The Dharma Rite of Dharmacakrapravartin Mārapramardana Bodhisattva

Taishō no. 1150

Imperially Sanctioned Translation

Trepiṭaka Śramaṇa of Vast Wisdom, Amoghavajra, of Dàxīngshàn Temple

Translated into English by Shaku Shingan (13th March, 2024)

At that time, the bodhisattva Mārapramardana said to the Buddha: 

O Bhagavān! Each of the bodhisattvas has already taught the secret mantra teaching. O Bhagavān! I now wish, for the age of Dharma decline in the future, to protect the kings of the land and protect all sentient beings in the land. Therefore, I will teach the secret, most secret, supremely secret, secret among secrets, the Dharma that destroys the enemy, Māra. I only pray that the Bhagavat will listen with compassion.

The Buddha said: 


[Mārapramardana said:]

Bhagavān! If neighbouring countries invade the country’s borders, or if the army in the country is small or timid, or if someone does not submit and rebels, then you should take wood from a melia azedarach tree and make a banner twelve finger-widths long, eight finger-widths in circumference, and very round. As the Bhagavān has instructed, all the eight classes of devas and nāgas should be ordered to protect the country, protect the kings of the country, and protect all sentient beings in the country’s borders. To remove calamities and bring peace and comfort, the local devas who protect the country should be painted on the banner when difficulties arise.

The guardians of this Great Tang Dynasty are namely the yakṣas Viśvakarman, Kapila, Dharmarakṣa, Aṃsapakṣa, Virūpākṣa, Senārakṣa, Maṇibhadra, Pūrṇabhadra, Vidyādhara, Atavaka (these are the ten yakṣas); the nāga kings Vāsuki, Sumanā, and Puṣyabhīmā (these are the three great nāga kings); the great devī queen Hāritī, Eluvatsā, and Sahānetrā (these are the three great devī queens). Each of these deities has five thousand retainers.

Those who should be painted should have their root forms painted, with their images on the raised banner. Also, on the top of the banner, write the mantra of the unobstructed king, the ten syllables of Buddha-uṣṇīṣa, with the last letter, ṭa, in the centre of the wheel. The name of any enemy, rebel, or leader should be written between the wheel’s spokes. At the bottom of the banner, draw a wheel with eight spokes. Place the letter ṭa above in the centre of the wheel. If disasters occur, you should invite someone who understands the Dharma and has received this teaching. In the middle of the night, draw a square altar; on the square altar, draw a triangular altar. Set up this banner in the centre of the altar. Place various foods and drinks and the two kinds of argha water on the four sides of the altar. Burn benzoin incense and light butter lamps. The person who understands the Dharma sits facing south.

Then make the hook (aṅkuśī) mudrā of all the tathāgatas: make a fist with both hands with the palms of the hands placed inside each other, and use the right forefinger to make a hook. Then, recite the mantra and call out the name of the deity, inviting the sixteen great protectors and their retinues and the deities with great authoritative power, and make offerings to them at the altar.

The mantra of the hook of the tathāgatas:

Namaḥ samantavajraṇaṃ AḤ sarvatrā pratihata tathāgatāṃkuśa bodhicarya paripuraka SVĀHĀ!

𑖡𑖦𑖾 𑖭𑖦𑖡𑖿𑖝𑖪𑖕𑖿𑖨𑖜𑖽 𑖀𑖾 𑖭𑖨𑖿𑖪𑖝𑖿𑖨𑖯 𑖢𑖿𑖨𑖝𑖰𑖮𑖝 𑖝𑖞𑖯𑖐𑖝𑖯𑖽𑖎𑖲𑖫 𑖤𑖺𑖠𑖰𑖓𑖨𑖿𑖧 𑖢𑖨𑖰𑖢𑖲𑖨𑖎 𑖭𑖿𑖪𑖯𑖮𑖯

The practitioner should next enter the samādhi of superior vajra-wrath of the three times. He should visualize that his authoritative power flourishes, with eight arms on four sides, his left foot stepping on the heavenly devī Umā, and his right foot stepping on the deva Maheśvara.

Then he should form the mudrā of superiority over the three realms: with two hands, form a vajra fist, and with generosity and wisdom, he should hook them together, straightening them and applying effort. When this is accomplished, he should recite the mantra three, five, or seven times. The mantra goes:

OṂ sumbhani sumbha HŪṂ PHAṬ gṛhṇa gṛhṇa HŪṂ PHAṬ gṛhṇapaya HŪṂ PHAṬ ānaya HOḤ bhagavaṃ vajra HŪṂ PHAṬ!

𑖌𑖼 𑖭𑖲𑖦𑖿𑖥𑖡𑖰 𑖭𑖲𑖦𑖿𑖥 𑖮𑖳𑖽 𑖣𑖘𑖿 𑖐𑖴𑖮𑖿𑖜 𑖐𑖴𑖮𑖿𑖜 𑖮𑖳𑖽 𑖣𑖘𑖿 𑖐𑖴𑖮𑖿𑖜𑖢𑖧 𑖮𑖳𑖽 𑖣𑖘𑖿 𑖁𑖡𑖧 𑖮𑖺𑖾 𑖥𑖐𑖪𑖽 𑖪𑖕𑖿𑖨 𑖮𑖳𑖽 𑖣𑖘𑖿 

Then, for the deities of the directions above, he should form the mudrā of command: with two hands, form a vajra fist, and wrap the fingertips of [each of the] two [hands] around each other. After forming the mudrā, he should say the following command: 

You sixteen great protectors, great yakṣa generals, and so forth, have been entrusted by the Buddha to protect the king and all sentient beings in the country, enabling them to obtain peace and comfort and eliminate calamities. Now, there is a particularly difficult matter in our country. You, great guardians, assist my army and destroy the enemy. You must cause the enemy army to be bound and confused and cause their country to be tumultuous. You must cause my army to be strong and victorious. 

Having said this, he should recite the mantra three times (the below summons the devas together with forming the root mudrā):

HŪṂ paliḥ tiddhaliḥ TAḤ vajrakarṣa HAṂ JAḤ!

𑖮𑖳𑖽 𑖢𑖩𑖰𑖾 𑖝𑖰𑖟𑖿𑖠𑖩𑖰𑖾 𑖝𑖾 𑖪𑖕𑖿𑖨𑖎𑖨𑖿𑖬 𑖮𑖽 𑖕𑖾

Next, he should form the mudrā that commands the devas who travel in the sky: with two hands, form a vajrabandha, bend the tips of the fingers and place the fingernails against each other, and putting the two in the air, push out the wind fingers. After forming the mudrā and commanding them following the previously described procedure, one should recite the mantra three times:

OṂ vajra grapāḍaya vajra HŪṂ! 

𑖌𑖼 𑖪𑖕𑖿𑖨 𑖐𑖿𑖨𑖢𑖯𑖚𑖧 𑖪𑖕𑖿𑖨 𑖮𑖳𑖽

Next, he should form the mudrā that commands the devas who abide in the sky: just as the mudrā of subduing the three realms, entwine the two index fingers and place the mudrā on the crown of your head. After you have formed the mudrās, first command them according to the previous words and then recite the mantra three times:

OṂ vajra malāgra VAṂ!

𑖌𑖼 𑖪𑖕𑖿𑖨 𑖦𑖩𑖯𑖐𑖿𑖨 𑖪𑖽

Next, he should form the mudrā that commands the devas on the earth: with two hands, form a vajrabandha, stretch out the two wind fingers and join them together on the head, and one forms it just like the mudrā of Vajrarakṣa Bodhisattva. After you have formed the mudrās, first command them according to the previous words; one should recite the mantra three times:

OṂ vajra vandha HAṂ! 

𑖌𑖼 𑖪𑖕𑖿𑖨 𑖪𑖡𑖿𑖠 𑖮𑖽

Next, he should form the mudrā that commands the devas below the earth:  place the two hands against each other, with each palm facing outwards, intertwine the fingertips of each in the space between, hook each wind finger, support the fingertips with the fire fingers. Place the mudrā between the eyebrows; first command them according to the previous words; one should recite the mantra three times:

OṂ hāruka vajra samaya sarva duṣṭa samaya mudrā pramāṃjaka HŪṂ PHAṬ!

𑖌𑖼 𑖮𑖯𑖨𑖲𑖎 𑖪𑖕𑖿𑖨 𑖭𑖦𑖧 𑖭𑖨𑖿𑖪 𑖟𑖲𑖬𑖿𑖘 𑖭𑖦𑖧 𑖦𑖲𑖟𑖿𑖨𑖯 𑖢𑖿𑖨𑖦𑖯𑖽𑖕𑖎 𑖮𑖳𑖽 𑖣𑖘𑖿 

When he has given these commands, bind the wisdom hands into a vajra fist, place it on top of the banner, and recite the ten-letter Buddha-uṣṇīṣa mantra one hundred and eight times.

If he wishes to recite the ten letter Buddha-uṣṇīṣa mantra, first form the mudrā and recite it seven times. Make a fist with the palms of both hands and in the space between them, insert the [fingers] within the palms. The two wind fingers mutually bend and support the two in the space thus. Recite the mantra, saying:

OṂ vajrasadhoṣṇīṣa HŪṂ PHAṬ! 

𑖌𑖼 𑖪𑖕𑖿𑖨𑖭𑖠𑖺𑖬𑖿𑖜𑖱𑖬 𑖮𑖳𑖽 𑖣𑖘𑖿

After so reciting, burn incense and offer up flowers. Offer the argha water and make an extraordinarily superior vow for the emperor and all the people to benefit significantly and be happy. Then, form the vajrabandha and combine the two fire fingers to complete it. Then, recite the mantra of vajra liberation three times and send the members of the ārya saṅgha back to their respective temples. The mantra goes:

OṂ vajra MUḤ! 

𑖌𑖼 𑖪𑖕𑖿𑖨 𑖦𑖲𑖾

When the Dharma rite has been completed, the banner should be put in a clean box or a satchel. Food and drink, and so forth, should be offered to it; it should be sent off down a river in accordance with the rules.

The Dharma Rite of Mārapramardana Bodhisattva, which defeats enemies.

The time of sending out the army should be in accordance with the position of the lunar mansions and the days.

Proofread on the 19th day of the 9th month in the third year of Jōkyō (1686) by Venerable Śramaṇa Jōgon of Kawachi (aged 48)
Translator's note:Dharmacakrapravartin, or Mārapramardana, Bodhisattva, appears as a form of Vajrapāramitā (a tantric form of Prajñāpāramitā Devī) in the centre of the maṇḍala of the "humane king bodhisattvas" in the Humane King Sūtra (仁王経), also translated (or as some claim, rewritten) by Amoghavajra. As with the Humane King Sūtra, the practices taught in this Dharma rite text are specifically targeted at the sovereigns of countries. It also represents an essentially forceful rite that does not reflect typical Buddhist attitudes to violence.Whether this text is an authentic translation from Sanskrit or not, it clearly represents a rite intended to strengthen the military position of a kingdom or empire, and it was specifically adapted by the translator to the Great Tang Dynasty. Presumably, different kingdoms would have different sets of deities who would need to be painted upon the banner that forms the centre point of this ritual. The banner in question appears to take the shape of a round banner, as commonly seen in contemporary Newar Buddhist rites. While the Indic provenance of this rite cannot be ascertained, the text clearly represents a rite that was intended to be performed according to a typical Mantrayāna model. The mantras are represented here as printed in the Taishō edition with siddhaṃ characters (please ensure your browser has the latest Unicode in order to view these).Several points of uncertainty remain in this translation. As is the norm, the reconstruction of Indic names is not entirely certain. Moreover, the precise method of forming the mudrās is not clear and would likely have needed to be explained by a ācārya. It goes without saying that this is not a text that can be actively practised by contemporary Buddhists, and it is represented here merely as a literary translation for its historic value.