BRILLIANT LIGHT-RAYS GODDESS, MĀRĪCĪ WHO OBLITERATES ALL DARKNESS: GYALWANG 17TH KARMAPA’S CHINESE-TIBETAN TRANSLATION OF THE ‘DHARANI OF MĀRĪCĪ

“There is a goddess named Mārīcī who goes ahead of the sun.
Because she has the means of mastery over miracles, she always goes ahead of the sun.
The sun cannot see her, but she can see the sun.
No one can see her. No one can know her.
No one can catch her. No one can harm her.
No one can delude her. No one can bind her.
No one can leave a debt to her unpaid. No one can punish her.
She also has no fear of falling under an enemy’s power.”
–Excerpt from ‘Dhāraṇī of Mārīcī ‘ (based on the Tibetan rendition by 17th Karmapa)

As an offering for the New Moon and Lunar New Year today in China and other Asian countries, here is a re-post about the 17th Karmapa’s translation of a Kangyur text from Chinese into Tibetan: the Dhāraṇī of Mārīcī (‘phags ma ‘od zer can zhes bya ba’i gzungs).

Mārīcī is known as Molizhitian (摩利支天) or Molizhitian Pusa (摩利支天菩萨) in China, Marishi-ten (摩利支天) in Japan, and Özer Chenma (‘od zer can ma) in Tibet. In Chinese Buddhism, she is among the lists one of the guardian devas, specifically the Sixteen Devas (十六諸天; Shíliù Zhūtiān), the Twenty Devas ( 二十諸天; Èrshí Zhūtiān) and the Twenty-Four Devas ( 二十四諸天; Èrshísì Zhūtiān). In Taoism and Chinese folk religion, Doumu (斗母元君; Dǒumǔ Yuánjūn) is considered to be synonymous with Mārīcī within Chinese Esoteric Buddhism.

17TH KARMAPA LOTSAWA

Other Karmapas have translated texts from Sanskrit and Chinese into Tibetan, but as far as am aware, no other Karmapas have translated a Kangyur text from Chinese into Tibetan. In any case, it is the first known Tibetan translation of this particular Kangyur text from a Chinese edition (although it does not state the source of the Chinese original edition). Another published English translation of the text is based on a Sanskrit edition. This new translation continues the centuries-old connection between the Karmapas and the Chinese (as I wrote about before here: https://dakinitranslations.com/…/the-chinese-and-the…/). The 17th Karmapa has also recently translated from Chinese into Tibetan, the ‘Sutra of the Dharani that Thoroughly Liberates from Suffering’.Recently, the Karmapa also stated that he had translated texts about the famous debate on ‘gradualism’ vs ‘instantaneous’ awakening from Chinese into Tibetan. Most of the Tibetan Buddhist lineages have examples of Tibetan masters who translated texts from Sanskrit into Tibetan, the most well-known Kagyu one being Marpa. Not so many have translated from Chinese into Tibetan though.

The colophon of 17th Karmapa’s Tibetan translation reads:

“This was translated from a Chinese translation by the spiritual master, Amoghavajra, a great scholar from Ceylon to the south of India who spread the teachings of secret mantra in China and was a holder of the tripitaka of Daxingshan Monastery. It was translated into Tibetan by the holder of the midnight-blue crown born in a degenerate age inside the ranges of snow mountains in the north, Ogyen Trinley Wangi Dorje, Iron Rat Year, January 13, 2021.” 

AMOGHAVAJRA/Bùkōng – PROLIFIC SANSKRIT-CHINESE TRANSLATOR

The Chinese edition of the text used by the 17th Karmapa was translated from Sanskrit to Chinese by Amoghavajra (अमोघवज्र Amoghavajra; 不空; Bùkōng; 705–774) – see picture above. He was a prolific Indian translator who became one of the most politically powerful Buddhist monks in Chinese history and is acknowledged as one of the Eight Patriarchs of the Doctrine in Shingon Buddhism. Said to be born in Samarkand of an Indian merchant or a brahmin father and a mother of Sogdian origin, he went to China at age 10 after his father’s death. In 719, he was ordained into the sangha by Vajrabodhi and became his disciple. After all foreign monks were expelled from China in 741, he and some associates went on a pilgrimage to gather texts, visiting Sri Lanka, Indochina and India. During this voyage, he apparently met Nagabodhi, Vajrabodhi’s master, and studied the Tattvasaṃgraha Tantra at length. He returned to China in 746 with some five hundred volumes. Seventy-seven texts were translated by Amoghavajra according to his own account, though many more, including original compositions, are ascribed to him in the Chinese canons.

For the full post about the 17th Karmapa’s translation and the text itself, see here: Brilliant Light Goddess: Karmapa’s Tibetan Translation of the Dhāraṇī of Mārīcī (Ozer Chenma): Aspirations to End Adversity (Part I)

ICONOGRAPHY OF MĀRĪCĪ

Mārīcī (Sanskrit: मारीची, lit. “Great Ray of Light”), is a deva, as well as a bodhisattva associated with light and the Sun. She is among the lists one of the guardian devas, specifically the Sixteen Devas (十六諸天), the Twenty Devas (二十諸天) and the Twenty-Four Devas (二十四諸天). In Taoism and Chinese folk religion, Doumu (Chinese: 斗母元君; pinyin: Dǒumǔ Yuánjūn) is considered to be synonymous with Mārīcī within Chinese Esoteric Buddhism.According to Himalayan Art Resources:

“…she is depicted in many different forms. Sometimes she rides a white horse through the sky, banishing the darkness and driving back the night with the orb of the sun in the outstretched right hand, more commonly she is yellow or red in colour, with one, three or more faces and six to twelve arms, seated on a chariot drawn by seven pigs, or horses, removing all obstacles to happiness and well-being. Her mood can be either peaceful or wrathful. The metaphor for spiritual practice and meditation is light, light overcoming darkness.” (see video by HAR here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClKiuCH13ok)

Painting of Mārīcī by 10th Karmapa, Choying Dorje

Interestingly, one of the last images (or statues depending on what source you read) created by the 10th Karmapa, Choying Dorje, was that of Mārīcī. The 10th Karmapa created it after he was ordered by the 5th Dalai Lama to go to Drag [it is not clear why he was ordered such], before he fell ill and passed away there:

“Toward the end of 1673, without having yet visited Tsurpu, the Karmapa was told by the Fifth Dalai Lama to go to Drak (sgrags), a somewhat inaccessible region south of Lhasa, on the north bank of the Yarlung Tsangpo River. The Karmapa followed the order. There, at Nagdrak Monastery (sngags grwa dgon pa), he produced one of his last works of art, a drawing of the Caṇḍa Vajrapāṇi for Norbu Zangpo and a white-sandalwood statue of Mārīcī riding a pig for Norbu Zangpo’s mother. Around the lunar New Year of 1674, not only was the Karmapa granted permission to return to Tsurpu, but the Dalai Lama gave him back the share of property from which he derived his sustenance, the main and subsidiary estates of Tsurpu. He never returned to Tsurpu, however, as he fell ill at Drak and passed away.” (see ‘Treasury of Lives’ biography: https://treasuryoflives.org/…/Tenth-Karmapa…/2662).

DEDICATION AND MUSIC

May this post about the new Chinese-Tibetan translation by HH 17th Gyalwang Karmapa be of benefit to the teachings, to beings and to attaining the fully awakened state of Brilliant Light Mārīcī, Ozer Chenma! May this New Year bring peace, happiness, prosperity and health to all in China, Asia and the planet!

Music? ‘Three mantras in the Sutra of the Dharani’ of Mārīcī chanted in Sanksrit by 17th Karmapa (https://youtu.be/cFaI0ggEXZ8) . ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ by Ella Fitzgerald (https://youtu.be/tC5hXBt5RIs). ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by The Beatles (https://youtu.be/mc1ta1UMGeo) or ‘Walking on Sunshine’ by Katrina and the Waves (https://youtu.be/qK5KhQG06xU). 

Written and compiled  by Adele Tomlin for the new moon and Lunar Year, 1st February 2021

 

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