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The Shurangama Mantra is a dharani or long mantra of East Asian Mahayana and Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist origin that is popular in China, Japan, and Korea, although relatively unknown in modern Tibet, even though there are several Shurangama Mantra texts Sadhana, Shastra in the Tibetan Buddhist canon.
The Mantra was, according to the opening chapter of the Shurangama Sutra, historically transmitted by the Buddha Shakyamuni to Manjushri Bodhisattva to protect Bhikshu Ananda before he had become an Arhat. It was again spoken in the Shurangama Sutra, Volume 6) by Shakyamuni before an assembly of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arhats, devas and others of the Eightfold Division of Dharmapalas.
Like the popular six-syllable mantra Om mani padme hum, and the Great Compassion Mantra (Nīlakantha dhāranī) it is a popular mantra synonymous the practice of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. The Shurangama Mantra also extensively references Buddhist deities (ishtadevata) such as Bodhisattvas Manjushri, Mahakala, Sitatapatra Vajrapani and the Five Dhyana Buddhas especially Medicine Buddha (Akshobhya or Vajradhara) in East Asia. It is often used for protection or purification for meditators and is considered to be part of Tantric Buddhism or Vajrayana or Shingon Buddhism in Japan.
Possible spellings and their romanizations include:
Also called the:
Sitâtapatra-mahā-pratyaṅgirā dhāranī 佛頂大白傘蓋陀羅尼經
[mc] Buljeong daebaeksangae darani gyeong
[mr] Pulchŏng tae paeksangae tarani kyŏng
[mc] Dae buljeong yeorae banggwang sildaldabaldal darani
[mr] Taepulchŏng yŏrae panggwang sildaldabaltal tarani
[qn] Đại phật đỉnh như lai phóng quang tất đát đa bát đát đà la ni
Sources: Ron Epstein, Buddhism A to Z, Buddhist Text Translation Society, 2003: pp. 191 – 192; Buddhist Chinese-Sanskrit Dictionary (Hirakawa), p. 0118, Fo Guang Dictionary, p. 2724. Original Canonical Sources of the Shurangama Mantra
The Da foding rulai fangguang Xidaduobodaluo tuoluoni; Skt. Sarvatathāgataoṣṇīṣaśitātapatrā-nāmāparājitā-mahāpratyangirā-mahāvidyārājñī-nāma-dhāraṇī; Tibetan ('phags pa) De bshin gshegs pa'i gtsug tor nas byung ba'i gdugs dkar po can gshan gyi mi thub pa phir bzlog pa chen mo mchog tu grub pa shes bya ba'i gzungs; A dhāraṇī for avoiding disasters, evil spirits, etc.
There are five Chinese translations:
1 fasc. Taisho T 944b.19.102-105) Great Dhāraṇi of the Great Buddha-Corona 大佛頂大陀羅尼, tr. unknown.
1 fasc. (T 976.19.401-404) Dhāraṇī of the Great White Parasol Buddha-Corona 佛頂大白傘蓋陀羅尼經, translated from a separate Tibetan version [To.590/985, P.202/610] ['phags pa] De bshin gshegs pa thams cad kyi gtsug tor nas byung ba gdugs dkar po can shes bya ba gshan gyis mi thub ma phyir zlog pa'i rig sngags kyi rgyal mo chen mo) by Zhwa lu pa 沙羅巴.
Within the Shurangama Sutra's contents, the Siddham Sanskrit incantation (variously referred to as dharani or mantra) contained therein, known in Chinese as the "Lengyan Zhou" (楞嚴咒, "Shurangama Mantra"), is well-known and popularly chanted in East Asian Buddhism.
In Sanskrit, the dharani is known as the "Sitātapatroṣṇīṣa-dhāraṇī" (Chinese: 大白傘蓋陀羅尼; see nos. 944a/b, 976 and 977 in the Taisho Tripitaka). This is sometimes simplified in English to "White Canopy" "White Parasol" Dharani or more commonly in the Vajrayana tradition the Tibetan "Dug kar" is rendered into English as White Umbrella Deity Mantra. The dharani is not only extant in the Chinese text, but also in Sanskrit and Tibetan versions as well. Introduction to the Shurangama Mantra
"If there are people who cannot put an end to their habits from the past, you should teach them to single-mindedly recite my ‘light atop the Buddha’s summit’ (Ushnisha) unsurpassed spiritual mantra, syi dan dwo bwo da la (the Central Asian rendering of the Sanskrit Sitatapatra)
The devotional Bhakti section.
The Manjushri section (section 5) containing a large section on Ayurvedic Medicine Sanskrit medical terms for diseases and the seed syllable bija mantra secret words to prevent or diminish the effects of these ailments.
The History of the Shurangama Mantra Transmission and Translations
The currently popular version of the Shurangama Sutra and Mantra were translated and transliterated from Sanskrit to Chinese Hanzi during the Tang Dynasty by Bhikshiu Paramiti from Central India and reviewed by Shramana Meghashikara from Udyana, after Empress Wu Tsai Tian retired, in the first year of the Shen Lung Dynasty Reign period.
The Actual Siddham Words Shurangama Mantra
The Shurangama Mantra is available in two versions, Siddham Romanized Sanskrit and Devanagari Romanized Sanskrit. The classical outline for the Shurangama Sutra was compiled by Dharma Master Yuan Ying (Shurangama Sutra, Volume I, page xii) and categorizes the various parts of the Sutra text consisting of over 2,700 paragraphs to 1,676 entries.
“Ananda, this cluster of light atop the crown of the Buddha’s head, the secret gatha, Syi Dan Dwo Bwo Da La, with its subtle, wonderful divisions and phrases, gives birth to all the Buddhas of the ten directions. Because the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions use this mantra-heart, they realize unsurpassed, proper, and all-pervading knowledge and enlightenment.
“Ananda, this cluster of light atop the crown of the Buddha’s head, the Secret Gatha, Syi Dan Dwo Bwo Da La, is again, the Great White Canopy, which can cover over the entire system of three thousand great thousand worlds to protect all the living beings in it. “Gatha” is a Sanskrit term which means “repetitive verses.” The Mantra is secret, and since some of its lines are repeated, it is referred to as the “secret gatha.” These “divisions and phrases” which comprise the Mantra are extremely rare and miraculous.
"Ananda, let any living being of any country in the world copy out this mantra in writing on materials native to his region, such as birch bark, pattra, plain paper, or white cotton cloth, and store it in a pouch containing incense. If that person wears the pouch on his body, or if he keeps a copy in his home, then you should know that even if he understands so little that he cannot recite it from memory, he will not be harmed by any poison during his entire life."
Shurangama Sutra, Volume 6, 2002, pp. 89–91; pp. 91–103 (text); 113; TT 124-126; Shurangama Mantra Commentary, Volume I (intro), San Francisco, California: Dharma Realm Buddhist University, 1981, pp. 32–33, pp. 97–101, (ISBN 0-917512-69-3); Shurangama Mantra Commentary, Volume III: p. 34;
Story of transmission
According to Master Hsuan Hua, Arya Nalanda Monastery Abbot Bhikshu Nagarjuna Bodhisattva brings it in his Samadhi from the Nāga Dragon Realm. Then the Indian translator Bhikshiu Paramiti from India secretly brings the Sutra to China. Structure and comparison with other works
Based on Sanskrit comparative research by Nalanda Tradition (source: http://www.Shurangama.com) Shramanera Losang Jinpa from the Alex Wayman 1977 Delhi Motilal Banarsidass Publishers book "Yoga of the Guhyasamaja Tantra - The Arcane Lore of Forty Verses" (ISBN 81-208-0872-X), the Shurangama Mantra contains all of the major 32 Tantric deities of the Nagarjuna introduced practice of the Guhyasamaja Highest Yoga Tantra Sadhana contained in the Geluk tradition of Tibetan Vajrayana Tantric Buddhism Buddhism. Thus, in many ways one could say the Shurangama Mantra is Highest Yoga Tantra Vajrayana Buddhism buried within the Chinese Chan and Pure Land traditions including references to many Iṣṭha-devatās Avalokiteshvara as Mahakala, Ganapati, Vajrayogini and Heruka Chakrasamvara in the form of Umapati and Rudra. Because of its vastness of deities including Brahma, Indra, Rudraya and his consort Uma, Narayana, Varuna, and Ganesh as Ganapati the Shurangama Mantra acts as a Buddhist bridge to devotional Hinduism.