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

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by Pedro Manuel Castro Sánchez


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

University of Sunderland


Acknowledgements


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 Mahäpitaka.


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 dhüraní 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 dhäranis, 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, indeed.
I am very grateful to the Shingon bhiksuni Rev. Myosho 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 dhäranis, through her contacts with the Koyasan University's Library staff. I also thank to the Libraries's staffs of the Nava Nalanda University (Nalanda, 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 Parisistas in India, and I thank Juan Carlos Torices for generously sharing his Tibetan canonical materials on dhäranis. 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 dhärani for me along the way.
Finally, I acknowledge that the responsibility for any errors of fact or interpretation are solely mine.


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Table of Contents

Abstract 6

Abbreviations 7

Introduction 13

Chapter 1. History: Doctrinal and Chronological Development of Dharanis 15

1.1. N on-Buddhist F actors for the Emergence of D harams 15
1.1.1. Vedic Tradition 15
1.1.1.1. Early Vedic Mantras 16
1.1.1.2. The Atharvaveda Parisistas’ Mantras 16
1.1.1.3. Upanisads’ Phonetical Correspondences 17
1.1.1.4. The ‘Truth Act’ (satyakriya) 18
1.1.2. Tantric Tradition 18
1.1.2.1. Saiva Pre-Mantramargic Mantras 19
1.1.2.2. Saiva Mantramargic Mantras 20
1.2. Buddhist Factors for the Emergence of Dharams 21
1.2.1. Mainstream Buddhism 21
1.2.1.1. Early Mainstream Buddhist Attitudes towards Mantras 21
1.2.1.2, Parittas, Mahasutras, and Mâtikâs/Mâtrkâs 22
1.2.2. Mahayana Buddhism 26
1.2.2.1. Acceptance of the Soteriological Validity
of Language and Mantras 26
1.2.2.2. Dharam Scriptures 28
1.2.3. Vajrayana Buddhism 32
Chapter 2. Meanings: Traditional Definitions and Classifications of Dharams 34
2.1. Primary Definitions 34
2.1.1. Meanings of the Term Dharam 34
2.1.2. Synonyms and Compound Terms 35
2.1.2.1. Mantra-pada, Dharam -mantra-pada 35
2.1.2.2. Vidya, Vidya-mantra, Maha-vidya, Vidyarajm, Vidya-dharam 36
2.1.2.3. Hrdaya, Hrdaya-dharam 37
2.1.2.4. Vajra-pada, Dharam-vajra-pada 37
2.1.3. Dharam paired to other Dharma Qualities 38
2.1.3.1. Dharam -mukha and Samadhi-mukha 38
2.1.3.2. Dharam and Pratibhana 39
2.2. Indian Mahayana Definitions and Classifications 40
2.2.1. In Sütras 40
2.2.2. In Treatises (Sastras) 42
2.3. Indo-Tibetan Vajrayana Definitions and Classifications 44
2.4. East Asian Vajrayana Definitions and Classifications 47
2.4.1. In China 47
2.4.2. In Japan 49
3
Chapter 3. Functions: Dharams in Practice
51
3.1. Some Premises on Dharam Practice 51
3.1.1 Ethical Foundations 51
3.1.2. Non-ritual and Ritual Approaches 52
3.1.3. Mundane and Supramundane Accomplishments 55
3.2. Mundane D haram Practices 5 6
3.2.1. Protection 56
3.2.2. Increase 57
3.2.3. Defence 58
3.3. SupramundaneDharamPractices 59
3.3.1. Depositing Dharams in Stupas 59
3.3.2. Karmic Purification 61
3.3.3. Attaining Enlightenment 62
Conclusions 65
Appendix A: Early Vedic Mantras within Buddhist Dharam s 68
Appendix B: Analysis of two DhararnTypologies 70
B-1: ‘Formulaic' Dharam s 70
B-2: ‘Syllabic' Dharam s 75
Appendix C: ‘Formulaic' and ‘Syllabic' Dharam s in
Mainstream Buddhist Schools 78
Appendix D: Dharams within Mahayana Sutras 81
Appendix E: References 84
4
Charts
Chart 1: The ‘Formulaic' Dharam Pattern
Chart 2: The ‘Arapacana' Syllabary


Abstract


This dissertation deals with the Buddhist dharam, mainly understood as the term selected by Indian Buddhism to assimilate the non-Buddhist notion of mantra. In the Introduction the two major categories of dharams are defined, i.e., the ‘formulaic' and ‘syllabic' dharams. In Chapter 1 the two sources for the emergence of dharams are studied: the non-Buddhist source being focused on the non-Vedic, Vedic and Saiva Tantric factors, and the Buddhist one being focused on several mainstream Buddhist and Mahayana factors. It continues with a study on the Dharam Scriptures' emergence and their inclusion within

Vajrayana Tantras. Chapter 2 provides a detailed summary on the traditional definitions of the dharam term, its synonyms, compound terms, and its pairing with other Dharma qualities. It is followed by a survey on how the dharam term is defined and classified according to key Indian Mahayana Sutras and Sastras, and the Indo-Tibetan and East Asian Vajrayana traditions. Chapter 3 is focused on the dharam practice, first dealing with its ethical basis, its non-ritual and ritual approaches, and its mundane and supramundane accomplishments, and then the main dharam practices are analysed intended for worldly

and soteriological purposes. The dissertation closes with five Appendices including a study on a set of early Vedic mantras appearing within the Buddhist dharam s, an analysis of the ‘formulaic' and ‘syllabic' dharam s, a survey on mantras/dharam s accepted by several mainstream Buddhist schools, and another one on mantras/dharam s within Mahayana Scriptures, and finally, a ‘References' list providing a comprehensive and updated bibliography in several Western languages mainly focused on Buddhist mantras/dharam s.




Abbreviations


Aka Asurtkalpa
AM. The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahapiiaka: References to volume, and mantra(s) number(s); eg. AM.12.6866.
Amog Amoghapasa-hrdaya-dharam
Anga Arya-sarvabuddhangavati-ndma-dharam
Anir Anantamu kha-nirhara-d haram-sutra
Asia Astasdhasrikdprajndpdramitd: References to chapter(s) and page(s) number(s).
AV Atharvaveda: References to book, section(s) and verse(s) number(s).
Avat Avatamsaka-sutra
Ayuh Aparamitayuh-sutra
Bala Arya Mahabala-Nama-Mahayanasutra: References to page(s), and line(s) number(s).
BCE Before the Christian Era
Ben Benkenmitsunikyoron
Bhadra Bhadramayakara-vyakarama: References to paragraph number.
BHSD Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Grammar and Dictionary
Bodhi Vajrasekharayoganuttarasamyaksambodhicittotpada-sastra
Bonji Bonji shittan jimo narabi ni shakugi
Braja Brahmajala-sutta
BU Brhadaramyaka Upanisad: References to chapter, section(s) and verse(s) number(s).
Bubhu Buddhabhumyupadesa
c. circa.
CBD Siksa Samuccaya: A Compendium of Buddhist Doctrine
7
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.
CE Christian Era
Ch. Chinese
CU Chandogya Upanisad: References to chapter, section(s) and verse(s) number(s).
Cundí Cundidevi-dharani-sutra
DBDh Chinese-Sanskrit Sanskrit-Chinese Dictionary of Words and Phrases as Used in Buddhist Dharani
DBI Dictionary of Buddhist Iconography: References to volume and page(s) number(s).
DEB Dictionnaire encyclopédique du Bouddhisme
Dhasa Dharmasamgraha
Divy The Divyavadana, a Collection of Early Buddhist Legends
DMT Dictionary of Early Buddhist Monastic Terms
DN Digha Nikaya: References to Sutta and paragraph(s) number(s).
DUK Dakshinâmùrti’s Uddhara-kosa
Durga Sarvadurgatiparisodhana-tantra
Ekak Bhagavati-prajnâpâramitâ-sarva-tathâgata-mâtâ-ekâksarâ-nâma
Fajù Dà fajù tuoluoni jing
Gana Ganapati-hrdaya
Gorin Gorinkujimyohimitsushaku
Guhya Sarvatathâgatâdhisthâna-hrdaya-guhyadhâtu-karandamudrâ-dharani-sutra
Gusa Guhyasamaja-tantra
HBG Hôbôgirin: References to volume, and page(s) number(s).
8
Hizo Hizohoyaku
HT Hevajra Tantra: References to part, chapter and verse number(s).
IMT Inventaire des Manuscripts tibétains de Touen-houang: References to volume, manuscript, and text number; eg. IMT.I.6/3.
Jap. Japanese
JUB Jaimimya Upanisad Brahmana: References to chapter, section(s) and verse(s) number(s).
Kan Analyse du Kandjour
Kapa Kasyapaparivarta-sutra: References to volume and chapter number.
Karu ÂryâvalokiteSvara-sâhasrikabhujalocana-nirmânavistaraparipûrnâsanga-mahâkârunika-dhâram
KoSa Abhidharmakosa-bhasya: References to chapter(s), section(s) number(s), and letter(s) in original text.
KU Katha Upanisad: References to chapter, section(s) and verse(s) number(s).
Lanka Saddharmalankavatara-sutram: References to chapter and page(s) number(s).
Mapa Mahaparinirvana-sutra: References to volume and page(s) number(s).
Mata Môtangî Sutra
Mayu Mahâmâyûn-vidyârcjm-sûtra
MDPL Materials for a Dictionary of the Prajnaparamita Literature
MM The Mantra Mahodadhi of Mahidhara: References to chapter (taranga) and verse number(s).
MN Majjhima Nikaya:References to Sutta and paragraph(s) number(s).
Mns ManjuSrmamasamgiti: References to page(s) and verse(s) number(s).
MP Milindapanha: Reference to page(s) number(s) in original text.
Mpps Mahâprajnâpâramitâ-Sâstra: References to volume and page(s) number(s).
9
Mpsu Mahdprdjndpdramitd-sutra
MS Mahasutras: References to volume and page(s) number(s).
Msa Mahdydnasamgraha: References to volume and page(s) number(s).
Mslb Mahdydnasutrdlamkdra-bhdsya: References to chapter and verse number(s).
MU Mdndukya Upanisad: References to chapter, section(s) and verse(s) number(s).
Muka Mulamadhyamakakdrikd: References to chapter and verse number(s).
P Pali
PED Pali-English Dictionary
Pph Prajndpdramitdhrdaya-sutra: References to section number.
Prati Mahdpratisard-mahdvidydrdjni
Pratyu Pratyutpannabuddhasammukhdvasthitasamddhi-sutra: References to chapter number and paragraph letter.
Punda Saddharmapundarika-sutram: References to chapter and page(s) number(s).
Pvr Pdsupatavratam: References to section(s) and verse(s) number(s).
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; references to Sutra Part (PWE-S) include chapter, and page number(s) in original text.
Raga Ratnagunasamcaya-gdthd: References to chapter(s) and verse number(s).
Ragot Ratnagotravibhdga Mahdydnottaratantra-sdstra
Ratna Mahdratnakuta-sutra
RCB Repertoire du canon bouddhique sino-japonais
Rgyud Rgyud sde spyihi rnam par gzag pa rgyas par brjod
Sanm Sanmukhi-dhdrani
10
Sash Sango shiki
SB Satapatha Bramana: References to Kanda, Adhyaya, and Bramana number(s) in original text.
SBLN The Sanskrit Buddhist Literature of Nepal
SED A Sanskrit-English Dictionary
Sgol The Sutra of Golden Light: Being a translation of the Suvarnabhasottamasutra
Shes Shes bya mdzod: References to book and page(s) number(s).
Shoji Shojijissogi
Shomo Shorai mokuroku
Siksa Siksa Samuccaya: References to chapter and page(s) number(s).
Skt. Sanskrit
Sita Arya-sarvatathagatosmsasitatapatra-ndmaparajitapratyangirdmahd- vidyarajni
SN Samyutta Nikaya: References to Part and page(s) number(s) in original text.
Sursu Suramgama-sutra: References to volume and page(s) number(s).
Susi Susiddhikara-sutra
Suvar Suvarmaprabhasa-sutra
Sursam Suramgamasamadhi-sutra
T Taisho Tripitaka (CBETA): References to fascicle number, page, register (a, b, or c), and line number(s); eg., T 1060 105c8-111c19.
TAB Dictionaries of Tantra Sastra or The Tantrabhidhanam
TAK Tantrikabhidhanakosa: References to volume and page(s) number(s).
TED A Tibetan-English Dictionary with Sanskrit Synonyms
Tib. Tibetan
11
TMD Tibetan Tantric Manuscripts from Dunhuang: References to manuscript and text number from the India Office Library; eg. TMD: 103/2 (In the original text referenced as IOL Tib J 103/2).
TP Tibskrit Philology
Tris Trisaramasaptati: References to verse number(s).
TU Taittiriya Upanisad: References to chapter, section(s) and verse(s) number(s).
Ugra Ugrapariprccha-sutra
Uka Ucchusmakalpa: References to section(s) and verse(s) number(s).
Un Unjigi
Upka Upayakausalya-sutra: References to paragraph(s) number(s).
Usm Usmsavijaya-dharam-sutra
Vai-su Vairocanab hisambodhi-sutra
Vai-ta Mahavairocanabhisambodhi-tantra: References to part, chapter and section number(s) in original text.
Vak Vakyapadiyam-Brahmakandah: References to verse number(s).
Varat Srlvajraratiru-nama-dharanl
Vasek Vajrasekhara-sutra
VC A Vedic Concordance
Zabao Za bao zang jing
Zong Zongshi tuoluonijing



Introduction


According to the Japanese scholar H. Yoshimura, ‘the word ‘dharam was selected among many Buddhist technical terms to absorb the non-Buddhist idea of mantra' (1987: 8). Taking this assertion as a starting point, the leitmotiv of the present dissertation will be to investigate and eventually corroborate its accuracy through its matching with related historical, doctrinal, and textual data.


Despite the fact that dharam s were described and catalogued in the West for the first time by Brian H. Hodgson in 1828 (CBSM: 39, 41-43, 49-50; SBLN: xli-xlii; Davidson, 2009: 99-100), the dharam remained for almost two centuries on the sidelines of Western Buddhist studies, and only very recently has the dharam received the scholarly attention it deserves. Although a few excellent monographs on specific dharam s have appeared, as well as a few papers

focused on the dharam s' meanings in Western languages, yet there is no work covering this topic in a more comprehensive way. Therefore, the foremost aim of this dissertation is to provide, it is believed for the first time, a preliminary overview of the dharam covering its history, meanings, and functions. Since the dissertation's author is quite aware of his heavy limitations to carry out this project, this dissertation should be viewed as what in fact is, just a first intent drawing a rough picture on a quite complex and rich subject in need of further refinements.

As the first part of its title suggests, this dissertation will focus exclusively on the dharam as was conceived by Indian Buddhism and its spread through Central Asian, Northern, East Asian and Southern Buddhisms. The dharam term is understood here in a quite specific way, including two typologies recognized by the dissertation's author with the names of ‘formulaic' and ‘syllabic' dharam s. A ‘formulaic' dharam consists of a linguistic pattern in prose, sonic

or written, regarded as promulgated by Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and/or any deity accepted by Buddhism and endowed with their ‘spiritual support' (Skt. adhisthana), composed by one or more formulas of certain Indic languages, that pledges (Skt. samaya) the attainment of its mundane and/or supramundane goals if the prescriptions established by her/his promulgator are followed. Occasionally, the synonymic expressions of ‘dharam formula' or ‘mantra/dharam

will be used to refer to the same meaning as the ‘formulaic' dharam does. By ‘syllabic' dharam 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. There are ‘syllabic' dharams issued from a particular arrangement of syllables following Buddhist topics, and there is another type in which the standard Sanskrit syllabary (Skt. varmapatha) is used to convey a set of Buddhist doctrinal terms. Occasionally, the synonymic expressions of ‘arapacana' syllabary, or just ‘syllabary' will be used, to refer to the same meaning as the ‘syllabic' dharam does.


This dissertation is divided into three chapters, each one being focused on one of the three subjects referred to within the dissertation's title: the dharam s' history, meanings, and funcions. Chapter 1 gives answers to why the dharam appeared and how it was included within the Buddhist doctrinal/practical corpus, analysing the non-Buddhist and Buddhist factors for the emergence of dharam s. The non-Buddhist factors include a set of early

Vedic mantras, the Atharvaveda Parisistas' mantras, the Upanisads' phonetical correspondences, the ‘truth act' (Skt. satyakriya), and the Tantric Saiva Pre-Mantramargic and Mantramargic mantras, that were assimilated by Indian Buddhism to propitiate protection, the communication and identification with cosmic/divine entities, and the condensation and memorizing of teachings. The

Buddhist factors include an early acceptance of mantras within several mainstream Buddhist Vinayas, followed by the elaboration of specific texts reconcilable with the mantric perspective as the Theravada parittas, the Sarvastivada and Mulasarvastivada Mahasutras, and the Abhidharma's matrkas. In the same vein, the Mahayana accepted Sanskrit as a suitable language to convey its doctrines and simultaneously considered language and mantras as means conducive to enlightenment. This favourable context stimulated, on the one hand, the inclusion of non-Buddhist mantras and the Sanskrit syllabary within

Mahayana Scriptures, and on the other hand, the creation of Buddhist syllabaries and dharani formulas inspired by non-Buddhist patterns, that later would give rise to the Dharani Scriptures and their inclusion within the Vajrayana Tantras. Chapter 2 answers the questions of what is the dharani's nature, what are its key definitions and classifications, and in what sense could it be considered Buddhist. Therefore, this chapter provides a detailed summary on the traditional definitions of the dharani term, its synonyms, compound terms, and its pairing with other Dharma qualities. It is followed by a survey on how the dharani term is defined and classified according to key Indian Mahayana Sutras and Sastras, and the Indo-Tibetan and East Asian Vajrayana traditions.

Chapter 3 answers the question of how dharanis are seen to work, first dealing with their ethical basis, their non-ritual and ritual approaches, and their mundane and supramundane accomplishments, and then the main dharani practices intended for worldly and soteriological purposes are summarized. This dissertation closes with five Appendices where topics basically outlined within the dissertation's body are analysed. They include a study on a set of early Vedic mantras assimilated within Buddhist dharanis, an analysis of the ‘formulaic' and ‘syllabic' dharanis, a survey on mantras/dharanis within several mainstream Buddhist schools, and another one on mantras/dharanis within Mahayana Scriptures, and finally, a ‘References' list mainly focused on Buddhist mantras/dharanis.


Given that this dissertation delineates a preliminary overview on dharanis, it is mainly emphasizing a descriptive approach, drawing any interpretation from the dharani sources themselves, alongside other documentary evidences (archaeological, historical, living practice, etc.). In the same vein, this dissertation will also address a number of misunderstandings and biased views on dharanis, again taking into account those same dharani sources to avoid as much as possible any arbitrary speculation on the topic. Lastly, this dissertation pays special attention to citing sources, so as to gather an updated bibliography on the Buddhist mantras/dharanis in some Western languages, that would supplement H. P. Alper's bibliography on mantras (1989: 327530), which scarcely makes any references to the dharanis.


History: Doctrinal and Chronological Development of Dharanis

1.1. Non-Buddhist Factors for the Emergence of Dharanis

1.1.1. Vedic Tradition

The Vedic tradition finds in the word (Skt. vac) its unifying factor (BU.2.4.11). The term vac encompases all its modalities, from natural sounds, of inanimate objects, of animals, of humans and of supernatural beings, to the absolute reality (Skt. brahman) as sound (Skt. sabda) (Pingle, 2005: xvi, 262-263; BU.1.3.21; SED: 936). This twofold nature of language as being simultaneously a mundane reality and a spiritual one, is reflected into the notion of ‘syllable' (Skt. aksara), understood as the primary and indivisible phonic unity. According to its traditional etymology, besides meaning ‘syllable', aksara also means ‘na ksarati or na ksiyate- is that which does not flow out or perish, hence the imperishable, the indestructible, the eternal' (Padoux, 1990: 13; JUB.I.24.1-2; Buitenen, 1959: 179; SED: 3).1


The mundane and spiritual nature of vac is made manifest mainly in two ways, as cosmogony and as Vedic revelation. Prajapati, the ‘all-maker' god (Skt. visvakarma), created everything through naming every part of the whole cosmos with the ‘great utterances' (mahavyahrtis) (SB.II.1.4.11). The Vedas are considered eternal and as revealed (Skt. sruti) by the gods to the ‘seers' (Skt. rsis) through a supernatural inspiration, and the rsis, who were endowed with a spiritual ‘vision' (Skt. dhih) able to perceive the Vedic knowledge, transformed it into language (Padoux, 1990: xiv; Gonda, 1963a: 64; 1963b: 269,

273-274). Just like Prajapati did, the rsis are seen to have identified their discovery of language with the faculty of naming, for the first time, everything, establishing in this way an ontological correspondence between words and objects. According to this correspondence, the name of a given thing is expressing the nature or essence of the thing named, thus, naming is not just a conventional labelling, but it is pointing out to the individual or

specific nature of the being/thing named. Therefore, naming implies calling up or evoking this same nature inherent in the being/thing itself. It is precisely this same correspondence between words and objects that, on the one hand, is seen to bestow effectiveness to mantras, and on the other hand, allows one to draw conclusions regarding the nature of things based on their names, i.e., according to their etymology (Bronkhorst, 1999: 8-10).2


Indian Buddhism did not remain impermeable before this Vedic cosmovision centered around vac and its influence was so significant that Indian Buddhism ended up assimilating those factors of vac reconcilable with its tenets. Here, three of them will be emphasized: (1) a set of early Vedic mantras, and especially those from some Atharvaveda Parisistas, (2) the Upanisads’ phonetical correspondences, and (3) the ‘act

1 On the Mahayana and Vajrayana interpretations of aksara, see sections 2.2.1 and 2.3.


2 On the close relationship between the terms ‘name' (nama) and mantra, see next section. On the application of the Vedic words/objects correspondence to dharams, see Appendix B-1 and section 3.2.1., and on its application by Kukai, see section 2.4.2.


of truth' (Skt. satyakriya). These factors will be studied below according to their original premises.


1.1.1.1. Early Vedic Mantras

The traditional Indian definition of mantra is ‘that which saves (tra- ‘to save, rescue') the one who, in thought, formulates it, meditates upon it (man-)'. According to its etymology, however, the term mantra is derived from the root man and is related to the Skt. manas meaning ‘mind' in a generic sense as ‘mental and psychical powers', and within a Vedic context, man also means ‘evoking, calling up', and is frequently associated to the noun ‘name' (nama). And the ending -tra, indicates instrumentality, and also ‘faculty' or ‘function'. Hence, a literal translation of mantra would be that of ‘an instrument of thought', emphasizing its pragmatic function (Yelle, 2003: 11). Within a Vedic context though, mantra refers to words endowed with power to evoke cosmic/divine forces to carry them into concrete actions, mainly those of a ritual order (Gonda, 1963b: 248-250, 255, 257).

On a formal level, a Vedic mantra consists of an utterance shaped as a ‘verse' (Skt. rc) (from the Rgveda), a ‘chant' or ‘melody' (Skt. saman) (from the Samaveda), and a muttered ‘formula' (Skt. yajus) or one spoken aloud (Skt. nigada) (both from the Yajurveda) (Staal, 1989: 48). To each Vedic mantra is assigned the rsi who revealed it, its meter (Skt. chandas), its presiding deity (Skt. devata), and the application or purpose for which it is used (Skt. viniyoga). The knowledge of these four factors turns out to be indispensable for a proper use of Vedic mantras (Hanneder, 1998: 153). The reason for this is that if the practitioner understands and applies those four factors, she/he would reproduce through a sonic mimesis act the original model which constituted the mantra (Burchett, 2008: 836), participating in the fundamental vision originating the mantra, and of its effectiveness pledged (Skt. samaya) by its promulgator (Eltschinger, 2001: 22-27).3


However, Indian Buddhism discarded those Vedic mantras of a poetic nature and preferred instead, to assimilate those non-discursive mantric utterances of an imperative and evocative nature, able to propitiate protection, the communication and identification with cosmic/divine entities, and the condensation and memorizing of teachings. Here, those Vedic mantric utterances which appear most frequently in Buddhist dharanis are expressions such as Om, Hum, Phat, Svaha, and in some less frequent cases, the mahavyahrtis are found as well.4


1.1.1.2. The Atharvaveda Parisistas’ Mantras

Unlike the Rgveda that revolves around sacrifice rituals, the Atharvaveda is focused on mantras intended for ‘drastically practical' purposes (Modak, 1993: 2), which turned it into a favourable receptacle to assimilate Indian local cults (Staal, 2008: 73). The Atharvaveda Parisistas consist of ‘appendices' complementing and


3 On a similar process in the Buddhist dharanis, see sections 1.2.2.2. paragraph (a) and Appendix B-1.


4 For a study of those mantras, see Appendix A. Those same mantras are located at the beginning and/or at the end of the dharani formulas and denote specific functions, see Appendix B-1.


expanding topics concisely treated in the Atharvaveda.5 Directly related to the present dissertation are the Parisistas Âsurîkalpa (Àka) and Ucchusmakalpa (Uka), because their mantras’ formal pattern show a striking similarity with Buddhist dhâranî formulas. Several authors already pointed out such similarity: La Vallée Poussin recognized in the ‘Atharvanamantras’ the prototype of the ’dhâranîcollections’ (1895: 436), Goudriaan described as ‘dhâranîs’ the mantras appearing in Uka.9 (1978: 227), and Sanderson noticed that the ‘archaic style’ of the Ucchusmakalpa’s mantras was ‘strongly reminiscent’ of those from the Mahâ-mâyün-vidyârâjnî-sütra (2007: 199-200, n. 14). According to the research developed here, the influence of the Âsurîkalpa and Ucchusmakalpa’s mantras on Buddhist dhâranî formulas can be seen in that those Parisistas mantras provide a basic formal pattern to be assimilated and developed later by the ‘formulaic’ dhâranîs.6


Besides taking such pattern though, Indian Mahayana also assimilated the deities invoked in those Parisistas’ mantras. Âsurîkalpa’s mantras are dedicated to the god Rudra, which is the early form of Siva, and those of the Ucchusmakalpa to Ucchusma, again a modality of Rudra (TAK.I: 225). Likewise, some early ‘formulaic’ dhâranîs invoke Ucchusma, other modalities of Rudra, and several non-Vedic goddesses, as is the case with some early Tantric Saiva mantras (Sanderson, 2007: 200). This indicates that the likely ‘formulaic’ dhâranîs’ origin can be found within a substratum where the Parisistas’ mantras assimilated a non-Vedic mantric lore that in turn was assimilated by an early Saiva tradition and a Mahayana in transition to the Vajrayana.7


1.1.1.3. Upanisads' Phonetical Correspondences

In some Upanisads phonetical correspondences are established between certain syllables and Vedic terms beginning with those syllables. Prajapati taught the syllable ‘da’ and his disciples extracted the notions of ‘restraint’ (dâmyata), ‘bounty’ (datta), and ‘compassion’ (dayadhvam) (BU.5.2.1-3). In other Upanisad are indicated the phonetical correspondences of the sevenfold Saman chant: the sound hum is identical to the interjection Him, ‘pra’ is identified with the term ‘Introductory Praise’ (pra.stâva), the sound ‘â’ with the ‘Opening’ (â.di), ‘ud’ with the ‘High Chant’ (ud.gîtha), ‘prati’ with the

‘Response’ (prati.hâra), ‘upa’ with the ‘Finale’ (upa.drava), and the sound ni is the ‘Concluding Chant’ (ni.dhana) (CU.2.8.1-3). The functioning of these phonetical correspondences is quite analogous to that of mantras, because mantras establish a ‘linkage’ (Skt. bandhu) between cosmic forces and ritual elements that make it a real and efficient one (Wheelock, 1989: 108), and simultaneously, those ‘linkages’ serve, on the one hand, as a mnemonic guide to remember the sequential ‘procedure’ (Skt. itikartavyatâ) of ritual, and on the other hand, as a ‘medium of knowledge’ (Skt. pramâna) of its meaning (Taber, 1989: 149, n. 15). Likewise, and as the quoted example shows, the phonetical correspondences serve as a mnemonic guide to perform the Saman chant because the term ‘Saman’


5 The Parisistas include seventy two texts dealing with topics as ritual, magic, astrology, religious observances, phonetics, etc., and were composed between the second century BCE to the fifth century CE (Modak, 1993: 191, 473).

6 On this ‘formulaic' dhdrani pattern, see Appendix B-1 and Chart 1.

7 See section 1.1.2.1.


establishes ‘linkages' between the parts of the cosmos and human beings, and these ‘linkages' in turn, propitiate benefits such as mundane power and wealth (CU.1.6.1-8; 1.7.1-9).

Despite the fact that those Upanisads' phonetical correspondences are not reproducing the ‘alphabetical' pattern shown by the ‘syllabic' dharamis and that there is no evidence of any historical link between both of them, nevertheless, the Upanisads give evidence of the earliest instance of phonetical correspondences used as mnemonic and spiritual device that would be reflected upon the Buddhist ‘syllabic' dharamis (HBG.VI.571a).8


1.1.1.4. The ‘Truth Act' (Satyakriya)

Being defined as: ‘A formal declaration of fact, accompanied by a command or resolution or prayer that the purpose of the agent shall be accomplished' (Burlingame, 1917: 429), the ‘truth act' (satyakriya) finds its origin in the Vedas.9 Thus, to avoid a premature birth, it is declared: ‘As this great earth receives the embryos of existences, so let thine embryo be maintained, in order to birth [i.e., to be born] after pregnancy' (AV.VI.17.1). Satyakriya extracts its effectiveness from the complete tuning of the proclaimer with the same reality/truth (satya) that constitutes the cosmic order (Skt. rta). If Vedic gods are satyadharman, that is, ‘having Truth as their basic law or principle', likewise, 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, 1968: 172-174).


This cosmic power is communicated through a true language of a superhuman nature (Wayman, 1984a: 392), because according to the Vedas, to speak the truth is identical to expressing the universal ‘Law' (Dharma) (BU.1.4.14). She/he who may utter the truth is protected by the truth itself, 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.6.16.1-2). Satyakriya also implies an utterance of a ritual nature, because another meaning of kriya is that of ‘rite', hence, satyakriya can be translated as ‘rite of truth', too (Wayman, 1984a: 392-393). Within a Buddhist context, however, the Theravada parittas originally grounded their efficiency on the sole ‘declaration of truth' (saccakiriya) (first century BCE), to which a ritual framework was added later (fifth century CE) (Silva, 1991: 141-142).10


1.1.2. Tantric Tradition

While Vedic mantras serve as the mediators between cosmic/divine forces and the ritual process, Tantric mantras manifest the identity between practitioner and deity instead (Wheelock, 1989: 119). Tantric mantras depart from the Vedic ones in their linguistic structure too, replacing the Vedic poetic forms for sets of terms


8 On the ‘syllabic' dharamis, see Appendices B-2, C, and D section (b).

9 It should be noted, however, that ‘satyakriya' term does not appear in the Vedas as such, but with synonyms as ‘true speech' (satya-vac) or ‘truth-command' (satyadhishthanam). Satyakriya (P saccakiriya) term and its synonyms appear only in later Buddhist texts such as the Jatakas, the Milindapanha, or the Divyavadana (SED: 1136; Burlingame, 1917: 434).


10 On the parittas, see section 1.2.1.2.


(frequently injunctions) related to syllables and phonemes that, leaving aside their semantic meaning or lack of it, only make sense within a ritual context (Hanneder, 1998: 150). The two main modalities of Saiva Tantric mantras will be analyzed below, pre-Mantramargic and Mantramargic ones, 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 Mahayana (c. third century CE), and the second one during the Vajrayana systematization (c. seventh and eighth century CE) (Kapstein, 2001: 245).11


1.1.2.1. Saiva Pre-Mantramargic Mantras

As it was indicated before, the Asurikalpa and Ucchusmakalpa Parisistas mantras invoke the power of Rudra, or one of his variants as Ucchusma (‘Desiccating [Fire]'). Within the Saiva exorcist tradition, Ucchusmarudra is invoked as a protector against evil beings with mantras quite similar to those Parisistas mantras mentioned before, and his main role is that of removing impure substances (Sanderson, 2007: 197-200). Moreover, according to certain Saiva Tantras, Ucchusma is the first of a series of ten Rudras: Ucchusma, Savara, Canda, Matanga, Ghora, Yama, Ugra, Halahala, Krodhin, and Huluhulu (TAK.I: 225).


It is highly significant the correspondence shown between these ten Rudras (and their female counterparts) as they appear in the Saiva mantras and their parallels in Buddhist dharamis. The Saiva Mahagamapatividya includes a long mantra invoking Ucchusma and the female consorts of Canda (Candali), Matanga (Matangi), and the goddesses Pukkasi and Camundi (Sanderson, 2007: 199-200, n. 16). And in certain dharamis invoking Ucchusmakrodha Mahabala, that is the Buddhist equivalent of Ucchusma, the non-Vedic goddesses Sabari, Matangi, and Candali are also invoked (Bala: 53.2-3). Likewise, in numerous protective

(Skt. raksa) and dharami formulas appear invocations to a common set of five non-Vedic goddesses: Gauri, Gandhari, Candali, Matangi, and Pukkasi (Skilling, 1992: 155; MS.I: 678-679).12 In all likelihood, seemingly unintelligible expressions such as ‘hala hala' and ‘hulu hulu' appearing in a number of mantras/dharamis (MS.I: 687; Harrison/Coblin, 1999: 156; Filliozat, 2004: 500), were originally invocations to the Rudras Halahala and Huluhulu, that later were assigned to the Buddhist Halahala Avalokitesvara, whose iconography includes distinctive features of Rudra/Siva (Bhattacharyya, 1958: 132-133).13 These data give


11 The term ‘pre-Mantramargic' refers to the early ascetic tradition focused on Siva as Rudra Pasupati intended for exclusively soteriological goals, and the ‘Mantramargic' one (lit. ‘path of mantras') refers to a later tradition open to ascetics and laypeople alike including mundane goals, too (Sanderson, 1988: 664-668).


12 See (with variants) AM.1.220, 257; AM.2.450; AM.3.1352; AM.4.1453, 1473; AM.5.2285; AM.7.3310, 3320; AM.8.3662, 3775, 3790, 3800, 3817; AM.10.5336; AM.12.6872; AM.13.7462; AM.14.7879, 8223, 8225; AM.15.8355; AM.16.9989, 10133. The names of those goddesses denote ‘untouchable' Indian tribal castes and occupations (hunting, cleaning, corpse handling, etc.) (Shaw, 2006: 397-398). On the continuity of those tribal castes and the Buddhist Vajrayana ‘accomplished ones' (siddhas), see Davidson, 2002: 224-233. On the goddess Matangi within a Saiva context, see Kinsley, 1997: 209-222. On the conversion of the mahavidyadhari Matangi, see Appendix C.


13 In the influential Aryavalokitesvara-mahakarumika-dharami, Avalokitesvara is venerated with a number of Siva epithets and the exclamation ‘hulu hulu' (Chandra, 1979: 14-16).


support to the theory described before on the Buddhist origins of ‘formulaic' dharanis, whose pattern arose from a substratum made up of a non-Vedic mantric lore assimilated by the Atharvaveda Parisistas, and assimilated in turn and almost simultaneously by the Pre-Mantramargic Saivism and a proto-Tantric Mahayana.14


1.1.2.2, Saiva Mantramargic Mantras

Considered as specific modalities of the word's energy (Skt. vaksakti), Tantric mantras are characterized as being ‘the phonic, “expressing” (vacaka), form of a deity, its subtle form, its essence, its efficient aspect' (Padoux, 1990: 378-380). This characteristic is usually identified with their ‘seed syllable' (Skt. bija) because, save rare exceptions, ‘a Tantric mantra is defined by its bija' (Hanneder, 1998: 149, n. 8). According to a traditional definition: ‘All mantras consist of phonemes and their nature is that of energy, O dear One. Know, however, that this energy (sakti) is the matrka, whose

nature is that of Siva' (tr. in Padoux, 1990: 374). In this sense, matrka in singular, lit. ‘little mother', designates the ‘matrix-energy', the generative power that simultaneously creates and holds the mantras and the universe. In plural, the matrkas are the fifty phonemes of the Sanskrit syllable system (Skt. varnapatha), understood as the basis of all mantras (Padoux, 1990: 147, n. 170, 151-153). Hence, to know the matrkas' nature and their sakti is equal to know the absolute itself, especially in its twofold aspect as the world's manifestation/reabsortion (Padoux, 1990: 78, 152-153, n. 186).15


Besides assigning the ‘seer', the meter (in fact, an inner rhythm), the deity, and the application as the Vedic mantras, every Tantric mantra includes a ritual of mantric ‘imposition' (Skt. nyasa) and a deity's ‘visualization' (Skt. dhyana), where the mantra syllables are ‘imposed' ritually on specific parts of the body's practitioner, and then he/she visualizes herself/himself as identical to the deity (MM.II.3-6; Buhnemann, 1991: 292-293; Padoux, 1978: 67-68; 1980: 59-61). Moreover, usually every Tantric mantra is subdivided into three parts: (a) an initial part, its bija, (b) a middle part, its sakti,

and (c) a final part, its wedge (kilaka) (Buhnemann, 1991: 293). According to other sources, the kilaka part can be subdivided again into five types of mantras: ‘heart-essence' (hrdaya), ‘wedge' (kilaka), ‘weapon' (astra), ‘cuirass' (kavaca), and ‘supreme mantra' (paramo mantra) (Hanneder, 1998: 153-154). The idea lying behind those divisions and subdivisions, namely, that from the concrete matrkas of a given mantra can arise more mantras, will be assimilated by the Buddhist dharanis according to their own models.16 Lastly, another significant aspect of Tantric mantras is that they hold a specific gender. According to several Tantras, mantras are divided into ‘male' ones (pummantra)


14 The presence of this non-Vedic mantric lore within Buddhist dharanis is also noticed by references to formulas in Dravidian language (‘dramida mantrapadah’) (Mayu: 379, 389, 439) and to ‘the dharaniof [the deity] Dravida’ (Bala: 50.19), see also Appendix C.


15 On the notion of matrka (P matika) in the Theravada Abhidhamma, see section 1.2.1.2., on the varnapatha in the Mahayana and the Vajrayana, see section 1.2.2.1. and Appendix D section (b).


16 See section 2.3. The mantra's sakti (b) indicates the part expressing ‘what is to be effected' (sadhya) for such mantra and is equivalent to the central part of a dharani, see Appendix B-1, n. 171.


with ending expressions such as hum and phat, and being used in rites of subduing, ‘female' ones (strimantra), also called ‘vidyd’, with endings in svdhd and used in rites of eradication of disease, or ‘neuter' ones, ending in namah (‘obeisance') and used in other rituals (Wayman, 1984b: 418-420; Buhnemann, 1991: 304). This mantra classification based on gender would be assimilated by Buddhist dhdranis, as well.17


1.2. Buddhist Factors for the Emergence of Dhdranis

1.2.1. Mainstream Buddhism

Overall, it can be asserted that mainstream Buddhism initially rejected mantras and only assimilated them later, first within their Vinayas and then within special collections called Vidyddhara-pitakas or Dhdran -pitakas. 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, (2) the emphasis on Buddhist ‘protective' texts based on the ‘act of truth' (saccakiriyd) as the Theravada partitas, and those based on mantras as the Sarvastivada and Mulasarvastivada Mahdsutras, and the role played by the Abhidharma's mdtrkds as the forerunners of the ‘syllabic' dhdranis, and (3) the acceptance of mantras/dharan s within Southern Buddhism and their systematization among several mainstream Buddhist schools that were precursors of the Mahayana.


1.2.1.1. Early Mainstream Buddhist Attitudes towards Mantras

The Theravada Nikdyas rejected Vedic mantras on the basis of three arguments: soteriological, ethical, and linguistic ones. The historical Buddha negated that rsis could have a direct knowledge of Brahma, hence, their tradition lacked any soteriological validity (DN.13.12-15). From an ethical level, reciting mantras was considered ‘a wrong means of livelihood' (Brajd: 59-61), and the Theravada Vinaya only accepted as a ‘true Brahman' someone wise and virtuous who ‘does not confide in the sound hum' (P nihuhumka) as a protective and purificatory method (McDermott, 1984a: 49-50). And from a linguistic level, mantras are just a kind of deceitful language worth of ‘reject and despise' (DN.11.5-7).18


Nevertheless, Mahasamghika, Mahisasaka, Sarvastivada, and Mulasarvastivada Vinayas acknowledged some efficacy to mantras when considered acts such as killing and having sex through mantras as a ‘defeat' (Skt. pdrdjika) (Shes.V: 107). Moreover, Dharmaguptaka and Mulasarvastivada Vinayas admitted using mantras with protective and therapeutical goals (Davidson, 2009: 113-116; Pathak, 1989: 32-38).19 The main reason for using those mantras was quite a pragmatic one: they demonstrated their


See section 2.3. and Appendix B-1.

18 However, the South Asian Theravada accepted mantras/dhdranis in an extra-canonical way, see Appendix C.

19 Despite a few schools negating them, Sarvastivadins and others admitted the five ‘supernatural knowledges' (Skt. abhjnd) among ordinary persons (prthagjanas) and nonBuddhists (Kosa.VII.41-d; Bareau, 1955: 140). The abhijnd called ‘supernatural power of conservation' (ddhisthdniki rddhi), is able, among other functions, to empower mantras, hence, it is hardly surprising that those mainstream Buddhist schools would accept mantra efficacy (Eltschinger, 2001: 71-72). On ddhisthdniki rddhi, see section 1.2.2.2. paragraph (a).


effectiveness against the ten ‘dangers' or ‘hindrances' (P/Skt. antarayas) liable to obstruct a normal monastic life, such as dangers from the king, thieves, water, fire, human beings, non-human beings, wild animals, reptiles, death or severe illness, and falling away from sila under certain compulsion (DMT: 15-16).20 In some instances, loving-kindness (P metta) meditation proved not to be adequately effective as self-protective device against the antarayas, and was supplemented or even replaced by other methods such as the Buddha's commemoration and mantra recitation (Schmithausen, 1997: 67). Those needs of protection and prophylaxis were, among other causes, what promoted the apotropaic use of certain Buddhist Scriptures and the inclusion of mantras within some of them, that will be studied below.


1.2.1.2. Parittas, Mahasutras, and Matikds/Matrkas

Despite their rejection of the Vedas, Theravadins, Sarvastivadins, and Mulasarvastivadins, among others, acknowledged some features of the Vedic understanding of language and mantras able to be assimilated by Buddhism without betraying their tenets. 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; Skt. satya), (2) its protective power, and (3) its faculty to facilitate insight derived from its memorizing. These three qualities got an outstanding significance in the parittas, the Mahasutras, and the matikas/matrkas.


The Pali term paritta means ‘protection' or ‘safeguard', and originally consists of a selection of Nikayas' Suttas used for prophylactic goals, that is, ‘to ward off or overcome dangers and problems', and benedictive ones, ‘to assure success in an undertaking and attain positive good' (Harvey: 1993: 53-56).21 There are a variety of powers propitiating the efficacy of parittas, among them, stand out the power of ethical virtue (P/Skt. sila), the universal

loving-kindness (metta), the Three Jewels, the contemplation of enlightenment factors (P bojjhangas), the deities' power (P yakkhas, nagas, etc.), and even the parittas' sound, whose pitch induces mindfulness (Piyadassi, 1975: 15-16; Greene, 2004: 53-54). However, the pivotal power enabling parittas to be effective is that all of them are modalities of the ‘act of truth' (saccakiriya) or ‘truth utterance' (P saccavajja). While the Vedic satyakriya is based on the perfect harmony between oneself and her/his own duty within the cosmos (rta), the Buddhist saccakiriya instead, extract its power from the speakers' ethical perfection: ‘(moral) truth is a natural force with irresistible power' (Harvey, 1993: 67-68, 70-71, 74).


In this sense, it would be argued that saccakiriya is closely related to two powers of the Buddha's speech: the Buddha as a ‘truth-speaker', and the Buddha's ‘Brahma Voice' (P/Skt. brahmasvara). In the first case, ‘he is a speaker whose words are to be treasured, seasonable, reasoned, well-defined and connected with the goal' (DN.1.9), and in the second one, his voice is ‘distinct, intelligible, melodious, audible, ringing, euphonious, deep, and sonorous' (MN.91.21), a persuasive voice that ‘what he


20 The antarayas were included and expanded within the dharanis' protective benefits lists, see section 3.2.1. On the continuity between the antarayas and the drstadharmikas, see Appendix D section (a).


21 Those two parittas' goals are quite akin to the santika and paustika dharanis' functions, see sections 3.2.1. and 3.2.2. Besides those uses, however, paritta compilations became the basis of two monastic revivals in Sri Lanka during the thirteenth century CE and the eighteenth century CE (Blackburn, 1999: 360-365), and nowadays, parittas are also used as formative handbooks for novices (Piyadassi, 1975: 5; Samuels, 2005: 346-360).


says will carry weight' (DN.30.23-24). This means that the Buddha's speech is perfect in form and content and is able to transform spiritually the listeners' lives, as happened to Kondanna, who opened his Dhamma's eye after listening to a Buddha's Sutta (SN.V.423).22 However, normally paritta practice is focused on attaining mundane benefits exclusively, and their efficacy can be hindered because of karma obstructions, defilements, and lack of faith

(MP.154). Both of those aspects, among others, distinguish parittas from dharamis, because many dharamis were seen to be able to overcome those factors preventing paritta effectiveness. Although both parittas and dharamis may share common functions of protection and increase, nevertheless, claiming that ‘the dharami is the counterpart of paritta' as does H. Saddhatissa (1991: 127), is inaccurate.23 Lastly, it is significant that some parittas such as the

Mahasamaya-sutta (DN.20) and the Atanatiya-sutta (DN.32), among others, invoke the presence of non-Vedic and Vedic deities as protectors of the Buddhist community. Specifically, there is a core-set of deities that will remain constant as Dharma's protectors: the ‘Four Great Kings' (Skt. catvari maharajakayika) Vaisravana, Dhrtarastra, Virudhaka, and Virupaksa, the gods Indra (or Sakra) and Brahma Sahampati, followed by their hosts of minor deities. This fact gives evidence of an early incorporation of local cults within Indian Buddhism that will be developed with the Mahayana and the Vajrayana.24 And not only that, as it will be seen below, the mantric language of those deities will be identified as buddhavacana through its inclusion within the Mahasutras.


Around the 4th century CE, Sarvastivadins and Mulasarvastivadins extracted from their Agamas a selection of Scriptures, called Mahasutras (‘Great Sutras'), whose main function was that of overcoming religious opponents and malignant beings (MS.II: 4-30). Among them, the Mahasamaja-sutra, the Atanatiya-sutra, and the Vaisalipravesa-sutra contain mantras. In the Mahasamaja-sutra an assembly of deities (most of them goddesses) gather in order to contemplate the Buddha and to keep off Mara's hosts, then, the deities announce their purpose to protect the Sutra and promulgate mantras and ritual prescriptions (MS.I: 624-661; MS.II: 537-542). In the Atanatiya-sutra, Vaisravana describes the ‘Four Great Kings' and their retinues, whose promulgated to the Buddha protective mantras for the Sangha. The next day, the Buddha teaches those same mantras to the monastic community (MS.I: 662-694; MS.II: 575-577). In the Vaisdllpravesa-sutra, the Buddha visits Vaisali city in order to eradicate an epidemic and by reciting a long mantra, 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.3.1.3; 4.5), together with all the mentioned speech qualities of the Buddha, could be understood as a Buddhist adaptation/answer to two parallel doctrines already appearing in the Upanisads: the ultimate reality as embodied speech (BU.1.3.21), and Dharma and truth's speech are identical (BU.1.4.14).


23 P. Harvey rightly noticed that ‘the power of dharamis exceeds that of parittas' (1993: 83, n. 7). On the mundane and supramundane dharami goals, see sections 3.2. and 3.3.

24 On the symbiosis between Indian Buddhism and local cults, see Coomaraswamy, 2001: 4-37; Sutherland, 1991: Chap. 4; Cohen, 1998: 399-400; DeCaroli, 2004: 186-187; Ruegg, 2008: 19-29. On the continuity of such ‘core-set' of deities within Mahayana, see Pratyu.14E, Pumda.I: 2; Asta.3.25-26, PWE-S.III.50-51; Suvar: 36-54, Sgol: 24-44, and in Vajrayana, see Vai-su: 10; Susi: 287289; Bhattacharyya, 1933: 361-363. On the ‘Four Great Kings' iconography, see DBI.3: 772-775.


the deities, the epidemic ceased (MS.I: 696-738; MS.II: 593-597).25 These three Mahasutras are significant for the Dharani-sutras for three reasons: (1) including mantras within those Mahasutras entailed their legitimation as ‘Buddha Word' (buddhavacana). If the Sarvastivada Vinaya, among others, already recognized as buddhavacana the gods' Dharma preaching (Lamotte, 1983-4: 6), Sarvastivadins and Mulasarvastivadins went a step further including as

buddhavacana the deities' mantras approved by the Buddha. The assimilation of this mantric language reflects a ‘conversion device' based on the following exchange: the converters (i.e., Buddhists) convey the Dharma to the those converted (i.e., tribal/lower caste populations), while in return, they assimilate a ‘new' and powerful kind of buddhavacana: the converteds' mantric lore. This ‘conversion device' adopted two modalities: the Buddha approves the deities' mantras (Mahasamaja-sutra and Atanatiya-sutra cases), or the Buddha is presented as the supreme source of the mantric lore (Vaisalipravesa-

sutra case), and both modalities will be reproduced within the Dharam -sutras.26 (2) These Mahasutras set up a basic Scriptural pattern that will be reproduced by the Dharam -sutras, 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/dharam , the description of their benefits, and eventually, giving ritual prescriptions.27 And (3), these three Mahasutras will be identified later as Dharani-sutras and classified as Kriya Tantras within the Tibetan Buddhist canon (MS.II: 78-84). All those factors indicate, on the one hand, a continuity between the non-Vedic and Vedic mantric lore and the mantras/dharan s of Indian Buddhism, and on the other hand, a pan-Indian and transectarian use of those mantras, because ‘they were employed by Buddhists of all yanas' (MS.II: 75).


The Sangiti-sutta understands the faculty of memory (P. sati; Skt. smrti) as a protection giving factor (P natha-karana-dhamma): (b) he has learnt much, and bears in mind and retains what he has learnt. In these teachings, beautiful in the beginning, the middle and the ending, which in spirit and in letter proclaim the absolutely perfected and purified holy life, he is deeply learned, he remembers them, recites them, reflects on them and penetrates them with wisdom ... (i) he is mindful, with a great capacity for clearly recalling things done and said long ago (DN.33.3.3).


The mahavyahrtis has already been described as the condensation of the three Vedas, whose recitation and bodily ‘wearing' bestow knowledge and protection,28 and in the Buddhist case, the same idea is detected but formulated differently: remembering that bearing in oneself the Buddhist teachings bestows protection, 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 Pali term sati, that despite being commonly translated as ‘mindfulness', in fact its primary sense is that of ‘memory', or ‘remembering' and ‘bearing in mind' (PED: 672b, 697b). That is

25 Those Mahasutras parallels the narrative of three Paritta-suttas: the Mahasamaya-sutta, the Atanatiya-sutta, and the Ratana-sutta, respectively (Piyadassi, 1975: 70-81, 103-114, 30-34).

26 See section 1.2.2.2. paragraph (a) and Appendix C. 27 On this dharan s' narrative pattern, see section 1.2.2.2. paragraph (a). 28 See Appendix A.


why the Dhammasangani considers the term dharanata, whose meaning is that of ‘bearing [in mind]', to be a synonym of sati (Gethin, 2007: 36-37), that also means ‘wearing, being dressed with', and it is related to dharana ‘wearing, mantaining, sustaining, keeping up, bearing in mind, remembrance' (PED: 341a), and dharati ‘to hold, bear, carry, wear, to bear in mind', and in turn the Pali dharati is derived from the Skt. dharati, whose root dhr is identical to the term dharani (PED: 340a; Whitney, 1885: 84-85).29

Although the term dharamdoes not appear in the Theravada Nikayas, one of its primary meanings as being a condensed formula able to unleash innumerable Dharma teachings, is already present within the Theravada notion of ‘matrix' or ‘mother' (P matika; Skt. matrka). Matika is understood as the Abhidhamma's generator, because according to the Kassapa's Mohavicchedam: ‘The word matika is used because of the begetting, looking after and bringing up of dhammas

and meanings without end or limit like a mother' (tr. in Gethin, 1992: 161).30 In a specific sense, the matikas consists of lists of items organized according to a system of numerical progression and terms linked by doublets-triplets (eg. non-greed, non-hatred, non-delusion), extracted from Scriptures such as the Sangiti-sutta and others. Arisen from subtle contemplative states, the matikas allows the condensation and memorizing of large corpus of teachings, provide a map of the path, and may constitute a meditative practice conducive to insight (Gethin, 1992: 160-167), hence, matikas and ‘syllabic'

dharanis share relevant common factors. Despite the fact that ‘syllabic' dharanis are not based on lists of items but they are built up from the first syllables of key doctrinal terms, just like the matikas, ‘syllabic' dharanis allows the condensation and memorizing of a great deal of teachings, they provide a path's map, and serve as contemplative methods to attain the true nature of existence (Pagel, 2007a: 111-115).31 Moreover, that one who is a specialist in ‘retaining the matikas' (P matikadhara) is also a ‘protector of Dhamma' (P dhammarakkha), and both functions are similar to those belonging to the Bodhisattva, who, according to the Asanga's Bodhisattvabhumi: ‘Finds joy in the summaries (matrka) of the pitaka’ and attains dharanis (Braarvig, 1985: 2122).


As will be seen below, parittas, Mahâsütras, matikas/matrkas, and a mantric lore accepted by several mainstream Buddhist schools, would be assimilated and reelaborated by Mahayana Buddhism according to its own outlook.32



29 On the etymology of the term dharami, see 2.1.1. On the dharamis as protective ‘amulets' to be worn, see Hidas, 2007: 190-198; Sen, 1965: 70-72.

30 On the Tantric matTkas, see section 1.1.2.2, On the dharanis as condensed formulas, see section 2.4.2. On the embryological function of the Maha Nikaya mantra ‘sam vi dha pu ka ya pa', understood as the condensation of the seven Abhidhamma books and which syllables are viewed as ‘mothers' (matikas), see Bizot/Lagirarde,1996: 41, and Castro-Sanchez, 2010: 7, Chart

2. 31 On the ‘syllabic' dharanis, see Appendices B-2 and D section (b). 32 On the ‘formulaic' and ‘syllabic' dharanis within some mainstream Buddhist schools, see Appendix C.


1.2.2. Mahayana Buddhism

Indian Mahayana 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 Mahayana, understood as the Buddhist answer to the rising of Sanskrit literature in the early centuries CE, and being stimulated by Buddhist leaders of a Brahmanical origin (Wayman, 1965: 114), and (2) the passage from a Scriptural ‘closed canon’ based on an oral transmission, to an ‘open’ one allowing a further expansion through written Scriptures issued from visionary experiences (McDermott, 1984b: 32).33 As will be studied below, the emergence of this Mahayana ‘open canon’ was what allowed the widespread inclusion of ‘formulaic’ and ‘syllabic’ dhâranîs within Mahayana Scriptures, and particularly, what allowed the elaboration of the Dhâranî Scriptures.


1.2.2.1. Acceptance of the Soteriological Validity of Language and Mantras

The Sanskrit language, besides being accepted by the Mahayana for its technical precision and cultural prestige (Lamotte, 1958: 634-657), was also accepted as a medium conducive to enlightenment. Probably, the first step towards this direction was recognizing the Mahayana Sutras as written manifestations of the Buddha’s ‘Dharma-body’ (Skt. dharma-kâya):


And when one learns it, one should carefully analyze it grammatically, letter by letter, syllable by syllable, word by word. For as the dharma-body of the past, future and present Tathagatas is this dharma-text authoritative (Asta.28.227-228; PWE-S.XXVIII.461-462).

As is the case with the Brahmans’ grammatical training, a mastery of the Sanskrit grammar became one of the hallmarks of Bodhisattva training, who wanted to ‘acquire the skill in the cognition of sounds’ (Skt. rutajmânakausalya) (Mpsu: 162). And for that purpose, the Bodhisattva will follow Sudhana’s example, who visited the grammarian Megha to teach him a dhâranî whose recitation bestows an omniscient eloquence (Skt. pratibhâna) and is able to transform him into an irreversible (Skt. avaivartika) Bodhisattva (Avat: 1189-1191).34 Hence, Sanskrit grammar became a meditative practice through reciting, memorizing, writting, and teaching specific Sutras’ paragraphs as if they were mantras (Kent, 1982: 324-325).35 This explains that


33 The Mahayana arose simultaneously to the proliferation of a non-Buddhist written visionary literature in India (first or second century BCE), and this Mahayana acceptance of written Scriptures was a key factor for its survival (McMahan, 1998: 255, 264).


34 On dhâranî and pratibhâna, see section 2.1.3.2. The avaivartika state coincides with the accomplishment of the ‘conviction of the non-arising of dharmas’ (Skt. anutpattikadharmaksânti) and locates the Bodhisattva on the eighth stage (Skt. bhumi) to Buddhahood (Pagel, 1995: 186-187; Dayal, 1932: 213). On the avaivartika state as a supramundane dhâranî goal, see sections 3.3.1. and 3.3.2.


35 Likewise, Bhartrhari (fifth century CE) recognized Sanskrit grammar as ‘a gateway to liberation’ (Vâk.14), and his grammatical treatises were included within the curriculum of the Buddhist university of Nalanda (Takukusu, 1896: 178-180; Biardeau, 1964: 255-260).


Mahayana would include special syllabaries as the ‘arapacana' and the standard Sanskrit syllabary (varnapatha) within several Mahayana Scriptures, as mnemonic and contemplative means to realize Buddhist teachings (Mpsu: 160-162; Mapa.I: 201-207). Even a commentary of the influential Mahaparinirvana-sutra went so far as to acknowledge the ‘eternal' (aksara) and ‘inexhaustible' (aksaya) nature of the Sanskrit syllabary and its ‘invention' from age to age by the god Brahma (HBG.II: 117).36


Nevertheless, this Sanskritizaton did not necessarily imply a Mahayana recognition of Sanskrit as the Buddha's ‘sacred language'. In fact, on a relative level, such language mastery was included within the Bodhisattva's ‘detailed and thorough knowledges' (Skt. pratisamvids) and was mainly used to skillfully teach the Dharma to people, because ‘the teaching of both the Dharma and (its) meaning happens only through speech and knowledge' (Mslb.XVIII.36); and on a

definitive level, 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' (Asta.18.174; PWE-S.XVIII.348). When confronted with mantras/dharanis though, this linguistic deconstruction was understood in two different ways: for the mainstream Mahayana, mantras/dharanis reveal their emptiness as a ‘no-meaningness' (Skt. nitarthatha) emphasizing the inexpressible nature of all dharmas, for the Vajrayana instead, mantras/dharanis reveal their emptiness as producers of innumerable meanings.37

Concerning the Mahayana doctrinal assimilation of mantras, an early reference indicates that mantras were rejected due to their ‘heretical' origins (Pratyu.14B), while another source ackowledges mantra efficacy and its likely use among Buddhists (Kapa.4.48). But it is in the

Astasdhasrikdprajndpdramitd-sutra and its versified part, the Ratnagunasamcaya-gatha (1st century BCE, Conze, 2000: 1), where the mantric lore got an unreserved acceptance. One passage refers to mantra power (Skt. mantra-bala) as a metaphor for the unsupported power of suchness (Skt. tathata) (Raga.27.5; PWE-V. XXVII.5), while the other passage refers to the mantras and vidyas' attaining as a mark of the irreversible Bodhisattva (Asta.17.167; PWE-

S.XVII.337). In practical terms though, the irreversible Bodhisattvas are identified with the ‘Dharma-preachers' (Skt. dharmabhanakas), considered as quite advanced Bodhisattvas who are very near to the attainment of Buddhahood.38 And if the dharmabhanakas were the inspirers of the Mahayana Sutras and their legitimate promulgators (MacQueen, 1982: 60; Drewes, 2006: 246-247), they were, moreover, the introducers of the veneration to the ‘Four Great Kings’, Sakra, and Brahma Sahampati, and the practice of their mantras within Mahayana, through ‘invocation formulae' (Skt. akarsanapada), and the only ones authorized to recite and transmit them (Pagel, 2007a: 60-61). This implies that, in all likelihood, the dharmabhanakas also introduced the different understandings of

36 However, this approach was not followed by other Mahayana streams, see below and section 2.2.1., and it was accepted by the Vajrayana but with a key difference: the varnapatha is not created by Brahma but ‘appears spontaneously from suchness' (Bonji: 139). On the mantras as issued from the dharmata, see section 2.3.


37 On the Mahayana approach to mantras/dharanis, see sections 2.2.1. and 2.2.2., and on the Vajrayana approach, see sections 2.3., 2.4.1. and 2.4.2. On the Bodhisattva's pratisamvids, see section 2.1.3.2.


38 If the irreversible Bodhisattva is located in the eighth bhumi (see n. 34 above), the dharmabhanaka is located in the ninth one, identified with the pratisamvids mastery (Drewes, 2006: 248-251).


dhdrani concept within the Mahayana Sutras, and later on, they inspired the Dharani Scriptures, as well. In the first case, the dhdrani concept passed through several stages before becoming a mature Dharani Scripture,39 and concerning the second case, it will be studied below.


1.2.2.2, Dharani Scriptures

From the third century CE to the eighth century CE, a new modality of Buddhist Scripture appeared in India and spread through Central Asia, Tibet, and East Asia, in fact, a new version of buddhavacana, where the ‘formulaic' dhdran s became the core of the Sutra’s narrative (S0rensen, 2011b: 162). The success and wide dissemination of those Scriptures was such, that Arthur Waley rightly called it ‘Dharani-Buddhism' (as quoted in McBride, II, 2005: 87). It can be

seen in the arising of the Dharani Scriptures the first consolidation of the non-Vedic, Vedic and early Saiva mantric lores within Indian Buddhism, as a result of a long process of assimilation and re-elaboration that began, at least, three centuries before (Skilling, 1992: 164).40 Among the key socio-religious factors contributing to the emergence of the Dharani Scriptures, 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, 1992: 164), and the Sanskritization of Indian Mahayana, and a third one should be added, the Brahmanical revival focused on Vedic rituals established by the Gupta dynasty (320-500 CE), interacting/competing against an institutionalized Mahayana led by the Yogacara school (Matsunaga, 1977: 171; Staal, 2008: 337).41 And among the likely reasons lying behind the dissemination and survival of the Dharani Scriptures, four would be emphasized:


(1) .- Preciseness. The Dhdran Scriptures offer a precise sense of their nature and methods, contrasting with the vague references to those topics appearing in standard Mahayana Sutras. For instance, a Sutra refers to a Bodhisattva who ‘has received the dhdran s', but does not specify which ones (Asta.30.252; PWE-S.XXX.510), in other Scripture dhdrani is defined both as ‘memory' and the ‘means' to attain it (Braarvig, 1985: 18), but again, this Scripture does not specify what these ‘means' concretely entail. The Dhdran Scriptures instead, reveal with preciseness the dhdran goals and their concrete methods of practice to attain them.42


(2) .- Practicality. Overall, Dhdran Scriptures leave aside discussions on doctrinal topics, and are focused instead on a dhdraniformula presented as a practice capable of accomplishing a concrete goal, whether mundane or supramundane, or both. In fact,

39 On those stages of dhdran s within Mahayana Sutras, see Appendix D.

40 The second Buddhist consolidation of those mantric lores would be established by the Indian Vajrayana, from the mid-seventh to the mid-eleventh centuries CE (Davidson, 2002: 117-118).

41 On the dhdranimastery of Asanga and Vasubandhu, see Chimpa/Chattopadhyaya, 1970: 166172; Davidson, 2009: 139; and sections 2.2.2. and 3.1.1. On the dhdranimastery of Madhyamika authors as Bhavaviveka, see Beal, 1884: ii, 224-226, and section 2.3, and on Santideva's, see Siksd.VI.139-142, CBD: 136-140. 42 See section 3.1.2.


for most Dharani Scriptures there is no dividing line between mundane and supramundane goals, since both are viewed as an interrelated wholeness.43


(3) .- Effectiveness. Given that Dharani Scriptures condensate numerous teachings within their formulas, they present themselves as a short-cut to enligthenment and as a rapid method to attain any goal (Chou, 1945: 258). According to their own claims, the Dharani Scriptures show effective, feasible, and verifiable methods to realize the desired goals, adapting their prescriptions to the characteristics of any person, and even indicating the concrete signs and time in which their results can be made manifest.44


(4) .- Dharanis as Relics. Several Dharani Scriptures identified themselves as ‘Dharma-kaya relics' and were used to consecrate stupas and images, hence, the stupa consecrated by those dharanis became a ‘living Buddha body' and the practitioner getting in touch with it could easily attain mundane and supramundane benefits.45

The Dharani Scriptures collected by the Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist canons testify, on the one hand, an obvious proof of their proliferation, and on the other hand, the difficulty to classify them neatly because of their versatile nature. In the first case, the Chinese Buddhist canon contains at least one

hundred fourteen Scriptures entitled as ‘Dharani-sutras' (Ch. tuoluoni jing) (RCB: 82-121), but it also includes numerous dharanis/mantras within other Sutras, Tantras, ritual texts, etc., that according to the The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahapitaka, come to 10,402 formulas.46 The Tibetan Buddhist canon contains ninety six Dharani Scriptures, entitled as ‘Dharani', ‘Kalpa', and ‘Vidya', besides numerous Tantras containing dharani formulas (Kan: 561-

563, 566). And in the second case, the denomination of ‘Dharani Scripture' is an extensive one, including basically four textual modalities: (a).- Single Scriptures: Entitled as ‘Dharani' or ‘Dharani-sutra', also includes Scriptures entitled as ‘Mahayanasutra’ (eg. Bala), and others as Vidyarajni (eg. Mayu, Prati), or ‘Hrdaya' (eg. Gana). In most cases those Scriptures are divided into two parts: a narrative one, where a concrete issue is

addressed to the historical Buddha, and a practical one, where the Buddha or another authority (Bodhisattva, deity, etc.) approved by him, promulgates a dharani formula as the solution to the raised issue, praising its benefits and claiming the pledge (samaya) of its efficacy. A feature of foremost relevance for those Scriptures is that the dharani formula is presented as buddhavacana, uttered by the Buddha or issued from his craneal protuberance (Skt. usnisa) (Sita: 90-91), from his eyebrows (Prati: 193), or it is claimed that the dharani formula has been promulgated by the

Buddha and endowed with his ‘spiritual support' or ‘blessing' (Skt. adhisthana) (Anir: 103; T 1022(b) 713c17-19, Guhya: 4). The adhisthana is an attribute of the Buddhas' ‘perfection of power' (Skt. prabhavasampad), which allows them to create, transform, and conserve (adhisthana) an external object (Kosa.VII.34-c). Those three functions correspond to three modalities of the ‘supernatural power' (Skt. rddhi), consisting of the ‘supernatural power of conservation' (adhisthaniki rddhi) in ‘the thing that the magician consecrates


See sections 3.1.3, 3.2. and 3.3. See sections 3.1.2., 3.3.2., and 3.3.3. 45 See section 3.3.1. 46 See detailed summaries of the Dharani Scriptures and other esoteric texts within the Chinese canon in Giebel, 2011, and those extra-canonical ones in S0rensen, 2011a.


(adhitisthati) by saying, “may this thing be thus” is termed adhisthâna. This thing is the object (prayojana) of this rddhi, or this rddhi is produced in this thing: thus this rddhi is called âdhisthânikî’ (Kosa.III.9-d, p. 31, n. 2). The Buddhas give their adhisthâna to the dhâranîs to endow them with efficacy and extend their power indefinitely. Moreover, the adhisthâna can be given not only by Buddhas, but by Bodhisattvas and deities, too. Likewise, the prescriptions for the dhâranî practice participate of the promulgator’s adhisthâna and pledge (samaya), who secures its effectiveness if her/his prescriptions are strictly followed (Eltschinger, 2001: 24-27, 62-74).47

Among the earliest Dhâranî-sutras stand out the Mahâmâyurî-vidyârâjmî-sutra (The Scripture of the Queen of Vidyâs of the Great, Golden Peacock), of high significance for the early East Asian esoteric Buddhism, whose Sanskrit original dates from the third century CE (S0rensen, 2006a: 91-92, 109). In its narrative, a monk is suffering from snakebite and the Buddha transmitted to Ananda the Mahâmâyûri dhâranî to be recited by him to the poisoned monk, regarded as an infallible antidote against poison. Moreover, the Buddha approves the recitation of mantras/vidyâs/dhâranîs from a large host of deities

intended to protect the Sangha from all kinds of dangers, since ‘true words eliminate poisons’ (Mâyu: 458).48


(b) .- Dhâranî Ritual Manuals (Skt. Dhâranî-vidhis): A great number of Dhâranî-sutras contain a third part, focused on ritual practices (vidhi) directly related to the Sutra’s dhâranî formula (Copp, 2011: 176). However, originally the vidhis circulated independently c. mid-fifth century CE, to be attached to the Dhâranî-sutras after the sixth century CE. The successful spreading of the Dhâranî-vidhis lies in that the exact following of their prescriptions is seen to evoke the deity’s presence and obtaining the desired goals. The Dhâranî-vidhis established the textual basis for the early Buddhist Tantras’ emergence (Dalton, 2010: 14-15).49


(c) .- Dhâranî Collections (Skt. Dhâranî-samgrahas): Of a wide diffusion in India, Nepal, and Tibet, the Dhâranî-samgrahas consist of a selection of dhâranî formulas to be recited within a liturgical context, and normally are divided into three parts: an invitation to mundane deities as witnesses and recitation’s beneficiaries, the dhâranî formulas themselves, and a closing part with praises and prayers (Dalton, 2010: 5-10). Among the most popular Dhâranî-samgrahas, stand out the Pamcaraksâ (‘Five


On the Bodhisattvas’ adhisthâna on mantras, see section 2.2.2., on the function of adhisthâna

in the Vajrayana mantras, see section 2.3. Some Buddhist schools admitted the âdhisthânikî rddhi in non-Buddhist mantras, see section 1.2.1.1., n. 19. On the samaya role in the Vedic mantras, see section and in the dhâranîs, see Appendix B-1. On the Dharmakirti (600- 660 CE) definition of mantra’s efficacy as exclusively related to a human âdhisthânikî rddhi, see Eltschinger, 2008: 278-281.

The Atharvaveda already described a mantra invoking a peacock as antidote against snakes poison (AV.VII.56.7). The Mahâmâyurî’s narrative core is based on the Khandha and Mora parittas (Piyadassi, 1975: 37-38, 41-42; Lévi, 1915a: 20-21), and the deities’ lists appearing into the Mahâsamaya and Âtânâtiya parittas are reproduced in the Mahâmâyurî (Przyluski/Lalou, 1938: 41-44), which in turn, are identical to their parallels Mahâsamâja and Âtânâtiya Mahâsutras already described in section 1.2.1.2. On another key early Dhâranî Scripture entitled Mâtahgî-sûtra, see Appendix C, n. 185.

See section 1.2.3. On the Dhâranî-vidhis, see section 3.1.2. However, there are instances of early Dhâranî-sutras (c. second-third centuries CE) including both dhâranî formulas and rituals, see Appendix C, n. 185.


Protections') (Gellner, 1993: 127, n. 39), and Saptavara (‘Seven Days') collections (Gronbold, 2001: 372), still in use among Nepalese Buddhist Newars.50 (d).- Dharani Anthologies (Skt. Dharani-sammucayas): These are one of the three modalities adopted by the Dharani Scriptures in China.51 One of the most outstanding is the Tuoluoni zi jing (Skt. Dharamsammucaya-sutra) (T 901), compiled by Atikuta between 653-654 CE. Besides including a vast selection of Dharani-sutras and dharani formulas, the Tuoluoni zi jing describes numerous rituals, especially, that of the consecration (Skt. abhiseka) and fire sacrifice (Skt. homa), becoming a pivotal work that would anticipate a mature East Asian Vajrayana (Strickmann, 1996: 72-87, 133136). A later and highly relevant Dharani-sammucaya is the quadrilingual Dazang quanzhou (‘Great Coll

ection of dharanis') in Manchu, Chinese, Mongolian, and Tibetan, compiled between 1748-1758 under mandate of the Qing emperor Qianlong (17111799).52 Given that Atikuta's Tuoluoni zi jing is an abridged version of a Vidyadhara-pitaka (Duquenne, 1988: 322), it is likely that the Dharani-sammucayas could be the direct descendants of the earlier Vidyadhara/Dharani-pitakas already mentioned. Judging by their contents, the Vidyadhara/Dharani-pitakas include early protective mantras (Siksa.VI.143; CBD: 140), and Scriptures with a threefold division of rites, accomplishments (Skt. siddhis), and Buddha Clans

(Skt. kulas), as the Subahupariprccha and the Susiddhikara (Lalou, 1955: 71-72), for this reason they were classified later as the earliest Kriya Tantras. According to the testimonies of Yijing (635-713 CE) and Wuxing (?-674 CE), the Vidyadhara/Dharani-pitakas were presented as a ‘new teaching' of great prestige in India (Chavannes, 1894: 101-105; Li-kouang, 1935: 83-84, n. 2). Those pitakas advocate the model of the vidyadhara, lit. ‘bearer of knowledge',

as a human being able to transform himself into a ‘superman' or ‘man-god' through a mantra/dharani practice (Buitenen, 1958: 308).53 The Dharani-sutras' hybrid nature, whose narratives makes them similar to the standard Mahayana Sutras, but their ritual methods relate them to the Tantras, locate them into a frontier area between Mahayana and Vajrayana (TMD: xxii), which other authors have described as ‘proto-Tantric' (Strickmann, 1996: 129-133), or ‘esoteric'

50 See other Dharani-samgrahas in CBSM: 41-43, 49-50; IMT.I.410-411; SBLN: 80-81, 93-95. On the parallels between the Pancaraksa collection and some Theravada parittas, see Skilling, 1992: 180-182.

51 The other two are translations of Indian Dharani-sutras, and Scriptures elaborated in China (‘apocryphal') but based on Indic originals (Strickmann, 1996: 72-73; Franke, 1984: 320-334).

52 Qianlong was seriously involved in dharamis and wanted to restore their original Indic pronunciations (Wang, 1995: 149-151; Yuyama, 2000: 166; Berger, 2003: 39). The contemporary The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahapitaka (2001) is an improved reproduction of the Dazang quanzhou.

53 The vidyadharas have their origin in the non-Buddhist ‘semigods' or ‘men-gods' (Skt. divyamanusas) (Przyluski, 1938: 125), and they are described as being able to fly, to change shape at will, always young and ‘accomplished' (siddhas) in mantric lore (Grafe, 2006: 135-136). The vidyadharas are mentioned in the Milindapanha and certain Jatakas (Lüders, 1939: 90-93), they play a key role in some early Buddhist Tantras (Przyluski, 1923: 306-307), and are the precursors of the siddha model advocated by a mature Indian Vajrayana (Davidson, 2002: 170171).


(S0rensen, 2006b: 57-58).54 Regardless the debatable accuracy of those designations, the documentary evidence shows an indisputable fact: ‘There is in fact a historical connection between the earlier dharam texts and the later Buddhist Tantras. The earliest textual precursors of the Tantras are dhararn-collections' (Gray, 2005: 427).


1.2.3. Vajrayana Buddhism

Among the foremost Vajrayana contributions to the dharams, two stand out: endowing them with sophisticated definitions which identify them definitely as mantras, and with a doctrinal and methodological systematization incomparable to their former generalized presentations. According to the earliest classification of the Indo-Tibetan Tantras, Buddhaguhya (the eighth century CE) established two subclasses within the Kriya Tantra category: the ‘general Tantras that are compilations of ritual manuals' (Tib. spyi'i cho ga bsdus pa'i rgyud), and the ‘distinct Tantras' (Tib. bye brag gi rgyud). Under the

former type he included texts such as the Susiddhikara (Susi) or the Subahupariprccha, i.e., compilations of ritual manuals (vidhi), while that under the second type Buddhaguhya included texts such as the Mahavairocanabhisambodhi-tantra (Vai-ta; Vai-su). This means that most of the earliest Kriya Tantras are composed by Dharam-vidhis, hence, those ritual manuals established ‘a key developmental bridge between the earlier dharams and the later tantras' (Dalton, 2010: 15-16, n. 33). In later classifications, Indo-Tibetan Vajrayana recognized the dharams as a type of Kriya (‘Action') and Carya (‘Conduct') Tantras: ‘The action and conduct tantras are distinguished as five types according to style of presentation alone: sutras, tantras, skills, detailed rituals, and retention mantras [sic] (dharani)' (Shes.V: 273-274).55


It had been argued that Kriya and Carya Tantras lack any soteriological goals, therefore, dharam practice would limit itself to exclusively mundane goals (Williams/Tribe, 2000: 205-208). However, the Dharam Scriptures themselves refute such biased claim, and demonstrate instead a more complex evidence: there are dharams with only mundane goals, others with mundane and supramundane goals, and still others with exclusively supramundane goals.56 * * Moreover, in the Mañjusrimülakalpa and the Mahavairocanabhisambodhi-tantra the first soteriological


54 Despite some authors considering the Dharami Scriptures as belonging to the ‘Mantranaya', understood as a stage previous to the Vajrayana (Williams/Tribe, 2000: 196, n. 8), such inclusion is problematic for two reasons: ‘Mantranaya' was indentified as synonym of ‘Vajrayana' by later Vajrayana authors (Omi, 2008: 307-308), and ‘Mantranaya' is not applicable to the East Asian Vajrayana. On the other hand, claiming that the Dharami Scriptures are unrelated to Vajrayana Tantras as does Hartzell (1997: 253-256), is completely without foundation, see below and section 1.2.3. Likewise, it had been acknowledged ‘the emergence of tantric materials out of the dharami literature', despite that those tantric materials included practices alien to standard Dharami Scriptures (Davidson, 2011: 23).


55 The other categories of Tantras are Yoga, Mahayoga, and Yogini Tantras (Williams/Tribe, 2000: 209-217).

56 The pivotal Kriya Tantra Manjusrimulakalpa includes both mundane and supramundane goals

(Wallis, 2002: 19-23), and the same occurs with the seminal Carya Tantra

Mahavairocanabhisambodhi-tantra (Vai-ta.I.7; XIII.50). On the mundane and supramundane dharami goals, see sections 3.2. and 3.3.


rationales for Buddhist dharams/mantras are articulated, which locates them neatly within a doctrinal and methodological Vajrayana context.57 But being faithful to their fluidic nature, dharam formulas are not only located within Kriya and Carya Tantras, but they permeate through the whole spectrum of Vajrayana Scriptures, establishing ‘genetic connections' between early and late Tantric texts (Cantwell/Mayer, 2010: 77-78). To quote just a

few examples, one of the accomplishments for the initiated to the Yoga Tantra Sarvatathagatatattvasamgraha is that of ‘[the mastery of] Dharanis' (Sanderson, 2009: 134); according to an IndoTibetan tradition, ‘dharam-mantras of Mahayoga Tantra, Yoga Tantra, Carya Tantra and Kriya Tantra' should be inserted for consecrating stupas (Bentor, 1995: 256); the Cakrasamvara-tantra, one of the pivotal Yogim Tantras, is ritually treated as a ‘dharam-dharmakaya relic' (Gray, 2005: 427-428, n. 26 and 27); and dharaniformulas are included within Mahayoga Tantras as the Guhyasamaja-tantra (Gusa: 298-306, 332), Yogini Tantras as the Hevajra-tantra (HT.I.2.32; II.5.45-47), or ritual manuals as the Cakrasamvarabalividhi (Finot, 1934: 57).


Within the East Asian Vajrayana, it is precisely the term dharami what was selected to define this tradition.58 The contents of this esoteric lineage are based on the Scriptures, dharamis, and mudras that ‘the revered Vairocana [Buddha] entrusted to the bodhisattva Vajrapani' until reaching the Indian ancestor Amoghavajra (Orlando, 1981: 135), and the initiatic transmission of dharamis is realized through a ‘consecration' ritual (Skt. dharanyabhiseka) (Chou, 1945, 284, n. 62). And to distinguish clearly the Buddhist dharami from the Daoist ‘spell' (Ch. zhou), which it was commonly confused with in China, Amoghavajra composed a normative definition on the meaning of the term dharani, where it is identified explicitly as mantra (Zong: 151-154; McBride, II, 2005: 109).59


In the same line, the Japanese successor of the esoteric lineage Kükai (774-835 CE), described his school as the ‘mantra-dharam-pitaka’ (Jap. shingon-darani-zo), and as emanating from the Buddha Mahavairocana's Dharma-kaya and being only accessible through consecration (abhiseka) (Abé, 1999: 197-198). Kükai's emphasis on the idea that the Buddha as Dharma-kaya actively preaches the Dharma (Jap. hosshin seppo), validated mantric language as being both a means to attain enlightenment and as a perfect expression of it (Payne, 2006: 79). And it is precisely the dharami ‘secret function' as being able to ‘unleash countless meanings from within each letter of a word' which unveils the innumerable contents of the Dharma-kaya's preaching (Abé, 1999: 264, 271).60 The dharami definitions and classifications according to Mahayana and Vajrayana will be dealt with in the next chapter.


See section 2.3.

58 An institutional Vajrayana lineage was established in China by the Indian masters Subhakarasimha (637-735), Vajrabodhi (671-741), and Amoghavajra (705-774 CE) (Chou, 1945: 251-307). 59 See section 2.4.1. 60 See section 2.4.2.


Chapter 2


2.1. Primary Definitions

2.1.1. Meanings of the term Dharani

If it had been stated that ‘the Buddhist term dharani is ambiguous' (Gyatso, 1992: 173), probably this is due more to some Western interpretations of the term, than to the accuracy of its semantic field. Certainly, translating dharani just as ‘spell' (Waddell, 1912: 156), ‘magic formula' (BHSD: 284b), ‘mantric prayer' (Gellner, 1993: 128), or as a ‘short mnemonic string of words' (Snellgrove, 2002: 122), had contributed to limiting its meaning, and to a certain extent, to misunderstanding it.

From more accurate approaches, dharani had been interpreted as ‘retaining in memory (dharana), both as the process itself and the means to bring it about' (Braarvig, 1985: 19), 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, 2008: 493-494). A recent polysemic dharani interpretation identifies it as a ‘code/coding' of Buddhist words/sounds understood as mantras, and linguistic/cognitive skills such as knowledge, analogical thinking, memory, and eloquence (Davidson, 2009: 141-142). From a contemplative side,

according to a contemporary interpretation of the Theravada Maha Nikaya, the dharani is conceived as a ‘mental formation' (P sankhara) composed of spiritual syllabic formulas that, through its contemplative cultivation (P bhavana), the meditator is able to purify his mind and liberate it from the conditioned (Bizot, 1976: 85, n. 1, 140-141). And according to the Vajrayana that clearly identifes dharani as mantra, a dharani ‘is a vessel that bears, holds, preserves, and contains a linguistic space that is occupied by the force of some enlightened being' (Wallis, 2002: 30). While those interpretations rightly point out diverse aspects directly related to the dharani term, its etymological analysis, however, will yield a clearer understanding of their foundations.


The Sanskrit noun ‘dharani' derives from the root dhT ‘to hold', and shares such root, among others, with the term dharman, ‘bearer, supporter, arranger', that is the old form of the Vedic dharman, ‘that which is established or firm, steadfast decree, statute, ordinance, law' (Whitney, 1885: 84-85; SED: 510, 512). In a primary sense, the feminine noun ‘dharani' means ‘any tubular vessel of the body; the earth', and is derived from the verb ‘dharana', ‘holding, bearing, keeping (in remembrance), retention, preserving, protecting, maintaining, possesing, having' (SED: 515).61 This etymological meaning is reflected in the traditional translations of the term dharani to the Chinese as ‘completely retaining' (Ch. zongchi), and to the Tibetan as ‘holder' (Tib. gzuns), related to the perfect tense gzun from the root hdzin pa ‘to lay hold of, to seize' (Mpps.IV: 1854). Nevertheless, the meaning of this ‘holding' is twofold: ‘”Dharani” describes both what is grasped, or held to, and the means by which one does so. One can dharani a dharani, in other words, and “dharani” names the quality of being that allows this' (Copp, 2005: 168).

61 On the meanings of the Pali term ‘dharana', see section 1.2.1.2.


It is precisely this twofold meaning of dhdran , understood on the one hand as a content/faculty, and on the other hand, as a means to attain it, which allowed it to be selected by Buddhists to assimilate the mantra's semantic field. As it will be demonstrated with the dhdrani’s traditional definitions referred to below, all of them keep the basic meaning of dhdrani as a content/faculty that is held to, whether ‘memory', ‘protection', ‘virtue', ‘knowledge', etc. However, the synonyms and compound terms of dhdrani denote a semantic field that unmistakably identifies it with the term mantra, understood as the means through which those contents/faculties that are held to are realized.62


2.1.2. Synonyms and Compound Terms

Undoubtedly, this is a complex area that had raised some confusion among several authors, hence, a basic profile will be offered which, hopefully, will clarify to some extent the semantic richness of dhdrani term.

T. Skorupski already rightly pointed out concerning the terms mantra, hrdaya, and vidyd that: ‘On the basis of their fundamental notion of mystic recitation they can be considered one. However, each one of them has its particular significance' (Durga: 111). Likewise, the basic principle established here asserts that the terms dhdran , mantra, vidyd, hrdaya, vajrapada, and their compounds, are identical because all of them belong to the uncommon language of mantra; hence, they only differ in their specific functions, which as will be made evident below, are fluidic and according to different contexts though, they even become interchangeable.


===2.1.2.1. Mantra-pada, Dhdran -mantra-padav


Despite the fact that there is no Buddhist definition for the term mantra within Mahayana Sutras, in the Bodhimandala-ekdksara-usnisa-cakra-sutra the Buddha is named as ‘mantra' and ‘great mantra', and turns his Dharma wheel ‘with innumerable kinds of mantras' (Ben: 38-39). What there are in Mainstream and Mahayana Buddhist Scriptures are references to the term mantra, designed as ‘mantra', or ‘mantra-pada', i.e., ‘mantrawords' (MS.II: 74; Harrison/Coblin, 1999: 151), and also to the pairing ‘dhdran -mantra-pada’ (Punda.XXI.233-235). Overall, mantra-pada denotes a formula facilitating any mundane or supramundane goal of the Buddhist practitioner, and dhdran -mantra-pada has basically the same meaning, as ‘mantra-words of dhdranis' (Dayal, 1932: 267), although this basic meaning may vary according the context. Thus, in some cases ‘mantra-pada' and ‘dhdran -pada' are used as synonyms and as interchangeable terms, indicating in this way their ‘identity of reference' (samdnadhikarana) (Davidson, 2009: 117), while in others, the terms ‘mantra-pada', ‘dhdran -mantra-pada', and ‘dhdran -pada' appear separately but within identical context, being understood as synonymous 62 On the Vedic meaning of mantra as ‘an instrument of thought', see section 1.1.1.1. In some Dhdrani-sutras however, a dhdrani formula is simultaneously viewed as a means to attain the goal and the goal itself, eg. a Mahdpratisard dhdrani formula is described ‘as equal to the heart of all the Tathagatas' (Prati: 206). This view will be developed within Vajrayana, see sections

2.3. and 2.4.expressions denoting a set of mantras intended for mundane and supramundane goals (Prati: 217-218).63


2.1.2.2, Vidya, Vidya-mantra, Maha-vidya, Vidyarajni, Vidya-dharani

The feminine Sanskrit noun vidya is derived from the root ‘vid' ‘to know', being identical to the term ‘Veda', hence, it means ‘knowledge', ‘science', ‘learning' (Whitney, 1885: 159; SED: 963-964). And one of the key means to attain vidya is by reciting the vidya mantras. It would be remembered here that

the mahavyahrtis' mantras extract the ‘sap' of the threefold Vedic knowledge, which denotes a natural connection between Vedas and vidya. However, the notion of vidya as mantra is originated with the formulas revealed by non-Vedic goddesses, as the ‘Seven Mothers' (sapta-matrkas), Sabari, Camunda, Candika, Durga, Kalaratri, etc., assimilated later into the Atharvaveda. A proof of this lies in the authoritative Devi Purana, true compendium of non-Vedic goddesses' vidya mantras according to the Atharvaveda's prescriptions (Gupta, 2002: 232-233, 237).64


The Theravada Nikayas rejected the vidyas (P vijja) ‘Gandhara' and ‘Manika' as proper means to attain the powers of invisibility and reading others' minds (DN.11.5-7), however, the Abhidharmakosa accepted those vidyas (Kosa.VII.47c-d, 56b). With his mastery of the gandhari-vidya, it is said that Asanga was able to transfer himself instantaneously to the Tusita heaven (Chimpa/Chattopadhyaya, 1970: 166). The Suvarnabhasottama-sutra includes the goddess Sri's

vidya-mantra (Suvar: 61; Sgol: 51), and the Karandavyuha-sutra describes its influential six-syllable mantra ‘om manipadme hum' as a maha-vidya (Studholme, 2002: 61).65 But it is into the Dharani Scriptures where, besides identifying vidya as dharani with the compound vidya-dharani (Mayu: 378, n. 49, 386), its feminine quality is emphasized calling it ‘vidya-queen (vidya-rajni), although it is concealed as the Buddha's mantric wisdom. In several Dharani-sutras the vidya-rajnis emanate as light from the Buddha's body, whether from his usnisa (Sita: 9091), or from his eyebrows (Prati: 193). Within the Dharani-vidhis and the early Kriya Tantras, however, the vidya-rajnis reveal their feminine nature as being simultaneously dharani formulas and personified

goddesses, becoming ritual referents (Hidas, 2010: 481-483) and models for visualization and self-identification (Skt. ista-devata) (Porcio, 2000: 14-16; Przyluski, 1923: 308-310), and a mature Vajrayana would identify vidya as a ‘female mantra'.66


63 The same thing occurs with the compound ‘mantra-dharani', being understood as an appositional compound indicating a dharani that is a mantra (mantra eva dharani) (Davidson, 2009: 117). This is precisely the meaning of the ‘mantra-dharani' compound in the Asanga's Bodhisattvabhumi, see section 2.2.2. On the ‘dharani-mantra' compound in the Vajrayana, see sections 2.3. and 2.4.

64 Some of those vidya mantras appear in Buddhist Tantras (Vai-ta.IV.11; Vai-su: 73). On the nonVedic goddesses within Buddhist dharanis, see section 1.1.2.1. 65 On other references to the ‘maha-vidya' as mantra, see Appendix D section (a).

66 See section 2.3. On vidya as a ‘female mantra' within the Saiva Tantric context, see section 1.1.2.2. On the iconography of the twelve dharanis or vidya-rajnis, see DBI.3: 925; Bhattacharyya, 1958: 337-342.


2.1.2.3. Hrdaya, Hrdaya-dhâranî

The term hrdaya, lit. ‘heart’, or ‘essence’, appears in the Dhâranî Scriptures adopting three meanings: (1) as a title of a Scripture, hrdaya denotes ‘the essence or quintessence of that which is required for accomplishing a powerful supernatural result’, i.e., the dhâranî formulas, rituals and benefits included within a given Scripture, eg. the Amoghapâsa-hrdaya-dhâranî (Amog: 290, n. 13). (2) As a synonym of dhâranî, hrdaya also indicates the complete

set of dhâranî formulas included within a Scripture: ‘I shall now recite ... this Hrdaya named Amoghapâsa ...’ (Amog: 295). And (3), hrdaya also designates a ‘mantra-essence’ (hrdaya-mantra), understood as the deity’s ‘sonic body-mind’, that despite being functionally equivalent to the Tantric ‘seedmantra’ (bîja-mantra), differs in its form, because the hrdaya-mantra consists of several syllables (Snellgrove, 2002: 141).67 The term hrdaya also appears as the compound hrdaya-dhâranî, denoting the ‘essential dhâranî’ of a deity akin to her/his hrdaya-mantra, although it is not

used to invoke the deity’s body-mind itself, but to invoke the essential qualities that characterize a given deity. For instance, the Sarvadurgatiparisodhana-tantra refers to the five Vajrapani’s hrdaya-dhâranîs propitiating his powers to remove all obstructions and pacifying all sorrows (Durga: 42-45, 188, 190). Likewise, the Mahâmâyurî’s hrdaya-dhâranî condensates all her protective powers and its recitation ‘eradicates completely all evils and misfortunes’ (Mâyu: 379-381)


2.1.2.4. Vajra-pada, Dhâranî-vajra-pada

It is significant that several Mahayana Scriptures as the Upâyakausalya-sutra (Upka.110, n. 130) and others, refer to a semantic equivalence between dhâranî and vajra-pada terms. Basically, vajra-padas ‘are keywords that identify or sum up central premises of Buddhist thought’, i.e., being similar to the Abhidhamma’s mâtikâs and the ‘syllabic dhâranîs’, vajra-padas serve as mnemonic support to organize significant teachings and stimulate mind’s transformation (Pagel, 2007a: 2-4, 85-86, 109). According to the Ratnagotravibhâga, a vajra-pada is a term expressing the meaning of enlightenment in a

favourable way to its attaining (‘pada’), but such meaning is as the diamond (‘vajra’), difficult to penetrate for an untrained mind (Ragot: 142). In more precise terms, the Sarvadharmâpravrttinirdesa-sutra 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 Dharmadhatu and engage with the nonestablished state’. However, it is the

Ratnacudapariprchâ-sutra that describes how ‘to engage’ with vajra-padas, as being through the dhâranî-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. When one has engaged with the letter ‘A’, one engages with all syllables’ (tr. Pagel, 2007a: 75-76).


To this previous Mahayana identity of vajra-pada as an ‘imperishable’ (aksaya) syllable, ie. ‘A’, understood as a dhâranî holding ‘all syllables’, was followed naturally by the Vajrayana identity of vajra-pada as mantra.68 The Kârandavyuha-sutra describes the mantra ‘om manipadme hum’ as a ‘phrase which is a vajra without equal


67 On the hrdaya-mantra and its variants, see section 2.3. 68 On the Vedic meaning of the ‘imperishable word', see section 1.1.1. On the Mahayana and Vajrayana interpretations of the syllable ‘A', see sections 2.2.1. and 2.3. respectively.


(asamavajrapadam); an indestructible vajra (abhedyavajrapadam)' (Studholme, 2002: 147), and the Mahavairocanabhisambodhi-tantra identified as vajra-pada a dharani-mukha and a vidya-rajñi ‘which transcends all mundane states of existence' (Vai-ta.III.VII.65). But now it will be dealt with the most common double associations of dharani term.


2.1.3. Dharani paired to other Dharma qualities

2.1.3.1. Dharani-mukhas and Samadhi-mukhas

In several Mahayana Scriptures it is asserted that the irreversible Bodhisattvas obtain ‘dharani-doors' (dharani-mukhas) and ‘concentration-doors' (samadhi-mukhas) (Mpsu: 92; Ratna: 115). Overall, a dharani-mukha means ‘those superior recollective wisdoms which are able to support immeasurable Buddha qualities and hold them without failure', so that ‘in one expression it can support all expressions', whereas a samadhi-mukha refers to ‘those superior contemplations which include all the various concentrations', i.e., they are samadhis allowing the realization of numerous samadhis; and are called ‘doors' ‘because they engender all conditioned merits and all uncontaminated states', that is, they embody the limitless accumulation of the Bodhisattva's merit and wisdom (Bubhu: 159-160, 220).69

From a specific level, according to the Asanga's Aryadesanavikhyapana-sastra, a dharani-mukha is the ‘accomplishment of the penetration of syllables ... With this power of recollection, within a single letter he can illuminate, distinguish, and fully reveal every kind of object, whether indicative of defilement or purity' (Tr. Davidson, 2009: 125), and for the Da faja tuóluóní jing (592-594 CE), a dharani-mukha is analogous to the ‘earth', enabling the production of ‘all dharmas all sutras, all words, all their different meanings' and can sustain them all (Tr. Overbey, 2010: 64). Obviously, for those

Scriptures dharani-mukha is equal to a soteriological language mastery, but, how to attain it? The Mahaprajñaparamita-sastra understands dharani-mukhas not as language mastery as such, but as three dharanis to obtain it: (1) the ‘dharani retaining what is listened' (srutadhara-dharani), that includes four methods: memory cultivated through analogies, a samadhi to develop memory, mantra practice to obtain dharanis, and memory acumulated from past lives; (2) the ‘dharani entering into [the true characteristic] of the articulated sounds' (ghosapravesa-dharani), i.e., to know that sounds and words are impermanent and ‘utterly empty' (atyanta-sunya); and (3), the ‘dharani penetrating the syllables' (aksarapravesa-dharani), i.e., to contemplate the ‘arapacana' syllabary grasping its empty nature (Mpps.IV: 1864-1868).70


From the fourteen samadhis described in the Mahaprajñaparamita-sastra, stand out the ‘samadhi that does not forget any dharma', the samadhi allowing ‘the knowledge of all articulated sounds and all languages', the ‘samadhi overcoming the king of all dharanis', and the ‘samadhi of the universal eloquence' (samanta-pratibhana).


69 According to Yogacara sources, in the Bodhisattva's tenth bhumi, that is equal to Buddhahood, the ultimate reality (Skt. dharmadhatu) is identified as the dharani-mukhas/samadhi-mukhas's complete mastery (Msa.II: 199). At that stage, the dharanis become ‘completely purified and great' and the Bodhisattva relies on them to ‘illuminate the holy Dharma and uphold it always' (Mslb.XVIII.72-74). On the dharmadhatu, see section 2.3. and n. 90.

70 Note the references to ‘mantra practice to obtain dharanis', see section 2.2.2., and to the ‘arapacana' syllabary contemplation, see Appendix B-2.


At first sight, this text emphasizes an interplay between dharamis, samadhis, and pratibhana, understood as three interrelated qualities where the growing of a single one stimulates that of the others. However, the text also recognizes certain differences among them: whereas the dharamis remain within the Bodhisattva's mental continuum life after life, the samadhis instead, disappear after death; moreover, it is the samadhi practice joined to the wisdom of emptiness that produces the dharamis, because the Bodhisattva, ‘for all beings' sake, have to hold dharamis to maintain the qualities' (Mpps.IV: 1875-1877).


2.1.3.2. Dharami and Pratibhana

Another frequent pairing found in Sutras is the fact that the Bodhisattvas ‘possessed the dharamis; they were gifted with eloquence (pratibhana)' (Sursam: 117; Upka: 1; Pumda.I.2; Ratna: 149, 427). The Sanskrit term pratibhana is etymologically related to prati-bha-, ‘to shine upon, come into sight, but also to appear to the mind, to flash upon the thought, occur to, become clear or manifest', and usually denotes ‘a sudden thought, a quick understanding or insight', and even means ‘the power of understanding all kinds of sounds without effort' (Gonda, 1963a: 318).71 Within a Mahayana context, pratibhana means

‘quick-wittedness, inspiration' (BHSD: 366b), being a highly significant faculty for the Bodhisattva in her/his function as dharmabhamaka, whether as an attribute that legitimates her/his own Scriptural authority, as ‘when the Buddha invites Subhuti to speak, with the words “may it be clear to you” (pratibhatu te)' (MacQueen, 1982: 50), and as a pivotal faculty in her/his role as Dharma preacher. In the last case, pratibhana is one of the four ‘detailed and thorough knowledges' (pratisamvids): (1) dharma-pratisamvid: knowledge of all phenomena in all their names and forms; (2) artha-pratisamvid: knowledge of all phenomena in all their characteristics and meanings; (3) nirukti-pratisamvid: knowledge of all phenomena in all their etymological explanations, and the knowledge of all languages; (4) pratibhana-pratisamvid: knowledge of the verbal distinctions of all kinds, that together with the dharamis and other qualities, constitute the essential factors that any dharmabhamaka needs for a successful Dharma's spreading (Dayal, 1932: 251, 259-269).72


The pratisamvids' characteristics demonstrate their focus on a language mastery intended mainly for soteriological goals, hence, their association with dharamis is hardly surprising, however, the Sutras usually refer first to dharamis and then to pratibhana, which suggests a view in which realizing dharamis first is a necessary basis to produce pratibhana: ‘The Bodhisattva who bears in mind these dharanis will come face to face with all the flashes of insight and all analytical knowledges (pratibhana-pratisamvida)' (Mpsu: 488-489).


71 The Bodhisattva's skillfulness ‘in the cognition of sounds' will be remembered here (Mpsu: 162); for instance, the Central Asian dharami master Fotudeng (?-349 CE) ‘when he heard the sound of bells, he would foretell events therefrom, and [these prophecies] were never once unfulfilled' (Wright, 1948: 338).

72 On the dharmabhamakas' pratisamvids and mantra mastery, see section 1.2.2.1., and n. 38.


2.2. Indian Mahayana Definitions and Classifications

2.2.1. In Sutras

As was said before, dharani term was closely linked to Mahayana Sutras from their beginnings.73 The Buddhabhumyupadesa 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 dharanis and, in one word, in one instant, he was able to convey all doctrines' (Bubhu: 7). Hence, the present section will focus on an overview on the dharani's understandings according to several Mahayana Sutras following a chronological order.

Overall, the Prajnaparamita-sutras already established the seminal foundations to the emergence of ‘formulaic' and ‘syllabic' dharanis, and at the same time, they constitute the earliest Mahayana reformulation of those non-Vedic, Vedic and Saiva mantric factors assimilable to Buddhism, as protection, memorizing and condensation of knowledge, eloquence, spiritual realization through language, and the identity between language and ultimate reality.74


Already it was stated that the Astasahasrikaprajnaparamita-sutra recognized mantras and vidyas as an attribute of the irreversible Bodhisattva, and the same Scripture identified itself as a maha-vidya, bestowing five ‘advantages even here and now' (dTstadharmikas) to the Bodhisattva ‘who bear it in mind' (dharayisyati): avoiding disputes, harmonious speech, avoiding to be killed in battle, omniscience, and getting safety in those places where the Scripture is deposited (Asta.3.27-29; PWE-S.III.50-57).75 In the Mahaprajnaparamita-sutra, after obtaining the dharanis and producing the pratisamvids, the Bodhisattva remembers the Dharma ‘even after he has died' until he would attain omniscience (Mpsu: 532), and is ‘able to utter and retain in his mind all

the languages, agreed symbols and meaningful sounds' (Mpsu: 541). Moreover, the Bodhisattva cultivates the recognition that ‘this deep perfection of wisdom is the entrance to all the syllables and the door to the dharanis' (Mpsu: 488), and this realization is obtained through contemplating the ‘arapacana' syllabary, which will allow her/him a kind of detachment in which she/he ‘will not be tied down by any sounds, he will accomplish everything through the

sameness of all dharmas, and he will acquire the skill in the cognition of sounds' (Mpsu: 162). Later on, the PrajnaparamitahTdaya-sutra would summarize all factors already referred to within its mantra, as being identical to the Prajnaparamita, and described as: ‘A great mantra, a great vidya-mantra, the utmost mantra, the unequalled mantra, allayer of all suffering' (Pph.VIII). Lastly, for the Bhagavati-prajnaparamita-sarva-tathagata-mata-ekaksara-nama, the Prajnaparamita is identical to the syllable ‘A' (Ekak: 201).76


73 See Appendix D section (a).

74 On these non-Buddhist mantric backgrounds, see sections 1.1.1. and 1.1.2., and on their influence upon Mahayana, see section 1.2.2.

75 On the relationship between antarayas, dTstadharmikas, and mantra/dharani practice, see Appendix D section (a), n. 195, and section 3.2.1.

76 This identification denotes an esoterization of the Prajnaparamita Scriptures (Conze, 2000: 87). On the syllable «A»'s Vajrayana meaning, see section 2.3.


Besides the Prajndpdramitd-sutras, in other Mahayana Scriptures the dhdrani concept gradually would become more explicit in terms of definition and methods. What follows is a basic survey of the most relevant texts on this respect.77

The Ajdtasatrukaukrtyavinodand-sutra (147-186 CE) defines dhdrani as memory, intelligence, eloquence, and the capacity to ‘maintain the Buddha's lineage' (Tr. Pagel, 2007a: 83, n. 67). Here dhdrani is understood more as knowledge and a soteriological language mastery than as just memory, moreover, it adds the factor of ‘preserving' the Dharma, denoting thus the dhdran 's protective faculty. Despite the fact that this Sutra does not include any protective

mantras, the contemporary Druma-kinnara-rdja-pariprcchd-sutra (c. 170-190 CE) does, including a mantra-pada for the ‘protection, preservation and defense' of the Sutra and the Sangha (Harrison/Coblin, 1999: 151),78 which makes explicit the identification of dhdran as a mantra capable of ‘maintaining the Buddha's lineage'. However, the later Aksayamatinirdesa-sutra (265-316 CE) will narrow dhdran 's definition as memory itself and the means of retaining in memory the Buddha's teachings (Braarvig, 1985: 18), but without specifying what those means would be. The contemporary Bhadramdydkdra-vydkarana (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 Tathagata's teaching by means of setting words and letters in the right order', as one of those means to attain dhdran (Bhadra.115).

But it is the Tathdgatamahdkarundnirdesa-sutra (265-316 CE) that offers the most detailed account of dhdranipractice, describing eight dhdranis that ‘serve primarily to secure the transmission of the Dharma and thereby contribute to universal liberation'. Most of those dhdran s revolve around language mastery: the ability to condense any number of teachings within the sound ‘A', ‘arapacana' syllabary's contemplation, and the four pratisamvids' accomplishment, establishing thus ‘a close link between dhdran , scriptural memory and teaching' (Pagel 2007b: 175-180).

In the same vein, numerous Scriptures emphasized the value conducive to enlightenment of the syllable ‘A', as the Kusalamulasamparigraha-sutra (384-417 CE): ‘the portal to [the sound] ‘A' is a portal that leads to imperishable gnosis (jndna) and eloquence (pratibhdna)'. Nevertheless, ‘A' is not manifesting an eternal principle as the Vedic and Saiva Tantric ‘A' does; instead, the Mahayana chose it because it is emphasizing ‘A' as the privative particle ‘a' in

Sanskrit grammar, demonstrating in this way the ineffable and indefinable nature of language and all dharmas (Pagel, 2007a: 63-64, n. 51). Accordingly, the Mahayana approach to language is focused, on the one hand, to prove its conventional nature lacking any inherent existence, and on the other hand, its inability to express ultimate reality, that for definition, is inexpressible, ‘for not in the letters is the perfection of wisdom' (Mpsu: 209). In the last

analysis, the Mahayana mastery of language is aimed at its deconstruction. The syllables are ‘inexhaustible' (aksaya) not because they are eternal as the Vedas claim, but because their grammatical meaning, as that of all dharmas, ‘has no proper reality' (Bhadra.114). For instance, contemplating the syllable ‘VA' prompts that ‘the sound of the paths of speech (vdkpathaghosha) has been quite cut off (Mpsu: 160).79 Being

77 The dates are of the first Sutra's Chinese translation according to CCBT: 182, 161, 74, 35, 79, and 425, respectively.

78 See Appendix D section (c).

79 On this Mahayana language's deconstruction, see section 1.2.2.1.

41 faithful to this position, the ‘meaningless' nature of mantras/dharanis will be emphasized by Asanga.


2.2.2. In Treatises (Sastras)

Undoubtedly, the two most influential definitions of dharani within a Mahayana context appear in the Mahdprajndpdramitd-sdstra attributed to Nagarjuna (fourth century CE), and in the Asanga's Bodhisattvabhumi (c. 310-390 CE). Their influence would be projected on successive Mahayana and Vajrayana texts. The Mahdprajndpdramitd-sdstra gives the following definition of dharani:

Dharani ... means ‘able to maintain’ (dharana), or ‘able to dispel’ (vidharana). As for being able to maintain, once one has collected all wholesome dharmas (kusaladharma), one is able to maintain them (dhdrayati) so that they do not scatter or become lost. It is like an intact vessel (bhdjana), which, when it is filled with water, the water does not leak out. As for being able to dispel, the unwholesome roots (akusalamula) that [are wont to be] born in

the mind are dispelled (vidhdrayati) and not born. If there is the desire to commit evil, [the Dharani] will take hold and not allow oneself to commit it. This Dharani either is associated to the mind (cittasamprayukta) or is dissociated to the mind (cittaviprayukta); is either defiled (sdsrava) or undefiled

(andsrava). It is formless (drupya), invisible (anidarsana), and unhindered (apratigha); it is contained within one element (dhdtu), within one sense field (dyatana), within one aggregate (skandha), that is, the Dharmadhatu, the Dharmayatana, and the Samskaraskandha ... Moreover, the Bodhisattva who possess the Dharani, due to the power of his memory (smrtibala), is able to keep and not forget all teachings he hears (srutadharma) (Mpps.I: 317-318). Here dhdrani is understood mainly as a ‘mental formation’ (samskdra) contained within the ‘Samskaraskandha’, that protects the practitioner through a

double function of holding the wholesome dharmas and avoiding the unwholesome ones, and as already had been noted, this ‘dhdrani-samskdra’ goes with the Bodhisattva’s mental continuum through all her/his existences. As to the question of how to realize this dhdrani, in another passage from the Mahdprajndpdramitd-sdstra several methods are described, among others, those dhdrani-mukhas of mantra practice and ‘arapacana’ syllabary’s contemplation

(Mpps.IV: 1864-1868).80 Here again the basic twofold understanding of dhdrani is found as a faculty holding attributes as protection, memory, knowledge and ethics, and as a method to attain it. In this case, as faculty, dhdrani is understood as a ‘mental formation’ able to hold the wholesome and reject the unwholesome, and as method, dhdrani is mostly related to a language mastery also including mantras and the ‘arapacana’ syllabary, that can be understood as ‘sonic formations’ endowed of soteriological efficacy, hence, this proves that dhdrani term was selected to assimilate the non-Buddhist notion of mantra.81 However, the identification of dhdrani as mantra is still not made fully explicit by the Mahdprajndpdramitd-sdstra, to do that, it should be turned to the fourfold dhdrani definition according to the Asanga’s Bodhisattvabhumi:82


80 See the srutadhara-dharani and the aksarapravesa-dharani on section 2.1.3.1.

81 On dharanTs definition as ‘mental formation', see section 2.1.1. On the Vedic, Saiva Tantric and Indo-Tibetan Vajrayana definitions of mantra, see sections 1.1.1.1., 1.1.2.2., and 2.3. respectively.

82 Because of space limitations, here the long Asanga text will be summarized.


-‘Dharma-dharani: By her/his memorizing and wisdom faculties, the Bodhisattva retains innumerable teachings (Dharmas) in their names, phrases, and phonemes.

-Artha-dharani: It is the same as the previous one, but here the meanings (artha) of those teachings are retained.

-Mantra-dharani: i.e., ‘a dharani that is a mantra'. Because of her/his samadhi mastery, the Bodhisattva ‘spiritually supports' (adhisthita) the mantra-words (mantra-padas), becoming thus ‘supremely effective and infallible' to appease the distresses of sentient beings.

-Bodhisattva-ksanti-labhaya-dharani: i.e., ‘the dharani which give rise to the receptivity of a Bodhisattva'. It consists in meditating on the sense of a mantra promulgated by the Buddha as ‘tadyatha iti miti kiti bhiksanti padani svaha', until it is realized that these mantra-words have no meaning, this, namely ‘no-meaningness' (nitarthatha), is indeed their meaning.83 Then, the Bodhisattva realizes the meaning of all dharmas as follows: the meaning of the ‘own being' (svabhava) of all dharmas is not completely revealed by any number of words; the absence of expressible essence is the meaning of their essence (tr. Inagaki, in Anir: 14-15; Kapstein, 2001: 237-238).

This Asanga's dharani definition is highly significant because it makes the identification of dharani clear as mantra within a Mahayana prescriptive framework. Although Asanga was not explicit on how to attain dharma-dharani and artha-dharani, it is quite likely that mantras also were used for that purpose, as the quoted passage from the Mahaprajnaparamita-sastra made it clear.84 Concerning mantra-dharani, Asanga adds to the standard dharani qualities

as protection, memory, and knowledge, a key soteriological one as ‘suffering's allayer', which indicates a tendency developed later for those dharanis focused on the removal of karmic obstructions.85 In other places of the Bodhisattvabhumi, Asanga refers to the Bodhisattva's samadhi mastery as the power endowing of adhisthana to mantras and making them effective for two reasons: because the Bodhisattva attained a special dhyana called ‘dispenser of

spiritual support' (adhisthayaka) having as its object the relief of beings and that provides a basis for mantra efficacy (Eltschinger, 2001: 66-67), and because the Bodhisattva's bodhicitta, being able to make effective any kind of mantras and vidyas to heal sentient beings' ills (Wangchuk, 2007: 164).86 Lastly, the bodhisattva-ksanti-labhaya-dharani identifies mantra practice with realizing the empty and inexpressible nature of all phenomena, hence, it follows the language's deconstructive approach characteristic of the Mahayana.87 But Asanga's dharani definition was not limited to justifying mantra practice within Mahayana, it also involved ‘a doctrinal warrant for the expansion of practices allied with those of esoteric Buddhism' (Kapstein, 2001: 238). Now the Vajrayana understandings of dharani will be studied.


83 In fact, this is a ‘meaningless' mantra (Gyatso, 1992: 176). However, on the supposed dharanis' unintelligibility, see Appendix B-1.

84 See the srutadhara-dharani in section 2.1.3.1.


See section 3.3.2.

86 On adhisthana applied to dharanis, see section 1.2.2.2. paragraph (a).


See sections 1.2.2.1. and 2.2.1.


2.3. Indo-Tibetan Vajrayana Definitions and Classifications

As was stated previously, with the Vajrayana, dharam is identified as mantra and was object of elaborated rationales, highlighting those from the Mañjusrimüla-kalpa, the Mahavairocanabhisambodhi-tantra, and the Vajrasekharamahaguhyayoga-tantra, that will be summarized below.88 According to the Mañjusrimülakalpa, the buddhavacana consists of mantras/dharams uttered by ‘all Buddhas' throughout time. The mantras/dharams arise from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas' meditative absorption, or in more concrete terms, because of their ‘power of miraculous transformation' (Skt. vikurvama-

bala), Buddhas and Bodhisattvas themselves are transformed into mantras/dharamis (Wallis, 2002: 31-34).89 The term vikurvama means ‘the capacity to effect, by sheer psychic power, the transformation, displacement or multiplication of the human body', and this power emanates from Bodhisattvas who have accomplished ultimate reality or the ‘Dharma Realm' (dharmadhatu) in its aspect of manifestation of magical productions (Gómez, 1977: 225, 228).90 Therefore, the mantras/dharamis are linguistic spaces occupied by the consciousness and energy of enligthened beings, sonic embodiments of their power.

That is why each mantra/dharami has a specific function: soteriological ‘essence mantras' (hrdaya-mantras), ‘all-accomplishing' ‘near-essence mantras' (upahrdaya-mantras), ‘invocation mantras' (ahvanana-mantras), and so on.91 The Mañjusrimülakalpa acknowledged the inclusion of mantras from the Atharvaveda and those belonging to Saiva and Vaisnava deities as a conversion device, which reflected a context quite inclined to religious eclecticism.92 The Mahavairocanabhisambodhi-tantra refers to Bodhisattvas that because of their pure minds, obtain ‘dharamis in unlimited languages, sounds and tones' (Vai-ta.I.I.13), which allows them to know others' minds, preserving the Buddhas'


88 On the first two Tantras, see section 1.2.3. n. 56. The seventh century CE Vajrasekharamahaguhyayoga-tantra (abbreviated as Vajrasekhara) is the main explanatory Scripture of the Yoga Tantras (Rgyud: 25).

89 One of the names of the Dharam Scripture Arya Mahabala-Nama-Mahayanasütra is that of being the ‘magical transformation (vikurvama) of the Tathagata', in the sense that such Scripture ‘will accomplish the Tathagata's acts' after his parinirvama (Bala: 61.24-25, 64.7-17).

90 According to the Mahayana, dharmadhatu has as its foundation the dharmata, i.e., the fundamental purity of all dharmas because they are unoriginated, its goal is the buddhata, i.e., the sphere of a Buddha's gnosis, including the scope and range of his actions, its path is the bodhicarya, i.e., the cultivation of the ultimate object of enlightenment, and it also includes the accumulation of the wholesome roots, bringing all beings to enlightenment, and the manifestation of magical productions (Gómez, 1977: 228-229). See the dharmadhatu as identical to the mantras' dharmata, below.


91 On some of these categories within a dharami formula, see below.

92 As strategies emphasizing its supremacy, the Manjusrimulakalpa claimed that those nonBuddhist mantras were in fact promulgated by the Bodhisattva Manjusri disguised as one of the Hindu deities (Wallis, 2002: 46-49), it also stated that all non-Buddhist mantras and rituals are effective if they are recited in front of the Manjusrimulakalpa's mamdala (Granoff, 2000: 404409). On the dharami practice in a ritual context, see section 3.1.2.


teachings and getting their protection (Müller, 1976: 117). Besides recognizing those standard dhâranî features though, this Tantra elaborated a mantra theory also applicable to dhâranîs that will be summarized below.

The term mantra refers to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas because they are endowed with ‘knowledge' (man-) and ‘protection' (-tra). ‘Mantra' also refers to the words (pada) of their liberation methods and to the syllables transforming into Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (Vai-ta.I.I.3). Despite Buddhas and Bodhisattvas promulgating mantras, they do not create them, because the mantras' nature is identical to the intrinsic nature of all dharmas (dharmatâ).93 Despite the


mantras' dharmatâ being unconditioned, it is able to endow words and syllables with ‘spiritual support' (adhisthâna), and this support is twofold: a relative one, understood as words and syllables manifesting the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas' qualities and realizations, and an absolute one, as syllables manifesting the intrinsic emptiness of all phenomena.94 This twofold relative and absolute nature of mantra is reflected in its basic unit, the ‘syllable'

(aksara), understood as an ‘unchanging intrinsic nature' endowed with three characteristics: (1) syllable as sound, denotes mantra syllables and are ‘unchanging' because their sound constantly manifest the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas' accomplishments; (2) syllable as ‘Enlightenment-Mind' (bodhicitta),

refers to the intrinsic nature of suchness (tathatâ), fundamentally manifesting itself as the syllable ‘A', understood as the essence of all mantras and being identical to bodhicitta (Bodhi: 241); and (3) syllable as energy, since all syllables depend on the syllable ‘A', this is the ‘vital-energy' (jiva) and the ‘life-force' (prâna) of all syllables. This ‘vital-energy' of ‘A' is twofold: relative one, because the rest of syllables could not be uttered if they lacked the syllable ‘A', and absolute one, because the syllable ‘A' produces the knowledge (jnâna) realizing that ‘all phenomena are primordially unborn and unarisen' (Vai-ta.II.X.9-10; II.XVIII.3-4).95


Nevertheless, the producing constancy of the syllable ‘A' limits itself to be the cause for all Dharma accomplishments and ‘all Scriptural Dharma' (Vai-ta.II.X.10), hence, 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 Sarvatathâgatatattvasahgraha-tantra (Eltschinger, 2001: 122). Here a parallel is established with a

pivotal axiom already signaled in the Nikâyas, i.e., if the Buddhas do not create the Dhamma, but they discover it because ‘the stableness of the Dhamma’ (P. dhammatthitatâ) ‘still persists’ (SN.II.25), likewise, the Buddhas do not create the mantras, but they promulgate them because ‘their intrinsic nature [i.e., their dharmatâ] has always been present’ (Vai-ta.II.II.81). However, there is a key difference between both approaches: the Nikâyas’ dhammatthitatâ is stable only because its nature is a ‘fixed condition’ (SN.II.25, n. 51, p. 741), i.e., it always remains within the conditioned sphere of reality, the

Mahayana/Vajrayana’s dharmatâ instead, given that it is identical to the dharmadhâtu (see n. 90 above), is a ‘fixed non-condition’ capable of operating within the conditioned, because according to Nagarjuna, nirvâna and dharmatâ are both ‘non-arisen and non-ceased’ (Mukâ.18.7). On the Vajrayana mantras’ dharmatâ, see below.


94 This Tantra recognizes two kinds of adhisthâna: the dharmatâ’s as it is referred to above, and the Buddha’s, on this, see below. On the Buddhas’ adhisthâna on dhâranîs, see section 1.2.2.2. paragraph (a).

95 Cf. the meaning of ‘A’ according to the ‘arapacana’ syllabary, see Appendix B-2, Chart 2, No. 1.


the Vedic and Saiva Tantric aksara.96 Undoubtedly, with this understanding of aksara, the Vajrayana approach differs from the deconstructive Mahayana one already referred to, however, both approaches also differ on how they understand emptiness, not in its nature itself, but in its linguistic functioning. If the Mahayana conceives emptiness as inexpressible, the Vajrayana instead, emphasizes emptiness's power to produce innumerable meanings.97 Put in different terms, if the Mahayana illuminates mantras/dharanis to exhaust them into silence, the Vajrayana illuminate them to unleash their enlightening sonic/linguistic power.98


Likewise, if the Saiva Tantric mantra realization is based exclusively on a ‘grace act' bestowed by the absolute as Rudra/Siva (Sanderson, 1988: 665), that of Vajrayana instead, only will be manifested through the concurrence between the dharmata's constant transformative power and several causes and conditions (Vai-ta.II.VI.17). Among those conditions, stand out ethical purity (Vai-ta.III.V.9), generating bodhicitta, understanding Dependent Arising (Vai-ta.II.VI.10), visualizing the deity and reciting the mantra properly, and the Buddha's adhisthana (Vai-ta.II.VI.95).99


According to the Vajrasekhara, the characteristic of mantras is identical to the mind of all Buddhas, to Dharma's realization, and posseses the dharmadhatu. This threefold mantra characterization is manifested by three types of mantras: (a) ‘secret mantra' (Skt. guhya-mantra), (b) ‘knowledge mantra' (Skt. vidya-mantra), and (c) ‘dharani-mantra'. The guhya-mantra is called ‘mantra' because it protects the mind from signs (from sense objects) and

discursive thought (vikalpa), and because it is the nonduality of void (man-) and compassion (-tra), and it is ‘secret' because it is outside the scope of non-Buddhist gods and ‘Hinayana' practitioners. The vidya-mantra denotes ‘countering avidya (nescience) by overcoming the darkness of passion and by overcoming defilements', and the character of the dharani-mantra is ‘to hold the Buddha-dharmas; its holding is called ‘holding of dharmas' and ‘virtue' (Tr. Wayman, 1990: 64-65).

This threefold mantra classification would be retained by later authors who, while keeping their basic characteristics, would also add to them new factors. According to the Bhavaviveka's Tarkajvala, the guhya-mantra reveals the esoteric 96 See sections 1.1.1.1. and 1.1.2.2. If the Nikayas emphasize metaphorically that Buddha's Dhamma has only ‘one taste', that of liberation (P dhammavinayo ekaraso vimuttiraso) (Mpps.III: 1588, n. 1), likewise, Vajrayana emphasizes literally that the Buddha's Dharma has only ‘a constant sound', that of Buddhahood.

97 As Kakuban put it: ‘Exotericism [i.e. Mahayana] explains that principle decidedly lacks expression. Esotericism [i.e. Vajrayana] explains that principle has countless expressions' (Gorin: 266). On the Dharma-kaya’s preaching (hosshin seppo), see section 2.4.2.


98 As illustration of both approaches, there is the following exchange within a Korean Son/dharani practice context: ‘The master asked a monk ... How about the dharam of no characters? The monk answered: [That is] the character a. The master said: That is one character! The monk had no answer. The master said: You are now manifesting the True Way!' (S0rensen, 2005: 66-67). However, for the Vajrayana approach ‘the emptiness of language and conceptual thought is just as empty as anything else, and that since emptiness marks the character of awakened consciousness, the emptiness of language and conceptual thought

is just as much awakened consciousness' (Payne, 2006: 96, n. 63). On the dharani faculty to unleash meanings, see section 2.4.2. 99 On the ethical/doctrinal foundations for the dharani/mantra practice, see section 3.1.1.


meaning of the syllables expressing the Buddha's knowledge and bestows the power to accomplish one's own wishes, the vidyd-mantra extinguishes the defilements (klesa), and the dhdrani-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 vidyd-mantra is an ‘antidote to ignorance, embodied as a goddess',101 and the dhdran -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 vidyd-mantras are Tantras that expound the wisdom aspect of female deity, and the dhdrani-mantras recollect the import

of guhya and vidyd 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 Jnanavajra (eleventh century CE) understood dhdrani as a long formula made up of a series of mantras ‘because it retains many meanings and terms', and recognized two types: a vidyd-dhdrani if it evokes a female deity, and a mantra-dhdrani if it evokes a male deity

(Wayman, 1984b: 421-422). In the same vein as Jnanavajra's, it was established a dhdrani division composed basically of three kinds of mantras: a ‘root mantra' (mula-mantra), an ‘essence mantra' (hrdaya-mantra), and a ‘near-essence mantra' (upahrdaya-mantra) (Rgyud: 116-118, n. 18).102 To summarize, the Indo-Tibetan Vajrayana, besides acknowledging the Mahayana dhdran '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 dhdran

's soteriological nature was emphasized. Now the East Asian Vajrayana understandings on the dhdrani will be studied.


2.4. East Asian Vajrayana 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/dhdranis in China (second-third centuries CE) was received with great interest (Kieschnick, 1997: 82-83). However, the apparent resemblance between zhou and mantras/dhdranis caused confusions and controversies 100 Bhavaviveka's definitions are inserted into his defence on mantra efficacy as meditation method (bhdvandkdra) conducive to enlightenment, as he expressed it against a ‘Sravaka' criticism alleging the non-Buddhist origin of mantras, their irrationality, and lack of any soteriological value (Braarvig, 1997: 33-36; Kapstein, 2001: 240-243).


101 As it was defined by Abhayakaragupta (eleventh century CE): ‘For the purpose of eliminating nescience (avidyd) and promoting clear vision (vidyd) are the vidyds' (Wayman, 1984b: 421). On the vidyd-mantra and its synonyms, see section 2.1.2.2. 102 According to a traditional interpretation, the mula-mantra invokes the awakened body of a deity, the hrdaya-mantra its awakened speech, and the upahrdaya-mantra its mind (Shes.VIII: 233, n. 7). For a more complex dhdran 's division, see Amog: 295-298.


between Daoists and Buddhists. To rectify such a situation, Amoghavajra, who ‘showed superiority particularly in dharanr (Chou, 1945: 302), composed the Zongshi tuoluoni jing (A Complete Explication of the Meaning of Dharanis), where a normative definition of dharani is established, which will be summarized below.


The mantras/dharanis condense the accumulation of Buddhas' enlightenment, and their syllables and words receive their adhisthana.103 Amoghavajra defines four terms: ‘encompassing retention' (Skt. dharani; Ch. tuoluoni), ‘true words' (Skt. mantra; Ch. zhenyan), ‘secret words' (Skt. guhya-mantra; Ch. miyan), and ‘illumination' (Skt. vidya; Ch. ming), applying to each one four categories: (1) ‘dharma' (i.e., ‘nature'), (2) ‘meaning', (3) ‘samadhi' (i.e., ‘practice'), and (4) ‘text' or ‘hearing' (i.e., ‘linguistic expressions').

-Dharani: Its ‘dharma' is the removal of defilements and attaining the dharmadhatu teachings. Its ‘meaning' is the obtaining of eloquence and the understanding of innumerable teachings within the meaning of a single syllable. Its ‘samadhi’ develops uncountable samadhis, the five abhynas, allowing rebirth in any of the six planes of existence. Its ‘text' is remembering all the Scriptures forever. -Mantra: Its ‘dharma' is the dharmadhatu understood as mantra.104 Its ‘meaning' corresponds to emptiness, and each of its syllables contains the characteristic of reality. Its ‘samadhi' is arranging the mantra's syllables upon a moon disc and concentrating the mind upon it. Its ‘text' are all words and syllables, from om to svaha.


-Guhya-mantra: Its ‘dharma' is the non-Buddhist mantras and those of the Sravakas and Pratyekabuddhas, together with their rites and accomplishments (siddhis).105 Its ‘meaning' is only understood by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Its ‘samadhi' 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 accomplishments. -Vidya: Its ‘dharma' is the removal of ignorance and defilements. Its ‘meaning' is the yogic understanding of the Prajnaparamita. Its ‘samadhi' 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 dharanis, mantras, guhya-mantras, and vidyas (Zong: 151-154). Amoghavajra definition of dharani provides three key elements: as included within the text's title, dharani denotes a general designation integrating all typologies of mantric expressions; as a particular typology, dharani, besides including its standard faculties as memory, eloquence, and samadhi, its soteriological value as a


On the Buddhas' adhisthana on dharanis, see section 1.2.2.2. paragraph (a). 104 On the identity of mantras and dharmadhatu understood as dharmata, see section 2.3. 105 Here it is implicitly acknowledged the non-Buddhist origin, i.e., non-Vedic, Vedic and Saiva, of those mantras assimilated by some mainstream Buddhist schools, see section 1.2.1.1. and Appendix C. 106 See Vai-ta.II.XIX. On the Saiva Tantric nyasa, see section 1.1.2.2.

107 On the vidya-mantra's definitions, see sections 2.1.2.2. and 2.3. Here the vidya's ‘meaning' may be explained by the continuity between the vidya-mantra's feminine nature, and that of the Prajnaparamita as the ‘mother of all Buddhas' because ‘the all-knowledge of the Tathagatas has come forth from her' (Asta.12.125-126; PWE-S.XII.253-255).


remover of defilements and accomplisher of dharmadhatu is also recognized, and particularly, its ability to condense in one syllable innumerable Sutras; and from a formal level, dharami is identified as a mantra regardless of the number of syllables it may contain, hence, dharami is interchangeable with mantra, guhya-mantra, and vidya.108 As will be analysed below, Kükai would highlight the comprehensive nature of dharami and its function as meaning condenser.


2.4.2. In Japan

It should be remembered here that Kükai emphasized the ability of the Dharma-kaya to preach the Dharma (hosshin seppo), and the key role played by the dharami to unveil the innumerable contents of such preaching.109 This vast semantic potential of the dharami lies in its comprehensive nature. The Chinese master of Kükai, Huiguo (746-805 CE), taught him that the terms vidya, zhou, guhya-mantra, and mantra ‘illustrate only a limited aspect of dharami', i.e.,

dharami as vidya reveals wisdom's light, as zhou eliminates misfortune, as guhya-mantra points to the secret of the dharami, and as mantra suggests that dharami contains only truth and no falsehood. Kükai accepted this comprehensive understanding of dharami and conceived mantra (Jap. shingon) term as denoting the esoteric function of dharami as ‘to unleash countless meanings from within each letter of a word. Because of this, dharami is translated as soji, the container of all' (Abé, 1999: 263-264). Kükai 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 dharami 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-kaya. According to Kükai, 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' (Shoji: 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 108 On this aspect the East Asian Vajrayana differentiates from the Tibetan Vajrayana, which usually designates dhdranis as ‘long mantras’ (DEB: 369).


109 See sections 1.2.3. and 2.3. n. 97. Hosshin seppo’s notion is already traceable in several Mahayana sources, as this one: ‘the Buddhas of the Body of the law (dharmakdyabuddha) throw beams (rasmi) 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’ (Mpps.I: 546). See more sources in Ben: 19-60.

110 Although Kukai 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.


to five syllables, five Buddhas, etc.111 And languages on all planes of existence arise from sound, and likewise occurs with the sense objects' names or ‘signs' and their constitutive aggregates, and the Dharma-kaya means that all dharmas (i.e., ‘sounds', ‘signs', ‘elements', ‘planes' languages', and ‘sense objects') are originally unborn, and this correspond to ‘reality' (Shoji: 90-103).112

Coming back to the dharam s function as ‘container of all' already mentioned, it will become clear with the esoteric interpretation made by Kükai on Asanga's fourfold dharam definition:113 the dharma-dharani consists of the fact that ‘a dharma represented by a single letter itself forms the basis for [knowing] all other dharmas. In each letter all dharmas are held'; the artha-dharam means that ‘within a single letter is encompassed the meanings of all

the teachings'; the mantra-dharani entails that when reciting this single letter all sufferings are relieved and enlightenment is gained; and the ksânti-lâbhâya-dhâranî consists in the unceasing practice of this single letter, then one will eliminate all delusions, afflictions, and karmic hindrances and suddenly realize the innate wisdom of enlightenment. Kükai concludes emphasizing his principle based on the correspondence/interpenetration af all dharmas

(see above), because ‘the meaning of any single letter contains within it the truth of the meanings of all other letters' (Bonji: 141).114 According to this Kükai's interpretation, dharami goes beyond the position assigned by Asanga as one modality of dharami conceived as mantra-dharami, and becomes a mantra able to accomplish the four purposes of the Asanga's definition, i.e., dharami is a mantra composed by one or more syllables which contemplation

allows the Dharma's memorizing and understanding, and also is able to remove all sufferings and attain enligthenment. Moreover, if the Mahayana approach differentiates dharami as faculty/content and the means to attain it, for Kükai both meanings are subsumed within the dharami as mantra. And on the practices, and mundane and/or supramundane goals of the dharamis will be dealt with in the next chapter.

111 On those quinary Vajrayana correspondences, see Gorin: 275-292; HBG.I: 4-5; Yamasaki, 1988: 150-151; Williams/Tribe, 2000: 211.

112 Accordingly, ‘the many utterances made by the tongue are all mantras' (Vai-su: 138), although in practical terms, the East Asian Vajrayana (and Kukai) recognized Sanskrit (i.e., the siddham syllabary) as the only ‘sacred language' able to preach and realize the Dharma (Bonji: 147; Shomo: 144). However, such linguistic exclusivism is not followed by the Dharam Scriptures nor by the Indo-Tibetan Vajrayana, see Appendix B-1.

113 See section 2.2.2.

114 This follows the Prajnaparamita teaching asserting ‘within a single letter all letters are contained, and within all letters each single letter is contained' (Bonji: 140, n. 16; Davidson, 2009: 126).


Functions: Dhâranîs in Practice

3.1. Some Premises on Dhâranî Practice

3.1.1 Ethical Foundations

Some Dhâranî Scriptures present themselves as a path particularly indicated for those who have commited heavily unwholesome actions, such as the monastic ‘defeats’ (pârâjikas), or the five acts of ‘immediate’ retribution (Skt. ânantarya) (Ben: 44). Even for other Dhâranî-sutras, following an ethical conduct appears as irrelevant: ‘[This dhâranî] will bestow success to she/he who is ethically pure, to she/he who is impure, to she/he who is fasting, to she/he

who is not fasting, and even, to she/he engaged in amorous pleasures’ (Bala: 60.24-26). But it would be mistaken to interpret those claims as an invitation to moral laxity. In fact, their goal is to emphasize the dhâranîs’ ability to counteract whatever nocive past karma may still hinder a present possibility of spiritual accomplishment for the individual. However, despite the fact that dhâranîs define themselves as endowed with quasi ‘omnipotent’ purifying and transformative virtues, those virtues do not preclude an ethical responsibility: ‘The preliminary stage [of a dhâranî ritual] will be achieved if one stands immovable in the moral precepts without doubting, even if one were ill-behaved formerly’ (Siksâ.VI.139; CBD: 137).

But going beyond those Scriptural claims, in practical terms all modalities of traditional Buddhist ethics, i.e., Vinaya, Mahayana, and Vajrayana ones, establish the necessary foundations for a proper dhâranî practice. Already it had been noted that mantra practice was accepted within Vinayas of several mainstream Buddhist schools.115 Likewise, the Vinaya also constitutes the ethical basis among the Mahayana and Vajrayana dhâranî practitioners. To quote just a few examples, before his death, Vasubandhu (320-400 CE) saw a monk ploughing his field, and said: ‘The Law of the Teacher is degenerated’, then

recited thrice the Usnîsavijayâ-dhâranî in the reverse order and died (Chimpa/Chattopadhyaya, 1970: 174). Of the dhâranî master Fotudeng it was said ‘that wine had not passed his teeth, that he had not eaten after noon, that he had never acted without reference to his vows, that he was desiresless and unseeking’ (Wright, 1948: 367). And Amoghavajra was considered a Sarvastivada Vinaya master (Orlando, 1981: 136, 156), being lauded by emperor Dai-zong because he ‘held firmly the Vinaya’ and ‘guarded the sîlas’. In fact, a significant group of Chinese monks belonging to the ‘Vinaya school’ (Ch. Jièlù zong) also practised Vajrayana, because they found a common basis lying behind the ‘right procedures’ of esoteric rituals (vidhi) and a sound monastic deportment (Chou, 1945: 313).


Concerning the Mahayana and Vajrayana ethical context, the arising and stabilization of the bodhicitta is an essential condition to accomplish dhâranî practice.116 The Trisamayarâja asserts that: ‘He whose thought of enlightenment is firm, and his mind free from attachment, he need have no doubt, and his aim is always accomplished’ (Siksâ.VI.140; CBD: 137), and the Subâhupariprcchâ-tantra states that ‘one will be ruined’ if mantras are recited without having generated bodhicitta (Wangchuk,


115 See section 1.2.1.1. and Appendix C.

116 On the bodhicitta as condition to mantras’ efficiency, see section 2.2.2.


2007: 158). Besides the bodhicitta, however, an understanding of Mahayana teachings is also necessary, i.e., maintaining discipline, having self-control, cultivating compassion, and a grasping of the Interdependent Arising, to produce success in dharami practice ‘with only a little hardship' (Vai-ta.II.VI.10; III.VII.54).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, i.e., the belief in the law of causality; not to forsake the Three Jewels; to safeguard the bodhicitta; and not reject the true initiation (abhiseka) (Shes.V: 230). Nevertheless, the Kriya Tantras' ethics, which overall is followed by most Dharami Scriptures, prescribes, besides a mainstream

Buddhist ethics, specific precepts of a markedly ritual nature. Now those from the Susiddhikara-sutra will be described as a representative example for the whole tradition:118 (1) to take refuge, (2) to confess negative deeds, (3) to generate bodhicitta, (4) to make aspirational wish (pramidhana) on the strength of having studied the Tantras and being knowledgeable about ritual procedures, (5) to make an earnest effort to practise giving, (6) to be free from greediness, (7) to be endowed with compassion, (8) to be endowed with patience or receptivity, (9) to be endowed with benevolence, (10) to be endowed with diligence, (11) practising the six kinds of recollection [i.e. the Three Jewels, morality, generosity, and deities], (12) to listen to various

teachings, (13) to analyse them with devotion, (14) to recite tantric ritual procedures (vidhi), (15) to make offerings of mantras and mudras, (16) to draw mamdalas, (17) to initiate the ‘four retinues' [i.e., bhiksus, bhiksunis, upasakas, upasikas] who have a correct view and firm bodhicitta, (18) to expound Tantras to those who abide by their pledges, and (19) to propagate Tantric Scriptures (Wangchuk, 2007: 301).119 Another outstanding feature of Vajrayana ethics is that mantras/dharamis themselves are part of the pledges, such as ‘to have impartial and non-judgmental faith in guhya-mantras, vidya-mantras, and dharami-mantras' (Shes.V: 232), to make offerings to mantra formulas, not abandoning hrdayas and mantras, not disclosing mantras, and not interrupting mantras. Even a method to make amends for the severest transgression, i.e., the abandonment of bodhicitta,

consists of reciting mantras (Wangchuk, 2007: 306, 324, 329, 354). To summarize, the Buddhist ethics of all vehicles establishes the key foundations for a sound dharami practice, and keeping their precepts, vows, and pledges is essential to ‘swiftly gain spiritual attainments' (Shes.V: 229). Yet, to such ethics can be added, or not, ritual prescriptions.


3.1.2. Non-ritual and Ritual approaches

Depending on which are their Scriptural sources, the dharami formulas may adopt two practical approaches: one non-ritual or ‘exoteric', and one ritual or 117 On the conditions to mantras' accomplisment according to the Mahavairocanabhisambodhi-tantra, see section 2.3. 118 This Scripture offers one of the most detailed versions of a mature ‘dharami ethics', for other examples, see Shes.V: 231-234, and Wangchuk, 2007: 295-304. Note that the Susiddhikara-sutra belongs to certain Vidyadhara-pitakas, see sections 1.2.2.2. paragraph (d) and 1.2.3. On the dharami ritual practice, see section 3.1.2. 119 However, dharamis can be practised without following such ritual precepts or any ritual prescriptions, see section 3.1.2.


‘esoteric'. In the first case, the promulgator (Buddha, Bodhisattva, or deity) utters the dharaní formula and promises its efficacy and concrete benefits to her/his reciter, but does not provide any specific method to practise it; this is the approach followed by most appended dharams on Mahayana Sutras.120 In the second case, instead, the promulgator, besides promising the dharam’s efficacy and benefits, extends her/his efficacy's pledge (samaya) to its ritual prescriptions, and this is the approach followed by most Dharam Scriptures, hence, implying a shift from the exoteric sphere to the esoteric one.121


How are both approaches applied in practice? The non-ritual approach is quite straightforward, consisting of reciting the dharam formula a minimum of three times, a figure already being in use in some early Buddhist formal acts and Vedic rituals.122 However, there are cases where a dharam formula is extracted from a Dharam-sutra to be recited the prescribed number of times exoterically within a communal context. Classical examples of this kind of practice were the ‘permanent recitation' of the Usmsavijaya-dharam twenty one times every day by all monastics, intended to protect the Chinese empire (Kuo, 2004-2005:

479), or the public dharams' recitations for healing purposes carried out by monastics in medieval Japan (Abé, 1999: 160-163). The non-ritual approach also includes a private recitation of dharams along with other sacred texts (Sutras, verses, etc.) as part of a daily liturgy (Gellner, 1993: 283), or an intensive recitation to attain a concrete goal, such as reciting 800,000 times the Cundídeví-dharam to remove ‘all his or her deadly karmic transgressions created since beginningless time' (T 1077 185a20-22, Cundí: 1), or even a dharam recitation intended for several purposes as part of the daily monastic

schedule, such as it is practised by the East Asian Ch'an/Son/Zen Buddhist monasticisms (Bodiford, 2011: 925-930). Before dealing with the dharamís' ritual approach, it would be convenient to summarize its origins. It was stated before that the revelation of Vedic and Saiva mantras include their ‘application' (viniyoga), being described with detail in the ritual ‘procedures' (Skt. kalpa) including their practice methods


and precepts (Modak, 1993: 123). A synonym of kalpa is that of ‘prescription' or ‘ritual manual' (vidhi), containing instructions so detailed that have the faculty of inviting or summoning the mantra's deity, 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, 2001: 25, 32). Despite being already included within the Atharvaveda and its Parisistas, the

kalpa/vidhi stimulated the rising during the Gupta period (320-500 CE) of a new genre of ritual texts such as the Saiva Ágamas, the Sakta Tantras, and the Vaisnava Samhitas, being replicated by the Buddhist Kalpas (Wallis, 2002: 12) and Dharamí-vidhis, that first circulated independently to be adhered later to the Dharamí-sutras (Dalton, 2010: 1415).123

120 See Appendix D section (c). 121 See sections 1.2.2.2. paragraphs (a) and (b), and 1.2.3. The nature of such shift was rightly expressed by R. Abé: ‘One of the features that distinguish esoteric scriptures from exoteric Mahayana sütras is this shift from sütra reading to ritual action as a normative method of mastering the text' (1999: 167).

122 For instance, the threefold repetition of the refuge formula, or the threefold repetition of the Vedic sacrificial formulas (Wayman, 1984b: 415-416). 123 See section 1.2.2.2., paragraphs (a) and (b).


The dhdran s' ritual approach functions in an identical way to their nonBuddhist models, albeit keeping its own particularities. The promulgator utters the dhdrani formula and its benefits, pledging that the practitioner will attain them if she/he follows exactly its ritual prescriptions. The dhdran rituals

may fall within two general categories: rituals where no previous ‘consecration' (abhiseka) is needed, and rituals in which one is indeed needed. In the first case, a dhdran recitation is prescribed along with the performance of a protective ritual space delimited by a mandala, which is worshipped (pujd) with diverse offerings such as lamps, incense, scents, non fermented beverages, and vegetarian dishes (Mdyu: 367-368, 459). Other rituals add to the mandala a painted image (Skt. pratimd-vidhi) of a Buddha, Bodhisattva, or deity, to which offerings are made and in front of which is recited the dhdrani

formula a prescribed number of times. This recitation is preceded by a ritual bath, a vegetarian diet, the formulation of bodhicitta and benevolence towards all beings (Amog: 299-300; Prati: 222-227). In some Dhdran -sutras the ritual writing of the dhdran formula is emphasized, and its wearing around one's arm or neck (Prati: 207), or its insertion into stupas, or hanging it in banners, high places, gates, etc. (Sitd: 127).124 And in the second case, dhdranipractice is preceded by an abhiseka ritual (Bala: 59.3-5), where besides including those elements already described, dhdran 's recitation is

combined with the performance of hand gestures (Skt. mudrds), and the visualization of a more elaborated mandala and pratimd designs, concluding with a fire ritual offering (Skt. homa) (Susi: 150-151).125 Although at first sight this dhdran ritual practice may contradict the rejection of Vedic ritualism advocated by the early Buddhism (DN.5.22-27), in fact, the dhdran ritual should be viewed as a skillful adaptation to a quite ritualized non-Buddhist context, but without betraying the fundamental Buddhist tenets.126 If the mainstream Buddhist ethics asserts that the wholesome actions are wholesome in themselves and hence, they produce wholesome results

(Harvey, 2000: 17), the Dhdran -sutras added to this the vidhi's ritual efficacy, but always preceded by a right ethical intention. Thus, the Dhdrani-sutras unified the Buddhist notion of karma as ‘intentional action' (Harvey, 2000: 16-17), with the Vedic conceptions of karma as ‘sacrificial act' and ‘creative act' (Goudriaan, 1978: 221-222). However, how to deal with the issue of someone ethically pure who performs rightly a dhdrani ritual but does not attain the desired goal? To


124 On the Vedic antecedent of ‘investing' oneself with a mantra as protection, see Appendix A. On dhdranis’ insertion into stupas and related practices, see section 3.3.1.

125 Despite its rejection in the Nikdyas (Brajd: 58-59), the Vedic homa would be assimilated by the Vajrayana. Basically, the Vedic homa is a banquet offered to a deity through fire oblations, and to this external ritual, the Buddhist homa added to it an internal contemplation, where the officiator, after identifying herself/himself with the deity, ‘burns' the ‘fuel' of her/his defilements with the ‘fire' of insight (Strickmann, 1996: 347, 358-359). On the mental fire offerings in Hinduism and Buddhism, see Bentor, 2000: 604-607. There are also Buddhist homas with mundane goals, see section 3.1.3., below.

126 In fact, in DN.5.18-27 Vedic sacrifice is not rejected in toto, but some of its aspects are admitted after being ‘ethicized', as the acceptance of non-bloody offerings (ghee, oil, etc.), and of some Vedic sacrificial prescriptions, eg. the donations to Brahmans and taking ascetic vows (vrata) (Modak, 1993: 199, 298-301), being reinterpreted in Buddhist terms as ‘gifts to virtuous ascetics', ‘providing shelter for the Sangha', and taking refuge in the Three Jewels and undertaking precepts (DN.5.22-25). Providing feeding to Brahmans of ‘pure conduct' is a key prerequisite for the efficacy of some Saiva Tantric mantras (MM.II.7-8).


this likely issue the Dharani-sutras provided different answers, some of them including an ‘escape clause' noting that the dharani formula might not succeed ‘due to the fruition of past karma' (Skilling, 1992: 148-149), while others signaled an increase of the number of recitations until getting its expected result (T 1077 185b2-3, Cundi: 1). But most Dharani-sutras are seen to have secured an indisputable effectiveness to their formulas (Amog: 298-299; Sita: 126; Prati: 220), albeit they will not be effective if the practitioner has not faith in them (T 1060 107a26-27; Karu: 168-169). Some Dharani-sutras even mention a maximum of seven years to attain their goals (Davidson, 2009: 137; Suvar: 61, Sgol: 52).127


3.1.3. Mundane and Supramundane Accomplishments

One of the most significant aspects of dharani formulas is to integrate ‘mundane' (Skt. laukika) and ‘supramundane' (Skt. lokottara) goals as an interrelated wholeness.128 This ‘holistic' nature of dharanis was rightly grasped by the Huayan/Vajrayana master Daozhen (eleventh century CE), who recognized in the dharanis ten inherent virtues: (1) they guarantee national security (protection from enemies, from astrological and natural disasters,

from family dissension, from crop failure, from drought, etc.), (2) they purge defilements and exorcize ghosts, (3) they cure illnesses and increase blessings, (4) they guarantee the miraculous achievement of things sought, (5) they ensure rebirth in paradise, (6) they are the font of all teachings and practices, the mother of all Buddhas, (7) they enable the easy practice of adamantine protection for the ‘four retinues', (8) they confirm the equality of ordinary beings with Buddhas, (9) they effect awakening by both own power and other power, (10) they are of such value that even Buddhas still cherish them (Gimello, 2004: 238). As it will be seen below, despite existing Dharani-sutras only focused on one goal, the most influential of them are ‘all-purpose', i.e., they embrace a wide spectrum of goals, mundane and supramundane alike.129 Therefore, those ‘all-purpose' Dharani-sutras are presented as mediators between the conditioned and unconditioned planes of reality, because as being a modality of buddhavacana, they are seen as embodying in sound and writing the Buddhas' presence: ‘By the power of this sutra [and dharani] all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and even all devas are arriving' (Bala: 64.21-22). And this Buddhas' mediator present as dharanis is not only pointing to a world's

transcendence, but also, to the attaining of ‘all his desires, as the Buddhas have said' (Prati: 235). In this aspect, however, the dharanis are more closely related to the Vajrayana approach, and hence, with their Vedic and Saiva predecessors, than with the transmundane approach advocated by the Nikayas (DN.16.6.7) and the mainstream Mahayana (Siksa.XI; CBD:


127 This feature is already traceable in the Nikayas, where is asserted the possibility to attain Arahantship after just seven years of practicing the satipatthanas (DN.22.22; MN.10.46). 128 On both dharani goals, see sections 3.2. and 3.3. This is also the case with the ‘arapacana' syllabary's ‘advantages' (Mpsu: 162). 129 This is also the case with many influential Vedic and Saiva Tantric mantras. For instance, the pivotal Vedic gayatri mantra is used during the initiation ritual of becoming a Brahman (upanayama) (Staal, 2008: 213-216), and for therapeutical goals (Rosu, 1986: 223, 243, 263); and the Tantric Hanuman mantra can be used for protective, therapeutical, increase, and offensive goals (MM.XIII.14-39).


188-195).130 If the dhdranis describe themselves as endowed with supreme and irresistible faculties (Mayu: 453; Prati: 237), this is because of their nature as buddhavacana expressing what is true, a higher power is derived able to counteract the inferior power embodied by the referents to which dhdranis are focused (eg. defilements, past harmful karma, dangers, demons, diseases, others sects’ mantras, etc.). Whatever may be the envisaged dhdrani and its goal, it is always reproducing this hierarchical principle: the dhdrani manifests itself as endowed of a higher power than its opponent’s.131 Sections 3.2. and 3.3. will deal with the most characteristic dhdranis’ goals as they appear in some of their most influential Dhdrani-sutras.132 The three parts of section 3.2. are reflecting an adaptation of the Kriyd Tantras’ classification collecting the mundane accomplishments according to the rites of ‘pacification’ (sdntika), ‘increase’ (paustika), and ‘subjugation’ (dbhicdruka), that despite the fact that it does not always correspond exactly with the dhdrani goals, is employed here for heuristic reasons.133 And section 3.3. summarizes some of the most outstanding dhdranis’ supramundane goals, as they are reflected in several ritual and contemplative practices widespread among Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhisms.


3.2. Mundane Dharani Practices

3.2.1. Protection

The early use of mantras within some mainstream Buddhist schools as an antidote against the antardyas had already been noted, being followed by the Mahayana’s drstadharmikas.134 Likewise, the dharanis counteract those same dangers and still others in a more detailed way. Within this context, the main dhdranis’ function is providing protection and immunity against noxious agents, technically called ‘pacification’ or ‘removal of calamities’ (sdntika) (Susi: 181). The dhdranis 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. Some dhdranis offer protection against all kinds of despotism, tyranny, invasion, or any military conflict (Amog: 299; Prati: 234; Sitd: 103).


By human beings. Certain dhdranis include protection against hostile individuals promoting envy, gossip, slander, perjury, quarrels, robbery, etc., and even those who use black magic and destructive mantras to harm others (Varat: 7-10; Sitd: 110-112, 121; Waddell, 1895: 42-44). 130 As it is the case with dharani practice, with the Saiva mantra practice ‘one can attain ... [religious] merit, worldly prosperity, sensual pleasure, and liberation’ (Buhnemann, 1992: 72).


131 Some Dhdrani-sutras make such hierarchical principle explicit: the Sitdtapatrd-vidydrajni’s power is higher than all non-Buddhist mantras and other Buddhist mantras considered inferior (Sita: 109-112), or the Vajratunda-dharani is superior against Vedic mantras to stop raining (Waddell, 1914: 41-42). 132 Note that if identical dharanis' quotations appear for different functions, this means that such dharanis are ‘all-purpose' ones. 133 This threefold classification comes from the Vedic tradition (Goudriaan, 1978: 95).


See sections 1.2.1.1. and 2.2.1. 56 By non-human beings. Some dharanis provide long and detailed lists of spirits or demons (Skt. graha) of a harmful or ambivalent nature, who can provoke nightmares, diseases, premature death, possession, etc. (Varat: 7). An influential dharani 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, from aggressive gods (devas) to ‘consciousness-stealers' (cittaharini) (Sita: 104-109).

By wild and/or poisonous animals. As was referred to frequently here, the protection against poisonous animals (particularly snakes) was one of the foremost reasons to accept mantras among early Buddhists. The dharanis added protection against wild animals such as mungooses, lions, tigers, bears, hyenas, wild yaks, and wolves, and poisonous ones such as mosquitoes, flies, bees, horseflies, scorpions, and of course, snakes (Sita: 120-121; Mayu: 372). By natural elements. Dangers coming from a negligent handling of fire and water, or natural disasters such as earthquakes, storms, and droughts ruining harvests (Mayu: 454), were prevented with dharanis by governments sensitive to Buddhism. One of the major Amoghavajra's dharani powers was producing rain in the exact time to avoid droughts, and with enough amount to avoid floods (Chou, 1945: 298-299, 304305).


By astral influences. The dharanis counteract negative astral conjunctions capable of disturbing those activities ruled by the lunar calendar, and those of an unfavourable personal astral chart (Sita: 98; Mayu: 446-450; Gronbold, 2001: 372).


By diseases/death. Without doubt, this is the category most referred to in the dharanis, able to counteract the ‘four hundred four diseases' (Mayu: 455), provoked by an imbalance of bodily elements, by viruses, poisonings, spirits, and avoiding any kind of unnatural death, i.e., a premature one, provoked by accidents, execution, and murder (Amog: 291; Anga: 5; Bala: 57.12-17; Prati: 227-228; Sita: 114-120; Varat: 8-9). Likewise, some Dharani-sutras and the medical treatises of Vaghbata (seventh century CE), describe remedies based on medicinal substances and empowered with dharanis (Amog: 298-299; T 1060 110a20-110c26, Karu: 192-199; Rosu, 1986: 228-237).


The reason for such preciseness in naming the danger (spirit, disease, etc.) from which oneself is protected by the dharani, lies in the Vedic notion postulating the correspondence between the being/object itself and the name that designate it.135 Including the harmful agents' names within a Dharani-sutra's text or even within its dharani formula itself, is equal to neutralize/dissolve their power because they are ‘enveloped' under the dharani's higher power.136 Likewise, invoking the names of the spiritual entities or wise beings who transmmitted the dharani, constitutes a key condition to obtain its powers (Mayu: 450-451).


3.2.2. Increase

The dharanis not only protect from dangers, they also propitiate factors of ‘increase' (paustika), that according to its traditional definition includes longevity, rejuvenation, health, vitality, and the development of virtues and desires (Susi: 184). Overall, the Dharani-sutras are seen as promoting the following categories of paustika:


135 See section 1.1.1. and within a Buddhist context, see section 2.4.2. 136 According to the Indian magic, ‘enveloping' the name of a ‘victim' or ‘patient' (sadhya) within the syllables of a mantra entails to ‘envelop' the sadhya's individuality itself (Goudriaan, 1978: 288).


Health. This implies basically that ‘all his illnesses disappear' and ‘long-lasting weakness ceases' (Prati: 233), and ‘a disease will not occur in his body; when a disease caused by karman has arisen, it will quickly be cured' (Amog: 293). Vitality. One's health needs to be increased with ‘strength' (Sitâ: 126), ‘energy, power, vigour and self-confidence' (Prati: 233), and having a ‘smooth, handsome and slender' body, while keeping it away from ‘whatever robs the vital strength' (Amog: 293).


Fecundity. Avoiding infertility, getting an abundant progeny of healthy aspect, a normally developed foetus, and that her/his birth may be safe and painless, are the goals frequently found in dhâranîs (Bala: 57.14-19; T 1022(b) 714b21-22, Guhya: 6; T 1060 110b24-25, Karu: 196; Prati: 197, 229; Sita: 126). This need of fecundity is also expanded to trees and herbs' growing, and to the proper ripening of fruits and crops (T 1060 111c6, Kâru: 203-204; Prati: 213).


Longevity. Numerous Dhâranî-sûtras effect an extension of one's life ‘after it has reached its [natural] limit' (Prati: 233), so that, according to several sources, it can reach one hundred years (Âyuh: 294). Hence, it is emphasized to get a long life (T 1022(b) 714b3-4, Guhya: 5-6) and being able to ‘see the brightness of one hundred autumns' (Mâyû: 366, 443).

Prosperity. Eradicating forever poverty (Âyuh: 296), the ‘accomplishment of wealth' (Gana: 344), ‘prosperity without effort' (T 1022(b) 714b19-20, Guhya: 6), the abundance ‘in money and grain' (Prati: 230), or obtaining clothes, money, gold, or cows (Bala: 60.34-35), is intended for the prosperity of the Buddhist community.


Intellectual faculties. Several dhâranîs related to female deities are recited to attain specific intellectual faculties, such as the Vajrasamkala's to ‘deeply remember' the Dharma study (Bongard-Levin, 2000: 127), and above all the Sarasvati's, bestowing memory, eloquence, knowledge, and skillfulness in all kinds of learning and ‘success in the performance of various arts' (Suvar: 56, Sgol: 45, 48; Ludvik, 2007: 158-161, 188190). Likewise, the dhâranîs of the Bodhisattvas Akasagarbha and Mañjusri are recited to obtain memory, eloquence, and the knowledge of ‘all Scriptures' and ‘all scholastic works' (Abé, 1999: 74; Mns: 43-44).


Supernormal Knowledges (abhijñá). Undoubtedly, the most reiterated abhijñá within the ‘syllabic' dhâranîs (Mpsû: 162) and the Dhâranî-sûtras, is that of remembering one's former existences (Skt. jâtismara), ‘wherever he is born, in each birth he will remember all previous births' (Âyuh: 294; Gana: 344; Prati: 230; Sitâ: 124; Schopen, 2005b: 202-205).


3.2.3. Defence

The Vedic tradition elaborated a third set of accomplishments focused on ‘inimical actions' (Skt. âbhicara) in order to ward off dangers and enemies of diverse kind.137 The Vajrayana assimilated such approach but moderated by Buddhist ethics with the generic term of ‘subjugation' (âbhicâruka), including actions as ‘making close friends hate one another, or making [your foe] seriously ill, or causing his retainers to scatter, or stultifying him'. Nevertheless, those harmful actions are only directed ‘to


137 Abhicara may include, among others, actions such as ‘causing dissension' (vidvesana), ‘eradication' (uccatana), and ‘liquidation' (marana) (Goudriaan, 1978: 62, 365). Uccatana means depriving a person of an object or removing them from a location, and marana means taking a person's life (Burchett, 2008: 817). On the original meaning of the mantra Phat as a ‘counterattack' against an abhicara ritual, see Appendix A.


punish wicked people who ... commit various sins, or violate the bodhisattva's pure code of discipline, or slander the Three Jewels, or rebel against their teachers and elders'.138 Moreover, a proper abhicaruka action only can be carried out without anger and resentment and in a controlled way, paying particular attention to avoid taking a person's life (Susi: 187-188).139


However, within the Dharani-sutras where the abhicaruka faculty is invoked, it takes generally the form of a subtle wrath (Skt. krodha), that can be directed to remove heavy mental defilements (klesa) obstructing an effective meditation (Bala: 55.30-41), or becoming a means to create an ‘armour' or ‘body of blazing flame' able to destroy ‘all enemies', i.e., ‘all misdeeds and obstructions' (Prati: 207), or also can be transformed into a ‘psychic defence' focused against all kinds of fears, evil spirits, malevolent magic, contagious diseases, physical pains, and inimical people (Varat: 512).


3.3. Supramundane Dharani Practices

3.3.1. Depositing Dharanis in Stupas

As was said before, identifying some Dharani-sutras as ‘Dharma-kaya relics' implied the prolongation of a previous idea identifying the Mahayana Scriptures as ‘Dharma relics'.140 This group of Dharani-sutras consititues a specific genre widespread through the Asiatic Buddhist world, and revolves around the idea that to introduce into a stupa one or more of those Dharani-sutras is equal to the placing innumerable Buddhas, their physical relics, and the totality of Buddhist teachings into such stupa, i.e., those Dharani-sutras become the Buddhas' ‘Dharma Body relics' (Skt. Dharma-kaya-sariras) (Bentor, 1995: 252-253; Schopen, 2005c: 310-311).141


Basically, the Indo-Tibetan classifications recognize three kinds of relics: (1) the relics of the Tathagata's Dharma-kaya, identified as dharanis, (2) the relics of his corporeal substance, and (3) the relics of his garb, and the first ones are considered as the highest (Rgyud: 107). These are inserted in the form of several Dharani-sutras and Vajrayana Tantras within prominent locations of the stupa, sometimes in its uppermost tip, expressing that the dharanis are ‘the essence of the Buddha', while in others they are inserted into the upper, lower and middle parts of the stupa, showing in this way the identity between the Buddha's physical body, i.e., the stupa itself, and his ‘eighty-four thousands heaps of Dharmas', i.e., the Dharma-kaya-sariras (Bentor, 138 On a precedent of abhicaruka against some ‘Dhamma's critics' by the deity Vajrapani (P Vajirapani) in the Theravada Nikayas, see DN.3.1.21; MN.35.14.


139 Nevertheless, under adverse circumstances, abhicaruka can transform into a ‘defensive weapon'. Some masters from Vikramasila monastery performed abhicaruka rituals to repel Muslim invaders (Chimpa/Chattopadhyaya, 1970: 307, 327-328), and using the same methods, Amoghavajra helped to pacify the An Lu-shan rebellion (Orlando, 1981: 22) and neutralized an attempt to invade the Chinese empire (Chou, 1945: 305-306). 140 See section 1.2.2.2. paragraph (4). 141 The most influential Dharani-sutra related to stupas is the Usnisavijaya-dharani-sutra (Usni), see below; for other similar Dharani-sutras, see Scherrer-Schaub, 1994: 712-719, and Bentor, 1995: 254.


1995: 252-253; Martin, 1994: 298, 301, 304-305). Equivalent ideas are found within East Asian Buddhism, where the Usnisavijaya-dharani-sutra’s Dharma-kaya-sariras and related Dharani-sutras, not only were identified as the Buddhas' ‘Dharma Body', but also with the three ‘Bodies' of all Buddhas of the three times, hence, to enshrine those Dharan -sutras into a stupa, i.e., the Dharma-kaya-sar ras, is equal to enshrine all Buddhas' Bodies into it (Shen, 2001: 269-272).


In all likelihood, the practice of inserting dharan s into the stupas as a meritorius action able to fulfill all wishes ‘at will' (T 1022(b) 714b22, Guhya: 6), and the daily dharan s's recitation to attain longevity, rebirth into a Pure Land, or even, to attain ‘the unsurpassed bodhi' (T 970 360a11, Usn : 8), stimulated the invention of printing in China (seventh century CE). Thus, a Mahapratisara-dharan 's Chinese translation secures that if ‘someone print or copy [the dharan ] and carry it with her/him, all her/his nocive acts and heavy transgressions will be removed at once' (Drege, 1999: 29-30).142


However, the popularity of some of those Dharan -sutras did not lie as much in their insertion into stupas as in their public display. This is the case of the Usn savijaya-dharan -sutra, that according to one of its key passages, if a Usn savijaya-dharan 's written copy is hung on the tip of a banner pole, and whoever sees it, stands close by, or is touched by its shadow or by its dust when the wind blows, she/he will be liberated from being reborn into the three unfortunate planes (animals, hungry spirits, and hells), and will receive the prediction by all Buddhas of being irreversible (avaivartika) from the supreme enlightenment (T 970 360a26-b16, Usn : 8; Kuo, 2006: 42).143 This passage originated in China the creation of the ‘dharani [stone] banners' (Ch.

tuoluoni-chuang), known in the West as ‘dharan -pillars', consisting in most cases, in the Usn savijaya-dharan -sutra's inscription or that of its dharan formula on octagonal stone columns, being widespread through all China from seventh century CE until thirteenth century CE (Kuo, 2006: 37-42; 2005-2006: 461-466).144 Transformed into stone, the dharani is transferring its sonic efficacy to the visible and tangible spheres, and with such sonic empowerment of

the matter, this same matter is in turn able to empower, i.e., the dharan -pillar's dust and shadows ‘have the same qualities that the scriptural words have', hence, the dharan -pillar is acting in an autonomous way as the Buddha's spoken utterance (Copp, 2005: 226-232). 142 The earliest printed document in the world found until now, is a dharam formula in Sanskrit found in the Chinese city of Xi'an (c. 650-670 CE), followed by a Dharam -sutra printed in 702 (Pan, 1997: 978-979). The dharam s' printing was introduced later into Korea (751 CE) (Barrett, 2001: 4), and was spread to Japan (c. 764-770 CE) (Hickman, 1975: 89).


143 On the avaivartika state and mantra/dharani practice, see sections 1.2.2.1. n. 34, and 3.3.2., below. 144 On ‘dharani-pillars' in Korea, see S0rensen, 2006b: 76-79. The Usnisavijaya-dharani-sutra became so popular, that in some instances, its modality as ‘dharan -pillar' was transformed into a complex ‘mandala-pillar' synthesizing the whole East Asian Vajrayana's teachings (Howard, 1997: 35-42), or this dharan was represented as being held in lecterns within several Dunhuang's mural paintings (Schmid, 2010: 6-18).


3.3.2. Karmic purification

It had been argued that the early dhdran s' protective functions directed against the negative consequences of previous karma, evolved towards a dhdranis' soteriological use as antidotes against their causes, i.e., the defilements (Davidson, 2009: 134). Nevertheless, the Scriptural evidence contradicts, to some extent at least, such claim because most Dhdran -sutras assert the removal of both the harmful effects of karma as well as the mental defilements

causing them. For instance, a Dhdrani-sutra claims its power to remove former transgressions and harmful deeds and their defiled causes, i.e., lust (rdga), hatred (dvesa) delusion (moha), pride (mana) and arrogance (mada) (Sitd: 126), and other Dhdran -sutra, besides eliminating ‘the dangerous consequences of actions', also ‘roots out all [their] latent impressions' (Skt. vdsands) (Prati: 218, 222).145 What is detectable, however, are two different approaches concerning the karmic purification's method and its results. On the one hand, there are Dhdran -sutras postulating generalized methods and results derived

from such purification, such as securing longevity, avoiding an unfortunate rebirth, birth into a Pure Land (T 1022(b) 714b27, Guhya: 6), or attaining supreme enlightenment (T 970 360a4, Usn : 7), and on the other hand, there are Dhdran -sutras describing very concrete purification's methods and results. The focus will turn now to some of those Dhdran -sutras.

As a general premise, the most common types of harmful karma to be purified as found in the Dhdran -sutras are the accumulation of serious transgressions ‘since beginningless time' (T 1077 185a22-23, Cundi: 1) such as the five dnantaryas, and the three root defilements perpetuating rebirth (rdga-dvesa-moha), also known as the ‘obstructions of defilements' (Skt. klesdvarana) (Kuo, 1994: 137-138).146 Another more comprehensive classification divides defilements into three kinds: (1) ‘obstructions of vexation' including both the ‘obstructions of defilements' (klesdvarana) and the ‘obstructions to knowledge' (Skt. jneydvarana), (2) ‘obstructions of endowment', i.e., obstructions due to mental and physical defects, and (3) ‘obstructions of karma' (karmdvarana) (Stevenson, 1986: 64, n. 64).147


See more examples in T 1022(b) 714c6-7, Guhya: 7; T 970 359c4-5, Usm: 7; T 1060 107a20-28, Karu: 167-169.

146 Mainstream Buddhism posited three kinds of obstructions: (1) the ‘obstructions of karma' (Skt. karmavarama) identified with the five anantaryas including matricide, patricide, the killing of an Arhat, schism, and wounding the Tathagata with thoughts of hatred. They are said of ‘immediate retribution' because after death, the transgressor is reborn in hells without passing through the intermediate state; (2) the ‘obstructions of defilements' (klesavarana) including the referred to root defilements and their derivations; and (3) the ‘obstruction of retribution' (Skt. vipakavarama). Those obstructions prevent the rebirth in favourable destinations and attaining liberation (Kosa.IV.95c-d.96). On vipakavarana, also known as ‘obstructions of endowment', see below, and n. 147.


147 To klesdvarana, rooted in the belief in a self that clings to ‘I' and ‘mine', the Yogacara added jneydvarana, that ‘covers over the indefectible [i.e. unfailing] nature of knowables and causes them not to appear in the mind', because the belief in a self that clings to all imagined things, mental states of ignorance, the love to things, and affection for malicious thoughts (Bubhu: 206). The ‘obstructions of endowment' are those such as congenital blindness or deafness, having a short life, hereditary sicknesses, etc., experienced in the present life, but as result of harmful actions committed in previous lives (Mpps.I: 486-499; Avat: 716).


According to the Cundidevi-dhdrani-sutra, the purification’s method consists of reciting the Cundi’s dhdrani formula a fixed number of times, normally 200,000, 700,000, or 800,000 times, until oneself experiences an auspicious oneiric signal, such as ‘vomiting a white substance such as a thick paste of rice’ (T 1077 185b3-5, Cundi: 1).148 This recitation may be combined with the Cundidevi’s mudrd and visualizing her image, and her dhdrani can be recited in a loud voice, in a soft voice audible only to oneself, or by way of ‘adamantine’ recitation, that is, ‘by actually speaking the dhdrani but with barely

perceptible movement of lips and tongue (“under one’s breath,” as it were)’ (Gimello, 2004: 237).149 The Mahdvaipulya-dhdrani-sutra is describing a different method, where periods of dhdrani recitation are combined while walking around a Buddha’s image with periods of sitting meditation, where the mind is focused on the non-apprehension (anupalabdhitd) of all phenomena, and according the transgression’s seriousness, this practice must be repeated a fixed number of times and days.150 The auspicious sign revealing a successful practice is that of clearly contemplating a Buddha’s image while oneself is

receiving from him his adhisthdna, the bodhicitta awakening, and the prediction of being irreversible (avaivartika) along the path to supreme enlightenment (Swanson, 2000: 213, 231). The ‘secret essence’ of this dhdrani practice though, is that of realizing a true insight of the ‘Middle Way’ that the dhdrani embodies: ‘When [the practitioner] discerns the sound of the voice while he is reciting the dhdrani, he finds that the sound cannot be apprehended. It is without any self-substance . It is neither empty nor existent’ (Stevenson, 1986: 64-65).151


3.3.3. Attaining Enlightenment

Owing to the dhdranis condensing large teachings within their syllables, reciting/contemplating these entailed a drastic reduction of the time required to master them, hence, dhdranis became a ‘short-cut to enlightenment and the lucky sea to release . A bodhisattva, having epitomized all the meditations in one string [i.e. dharani], would suddenly be elevated in rank and approach supreme enlightenment’ (Chou, 1945: 258). Given that each Dhdrani-sutra describes its own approach to attain enlightenment, it will described below just two examples from the most representative ones.152 Perhaps the simplest approach is shown by the Sanmukhi-

148 Cundi (or Cunda) is one of the most important dhdrani goddesses of Northern and East Asian Buddhisms because her specialization in purifying harmful karma, and giving support to Dharma practice (Shaw, 2006: 265-275). On Cundi’s iconography, see DBI.3: 849-866. 149 Besides those three methods, the East Asian Vajrayana included two more: the ‘samddhi recitation’ consisting of a purely mental recitation without moving the tongue, and the ‘light recitation’, whether silently or aloud, light streaming from the mouth is visualized (Abe, 1999: 125; Yamasaki, 1988: 116-117). The Indo-Tibetan Vajrayana posits a whispered and mental recitations, both applied to the dhdrani syllables’ shape or to their sound (Rgyud: 187-

150 On experiencing anupalabdhitd while contemplating the ‘arapacana’ syllabary, see Appendix B-2. 151 Cf. the dhdrani-mukhas of the ghosapravesa-dhdrani and the aksarapravesa-dhdrani, see section 2.1.3.1. 152 On other examples of soteriological dhdranis, see Sursu.VI: 76-161; Zong: 134; Studholme, 2002: 147; Wallis, 2002: 19-23; Koves, 2009: 125-139.


dharani (‘Six Doors dharani'), where six experiences/knowledges are described by the Buddha: (1) making known the suffering experienced by the Buddha, (2) sharing with all beings the Buddha's spiritual bliss, (3) acknowledging one's own harmful actions, (4) knowing that Mara acts against the Buddha, (5) identifying the supreme knowledge concerning all beings with the Buddha's wholesome roots, and (6) knowing that Buddha's liberation is useful to beings if oneself does not remain either in samsara or in nirvana (Sanm: 10-11). According to Vasubandhu's commentary, those ‘Six Doors' are related to six goals

(artha) valid for all dharanis in general, that can also be applied to the Sanmukhi-dharani thus: (1) the completion of insight, (2) the power of compassion's purity, (3) the purification of one's stream of being, (4) comprehension of impediments caused by others, (5) summation of the factors of awakening, and (6) the reality and correct knowledge which are these factors' fruit (Davidson, 2009: 139). The Sanmukhi-dharani's formula, uttered by the Buddha from his residence in the Suddhavasa heavens, refers to the complete purification of the body, speech, and mind from all defilements, and the accomplishment of the ultimate reality (Skt. paramartha). The formula have to be recited six times a day, and if one remains detached from all kinds of

acts, one will attain quickly the supreme enlightenment (Sanm: 11).153 The Anantamukha-nirhara-dharani-sutra received a versified commentary by Jnanagarbha (700-760 CE) to be memorized and used as a manual, and given that just a few Mahayana Scriptures hold this kind of commentary, this implies that the Anantamukha-nirhara-dharani-sutra was considered a Scripture deserving a particular attention (Schoening, 1991: 34-35). The main purpose of this Scripture is ‘[to] become unretrogressive and quickly attain the highest, perfect Bodhi' (Anir: 87). To accomplish it, the Sutra describes three methods: (1) the recitation-meditation into a ‘formulaic' dharani or dharani-mantra-pada,

(2) the recitation-meditation into a ‘syllabic' dharani, and (3) the visualization of a mandala composed by the ‘syllabic' dharani and the images of the Bodhisattvas and yaksas refered to in the Sutra.

The Anantamukha-nirhara's formula has received the adhisthana from innumerable Buddhas (Anir: 103) and includes three practices: (1) the ‘syllable-dharani', consisting of the dharani-mantra-pada's recitation accompanied by a meditation (dhyana-yoga) on their syllables, without getting attached to their characteristics of existence or non-existence (Anir: 66-68). (2) The ‘meaning-dharani', also called ‘the practice of non-cognition of object', that

is equal to ‘attain the dharani' manifested by the dharani-mantra-pada. It consists of realizing the emptiness of all dharmas ‘by being supported by the letters which contain all the supreme teachings and meanings', i.e., the dharani-mantra-pada's recitation-meditation is intended to realize the four pratisamvids (Anir: 100-101).154 And (3) the ‘syllable-meaning-dharani', also called ‘wisdom-dharani', consisting into the alternated practice of (1) and

(2), i.e., first the dharani-mantra-pada is recited, and then it is followed by meditating on its ‘inconceivable' nature (Anir: 107-108). The Anantamukha-nirhara-dharani-sutra describes another method to ‘attain the dharani' based on a ‘syllabic' dharani composed by eight syllables, where each syllable is conceived as a ‘door' to attain a key teaching's insight: (1) ‘pa' (paramartha) the


153 However, certain Sanmukhi-dharani's Tibetan versions claim that enlightenment will only be attained after seven lives of practice (Sanm: 13, n. 8). 154 On the pratisamvids, see sections 1.2.2.1. and 2.1.3.2.


nonsubstantiality of all dharmas; (2) ‘la’ (laksana) the marks and no-marks of the Tathagata's dharma-kaya; (3) ‘ba’ (bala) the non-duality between ignorant persons and wise ones; (4) ‘ja’ (jati) the non-arising and non-perishing of beings subject to birth, old age, death, and absence of birth, old age, and death; (5) ‘ka' (karma) realization of karmas and rewards, and their absence; (6) ‘dha' (dharmadhatu) it is equal to the voidness, formlessness,

and desiressness; (7) ‘sa’ (samatha) tranquilization and its absence, entry into the suchness (tathata) of all dharmas; (8) ‘ksa' (ksana) all dharmas are momentary and originally tranquil, inexhaustible, imperishable, causeless, and in a state of extinction. The eight syllables' insight is realized through a

cognitive process where simultaneously their meanings are discerned and intuitively perceived (Anir: 113-114, 131-138).155 Lastly, Jñanagarbha briefly describes a visualization ritual of a mandala composed by the ‘syllabic' dharani’s eight syllables related to the images of eight Bodhisattvas and eight

yaksas, described as the protectors of the Anantamukha-nirhara-dharam-sutra’s teachings and their practitioners. It is significant that it was Jñanagarbha himself who elaborated the mandala method after it was revealed to him through a dream (Anir: 129-130), which denotes a relevant example of a progressive Dharani-sutras's esoterization that would culminate with their identificaton as Kriya Tantras.156 The combined practice of those three methods is conducive to attain the ‘Tranquil State', i.e., the ‘n irvana of no abiding' (apratisthita-nirvana), understood here as the klesavarana and jñeyavarana's removal, the raga-dvesa-moha's extinction, and accomplishing the ‘supreme enlightenment' (sambodhi), conceived as a threefold realization that, according to different cases, can liberate beings from unfortunate destinies, or can locate them on heavenly planes, or even can liberate them definitely from samsara (Anir: 111).157


The two described examples of soteriological Dharani-sutras emphasize their non-dual nature, that of being simultaneously means to attain ultimate reality and perfect expressions of such reality in sonic/written forms. This dharani's non-dual nature was exactly grasped by the following description of a ‘formulaic' dharani called the ‘dharani of nondefilement' included within the Suvarnaprabhasa-sutra, that who is able to master it, makes her/him as ‘no different from the Buddhas'. According to the Yijing's Chinese translation, it goes like this:


As you have said, the dharani is not bound to a particular direction or location. Nor is it devoid of a particular direction or location. It is neither a phenomenon nor a nonphenomenon. It belongs neither to the past, nor to the future, nor to the present. It is neither an event nor a nonevent, neither a cause nor a noncause, neither a practice nor a nonpractice. It is subject neither to the rising nor to the ceasing of things (tr. by Abé, 1999: 241). 155 On an equivalent process with the ‘arapacana' syllabary's contemplation, see section Appendix B-2. Note that with this method, language and its conceptual basis is not deconstructed but contemplated creatively from within its emptiness, see section 2.3. and n. 98.


156 See sections 1.2.3. and 3.1.2. 157 On klesavarana, jneyavarana, and raga-dvesa-moha's elimination, see section 3.3.2. and n. 146 and 147.



Conclusions

After almost two millennium of being rooted on Indian soil before the advent of Buddhism, the Vedic tradition, that has in the mantras its origins and identity, established a sacred conception of language understood as manifestation of the absolute, as means to transform reality, and as protective and mnemonic means, which would cast its pivotal influence on Indian Buddhism. Overall, despite the fact that early Buddhism rejected mantras, such rejection denoted more a Buddhist intention to institutionally differentiate itself from its Vedic rival, than a rejection to mantra efficacy per se. This can be seen in that besides mantras, other Vedic linguistic factors such as the satyakriya, and perhaps the phonetical correspondences as are found within some Upanisads, were also accepted and re-elaborated by the mainstream Buddhism according to its own criterion.


Shortly after the historical Buddha's disappearance, the early Buddhist rejection against mantras gave ground to their progressive acceptance, mainly because of a deeply rooted pan-Indian belief on mantras already established as a ‘taken for granted value' since centuries before, and also because some mainstream Buddhist schools admitted the five abhijnas among non-Buddhist people, being one of those abhijnas that of empowering mantras through the ‘supernatural power of conservation' rddhi). From those premises, 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.


The ‘canonical' modality, being mainly represented by the Sarvastivadins, Mulasarvastivadins, and Dharmaguptakas, began to discreetly introduce mantras through the door of their Vinayas, being used as antidotes against the antarayas and as therapeutical means. Later on, Sarvastivadins and Mulasarvastivadins introduced more mantras in some Mahasutras and other Scriptures, and those mantras were of a non-Vedic origin and promulgated either by some deities or were attributed to the Buddha himself, hence, this mantric lore became buddhavacana and also was used as a ‘conversion device' to integrate several tribal peoples to Buddhism. In a similar vein, Mahasamghikas, Siddharthikas, Dharmaguptakas, Aparasailas, and Purvasailas went a step further and elaborated specific ‘baskets' called either Vidyadhara-pitakas or Dharani-pitakas, which held a significant mantric lore which would be assimilated in turn by the Mahayana and the Vajrayana.


The ‘extra-canonical' modality is represented by the Theravada school and certain Southern Buddhist unorthopraxical ramifications such as the Southeast Asian Theravada Maha Nikaya and the Burmese Weikza movement, among others. At the beginning the Theravada only accepted its ethicized version of the Vedic satyakriya as one of the main doctrinal foundations of their parittas, however, a lasting Mahayana/Vajrayana influence left in Sri Lanka, the ancient Angkor kingdom, and Burma, allowed that a later Theravada would accept some mantras and dharanis inserted in a number of parittas and other liturgical texts.


To such mantric lore already assimilated by most of the mainstream Buddhism, the Mahayana added three key factors: the adoption of Sanskrit language, an open canon in continuous expansion, and the elaboration of the term ‘dharani' which endowed to such early mantric lore of a Buddhist identity. Thus, the Mahayana recognized as dharani several instances, such as a whole early Mahayana Scripture, syllabaries devised as mnemonic and soteriological means, mantric formulas intended


for protective, mnemonic and supramundane goals, that first would be appended to several Sutras to finally become mature Dhâranî-sutras and early Buddhist Tantras. Although it had been argued that a supposed original meaning of dhâranî as ‘memory’ was forgotten, to be replaced later by a sense of dhâranî as ‘mantra’, the textual evidence demonstrates just the opposite, the early Vedic and Saiva Tantric meanings of mantra as including protective, mnemonic, teachings condenser, and soteriological means, were completely assimilated by the Buddhist dhâranîs and were transmitted through generations to be transformed into two main categories: the ‘formulaic’ and ‘syllabic’ dhâranîs, which despite having separate origins, both ended up being identified and integrated within the stage of an early Indian Vajrayana.


As is the case with the Vedic and Saiva Tantric semantic field of the term mantra, which allows its identification within ritual, protective, mnemonic and soteriological contexts, the same occurs with the semantic field of the term dhâranî, whose semantic extent allows it to be identified with cognitive faculties such as memory, knowledge, virtue, protection, teachings condenser, etc, and as the means to attain all of them. Despite the fact that at first sight the term dhâranî seems to be diluted on a loose linguistic vagueness, on a closer scrutiny instead, dhâranî keeps revealing its extraordinary

linguistic nature and constantly shows its relation to language mastery, as is the case with the term mantra. Likewise, if the Vedic and Saiva Tantric mantra is related to a whole constellation of synonyms and paired terms, again the same occurs with the term dhâranî, also related to a large number of synonyms, compound terms, and paired to other Buddhist qualities. And if the Vedic and Saiva Tantric mantras present themselves as secure means to attain any mundane and supramundane goal, so it is with Buddhist dhâranîs as well. However, going beyond those functional parallels between the Vedic and Saiva

Tantric mantras and the Buddhist dhâranîs, it is significant to emphasize their relevant differences which would rid dhâranîs of being just mere imitations of their non-Buddhist referents to become what in fact they are, an elaborated product of the Indian Buddhist creative genius. From a formal level, this dissertation had demonstrated that the dhâranîs follow a pattern originated on certain non-Vedic mantras assimilated later by the

Atharvaveda Parisistas and some early Saiva Tantras, which neatly differentiate the dhâranîs from the standard Vedic and Saiva Tantric mantras. From a linguistic level, whereas the Vedic and Saiva Tantric mantras strictly reproduce the Vedic Sanskrit and classical Sanskrit phonological rules, the Buddhist dhâranîs instead, are reproduced into a large variety of Indic languages. And from a doctrinal level, whereas the Vedic and Saiva Tantric mantras are understood as sonic forms of an absolute and eternal brahman, the Buddhist dhâranîs instead, are manifesting the emptiness of all dharmas which can be understood from two approaches: the Mahayana one emphasizing the inexpressible nature of emptiness, and the Vajrayana one emphasizing its capability to produce innumerable meanings.


According to all that had been expounded, it can be asserted that, if under the generic term of ‘vipasyanâ’ 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, likewise, under the generic term of ‘dhâranî’ 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. Although the early Buddhism began integrating exclusively the ‘tradition of the silence’, only would be question of diverse conditions for that Indian Buddhism, this time under its mainstream, Mahayana, and Vajrayana


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


Appendix A

Early Vedic Mantras within Buddhist Dhäranis

This Appendix is focused on a specific set of Vedic mantras being frequently found within most Buddhist dhdrani formulas. As already shown in their cosmogonical function,158 the three mahdvydhrtis ‘bhur (‘earth’), ‘bhuvah’ (‘atmosphere’), and ‘svar’ (‘sky’) have a pivotal significance for the Vedic tradition. Likewise, from the contemplation of the mahdvydhrtis the ‘sap’ of the threefold Vedic knowledge is extracted: from bhur the Rgveda, from bhuvah

the Yajurveda, and from svar the Sdmaveda (JUB.I.1.3-5, II.9.7; TU.1.5.2). The mahdvydhrtis correspond to several parts of the human body implying its wholeness: bhur correspond to the head, bhuvah to the arms, and svar to the feet (BU.5.5.3-4), hence, the mahdvydhrtis bestow bodily protection. Thus, a Brahman secures her/his identification with the Vedas when she/he ‘wears’ upon her/him the mahdvydhrtis’ micro-macrocosmic power (CU.3.15.3-7). The

foremost function of the mahdvydhrtis, however, is that of carrying out a ‘universal expiation’ (Skt. sarvaprdyascitta) (JUB.III.17.2-3). Reciting the mahdvydhrtis has the power to atone any mistake committed during the performance of Vedic sacrifices and their evil consequences (SB.XI.5.8.6), and this same power is applied to any deliberate or unintentional offences. The idea lying behind here is that whatever disorder can be restored through the

mahdvydhrtis, because they are the sonic embodiment of the world’s creation in its original perfection (Gonda, 1983: 35, 4950).159 From a spiritual level, the mantra Om is a vehicle to attain the heavens (svarga) (JUB.III.13.10) and to become immortal (CU.1.4.4-5). From a mundane level though, Om denotes assent towards the whole creation (CU.1.1.8), and knowing Om’s meaning entails satisfying all desires (KU.2.16). Thus, Om is recited mainly to propitiate the auspicious beginning of several Vedic rituals (CU.1.8), and especially, those related to welfare and prosperity (VC: 310-311). Another significant function of Om is that of memorizing: Om is recited at the beginning and at the end of a Vedic passage’s reading to secure its retention (Parpola, 1981: 196-197).160


The mantra Hum (and its variants Um, Hum, y Hum) has an early meaning related to Om as an interjection of ‘assent’, and is also used to connect the final and initial parts of some verses in several Vedic rituals (Parpola, 1981: 208-209; SED: 1301; VC: 1070). However, the most common Vedic (and Tantric) meaning of Hum is that of being the ‘armor’ mantra, whose pronunciation purifies and protects from evil influences (Wheelock, 1989: 107).161

158 See section 1.1.1.1.


159 The mahdvydhrtis appear in several Buddhist dhdranis to propitiate a successful generative process, whether a fetal development (Prati: 201), or a spiritual one (Gusa: 316; Snellgrove, 2002: 230-231, 256-257, n. 233). For more examples, see AM.2.806, 842; AM.7.3231; AM.10.4740, 5495; AM.11.5769, 5910, 5972; AM.12.6319, 6334-6335, 6378.


160 On the Buddhist meanings of Om, see Appendix B-1 paragraph (2). 161 The Theravada Vinaya criticized this view, see section 1.2.1.1. Within a Saiva and Buddhist Tantric context, Hum denotes the ‘fierce side of the deity’ (Wayman, 1985: 36), hence, Hum


The mantra Phat reproduces an onomatopoeia denoting ‘crash', ‘crack' (SED: 716), or a ‘horse's hooves' sound (DUK: 16), and was originally uttered as a ‘counterattack' against an ‘inimical action' (Skt. dbhicara)'s ritual (AV.IV.18.3). That is why the most common appellative of Phat is that of being the ‘weapon-mantra' (Skt. astra-mantra) (SED: 122; TAK.I: 163; TAB: 7, 91; Wheelock, 1989: 107-108). Besides its protective/offensive use, Phat is also employed to remove demonic entities obstructing the spiritual practice (Pvra.2.8), and from a yogic level, its sound ‘purifies the adept's coarse and subtle bodies' (Padoux, 1980: 86, n. 1).162


After uttering the mantra Svdhd, Prajapati did the first offering to the fire god Agni (SB.II.2.1.4). According to its traditional etymology, Svdhd alludes to the Prajapati's own greatness (sva) with which he spoke (dha) to Agni, counteracting in this way Agni's destructive voracity directed against Prajapati and to the world (SB.II.2.4.6). Hence, the mantra Svdhd became the oblation's utterance par excellence in Vedic rituals (BU.5.8.1, n. 8, p. 321; SED: 1284; VC: 1056-1058).163


also is named as the ‘cuirass' (kavaca), ‘wrath' (krodha), and ‘preservative' (varma) mantra (SED: 264, 322, 926; TAB: 43, 47, 91). On the East Asian Vajrayana meaning of Hum as synonym of dhdran , see Un: 125. 162 On the Buddhist meanings of Phat, see Appendix B-1 paragraphs (2) and (4), and Finot, 1934: 60, 77. 163 On the Buddhist meanings of Svdhd, see Appendix B-1 paragraphs (2) and (4). 69


Appendix B


Analysis of two Dharani Typologies

This Appendix is divided into two parts: ‘Appendix B-1' dealing with the ‘formulaic' dharanis, and ‘Appendix B-2' dealing with the ‘syllabic' dharanis. Besides providing again definitions for the terms ‘formulaic' and ‘syllabic' dharanis and analysing their formal patterns, the present Appendix will clarify two common misunderstandings concerning dharanis, the first one, that dharanis (i.e., the ‘formulaic' ones) ‘are not properly meaningful' (McDermott, 1975: 296, n. 25), or that they are written in an ‘unintelligible jargon' (SBLN: 291), and the second one, that the ‘arapacana' syllabary and its variants (i.e., the ‘syllabic' dharanis) are primarily ‘mnemonic devices' (Ugra: 291-292, n. 549).


Appendix B-1: ‘Formulaic' Dharanis


A ‘formulaic' dharani consists of [1] a linguistic pattern in prose, sonic or written, [2] regarded as promulgated by Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and/or any deity accepted by Buddhism and endowed of their ‘spiritual support' (adhisthana), [3] composed of one or more formulas of certain Indic languages, [4] that pledges (samaya) the attainment of its mundane and/or supramundane goals if the prescriptions established by her/his promulgator are followed. Here only segments


[1] and [3] of this definition will be studied.164


Previously, note had been made of the striking similarity between the formal structure of several mantras from the Atharvaveda Parisistas Asurikalpa and Ucchusmakalpa and that of the dharani formulas, 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 dharani formulas.165 What follows is an analysis of the four parts of the ‘formulaic dharanis pattern, first, providing a comparative analysis between the Asurikalpa's ‘root-mantra' (mula-mantra) and a dharani formula invoking Vajrapani from the Susiddhikara-sutra, and then, providing an analysis of the ‘formulaic dharanis pattern as is understood in Buddhist Scriptures and according to certain contemporary interpretations. The Asurikalpa's ‘root-mantra' reads:


om namo rudraya, om katuke katukapattre subhaga asuri rakte raktavasase, atharvanasya duhite ghore ghorakarmakarike amukam hana hana daha daha paca paca mantha mantha tavad daha tavat paca yavan me vaqam anayah svaha.


Om, obeisance to Rudra: om, O pungent one, thou of the pungent leaf, blessed asuri, reddish one, thou of the reddish garment, O daughter of the atharvan, non-terrific one, non-terrific wonder worker (deed-performer), ‘so-and-so' smite, smite, burn, burn, cook, cook, crush, crush, so long burn, so long cook, until thou hast brought [him] into my power: svaha (ed. and tr. Aka: 175, 180).


164 On segments [2] and [4], see sections 1.2.2.2. paragraph (a), and 3.1.2. 165 See section 1.1.1.2. 70


The Susiddhikara-sutra’s Vajrapani dharani reads:


namo ratnatrayaya, namas candavajrapanaye mahayaksasenanapataye, om hara hara vajra matha matha vajra dhuna dhuna vajra hana hana vajra [daha daha vajra] paca paca vajra dala dala vajra daraya daraya vajra vidaraya vidaraya vajra chinda chinda vajra bhinda bhinda vajra hum phat. Homage to the Three Jewels! Homage to Violent Vajrapani, great General of the yaksas! Om, seize, seize, O vajra! destroy, destroy, O vajra! shake, shake, O vajra! slay, slay, O vajra! burn burn, O vajra! roast, roast, O vajra! split, split, O vajra! tear, tear, O vajra! tear [asunder], tear asunder,O vajra! cut, cut, O vajra! split, split, O vajra! hum phat! (Susi: 302-303).166


A formal common pattern is detectable in both texts, composed by four parts: (1) a salutation mantric sentence, (2) a beginning mantra word (generally, the monosyllable om), (3) a mantra(s) formula(s), and (4) a closing mantra formula and/or mantra word(s) (generally, expressions as svaha, hum, and phat). This fourfold pattern will be applied to both examples in the following Chart:


Pattern's Parts Asurikalpa’s mantra Susiddhikara-sütra’s dharani


A salutation mantric sentence om namo rudraya namo ratnatrayaya, namas candavajrapanaye mahayaksasenanapataye A beginning mantra word om om


A Mantra(s) formula(s) katuke katukapattre subhaga asuri rakte raktavasase, atharvanasya duhite ghore ghorakarmakarike amukam hana hana daha daha paca paca mantha mantha tavad daha tavat paca yavan me vaçam anayah hara hara vajra matha matha vajra dhuna dhuna vajra hana hana vajra [daha daha vajra] paca paca vajra dala dala vajra daraya daraya vajra vidaraya vidaraya vajra chinda chinda vajra bhinda bhinda vajra


A closing mantra formula and/or mantra word(s) svaha hum phat

Chart 1: The ‘Formulaic' Dharani Pattern (Based on Aka: 175, 180, and Susi: 302-303). 166 ‘Daha daha vajra' had been added (in square brackets) following Susi: 324, n. 112, because it appears in the Sutra’s Japanese, Chinese and Tibetan versions. Whereas in the Asurikalpa the terms ‘hana, daha, paca' are used in rites of ‘inimical action' (abhicara), in the Vajrapani dharani instead, are used to bring a stolen article back (Susi: 302). Those same terms appear in other dharanis to propitiate health and longevity (Mayu: 408-409), removal of defilements (Bala: ed. 27.24, tr. 55.36-39), and protection against enemies and black magic (Varat: 7-12; Prati: 112-113, 201).


Although such pattern is not uniformly followed by all ‘formulaic’ dharanis,167 however, it is the most reproduced one, and in fact, such pattern is what defines formally a ‘formulaic' dharani (see segment [1]), showing one of its most distinctive characteristics that differentiates it clearly from the standard Vedic and Saiva Tantric mantras.168 Now those pattern's four parts will be studied according to their Buddhist understanding and some contemporary interpretations.


(1).- A salutation mantric sentence: The ‘formulaic dharanis' usually begin with a set of salutations (Skt. namaskaras), in honour to the three Jewels, to the Buddha, to the Bodhisattva, or to the deity invoked by the dharani. It means that the auspicious presence of those invoked entities is summoned, and it is a way to give a general identity to the formula (eg. three Jewels) and a specific one (eg. Vajrapani) (see example above).


(2).- A beginning mantra word: Normally, this beginning mantra word is related to the closing mantra word (cf. Part 4), and indicates the dharani's concrete purpose. Thus, the word Om at the beginning and the word svaha at the end refers to its use in pacifying calamities (Skt. santika) (Vai-su: 268; Susi: 134), the word Om at the beginning and the words Hum Phat at the end refer to its use in summoning, and the words Hum Phat at the beginning and end are for use in subjugating (Skt. abhicaruka), the word Namah at the beginning and end are for use in increasing benefits (Skt. paustika) (Vai-su: 268), But according to a different interpretation, dharanis with no beginning and end words as described, are able to accomplish increasing benefits (Susi: 134).169 The monosyllable Om is the most used as ‘beginning mantra word', and acquired, among others, the Buddhist meanings of being the sonic manifestation of the Buddha's three bodies (Skt. trikaya), of taking refuge and bowing to the three Jewels, and of denoting a vast offering (Gorin: 292). From an esoteric sense, Om means ‘the fulfillment of the three bodies' and ‘the basis and mother of all mantras' (Unno, 2004: 158, 171-172).170


(3).- A Mantra(s) formula(s): This part constitutes the dharani's ‘semantic corpus' proper, the part expressing in referential and meaningful terms the effect the dharani proposes to manifest into the mundane and/or supramundane planes of reality.171 This part is conceived as a prose mantric utterance composed of several characteristic features, among them, the following stand out:


(a).-Alliterations: Undoubtedly, this is one of the ‘formulaic' dharanis' distinctive features, reproduced again and again in most of them. It consists of 167 There are some early dharanis lacking parts (1), (2), and (4) (eg. AM.12.6873-6895), and some that instead of beginning with om, begin with the term ‘tadyatha' (Zabao: 156; AM.12.6896-6898), and those that only include parts (2), (3), and (4) (eg. AM.12.6905-6907). 168 See sections 1.1.1.1. and 1.1.2.2.


169 On the meanings of santika, paustika, and abhicaruka, see sections 3.2.1., 3.2.2., and 3.2.3. 170 According to the Theravada Maha Nikaya, Om is represented with an inverse form and broken down as ‘MA A U', and those syllables establish a set of correspondences, see Castro-Sanchez, 2010: 6, Chart 1.


171 This part is equivalent to the portion of the Saiva tantric mantra that declares ‘what is to be effected' (sadhya) by the mantra into the world. The relationship between the mantra and the sadhya parallels that between language and reality (Yelle, 2003: 20-21, 42). This sadhya part is equivalent to the mantra's sakti, see section 1.1.2.2., n. 16.


repeating an identical term, usually in 2nd. sing. imperative act, with the intention to intensify the dharani's effect (Wayman, 1985: 35); and it signifies ‘a command of the speaker, but shades off into a demand, and exhortation, an entreaty, and expression of earnest desire' (Amog: 269). Although the most common alliteration is double (see example above),172 in some instances, a single term is repeated four, and even ten times (Mayu: 418-428). (b) .-‘Exhaustion': It means ‘the enumeration of all, or nearly all, of a set or paradigm class, whether semantic or phonetic', exhausting ‘the

directional possibilities of language' (Yelle, 2003: 15). Such device stamp to the dharani a tendency to comprise and dominate all linguistic possibilities intended by the formula, as in ‘kara kara, kiri kiri, kuru kuru' (Amog: 296), expressing imperatives of multiple action (Wayman, 1985: 35-36). The combination of alliterations and ‘exhaustions' intensifies the dharani's transformative power (Amog: 269). (c) .-Augmentation: It consists of repeating a word or concept with progressive increase of intensity (Yelle, 2003: 14). One well-known example is the Prajndpdramitdhrdaya-sutra’s vidya: ‘om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha’ (Pph.VIII), i.e. ‘om gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond, enlightenment, svaha' (Lopez, 1990: 356).


(d) .-‘Unintelligible' terms: Occasionally, the dharanis may include terms considered as ‘unintelligible' ones. For instance, there are three terms appearing very frequently: ‘hili', ‘mili', and ‘kili', and those terms appear, to name just a few examples, in therapeutical formulas as ‘hili mill (Ro§u, 1986: 217; #^^1.142; CBD: 140), against snakes ones as ‘ili mili phuh phuh’ (HT.I.2.32), or within ‘all-purpose' dharanis as ‘hili hili, mili mili, kili kili' (Prati: 232). Several theories can explain the origin and meaning of those so-called ‘unintelligible' terms, for instance, those terms and similar ones may refer to certain deities' names, as the vid-ya^a Kilikili (Susi: 201, 288),173 or they may come from the spirits or gods' languages invoked by the formula (Goudriaan, 1978: 78), or they may be emerged from a state of meditative absorption (Whitaker, 1963: 12, n. 8), or they may be onomatopoeias, as the god Hanuman's bija-mantra ‘kilikili vuvu' (cf. HT.I.2.32, above) imitating the monkey's noise ‘to frighten others' (DUK: 22). The dharani's Scriptural and ritual context would provide the keys to clarify which of those theories, or others, may be applicable to each case. Anyway, it should be taken into account that the dharanis are invoking or summoning the presence of a given ‘other', hence, those terms are not nonsensical, but are seen as only intelligible for the entities invoked and for those initiated into such language (Tambiah, 1968: 177-178).174


(e) .-Personalizations: In most dharanis appears the clause ‘mama' (‘your name here'), signaling the place where to insert the name of the dharani's recitation beneficiary, or the name of that one who sponsored a massive dharani's copying (Hidas, 2008: 25, n. 90; Copp, 2005: 194-195). (f) .-Terms related to specific rites: Besides the beginning and end mantra words (cf. Part 2), it is possible to know the ritual purpose of a given dharani according to which terms it may include. A santika dharani may include terms such as ‘santi-kuru


See also DBDh: 3, 10, 17, 27, 36, 37, 45, 50, 51, 62, 86, 109, 111. See the Rudras' names within several mantras and dharanis, in section 1.1.2.1. 174 As it was stated by the Mimamsaka Sabara: ‘In cases where the meaning is not intelligible, it is not that there is no meaning; it is there always, only people are ignorant of it' (as quoted in Coward, 1989: 166).


(‘render auspicious'), or ‘sama’ (‘remove'), a paustika one include terms such as ‘pusti’ (‘increase benefit'), or ‘bala’ (‘strength'), and an dbhicdruka one, words such as ‘hana’ (‘strike'), or ‘bhanja' (‘shatter') (Susi: 132-133).


(g).-Phrases of supplication: With the purpose of infusing radiant energy (Skt. tejas) to an object and making it effective, ‘phrases of supplication' are inserted after the initial, middle, and final parts of a dhdran , such as ‘jvala' (‘emit light') and ‘jvdlaya' (‘cause to emit light') (Susi: 262). (4).- 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), some dhdran s including ‘phrases of supplication' end with the three words Hum, Phat and Svdhd to intensify its power (Susi: 262).


The above points demonstrate that the ‘formulaic dhdran s', far from being ‘unintelligible' or ‘meaningless', are a kind of language with semantically identifiable contents based on performative expressions (Payne, 1998: 10). This dhdrani language, however, does not follow the parameters of an ordinary communication, but those only concerned with spiritual and ritual goals that are what provide them with their sense (Wallis, 2002: 30). The dhdran s differ from conventional language because they facilitate states of mental concentration and insight, being able to get in touch with mundane/supramundane entities, and even attaining the unconditioned (Tambiah, 1968: 206, n. 7). Said in different words, dhdrani language is not intended for discriminative proliferation (Skt. prapanca), but only for ritual and transcendental goals (Padoux, 1990: 373, 377).175


Concerning the languages of dhdran s (see definition's segment [3]), it is significant to clarify that, on the contrary to the Vedic and Saiva Tantric mantras following exclusively the Sanskrit phonology (Staal, 1989: 61), the Buddhist mantras/dhdran s are composed of several Indic languages. The Mahdvairocandbhisambodhi-tantra acknowledges as one category of the ‘nature of mantras' that of the ‘local languages', i.e., ‘those that are spoken in accordance with whatever language is used in each region' (Vai-ta.II.II.80), and other Vajrayana sources admit mantras and Tantras in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsa, and Sabari (Lamotte, 1958: 614), and as already have been noted, there are dhdran s in Dravidian (Bernhard, 1967: 162-164) and Pali (Bizot/Lagirarde,1996: 214-216, 225-228).176 In practical terms, however, the dhdran s retained a characteristic feature of any non-Vedic, Vedic and Saiva Tantric mantra: a large part of its efficacy is directly related to a proper


175 This may explain the inclusion of dhâranî formulas within Sutras emphasizing discriminative conceptualization (Skt. vagvikalpa) as a danger to accomplishing ultimate reality. Thus, out of sixteen Mahayana Scriptures focused on the ultimate reality's inexpressibility (Lugli, 2010: 139-140), nine of them include references to dharams (Pagel, 2007b: 163-164, n. 28 and n. 31).


176 Another mantric language related to the Sabari and the Dravidian is the Paisaci, designated as bhutabhasa (‘the language of bhutas or ghosts'), spoken by deities such as yaksas, raksasas and nagas, see Konow, 1910: 95-100, 118; Grierson, 1912: 67-73; Master, 1943: 39-42. On the mastery of non-human languages as one of the Buddha's ‘conversion devices', see section 1.2.1.3., and as a Bodhisattva's attribute, see Mpsu: 541, and Pagel, 2007a: 68. On the Dravidian mantras/dharan s, see section 1.1.2.1., n. 14, and Appendix C.



enunciation in its original language, hence, it is also related to its untranslatability (Padoux, 1987: 120; Copp, 2005: 180-183).177


Appendix B-2: ‘Syllabic’ Dhâranîs


By ‘syllabic’ dhâranî 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. In most cases, the syllabaries connect the syllables phonetically to headwords, and the syllables constitute, save rare cases, the first syllable of the corresponding headword. There are ‘syllabic’ dhâranîs issued from a particular arrangement of syllables following Buddhist topics, and there is another type in which the standard Sanskrit syllabary (varnapâtha) is used to convey a set of Buddhist doctrinal terms (Pagel, 2007a: 18-38). In either of both cases and as it was said before, the goals for all ‘syllabic’ dhâranîs are identical: they serve as means to memorize Dharma topics, describe a map to the Buddhist path, and are contemplative methods conducive to insight.178


Undoubtedly, the most influential ‘syllabic’ dhâranî is that named ‘arapacana’, which according to one of its earliest and most widespread Mahayana versions, includes forty three syllables, conceived as ‘doors’ (mukhas) to attain an insight to key Buddhist teachings.179 * * Some authors, however, have insisted in that the primary function of the ‘arapacana’ syllabary is an ‘aid to memorisation’ (Pagel, 2007a: 24, n. 25), and that the sonic syllables and their graphic signs by themselves are more important to allow easy memorisation than the concepts they designate, because those concepts change according to different versions (Davidson, 2009: 124-125). Nevertheless, without questioning the relative validity of those views, an impartial observation of the ‘arapacana’ syllabary itself along with its Scriptural context, demonstrates that the ‘arapacana’ syllabary, besides being used as a mnemonic device, is above all a means of spiritual realization.


Just a preliminary reading of their contents, will show that all the ‘arapacana’ syllabary’s headwords point to experiencing the ‘nonapprehension’ (Skt. anupalabdhitâ) of an inherent existence in any dharma, whether conditioned or unconditioned, which is a pivotal tenet of the Prajnâpâramitâ-sütras (PWE-S.IX.205-207; Mpsu: 80, 101), and as their commentaries repeat, such experience is equated to grasping the ‘true characteristic’ (Skt. bhutalaksana) of all dharmas, i.e., their lack of any characteristic (Mpps.III: XLII). The soteriological function of the ‘arapacana’ syllabary is demonstrated again by the aksarapravesa-dhâranî, revolving around the


177 Northern, Central Asian, and East Asian Buddhisms made particular efforts to transliterate as faithfully as possible the dhâranîs’ Indic original sounds. For instance, Tibetans devised a specific set of letters to reproduce exactly Sanskrit syllables (TED: xviii-xxi), Sogdians devised special diacritical marks to transliterate dhâranîs (La Vallée Poussin/Gauthiot, 1912: 634-635), and Chinese and Japanese focused on the Indic siddham script to reproduce mantras/dhâranîs (Bonji: 142-143; Gulik, 1956: 45-138).


178 See sections 1.2.1.2., and Appendices C, and D section (b). 179 See Chart 2 below. For a detailed study of the ‘arapacana’ syllabary and its variants, see Pagel, 2007a: 18-38; for its earlier versions, see Brough, 1977, Mukherjee, 1999, and Salomon, 1990 and 1993.


contemplation of their syllables.180 From the first instant in which the Bodhisattva listens to the syllable ‘A', she/he penetrates immediately the fact that ‘all dharmas are unproduced from the very beginning', and the same process is repeated with the rest of the syllables, and as she/he is listening to them, penetrates even more into the ‘true characteristic' (bhutalaksana) of all dharmas (Mpps.IV: 1866-1868).181


In the same vein, another feature to be emphasized here is the ‘circularity' of the ‘arapacana' syllabary, because it begins with ‘all dharmas are unproduced from the very beginning' (No. 1), and ends with ‘in their ultimate and final station dharmas neither decease nor are they reborn' (No. 43), thus, pointing to the unconditioned nature of all dharmas and encouraging the practitioner to its realization. This ‘arapacana' syllabary's ‘circularity' became the basis of the Vajrayana method on the ‘revolving dharani', consisting of a meditation on the regular and reverse order on the meanings of the

individual syllables constituting the ‘arapacana' dharani or other mantras arranged in a ‘wheel of letters', where ‘both the final [letter] and the initial [letter] come to the same thing', i.e., ‘if the cause is inapprehensible, then it is from the very beginning unborn [No. 1]; if it is from the very beginning unborn, then it neither increases nor decreases [No. 43] ... then it is the Dharma body of the Tathagata' (Un: 109, 114-117, n. 14). Therefore, the ‘arapacana' syllabary went beyond a Mahayana sphere to be assimilated by the Vajrayana and reinterpreted as the ‘mantras' method', and as the ‘gates of the samadhis to the experience of reality' (Vai-ta.II.II.84-86), and for Kukai, the ‘arapacana' syllabary is ‘the king of mantras' which

‘eradicates suffering and bestows happiness' (Shoji: 92). The ‘arapacana’ syllabary was even personified as the Bodhisattva ‘Arapacana Manjusri' (Bhattacharyya, 1958: 120-121; DBI.2: 379-380), becoming a pivotal figure in numerous ‘means of accomplishment' (Skt. sadhanas) and influential ritual texts as the Manjusrinamasamgiti (Mns: 22.27).182 Other ‘syllabic' dharanis experienced a similar esoterization process, appearing integrated along ‘formulaic' dharanis within the same Scripture. In the Da faju tuoluoni jing (592-594 CE), the ‘formulaic' dharanis serve as removers of negative influences and the ‘syllabic' dharani ‘A-KA-NA' induces the production of teachings (Overbey, 2010: 112), and in the Anantamukha-nirhara-dharani-sutra, both ‘formulaic' and ‘syllabic' dharanis are intended for attaining Buddhahood (Anir: 65-87, 113-144).183


See section 2.1.3.1.


181 One of the ‘arapacana' practice's ‘twenty advantages' is that of ‘the cognition of the extinction of the outflows' (Mpsu: 162). 182 The Tibetan Buddhist canon contains several sadhanas focusing on the ‘arapacana' syllabary (TP: 38, 2117). 183 On this Dharani-sutra's practice, see section 3.3.3. 76

No. Syllable Headword(s) Insight


1 A adyanutpannatvad All dharmas (Alldh./alldh.) are unproduced from the very beginning (adyanutpannatvad). 2 RA rajas Alldh. are without dirt (rajas). 3 PA paramartha Alldh. have been expounded in the ultimate sense (paramartha). 4 CA cyavana The decease (cyavana) or rebirth of any dh. cannot be apprehended, because alldh. do not decease, nor are they reborn. 5 NA naman The names (naman) of alldh. have vanished. 6 LA loka/lata Alldh. have transcended the world (loka); the causes and conditions of the creeping plant (lata) of craving have been utterly destroyed.

‘Tamed’ (danta) and ‘taming’ (danta-damatha) have been circumscribed.

8 BA bandhana The bonds (bandhana) have departed from alldh. 9 DA damara The tumult (damara) of alldh. has vanished. 10 SHA shanga No attachment (shanga) in any dharma is apprehended; they are neither attached nor bound. 11 VA vakpatha-ghosha The sound of the paths of speech (vakpatha-ghosha) has been quite cut off. 12 TA tathata Alldh. do not depart from Suchness (tathata). 13 YA yathavad The nonapprehension of any fact (yathavad). 14 SHTA shtambha The nonap. of a support (shtambha). 15 KA karaka The nonap. of an agent (karaka). 16 SA samata The nonap. of sameness (samata); alldh. never stray away from sameness. 17 MA mamakara The nonap. of mine-making (mamakara). 18 GA gamana The nonap. of motion (gamana). 19 STHA sthana The nonap. of subsistence (sthana). 20 JA jati The nonap. of birth (jati). 21 SVA svasa The nonap. of a principle of life (svasa). 22 DHA dharmadhatu The nonap. of the Realm of Dharma (dharmadhatu). 23 SA samatha The nonap. of calming-down (samatha). 24 KHA kha The nonap. of the sameness of space (kha). 25 KSA ksaya The nonap. of the extinction (ksaya). 26 STA stabdha Each dh. is fixed (stabdha) in its place, and never leaves it. 27 JNÀ jnana The cognition (jnana) cannot be apprehended. 28 RTA martya The mortality (martya) cannot be apprehended. 29 HA hetu A root-cause (hetu) cannot be apprehended. 30 BHA bhanga A breaking-up (bhanga) cannot be apprehended. 31 CHA chedana A cutting-off (chedana) cannot be apprehended. 32 SMA smarana A remembrance (smarana) cannot be apprehended. 33 HVA ahvana The true appellations (ahvana) cannot be apprehended. 34 TSA utsaha The will-power (utsaha) cannot be apprehended. 35 GHA ghana Things and persons are not apprehended each as one solid mass (ghana). 36 THA vithapana The nonap. of fabricated appearances (vithapana). 37 NA rana The strife (rana) has departed. 38 PHA phala No fruit (phala) is apprehended. 39 SKA skandha No aggregates (skandhas) are apprehended. 40 YSA ysara = jara No decay (ysara =jara) is apprehended. 41 SCA scarana The nonapprehension of good conduct (scarana). 42 TA talo The nonapprehension of the other shore (talo). 43 DHA nidha The nonapprehension of unsteadiness. In their ultimate and final (nidha) station dharmas neither decease nor are they reborn. Chart 2: The ‘Arapacana’ Syllabary (based on Mpsu: 160-162, and Conze, 1955: 120-122).


Appendix C


‘Formulaic' and ‘Syllabic' Dharanis in Mainstream Buddhist Schools


Besides the Mahasutras' mantras already referred to,184 more pivotal mantras are found within other Sarvastivada and Mulasarvastivada texts. It should be emphasized here that the Upasena-sutra, included within the Samyuktagama of both schools, 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, hatred, and delusion, the snake poison, too, is ‘killed' (Schmithausen, 1997: 11-13). There is also a mantra for healing ocular diseases in a second century CE Sarvastivada's Avadana collection (Zabao: 155-157)

(Nakamura, 1980: 139, 107, n. 43), and the ‘six syllables mantra' (sadaksari-vidya) promulgated by the Buddha in the second or third century CE Sarvastivada's Sdrdulakarndvaddna (Divy: 613-614). In this text the incorporation of the mantric lore belonging to the ‘holders of knowledge' (Skt. vidyadhara) and to the followers of the non-Vedic goddess Matangi into Buddhism is dramatized, through the monastic ordination of ‘Prakrti' (‘nature'), daughter of the mahavidyadhari Matangi, that, despite falling in love with Ananda, finally she became a nun through the Buddha's mantric power.185 Within the same line of the Buddhist incorporation of local cults, the conversion to Buddhism of the ‘Four Great Kings' through a dharani formula is

significant. According to the second century CE Sarvastivada's Abhidharma-mahavibhasa-sastra (Nakamura, 1980: 107), the Buddha's gift for languages allowed him to teach the Dharma in Sanskrit to Dhrtarastra and Virudhaka, in a barbarian language (mleccha) to Vaisravana, and in Dravidian (dravida or dramida) to Virupaksa, with the dharani ‘ine mine dapphe dadapphe', understood as a summary of the ‘Four Ennobling Truths' (Bernhard, 1967: 163-164; Lamotte, 1958: 608-609).186 The Abhidharma-mahavibhasa-sastra also includes a series of mantras (called vidyas) for therapeutical and apotropaic goals (McBride, II, 2005: 108-109, n. 79). Likewise, the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya contains several protective mantras, specially, a mantra against snakebites that will reappear in an

expanded version within the influential Mahd-mdyuri-vidydrajni-sutra (Skilling, 1992: 156-157; Pathak, 1989: 32-36). The Dharmaguptaka school (third century BCE) was founded by Dharmagupta, who allegedly received teachings and mantras from Maudgalyayana (Demieville, 1932: 61). In the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya is mentioned for the first time the syllables ‘a-ra-pa-ca-na' as an example of recitation for the set of syllables (aksara) with mnemonic and soteriological goals, which indicates the earliest use of a ‘syllabic' dharani before the 184 See section 1.2.1.2. 185 For an earlier account of the Sd rdulakarndvaddna, see Mata: 166-170. A Chinese version of this text (T 1300) translated in 230 CE, includes rituals and six dharanis and can be considered one of the earliest Dharani-sutras (Chou, 1945: 242). On the goddess Matangi, see section 1.1.2.1., on the vidyadharas, see section 1.2.2.2., n. 53. 186 Such dharani appears in Mayu: 438-439, and is functionally akin to the Pali rosary chant ‘du, sa, ni, ma', composed by the two first letters of ‘dukkha, samudaya, nirodha, magga' (Harvey, 1993: 83, n. 7). On the mantras and dharanis in Dravidian, see section 1.1.2.1. n. 14, and Appendix B-1.


Mahayana (Levi, 1915b: 440, n. 1), and the same Vinaya also includes protective and therapeutical mantras (Davidson, 2009: 113-116). The ‘Bajaur Collection', of a likely Dharmaguptaka origin (c. late first century CE), includes a fragment of the ‘arapacana' syllabary and a mantra (lit. a vidya) offered by the Naga king Manasvin to the Buddha as antidote against the antarayas (Strauch, 2008: 18, 37-47).187 Despite its absence in the Theravada Nikayas, mantras (P mantas) and dharanis found an extra-canonical place within South and Southeast Asian Theravada. They demonstrate a persistent impact left by a Mahayana/Vajrayana established in Sri Lanka from the third to the ninth century CE (Mudiyanse, 1967: 1-9; Chandra, 2000: 111), in the ancient Angkor empire from the tenth to the fifteenth century CE (Harris, 2005: 14-25), and in Burma from the eleventh to the nineteenth century CE (Bizot, 1976: 36-37).


The Sri Lankan paritta lore uses texts such as the Sivali-paritta, Gini-paritta, Abhisambhidhana-paritta, Jalanandana-paritta, and Aranyaka-paritta containing Mahayana dharani formulas and esoteric diagrams (Skt. yantras), and the Randene-gatha is recited including Tantric bija-mantras, and the Sarvaraksaka-mantra and yantra invoking eight Mahayana Bodhisattvas as protective devices, as well. Some canonical parittas are recited a fixed number of times (7, 21, 1,000, and 100,000 times), as it is prescribed in the Saiva and Vajrayana mantra methods. Moreover, there is a monastic mantra masters' lineage (mantracaryas) the Kondadeniya Paramparava, focused on exorcism services (Chandawimala, 2007: 215-226). Likewise, Sri Lankan traditional medicine preserves therapeutic mantras from a Vajrayana origin (Liyanaratne, 2001: 393-395).


The Southeast Asian Theravada Maha Nikaya preserved until the twentieth century CE the recitation of the Salakarivija-sutta, Indasava, Dharana-paritta, Disapala-paritta, Adharana-paritta, Mahavira-paritta, Dibbamanta-Dharaniya-paritta, and Mahadibba-manta containing Mahayana dharani formulas, along with other dharani formulas composed by themselves.188 And the contemporary Burmese Buddhist esoteric movement Weikza (from the P vijja, Skt. vidya), integrated by monastics and laypeople alike, is based on a mantric tradition related to Vedic and Tantric lores called gandhari-vijja.189 Besides the mantra practice followed by those schools, other mainstream Buddhist schools assimilated a growing mantric lore that ended up getting a canonical status. Mahasamghikas (Beal, 1884: ii, 164-165), Siddharthikas (Walser, 2005: 53), Dharmaguptakas (Demieville, 1932: 60-61), Aparasailas, and Purvasailas (Tris.57-58), elaborated and transmitted a new Scriptural ‘basket' (Skt. pitaka), called Vidyadhara-pitaka for those schools, or called with its synonym of Dharani-pitaka 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, its early language is the Gandhari (North West India) and was created c. first or second century CE (Salomon, 1990: 256, 259; Lévi, 1937: 362). On the ‘arapacana' syllabary, see Appendices B-2 Chart 2, and D section (b). 188 See Filliozat, 2004: 499-501, 506-507, 510, 512-513; Jaini, 2001b: 507-513; Bizot, 1976: 27, 85, n. 1.; Castro Sánchez, 2010: 6-8, Charts 1-3. 189 See Pranke, 1995: 350; Ferguson/Mendelson, 1981: 68-71; Mendelson, 1961: 564, n. 2. The gandhari-vijja (Skt. gandhari-vidya) is regarded as bestowing powers of invisibility, a body's multiplicity, and flying (PED: 244; DN.11.5-7; Kosa.VII.47c-d). On the vidya mantras, see section


79 Mahasamghikas, that, together with the traditional Tripitaka and a Bodhisattva-pitaka, established a primary doctrinal and institutional core from which would develop the Mahayana and then the Vajrayana.190 190 Some Scriptures refer to the Dhdrani-pitaka as a Mahayana esoteric canon (Ben: 43-45), and to the Vidyadhara-pitaka as a denomination for the Vajrayana canon as a whole (Shes.VI: 73-74; Chavannes, 1894: 101-104), or as a section within it (Dalton, 2010: 16, n. 33; Lalou, 1955: 71-72). These data demonstrate that Indian Mahayana should be viewed ‘as a primarily textual phenomenon that arose and developed within the institutional context of mainstream Buddhism' (Drewes, 2006: 160).


Appendix D


Dhdranis within Mahayana Sutras


The complex process of the Buddhist assimilation of mantras initiated within some Vinayas, the Mahdsutras, and other mainstream Buddhist Scriptures already described,191 continued within Mahayana through several stages from which three of the most relevant will be summarized here, taking into account that the dates indicated are quite approximated and in a few cases, different dates of stages overlap.


(a).- Dhdranis as Identical to Mahayana Sutras


The earliest references to the dhdrani term within Mahayana identify it with some Sutras, that is, the whole Sutra is viewed as a dhdrani. The Updyakausalya-sutra (first century BCE) is also named as a ‘Doctrinal system of the Bodhisattva collection known as the ‘Incantation of the Irreversible Wheels, the Diamond Word, the Nonarising of All Phenomena' (Avaivartika-cakra-dhdrani-vajrapada-sarvadharmdnutpdda-bodhisattva-pitaka-dharmaparydya), that

only with its listening, allows Bodhisattvas ‘to attain conviction that phenomena are unarising' (Upka.110, n. 130).192 Significant here is the identification of dhdraniwith its synonym term ‘diamond word' (vajrapada), both understood as Dharma words whose sole listening prompts insight.193 Another early Sutra is self-defined as a dhdrani directed to those who ‘uphold the True Dharma when the last age arrives' (Pratyu.25F-1).194 Besides these indirect references though, it can be said that the earliest identification of dhdrani as mantra began with a previous identification of

Sutra as vidyd, this last term being a synonym of mantra. The Astasdhasrikdprajndpdramitd-sutra defines itself as a ‘great lore' (Skt. mahd-vidyd) bestowing five ‘advantages even here and now' (Skt. drstadhdrmikas) (Asta.3.27-29; PWE-S.III.55), and likewise, the Prajndpdramitdhrdaya-sutra’s mantra is a mahd-vidyd ‘allayer of all suffering' (Pph.VIII). As will be seen, the protective and soteriological functions of mahd-vidyd and dhdrani are equivalent, hence, both are included within the mantra's semantic field.195 191 See sections 1.2.1.1. and 1.2.1.2., and Appendix C. 192 On anutpattikadharmaksdnti, see section 1.2.2.1. and n. 34. In Hinduism the complete Bhagavadgitd is ritually recited as a single long mantra (mdldmantra) for spiritual welfare or curing illness (Hanneder, 1998: 152). 193 On the relationship between dhdrani and vajrapada terms, see section 2.1.2.4, 194 Dhdrani-sutras frequently refer to themselves as texts favourable for ‘the last age', i.e., one of an ‘apocalyptic eschatology' (Strickmann, 1990: 86-89; 2002: 104).


195 On its Vedic background, see section 1.1.1.1. Within the Prajndpdramitd-sutras' context, vidyd's range of meanings may include: ‘knowledge', ‘lore', ‘sciences', ‘secret lore', and ‘magical formula' (MDPL: 354). There is continuity between the early mantras counteracting the antardyas (see section 1.2.1.1.) and the five drstadhdrmikas bestowed by the Astasdhasrikdprajndpdramitd-sutra as a mahd-vidyd (Strauch, 2008: 41-42). On these drstadhdrmikas, see section 2.2.1. On mahd-vidyd and dhdrani, see section 2.1.2.2.


From a different perspective, the expanded Prajndpdramitd-sutra versions (first century CE, Conze, 2000: 10) conflate two meanings of the term dharani, i.e., as identical to the whole Sutra, and as the ‘arapacana’ syllabary, called as ‘dharani-doors' (dharani-mukhas), or simply named as ‘dharanis': ‘I have taught this perfection of wisdom as a dharani. When you bear in mind those dharanis of the perfection of wisdom [i.e., the ‘arapacana' syllabary], you bear all dharmas in mind' (Mpsu: 489). Here dharani can be understood simultaneously as the ultimate reality or goal, and as method to attain such goal, and this twofold dharani nature would be developed by the ‘formul

aic' dharanis.196


(b) .- Dharanis as Syllabaries in Mahayana Sutras


The Chinese Buddhist canon keeps twenty six texts, most of them Scriptures, composed between the third century CE to the eleventh century CE, where two types of syllabaries appear, the ‘arapacana' (and its variants) in nineteen texts, and the Sanskrit syllabary (varnapatha) in the remaining seven (HBG.VI.565-572). 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, and their memorizing/contemplation works in a quite similar way as the Abhidhamma's matikas.197 The arapacana and varnapatha syllabaries were later assimilated by the Vajrayana, the first one being understood as ‘mantra teachings' (Vai-su: 49-51), and the second one as the ‘alphabet «let there be success»' (Skt. siddham matrka) viewed as a ‘sacred language' used by the Buddhas to preach (Bonji: 143-147).198 Likewise, specific syllables from both syllabaries were identified as bija-mantras (Gulik, 1956: 81-90), and summaries or partial sets of the varnapatha syllabary became dharanis/mantras (HT.I.1.6; IMT.I.50/2).


(c) .- Appendage of Dharanis as Mantras in Mahayana Sutras


In the Druma-kinnara-raja-pariprccha-sutra appeared the earliest Buddhist mantra in a Mahayana Sutra with a reliable date (c. 170-190 CE). It is a mantra promulgated by the ‘Four Great Kings' intended to protect the Sangha from hostile influences and securing the Sutra's durability. Although the formula is named as ‘mantra-words' (mantra-pada), its nature and formal structure is basically identical to later dharani formulas, hence, it can be said that this same formula is the first case of a Buddhist dharani understood as mantra and not as a syllabary (Harrison/Coblin, 1999: 149-174). This tendency continued into a few Scriptures, as the second century CE Saddharmapundarika-sutra, the fourth century CE Saddharmalarikdvatdra-sutra (Nakamura, 1980: 186, 231) and others (Ratna: 35-36; Suvar: 56-58, 61, Sgol: 46-48, 51). It had been argued that those dharanis were appended to famous Sutras for the sake of propagation (Pagel, 2001: 45), but the evidence, at least in some cases, demonstrates that they were appended mainly for the benefit and protection of the dharmabhanakas


196 197 See sections 2.1.1. and 3.3.3. See section 1.2.1.2. and Appendix B-2. 198 In a technical sense, siddham matrka or siddhamatrka refers to a late sixth century CE script which appeared in the Gupta empire of Northern India, and was used by the East Asian Vajrayana for transcribing dharanis/mantras (Salomon, 1998: 39-40; Shomo: 144).


(Punda.XXI.234-236; Lanka.IX.106), and also as condensations of the whole Sutra, i.e., the dharani recitation entailed the recitation of the whole Sutra (Lanka.IX.106). Overall, in this stage the dharani concept gets two senses: it designates a Sutra’s chapter including mantras, and it is identified with the term mantra, as in the expression ‘dharani-mantra-words' (dharani-mantra-pada).199 The tendency of such dharani appendage, however, would last a short time, being changed into a new one in which the dharani formulas would become the Sutras' keystones (Pagel, 2007a: 58, n. 49). 199 On the term dharani-mantra-pada, see section 2.1.2.1.


Appendix E

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-The New Edition of All Mantras in Mahapitaka (ed. Tony K. Lin), 2001, 18 Vols., Taipei, Mantra Publisher.

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Amida Dharani Sutra and Jnanagarbha’s Commentary: An annotated translation from Tibetan of the Anantamukha-nirhara-dharaniSutra and Tika (tr. H. Inagaki), 1999, Tokyo, Ryukoku University.

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