A Mantra for Incanting Medicines When Administering Them
Degé Kangyur, vol. 87 (rgyud, da), folio 286.a
Translated by Catherine Dalton
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
This text was translated and introduced by Catherine Dalton and edited by members of the 84000 editorial team.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The generous sponsorship of May, George, Likai, and Lillian Gu, which helped make the work on this translation possible, is most gratefully acknowledged.
A Mantra for Incanting Medicines When Administering Them is a short work that pays homage to the Three Jewels and the Medicine Buddha, Bhaiṣajyaguruvaiḍūryaprabharāja, and provides a mantra to be used for incanting medicines. The text itself does not mention the original source of the mantra, but it may have been extracted from The Dhāraṇī of Vaiḍūryaprabha (Toh 505), where it appears as the final part of the longer dhāraṇī taught there. The short mantra presented in A Mantra for Incanting Medicines When Administering Them was later incorporated into the Aṣṭāṅgahṛdayasaṃhitā and Aṣtāṅgasaṅgraha, two important works of the Indian Āyurvedic medical tradition that are believed to have been composed by Vāgbhaṭa (ca. 600 ᴄᴇ).1 In both works the mantra is used in an emetic procedure (vamanavidhi) to incant a medicinal beverage immediately before it is administered to the patient.2 The mantra incorporated into Vāgbhaṭa’s texts includes both the mantra formula itself and the initial homage to Bhaiṣajyaguruvaiḍūryaprabharāja.
A Mantra for Incanting Medicines When Administering Them is included in both the Tantra section (Toh 505a) and the Compendium of Dhāraṇīs (Toh 1059a) in the Degé Kangyur and other Tshalpa-lineage Kangyurs that include a Compendium of Dhāraṇīs section.3 In the Tshalpa-lineage Kangyurs that do not include a separate dhāraṇī section, as well as in the Thempangma-lineage Kangyurs, it is included in the Tantra section. There are no significant variations between the recensions in terms of their textual content.4
The present work lacks a Sanskrit title at the beginning and a translator’s colophon at the end. It is possible that like A Mantra for Incanting Medicines, Extracted From “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm” (Toh 1059),5 the short work that immediately precedes it in the Compendium of Dhāraṇīs section, it may have been extracted from its source text and given its present form in Tibet, rather than in India. It is perhaps not surprising then that A Mantra for Incanting Medicines When Administering Them does not appear to be extant as an independent work in Sanskrit or in Chinese translation. A work with this title is not found in the Denkarma or Phangtangma imperial catalogs of Tibetan translations, but the Denkarma catalog does include one prayer to Bhaiṣajyaguruvaiḍūryaprabha and the Phangtangma lists two,6 thus indicating that Medicine Buddha practices were being translated into Tibetan in the eighth and ninth centuries.
Additionally, The Dhāraṇī of Vaiḍūryaprabha, from which the mantra found in this text may have been extracted, was translated by the imperial-period translator Yeshé Dé, working with the Indian paṇḍitas Jinamitra, Dānaśīla, and Śīlendrabodhi, and was later revised by Atiśa and Tsültrim Gyalwa. However, although its colophon suggests it was translated during the imperial period, a text with that title does not appear in either of the imperial catalogs.
The present English translation of A Mantra for Incanting Medicines When Administering Them was made on the basis of the two Degé Kangyur recensions of this work (Toh 505a and Toh 1059a), with additional reference to the notes from the Comparative Edition (dpe sdur ma), and the single recension of the work found in the Stok Palace Kangyur. We also compared the mantra against its occurrence in the Degé recension of The Dhāraṇī of Vaiḍūryaprabha (Toh 505) and found it to be nearly identical with that presented in this work.7
This completes “A Mantra for Incanting Medicines When Administering Them.”
sman gtong ba’i tshe sman la sngags kyi gdab pa. Toh 505a, Degé Kangyur vol. 87 (rgyud, da), folio 286.a.
sman gtong ba’i tshe 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. 87, pp. 850–51.
sman gtong ba’i tshe sman la sngags kyi gdab pa. Toh 1059, Degé Kangyur vol. 101 (gzungs ’ dus, waM), folios 189.b–190.a.
sman gtong ba’i tshe 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. 689–90.
sman gtong ba’i tshe sman la sngags kyi gdab pa. Stok Palace Kangyur vol 109 (rgyud, tsha), folios 277.b–278.a.
’phags pa de bzhin gshegs pa’i ting nge ’dzin gyi stobs bskyed pa bai dūrya’i ’od ces bya ba’i gzungs. Toh 505, Degé Kangyur vol. 87 (rgyud, da), folios 284.a–286.b.
Anonymous, trans. Aṣṭāṅga Hṛdaya of Vāgbhaṭa: The Book of Eight Branches of Āyurveda. Text and English Translation, vol 1. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1999.
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.
Dalton, Catherine. trans. A Mantra for Incanting Medicines, Extracted from “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm”, Toh 1059. 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
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.
Phangthangma (dkar chag ʼphang 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.
Meulenbeld, G. Jan. A History of Indian Medical Literature, vol. 1A. Groningen: Egbert Forsten, 1999–2002.
Murthy, K. R. Srikantha, trans. Aṣṭāṅga Samgraha of Vāgbhaṭa, vol. 1. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientalia, 1995.
Wujastyk, Dominik. The Roots of Āyurveda: Selections from Sanskrit Medical Writings. New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 1998.
- a ti sha
- sman gyi bla bai dur+ya ’od kyi rgyal po
- bcom ldan ’das
- dkon mchog gsum
- de bzhin gshegs pa
- tshul khrims rgyal ba
- ye shes sde