Mahapratisara-Mahavidyarajni: The Great Amulet, Great Queen of Spells

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Item Code: NAC879
Author: Gergely Hidas
Publisher: Aditya Prakashan
Language: (With Transliterated Text and Translation)
Edition: 2012
ISBN: 9788177421149
Pages: 293
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.4 Inch X 8.8 Inch
Weight 1.19 kg
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Book Description
About the Book

The present book contains the first Indian edition of 17 (out of 34) legends from the “Garland of Birth-Stories” (Jatakamala) by the Kashmirian poet Haribhatta who lived not later than 400 CE. His composition, written in the prosimetric campu style, is a worthy successor to Aryasura’s Jatakamala. An exemplary representative of the chaste style (vaidarbhi ritih), it enchants the reader by its perfectly lucid Sanskrit, the great variety of metres (29) and superb prose sections, which can be regarded as forerunners of Dandin’s and Bana’s prose novels. The legends, which are meant to illustrate the six moral perfections (paramita), viz. giving, morality, forbearance, striving, meditation and wisdom, are chosen not only from the rich store-house of Buddhist narrative literature, hut occasionally also from other sources, e.g., the Mahabharata or even folk tales. In contrast to his predecessor Aryasura, Haribhatta follows the way of playwrights and boldly alters the original plot in order to achieve more dramatic effects. His stories vary considerably in length: between 6 pages (containing 28 stanzas) such as the legend of the ascetic Jajvalin (No. 26) and 60 pages (containing 242 stanzas) such as the legend of prince Sudhana and his wife, the kinnari Manohara (No. 25; still unpublished), the latter story being in fact a veritable love romance.

Until 1973, Haribhatta’s work was known only from its medieval Tibetan translation. Between 1973 and 1976, Michael Hahn discovered ten of its legends in anonymous manuscripts from Nepal. They were published (in Latin script) in Japan in 2007. In 2004, Michael Hahn got access to another fragmentary Sanskrit manuscript that permitted him to include seven more legends in the present Indian edition. An English translation is currently being prepared. A CD containing colour photographs of the oldest manuscript of Haribhatta’s Jatakamala from Nepal is attached to book.

From the Jacket

This volume provides the first critical edition and complete Western translation of an influential apotropaic scripture of Mahayana - Vajrayana Buddhism. The Great Amulet, Great Queen of Spells (Mahapratisara-Mahavidjarajni ). This piece of the dharani-literature from around the middle of the first millennium became a member of the popular Pancaraksa collection and has remained in use in Nepal up to the present time.

After an introduction, editions of the five Gilgit fragments (ca. 7th c.) and fifteen selected Eastern Indian and Nepalese manuscripts (11th-19th c.) are given, followed by an annotated translation.

The present study offers a detailed treatment of a scripture rather neglected by scholarship and attempts to throw light on the characteristics and use of this talismanic text of the Kriya-tantra in South Asian Buddhism and beyond.


This work, prepared in various stages over the past twelve years with shorter and longer breaks, has grown out of a Master’s thesis written at Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, in 2000 and a DPhil thesis submitted to the University of Oxford in 2008. During this long period of time the author received help from numerous scholars.

Firstly and foremostly, I am indebted to Professor Alexis Sanderson for his supervision and guidance and for generously sharing his vast knowledge and scarce time during my doctoral studies and beyond. Without his help, support and inspiration it would not have been possible to prepare this volume.

For the original idea to deal with this subject and for his help and encouragement I am obliged to Professor Lokesh Chandra. I am also grateful to him for his kind assistance with publication.

I thank the late Professor Csaba Tottossy for first teaching me Sanskrit, Dr. Ferenc Ruzsa for his supervision of my Master’s thesis, Dr. Somadeva Vasudeva for his valuable help and suggestions during my doctoral research and Professor Harunaga Isaacson and Gerd Mevissen for their support over the years. Many thanks are also due to Peter-Daniel Szanto who provided advice on several details and primarily assisted with comparing the text with the Tibetan translation.

I thank Professor Richard Gombrich and Dr. James Benson as well as Dr. Somadeva Vasudeva and Dr. Ulrike Roesler for their comments at two different research examinations. I owe a lot to Professor Harunaga Isaacson and Professor Francesco Sferra for their remarks at my viva along with useful suggestions for improvement.

Special thanks are due to Geza Bethlenfalvy for his support and assistance and Dr. Csaba Kiss for his pieces of advice and for giving this volume an elegant layout.

I am also grateful to those scholars who helped me in various ways: Dr. Bela Kelenyi, Dr. Judit Torzsok, Dr. Ryugen Tanemura, Raif Kramer, Lance Cousins, Dr. Jundo Nagashima, Professor Cristina Scherrer-Schaub, Dr. Nilima Chitgopekar, Dr Dragomir Dimitrov, Dr. Karma Phuntso, Dr. Michael Willis, Gergely Orosz, Dr. Alice Sarkozi, Eva Kalmar, Professor Jens-Uwe Hartmann, Dr. Tibor Porcio, Eva Allinger, Dr. Csaba Dezso, Dr. Kenichi Kuranishi, Thomas Cruijsen, Dr. Shanker Thapa, Mm Bahadur Shakya, Ratnaraj Vajracharya, Dr. Jowita Kramer, Dr. Kengo Harimoto, Professor Peter Skilling, Rod Orlina, Dr. Paul Copp and Professor Arlo Griffiths. I thank Dr Alexander Wynne for a final check on my English.

For providing access to manuscripts I thank the staff of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, the Cambridge University Library the British Library, London, Sam Fogg Rare Books and Manuscripts, London, the Ferenc Hopp Museum of Eastern Asiatic Arts, Budapest, the National Museum, New Delhi, the Asiatic Society, Kolkata, the National Archives and the Nepal Research Center, Kathmandu and the Nepal-German Manuscript Preservation Project and the Nepalese German Manuscript Cataloguing Project, Hamburg/Kathmandu. I also thank the staff of the Indian Institute Library, Oxford, for their help.

I am greatly indebted to the Clarendon Fund, the Boden Fund and the Max Muller Fund in Oxford, the Tagore Research Fellowship in Budapest and the European Social Fund, since without their financial support this volume could not have been completed.


1Previous Research5
2 Sources 7
2.1 Sanskrit 7
2.2 Chinese 9
2.3 Tibetan 9
2.4 Uigurian 10
2.5 Mongolian 10
2.6 Citations and Commentaries 10
2.7 Auxiliary Texts 11
3 Structure 13
4 Contents 17
5 Contexts 21
6 Practice 25
6.1 The First Dharani 25
6.2 The Second Dharani 28
6.3 The Mantras 29
6.4 Further Types of Use 30
6.5 Users 31
7A Critical Edition of the Gilgit Fragments37
7.1The Five Manuscripts37
7.2Manuscript Affinities42
7.3Editorial Policy42
7.4Orthography, Language and Grammar43
7.4.1Normalised Orthographical Peculiarities43
7.4.2Preserved Orthographical Peculiarities44
7.4.3Common Grammatical Peculiarities44
7.5The Apparatus46
8The Text Preserved in the Gilgit Fragments47
9 A Critical Edition of Selected Eastern Indian and Nepalese Mss75
9.1Manuscript Selection75
9.2The Fifteen Manuscripts76
9.3Manuscript Affinities88
9.5Editorial Policy90
9.6Orthography, Language and Grammar92
9.6.1Normalised Orthographical Peculiarities92
9.6.2Preserved Orthographical Peculiarities93
9.6.3Preserved Morphological Peculiarities93
9.6.4Common Grammatical Peculiarities93
9.7The Apparatus97
10The Textual Traditions Preserved in the Selected Eastern Indian and Nepalese Manuscripts99
11 An Annotated Translation195
Abbreviations and Symbols253
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