A Mantra for Incanting Medicines, Extracted from “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm”
Degé Kangyur, vol. 101 (gzungs ’dus, waM), folios 189.b–190.a
Translated by Catherine Dalton
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
This text gives a short mantra for incanting medicines that has been extracted from Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm (Toh 558), one of a set of five scriptures portrayed in Mahāyāna Buddhist traditions as five goddesses known as the Pañcarakṣā—the “Five Protectresses.” In the Tibetan tradition this set of texts is known as the “Five Great Dhāraṇīs” (gzungs chen po lnga).2 In Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, it is said that the medicine should first be given to the sick person, who faces toward the east, and then the mantra should be placed in the palm of their hand and chanted.3 Although the mantra, as it appears here, is very similar to the mantra in Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, the two are not identical. The mantra given here diverges from the one in Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm by including a short supplication in Tibetan translation that is set in between the mantra and the concluding word svāhā. This supplication is also included in Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, but there it follows immediately after the full mantra.
The text lacks both a Sanskrit title and a translator’s colophon, which in addition to the fact that the title states it has been extracted from Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, suggests that the text took its present form in Tibet rather than in India. It is therefore not surprising that the mantra does not appear as an independent scripture in Sanskrit or in Chinese translation, although the five texts in the Pañcarakṣā collection are extant in both Sanskrit and in Chinese translation. A Mantra for Incanting Medicines, Extracted from “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm” also does not appear in either the Denkarma or Phangtangma imperial catalogs of Tibetan translations, or among the scriptures found at Dunhuang. Its source text, Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, does, however, appear in both imperial catalogs, as well as among the scriptures found at Dunhuang, and it was translated by the imperial-period translator Yeshé Dé in collaboration with the Indian paṇḍitas Śīlendrabodhi, Jñānasiddhi, and Śākyaprabha.
This text is included in the Compendium of Dhāraṇīs section of the Degé Kangyur and other Tshalpa-lineage Kangyurs that include a separate Dhāraṇī section.4 In Tshalpa-lineage Kangyurs that lack a separate dhāraṇī collection, the text is found in the Tantra section, but only in the collection of dhāraṇīs that comprises part of the Tantra section. It is not included in any Thempangma-lineage Kangyurs.5 Notably, the dhāraṇī is one of only fifteen works in the Compendium of Dhāraṇīs section that are not duplicated in other sections of the Kangyur. It therefore appears that these fifteen texts found their way into the Tshalpa-lineage Kangyurs specifically because they were part of the Compendium of Dhāraṇīs, which most likely was compiled based on earlier collections of dhāraṇīs and associated ritual texts.6 These collections, known in Sanskrit as dhāraṇīsaṅgraha, circulated throughout South Asia and Tibet—including at Dunhuang—as extracanonical dhāraṇī collections.7
This English translation of A Mantra for Incanting Medicines, Extracted from “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm” was made on the basis of the Degé Kangyur recension, with additional reference to the notes from the Comparative Edition (dpe sdur ma). We also compared the mantra against that in Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm; as noted above, there were some minor variations. We did not edit the mantra from the present work on the basis of the mantra found in Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, but have included that version in the notes to the translation.
syād yathedam khaṭe khaṭe khaṭavikhaṭe cale vicale vilamde bale balavate candre caraṇe amṛtanirghoṣe
May all diseases of wind, bile, phlegm, and their combination be pacified svāhā.8
This completes “Mantra for Incanting Medicines, Extracted from ‘Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm.’”
stong chen mo nas phyung ba sman la sngags kyi gdab pa. Toh 1059, Degé Kangyur vol. 101 (gzungs ’dus, waM), folios 189.b–190.a.
stong chen mo nas phyung ba sman la sngags kyi gdab pa. ka’ ’gyur (dpe bsdur ma) [Comparative Edition of the Kangyur], krung go’i bod rig pa zhib ’jug ste gnas kyi bka’ bstan dpe sdur khang (The Tibetan Tripitaka Collation Bureau of the China Tibetology Research Center). 108 volumes. Beijing: krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang (China Tibetology Publishing House), 2006–9, vol. 98, pp. 687–88.
Dalton, Jacob P. “How Dhāraṇīs WERE Proto-Tantric: Liturgies, Ritual Manuals, and the Origins of the Tantras.” In Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation, edited by David Gray and Ryan Richard Overbey, 199–229. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.
Denkarma (pho brang stod thang ldan dkar gyi chos kyi ’gyur ro cog gi dkar chag). Toh 4364, Degé Tengyur vol. 206 (sna tshogs, jo), folios 294.b–310.a.
dkar chag ’phang thang ma. Beijing: mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2003.
Herrmann-Pfandt, Adelheid. Die lHan kar ma: ein früher Katalog der ins Tibetische übersetzten buddhistischen Texte. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2008.
Hidas, Gergely. Powers of Protection: The Buddhist Tradition of Spells in the Dhāraṇīsaṃgraha Collections. Boston: de Gruyter, 2021.
Kawagoe, Eshin. Dkar chag ’Phang thang ma. Sendai: Tōhuku indo chibetto kenkyūkai (Tohuku Society for Indo-Tibetan Studies), 2005.
Lalou, Marcelle. “Les textes Bouddhiques au tempes du Roi Khri-sroṅ-lde-bcan.” Journal
Asiatique 241 (1953): 313–53.
Negi, J. S. Tibetan-Sanskrit Dictionary (bod skad legs sbyar gyi tshig mdzod chen mo). 16 vols. Sarnath: Dictionary Unit, Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, 1993–2005.