The Procedure for Mañjuśrī’s Single-Syllable Mantra
Degé Kangyur vol. 89 (rgyud ’bum, pa), folios 14.b.7–15.a.4
Translated by the Tibetan Classics Translators Guild of New York
The Procedure for Mañjuśrī's Single-Syllable Mantra is a pithy text extolling an exceedingly secret and potent single-syllable mantra. Following a note regarding its universal efficacy, the remaining portion of the text outlines ritual applications for the remediation of specific ailments through the consecration of common items as sacral implements in rites of healing.
Translated by David Mellins and Kaia Fischer, with Geshé Lobsang Dawa and Phakyab Rinpoche (Geshé Ngawang Sungrab), under the auspices of the Tibetan Classics Translators Guild of New York. Introduction by David Mellins and Kaia Fischer. Special thanks to Diwakar Acharya of All Souls College, Oxford for sharing his expertise on tantric syllabary, and to Paul Hackett for generously sharing his bibliographic expertise and resources. This translation would not have been possible without the kind and dedicated tutelage of Gen Lozang Jamspal, Executive Director, Tibetan Classics Translators Guild of New York.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The Procedure for Mañjuśrī's Single-Syllable Mantra1 appears as the last of six dhāraṇī scriptures (Toh 545–550) gathered together within the Tantra section of the Degé Kangyur that provide instruction in incantatory practices that feature the bodhisattva Mañjuśrī. Five of these scriptures (Toh 547 omitted) also appear in the Dhāraṇī section of the Degé Kangyur as Toh 892–896. This is the pithiest of the canonical Mañjuśrī dhāraṇīs and includes neither a Sanskrit title nor an opening salutation.
The scripture begins simply with a statement of the Tibetan title, followed by the prefatory expression tadyathā, the introductory mantra syllable oṁ, and then the single syllable kṣṇīṃ.2 The dhāraṇī is then extolled as being both exceedingly secret and potent. After praising its universal efficacy, the remainder of the text outlines a series of ritual applications to remedy specific ailments, involving the consecration of common items as sacral implements in rites of healing.
A Sanskrit version of the text is to our knowledge no longer extant, and it appears that the text was never translated into Chinese. The Tibetan translation lacks a colophon that might have offered information about the history of its transmission or the identity of its translators. Its absence from the Denkarma and Phangthangma imperial catalogs suggests that it was translated into Tibetan later than the beginning of the ninth century ᴄᴇ3 but before the flourishing of the scholar Butön Rinchen Drup (bu ston rin chen grub, 1290–1364), who listed its Tibetan title, along with those of the other texts in this collection (Toh 545–550), in his History of Buddhism.4
tadyathā | oṁ kṣṇīṁ ||5
If a person has a weapon fragment lodged inside of them, consecrate old and melted butter seven or one hundred and eight times with the mantra and give it to them to drink, or apply it to the wound, and the fragment will be expelled.
Indigestion, swelling, dysentery, and feverish diarrhea will be cured by eating mu rang salt,6 sea salt, or any other suitable rock salt incanted seven times with the mantra, and recovery will be the very same day.
Sweeping motions made with a raven’s feather incanted seven times with the mantra will heal illnesses of the brain.
This concludes the noble “Procedure for Mañjuśrī’s Single-Syllable Mantra.”
’jam dpal gyi sngags yi ge ’bru gcig pa’i cho ga. Toh 550, Degé Kangyur vol. 89 (rgyud, pa), folios 14.b.7–15.a.4.
’jam dpal gyi sngags yi ge ’bru gcig pa’i cho ga. Toh 896, Degé Kangyur vol. 101 (gzungs, e), folios 168.a.2–168.a.6.
’jam dpal gyi sngags yi ge ’bru gcig pa’i cho ga. bka’ ’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. 89, pp. 59–60.
’jam dpal gyi sngags yi ge ’bru gcig pa’i cho ga. bka’ ’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. 97, pp. 502–3.
’jam dpal gyi sngags yi ge ’bru gcig pa’i cho ga. Stok Palace Kangyur vol. 102 (rgyud, da), folios 496.a.3–496.b.2.
’phags pa ’jam dpal gyi rtsa ba’i rgyud (Āryamañjuśrīmūlakalpa). Toh 543, Degé Kangyur vol. 88, folios 105.a.–351.a. English translation in Dharmachakra Translation Committee 2020.
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.
Phangthangma (dkar chag ʼphang thang ma). Beijing: mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2003.
Butön Rinchen Drup (bu ston rin chen grub). chos ’byung (bde bar gshegs pa’i bstan pa’i gsal byed chos kyi ’byung gnas gsung rab rin po che’i gter mdzod). In The Collected Works of Bu-Ston, vol. 24 (ya), pp. 633–1055. New Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture, 1965–71.