The Noble Six-Syllable Life-Prolonging Mahāvidyā Dhāraṇī Sūtra

Taishō no. 1049

Imperially Sanctioned Translation by the Indian Trepiṭaka, Grand Master for the Closing Court, Examiner, Chief Minister for Making Loud Announcements, and Dharma Transmission Grand Master, Minister Dānapāla (-1017)

Translated into English by Shaku Shingan (25th March, 2024)

Thus have I heard:

Once, the Buddha was dwelling in Śrāvastī, in Jetavana, Anāthapiṇḍada's Monastery. At that time, the Venerable Ānanda was gravely ill. The Buddha, knowing this of his own accord, went before him, spread out a seat, and sat down. He addressed Ānanda, saying:

Listen carefully now. I possess the Six-Syllable Mahāvidyā Dhāraṇī, which can eliminate disasters and increase lifespan. If you take up and bear it, not only you yourself but also the fourfold assembly of bhikṣus, bhikṣuṇīs, upāsakas, and upāsikās will live in calm tranquillity far removed from sufferings.

Furthermore, Ānanda! This Six-Syllable Mahāvidyā Dhāraṇī has been proclaimed by seventy-seven koṭīs of buddhas along with six great teachers of authoritative power. The six great teachers are: 1) the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyaksaṃbuddha, 2) Śakra, the Lord of Devas, 3) Vaiśravaṇa Deva, 4) Dhṛtarāṣṭra Deva, 5) Virudhaka Deva, and 6) Virūpākṣa Deva. Such noble and wise ones, with one voice, have spoken this dhāraṇī, saying:

Dantile dantile dantoli tomali bandhari kośāri madhumati SVĀHĀ! [1]

The Buddha addressed Ānanda: 

This Six-Syllable Mahāvidyā passage has immense power. Should there be any kings or individuals terrified in the midst of legal difficulties, great floods, fires, robberies, enmities, various evils, battles, or ominous astrological phenomena, at such times when bodily harm is caused by various disasters, if one wholeheartedly recites this Mahāvidyā passage, it will protect the individual and grant liberation. Having spoken it, all such calamities will quickly be removed.

Furthermore, Ānanda! If sentient beings suffer from various pains, headaches, neck pains, eye or ear or nose pains, tooth or tongue pains, lips, mouth, or cheek pains, chest, side, or back pains, heart or stomach pains, waist or thigh pains, pains throughout the body, as well as dysentery, haemorrhoids, jaundice, phlegm, or other severe illnesses, by reciting this Mahāvidyā passage as before, the great authoritative power of the Buddha will cause all the suns, moons, stars, arhats, and sages to speak the truth, protect such disciples, remove disasters and bring peace and comfort. All swords, poisons, tigers, wolves, lions, snakes, vipers, scorpions, and all evil beasts will not harm, malaria will not afflict, nor will one die young. Even all types of ghosts like apasmāras, bhūtas, piśācas, kumbhaṇḍas, and all ghost generals will stay far away, not daring to cause harm.

Furthermore, Ānanda! If sentient beings are possessed by ghosts and spirits, who do not leave them after many years and months, by empowering a thread with this mantra and tying it around the afflicted person's hand, the great Vajrapāṇi, the lord of yakṣas, will, with his wrathful power, shatter the ghosts and spirits' heads into seven pieces. Also, the greatly wise Śāriputra, the Maudgalyāyana of supernormal powers, Rāhula, who upholds the precepts, and you, Ānanda, will all come to protect and grant peace and security. If not, Sumeru, the king of mountains, would move from its place, the great oceans would dry up, the sun and moon would fall, and the great earth would split open. The Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyaksaṃbuddha does not speak falsely. Ānanda! This Six-Syllable Mahāvidyā Dhāraṇī possesses miraculous authoritative powers and merits unlike any before. Those who rejoice in hearing it will always enjoy longevity and freedom from illness; evil will not gain entry to them. How much more so for those who take up and bear, read and recite, write and copy, and make offerings to it? This is known as the practice of achieving the supreme Dharma of increase and benefit.

Upon hearing this, Ānanda had faith in it, took it up, and sincerely practised it.

Translator's note:This appears to bear relation to the very similar Ṣaḍakṣaravidyā Sūtra (佛說聖六字大明王陁羅尼經; T1047), also translated by Dānapāla. Neither of these two texts actually appears to teach a six-syllable dhāraṇī, and the "six" appears only to bear relation to the six great teachers who uphold it. The Dongguk University translation into Korean gives the following mantra as an Indic equivalent to that given at note [1]: "tad yathā dantili kantile daṇḍa miti madhumati marānaṭe goraṇaṭa drābibati kośāri chaṭaje dudumaṭi ketumaṭi cudunadhe kūṭadānate daruhure enanige hutapa huni svāhā." Apparently this is borrowed from a version with Tibetan parallel online, however, as is evident, this bears no relation to the underlying Chinese presented in either T1049 or T1047 (which has two dhāraṇīs). Therefore, the transcription provided here should be understood as a possible reading based purely on the Chinese and likely Indic equivalents.It should be noted that many dhāraṇī sūtras with "six-syllables" in their title do not have six-syllable dhāraṇīs, but rather some other reference to "six" somewhere in the body of their text. On this, see the Fo Guang Dictionary of Buddhism entry on 六字陀羅尼.Regarding the translator Dānapāla, he hailed from Oḍḍiyāna in North West India. He was active in the Song from 980 until 1017, and received many honours by the Song court. He translated with his half-brother, known by the Chinese name 天息災 (possible Devaśāntika), in modern day Henan. With the support of the Taizong Emperor, he reignited Buddhist translation work in China and increased knowledge of mid-period Esoteric Buddhism considerably.