Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm
Degé Kangyur, vol. 90 (rgyud ’bum, pha), folios 63.a–87.b.
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm is one of five texts that together constitute the Pañcarakṣā scriptural collection, popular for centuries as an important facet of Mahāyāna-Vajrayāna Buddhism’s traditional approach to personal and communal misfortunes of all kinds. Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm primarily addresses illnesses caused by spirit entities thought to devour the vitality of humans and animals. The text describes them as belonging to four different subspecies, presided over by the four great kings, guardians of the world, who hold sovereignty over the spirit beings in the four cardinal directions. The text also includes ritual prescriptions for the monastic community to purify its consumption of alms tainted by the “five impure foods.” This refers generally to alms that contain meat, the consumption of which is expressly prohibited for successful implementation of the Pañcarakṣā’s dhāraṇī incantations.
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the guidance of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche. The translation was produced by James Gentry, who also wrote the introduction. Andreas Doctor compared the translation with the original Tibetan and edited the text.
This translation has been completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm is the first scripture in a series of five; the other four texts are The Great Peahen, Queen of Incantations (Mahāmāyūrīvidyārājñī, Toh 559), The Noble Great Amulet, Queen of Incantations (Mahāpratisarāvidyārājñī, Toh 561), The Sūtra of Great Cool Grove, (Mahāśītavana, Toh 562), and Great Upholder of the Secret Mantra (Mahāmantrānudhāraṇi, Toh 563).1 Together these scriptures have been apotheosized in the Mahāyāna tradition as five goddesses known collectively as the Pañcarakṣā, or the “Five Protectresses.” In the Tibetan tradition this collection is known by the moniker gzungs chen grwa lnga, “The Fivefold Great Dhāraṇī.” In the Degé Kangyur collection these texts constitute 49, 60, 43, 25, and 12 folios respectively, making a total of 189 folios.
Tibetan redactors of Kangyur collections have catalogued this set of five texts together within the final Action (kriyā) tantras section of the “tantra collection” (rgyud ’bum) division. Indeed, these scriptures do contain elements—powerful incantations, an emphasis on external ritual hygiene and other material details such as auspicious dates, and so forth—that resonate with standard Kriyāyoga practice as understood in Tibet. Yet missing from nearly all these texts is any extensive mention of the contemplative visualization exercises, specialized ritual gestures (mudrā), elaborate maṇḍala diagrams, and initiation ceremonies so typical of full-blown Buddhist tantra. A close perusal of these five texts might then lead the reader to construe them as standard Mahāyāna texts with a preponderance of elements—magical mantra formulas, ritual prescriptions, pragmatic aims, and so forth—that only later coalesced and developed into a typically tantric practice tradition with its own unique set of view, meditation, and conduct. To complicate things further, the core of the Mahāmāyūrī, for one, is rooted in Indian Buddhist traditions that predate even the rise of Mahāyāna.2 The Mahāmāyūrī also appears as a remedy for snakebites in the earlier Mūlasarvāstivāda-vinayavastu.3 This accords with Gregory Schopen’s general observation, based on inscriptional evidence, that “dhāraṇī texts were publically known much earlier and more widely than texts we think of as ‘classically’ Mahāyāna”.4
Regardless of their bibliographical position in the Tibetan canon, the Five Protectresses have been among the most popular texts used for pragmatic purposes throughout the Mahāyāna-Vajrayāna Buddhist world. While it seems certain that these texts each developed independently and were only later combined into a five-text corpus, their popularity is attested by their eventual spread to Nepal, Tibet, Central Asia, China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia (Hidas 2007: 189). In East Asia, the textual tradition associated with the Mahāmāyūrī in particular was instrumental in integrating Buddhist and indigenous notions of divine kingship.5 Moreover, the tradition of all five goddesses and their texts still occupies a place of central importance today in the Vajrayāna Buddhism practiced by the Newar population of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal. Newar Buddhist communities of Kathmandu have even translated the texts of the Five Protectresses into the modern vernacular, based on which they continue to stage a number of annual rites for a broad range of pragmatic purposes.6 Newars often propitiate the Five Protectresses together by means of a five-section maṇḍala and other tantric elements that do not necessarily feature in the scriptures themselves. This tradition reflects a specifically tantric ritual treatment of the texts, which, judging by the presence of tantric sādhana practices associated with these five texts in the Tibetan Tengyur collections, had already developed by the time the Tibetan translations were executed. This helps account for why Tibetan redactors construed these five texts as belonging to the category of Kriyātantra, and not to the Dhāraṇī or Sūtra sections. Indeed, the Tibetan translation of the Mahāpratisarā reflects a recension of the Sanskrit text, which, Gergely Hidas suggests, “most likely served the better integration of this text into the Vajrayāna, changing the historical locus of the nidāna to a mythical Vajrayānic setting.”7
The designation Five Protectresses denotes the set of five texts, the incantations presented therein, and the goddesses presiding over each. It is believed that all these texts, particularly their incantations, provide special protection against a wide range of illnesses and misfortunes for those who memorize, recollect, read, copy, teach, wear, or otherwise come into contact with them. Each text promises protection against specific misfortunes, with considerable overlap witnessed between the texts. Despite the pragmatic thrust of these scriptures, each text also contains numerous allusions to doctrinal notions. The range of effects described therein sometimes, though rarely, extends beyond the pragmatic sphere to include the purification of negative karma, deliverance from the lower realms, and even the attainment of buddhahood.
Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm was translated into Tibetan under Tibetan imperial patronage sometime during the early ninth century by a translation team that included the translator-editor Bandé Yeshé Dé (ca. late eighth to early ninth centuries) and the Indian preceptors Śīlendrabodhi, Jñānasiddhi, and Śākyaprabha. The Degé edition, which forms the basis of this English translation, was re-edited several centuries later by Gö Lotsāwa Zhönnu Pal (’gos lo tsā ba gzhon nu dpal, 1392–1481), based on a Sanskrit edition that had been in the possession of Chojé Chaglo (chag lo tsā ba chos rje dpal, 1197–1263/64).
The text primarily addresses illnesses caused by spirit entities, collectively referred to as graha or bhūta throughout the text, which are thought to devour the vitality of men, women, children, and animals. The text describes these graha or bhūta as belonging to four different subspecies of beings, each of which is presided over by one of the four great kings, guardians of the world, who hold spiritual sovereignty over the territories and resident spirit beings present throughout the four cardinal directions. According to the cosmology presented in the text, the great king Kubera (who is also called Vaiśravaṇa in some passages) dwells in the north, where he presides over the yakṣa variety of graha. The great king Dhṛtarāṣṭra dwells in the east, where he reigns over the gandharva grahas. The great king Virūḍhaka rules in the south, where his entourage consists of kumbhāṇḍa grahas. And the great king Virūpākṣa reigns in the west, where his entourage is nāga grahas. Each group of grahas, moreover, is responsible for a particular category of illness, with its own unique set of physical symptoms.
The narrative of this sūtra revolves around Buddha Śākyamuni’s gradual dispensation of a series of incantations and rituals centered upon formulas intended to prevent violent grahas from striking, or to heal those already afflicted. These prescriptions unfold in the context of the Buddha’s conversations with the four great kings and the god Brahmā about their mutual concern to control the grahas after their boundless greed has plagued Vaiśālī and its Licchavi people with a natural disaster and an epidemic of cosmic proportions. The text also includes ritual prescriptions for the monastic community to purify their consumption of alms tainted by the “five impure foods.” This refers generally to alms that contain meat, the consumption of which is expressly prohibited for successful implementation of the dhāraṇī incantations. In this final section of the text all five Protectresses are mentioned, suggesting that Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm emerged only after the other four scriptures of the group, despite its position as first in the collection.
This English translation is based primarily on the Degé edition, with close consultation of Yutaka Iwamoto’s (1937) edited Sanskrit edition, as obtained electronically through GRETIL: Göttingen Register of Electronic Texts in Indian Languages. When encountering variant readings between Tibetan and Sanskrit editions, we tended to select the Tibetan Degé readings and note the variations. This choice was made based on the profusion of variant Sanskrit witnesses that postdate the ninth-century Tibetan translation, and our own ignorance of the witnesses and criteria employed in the creation of Iwamoto’s edited Sanskrit edition.
I pay homage to all buddhas and bodhisattvas!
Thus have I heard at one time. The Blessed One was dwelling in Rājagṛha, on the southern slope of Vulture Peak Mountain in the luminous grove of jewel trees, the domain of the Buddha, together with a large monastic assembly of 1,250 monks. This assembly included venerable Śāriputra, venerable Mahāmaudgalyāyana, venerable Mahākāśyapa, venerable Gayākāśyapa, venerable Nadīkāśyapa, venerable Ājñātakauṇḍinya, venerable Nandika, venerable Mahākātyāyana, venerable Bakkula, venerable Vāṣpa, venerable Koṣṭhila, venerable Vāgīśa, venerable Aśvajit, venerable Subhūti, venerable Suvāhu, venerable Aniruddha, venerable Uruvilvākāśyapa, venerable Revata, and venerable Ānanda, among others.
At that time, the Blessed One and his monastic assembly were venerated, revered, honored, and worshipped by Ajātaśatru, king of Magadha, son of Vaidehī, who offered them clothes, food, bedding, medicine, and other material necessities. Just then, the earth shook tremendously, a massive cloud formation appeared, there was an untimely wind, strong hail began to fall, and a heavy rain fell from the massive cloud. Thunder roared and lightning flashed. Chaos erupted throughout the ten directions. A thick darkness then settled, such that the stars disappeared and even the sun and moon were dimmed. [F.64.a] No longer gleaming and luminous, they ceased to shine.
With his pristine, divine vision, superior to that of humans, the Blessed One saw those frightening things occur in the city of Vaiśālī. He saw that villages belonging to certain Licchavi people of Vaiśālī were afflicted with elemental spirits. He saw that some of the village youth, astrologers, councilors, prime ministers, court members, servant men and women, laborers, messengers, and attendants were also afflicted with elemental spirits. He saw that the monks and nuns and the men and women with lay vows throughout the entire land of Vaiśālī were all frightened, looking up to the sky, and crying out in horror. They paid homage to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Saṅgha. He saw that from among the brahmins and householders without particular devotion toward the Buddha’s teachings, some paid homage to Brahmā; some paid homage to Śakra; some paid homage to the guardians of the world; and still others paid homage to Maheśvara, Māṇibhadra, Pūrṇabhadra, Hārītī, the sun, the moon, the planets, the stars, or those spirits that dwell in mountains, forests, thickets, trees, rivers, fountains, ponds, pools, wells, and reliquaries. He saw that everyone was sitting and wondering, “How can we be freed from the peril of such a calamity?”
The Blessed One then manifested a miraculous feat by which a sound was heard throughout all realms of the trichiliocosm, causing the world of gods, humans, and demigods to have faith and assemble. [F.64.b]
At that point, Brahmā, master of the world; the gods of the Brahma realm; Śakra, lord of the gods; the gods of the realm of the Thirty-Three; the four great kings and the gods of their realm; the twenty-eight yakṣa generals; the thirty-two great yakṣa warriors; and Hārītī with her sons, together with their retinues, all with sublime complexions, used their respective complexions and powers to bathe Vulture Peak Mountain in bright light, like a pristine dawn once the night has passed. Approaching the Blessed One, they bowed their heads to his feet, sat to one side, then praised the Blessed One in verses of unified phrasing, cadence, and meter:
The Blessed One remained silent for a moment, then said to the four great kings, “Great Kings! It would be improper to think that your assembly could harm my assembly. That is because [F.65.a] it is in this world of humans that the Buddha has appeared, the sublime Dharma has been eloquently taught, and the Saṅgha has excellently practiced it. The seed planted from this has yielded buddhas, pratyekabuddhas, arhats, and śrāvakas in the world. Based on generating the roots of virtue with respect to them, beings of the world are born into any of the thirty-two divine realms. And kings, moreover, with their four-division army, become cakra-ruling kings with dominion over the four continents. They exercise righteous rule over the entire earth all the way to the oceans. They also come to possess a thousand sons, valiant, courageous, handsome in all respects, with the impetuousness of the power of great champions, who vanquish opposing groups and take possession of the seven kinds of precious substances. Thus, you should worry little about such a thing happening in this world.”
Then, the great king Vaiśravaṇa arose from his seat, draped his upper robe on one shoulder, and knelt on his right knee. Bowing to the Blessed One with palms joined, he said to him, “Blessed One, we have houses, abodes, and estates, including villages, gardens, mansions, apartments, and residences scented with incense censers and strewn with flowers, with porticos, archways, and small windows. Everywhere is festooned with beautiful and bright multi-colored silk streamers and studded with bell and pearl lattice. There we dwell, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of girls, fully8 embroiled in the five sense pleasures. Venerable Blessed One, since we are intoxicated and thus remain without a care, our entourages venture out everywhere throughout the ten directions in search of food and drink. [F.65.b] They thus steal life force, harm, obstruct, murder, and take the lives of men, women, boys, girls, newborns, and animals.
“We will reveal the physical characteristics of our own respective entourages before the fourfold retinue, in the presence of the Venerable Blessed One. There should be formed a magnificent image, along with a shrine, of the great king to whom a particular graha belongs. The patient should proclaim the name of that great king and scent with his own hand the image and the shrine with various fragrances. Having strewn the earth with flower petals and offered burning butter-lamps, the patient should then perform worship at that shrine.
“The symptoms of being afflicted by a yakṣa graha belonging to my entourage, Venerable Blessed One, are as follows:
syād yathedam siddhe susiddhe satve are araṇe bale mahābale jambhe jaṭile akhane makhane khakhane kharaṭṭe kharaṅge haripiṅgale temiṅgile temiṅgile temiṅgile temiṅgile nimaṃgalye svāhā |
“May my mantra syllables be fulfilled! May the name, power, sovereignty, and might of the great king Vaiśravaṇa bring me well-being! Svāhā!”
Next, the great king Dhṛtarāṣṭra arose from his seat, draped his upper robe on one shoulder, and knelt on his right knee. Bowing to the Blessed One with palms joined, he said to him, “The symptoms of being afflicted by a gandharva graha from my entourage, Blessed One, are as follows: [F.66.a]
syād yathedam akhe nakhe vinakhe bhandhe varāṅge capale vakhe vakhane akhiṇe nakhene vahule bhakhe bhagandale vaśe vaśavartīna svāhā |
Then it was the great king Virūḍhaka who arose from his seat, draped his upper robe on one shoulder, and kneeled on his right knee. Bowing to the Blessed One with palms joined, he said to him, “The symptoms of being afflicted by a preta kumbhāṇḍa from my entourage, Blessed One, are as follows:
syād yathedam khakhakhami khalane khalami kharāli kharali karakhe kaśani karaṭe kāli kāmini vivale vidheyaśayanisamavate śama śamini svāhā |
The great king Virūpākṣa now arose from his seat, draped his upper robe on one shoulder, and kneeled on his right knee [F.66.b]. Bowing to the Blessed One with palms joined, he said to him, “The symptoms of being afflicted by a fine-winged nāga graha from my entourage, Blessed One, are as follows:
syād yathedam krakami kragamaṇi kragase krugraśe krakra śami kruśrumi kruśrume krukka krukluma kruge agale nagale samagale kuhume gume alake kaluke kalamale galale kalaṭake irimire dhire arugavati svāhā |
“Through the name, power, sovereignty, and might of the great king Virūpākṣa, may I have well-being!”
At this, the Blessed One sounded a lion’s roar before the whole assembly:
“I, replete with the ten powers and emboldened by the four types of fearlessness, will perfectly roar out a great lion’s roar like the leader of the pack amid the assembly. I will turn the wheel of Brahmā.
syād yathedam asaṅge khaṅgavate balavate balanirghoṣe śūre śūravatve vajrasme vajragame vajradhare stambhe jambhe dṛḍhasāre viraje vighośe varāgraprāpte araṇe araṇe dharmmayukte diśi vighuṣṭe svāhā |
“May the name, power, sovereignty, and might of the Thus-Gone One bring me well-being! Svāhā!”
syād yathedam khaṅge khaṅge khaṅga garbhe vicakṣaṇe cakra rājane candre capale pātāle bhīmavadavati kharāgre bhṛikuṭimukhe kuṭilakarāgre ekākṣi vargavati sāraṅgavati mārgavati gargavate citravati citrakānti |
syād yathedam dhāraṇi dhāraṇi pradhvaṃsani bhañjani prabhañjani vidhamaṇi kiṃpuruṣe śakale sārethe sāravati śūladhare śūladhāriṇi śuddhacaraṇe ghoṣavati śārāgre śānte |
syād yathedam śānti śāravati kānti kāravati kiṃkarasi kiṃkarati kiṃkasikiriṇṭi kiṃrate kiṃvate dharaṇi dhavani bhūmi dhāriṇi himavati jyotiścaraṇe gālāgre |
syād yathedam dharmivarāgre balavate balini viśāṅge vicaśi sāgare khārī kapali caṇḍāli kiriṇi nīrañjane vidhāriṇi vallamati avarṇavati acale |
syād yathedam brahme brahma ghoṣe brahmasvare vajre vajraghoṣe vajradhare sthite sāre acale araṇe iṣaṇe arāṇete śūre varāgra prāpte sāgaravate |
At this point, the Blessed One thought, “The blessed buddhas have not come into the world for the sake of a single kingdom. The blessed buddhas have not come into the world for a single city, township, province, town, home, or being. Rather, blessed buddhas have come into the world for the sake of the whole world, with its gods, Māra, and Brahmā; [F.75.a] and for the sake of creatures, including mendicants and priests, gods, humans, and asuras—in the same way that a master physician, a healer learned in the field of medicine, appears in the world neither for a single kingdom, nor for a single land or being. Why so? It is thought that humans and non-humans could not be harmed wherever blessed buddhas were dwelling. Thus, I too should venture out to the big city of Vaiśālī. I will then secure the welfare of the populace in the big city of Vaiśālī and there perform buddha activities on their behalf.”
So, sure enough, in the morning the Blessed One donned his robes, picked up his alms bowl, and came down from Vulture Peak Mountain together with 1,250 monks.
Śakra, lord of the gods, took five hundred divine parasols and offered them to the Blessed One on his left. Having made the offering, he sat, fanning the Blessed One with a chowrie.
Each of the four great kings then took five hundred divine parasols and offered them to the Blessed One from behind. Having made the offering, they sat, fanning the Blessed One with a chowrie.
Finally, the divine son Maheśvara, the twenty-eight great yakṣa generals, the thirty-two great yakṣa warriors, and Hārītī with her sons, all with their entourages, each took a divine parasol, offered it to the śrāvakas, then sat, fanning them with chowries. [F.75.b]
Having received such accolades, respect, and reverence, the Blessed One came down from Vulture Peak Mountain together with the saṅgha of monks and set out for the city of Vaiśālī. From a distance the Licchavi people of Vaiśālī saw the Blessed One coming. He was handsome and inspiring, and his senses were stilled. His mind was serene, his sense faculties were restrained, his mind was temperate, and he had attained the perfection of sublime tranquility. His sense faculties were isolated and withdrawn. He was as well trained as an elephant, and as lucid, limpid, and clear as a lake. His body was adorned with the thirty-two characteristics of a great being, and he was ornamented with the eighty fine marks. He had the body of a thus-gone one, bedecked like the king of sal trees. Like the sun, he emitted a profusion of light rays everywhere. He was like a conflagration raging atop a mountain peak in the middle of a dark night, and brilliant and shining like a golden mountain.
As soon as the Licchavi people of Vaiśālī saw the Blessed One, they gained faith in him. With faith they swept, anointed, cleansed, and strewed with flowers the path on which the Blessed One was traveling to the great city of Vaiśālī. Having decorated the road with various silk wreaths, bells, parasols, standards, and banners, and having scented it with various incenses and perfumes, they approached the Blessed One and bowed at his feet.
Then, with his stainless hand, radiating hundreds of light rays, tender and smooth, shining brighter than the rays of the sun, adorned with the signs of past virtuous conduct, as soft as the bulb of a lotus flower, and whose palm had the design of a thousand-spoked wheel, the Blessed One stroked the heads of the Licchavi people and instructed them.
Reaching the great city of Vaiśālī, the Blessed One [F.76.a] stepped across the city threshold at midday. Looking throughout the four directions, he extended his golden arm, adjusted his upper garment, and said, “This queen of all incantations, Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, is a Dharma teaching that liberates from all grahas. It is the seal of many buddhas, as many perfectly awakened, thus-gone arhats as there are grains of sand in the river Ganges. Any monk or nun, or any man or woman with lay vows, who in the future worships the physical relics of the Thus-Gone One, even those as small as a mustard grain, and who receives, holds, reads aloud, teaches, and masters this teaching will never be afflicted by any fever, peril, harm, epidemic, assault, strife, fight, bondage, argument, dispute, or slander. Such a person will be unaffected by the painful karma arising from non-virtuous, evil deeds. Such a person will be unaffected by any harm doers.”
Then, Brahmā, master of the world, asked the Blessed One, “Venerable Blessed One, what is the queen of secret mantras called Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, the Dharma teaching that liberates from all grahas, the seal of the buddhas, as many perfectly awakened, thus-gone arhats as there are grains of sand in the river Ganges?”
“As you say, Venerable One,” responded Brahmā, master of the world, to the Blessed One, and he paid attention as the Blessed One had instructed.
The Blessed One then said to him:
syād yathedaṃ acale macale sāramacale prakṛtivarṇe prakṛtinirghoṣe samantamukhe sthire sthāvare vighuṣṭe vighuṣṭaśabde pragalani sāraṅgame [F.76.b] sārāsute sāraṅgavate bale mahābale mahānirbhāse svāhā |”
Concerning this he continued, “Bodily mindfulness, tranquility and insight, the three absorptions, the four bases of supernatural power, the four thorough relinquishments, the four foundations of mindfulness, the four concentrations, the four truths of the noble ones, the five faculties, the five powers, the six kinds of mindfulness, the seven aspects of awakening, the eightfold path of the noble ones, the nine successive stages of meditative equipoise, the ten powers of a thus-gone one, the eleven liberated sense fields, the twelve links of dependent origination, the twelvefold wheel of Dharma, the sixteen recollections of inhaling and exhaling the breath, the eighteen unique attributes of a buddha, and the forty-two letters—all this, Brahmā, is in the queen of incantations called Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm. This is the sūtra that delivers from all grahas, the buddha seal of as many perfectly awakened, thus-gone arhats as there are grains of sand in the river Ganges. It is the accomplishment of the Buddha, the accomplishment of the Dharma, and the accomplishment of the Saṅgha. It is the accomplishment of Brahmā, the accomplishment of Indra, the accomplishment of the guardians of the world, and the accomplishment of Īśvara. It is the accomplishment of the truth, the accomplishment of the path, and the accomplishment of dependent origination. It is the accomplishment of the moon, the sun, the planets, and the stars.
syād yathedam sāle kasine vidharaṇi varāgra sāre āmarṣaṇi amoghavati secanakāli nakāli kāśikavati bharaṇi bharakaśakhe samantaprāpte sāraprāpte stambhani stambhanaprāpte vajradhare svāhā |”
syād yathedam dhire dhidhire balinirghoṣe balisvare sāravate stuti prastutiprāpte ārave aranirghoṣe āravati acyute [F.78.a] balavate śūraprāpte sāraṃgame sūryavale sūryanirghoṣe svāhā |
“Brahmā, this queen of incantations called Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, which delivers from all grahas, is the buddha seal of as many perfectly awakened, thus-gone arhats as there are grains of sand in the river Ganges. It is the abode of the Buddha, the abode of the Dharma, and the abode of the Saṅgha. It is the abode of Brahmā, the abode of Indra, the abode of the guardians of the world, and the abode of Īśvara. It is the abode of great sages, the abode of the elements, the abode of the eyes, the abode of causes, the abode of spatial extension, and the abode of the teachings. It is the complete and perfect awakening of all buddhas. It is touched by śrāvakas, blessed by Brahmā, praised by Indra, revered by the world protectors, worshipped by Īśvara, extolled by the gods, and saluted by yoga practitioners. It delights scholars. It is praised by sages. It is adorned by priests. It is praised by the gods. It is cleansed by those who perform ritual ablutions. It is delighted in by the world of the four castes. It is the domain of all buddhas, the garden of pratyekabuddhas, the abode of sages, the nirvāṇa of śrāvakas, the abode of yoga practitioners, and the source of the qualities of awakening. It is the destroyer of afflictions. It uproots latent pains. It fully teaches the path of the noble ones. It opens the gates to liberation. It eradicates all beliefs in the transitory collection. It demolishes the mountain of pride. It dries the ocean of saṃsāra. It liberates all sentient beings who have fallen into the ocean of saṃsāra. [F.78.b] It severs Māra’s noose. It frightens Māra’s entourage. It scatters Māra’s spit. It overcomes the army of afflictions. It inducts one into the city of nirvāṇa.
syād yathedam khaṅge khaṅge khaṅgeghoṣe uṣodhane sārathi prabhede vipulaprabhe saṃkarṭhaṇi vikarṭhaṇi viśagravate śuddhasādhani varuṇavate vāsa vibhūṣeṇe vesaṃgame paśupati puspagarbhe |
“May I and all sentient beings be safe from all perils, calamities, and misfortunes! Svāha!
“This queen of incantations called Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm is the sūtra that delivers from all grahas. It is the buddha seal of as many perfectly awakened, thus-gone arhats as there are grains of sand in the river Ganges. It seals the world with its gods, humans, and asuras and poises it for the supreme city of nirvāṇa. For its sake, the previous perfect and complete buddhas—the fully awakened ones—as well as the pratyekabuddhas and śrāvakas are honored like parents, objects of veneration, and gurus. For its sake, chastity is practiced, discipline is observed, generosity is enacted, and the perfection of compassion is fulfilled. The attainment of awakening is accomplished. Māra is vanquished.”
Then, paying homage to the Blessed One, Brahmā, master of the world, Śakra, lord of the gods, and the four great kings simultaneously, with a single thought and in the same cadence, said to the Blessed One:
syād yathedam kaliṅge bharade jautāgre jāmani siṃhavade sārāgraprāpte haṃsagāmini malini hule sihule sihuli sihuleme haham haham sudani varāgravati hastini nevaramita caṇḍale carame carāme carā carāre svāhā |”
When this queen of incantations called Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm was being expounded, this great trichiliocosm shook, rumbled, trembled, and quaked in six ways. The yakṣas and flesh-eating rākṣasas throughout the four directions loudly proclaimed:
Then, the Blessed One transformed the ground into vajra, and the bhūtas fled throughout the four directions.
The four great kings then manifested a great conflagration of flames throughout the four directions, and the bhūtas ran off into the sky.
Śakra, lord of the gods, then brought down a rain of swords, arrows, spears, lances, javelins, trees, and mountains.
At that time, the five thousand yakṣas who had assembled from everywhere in the universe, vanquished by the curse of the incantation, crazed and weakened by fever, fell to the Blessed One’s feet exhausted and said:
The Blessed One then embraced those guhyaka lords with love, and induced them to take up the bases of training.
Just then all the illnesses, perils, calamities, diseases, and disturbances raging throughout the city of Vaiśālī ceased. The yakṣas, rākṣasas, humans, and non-humans ventured out from their respective domains. Swans, parrots, myna birds, kokila cuckoos, peacocks, wild geese, jīvañjīva pheasants, and flocks of other birds all melodiously warbled. The kinnaras became free of physical ailments, like divine daughters. Jeweled utensils clanged without being touched. Kettledrums, conch shells, clay drums, small kettledrums, lutes, and flutes sounded right where they stood. Pomegranate trees, wood-apple trees, āmalakī trees, banyan trees, bodhi trees, plakṣa trees, kapittha trees, udumbara trees, sal trees, and tamāla trees all released their fragrances. A hundred thousand gods exclaimed, “Ah, Ah!” A rain of flowers fell from the sky, and the fragrances of non-humans manifested in the world.
Then, with palms joined, the four great kings said to the Blessed One, “Venerable Blessed One! This Dharma teaching, the king16 of sūtras, Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, is the buddha seal that delivers from all grahas. Whoever observes the bases of training, dons the saffron-colored robes, [F.80.a] and receives, holds, recites aloud, explains, masters, writes out, binds into a book, and wears it will be unaffected by any inauspicious phenomena, ranging from illness, peril, misfortune, disease, disturbance, fighting, contention, bondage, argument and dissension, and slander. They will overcome all harm.
“Villages, towns, regions, the kingdom, crossroads, and homes should be cleansed of heaps of rubbish by one seeking to demarcate the kingdom’s borders, who has performed his ablutions, seeks the three white foods, abstains from the five impure foods, observes the bases of human training, possesses equanimity for all beings, and is adorned with fine garments and jewelry. The ground at the center of the king’s palace should be strewn with flower petals and scented with various fragrances. In the four directions should be placed four girls who have performed their ablutions. They should be well adorned and hold weapons in their hands. Each of them should also have a bell, and a jewel vessel.17 In the morning, when the sun has risen, the incantation should be read out loud, and the sūtra should be recited and chanted. It should be written out and fastened to the tops of large shrines, tall trees, and tall standards, and then worshipped for up to half a lunar month with various flowers and fragrances. It should be chanted once each day. Thus, the kingdom will be delivered. Thus, the villages, cities, regions, country, kingdom, palaces, sacred sites, temples, homes, fields, government offices, trees, orchards, meadows, gardens, cowsheds, and stables will be divested of heaps of rubbish. [F.80.b]
“Khadira and jujube woods should be lit, the ground should be strewn with flower petals, and the porticos should be scented with various fragrances to the right and left. All seeds should be smeared with clarified butter and scattered to the four directions. Threads of various colors should be tied to the passageways. All the animals should be released and then rounded up again. The incantation should be chanted. It should be written out or bound into a book, fastened to some high place, and then worshipped. In front of the patient a buddha image, a buddha reliquary, or an image of Brahmā, Śakra, or the four great kings should be placed on a stool or on a casket18 and marked with the four seals.19 The three jewels should be worshipped with various flowers and fragrances, and in the names of Brahmā, Śakra, the four great kings, Maheśvara, the yakṣa generals, the yakṣa warriors, Hārītī, and so forth. ‘By their power, majesty, and might may I have well-being! May I be protected! May I be delivered from all illnesses!’ All of the patient’s food, drink, and medicine should be bestowed enchanted with this incantation.
syād yathedam khaṭe khaṭe khaṭe khaṭevikhaṭi vimale vilambe bale balavati candre caraṇe amṛtanirghoṣe svāhā |
“As counteraction to interferences devised by kākhordas20 or vetāḍas, a man or a woman who has fasted for a single day and night and been ritually cleansed and well adorned should strew the ground with flower petals, scent it with various fragrances, light a fire from khadira and jujube woods, and scatter seeds throughout the four directions. The seeds should also be scattered into the fire. All roots and flowers should be wound into cords of various colors and fastened to swords, tridents, spears, and arrows. Many varieties of perfumed water should be mixed together and then poured into a large pot. The one who is afflicted by the kākhorda should be tied up with the cord and cleansed with the liquid from the pot. The cord should then be cut with a sword and tossed into the fire. This sūtra, Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, should then be uttered:
tadyathā hume hume kakhali kakhali kharale juhvini javale harāgre hariṇi śāvari śānti prasānti svāhā dhāvani svāhā pradhāvani svāhā gāndharve svāhā pralaṅgani svāhā sarvakākhordakṛtavetāḍacchedani svāhā |
“One who endeavors to be free of goiters, herpes, insanity, boils, blisters, rashes,22 and the drinking of poison should be ritually cleansed and well adorned, and say the following incantation while sitting on a fine seat:23
syād yathedam harigiśinakili ehere amare aṇḍare paṇḍare kaṭake keyūre hase hase hase khase khase khase kharaṅge marugahaṇe svāhā mumukṣa svāhā hile svāhā mile svāhā |
“Then, one who wishes to be victorious in all skirmishes, fights, arguments, dissensions, and battles against opposing armies and enemies should first worship a large shrine. Then, he should recite the following queen of incantations, Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm:
syād yathedam amṛte agrapuṣpe bahuphale nivāriṇi sarvārthasādhani aparājite varaṭe dharaṇi guhyāvarte gautame guptamati jambhani svāhā prajambhani svāha balaprabhañjani svāhā jaye svāhā vijaye svāhā jaye vijaye svāhā |
Then the omniscient teacher uttered these verses:
In unison, the gods then proclaimed this verse:
syād yathedam aṅge vaṅge bhaṅgini bhavane inande vinande sarali girigiri śavari garuṇi śaruṇi giri gavare locani roṣaṇi [F.84.a] lasani rocane alabhe agane alabhe talabhe prakarṣaṇe svāhā |
Then, the omniscient teacher expressed these incantations:
syād yathedaṃ bodhi bodhi mahābodhi bodhanumate phalini bahuphale śikṣa śikṣa sāravate sāgali durāsade dūrāgame śūraprāpte śūravate bhage bhagavate bhāgini nivāriṇi svāhā |”
The great king Vaiśravaṇa now draped his upper robe on one shoulder and, paying homage to the Blessed One with palms joined, said to him, “Venerable Blessed One, certain śrāvakas ought to receive, hold, teach, recite, and master this sūtra, Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, and thereby strive to learn it well and strive in the worship of reliquaries with it. On the eighth, fourteenth, and fifteenth lunar days, they should perform elaborate worship at a reliquary and recite the incantation there. [F.84.b]. On the eighth lunar day people of the four great kings28 should reflect on that sūtra in the presence of the four kings. They should also recite the names of the four great kings. On the fourteenth lunar day they should reflect on it in the presence of the four great kings and recite their names. And on the fifteenth lunar day, they should reflect on the four great kings and recite their names.
“The Blessed One’s śrāvaka who takes up, holds, teaches, recites, and masters this sūtra, Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, benefits and cares for all creatures. Venerable Blessed One, we four great kings will ensure that he has no worries about procuring monk’s robes, alms, bedding, cushions, medicines for illness, and other necessary utensils. He will be honored by all beings. He will be venerated, revered, and worshipped by kings and ministers. He will be worshipped, moreover, by non-Buddhists, ascetics, priests, practitioners, mendicants, and among friends and foes alike. He will become a pure, faithful son or daughter of noble family.29 He will have a pure body, and pure food, adornments, bedding, cushions, and utensils. He will not meet with unfortunate states. He will not associate with bad companions. He will not encounter those who dwell in bad states. Whoever recollects30 this sūtra, Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, before someone who has been seized by a bhūta graha ensures that the four great kings themselves guard, protect, and conceal him.
“Venerable Blessed One, such is the great power of this sūtra, Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, that whoever genuinely contemplates it inside their home for either a single night, or a single day, ensures that non-humans will not enter there for up to a single year. [F.85.a] He will be worthy of veneration by all assemblies of bhūtas. If even the four great kings show their faces when one holds this sūtra, Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, how much more so will yakṣas, rākṣasas, and other ordinary beings? Why is that? It is because those who perform incantations in the world for the sake of healing sentient beings render these secret mantra syllables supreme, principal, exalted, sublime, profound, vast, authentic, impenetrable, and unique—it is the seal of the Dharma.”
syād yathedam akrame vikrame bhūtaghoṣe bhūtaṃgame dahani dhadhare dharavare dadhini nikhume khukhume khakha khakha sāraṃgame candre capale halime hale hāriṇi svāhā |
Then, at dusk, the Blessed One emerged from his meditative composure and said to the monks,
“Monks! Receive, hold, recite, teach, and master the sūtra called Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm! It will be for the long-term welfare, benefit, happiness, and comfort of the world with its gods!
“Monks! If any of my monks were to tie a cord to a barren tree with this sūtra, Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, then leaves, flowers, and fruits would grow on it. So it goes without saying what it can do for a body endowed with consciousness—unless, that is, the ripening of prior karma precludes it.”
When the Blessed One had spoken, the monks then asked him, “The five great sūtras taught by the Venerable Blessed One are Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm, Great Peahen, Great Cool Grove, Great Amulet, and Great Application of Secret Mantra. Venerable Blessed One, you have instructed that these sūtras should be upheld by those who refrain from the five kinds of impure food.34 You have also said that we should take ordination and live on alms. However, Blessed One, there are very few alms that are unmixed with the five kinds of impure food. In this way, since there are many more that are mixed with the five kinds of impure food, how, Venerable Blessed One, should we conduct ourselves in this regard?”
The Blessed One answered the monks, “Monks, it is precisely for this reason that, in order to protect oneself, one who holds the sūtra Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm should also hold the Dhāraṇī of the Unblemished Gem. In this way one should think of food as being agreeable when taking alms. [F.86.b] One should even consider food mixed with the five kinds of impure food as being unmixed with the five kinds of impure food. One should also consider all compounded phenomena as impermanent, impermanence as suffering, and suffering as selfless. Where are the five kinds of impure food? Who has the five kinds of impure food? Who eats the five kinds of impure food? No sentient being is perceived.
“If alms are adulterated with the five kinds of impure foods, one should protect oneself on the eighth, fourteenth, and fifteenth lunar days. On those days, a girl of royal caste, who has been well cleansed, well adorned, and who has fasted for a day and taken the five precepts, should wind four red strings into a cord. Then, while the incantation is being recollected by a holder of the secret mantra, a knot should be tied in the cord. Next the cord should be cut with a new knife and burned. Then, the cord should be laid in a jewel or metal vessel filled with water, covered with flowers, and scented with various fragrances. This incantation should then be recited until the cord surfaces inside the vessel. The cord should then be tied to the wrist and the following should be recited:
syād yathedam khakhame khakha khakha khukhume śime śime śihume śime śime svasti svasti svasti svasti mama śānte sārāgre |
syād yathedam kalake kalale balani karuḍa ālāye agne saṃkrāmane svāhā |
At these words from the Blessed One, the monks rejoiced, and praised what the Blessed One had said.
This concludes the sūtra entitled “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm.”
This was translated and edited by the Indian preceptors Śīlendrabodhi, Jñānasiddhi, and Śākyaprabha, along with the translator-editor Bandé Yeshé Dé who edited and finalized the translation. Later still, the translator Zhönnu Pal [F.87.b] edited it by comparing it with the Sanskrit edition that had been in the possession of Chojé Chaglo.
stong chen mo rab tu ’joms pa zhes bya ba’i mdo (Mahāsahasrapramardanasūtra). Toh 558, Degé Kangyur, vol. 90 (rgyud ’bum, pha), folios 63a–87b.
stong chen mo rab tu ’joms pa zhes bya ba’i mdo (Mahāsahasrapramardanasūtra). 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), 2006–2009, vol. 90, pp 177–253.
Mahāsāhasrapramardanī, digital edition (GRETIL: Göttingen Register of Electronic Texts in Indian Languages). Based on the edition by Yutaka Iwamoto: Mahāsāhasrapramardanī, Pañcarakṣā I, Kyoto: 1937 (Beiträge zur Indologie, 1).
stong chen mo rab tu ’joms pa’i mdo’i ’bum ’grel pa (Mahāsahasrapramardanīsūtraśatasahasraṭīkā). Toh 2690, Degé Tengyur vol. 70 (rgyud, du), folios 1a–93a.
Mahāvastu. Sanskrit text online in GRETIL. Based on Émile Senart, ed. Mahāvastu-Avadāna. 3 vols. Paris, 1882–97. Chapter 29 starts at Mvu_1.290. For translation, see Jones 1949.
Dharmachakra Translation Committee (tr.). Great Upholder of the Secret Mantra (Mahāmantrānudhāraṇi, Toh 563). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, 2016.
——— (tr.). The Great Peahen, Queen of Incantations (Mahāmāyūrīvidyārājñī, Toh 559). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, (forthcoming).
——— (tr.). The Noble Great Amulet, Queen of Incantations (Mahāpratisarāvidyārājñī, Toh 561). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, (forthcoming).
——— (tr.). The Sūtra of Great Cool Grove, (Mahāśītavana, Toh 562). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, (forthcoming).
——— (tr.). The Aspiration Prayer from “Destroyer of the Great Trichiliocosm” (Toh 813, 1098). 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha, (2020).
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- lcang lo can
- ’brog gnas
- drag po’i mche ba can
- ma skyes dgra
- cang shes kauN+Di n+ya
- mi rdung
- mi ’khrugs pa
All forms of knowledge
- rig byed
- a ga ru
- skyu ru ra
Emblic myrobalan, Phyllanthus emblica.
- ’od dpag med
- kun dga’ bo
- ma dros
- ma ’gags pa
- a pa marga
Achyranthes aspera; the chaff tree.
- brjed byed
- ’od ’phro
- shing kun
Ferula nartex, or Ferula foetida.
- ral gri bu
- lha ma yin
- rta skye ba
- rta thul
- spyan ras gzigs kyi dbang
- srung byed pa
- bak+ku la
- ardza ka
- bzang po
- so bzang yod pa
- bha ra dwa dza
- gso ba’i mtha’
- ’byung po
A general term for spirit, ghost, or demon (either positive or negative).
- lus su gtogs pa dran pa
- tshangs pa
- tshangs pa len
- gdol pa mo
- gdol ma gtum mo
- Caṇḍa Caṇḍālinī
- gtum mo
- za ma tog
- shing tsha
- sna tshogs brtsegs
- sna tshogs sde
- rdza rnga
- ru rta
Negi identifies the Tibetan ru rta as a translation of the Sanskrit kuṣṭhaṃ, Saussurea costus (McHugh, 2008, p 233).
- ri sul kha
- yul ’khor srung
One of the “four great kings, guardians of the world,” he is held to dwell in the east, presiding over the gandharva spirits that live there.
- ring por skyes
- ni mi da
Eighteen unique attributes of a buddha
- sangs rgyas kyi chos ma ’dres pa bco brgyad
Eightfold path of the noble ones
- ’phags pa’i lam yan lag brgyad pa
- āryāṣṭāṅgā mārgāḥ
- gdon ’byung po
Eleven liberated sense fields
- rnam par grol ba’i skye mched bcu gcig
Fine-winged nāga graha
- klu ’dab bzangs kyi gdon
The Sanskrit term suparṇī in nāgasuparṇīgraha, translated by the Tibetan term ’dab bzang, literally means “fine-winged” or “beautiful-leaved.” While this can be an epithet for the mythical garuḍa bird, here it seems to simply describe a general characteristic of the nāga.
- dbang po lnga
Five impure foods
- zas sna lnga
The “five kinds of [impure] food” are described in the ṭīka (F.80.b.) as “meat, anything mixed with garlic, beer, fish, and so forth.”
- stobs lnga
- gling bu
Four bases of supernatural power
- rdzu ’phrul gyi rkang pa bzhi
- catvāro ṛddhipādāḥ
- bsam gtan bzhi
- catvāri dhyānāni
Four foundations of mindfulness
- dran pa nye bar gzhag pa bzhi
- catvāri smṛtyupasthānāni
Four thorough relinquishments
- yang dag par sbong ba bzhi
- catvāri samyakprahāṇāni
Four truths of the noble ones
- ’phags pa’i bden pa bzhi
- catvāry āryasatyāni
- dmag rnam pa gzhi dang ldan pa
An army comprising elephants, chariots, cavalry, and infantry (Monier-Williams).
- spos ngad ldang
- ba lang ’dzin
- dri za’i gdon
- gandharva graha
- rnga zlum
- ga ya ’od srung
- ri’i bu mo
- ri bshes
Guardians of the world
- ’jig rten skyong ba