The Dhāraṇī Praising the Qualities of the Immeasurable One
Degé Kangyur, vol. 91 (rgyud ’bum, ba), folio 223.a.
Translated by The Dharmachakra Translation Committee
under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha
The Dhāraṇī that Praises the Qualities of the Immeasurable One contains a short dhāraṇī mantra praising the tathāgata Amitābha and brief instructions on the benefits that result from its recitation.
Translated by the Dharmachakra Translation Committee under the supervision of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche. The translation was produced by Adam Krug then checked against the Tibetan and edited by Ryan Damron.
The translation was completed under the patronage and supervision of 84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha.
The Dhāraṇī Praising the Qualities of the Immeasurable One consists of a short dhāraṇī praising Buddha Amitābha and a brief description of the benefits one accrues by reciting this dhāraṇī. These benefits range from the purification of negative deeds to having visions of the bodhisattva Maitreya, the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, and the buddha Amitābha himself. The Sanskrit term for the English “immeasurable” (aparimita) that appears in the title of this work can be interpreted as referring both to the Buddha Amitābha as “The Immeasurable One” and to the fact that the qualities that Amitābha possesses are themselves “immeasurable.” The phrase “The Immeasurable One” is used here to give coherence to the title in English, but the reader is invited to entertain the dual significance of the term when reading or reciting the text—that Amitābha is both immeasurably vast and possesses immeasurable qualities.1
A Sanskrit version of this work is to our knowledge no longer extant. The text seems to have been translated from Sanskrit into Tibetan no later than the early ninth century, as its title is recorded in the Denkarma2 and Phangthangma3 Tibetan imperial translation catalogs. However, the Tibetan translation does not contain a colophon, so further details surrounding its translation into Tibetan are unknown. A Chinese translation of the text (Taishō 934) was completed by a certain Faxian (whose identity is surrounded with uncertainty) sometime between 989 and 999 ᴄᴇ.4
This brief scripture is missing from some Kangyur collections but appears twice in others.5 Its title does not appear in any of the Kangyur collections that belong purely to the Thempangma (them spangs ma) lineage. However, the Kangyur collections that belong to the Tshalpa (tshal pa) lineage include it twice, while the mixed lineage and independent collections include it either twice or only once. In the Degé Kangyur it appears in both the Tantra Collection (rgyud ’bum, Toh 679) and the Compendium of Dhāraṇīs (gzungs ’dus, Toh 851).6 The dhāraṇī mantra featured in the text is also included in Butön Rinchen Drup’s (bu ston rin chen grub, 1290–1364) Collection of Dhāraṇī of the Four Classes of Secret Mantra.7
This English translation is based on the Degé Kangyur version of Toh 679 in consultation with the variant readings recorded in the Comparative Edition (dpe bsdur ma). In addition, we have compared Toh 679 to Toh 851 (Degé and Comparative Edition) and accounted for all significant differences in the notes. The dhāraṇī is rendered in Sanskrit diacritics following the Tibetan transliteration in the Tantra Collection of the Degé Kangyur (Toh 679), with major variants between Toh 679 and Toh 851 noted. An English translation of the dhāraṇī is also provided in a note.
Homage to the Three Jewels.
namo ratnatrayāya namo bhagavate amitabhāya tathāgatāya arhate saṃyaksambuddhāya |
tadyathā oṃ amite amitodbhave amitasaṃbhave amitavikrānte amitagamini gaganakīrtikare8 sarvakleśakṣayaṃkare9 svāhā |10
The ritual instructions for this dhāraṇī are as follows: Reciting it once purifies the karmic obscurations that you have accumulated over one hundred thousand eons. If you recite it three times a day every day, all your misdeeds will be purified, and you will obtain the roots of virtue generated by one thousand buddhas. If you recite it twenty-one times it will purify the four root downfalls.11 If you recite it one hundred thousand times you will have a vision of Noble Maitreya. If you recite it two hundred thousand times you will have a vision of Noble Avalokiteśvara. If you recite it three hundred thousand times you will have a vision of the tathāgata Amitābha. Since the additional benefits are innumerable, this is only a brief summary.
This concludes “The Dhāraṇī Praising the Qualities of the Immeasurable One.”
Note that there is a discrepancy among various databases for cataloging the Toh 851 version of this text within vol. 100 or 101 of the Degé Kangyur. See Toh 851 note 6 for details.
’phags pa yon tan bsngags pa dpag tu med pa (Aparimitaguṇānuśāsanāmadhāraṇī). Toh 679, Degé Kangyur vol. 91 (rgyud ’bum, ba), folio 223.a.
’phags pa yon tan bsngags pa dpag tu med pa (Aparimitaguṇānuśāsanāmadhāraṇī). Toh 851, Degé Kangyur vol. 100 (gzungs ’dus, e), folio 64.b.
’phags pa yon tan bsngags pa dpag tu med pa (Aparimitaguṇānuśāsanāmadhāraṇī). 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. 91, pp. 821–23.
’phags pa yon tan bsngags pa dpag tu med pa (Aparimitaguṇānuśāsanāmadhāraṇī). 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. 97, pp. 161–63.
Butön Rinchen Drup (bu ston rin chen grub). “gsang sngags rgyud sde bzhi’i gzungs ’bum.” In The Collected Works of Bu-Ston, edited by Lokesh Candra, vol. 16, pp. 21–576. Śata-Piṭaka Series. New Delhi: International Academy of Indian Culture, 1965–1971.
dkar chag ’phang thang ma. Beijing: mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2003.
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.
Lancaster, Lewis R. The Korean Buddhist Canon: A Descriptive Catalogue.
University of Vienna Resources for Kanjur & Tenjur Studies. Universität Wien and FWF.
Yoshimuri, Shyuki. The Denkar-Ma: An Oldest Catalogue of the Tibetan Buddhist Canons. Kyoto: Ryukoku University, 1950.
- ’od dpag med
One of the most important buddhas in the Mahāyāna and Vajrayāna pantheon, Amitābha is the buddha presiding over the western Pure Land of Sukhāvatī.
- spyan ras gzigs dbang phyug
An important bodhisattva in the Mahāyāna pantheon.
Four root downfalls
- ltung ba bzhi
- catvāra prapāta
The four root downfalls are roughly synonymous with the pham pa bzhi (catvāra pārājika), or the four transgressions that require expulsion from the monastic community. These four transgressions are applicable to the maintenance of monastic and lay vows alike, though their interpretations might differ depending on context. The four transgressions are: (1) violating the vow of chastity (mi tshangs pa spyod pa, abrahmacarya); (2) stealing/taking what is not given (mi byin par len pa, adattadāna); (3) taking a life (srog gcod pa, prāṇātipāta); and (4) lying (rdzun du smra ba, mṛṣāvāda).
- byams pa
An important bodhisattva in the Mahāyāna pantheon who is considered to currently reside in Tuṣita and awaits rebirth in the human realm as the next buddha of the current age.
Roots of virtue
- dge ba’i rtsa ba
The roots of virtue are of three types: absence of desire (ma chags pa, alobha), absence of anger (zhe sdang med pa, adveṣa), and absence of bewilderment (gti mug med pa, amoha). These three give rise to all wholesome qualities and hence they are called “roots.”