whatever may be the envisaged dhāraṇī and its goal. Sitā: 103). 121. worldly prosperity. others sects’ mantras. etc.. Mundane Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇī Practices 3.132 The three parts of section 3. Within this context.1. and even those who use black magic and destructive mantras to harm others (Varat: 7-10. with the Śaiva mantra practice ‘one can attain … [religious] merit. robbery. invasion.188-195).1. defilements. as they are reflected in several ritual and contemplative practices widespread among Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna Buddhisms.1.3. quarrels. Waddell. are reflecting an adaptation of the Kriyā Tantras’ classification collecting the mundane accomplishments according to the rites of ‘pacification’ (śāntika).131 Sections 3. Protection The early use of mantras within some mainstream Buddhist schools as an antidote against the antarāyas had already been noted. 130 As it is the case with dhāraṇī practice. 1895: 42-44). this means that such dhāraṇīs are ‘all-purpose’ ones.2. past harmful karma.3. 132 Note that if identical dhāraṇīs’ quotations appear for different functions. dangers. summarizes some of the most outstanding dhāraṇīs’ supramundane goals. and ‘subjugation’ (ābhicāruka). 1978: 95). By human beings.2. Some dhāraṇīs offer protection against all kinds of despotism. and 3. etc. gossip. Certain dhāraṇīs include protection against hostile individuals promoting envy.2. the main dhāraṇīs’ function is providing protection and immunity against noxious agents. or the Vajratuṇḍa-dhāraṇī is superior against Vedic mantras to stop raining (Waddell.2. Prati: 234. a higher power is derived able to counteract the inferior power embodied by the referents to which dhāraṇīs are focused (eg. 1914: 41-42).130 If the dhāraṇīs describe themselves as endowed with supreme and irresistible faculties (Māyū: 453. will deal with the most characteristic dhāraṇīs’ goals as they appear in some of their most influential Dhāraṇī-sūtras.133 And section 3. this is because of their nature as buddhavacana expressing what is true. 3. 56 . ‘increase’ (pauṣṭika). Sitā: 110-112. The dhāraṇīs are regarded as being able to protect the practitioner from a large number of dangers and obstructions provoked by the following categories of harmful factors: By adverse socio-political conditions. and 2. demons. being followed by the Mahāyāna’s dṛṣṭadhārmikas. or any military conflict (Amog: 299. Prati: 237).134 Likewise. and liberation’ (Bühnemann. 134 See sections 1. 133 This threefold classification comes from the Vedic tradition (Goudriaan. slander. technically called ‘pacification’ or ‘removal of calamities’ (śāntika) (Susi: 181). it is always reproducing this hierarchical principle: the dhāraṇī manifests itself as endowed of a higher power than its opponent’s.1.

that according to its traditional definition includes longevity. execution.4. By diseases/death.By non-human beings. Bala: 57.2. or natural disasters such as earthquakes. As was referred to frequently here. Āṅga: 5.2. One of the major Amoghavajra’s dhāraṇī powers was producing rain in the exact time to avoid droughts. Increase The dhāraṇīs not only protect from dangers. diseases. 3. Māyū: 446-450. 3. (Varat: 7).2. Kāru: 192-199. Roşu. 57 . and the development of virtues and desires (Susi: 184). By astral influences. the protection against poisonous animals (particularly snakes) was one of the foremost reasons to accept mantras among early Buddhists.2. horseflies. bees. Prati: 227-228.12-17. the Dhāraṇī-sūtras are seen as promoting the following categories of pauṣṭika: 135 See section 1. Sitā: 114-120. constitutes a key condition to obtain its powers (Māyū: 450-451). spirits. premature death. poisonings. Overall. By wild and/or poisonous animals. 2001: 372). provoked by an imbalance of bodily elements. and wolves. etc. etc.1. and avoiding any kind of unnatural death.1. wild yaks. possession. disease. 304305). able to counteract the ‘four hundred four diseases’ (Māyū: 455).135 Including the harmful agents’ names within a Dhāraṇī-sūtra’s text or even within its dhāraṇī formula itself. describe remedies based on medicinal substances and empowered with dhāraṇīs (Amog: 298-299. ‘enveloping’ the name of a ‘victim’ or ‘patient’ (sādhya) within the syllables of a mantra entails to ‘envelop’ the sādhya’s individuality itself (Goudriaan. Māyū: 372). hyenas. The dhāraṇīs counteract negative astral conjunctions capable of disturbing those activities ruled by the lunar calendar. from aggressive gods (devas) to ‘consciousness-stealers’ (cittāhāriṇī) (Sitā: 104-109). An influential dhāraṇī by its power against ‘the danger of possession by all kinds of demons’ includes the names of no less than sixty six kinds of such beings. is equal to neutralize/dissolve their power because they are ‘enveloped’ under the dhāraṇī’s higher power. were prevented with dhāraṇīs by governments sensitive to Buddhism. invoking the names of the spiritual entities or wise beings who transmmitted the dhāraṇī.e. Without doubt. and droughts ruining harvests (Māyū: 454). they also propitiate factors of ‘increase’ (pauṣṭika). By natural elements. Some dhāraṇīs provide long and detailed lists of spirits or demons (Skt. Likewise. by viruses. tigers. see section 2. this is the category most referred to in the dhāraṇīs. Varat: 8-9). and poisonous ones such as mosquitoes. Grönbold. graha) of a harmful or ambivalent nature. 136 According to the Indian magic. The reason for such preciseness in naming the danger (spirit. provoked by accidents. vitality. 1978: 288). and within a Buddhist context. storms.. 1986: 228-237). lions. and those of an unfavourable personal astral chart (Sitā: 98. bears. some Dhāraṇī-sūtras and the medical treatises of Vāghbaṭa (seventh century CE).) from which oneself is protected by the dhāraṇī. scorpions. and murder (Amog: 291. snakes (Sitā: 120-121.2. health. 1945: 298-299. and of course. rejuvenation. lies in the Vedic notion postulating the correspondence between the being/object itself and the name that designate it. a premature one. T 1060 110a20-110c26.136 Likewise. and with enough amount to avoid floods (Chou. i. who can provoke nightmares. The dhāraṇīs added protection against wild animals such as mungooses. flies. Dangers coming from a negligent handling of fire and water.

Longevity. On the original meaning of the mantra Phaṭ as a ‘counterattack’ against an ābhicara ritual. and having a ‘smooth. eloquence. or stultifying him’. 48. or obtaining clothes. Hence. or making [your foe] seriously ill. money. ābhicara) in order to ward off dangers and enemies of diverse kind.3. 3. 1978: 62. when a disease caused by karman has arisen. Eradicating forever poverty (Āyuḥ: 296). and to the proper ripening of fruits and crops (T 1060 111c6. see Appendix A. Undoubtedly. those harmful actions are only directed ‘to 137 Ābhicara may include. 2005b: 202-205). and above all the Sarasvatī’s. Guhya: 6. Nevertheless. and skillfulness in all kinds of learning and ‘success in the performance of various arts’ (Suvar: 56. Gaṇa: 344. or causing his retainers to scatter. power. Likewise. 229. ‘prosperity without effort’ (T 1022(b) 714b19-20. and ‘liquidation’ (māraṇa) (Goudriaan. Sgol: 45. according to several sources. such as the Vajraśaṃkala’s to ‘deeply remember’ the Dharma study (Bongard-Levin. Uccāṭana means depriving a person of an object or removing them from a location. Intellectual faculties. Kāru: 196. handsome and slender’ body. Avoiding infertility. is that of remembering one’s former existences (Skt. knowledge. Ludvik. Kāru: 203-204. vigour and self-confidence’ (Prati: 233). including actions as ‘making close friends hate one another. This implies basically that ‘all his illnesses disappear’ and ‘long-lasting weakness ceases’ (Prati: 233). Numerous Dhāraṇī-sūtras effect an extension of one’s life ‘after it has reached its [natural] limit’ (Prati: 233). Sitā: 126). Guhya: 6). the abundance ‘in money and grain’ (Prati: 230). 2007: 158-161. ‘wherever he is born. 58 . is intended for the prosperity of the Buddhist community. Guhya: 5-6) and being able to ‘see the brightness of one hundred autumns’ (Māyū: 366. 365).14-19. and that her/his birth may be safe and painless. T 1022(b) 714b21-22. ‘eradication’ (uccāṭana). so that. Sitā: 124. while keeping it away from ‘whatever robs the vital strength’ (Amog: 293). it will quickly be cured’ (Amog: 293). One’s health needs to be increased with ‘strength’ (Sitā: 126). 1999: 74. Vitality. 2000: 127). eloquence. the dhāraṇīs of the Bodhisattvas Ākāśagarbha and Mañjuśrī are recited to obtain memory. Fecundity.34-35). a normally developed foetus. Mns: 43-44). Prati: 197. among others. and the knowledge of ‘all Scriptures’ and ‘all scholastic works’ (Abé. 443). Several dhāraṇīs related to female deities are recited to attain specific intellectual faculties. Prati: 213). T 1060 110b24-25. it can reach one hundred years (Āyuḥ: 294). it is emphasized to get a long life (T 1022(b) 714b3-4. the most reiterated abhijñā within the ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs (Mpsū: 162) and the Dhāraṇī-sūtras. Prosperity. bestowing memory. and māraṇa means taking a person’s life (Burchett. 188190).2. Schopen. gold. getting an abundant progeny of healthy aspect.137 The Vajrayāna assimilated such approach but moderated by Buddhist ethics with the generic term of ‘subjugation’ (ābhicāruka). or cows (Bala: 60. Supernormal Knowledges (abhijñā). and ‘a disease will not occur in his body. This need of fecundity is also expanded to trees and herbs’ growing. ‘energy. jātismara).Health. 2008: 817). are the goals frequently found in dhāraṇīs (Bala: 57. Prati: 230. in each birth he will remember all previous births’ (Āyuḥ: 294. actions such as ‘causing dissension’ (vidveṣaṇa). the ‘accomplishment of wealth’ (Gaṇa: 344). Defence The Vedic tradition elaborated a third set of accomplishments focused on ‘inimical actions’ (Skt.

under adverse circumstances. and his ‘eighty-four thousands heaps of Dharmas’. 1994: 712-719..138 Moreover. identified as dhāraṇīs. and the first ones are considered as the highest (Rgyud: 107).1.3. see below. the Indo-Tibetan classifications recognize three kinds of relics: (1) the relics of the Tathāgata’s Dharma-kāya. expressing that the dhāraṇīs are ‘the essence of the Buddha’. lower and middle parts of the stūpa. 59 . and the totality of Buddhist teachings into such stūpa.punish wicked people who … commit various sins.e.141 Basically. paragraph (4). Some masters from Vikramaśīla monastery performed ābhicāruka rituals to repel Muslim invaders (Chimpa/Chattopadhyaya. and (3) the relics of his garb. sometimes in its uppermost tip.21. and using the same methods. those Dhāraṇī-sūtras become the Buddhas’ ‘Dharma Body relics’ (Skt.e. evil spirits. it takes generally the form of a subtle wrath (Skt. krodha). i.2. or becoming a means to create an ‘armour’ or ‘body of blazing flame’ able to destroy ‘all enemies’. These are inserted in the form of several Dhāraṇī-sūtras and Vajrayāna Tantras within prominent locations of the stūpa.3. 1945: 305-306).. see Scherrer-Schaub. that can be directed to remove heavy mental defilements (kleśa) obstructing an effective meditation (Bala: 55. within the Dhāraṇī-sūtras where the ābhicāruka faculty is invoked. 1981: 22) and neutralized an attempt to invade the Chinese empire (Chou. the stūpa itself. 2005c: 310-311). i. the Dharma-kāya-śarīras (Bentor. Dharma-kāyaśarīras) (Bentor. while in others they are inserted into the upper. identifying some Dhāraṇī-sūtras as ‘Dharma-kāya relics’ implied the prolongation of a previous idea identifying the Mahāyāna Scriptures as ‘Dharma relics’. 3. ‘all misdeeds and obstructions’ (Prati: 207). showing in this way the identity between the Buddha’s physical body. Amoghavajra helped to pacify the An Lu-shan rebellion (Orlando. malevolent magic. see DN.139 However. (2) the relics of his corporeal substance.. or slander the Three Jewels.e.2. i. 138 On a precedent of ābhicāruka against some ‘Dhamma’s critics’ by the deity Vajrapāṇi (P Vajirapāṇi) in the Theravāda Nikāyas. and revolves around the idea that to introduce into a stūpa one or more of those Dhāraṇī-sūtras is equal to the placing innumerable Buddhas. or also can be transformed into a ‘psychic defence’ focused against all kinds of fears. paying particular attention to avoid taking a person’s life (Susi: 187-188). 139 Nevertheless. 1970: 307.. and inimical people (Varat: 512). for other similar Dhāraṇī-sūtras.140 This group of Dhāraṇī-sūtras consititues a specific genre widespread through the Asiatic Buddhist world. their physical relics. 141 The most influential Dhāraṇī-sūtra related to stūpas is the Uṣṇīṣavijayā-dhāraṇī-sūtra (Uṣṇī). a proper ābhicāruka action only can be carried out without anger and resentment and in a controlled way.2. Supramundane Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇī Practices 3. i. 1995: 252-253. and Bentor.e. 327-328). 140 See section 1. MN. physical pains.1. or rebel against their teachers and elders’. or violate the bodhisattva’s pure code of discipline. Schopen.3.14. Depositing Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs in Stūpa Stūpas ūpas As was said before.30-41). 1995: 254. contagious diseases.35. ābhicāruka can transform into a ‘defensive weapon’.

1997: 35-42).1. 1994: 298. to attain ‘the unsurpassed bodhi’ (T 970 360a11. 2001: 269-272). 2006: 42). that according to one of its key passages. 34. 301. below. that in some instances. the dhāraṇī-pillar’s dust and shadows ‘have the same qualities that the scriptural words have’. In all likelihood.2.e. and was spread to Japan (c. and whoever sees it. 650-670 CE). the practice of inserting dhāraṇīs into the stūpas as a meritorius action able to fulfill all wishes ‘at will’ (T 1022(b) 714b22. 2006b: 76-79. or even. is equal to enshrine all Buddhas’ Bodies into it (Shen. consisting in most cases. but also with the three ‘Bodies’ of all Buddhas of the three times.1995: 252-253.. being widespread through all China from seventh century CE until thirteenth century CE (Kuo.2. n. see sections 1. Martin.143 This passage originated in China the creation of the ‘dhāraṇī [stone] banners’ (Ch. or is touched by its shadow or by its dust when the wind blows.. Uṣṇī: 8. and the daily dhāraṇīs’s recitation to attain longevity. tuoluoni-chuang). all her/his nocive acts and heavy transgressions will be removed at once’ (Drège.142 However. she/he will be liberated from being reborn into the three unfortunate planes (animals. hence. Kuo. 2001: 4).144 Transformed into stone. 2005: 226-232). i. Thus. where the Uṣṇīṣavijayā-dhāraṇī-sūtra’s Dharma-kāya-śarīras and related Dhāraṇī-sūtras. 2005-2006: 461-466). 144 On ‘dhāraṇī-pillars’ in Korea. Equivalent ideas are found within East Asian Buddhism. and hells). The dhāraṇīs’ printing was introduced later into Korea (751 CE) (Barrett. the popularity of some of those Dhāraṇī-sūtras did not lie as much in their insertion into stūpas as in their public display. not only were identified as the Buddhas’ ‘Dharma Body’. known in the West as ‘dhāraṇī-pillars’. and with such sonic empowerment of the matter. 764-770 CE) (Hickman. the Dharma-kāya-śarīras. followed by a Dhāraṇī-sūtra printed in 702 (Pan. Uṣṇī: 8). this same matter is in turn able to empower. and will receive the prediction by all Buddhas of being irreversible (avaivartika) from the supreme enlightenment (T 970 360a26-b16. 143 On the avaivartika state and mantra/dhāraṇī practice. stimulated the invention of printing in China (seventh century CE). 1975: 89). hungry spirits. or this dhāraṇī was represented as being held in lecterns within several Dunhuang’s mural paintings (Schmid. to enshrine those Dhāraṇī-sūtras into a stūpa. the dhāraṇī-pillar is acting in an autonomous way as the Buddha’s spoken utterance (Copp. Guhya: 6). hence. The Uṣṇīṣavijayā-dhāraṇī-sūtra became so popular. rebirth into a Pure Land. 1999: 29-30).2. the dhāraṇī is transferring its sonic efficacy to the visible and tangible spheres. 1997: 978-979). 142 The earliest printed document in the world found until now. see Sørensen. and 3.e. 2006: 37-42. is a dhāraṇī formula in Sanskrit found in the Chinese city of Xi’an (c. 304-305).. 2010: 6-18). stands close by. if a Uṣṇīṣavijayā-dhāraṇī’s written copy is hung on the tip of a banner pole. its modality as ‘dhāraṇī-pillar’ was transformed into a complex ‘maṇḍala-pillar’ synthesizing the whole East Asian Vajrayāna’s teachings (Howard. a Mahāpratisarā-dhāraṇī’s Chinese translation secures that if ‘someone print or copy [the dhāraṇī] and carry it with her/him.3. 60 . This is the case of the Uṣṇīṣavijayādhāraṇī-sūtra. i. in the Uṣṇīṣavijayā-dhāraṇī-sūtra’s inscription or that of its dhāraṇī formula on octagonal stone columns.

T 1060 107a20-28.2. 61 . avoiding an unfortunate rebirth. 147..145 What is detectable. karmāvaraṇa) identified with the five ānantaryas including matricide. such claim because most Dhāraṇī-sūtras assert the removal of both the harmful effects of karma as well as the mental defilements causing them.96). hereditary sicknesses. also ‘roots out all [their] latent impressions’ (Skt. or attaining supreme enlightenment (T 970 360a4. however. birth into a Pure Land (T 1022(b) 714b27. 1994: 137-138). (2) the ‘obstructions of defilements’ (kleśāvaraṇa) including the referred to root defilements and their derivations. the defilements (Davidson. They are said of ‘immediate retribution’ because after death. The ‘obstructions of endowment’ are those such as congenital blindness or deafness. having a short life. Uṣṇī: 7). and on the other hand. etc. also known as ‘obstructions of endowment’. lust (rāga). jñeyāvaraṇa).I: 486-499. the Scriptural evidence contradicts. and n.IV. 64). that ‘covers over the indefectible [i. mental states of ignorance.e. Karmic purification It had been argued that the early dhāraṇīs’ protective functions directed against the negative consequences of previous karma. kleśāvaraṇa) (Kuo. 222). 2009: 134). On vipākāvaraṇa. n. and other Dhāraṇī-sūtra. but as result of harmful actions committed in previous lives (Mppś. As a general premise. the most common types of harmful karma to be purified as found in the Dhāraṇī-sūtras are the accumulation of serious transgressions ‘since beginningless time’ (T 1077 185a22-23. i. 147 To kleśāvaraṇa. (2) ‘obstructions of endowment’. unfailing] nature of knowables and causes them not to appear in the mind’. obstructions due to mental and physical defects. the love to things. also known as the ‘obstructions of defilements’ (Skt. Cundī: 1) such as the five ānantaryas. vāsanās) (Prati: 218. T 970 359c4-5. there are Dhāraṇī-sūtras postulating generalized methods and results derived from such purification. such as securing longevity. Avat: 716). there are Dhāraṇī-sūtras describing very concrete purification’s methods and results.e.. i. and (3) ‘obstructions of karma’ (karmāvaraṇa) (Stevenson. and the three root defilements perpetuating rebirth (rāga-dveṣa-moha). 146 Mainstream Buddhism posited three kinds of obstructions: (1) the ‘obstructions of karma’ (Skt.. Nevertheless. Kāru: 167-169. rooted in the belief in a self that clings to ‘I’ and ‘mine’. a Dhāraṇī-sūtra claims its power to remove former transgressions and harmful deeds and their defiled causes.147 145 See more examples in T 1022(b) 714c6-7. For instance. 1986: 64. schism. Guhya: 7. On the one hand. and wounding the Tathāgata with thoughts of hatred. to some extent at least. hatred (dveṣa) delusion (moha). pride (mana) and arrogance (mada) (Sitā: 126). and affection for malicious thoughts (Bubhū: 206). i.3.146 Another more comprehensive classification divides defilements into three kinds: (1) ‘obstructions of vexation’ including both the ‘obstructions of defilements’ (kleśāvaraṇa) and the ‘obstructions to knowledge’ (Skt. experienced in the present life. Guhya: 6). besides eliminating ‘the dangerous consequences of actions’. are two different approaches concerning the karmic purification’s method and its results. vipākāvaraṇa). patricide.e.95c-d. the killing of an Arhat. and (3) the ‘obstruction of retribution’ (Skt. Those obstructions prevent the rebirth in favourable destinations and attaining liberation (Kośa. the Yogācāra added jñeyāvaraṇa.e. The focus will turn now to some of those Dhāraṇī-sūtras. Uṣṇī: 7. the transgressor is reborn in hells without passing through the intermediate state.. because the belief in a self that clings to all imagined things.3. evolved towards a dhāraṇīs’ soteriological use as antidotes against their causes. see below.

62 . and the ‘light recitation’. 151 Cf. 1986: 64-65).000. the dhāraṇī-mukhas of the ghoṣapraveśa-dhāraṇī and the akṣarapraveśa-dhāraṇī. both applied to the dhāraṇī syllables’ shape or to their sound (Rgyud: 187-191).150 The auspicious sign revealing a successful practice is that of clearly contemplating a Buddha’s image while oneself is receiving from him his adhiṣṭhāna. 150 On experiencing anupalabdhitā while contemplating the ‘arapacana’ syllabary. the East Asian Vajrayāna included two more: the ‘samādhi recitation’ consisting of a purely mental recitation without moving the tongue. Given that each Dhāraṇī-sūtra describes its own approach to attain enlightenment. 1999: 125. Yamasaki. see Śūrsū. and giving support to Dharma practice (Shaw. Studholme. Wallis.000 times. whether silently or aloud. and her dhāraṇī can be recited in a loud voice. hence. in a soft voice audible only to oneself.148 This recitation may be combined with the Cundīdevī’s mudrā and visualizing her image. such as ‘vomiting a white substance such as a thick paste of rice’ (T 1077 185b3-5.149 The Mahāvaipulya-dhāraṇī-sūtra is describing a different method. he finds that the sound cannot be apprehended. is that of realizing a true insight of the ‘Middle Way’ that the dhāraṇī embodies: ‘When [the practitioner] discerns the sound of the voice while he is reciting the dhāraṇī. this practice must be repeated a fixed number of times and days.” as it were)’ (Gimello. 1988: 116-117). On Cundī’s iconography. 149 Besides those three methods.e. 2002: 19-23. It is without any self-substance … It is neither empty nor existent’ (Stevenson. 2000: 213. where the mind is focused on the non-apprehension (anupalabdhitā) of all phenomena. it will described below just two examples from the most representative ones. see DBI. that is.151 3. 1945: 258). light streaming from the mouth is visualized (Abé. The Indo-Tibetan Vajrayāna posits a whispered and mental recitations. would suddenly be elevated in rank and approach supreme enlightenment’ (Chou.000. having epitomized all the meditations in one string [i. the bodhicitta awakening.1. and according the transgression’s seriousness. 2002: 147.3: 849-866.152 Perhaps the simplest approach is shown by the Ṣaṇmukhī148 Cundī (or Cundā) is one of the most important dhāraṇī goddesses of Northern and East Asian Buddhisms because her specialization in purifying harmful karma. 700. or by way of ‘adamantine’ recitation. Zong: 134. and the prediction of being irreversible (avaivartika) along the path to supreme enlightenment (Swanson. 231). where periods of dhāraṇī recitation are combined while walking around a Buddha’s image with periods of sitting meditation. see section 2. 2009: 125-139. until oneself experiences an auspicious oneiric signal. ‘by actually speaking the dhāraṇī but with barely perceptible movement of lips and tongue (“under one’s breath. 2004: 237). Attaining Enlightenment Owing to the dhāraṇīs condensing large teachings within their syllables. dhāraṇīs became a ‘short-cut to enlightenment and the lucky sea to release … A bodhisattva. normally 200. dhāraṇī].3. 2006: 265-275).3. see Appendix B-2. the purification’s method consists of reciting the Cundī’s dhāraṇī formula a fixed number of times. or 800. Kőves.According to the Cundīdevī-dhāraṇī-sūtra.3.VI: 76-161. 152 On other examples of soteriological dhāranīs. The ‘secret essence’ of this dhāraṇī practice though. reciting/contemplating these entailed a drastic reduction of the time required to master them. Cundī: 1).1.

and then it is followed by meditating on its ‘inconceivable’ nature (Anir: 107-108).. also called ‘the practice of non-cognition of object’. (3) acknowledging one’s own harmful actions. this implies that the Anantamukha-nirhāra-dhāraṇī-sūtra was considered a Scripture deserving a particular attention (Schoening. n.154 And (3) the ‘syllable-meaning-dhāraṇī’. (2) The ‘meaning-dhāraṇī’. The Ṣaṇmukhī-dhāraṇī’s formula. (4) comprehension of impediments caused by others. and given that just a few Mahāyāna Scriptures hold this kind of commentary. and (3) the visualization of a maṇḍala composed by the ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇī and the images of the Bodhisattvas and yakṣas refered to in the Sūtra. that can also be applied to the Ṣaṇmukhī-dhāraṇī thus: (1) the completion of insight. the Sūtra describes three methods: (1) the recitation-meditation into a ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇī or dhāraṇī-mantra-pada.2. see sections 1. and mind from all defilements. The formula have to be recited six times a day. also called ‘wisdom-dhāraṇī’.. and if one remains detached from all kinds of acts.1.dhāraṇī (‘Six Doors dhāraṇī’). first the dhāraṇī-mantra-pada is recited. and the accomplishment of the ultimate reality (Skt. certain Ṣaṇmukhī-dhāraṇī’s Tibetan versions claim that enlightenment will only be attained after seven lives of practice (Ṣaṇm: 13.e.153 The Anantamukha-nirhāra-dhāraṇī-sūtra received a versified commentary by Jñānagarbha (700-760 CE) to be memorized and used as a manual. 2009: 139).e. and (6) knowing that Buddha’s liberation is useful to beings if oneself does not remain either in saṃsāra or in nirvāṇa (Ṣaṇm: 10-11). and (6) the reality and correct knowledge which are these factors’ fruit (Davidson. According to Vasubandhu’s commentary. 1991: 34-35). the dhāraṇī-mantra-pada’s recitation-meditation is intended to realize the four pratisaṃvids (Anir: 100-101). The Anantamukha-nirhāra’s formula has received the adhiṣṭhāna from innumerable Buddhas (Anir: 103) and includes three practices: (1) the ‘syllabledhāraṇī’. (4) knowing that Māra acts against the Buddha.2. where each syllable is conceived as a ‘door’ to attain a key teaching’s insight: (1) ‘pa’ (paramārtha) the 153 However. uttered by the Buddha from his residence in the Śuddhāvāsa heavens. that is equal to ‘attain the dhāraṇī’ manifested by the dhāraṇī-mantra-pada. consisting of the dhāraṇī-mantra-pada’s recitation accompanied by a meditation (dhyāna-yoga) on their syllables. To accomplish it. (2) sharing with all beings the Buddha’s spiritual bliss. paramārtha). one will attain quickly the supreme enlightenment (Ṣaṇm: 11).1. (2) the recitation-meditation into a ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇī. The main purpose of this Scripture is ‘[to] become unretrogressive and quickly attain the highest. and 2. where six experiences/knowledges are described by the Buddha: (1) making known the suffering experienced by the Buddha. consisting into the alternated practice of (1) and (2). 63 . those ‘Six Doors’ are related to six goals (artha) valid for all dhāraṇīs in general. (5) identifying the supreme knowledge concerning all beings with the Buddha’s wholesome roots. without getting attached to their characteristics of existence or non-existence (Anir: 66-68). (2) the power of compassion’s purity. i. refers to the complete purification of the body. i.3. 8). (5) summation of the factors of awakening. 154 On the pratisaṃvids. perfect Bodhi’ (Anir: 87). The Anantamukha-nirhāra-dhāraṇī-sūtra describes another method to ‘attain the dhāraṇī’ based on a ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇī composed by eight syllables.2. speech. (3) the purification of one’s stream of being. It consists of realizing the emptiness of all dharmas ‘by being supported by the letters which contain all the supreme teachings and meanings’.

3. makes her/him as ‘no different from the Buddhas’. imperishable. and desiressness. and death.nonsubstantiality of all dharmas. nor to the present. and in a state of extinction. see section 2. old age. According to the Yijing’s Chinese translation. (6) ‘dha’ (dharmadhātu) it is equal to the voidness. Jñānagarbha briefly describes a visualization ritual of a maṇḍala composed by the ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇī’s eight syllables related to the images of eight Bodhisattvas and eight yakṣas.155 Lastly. It is significant that it was Jñānagarbha himself who elaborated the maṇḍala method after it was revealed to him through a dream (Anir: 129-130). language and its conceptual basis is not deconstructed but contemplated creatively from within its emptiness. Note that with this method. 64 . (2) ‘la’ (lakṣaṇa) the marks and no-marks of the Tathāgata’s dharma-kāya. which denotes a relevant example of a progressive Dhāraṇī-sūtras’s esoterization that would culminate with their identificaton as Kriyā Tantras.2. and n. that who is able to master it. 98. conceived as a threefold realization that. that of being simultaneously means to attain ultimate reality and perfect expressions of such reality in sonic/written forms. see section Appendix B-2. by Abé. inexhaustible. The eight syllables’ insight is realized through a cognitive process where simultaneously their meanings are discerned and intuitively perceived (Anir: 113-114. On kleśāvaraṇa. or even can liberate them definitely from saṃsāra (Anir: 111). described as the protectors of the Anantamukha-nirhāra-dhāraṇī-sūtra’s teachings and their practitioners. i. (3) ‘ba’ (bāla) the non-duality between ignorant persons and wise ones.3.3. the ‘nirvāṇa of no abiding’ (apratiṣṭhita-nirvāṇa). and 3. 131-138).2. and absence of birth. and their absence. see section 3. (8) ‘kṣa’ (kṣana) all dharmas are momentary and originally tranquil. and n. It is neither a phenomenon nor a nonphenomenon. understood here as the kleśāvaraṇa and jñeyāvaraṇa’s removal.2. 156 157 See sections 1. or can locate them on heavenly planes. it goes like this: As you have said.. This dhāraṇī’s non-dual nature was exactly grasped by the following description of a ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇī called the ‘dhāraṇī of nondefilement’ included within the Suvarṇaprabhāsa-sūtra. neither a cause nor a noncause. causeless. (7) ‘śa’ (śamatha) tranquilization and its absence. entry into the suchness (tathatā) of all dharmas.156 The combined practice of those three methods is conducive to attain the ‘Tranquil State’. 1999: 241).e. formlessness. old age. Nor is it devoid of a particular direction or location. It is neither an event nor a nonevent. jñeyāvaraṇa. It belongs neither to the past. and rāga-dveṣa-moha’s elimination.1. the dhāraṇī is not bound to a particular direction or location. neither a practice nor a nonpractice. It is subject neither to the rising nor to the ceasing of things (tr. 155 On an equivalent process with the ‘arapacana’ syllabary’s contemplation. can liberate beings from unfortunate destinies. death. (5) ‘ka’ (karma) realization of karmas and rewards. 146 and 147. and accomplishing the ‘supreme enlightenment’ (saṃbodhi).157 The two described examples of soteriological Dhāraṇī-sūtras emphasize their non-dual nature. nor to the future. the rāga-dveṣa-moha’s extinction. according to different cases. (4) ‘ja’ (jāti) the non-arising and non-perishing of beings subject to birth.

Shortly after the historical Buddha’s disappearance. the Mahāyāna recognized as dhāraṇī several instances. Sarvāstivādins and Mūlasarvāstivādins introduced more mantras in some Mahāsūtras and other Scriptures. however. Later on. From those premises. that has in the mantras its origins and identity. In a similar vein. and also because some mainstream Buddhist schools admitted the five abhijñās among non-Buddhist people. This can be seen in that besides mantras. being mainly represented by the Sarvāstivādins. were also accepted and re-elaborated by the mainstream Buddhism according to its own criterion. as means to transform reality. Dharmaguptakas.Conclusions After almost two millennium of being rooted on Indian soil before the advent of Buddhism. and Dharmaguptakas. mainly because of a deeply rooted pan-Indian belief on mantras already established as a ‘taken for granted value’ since centuries before. the ancient Angkor kingdom. and perhaps the phonetical correspondences as are found within some Upaniṣads. which would cast its pivotal influence on Indian Buddhism. an open canon in continuous expansion. this mantric lore became buddhavacana and also was used as a ‘conversion device’ to integrate several tribal peoples to Buddhism. the Mahāyāna added three key factors: the adoption of Sanskrit language. began to discreetly introduce mantras through the door of their Vinayas. being used as antidotes against the antarāyas and as therapeutical means. the early Buddhist rejection against mantras gave ground to their progressive acceptance. The ‘extra-canonical’ modality is represented by the Theravāda school and certain Southern Buddhist unorthopraxical ramifications such as the Southeast Asian Theravāda Mahā Nikāya and the Burmese Weikza movement. Mahāsāṃghikas. despite the fact that early Buddhism rejected mantras. Mūlasarvāstivādins. Siddhārthikas. being one of those abhijñās that of empowering mantras through the ‘supernatural power of conservation’ (ādhiṣṭhānikī ṛddhi). the Vedic tradition. syllabaries devised as mnemonic and soteriological means. mantric formulas intended 65 . and Burma. established a sacred conception of language understood as manifestation of the absolute. The ‘canonical’ modality. such as a whole early Mahāyāna Scripture. Overall. other Vedic linguistic factors such as the satyakriyā. hence. a lasting Mahāyāna/Vajrayāna influence left in Sri Lanka. To such mantric lore already assimilated by most of the mainstream Buddhism. allowed that a later Theravāda would accept some mantras and dhāraṇīs inserted in a number of parittas and other liturgical texts. among others. Aparaśailas. Thus. and Pūrvaśailas went a step further and elaborated specific ‘baskets’ called either Vidyādhara-piṭakas or Dhāraṇī-piṭakas. such rejection denoted more a Buddhist intention to institutionally differentiate itself from its Vedic rival. which held a significant mantric lore which would be assimilated in turn by the Mahāyāna and the Vajrayāna. and the elaboration of the term ‘dhāraṇī’ which endowed to such early mantric lore of a Buddhist identity. the Buddhist acceptance of mantras and the other Vedic linguistic factors already referred to basically adopted two modalities according to the characteristics and different concerns of each Buddhist school: a ‘canonical’ modality and an ‘extra-canonical’ one. At the beginning the Theravāda only accepted its ethicized version of the Vedic satyakriyā as one of the main doctrinal foundations of their parittas. than a rejection to mantra efficacy per se. and those mantras were of a non-Vedic origin and promulgated either by some deities or were attributed to the Buddha himself. and as protective and mnemonic means.

if under the generic term of ‘vipaśyanā’ the Indian Buddhism assimilated and recreated according to its own perspective the early non-Buddhist yogic tradition revolving around realizing the truth through a contemplative silence. this time under its mainstream. going beyond those functional parallels between the Vedic and Śaiva Tantric mantras and the Buddhist dhāraṇīs. Mahāyāna. to be replaced later by a sense of dhāraṇī as ‘mantra’. compound terms. and paired to other Buddhist qualities. also related to a large number of synonyms. protection. And if the Vedic and Śaiva Tantric mantras present themselves as secure means to attain any mundane and supramundane goal. as is the case with the term mantra. mnemonic and supramundane goals. Although the early Buddhism began integrating exclusively the ‘tradition of the silence’. if the Vedic and Śaiva Tantric mantra is related to a whole constellation of synonyms and paired terms. dhāraṇī keeps revealing its extraordinary linguistic nature and constantly shows its relation to language mastery. and as the means to attain all of them. which neatly differentiate the dhāraṇīs from the standard Vedic and Śaiva Tantric mantras. teachings condenser. likewise. were completely assimilated by the Buddhist dhāraṇīs and were transmitted through generations to be transformed into two main categories: the ‘formulaic’ and ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs. which despite having separate origins. whereas the Vedic and Śaiva Tantric mantras are understood as sonic forms of an absolute and eternal brahman. which allows its identification within ritual. virtue. the Buddhist dhāraṇīs instead. the early Vedic and Śaiva Tantric meanings of mantra as including protective. this dissertation had demonstrated that the dhāraṇīs follow a pattern originated on certain non-Vedic mantras assimilated later by the Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭas and some early Śaiva Tantras. under the generic term of ‘dhāraṇī’ the Indian Buddhism assimilated and recreated according to its own perspective the early non-Buddhist ritual tradition revolving around realizing the truth through the word’s power. whereas the Vedic and Śaiva Tantric mantras strictly reproduce the Vedic Sanskrit and classical Sanskrit phonological rules. both ended up being identified and integrated within the stage of an early Indian Vajrayāna. mnemonic. again the same occurs with the term dhāraṇī. teachings condenser. However. it can be asserted that. According to all that had been expounded. are manifesting the emptiness of all dharmas which can be understood from two approaches: the Mahāyāna one emphasizing the inexpressible nature of emptiness. so it is with Buddhist dhāraṇīs as well. and Vajrayāna 66 . Despite the fact that at first sight the term dhāraṇī seems to be diluted on a loose linguistic vagueness. From a linguistic level. it is significant to emphasize their relevant differences which would rid dhāraṇīs of being just mere imitations of their non-Buddhist referents to become what in fact they are. Although it had been argued that a supposed original meaning of dhāraṇī as ‘memory’ was forgotten. and soteriological means. the same occurs with the semantic field of the term dhāraṇī. From a formal level. Likewise. the Buddhist dhāraṇīs instead. on a closer scrutiny instead. And from a doctrinal level. an elaborated product of the Indian Buddhist creative genius. whose semantic extent allows it to be identified with cognitive faculties such as memory. and the Vajrayāna one emphasizing its capability to produce innumerable meanings. etc. As is the case with the Vedic and Śaiva Tantric semantic field of the term mantra. protective. the textual evidence demonstrates just the opposite.for protective. are reproduced into a large variety of Indic languages. mnemonic and soteriological contexts. only would be question of diverse conditions for that Indian Buddhism. that first would be appended to several Sūtras to finally become mature Dhāraṇī-sūtras and early Buddhist Tantras. knowledge.

and East Asian Buddhisms. Northern. and as it could not be otherwise. 67 . And are precisely those both traditions what are shaping the common substratum which gives lasting support and inspiration to the contemporary Southern.modalities. would ended up to integrate also the ‘tradition of the word’. to Western Buddhism as well.

5972. 6334-6335.2-3). VC: 1070).16).8. AM.I.5769.1. the mahāvyāhṛtis bestow bodily protection.17. or a spiritual one (Gusa: 316.1. The foremost function of the mahāvyāhṛtis. Huṃ 68 . from bhuvaḥ the Yajurveda.3-5.7.1. Oṃ is recited mainly to propitiate the auspicious beginning of several Vedic rituals (CU.11. However. see section 1. 233). From a mundane level though. sarvaprāyaścitta) (JUB.7.4740. the mantra Oṃ is a vehicle to attain the heavens (svarga) (JUB. The mahāvyāhṛtis correspond to several parts of the human body implying its wholeness: bhūr correspond to the head. because they are the sonic embodiment of the world’s creation in its original perfection (Gonda.III. see Appendix B-1 paragraph (2). 2002: 230-231. 4950).12. Oṃ denotes assent towards the whole creation (CU. AM.161 158 See section 1. 1981: 196-197). hence.6319. As already shown in their cosmogonical function.5. 160 161 On the Buddhist meanings of Oṃ. a Brahman secures her/his identification with the Vedas when she/he ‘wears’ upon her/him the mahāvyāhṛtis’ micro-macrocosmic power (CU. and ‘svar’ (‘sky’) have a pivotal significance for the Vedic tradition.1. Reciting the mahāvyāhṛtis has the power to atone any mistake committed during the performance of Vedic sacrifices and their evil consequences (ŚB.9. For more examples. y Hūṃ) has an early meaning related to Oṃ as an interjection of ‘assent’. II.1. and especially. Huṃ denotes the ‘fierce side of the deity’ (Wayman. and this same power is applied to any deliberate or unintentional offences. 842.5.4-5).Appendix A Early Vedic Mantras Mantras within Buddhist Buddhist Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs This Appendix is focused on a specific set of Vedic mantras being frequently found within most Buddhist dhāraṇī formulas. Hum.2.5. 1981: 208-209. the most common Vedic (and Tantric) meaning of Huṃ is that of being the ‘armor’ mantra. ‘bhuvaḥ’ (‘atmosphere’).5.159 From a spiritual level. 159 The mahāvyāhṛtis appear in several Buddhist dhāraṇīs to propitiate a successful generative process.III. bhuvaḥ to the arms.160 The mantra Huṃ (and its variants Um. 1989: 107). and svar to the feet (BU.10.1.2). see AM.37).8).3231.XI. Within a Śaiva and Buddhist Tantric context. is that of carrying out a ‘universal expiation’ (Skt. AM. The idea lying behind here is that whatever disorder can be restored through the mahāvyāhṛtis. from the contemplation of the mahāvyāhṛtis the ‘sap’ of the threefold Vedic knowledge is extracted: from bhūr the Ṛgveda. hence. Thus. and is also used to connect the final and initial parts of some verses in several Vedic rituals (Parpola. Likewise.4.1. n.806.13. however.15.1.3. 6378.1. 1985: 36). 256-257. 5495. TU. AM.3-4).2. The Theravāda Vinaya criticized this view.1. whose pronunciation purifies and protects from evil influences (Wheelock. Thus. whether a fetal development (Prati: 201).158 the three mahāvyāhṛtis ‘bhūr’ (‘earth’). Snellgrove. 1983: 35. 5910.2.8). SED: 1301.1. those related to welfare and prosperity (VC: 310-311). and knowing Oṃ’s meaning entails satisfying all desires (KU.10) and to become immortal (CU.6). Another significant function of Oṃ is that of memorizing: Oṃ is recited at the beginning and at the end of a Vedic passage’s reading to secure its retention (Parpola. and from svar the Sāmaveda (JUB.

Wheelock.163 also is named as the ‘cuirass’ (kavaca).8). and from a yogic level.1. VC: 1056-1058).1. and was originally uttered as a ‘counterattack’ against an ‘inimical action’ (Skt. 321. SED: 1284. Prajāpati did the first offering to the fire god Agni (ŚB.I: 163. see Appendix B-1 paragraphs (2) and (4). astramantra) (SED: 122. and Finot. On the East Asian Vajrayāna meaning of Hūṃ as synonym of dhāraṇī.18.4. see Un: 125. p. 47. That is why the most common appellative of Phaṭ is that of being the ‘weapon-mantra’ (Skt. 926. TAK. Phaṭ is also employed to remove demonic entities obstructing the spiritual practice (Pvra.162 After uttering the mantra Svāhā. 91.The mantra Phaṭ reproduces an onomatopoeia denoting ‘crash’.II. 1). According to its traditional etymology. 1980: 86.IV. 322. ‘wrath’ (krodha). Svāhā alludes to the Prajāpati’s own greatness (sva) with which he spoke (āha) to Agni.2.2. 162 On the Buddhist meanings of Phaṭ.5. n. ‘crack’ (SED: 716). see Appendix B-1 paragraphs (2) and (4). 1934: 60. the mantra Svāhā became the oblation’s utterance par excellence in Vedic rituals (BU. 8. 1989: 107-108).3). 77. 69 .8.4). Hence. or a ‘horse’s hooves’ sound (DUK: 16).2.II. ābhicara)’s ritual (AV. and ‘preservative’ (varma) mantra (SED: 264. Besides its protective/offensive use. 91).6). 163 On the Buddhist meanings of Svāhā. n. TĀB: 7. its sound ‘purifies the adept’s coarse and subtle bodies’ (Padoux. counteracting in this way Agni’s destructive voracity directed against Prajāpati and to the world (ŚB. TĀB: 43.

[3] composed of one or more formulas of certain Indic languages.2. paragraph (a).2. the ‘formulaic’ ones) ‘are not properly meaningful’ (McDermott.2. the first one. that the ‘arapacana’ syllabary and its variants (i. cook. and tr.2. 70 . 25). see sections 1. ‘so-and-so’ smite. oṃ kaṭuke kaṭukapattre subhaga āsuri rakte raktavāsase. and/or any deity accepted by Buddhism and endowed of their ‘spiritual support’ (adhiṣṭhāna). burn. non-terrific one. Bodhisattvas. and 3. 164 On segments [2] and [4]. Appendix BB-1: ‘Formulaic’ Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs A ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇī consists of [1] a linguistic pattern in prose.165 What follows is an analysis of the four parts of the ‘formulaic dhāraṇī’’s pattern. the present Appendix will clarify two common misunderstandings concerning dhāraṇīs. the ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs) are primarily ‘mnemonic devices’ (Ugra: 291-292.. that dhāraṇīs (i. smite. providing a comparative analysis between the Āsurīkalpa’s ‘root-mantra’ (mūla-mantra) and a dhāraṇī formula invoking Vajrapāṇi from the Susiddhikara-sūtra. thou of the pungent leaf. sonic or written. atharvaṇasya duhite ghore ghorakarmakārike amukaṁ hana hana daha daha paca paca mantha mantha tāvad daha tāvat paca yāvan me vaçam ānayaḥ svāhā. so long burn. Besides providing again definitions for the terms ‘formulaic’ and ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs and analysing their formal patterns.2. blessed āsuri.164 Previously. O daughter of the atharvan.Appendix B Analysis of two Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇī Typologies This Appendix is divided into two parts: ‘Appendix B-1’ dealing with the ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇīs. obeisance to Rudra: oṁ. 549). 165 See section 1. n. until thou hast brought [him] into my power: svāhā (ed. and the second one. Oṁ. n. [2] regarded as promulgated by Buddhas. note had been made of the striking similarity between the formal structure of several mantras from the Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭas Āsurīkalpa and Ucchuṣmakalpa and that of the dhāraṇī formulas. and ‘Appendix B-2’ dealing with the ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs. Here only segments [1] and [3] of this definition will be studied. cook. thou of the reddish garment. 1975: 296. providing an analysis of the ‘formulaic dhāraṇī’’s pattern as is understood in Buddhist Scriptures and according to certain contemporary interpretations. [4] that pledges (samaya) the attainment of its mundane and/or supramundane goals if the prescriptions established by her/his promulgator are followed. crush.e. crush.1. 180).1. or that they are written in an ‘unintelligible jargon’ (SBLN: 291).1.e. non-terrific wonder worker (deed-performer). reddish one. so long cook. burn. and then.. The Āsurīkalpa’s ‘root-mantra’ reads: oṃ namo rudrāya. first. and it was argued that Indian Buddhists extracted a pattern from the formal structure of those mantras that they then reproduced within most of their dhāraṇī formulas. O pungent one. Āka: 175.

O vajra! roast. and protection against enemies and black magic (Varat: 7-12. tear. O vajra! split. Homage to the Three Jewels! Homage to Violent Vajrapāṇi. seize. roast. Prati: 112-113. shake. because it appears in the Sūtra’s Japanese. seize. oṃ hara hara vajra matha matha vajra dhuna dhuna vajra hana hana vajra [daha daha vajra] paca paca vajra dala dala vajra dāraya dāraya vajra vidāraya vidāraya vajra chinda chinda vajra bhinda bhinda vajra hūṃ phaṭ. paca’ are used in rites of ‘inimical action’ (abhicarā). removal of defilements (Bala: ed. O vajra! tear. and (4) a closing mantra formula and/or mantra word(s) (generally. O vajra! burn burn. destroy. 55. and Susi: 302-303).O vajra! cut. tear asunder. O vajra! slay. O vajra! destroy. O vajra! shake. (3) a mantra(s) formula(s). n. 166 ‘Daha daha vajra’ had been added (in square brackets) following Susi: 324. Whereas in the Āsurīkalpa the terms ‘hana. split. (2) a beginning mantra word (generally. namaś caṇḍavajrapāṇaye mahāyakṣasenanāpataye. 71 . tr.36-39). This fourfold pattern will be applied to both examples in the following Chart: Pattern’s Āsurīkalpa’s Āsurīkalpa’s mantra Parts A salutation oṃ namo rudrāya mantric sentence SusiddhikaraSusiddhikara-sūtra ūtra’s ra’s dhāra dhāraṇ āraṇī A beginning oṃ mantra word A Mantra(s) formula(s) oṃ A closing svāhā mantra formula and/or mantra word(s) kaṭuke kaṭukapattre subhaga āsuri rakte raktavāsase. atharvaṇasya duhite ghore ghorakarmakārike amukaṁ hana hana daha daha paca paca mantha mantha tāvad daha tāvat paca yāvan me vaçam ānayaḥ namo ratnatrayāya. slay. and phaṭ). Those same terms appear in other dhāraṇīs to propitiate health and longevity (Māyū: 408-409). daha. composed by four parts: (1) a salutation mantric sentence. 27. split.24.166 A formal common pattern is detectable in both texts. cut. expressions as svāhā. 112. 201). 180. O vajra! tear [asunder]. hūṃ. O vajra! split.The Susiddhikara-sūtra’s Vajrapāṇi dhāraṇī reads: namo ratnatrayāya. great General of the yakṣas! Oṃ. the monosyllable oṃ). O vajra! hūṃ phaṭ! (Susi: 302-303). are used to bring a stolen article back (Susi: 302). in the Vajrapāṇi dhāraṇī instead. Chinese and Tibetan versions. namaś caṇḍavajrapāṇaye mahāyakṣasenanāpataye hara hara vajra matha matha vajra dhuna dhuna vajra hana hana vajra [daha daha vajra] paca paca vajra dala dala vajra dāraya dāraya vajra vidāraya vidāraya vajra chinda chinda vajra bhinda bhinda vajra hūṃ phaṭ Chart 1: The ‘Formulaic’ Dhāraṇī Pattern (Based on Āka: 175.

2. of taking refuge and bowing to the three Jewels. among others. and 1. and those syllables establish a set of correspondences. AM. the word Namaḥ at the beginning and end are for use in increasing benefits (Skt. 3. to the Bodhisattva. see CastroSánchez. reproduced again and again in most of them. 72 . and 3. (3). in honour to the three Jewels. are able to accomplish increasing benefits (Susi: 134). (1). AM. the Buddhist meanings of being the sonic manifestation of the Buddha’s three bodies (Skt.A Mantra(s) formula(s): This part constitutes the dhāraṇī’s ‘semantic corpus’ proper.167 however.168 Now those pattern’s four parts will be studied according to their Buddhist understanding and some contemporary interpretations. It consists of 167 There are some early dhāraṇīs lacking parts (1). and acquired. ābhicāruka). and those that only include parts (2).2.68966898). the word Oṃ at the beginning and the word svāhā at the end refers to its use in pacifying calamities (Skt.. pauṣṭika. it is the most reproduced one. and indicates the dhāraṇī’s concrete purpose. 2004: 158.12.2.. to the Buddha..12. śāntika) (Vai-sū: 268. 16.-Alliterations: Undoubtedly. Part 4). 2010: 6. Chart 1. 2003: 20-21.1. (2). begin with the term ‘tadyathā’ (Zabao: 156. showing one of its most distinctive characteristics that differentiates it clearly from the standard Vedic and Śaiva Tantric mantras. three Jewels) and a specific one (eg. This sādhya part is equivalent to the mantra’s śakti. and in fact.12. and of denoting a vast offering (Gorin: 292). Thus.3. Susi: 134).2. The relationship between the mantra and the sādhya parallels that between language and reality (Yelle.2.1. AM. 168 See sections 1.. trikāya). But according to a different interpretation.A beginning mantra word: Normally. the word Oṃ at the beginning and the words Hūṃ Phaṭ at the end refer to its use in summoning. the part expressing in referential and meaningful terms the effect the dhāraṇī proposes to manifest into the mundane and/or supramundane planes of reality. n.1.Although such pattern is not uniformly followed by all ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇīs.. such pattern is what defines formally a ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇī (see segment [1]). 170 According to the Theravāda Mahā Nikāya.1.1. and ābhicāruka. It means that the auspicious presence of those invoked entities is summoned. see sections 3.. Oṃ means ‘the fulfillment of the three bodies’ and ‘the basis and mother of all mantras’ (Unno. 171-172). and the words Hūṃ Phaṭ at the beginning and end are for use in subjugating (Skt.1.2. 169 On the meanings of śāntika. dhāraṇīs with no beginning and end words as described. Vajrapāṇi) (see example above). and (4) (eg. (2).171 This part is conceived as a prose mantric utterance composed of several characteristic features. 42). and it is a way to give a general identity to the formula (eg. 171 This part is equivalent to the portion of the Śaiva tantric mantra that declares ‘what is to be effected’ (sādhya) by the mantra into the world. see section 1. and (4) (eg.170 (3).2. this beginning mantra word is related to the closing mantra word (cf.6905-6907). pauṣṭika) (Vai-sū: 268). and some that instead of beginning with oṃ. namaskāras).A salutation mantric sentence: The ‘formulaic dhāraṇīs’ usually begin with a set of salutations (Skt. Oṃ is represented with an inverse form and broken down as ‘MA A U’.169 The monosyllable Oṃ is the most used as ‘beginning mantra word’. this is one of the ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇīs’ distinctive features.2. the following stand out: (a). among them. or to the deity invoked by the dhāraṇī.6873-6895). From an esoteric sense.

or they may be emerged from a state of meditative absorption (Whitaker.2. For instance. it is there always. CBD: 140). Several theories can explain the origin and meaning of those so-called ‘unintelligible’ terms. 8). enlightenment. 50. gone completely beyond.172 in some instances.2.-Terms related to specific rites: Besides the beginning and end mantra words (cf. hence. 62. 90. for instance.-Personalizations: In most dhāraṇīs appears the clause ‘mama’ (‘your name here’).173 or they may come from the spirits or gods’ languages invoked by the formula (Goudriaan. expressing imperatives of multiple action (Wayman. svāhā’ (Lopez. 27. gone beyond. 1989: 166).32). 1985: 35). Anyway. as in ‘kara kara.VIII).e. 109.174 (e). and those terms appear.1. One well-known example is the Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya-sūtra’s vidyā: ‘oṃ gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā’ (Pph. as the god Hanuman’s bīja-mantra ‘kilikili vuvu’ (cf. 173 See the Rudras’ names within several mantras and dhāraṇīs. i. an entreaty.-‘Exhaustion’: It means ‘the enumeration of all. kuru kuru’ (Amog: 296). 1978: 78). 45. (d).I. (b). A śāntika dhāraṇī may include terms such as ‘śānti-kuru’ 172 See also DBDh: 3. 1990: 356). 2003: 14). Part 2). or they may be onomatopoeias. or others. exhausting ‘the directional possibilities of language’ (Yelle. only people are ignorant of it’ (as quoted in Coward. 86. it should be taken into account that the dhāraṇīs are invoking or summoning the presence of a given ‘other’. it is not that there is no meaning. 111. 1985: 35-36).2. 2003: 15). sing. 1986: 217. and ‘kili’. but shades off into a demand. 1968: 177-178). 288). 51. there are three terms appearing very frequently: ‘hili’. Śikṣā.142. whether semantic or phonetic’. may be applicable to each case. 36.-‘Unintelligible’ terms: Occasionally. and even ten times (Māyū: 418-428). in therapeutical formulas as ‘hili mili’ (Roşu. but are seen as only intelligible for the entities invoked and for those initiated into such language (Tambiah. (c).I. 37. those terms are not nonsensical. 10. above) imitating the monkey’s noise ‘to frighten others’ (DUK: 22). kiri kiri.1. and exhortation. or the name of that one who sponsored a massive dhāraṇī’s copying (Hidas. Copp. 17. it is possible to know the ritual purpose of a given dhāraṇī according to which terms it may include.repeating an identical term. signaling the place where to insert the name of the dhāraṇī’s recitation beneficiary. and it signifies ‘a command of the speaker. and expression of earnest desire’ (Amog: 269). 73 . n. ‘mili’. gone. with the intention to intensify the dhāraṇī’s effect (Wayman. in section 1. Although the most common alliteration is double (see example above). the dhāraṇīs may include terms considered as ‘unintelligible’ ones.32. as the vidyārāja Kīlikīli (Susi: 201. 2008: 25. n. against snakes ones as ‘ili mili phuḥ phuḥ’ (HT. a single term is repeated four. ‘oṃ gone. mili mili. to name just a few examples. The dhāraṇī’s Scriptural and ritual context would provide the keys to clarify which of those theories. kili kili’ (Prati: 232). those terms and similar ones may refer to certain deities’ names. 2005: 194-195). or nearly all. 1963: 12.VI. The combination of alliterations and ‘exhaustions’ intensifies the dhāraṇī’s transformative power (Amog: 269). imperative act. (f).-Augmentation: It consists of repeating a word or concept with progressive increase of intensity (Yelle. or within ‘all-purpose’ dhāraṇīs as ‘hili hili. 174 As it was stated by the Mīmāṁsaka Śabara: ‘In cases where the meaning is not intelligible. Such device stamp to the dhāraṇī a tendency to comprise and dominate all linguistic possibilities intended by the formula. usually in 2nd. of a set or paradigm class. HT.

and an ābhicāruka one.1. but only for ritual and transcendental goals (Padoux. Thus. n. and final parts of a dhāraṇī.. however. and as a Bodhisattva’s attribute. the Buddhist mantras/dhāraṇīs are composed of several Indic languages. 31). spoken by deities such as yakṣas. it is significant to clarify that. ‘those that are spoken in accordance with whatever language is used in each region’ (Vai-ta. and Pagel. 28 and n. The Mahāvairocanābhisaṃbodhi-tantra acknowledges as one category of the ‘nature of mantras’ that of the ‘local languages’. on the contrary to the Vedic and Śaiva Tantric mantras following exclusively the Sanskrit phonology (Staal. 1990: 373. are a kind of language with semantically identifiable contents based on performative expressions (Payne. middle. 2010: 139-140). 225-228). a pauṣṭika one include terms such as ‘puṣṭi’ (‘increase benefit’). Apabhraṃśa. nine of them include references to dhāraṇīs (Pagel. Master. vāgvikalpa) as a danger to accomplishing ultimate reality. being able to get in touch with mundane/supramundane entities.II. far from being ‘unintelligible’ or ‘meaningless’. Prakrit.175 Concerning the languages of dhāraṇīs (see definition’s segment [3]). see section 1. 1998: 10).e. the dhāranīs retained a characteristic feature of any non-Vedic. tejas) to an object and making it effective. 14.II. n.2. and as already have been noted.176 In practical terms. words such as ‘hana’ (‘strike’).3. i. but those only concerned with spiritual and ritual goals that are what provide them with their sense (Wallis. 2002: 30). and other Vajrayāna sources admit mantras and Tantras in Sanskrit. does not follow the parameters of an ordinary communication. 118. or ‘śama’ (‘remove’). 74 . see Konow. On the Dravidian mantras/dhāranīs. however.A closing mantra formula and/or mantra word(s): Besides the closing mantra words related to those of the beginning already referred to in Part 1 (see above). out of sixteen Mahāyāna Scriptures focused on the ultimate reality’s inexpressibility (Lugli. Grierson. and even attaining the unconditioned (Tambiah. 1968: 206. ‘phrases of supplication’ are inserted after the initial... On the mastery of non-human languages as one of the Buddha’s ‘conversion devices’. and Appendix C. some dhāraṇīs including ‘phrases of supplication’ end with the three words Hūṃ. 7). 1989: 61).(‘render auspicious’). see section 1. (4). 2007b: 163-164. rākṣasas and nāgas. 1967: 162-164) and Pāli (Bizot/Lagirarde. and Śabari (Lamotte. 176 Another mantric language related to the Śabari and the Dravidian is the Paiśācī. The dhāraṇīs differ from conventional language because they facilitate states of mental concentration and insight.1996: 214-216.. designated as bhūtabhāṣā (‘the language of bhūtas or ghosts’). 1958: 614).1. Phaṭ and Svāhā to intensify its power (Susi: 262). This dhāraṇī language.80). Vedic and Śaiva Tantric mantra: a large part of its efficacy is directly related to a proper 175 This may explain the inclusion of dhāraṇī formulas within Sūtras emphasizing discriminative conceptualization (Skt. Said in different words. 1910: 95-100. n. 1912: 67-73. or ‘bala’ (‘strength’). 1943: 39-42.2. dhāraṇī language is not intended for discriminative proliferation (Skt.-Phrases of supplication: With the purpose of infusing radiant energy (Skt. or ‘bhañja’ (‘shatter’) (Susi: 132-133). there are dhāranīs in Dravidian (Bernhard. (g). 377). prapañca). 2007a: 68. The above points demonstrate that the ‘formulaic dhāraṇīs’. such as ‘jvala’ (‘emit light’) and ‘jvālaya’ (‘cause to emit light’) (Susi: 262). see Mpsū: 541.1.

and East Asian Buddhisms made particular efforts to transliterate as faithfully as possible the dhāranīs’ Indic original sounds.179 Some authors. 178 See sections 1. see Brough. which is a pivotal tenet of the Prajñāpāramitā-sūtras (PWE-S.205-207. and Chinese and Japanese focused on the Indic siddham script to reproduce mantras/dhāraṇīs (Bonji: 142-143. which according to one of its earliest and most widespread Mahāyāna versions. save rare cases. n. Mukherjee. 75 . Copp.. 179 See Chart 2 below. such experience is equated to grasping the ‘true characteristic’ (Skt. and Salomon. For a detailed study of the ‘arapacana’ syllabary and its variants. hence. see Pagel. 2005: 180-183). Tibetans devised a specific set of letters to reproduce exactly Sanskrit syllables (TED: xviii-xxi). and there is another type in which the standard Sanskrit syllabary (varṇapāṭha) is used to convey a set of Buddhist doctrinal terms (Pagel. There are ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs issued from a particular arrangement of syllables following Buddhist topics.enunciation in its original language. In either of both cases and as it was said before. Gulik. 2007a: 18-38.e. includes forty three syllables. and that the sonic syllables and their graphic signs by themselves are more important to allow easy memorisation than the concepts they designate. 2009: 124-125). is above all a means of spiritual realization.1. however. In most cases. 1912: 634-635). revolving around the 177 Northern. the most influential ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇī is that named ‘arapacana’.178 Undoubtedly. anupalabdhitā) of an inherent existence in any dharma. and the syllables constitute.IX. the goals for all ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs are identical: they serve as means to memorize Dharma topics. the first syllable of the corresponding headword. and Appendices C. For instance. i. conceived as ‘doors’ (mukhas) to attain an insight to key Buddhist teachings. describe a map to the Buddhist path. without questioning the relative validity of those views.2.177 Appendix BB-2: ‘Syllabic’ Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs By ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇī a list of syllables is understood each of which is linked to a particular statement or word that embodies a key aspect of Buddhist doctrine. demonstrates that the ‘arapacana’ syllabary. will show that all the ‘arapacana’ syllabary’s headwords point to experiencing the ‘nonapprehension’ (Skt. Central Asian. 101). The soteriological function of the ‘arapacana’ syllabary is demonstrated again by the akṣarapraveśa-dhāraṇī. an impartial observation of the ‘arapacana’ syllabary itself along with its Scriptural context. bhūtalakṣaṇa) of all dharmas. 2007a: 18-38). have insisted in that the primary function of the ‘arapacana’ syllabary is an ‘aid to memorisation’ (Pagel.. whether conditioned or unconditioned. their lack of any characteristic (Mppś. Mpsū: 80. besides being used as a mnemonic device. Just a preliminary reading of their contents. because those concepts change according to different versions (Davidson. 1990 and 1993. and as their commentaries repeat. 25). for its earlier versions. the syllabaries connect the syllables phonetically to headwords. Sogdians devised special diacritical marks to transliterate dhāranīs (La Vallée Poussin/Gauthiot. 1977. Nevertheless. it is also related to its untranslatability (Padoux. and are contemplative methods conducive to insight. 2007a: 24.III: XLII). 1999. and D section (b). 1956: 45-138). 1987: 120.2.

181 In the same vein.e. thus. DBI. then it is from the very beginning unborn [No. and in the Anantamukha-nirhāra-dhāraṇī-sūtra. both ‘formulaic’ and ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs are intended for attaining Buddhahood (Anir: 65-87. and ends with ‘in their ultimate and final station dharmas neither decease nor are they reborn’ (No.II.1.1. becoming a pivotal figure in numerous ‘means of accomplishment’ (Skt. because it begins with ‘all dharmas are unproduced from the very beginning’ (No. and as the ‘gates of the samādhis to the experience of reality’ (Vai-ta. and the same process is repeated with the rest of the syllables. 181 One of the ‘arapacana’ practice’s ‘twenty advantages’ is that of ‘the cognition of the extinction of the outflows’ (Mpsū: 162). . This ‘arapacana’ syllabary’s ‘circularity’ became the basis of the Vajrayāna method on the ‘revolving dhāraṇī’. she/he penetrates immediately the fact that ‘all dharmas are unproduced from the very beginning’.3.182 Other ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇīs experienced a similar esoterization process. 2010: 112). The ‘arapacana’ syllabary was even personified as the Bodhisattva ‘Arapacana Mañjuśrī’ (Bhattacharyya. where ‘both the final [letter] and the initial [letter] come to the same thing’. i. another feature to be emphasized here is the ‘circularity’ of the ‘arapacana’ syllabary.3. the ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇīs serve as removers of negative influences and the ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇī ‘A-KA-NA’ induces the production of teachings (Overbey. ‘if the cause is inapprehensible.84-86). 2117).3. and as she/he is listening to them. 1]. 1958: 120-121. 183 76 On this Dhāraṇī-sūtra’s practice. if it is from the very beginning unborn. n. 182 The Tibetan Buddhist canon contains several sādhanas focusing on the ‘arapacana’ syllabary (TP: 38.II.27).IV: 1866-1868). 14).2: 379-380). 113-144). 1).183 180 See section 2. sādhanas) and influential ritual texts as the Mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti (Mns: 22. 43). the ‘arapacana’ syllabary is ‘the king of mantras’ which ‘eradicates suffering and bestows happiness’ (Shōji: 92).180 From the first instant in which the Bodhisattva listens to the syllable ‘A’. In the Dà făjù tuóluóní jīng (592-594 CE). see section 3. appearing integrated along ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇīs within the same Scripture. 114-117. Therefore. pointing to the unconditioned nature of all dharmas and encouraging the practitioner to its realization. penetrates even more into the ‘true characteristic’ (bhūtalakṣaṇa) of all dharmas (Mppś. and for Kūkai.contemplation of their syllables. consisting of a meditation on the regular and reverse order on the meanings of the individual syllables constituting the ‘arapacana’ dhāranī or other mantras arranged in a ‘wheel of letters’. the ‘arapacana’ syllabary went beyond a Mahāyāna sphere to be assimilated by the Vajrayāna and reinterpreted as the ‘mantras’ method’. then it neither increases nor decreases [No.. 43] … then it is the Dharma body of the Tathāgata’ (Un: 109.

Things and persons are not apprehended each as one solid mass (ghana). The mortality (mārtya) cannot be apprehended. A remembrance (smarana) cannot be apprehended. because alldh. have transcended the world (loka). of birth (jāti). The will-power (utsāha) cannot be apprehended. and Conze. of the sameness of space (kha). Alldh. 1955: 120-122). The nonap. The nonapprehension of good conduct (ścarana). The nonap. of the extinction (kṣaya). The true appellations (āhvāna) cannot be apprehended. A breaking-up (bhaṇga) cannot be apprehended. and never leaves it. they are neither attached nor bound. Chart 2: The ‘Arapacana’ Syllabary (based on Mpsū: 160-162. The nonap. The nonap. No fruit (phala) is apprehended. have vanished. Alldh. Each dh. The strife (raṇa) has departed. Alldh. The nonap. of fabricated appearances (viṭhāpana). The tumult (ḍamara) of alldh. of subsistence (sthāna). ‘Tamed’ (dānta) and ‘taming’ (dānta-damatha) have been circumscribed. alldh. do not decease. of motion (gamana). The nonapprehension of the other shore (ṭalo). cannot be apprehended. of a principle of life (śvāsa). The nonap. of sameness (samatā). never stray away from sameness. The nonap. The nonap. 77 . nor are they reborn. The nonapprehension of unsteadiness. No decay (ysara = jarā) is apprehended. has vanished. of a support (shṭambha). The decease (cyavana) or rebirth of any dh. The nonap. The nonap./alldh. is fixed (stabdha) in its place. The bonds (bandhana) have departed from alldh. of the Realm of Dharma (dharmadhātu). No attachment (shaṇga) in any dharma is apprehended. are without dirt (rajas). of calming-down (śamatha). No aggregates (skandhas) are apprehended. The nonapprehension of any fact (yathāvad). have been expounded in the ultimate sense (paramārtha). In their ultimate and final (niḍha) station dharmas neither decease nor are they reborn. of an agent (kāraka).) are unproduced from the very beginning (ādyanutpannatvād). The nonap. do not depart from Suchness (tathatā). The nonap. The sound of the paths of speech (vākpatha-ghosha) has been quite cut off. the causes and conditions of the creeping plant (latā) of craving have been utterly destroyed. of mine-making (mamakāra). The names (nāman) of alldh. 1 Syllable A Headword(s) ādyanutpannatvād 2 3 4 RA PA CA rajas paramārtha cyavana 5 6 NA LA nāman loka/latā 7 DA dānta-damatha 8 9 10 BA ḌA SHA bandhana ḍamara shaṇga 11 VA vākpatha-ghosha 12 13 14 15 16 TA YA SHṬA KA SA tathatā yathāvad shṭambha kāraka samatā 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 MA GA STHA JA ŚVA DHA ŚA KHA KṢA STA JÑĀ RTA HA BHA CHA SMA HVA TSA GHA mamakāra gamana sthāna jāti śvāsa dharmadhātu śamatha kha kṣaya stabdha jñāna mārtya hetu bhaṇga chedana smarana āhvāna utsāha ghana 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 ṬHA ṆA PHA SKA YSA ŚCA ṬA ḌHA viṭhāpana raṇa phala skandha ysara = jarā ścarana ṭalo niḍha Insight All dharmas (Alldh. A root-cause (hetu) cannot be apprehended. The nonap.No. A cutting-off (chedana) cannot be apprehended. The cognition (jñāna) cannot be apprehended. Alldh.

Likewise.2. 107.2. 1967: 163-164. and delusion. sa. 186 Such dhāraṇī appears in Māyū: 438-439.1. daughter of the mahāvidyādharī Mataṅgī.1.184 more pivotal mantras are found within other Sarvāstivāda and Mūlasarvāstivāda texts. 53. the conversion to Buddhism of the ‘Four Great Kings’ through a dhāraṇī formula is significant.1. 79). where has the Buddha empowering a mantra against snakebites with his ‘formulation of truth’: given that the Buddha has ‘killed’ the three ‘poisons’ of greed. included within the Saṃyuktāgama of both schools. Lamotte. 1993: 83. 1980: 107). see section 1. ma’.2. hatred. and the ‘six syllables mantra’ (ṣaḍakṣari-vidyā) promulgated by the Buddha in the second or third century CE Sarvāstivāda’s Śārdūlakarṇāvadāna (Divy: 613-614).. 1989: 32-36). with the dhāraṇī ‘īne mīne dapphe daḍapphe’. 1932: 61). on the vidyādharas. the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya contains several protective mantras.. is ‘killed’ (Schmithausen. too. II. 7). in a barbarian language (mleccha) to Vaiśravaṇa. nirodha. n. despite falling in love with Ānanda. 2005: 108-109. The Dharmaguptaka school (third century BCE) was founded by Dharmagupta. which indicates the earliest use of a ‘syllabic’ dhāraṇī before the 184 See section 1. composed by the two first letters of ‘dukkha. There is also a mantra for healing ocular diseases in a second century CE Sarvāstivāda’s Avadāna collection (Zabao: 155-157) (Nakamura. and Appendix B-1. n. 43). In this text the incorporation of the mantric lore belonging to the ‘holders of knowledge’ (Skt. and in Dravidian (drāviḍa or drāmiḍā) to Virūpakṣa. specially. According to the second century CE Sarvāstivāda’s Abhidharmamahāvibhāṣā-śāstra (Nakamura. On the mantras and dhāraṇīs in Dravidian. the Buddha’s gift for languages allowed him to teach the Dharma in Sanskrit to Dhṛtarāṣṭra and Virūḍhaka. A Chinese version of this text (T 1300) translated in 230 CE.2.1. the snake poison. 1997: 11-13). see section 1. 1958: 608-609). who allegedly received teachings and mantras from Maudgalyāyana (Demiéville. see section 1. and is functionally akin to the Pāli rosary chant ‘du.2. understood as a summary of the ‘Four Ennobling Truths’ (Bernhard. Pathak. finally she became a nun through the Buddha’s mantric power.2. includes rituals and six dhāranīs and can be considered one of the earliest Dhāraṇī-sūtras (Chou. see Māta: 166-170. a mantra against snakebites that will reappear in an expanded version within the influential Mahā-māyūrī-vidyārājñī-sūtra (Skilling. n. that. n. In the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya is mentioned for the first time the syllables ‘a-ra-paca-na’ as an example of recitation for the set of syllables (akṣara) with mnemonic and soteriological goals. 185 For an earlier account of the Śārdūlakarṇāvadāna. 1980: 139. It should be emphasized here that the Upasena-sūtra. 1992: 156-157. 1945: 242). ni.Appendix C ‘Formulaic’ and ‘Syllabic’ Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs in Mainstream Buddhist Schools Besides the Mahāsūtras’ mantras already referred to. vidyādhara) and to the followers of the non-Vedic goddess Mataṅgī into Buddhism is dramatized. 14. 78 .186 The Abhidharma-mahāvibhāṣā-śāstra also includes a series of mantras (called vidyās) for therapeutical and apotropaic goals (McBride. through the monastic ordination of ‘Prakṛti’ (‘nature’).2.1. samudaya.185 Within the same line of the Buddhist incorporation of local cults. On the goddess Mataṅgī. magga’ (Harvey. n.

there is a monastic mantra masters’ lineage (mantrācāryas). Chandra. as it is prescribed in the Śaiva and Vajrayāna mantra methods. includes a fragment of the ‘arapacana’ syllabary and a mantra (lit. 1. piṭaka). Indasāva. see section 2. 1981: 68-71. 85. The Sri Lankan paritta lore uses texts such as the Sīvalī-paritta. yantras). in the ancient Angkor empire from the tenth to the fifteenth century CE (Harris. Moreover. 2005: 14-25). Charts 1-3. 512-513. late first century CE). a body’s multiplicity. 2000: 111). other mainstream Buddhist schools assimilated a growing mantric lore that ended up getting a canonical status. The Southeast Asian Theravāda Mahā Nikāya preserved until the twentieth century CE the recitation of the Salākarivijā-sutta. 2005: 53). as well. Kośa. 1995: 350. and the Sarvārakṣaka-mantra and yantra invoking eight Mahāyāna Bodhisattvas as protective devices. 1990: 256. On the vidyā mantras. see Appendices B-2 Chart 2. and Pūrvaśailas (Triś. n. the Koṇḍadeniya Paramparāva. integrated by monastics and laypeople alike. elaborated and transmitted a new Scriptural ‘basket’ (Skt. DN. a vidyā) offered by the Nāga king Manasvin to the Buddha as antidote against the antarāyas (Strauch. gandhārī-vidyā) is regarded as bestowing powers of invisibility. mantras (P mantas) and dhāraṇīs found an extra-canonical place within South and Southeast Asian Theravāda.1. 79 .000 times). first or second century CE (Salomon. Ferguson/Mendelson. Abhisambhidhāna-paritta. and Mahādibba-manta containing Mahāyāna dhāraṇī formulas. 1932: 60-61). On the ‘arapacana’ syllabary. and the same Vinaya also includes protective and therapeutical mantras (Davidson.VII.189 Besides the mantra practice followed by those schools. Sri Lankan traditional medicine preserves therapeutic mantras from a Vajrayāna origin (Liyanaratne.47c-d). Gini-paritta. n. The ‘Bajaur Collection’. 259. focused on exorcism services (Chandawimala. 2001: 393-395). 1967: 1-9. 188 See Filliozat.188 And the contemporary Burmese Buddhist esoteric movement Weikza (from the P vijjā. of a likely Dharmaguptaka origin (c. 2007: 215-226). is based on a mantric tradition related to Vedic and Tantric lores called gandhārī-vijjā. and in Burma from the eleventh to the nineteenth century CE (Bizot. its early language is the Gāndhārī (North West India) and was created c. 1976: 27. Aparaśailas. and D section (b).11. Lévi. 1884: ii. The gandhārī-vijjā (Skt. Likewise. 21. and Araṇyaka-paritta containing Mahāyāna dhāraṇī formulas and esoteric diagrams (Skt. Disāpālaparitta.. Jaini. 1). Ādhāraṇa-paritta. Dibbamanta-Dhāraṇiya-paritta. 2.2. vidyā). Dhāraṇa-paritta.000. 2009: 113-116). Jalanandana-paritta. Castro Sánchez. Mahāsāṃghikas (Beal. Dharmaguptakas (Demiéville. 510. and flying (PED: 244. n. along with other dhāraṇī formulas composed by themselves. 1915b: 440. 1937: 362). Bizot. 2010: 6-8. 1. They demonstrate a persistent impact left by a Mahāyāna/Vajrayāna established in Sri Lanka from the third to the ninth century CE (Mudiyanse.5-7. and the Randeṇegāthā is recited including Tantric bīja-mantras.Mahāyāna (Lévi. Skt.2. Some canonical parittas are recited a fixed number of times (7. 164-165). Siddhārthikas (Walser. or called with its synonym of Dhāraṇī-piṭaka by the 187 The name ‘arapacana’ is drawn from the first five syllabes a-ra-pa-ca-na of a complete syllabary containing forty two or forty three syllables. 2008: 18. 37-47). called Vidyādharapiṭaka for those schools. 2004: 499-501. 2001b: 507-513. Mendelson. 1961: 564. Mahāvira-paritta. 189 See Pranke. 1976: 36-37).57-58). 506-507.187 Despite its absence in the Theravāda Nikāyas. and 100.

VI: 73-74. or as a section within it (Dalton. established a primary doctrinal and institutional core from which would develop the Mahāyāna and then the Vajrayāna. 1955: 71-72). 33. 80 .190 190 Some Scriptures refer to the Dhāraṇī-piṭaka as a Mahāyāna esoteric canon (Ben: 43-45).Mahāsāṃghikas. 2006: 160). These data demonstrate that Indian Mahāyāna should be viewed ‘as a primarily textual phenomenon that arose and developed within the institutional context of mainstream Buddhism’ (Drewes. Lalou. n. that. 1894: 101-104). Chavannes. and to the Vidyādhara-piṭaka as a denomination for the Vajrayāna canon as a whole (Shes. together with the traditional Tripiṭaka and a Bodhisattva-piṭaka. 2010: 16.

i.2. this last term being a synonym of mantra.Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs as Identical to Mahāyāna Mahāyāna Sūtras ūtras The earliest references to the dhāraṇī term within Mahāyāna identify it with some Sūtras.1.(a). hence. Within the Prajñāpāramitā-sūtras’ context.1.2. and n. 2008: 41-42). the whole Sūtra is viewed as a dhāraṇī.1.1.55). it can be said that the earliest identification of dhāraṇī as mantra began with a previous identification of Sūtra as vidyā. On mahā-vidyā and dhāraṇī.2. the Nonarising of All Phenomena’ (Avaivartika-cakra-dhāraṇī-vajrapada-sarvadharmānutpādabodhisattva-pitaka-dharmaparyāya). the Diamond Word.. On these dṛṣṭadhārmikas.195 191 See sections 1. that only with its listening. ‘lore’. and Appendix C.193 Another early Sūtra is self-defined as a dhāraṇī directed to those who ‘uphold the True Dharma when the last age arrives’ (Pratyu.1. see section 2. the Mahāsūtras. see section 1. see section 1. and likewise. 2002: 104). continued within Mahāyāna through several stages from which three of the most relevant will be summarized here. allows Bodhisattvas ‘to attain conviction that phenomena are unarising’ (Upka. that is.e.110. The Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā-sūtra defines itself as a ‘great lore’ (Skt.1. vidyā’s range of meanings may include: ‘knowledge’. the protective and soteriological functions of mahā-vidyā and dhāraṇī are equivalent. (a). 81 .3.25F-1). mahā-vidyā) bestowing five ‘advantages even here and now’ (Skt. one of an ‘apocalyptic eschatology’ (Strickmann.) and the five dṛṣṭadhārmikas bestowed by the Aṣṭasāhasrikāprajñāpāramitā-sūtra as a mahā-vidyā (Strauch. the Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya-sūtra’s mantra is a mahā-vidyā ‘allayer of all suffering’ (Pph. 34.2.VIII).194 Besides these indirect references though. 130). The Upāyakauśalya-sūtra (first century BCE) is also named as a ‘Doctrinal system of the Bodhisattva collection known as the ‘Incantation of the Irreversible Wheels. ‘secret lore’. taking into account that the dates indicated are quite approximated and in a few cases.2. different dates of stages overlap.1. ‘sciences’. see section 2. 193 On the relationship between dhāraṇī and vajrapada terms. As will be seen.. see section 2. and other mainstream Buddhist Scriptures already described. dṛṣṭadhārmikas) (Aṣṭa. and 1. 1990: 86-89.2. In Hinduism the complete Bhagavadgītā is ritually recited as a single long mantra (mālāmantra) for spiritual welfare or curing illness (Hanneder.192 Significant here is the identification of dhāraṇī with its synonym term ‘diamond word’ (vajrapada).1. 192 On anutpattikadharmakṣānti.27-29.1. There is continuity between the early mantras counteracting the antarāyas (see section 1. PWE-S. both are included within the mantra’s semantic field. 1998: 152).. and ‘magical formula’ (MDPL: 354).2.4. n.2.1.Appendix D Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs within Mahāyāna Mahāyāna Sūtras ūtras The complex process of the Buddhist assimilation of mantras initiated within some Vinayas.III.2. both understood as Dharma words whose sole listening prompts insight. 194 Dhāraṇī-sūtras frequently refer to themselves as texts favourable for ‘the last age’. 195 On its Vedic background.

2. it can be said that this same formula is the first case of a Buddhist dhāraṇī understood as mantra and not as a syllabary (Harrison/Coblin. and the Sanskrit syllabary (varṇapāṭha) in the remaining seven (HBG. Conze. and was used by the East Asian Vajrayāna for transcribing dhāraṇīs/mantras (Salomon. specific syllables from both syllabaries were identified as bīja-mantras (Gulik. The pattern followed by both syllabaries is identical: each syllable corresponds phonetically to the first syllable (or a different one) of a set of selected key Buddhist terms..196 (b). 1956: 81-90). and as the ‘arapacana’ syllabary. When you bear in mind those dhāraṇīs of the perfection of wisdom [i. 82 .Appendage of Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs as Mantras Mantras in Mahāyāna Mahāyāna Sūtras ūtras In the Druma-kinnara-rāja-paripṛcchā-sūtra appeared the earliest Buddhist mantra in a Mahāyāna Sūtra with a reliable date (c.6. 1999: 149-174). siddham mātṛkā or siddhamātṛkā refers to a late sixth century CE script which appeared in the Gupta empire of Northern India. the ‘arapacana’ (and its variants) in nineteen texts. called as ‘dhāraṇī-doors’ (dhāraṇī-mukhas)..1. the first one being understood as ‘mantra teachings’ (Vai-sū: 49-51). and as method to attain such goal.(b). Shōmo: 144). but the evidence. This tendency continued into a few Scriptures. and the second one as the ‘alphabet «let there be success»’ (Skt. It had been argued that those dhāraṇīs were appended to famous Sūtras for the sake of propagation (Pagel. as identical to the whole Sūtra. 2001: 45). hence.565-572). Although the formula is named as ‘mantra-words’ (mantra-pada). and Appendix B-2. composed between the third century CE to the eleventh century CE. siddham mātṛkā) viewed as a ‘sacred language’ used by the Buddhas to preach (Bonji: 143-147). at least in some cases. or simply named as ‘dhāraṇīs’: ‘I have taught this perfection of wisdom as a dhāraṇī.3. 51). (c).From a different perspective.(c).197 The arapacana and varṇapāṭha syllabaries were later assimilated by the Vajrayāna.e. the expanded Prajñāpāramitā-sūtra versions (first century CE. It is a mantra promulgated by the ‘Four Great Kings’ intended to protect the Sangha from hostile influences and securing the Sūtra’s durability.Dhāra Dhāraṇī āraṇīs ṇīs as Syllabaries in Mahāyāna Mahāyāna Sūtras ūtras The Chinese Buddhist canon keeps twenty six texts. and this twofold dhāraṇī nature would be developed by the ‘formulaic’ dhāraṇīs. you bear all dharmas in mind’ (Mpsū: 489). its nature and formal structure is basically identical to later dhāraṇī formulas. 197 See section 1. 1998: 39-40.1. where two types of syllabaries appear. 61.I. and 3.2.198 Likewise. and their memorizing/contemplation works in a quite similar way as the Abhidhamma’s mātikās.1.50/2). 170-190 CE). most of them Scriptures.. the ‘arapacana’ syllabary].3. 231) and others (Ratna: 35-36. Suvar: 56-58. 2000: 10) conflate two meanings of the term dhāraṇī.1. the fourth century CE Saddharmalaṅkāvatāra-sūtra (Nakamura.I.VI. Sgol: 46-48. IMT. and summaries or partial sets of the varṇapāṭha syllabary became dhāraṇīs/mantras (HT. 198 In a technical sense. i.e. 1980: 186. as the second century CE Saddharmapuṇḍarīka-sūtra. Here dhāraṇī can be understood simultaneously as the ultimate reality or goal. demonstrates that they were appended mainly for the benefit and protection of the dharmabhāṇakas 196 See sections 2..

see section 2.IX. i.IX. n. as in the expression ‘dhāraṇī-mantra-words’ (dhāraṇī-mantra-pada).(Puṇḍa.234-236.e. being changed into a new one in which the dhāraṇī formulas would become the Sūtras’ keystones (Pagel. 199 On the term dhāraṇī-mantra-pada.106). Overall. 83 . 49). would last a short time. Laṅkā. however. the dhāraṇī recitation entailed the recitation of the whole Sūtra (Laṅkā.1.199 The tendency of such dhāraṇī appendage.2.1. in this stage the dhāraṇī concept gets two senses: it designates a Sūtra’s chapter including mantras.106). 2007a: 58.XXI. and it is identified with the term mantra.. and also as condensations of the whole Sūtra.

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