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The Dharma Flower Sutra seen through the Oral Transmission of Nichiren Daishōnin: The Twenty-sixth Chapter on Dhāranī

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The Dharma Flower Sutra
seen through the Oral Transmission of
Nichiren Daishōnin


The first important point, concerning dhāranī.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the concept of a dhāranī, in this instance and in particular, is Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō which means to devote our lives to and found them on (Nam(u)) the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō) (entirety of existence) permeated by the underlying white lotus flower-like mechanism of the interdependence of cause, concomitancy and effect (Renge) in its whereabouts of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas (Kyō). This is because a dhāranī involves the esoteric language as well as the five ideograms for the title and theme (daimoku) of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō). This concept also includes the recondite, esoteric qualities and transcendental language of all the Buddhas of the past, present and future.

Now, Nichiren and those that follow him reverently recite Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō and, at the same time, are widely propagating this dhāranī, which rejects all that is not right and holds to that which is good.

(Dhāranī are Tantric invocations, usually in Sanskrit but also in various readings of Chinese and Tibetan, which permit the person who recites them to transform his or her attachments to phenomena (ke) and realise that they are all noumena or relativity (, shūnyatā). (The Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō on the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon) represents relativity (, shūnyatā).) Literally this worddhāranī” means “by which something is maintained or kept”. These invocations, which consist of esoteric syllables, are often regarded as the quintessence of a sutra and are similar to mantras in the various Brahmanical teachings. An esoteric power can be embodied in these syllables which, in most cases, have no apparent meaning for the listeners. However, in the above Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra, Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō is the Japanese reading of the Chinese ideograms for the title and theme of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).)


At that time, the Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja) got up from where he was sitting, bared his right shoulder, put the palms of his hands together in reverence, and faced the Buddha, addressing him with the words, “World Honoured One, if there were a believer and convinced man or woman who was capable of accepting and holding to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), who read and recited it, with an intelligence as sharp as a spear that was able to penetrate the truth, as well as copying these sutric scrolls out, how much happiness would such a person acquire?”

The Buddha told the Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja): “If there was a believing and convinced man or woman who made offerings to eight hundred myriads of myriads of myriads of times the number of grains of sand in the Ganges of Buddhas, what then is your opinion? The happiness such persons would acquire, wold it not a huge amount?”

“An exceptionally huge amount, World Honoured One.”

The Buddha then said, “If there were a believing and convinced man or woman who was capable of accepting and holding to this sutra, even though it was only four lines of a metric hymn, as well as reading it and practising it as it was taught, the meritorious virtues would be extremely numerous.”

Then the Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja) addressed the Buddha and said, “I am going to give those who expound the Dharma a dhāranī which will protect and safeguard them.”

Thereupon, he pronounced out loud the following dhāranī: ani, mani, mane, namane, shire, sharite, shamiya, shabita, sente, mokute, mokutabi, shabi, aishabi, sōbi, shabi, shae, ashae, agini, sente, shabi, darani, arogyabasaibashabishani, nebite, abentaranebita, atandahareshudai, ukure, mukure, arart, shugyashi, asanmsaubi, boddabiki, rijitte, darumaharishite, sōgiyanekushane, bashaba, shashudai, mandara, mandarashayata, urota, urotakyōshyariya, ashara, ashayataya, abaro, amanyanataya. (Here I give only the Japanese reading of the Chinese ideograms of this dhāranī.)


The second important point, with regard to the first two words of the Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy’s (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja) dhāranī.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the first word of this dhāranī, “ani”, means “to desist from (troublesome worries)” and that the word “mani” means “to contemplate and mentally enter into the truth of the Buddha teaching”, which also implies “to be able to see clearly”. From these two words is derived the notion of the dharmas of “the desistance from troublesome worries in order to see clearly”.

As a result, this dhāranī is the dhāranī of the Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja). The Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja) is the original terrain of (and is the former incarnation of) the Universal Teacher Tendai (T’ien T’ai). “Ani” stands for the dharmas of our minds which is Utterness (Myō) (by being where all the ten psychological realms take place). “Mani” represents the dharmas of our physicality (which involves all physical existence and dharmas in out minds) and in the Dharma. When we pronounce the incantation of the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) that includes all mind and materiality, we become aware that our respective personalities are not separate from and can lead to the opening up of our inherent Buddha nature.


World Honoured One, this numinous dhāranī has been revealed by sixty-two myriads of myriads of myriads times the number of grains of sand in the Ganges of Buddhas. If there were anybody who would attack and harm these teachers of the Dharma, then such persons would be attacking and harming all these Buddhas.

Thereupon, Shākyamuni Buddha praised the Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja), with the following words, “Excellent, excellent, Sovereign Remedy. It is by your bearing compassion in mind, so as to protect these masters of the Dharma, that you have revealed this dhāranī. This dhāranī will enrich and be of advantage to sentient beings.”

Then and there, the Bodhisattva Giver of Courage (Yuze, Pradhānashura) addressed the Buddha, saying, “World Honoured One, in order to protect and keep safe those who read, recite, accept, and hold to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), I will also reveal a dhāranī, so that if those masters of the Dharma were to receive this dhāranī, then yashas(yaksha) (who are comparable to gnomes in Western folklore), rasetsu (raksha) (who are cannibalistic ogres), futanna (pūtana) (who are demons in charge of fevers), or kissha (krtya) (a class of demon responsible for nightmares), or kubanda (kumbhānda) (demons shaped like a large gourd with an enormous scrotum), or even a hungry ghost, who might be on the lookout for minor shortcomings, would not be able to take advantage of them.” In this way, the Bodhisattva Giver of Courage (Yuze, Pradhānashura) revealed the following dhāranī in front of the Buddha: “zare, makazare, utsuki, motsuki, are, arahate, nerete, nerehate, ichini, ichini, shichini, nerechini.”

World Honoured One, this numinous dhāranī has been revealed by as many Buddhas as there are grains of sand in the Ganges. In doing so, they all rejoice as a result. If there were anyone who wished to harm or attack these masters of the Dharma, then this would amount to harming and attacking all these Buddhas.

The Deva Sovereign Bishamon (Vaishravana), who was guardian of existence, addressed the Buddha, saying, “I also bear in mind compassion for sentient beings. Therefore, in order to protect and keep safe these masters of the Dharma, I will reveal this dhāranī: ari, nari, tonari, anari, nabi, kanabi. World Honoured One, this numinous dhāranī will protect and keep safe these masters of the Dharma. Above all, I will protect and guard those who hold to this sutra. Within a hundred yojanas, they will be exempted from all weaknesses and misfortune.”

At that moment, the Deva Sovereign Support of the Terrain upon which we depend for an Existence (Jikoku Tennō, Dhrtararashtra), who happened to be in the assembly and was surrounded by a crowd of a thousand myriads of myriads of myriads of venerating gandharvas (Kendabba) (who were musicians of the paradise of Taishaku (Indra)), made his way towards where the Buddha was seated, placed the palms of his hands together, and said to him: “World Honoured One, I also am able with this numinous incantation that is a dhāranī to protect and keep safe those who hold to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).”

Thereupon, he revealed the following dhāranī: akane, kyane, kuri, kondari, sendari, matōgi, jōguri, buroshani, atehi. “World Honoured One, this numinous incantation that is a dhāranī was transmitted by forty-two myriads of myriads of Buddhas. If there is anybody who wishes to attack or harm these masters of the Dharma, then that would amount to having attacked and harmed all these Buddhas.”

At the same time, there were the female cannibalistic demon daughters (rasatsu, rakshasi) of Kishimojin (Hārītī). The first was called Ramba (Lamba); the second was called Biraba (Vilalamā); the third was called Crooked Tooth; the fourth was called Shining Teeth; the fifth was called Black Tooth; the sixth was called Wild Hair; the seventh was called Insatiable; the eighth was called Holding to her Necklace; the ninth was called Kōtai (Kunti), and the tenth was called the Usurper of the Life Force of All Sentient Beings. These ten women who were cannibalistic demons, along with their Mother Numen of the Demonic Children (Kishimojin, Hārītī) . . .


The third important point, with regard to the Mother Numen of the Demonic Children (Kishimojin, Hārītī).

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that the worddemonic” indicates the father, and the word “children” refers to the ten daughters who were cannibalistic demons (rasatsu, rakshasi). The word “mother” refers to their mother (Kishimojin, Hārītī).

If we were to put the ideograms for Kishimojin in reverse order (which would be shin = numen, mo = mother, shi = children, ki = demonic), then the word “numen” would become the immaculate consciousness (amara shiki, amala-vijñāna) (which is identical to our Buddha nature as the quintessence of life). The word for mother represents the storehouse consciousness (araya shiki, ālaya-vijñāna) (which is the foundation on which human consciousness is based and is comparable to the unconscious and below the level of ordinary consciousness, wherein all the experiences of our present lives, past lives, along with their karma, are stored). It is also the area of the mind from which our unenlightenment stems (by taking the seeming for the real). The word for children represents the seventh consciousness (mana shiki, manas) (the calculating mind which is capable of discerning interior space and is the origin of any consciousness of self), as well as the sixth consciousness, which is simply the function of being conscious. The worddemonic” represents the first five consciousnesses, those of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.

During the time when sentient beings had no other choice but to transmigrate from one existence to the next and were limited to only nine of the realms of dharmas (kukai) that were always subject to suffering, the Mother Numen of the Demonic Children (Kishimojin, Hārītī) was a demon of malevolence. However, with the appearance of teachings that gave us a chance of knowing and founding our lives on the origins of existence (nirvana) or the exposition of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), this Mother Numen of the Demonic Children (Kishimojin, Hārītī) and her cannibalistic demon daughters (rasatsu, rakshasi) (of Kishimojin) represent each of the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas containing the other nine, which is the basis of the concept that each instant of mental activity contains three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen).

The archetypal numen Angry Appearance of the Three Treasures (Sanbō Kōjin) is now seen as a manifestation of these ten cannibalistic daughters (rasatsu, rakshasi) (of Kishimojin). There are three aspects of this archetypal numen Angry Appearance of the Three Treasures (Sanbō Kōjin). The first is the aspect of the archetype of hunger and thirst; the second is the archetype of greed and desire; the third is an archetype of hindrances and bad effects.

(This archetypal numen Angry Appearance of the Three Treasures (Sanbō Kōjin) is an archetypal numen that easily brings about adversities and unfortunate consequences. This archetype has a total aversion to all that is not pure. Sanbō Kōjin, like other syncretic Japanese divinities, was elaborated in order to satisfy various particular cultural needs and was assimilated into the Buddha teaching.)

Now, because those who do the practise of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) transfer the three poisons of greed, anger, and stupidity into the three positive qualities of the entity of the Dharma (hosshin, Dharma-kāya), wisdom (hannya, prajñā), and emancipation (gedatsu, vimukti), they are not plagued by the archetypal numen Angry Appearance of the Three Treasures (Sanbō Kōjin). For those who hold no faith in the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), the Angry Appearance of the Three Treasures (Sanbō Kōjin) is a psychological force that can awaken hindrances and bad times. But for those who do the practise of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), this psychological force becomes a protective archetypal numen.


. . . and, at the same time, their children, and their followers, all went to where the Buddha was and in unison addressed the Tathāgata, saying, “World Honoured One, we also would like to protect and keep safe those who read, recite and hold to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) and get rid of all their irresolution and anxieties. Although there may be people who look for the shortcomings of the practitioners, we will prevent these people from finding such an occasion.”

There and then, in front of the Buddha, they all recited the following incantation: “iteibi, iteibin, iteibi, ateibi, deibi, deibi, deibi, deibi, rokei, rokei, rokei, takei, takei, tahei, tokei, tokei. It would be better if such beings would climb onto our heads rather than torment these masters of the Dharma. Whether they be yasha (yaksha) (who are comparable to gnomes), or a rasatsu (raksha) (who are cannibalistic demons) or hungry ghosts (gaki, preta), or a futanna (pūtana) (who are a class of demons in charge of fevers) or a kenda (ghanda) (who are hungry ghosts that are orange-red in colour), or an umaroga (who is a demon that eats the vital energy of human beings), or a abatsumara (apasonara) (who is a malevolent demon that causes fits), or a yashukissha (yakshakrtya) (who are similar to raksha cannibalistic demons), or a kissha (krtya) (who are something between a gnome and a human being), even if they bring about a fever for a day, two days, four days, or if such a fever were to persist for seven days, even though these demons be in the form of a man, woman, a young boy, a young girl, even in dreams, they will not be able to torment the people who hold to the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō).”

Thereupon, in front of the Buddha, they all recited this metric hymn.

For those who do not heed
our incantation
and torment those
who explain the Dharma,
their heads will be split
into seven pieces,
like a branch
of an epidendrum.
In the same way as those
who murder their parents,
or the brutality
of the person who presses oil,
or those who cheat people
according to the scales
and measures they use,
those who do wrong
to these masters of the Dharma
will receive a punishment
for their iniquity.

When all these cannibalistic demons had finished reciting their metric hymn, they addressed the Buddha, saying, “We will also protect and keep safe, with our own bodies, those who accept and hold to, read and recite, and do the practise of this sutra, so that they will have serenity and do away with their incertitude, weaknesses, as well as dissipate all harmfulness.”

The Buddha then told these cannibalistic demon daughters (rasatsu, rakshasi) (of Kishimojin), “Not only are you capable of protecting and keeping safe those who hold to and accept the title of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), your happiness will be beyond measure as well.”


The fourth important point, on the above sentence in the sutric text, “Not only are you capable of protecting and keeping safe those who hold to and accept the title of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), your happiness will be beyond measure as well.”

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that, in the sutric expression, “the title of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō)”, this stands for both the title and theme (daimoku) of this canonical text. In the phrase, “those who hold to”, “those” refers to all the people who do the practise of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō), among the sentient beings of the world of humankind.

Again, The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) states that the word “those” makes no distinction between men and women. These ten cannibalistic demon daughters (rasatsu, rakshasi) (of Kishimojin) protect and keep women safe in particular. This is similar to the case of the Dragon King’s daughter (Ryūnyo, Nāgakanyā) saying, “I will ferry sentient beings from the shores of living and dying to the shore of nirvana and liberate them from suffering.” This phrase particularly applies to women. In the Twenty-third Chapter of the Original Conduct of the Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja), there is the same concept expressed in the words, “those who accept and hold to this sutra”.


Yet how much more it would be if you were to protect and keep safe those who accept and hold to the whole sutra and who make offerings to its sutric scrolls of flowers, scents, garlands, perfumed ointments, fragrant coloured pigments, incense, banners of all kinds, and music, as well as various kinds of lamps, clear butter lamps, oil lamps, oil of sumanā, oil of gardenia, including hundreds of thousands of different kinds of offerings. Kōtai (Kuntī) and all those who follow you . . .


The fifth important point, on the Lady Kōtai (Kuntī).

The fundamental embodiment of the Lady Kōtai (Kuntī) (as distinct from her temporal manifestation) is the Bodhisattva Mañjushrī (Monjushiri). This sutric passage implies that wherever the practitioners of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Hokke-kyō) may be, either on land or at sea, (the Lady Kōtai (Kuntī)) will protect and guard them. Out of nine bad daughters, it is the good one that makes up the ten. The Lady Kōtai (Kuntī) is decidedly the good one.

Among the ten actions that bring about unfortunate karma (1) killing, 2) stealing, 3) lascivious behaviour, 4) reckless remarks, 5) embroidered and exaggerated speech, 6) slander, 7) being double-tongued, 8) greed, 9) anger, and 10) a stupidity of not wanting to know the meaning of existence), which are the outcome of various kinds of troublesome worries (bonnō, klesha), the Lady Kōtai (Kuntī) corresponds to the second of those acts that bring about unfortunate karma, which is stealing. This is because, when these ten cannibalistic daughters (rasatsu, rakshasi) (of Kishimojin) are counted in reverse order, Kōtai (Kuntī) who is the ninth cannibalistic daughter (rasatsu, rakshasi) (of Kishimojin) coincides with the second of these acts that bring about unfortunate karma.


. . . along with those in your retinue, must protect such masters of the Dharma. During the time this Chapter on Dhāranī was being expounded, sixty-eight thousand people reached the stage where they were completely aware that the fundamental suchness of existence (shinnyo, tathatā) neither comes into being nor ceases to exist (Mushōbōnin, anupattika Dharma kshanti) (as defined in the Sixteenth Chapter on the Lifespan of the Tathāgata).


The sixth important point, on the five Indian numinous incantations mentioned in this chapter.

The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) says that these five Indian numinous incantations represent our individual bodies, in the same way as Myōhō Renge Kyō. In this instance, the ten cannibalistic daughters of Kishimojin represent the word “Utterness” (Myō) (in the title and theme of the sutra, as well as the one instant of thought containing three thousand existential spaces, as indicated in the third important point in The Oral Transmission on the Meaning of the Dharma Flower Sutra (Ongi Kuden) of this twenty-sixth chapter).

The Deva Sovereign Guardian Who Maintains the Terrains upon which we Depend for an Existence (Daijikoku Tennō, Dhritarashtra Mahādeva-rāja) (who is on the top right-hand corner as one faces the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)) represents the wordDharma” (). The Deva Sovereign Guardian Increase and Growth (Daizōjō Tennō, Virūdhaka Mahādeva-rāja) (who is on the bottom left-hand corner as one faces the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)) represents the lotus plant (ren). The Deva Sovereign Guardian Wide Eyes (Komoku Tennō, Virūpaksha Mahādeva-rāja) (who is at the bottom right-hand corner as one faces the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)) represents the (white) lotus flower (ge). The Deva Sovereign Guardian Vaishravana (Bishamon Tennō, Vaishrarana Mahādeva-rāja) (who is at the top left-hand corner as one faces the Fundamental Object of Veneration (gohonzon)) represents the Dharma realm or the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas of ordinary people (Kyō).

The five ideograms that imply the Utterness of the Dharma (Myōhō, Saddharma) coincide with these five Indian incantations (in the same way as Myōhō Renge Kyō). These five Indian incantations represent our individual persons. The numinous incantation or dhāranī formula of the ten cannibalistic demon daughters (rasatsu, rakshasi) (of Kishimojin) represents the concept of the one ideogram for Utterness (Myō) and is composed of nineteen dhāranī speech sounds (idebi, idebin, idebi, adebi, idebi, debi, debi, debi, debi, debi, roke, roke, roke, roke, take, take, take, toke, toke). The sutric text also says, “It would be better if such beings would climb onto our heads” (“rather than torment these masters of the Dharma”).

The Deva Sovereign Guardian Who Maintains the Terrains upon which we Depend for an Existence (Daijikoku Tennō, Dhritarashtra Mahādeva-rāja), who represents the single ideogram for the word (), pronounced a dhāranī of only nine vocables (akyane, ayane, kuri, kendari, sendari, matōgi, jogari, buroshani, atsumo). The sutric text states that these dhāranī are voiced by forty-two myriads of myriads of Buddhas.

Here the number four (in the previous number that refers to the number of Buddhas who hold to these dhāranī) implies 1) being born and growing up, 2) maturing and old age, 3) sickness and decline, 4) the finality of death. Again, the numeral ten (in the above number) refers to the ten (psychological) realms of dharmas, and the number two (again in the above number) refers to the two qualities of being bewildered (and not understanding what the meaning of existence is) and enlightenment (which implies really seeing life in terms of the single instant of mental activity containing three thousand existential spaces (ichinen sanzen), as well as being completely conscious and fully realised).

The name of the Deva Sovereign Guardian Who Maintains the Terrains upon which we Depend for an Existence (Daijikoku Tennō, Dhritarashtra Mahādeva-rāja) denotes the environmental and the karmic retributions in which sentient beings exist. This entails the ten psychological realms where dharmas take place.

The Deva Sovereign Guardian Increase and Growth (Daizōjō Tennō, Virūdhaka Mahādeva-rāja) stands for the whole lotus plant (as a symbol of the realisation of the Buddha enlightenment) (ren); and his dhāranī, which was pronounced by the Bodhisattva Giver of Courage (Yuze, Pradhānashura), consists of thirteen speech sounds (zare, makazare, utsuki, motsuki, are, arahate, nerete, neretahate, ichini, ichini, shicini, nerechini, nerichihachi). The sutric text says that “This numinous dhāranī has been revealed by as many Buddhas as there are grains of sand in the Ganges. In doing so, they all rejoiced as a result.” The expression, “they all rejoiced as a result”, is a concise way of expressing the Dharma realm of the Buddhas.

The Deva Sovereign Guardian Wide Eyes (Komoku Tennō, Virūpaksha Mahādeva-rāja) stands for the single ideogram for white lotus flower (ge) (whose petals surround the calyx in which the seeds of Buddhahood mature) and is a symbol of the causes of enlightenment whose dhāranī was revealed by the Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja) and consisted of forty-three vocables (ani, mani, mane, mamane, shire, sharite, shamiya, shabiti, sente, mokute, mokutabi, shabi, aishabi, sōbi, shabi, shae, ashae, agini, sente, shabi, darani, arogyabasaibashabishani, nebite, abentaranebite, atandahareshudai, ukure, mukure, arare, harare, shugyashi, asanmasanbi, boddabikirijitte, darmaharishite, sogyanekushane, bashabashashishudai, mandara, mandarasheyata, urota, urotakyōshariya, ashare, ashayataya, abaro, amaniyanataya).

(The Buddha praised the Bodhisattva Sovereign Remedy (Yaku’ ō, Bhaishajya-rāja) for revealing this dhāranī and said, “Excellent, excellent, Sovereign Remedy. It is by your bearing compassion in mind, so as to protect these masters of the Dharma, that you have revealed this dhāranī. This dhāranī will enrich and be of advantage to sentient beings.”)

The Deva Sovereign Guardian Vaishravana (Bishamon Tennō, Vaishrarana Mahādeva-rāja), who represents the ideogram that implies the ten psychological dharmas where existence takes place (kyō, sutra) and is the chief of the guardians of existence, pronounced a dhāranī of six vocables (ari, nari, tonari, anaro, nabi, kanabi). Thereupon he said to the Buddha in the sutric text, “Above all, I will protect and guard those who hold to this sutra.”

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