Paritta [alt. parittā] (Skt. paritrāna; BHS parītta; T. yongs su skyob ba; C. minghu/minghu jing 明護/明護經) is a Pali term that is generally translated as "protection" or "safeguard." Paritta refers to the practice of reciting certain passages from a text in order to ward off misfortune or danger, as well as to the passages themselves.
In the Pali literature, the Buddha states that reciting or listening to these passages can provide protection from certain afflictions, such as physical illness, dangerous animals, or harmful spirits. The belief in the effective power to heal, or protect, of the saccakiriya, or asseveration of something quite true is an aspect of the work ascribed to the paritta.
It is widely believed that all night recitations of paritta by monks bring safety, peace and well-being to a community. Such recitations will also occur on auspicious occasions, such as the inauguration of a new temple or home or to provide blessings upon those who hear. Conversely, paritta discourses are recited on inauspicious occasions as well, such as at a funeral or on the death anniversary of a loved one. They may also be recited to placate antagonistic spirits.
Piyadassi Thera states:
- The practice of reciting or listening to the paritta suttas began very early in the history of Buddhism. The word paritta, in this context, was used by the Buddha, for the first time, in a discourse known as Khandha Paritta in the Culla Vagga of the Vinaya Pitaka (vol. ii, p. 109), and also in the Anguttara Nikaya under the title "Ahi (metta) Sutta" (vol. ii, p. 82). This discourse was recommended by the Buddha as guard or protection for the use of the members of the Order. The Buddha in this discourse exhorts the monks to cultivate metta or loving-kindness towards all beings.
There are several paritta verses that are identified as such within the Pali Canon.
Most paritta involve offering praise to the Buddha or, more broadly, the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha). Of these paritta, one of the best known is the Ratana Sutta (Sn 2.1) where, for instance, it states in part:
- Whatever treasure there be either here or in the world beyond, whatever precious jewel there be in the heavenly worlds, there is nought comparable to the Tathagata (the Perfect One). This precious jewel is the Buddha. By this (asseveration of the) truth may there be happiness.
A few paritta involve the asking directly for the aid of the Buddha. Examples of this type of paritta verse can be seen in the Candima Sutta (SN 2.9) and Suriya Sutta (SN 2.10) of the Samyutta Nikaya. In these two scriptures, the deities Canda and Surya protect themselves from the attack of the eclipse deity Rahu by reciting short verses praising the Buddha and pleading for his protection:
- "O Buddha, the Hero, thou art wholly free from all evil. My adoration to thee. I have fallen into distress. Be thou my refuge."
In these cases, the Buddha is shown as specifically hearing and responding to the paritta; he enjoins Rahu to release the captive deities rather than have his "head split into seven pieces".
Another type of paritta relies on the virtue of the individual who is ascribed as reciting the paritta in the Canon, rather than making reference to the virtues of the Buddha. This type of paritta can be seen in the Angulimala Sutta, the story of the murderer-turned-monk Angulimala. On passing a pregnant woman experiencing a difficult labor, Angulimala is moved to provide assistance. Asking the Buddha how he can help, the Buddha tells him to provide a sort of blessing to the woman by reciting a short verse proclaiming his own virtue:
Sister, since I was born in the noble birth, I do not recall intentionally killing a living being. Through this truth may there be wellbeing for you, wellbeing for your fetus.
This verse is now used as a blessing for expectant mothers in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.
Forms of recitation
The Buddha and the arahants (the Consummate Ones) can concentrate on the paritta suttas without the aid of another. However, when they are ill, it is easier for them to listen to what others recite, and thus focus their minds on the dhamma that the suttas contain, rather than think of the dhamma by themselves. There are occasions, as in the case of illness, which weaken the mind (in the case of worldlings), when hetero-suggestion has been found to be more effective than autosuggestion. In the Gilana Sutta, even the Buddha Himself had the Seven Factors of Enlightenment recited to him by another monk to recover from a grave illness.
While paritta texts generally are recited aloud, other mediums are known as well. In Thailand, paritta texts are printed on small pieces of cloth containing images of the Buddha or famous monks.
The Book of Protection
Collections of paritta verses are among the most widely known Pali texts in many Theravada countries. One of the most popular collections is the Sinhala Pirit Potha ("The Book of Protection"), also known as Maha Pirit Potha or the Catubhanavarapali ("Text of the Four Recitals").
The book contains a collection of twenty-four or twenty-nine discourses (suttas)[note 1] almost all delivered by the Buddha, and found scattered in the Sutta Pitaka of the Pali Canon. The following table lists the texts in this collection and their related canonical sources.[note 2]
|1.||Sarana-gama ("Going for Refuge")||Khp 1|
|2.||Dasa-sikkhapada ("Ten Training Precepts")||Khp 2|
|3.||Samanera-pañha ("Novice Questions")||Khp 4|
|4.||Dvattimsakara ("32 Body Parts")||Khp 3|
|5.||Paccavekkhana ("Reflections on Monastic Requisites")||MN 2 (excerpt), passim|
|6.||Dasa-dhamma Sutta ("Ten Dhamma Discourse")||AN 10.48|
|7.||Mahamangala Sutta ("Great Blessings Discourse")||Khp 5, Sn 2.4|
|8.||Ratana Sutta ("Three Treasures Discourse")||Khp 6, Sn 2.1|
|9.||Karaniya Metta Sutta ("Lovingkindness Discourse")||Khp 9, Sn 1.8|
|10.||Khandha-paritta ("Aggregates Protection")||AN 4.67|
|11.||Metta-anisamsa ("Lovingkindness Advantages Discourse")||AN 11.16|
|12.||Mitta-anisamsa ("Friendship Advantages Discourse")||Ja 538|
|13.||Mora-paritta ("The Peacock's Protection")||Ja 159|
|14.||Canda-paritta ("The Moon's Protection")||SN 2.9|
|15.||Suriya-paritta ("The Sun's Protection")||SN 2.10|
|16.||Dhajagga-paritta ("Banner Protection")||SN 11.3|
|17.||Mahakassapa Thera Bojjhanga ("Elder Maha Kassapa's Factors of Awakening")||SN 46.14 (Gilana Sutta I)|
|18.||Mahamoggallana Thera Bojjhanga ("Elder Maha Moggalana's Factors of Awakening")||SN 46.15 (Gilana Sutta II)|
|19.||Mahacunda Thera Bojjhanga ("Elder Maha Cunda's Factors of Awakening")||SN 46.16 (Gilana Sutta III)|
|20.||Girimananda Sutta ("To Girimananda Discourse")||AN 10.60|
|21.||Isigili Sutta ("About Isigili Discourse")||MN 116|
|22.||Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta ("Setting in Motion the Dhamma Wheel Discourse")||SN 46.11|
|23.||Maha-samaya Sutta ("The Great Assembly Discourse")||DN 20|
|24.||Alavaka Sutta ("Concerning Alavaka Discourse")||SN 46.11|
|25.||Kasi Bharadvaja Sutta ("Farmer Bharadvaja Discourse")||Sn 1.4|
|26.||Parabhava Sutta ("On Ruin Discourse")||Sn 1.6|
|27.||Vasala Sutta ("On Outcasts Discourse")||Sn 1.7|
|28.||Sacca-vibhanga Sutta ("Analysis of the Truth Discourse")||MN 141|
|29.||Atanatiya Sutta ("Atanatiya Discourse")||DN 32|
Paritta is generally translated as "protection" or "safeguard."
- Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 426, entry for "Paritta2" provides the following translations: "protection, safeguard; (protective) charm, palliative, amulet."
- Piyadassi (1999a) translates paritta as "protection"
- Anandajoti (2004) translates paritta as "safeguard."
- ↑ Of the twenty-nine paritta texts listed below, Piyadassi (1999a) does not include the first five texts as part of the twenty-four discourses that he includes in the collection, although he identifies the first five texts as preliminary material. Anandajoti (2004) enumerates all twenty-nine texts as part of the paritta collection.
- ↑ Table based on Anandajoti (2004), pp. ix-xi.
- ↑ C.A.F. Rhys Davids, Dialogues of the Buddha, part 3, p. 186.
- ↑ Anandajoti (2004), p. v.
- ↑ The use of paritta to ward off menacing spirits can be found, for instance, in the Pali commentaries to both the Ratana Sutta and the Karaniya Metta Sutta.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Piyadassi (1999a).
- ↑ Piyadassi (1999d).
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Piyadassi (1999b).
- ↑ Piyadassi (1999e).
- ↑ Thanissaro (2003). Archived February 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- ↑ Piyadassi (1999a), "Preface."
- ↑ Piyadassi (1999c).
- Anandajoti Bhikkhu (edition, trans.) (2004). Safeguard Recitals. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society. ISBN 955-24-0255-7.
- Piyadassi Thera (trans. only) (1999a). The Book of Protection: Paritta. Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society. Retrieved 08-14-2008 from "Access to Insight".
- Piyadassi Thera (trans.) (1999b). Candima Sutta: The Moon Deity's Prayer for Protection (SN 2.9). Retrieved 08-14-2008 from "Access to Insight".
- Piyadassi Thera (trans.) (1999c). Gilana Sutta: Ill (Factors of Enlightenment) (SN 46.16). Retrieved 08-14-2008 from "Access to Insight".
- Piyadassi Thera (trans.) (1999d). Ratana Sutta: The Jewel Discourse (Sn 2.1). Retrieved 08-15-2008 from "Access to Insight".
- Piyadassi Thera (trans.) (1999e). Suriya Sutta: The Sun Deity's Prayer for Protection (SN 2.10). Retrieved 08-14-2008 from "Access to Insight".
- Rhys Davids, C.A.F., Dialogues of the Buddha, part 3.
- Rhys Davids, T.W. & William Stede (eds.) (1921-5). The Pali Text Society’s Pali–English Dictionary. Chipstead: Pali Text Society. A general on-line search engine for the PED is available at http://dsal.uchicago.edu/dictionaries/pali/.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (2003). Angulimala Sutta: About Angulimala (MN 86). Retrieved 08-14-2008 from "Access to Insight".
- Anandajoti Bhikkhu (edition and trans.) (2004). Safeguard Recitals (300+ pages)
- Anandajoti Bhikkhu (edition and trans.) (2006). Blessing Chants (22 pages)
- Anandajoti Bhikkhu (edition and trans.) (2006). Daily Chanting, a weekly sequence of paritta chants (80 pages)
- Paritta Chanting audio files Examples of Paritta in the Burmese style.
- Chandrabodhi chants the Ratana Sutta and other suttas in an 'Indian style' at freebuddhistaudio
|This article includes content from Paritta on Wikipedia (view authors). License under CC BY-SA 3.0.|