Dhāraṇī (T. gzungs གཟུངས་; C. tuoluoni/zongchi) — "A statement, or spell, meant to protect or bring about a particular result; also refers to extraordinary skills regarding retention of the teachings."
A dhāraṇī is often understood as a mnemonic device which encapsulates the meaning of a section or chapter of a sutra. Dhāraṇīs are also considered to protect the one who chants them from malign influences and calamities.
Dharani texts are placed inside sacred statues and stupas, as a forrm of protection and blessing.
The word dhāraṇī derives from a Sanskrit root dhṛ which means "to hold or maintain". The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism states:
- [this suggests] something that supports, holds, or retains; hence, a verbal formula believed to “retain” or “encapsulate” the meaning of lengthier texts and prolix doctrines, thus functioning as a mnemonic device.
Contemporary scholar Gergely Hidas states:
- Dhāraṇī is an exclusively Buddhist term, the primary literary meaning of which is not completely clear. In the extended sense, dhāraṇī has most often been interpreted as “spell.” However, its semantic range is wider than the sphere of incantations, with a further principal interpretation as “memory” or “mnemonic device.” Especially in earlier sources, dhāraṇī was a mnemonics-related term in most cases, a use that appears to have faded away with the course of time. At least synchronically speaking, dhāraṇī is decidedly polysemic and context sensitive. In the present literary context, the “spell” interpretation of dhāraṇī as used here describes a reasonably distinct scriptural body. However, dhāraṇī is often appositional or interchangeable with two other closely related words – mantra and vidyā, which also refer to a spell.
The difference between a Mantra and a Dharani
Rigpa wiki states:
- All dharanis are mantras, but not all mantras are dharanis. Often dharanis consists of a homage or invocation of the deity, followed by a request to act. Therefore, a dharani is usually longer than a mantra. Dharanis usually contain imperatives such as bandha, bandha, bind, bind: these words express the request to act. Mantras on the other hand just consist of mantric syllables and possibly the name of the deity, without words of homage or a request to act.
om̐ namo bhagavate aparimitāyurjñānasuviniścitatejorājāya tathāgatāya arhate samyak saṃbuddhāya |
tadyathā | om̐ puṇye puṇye mahāpuṇye 'parimitapuṇye 'parimitapuṇyajñānasaṃbhāropacite |
om̐ sarvasaṃskārapariśuddhe dharmate gaganasamudgate svabhāvaviśuddhe mahānayaparivāre svāhā |
The Boundless Life and Wisdom Dhāraṇī:
om̐ homage to the blessed boundless life and wisdom, the firm king of the splendor, the tathāgata, the arhat, the fully awakened one!
It is like this: om̐ merit merit, great merit, boundless merit, you (who) perfected the accumulation of boundless merit and wisdom!
om̐ you who have purified all compounded phenomena, you the dharmatā, you have risen into the sky, you (who) are pure by nature, (you) together with the retinue of [the followers of] the great vehicle, svāhā!
- Dodrupchen Jikme Tenpe Nyima, byang chub sems dpa'i gzungs kyi rgyan rnam par bshad pa rgyal yum lus bzang mdzes byed legs bshad phrel ba
- Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thayé, rten la nang gzhug 'bul ba'i lag len lugs srol kun gsal dri bral nor bu chu shel gyi me long
- Banks Findly, Ellison. “Mántra kaviśastá: Speech as Performative in the Ṛgveda” in Understanding Mantras, edited by Alper, Harvey P.. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.
- Coward, Harold. “The Meaning and Power of Mantras in Bhartṛhari's Vākyapadīya” in Understanding Mantras, edited by Alper, Harvey P.. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.
- Davidson, Ronald M. (2009). Studies in Dhāraṇī Literature I: Revisiting the Meaning of the Term Dhāraṇī, Journal of Indian Philosophy 37, 97-147
- Hoernlé, Rudolf. Manuscript remains of Buddhist literature found in Eastern Turkestan. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1916.
- Hidas, Gergely. “Dhāraṇī Sūtras. In: J. Silk, O. von Hinüber, V. Eltschinger (Eds.) Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Vol. I. Literature and Languages. Brill, Leiden, 2015: 129-137.
- McBride, Richard, D., Dharani and Spells in Medieval China, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 28 (1), 85-114, 2005
- Padoux, André. Vac: The Concept of the Word in Selected Hindu Tantras. Translated by Jacques Gontier. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.
- Padoux, André. “Mantras – What are they?” in Understanding Mantras, edited by Alper, Harvey P.. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990..
- Gyatso Janet, 'Letter Magic: A Peircean Perspective on the Semiotics of Rdo Grub-chen's Dhāraṇī Memory' in J. Gyatso, In the Mirror of Memory: Reflections on Mindfulness and Remembrance in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, SUNY, 1992
- Yael Bentor, 'On the Indian Origins of the Tibetan Practice of Depositing Relics and Dhāraṇīs in Stūpas and Images', Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 115, No. 2, pp. 248-261
- ↑ 84000 glossary
- ↑ Nattier 1992, pg. 158
- ↑ Braarvig, Jens (1985), p.19
- ↑ Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Dhāraṇī.
- ↑ Gergely Hidas, “Dhāraṇī Sūtras,” in J. Silk, O. von Hinüber, V. Eltschinger (eds.) ‘’Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Vol. I. Literature and Languages,’’ (Brill, Leiden, 2015), 129.
- ↑ Dharani
- ↑ A Sanskrit version of the Aparimitāyurjñānadhāraṇī is partly found in the Sarvadurgatiparisodhana Tantra: http://gretil.sub.uni-goettingen.de/gretil/1_sanskr/4_rellit/buddh/sdurst_u.htm And a full, but slightly different version is found in: Hoernlé, Rudolf. Manuscript remains of Buddhist literature found in Eastern Turkestan. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1916: 300 – 301. Available on: https://archive.org/details/cu31924023185584
- Buswell, Robert E.; Lopez, Donald S. (2014), The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, Princeton University
- Braarvig, Jens (1985). Dhāraṇī and Pratibhāna: Memory and Eloquence of the Bodhisattvas, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 8 (1), 17-30
- Gergely Hidas, “Dhāraṇī Sūtras,” in J. Silk, O. von Hinüber, V. Eltschinger (eds.) ‘’Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Vol. I. Literature and Languages,’’ (Brill, Leiden, 2015), 129.
- Nattier, Jan (1992). 'The Heart Sūtra: A Chinese Apocryphal Text?', Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies Vol. 15 (2), pp. 153-223
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