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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Prajnaparamita-Hridaya Sutra Mantra.

I've been looking for a reliable representation of the Heart Sutra's mantra (om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha) in either Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Hindi, etc. I have been doing extensive research but haven't found much. I found the version written above in the Siddham script of Sanskrit (At least I think the above script is Siddham).

However, I need a verification of it's validity and accuracy because eventually I want this section of the Heart Sutra tattooed on my forearm and don't want to get the wrong thing tattooed on me. Can anyone verify the Siddham script Sanskrit version or give me a version written in any of those other Asian languages that I mentioned above? I also think I found a version written in Japanese kanji (below)--can anyone confirm it as being the Heart Sutra mantra?The other question I have is that the characters above seem like Chinese and not Japanese but I'm not an expert to say the least. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Bowing...

~Peace to all beings~

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24 comments:

TMC said...

The scripts are lovely but in my experience Teachers (at least in my tradition -- Tibetan) say that to get Dharma texts or Buddha images tattooed is to take them into disrespectful places you'd not take a text or statue (bathroom, sexual situations). It was suggested to me that to "tattoo" the text in my mind was the nobler choice.

I'm not at all trying to critize or anything like that. I just wanted to offer an alternate opinion.

californiadream.com said...

The Sanskrit version does look complete to me, though it does not have the "OM" at the beginning for that is only included in the Tibetan tradition--Tibetans base their version of the sutra on a Sanskrit text that is not the popular version in China and Japan. I don't recognize the script but it is not standard Devanagari

As to the Chinese/Japanese version: Japan borrowed its Kanji from China [Kanji means "Chinese characters"] so the two are essentially the same when it comes to Buddhist texts. though there are some variations in how some of the characters are written in China and Japan... The example you sight is only the second half of the mantra "parasamgate bodhi svaha," so you are missing the first half.

I would also second TMC's comment about using this for a tattoo... Mantras do adorn pendants and rings so that might be an alternative as you can take them off and keep them in a respectful place.

Peace

Rob P. said...

The mantra written in Devanagari with 'OM' in parenthesis is:

(ॐ) गते गते पारगते पारसंगते बोधि स्वाहा

The Devanagari is correct. I copied and pasted it from the Digital Sanskrit Buddhist Canon (http://www.uwest.edu/sanskritcanon/dp/index.php?q=node%2F35&textID=138a42d2dc0941acf). Hope this helps!

fattony said...

Tattooing the heart sutra on your skin seems like the ultimate in Egoistic futility. Do you think that will help you remember it better if you can see it on your arm everyday or do you simply want to explain its meaning to others at party's?

They call him James Ure said...

I appreciate your comments and concerns but I don't think that having the sutra tattooed upon my arm is disrespectful.

It is an outward commitment that I want to make to the values of the Heart Sutra and what is wrong with sharing those values and thoughts with others should they ask about the tattoo?

And yes, in the end it's just ink under a person's skin. We memorize these mantras and then go into places like portable toilets carrying that information in our head. So is that anymore disrespectful or different than having this mantra on my arm and using that arm to go to the bathroom?

I firmly believe that something is only offensive if we allow it to offend us. What about prayer flags that get mud and dirt and (dare I say it--bird poop) all over them from flying in the rain and elements? Does the dirt and grime take away the sacred meaning of the mantras on those flags? I would say no.

Would it be any different if the tattoo was on my upper back? Because my back is connected to my shoulders, which are connected to my arms, which are connected to my hands, which are used to use the bathroom? Everything is interconnected, right?

The point I'm trying to make is that if this tattoo helps me stay more aware of the Buddha's teachings at all times--How is that a bad thing?

Al said...

Any time you talk about getting a Buddhist tattoo, these kinds of comments come out of the woodwork. It is more about the people commenting and their mindset than about you.

I'm having the refuge vows, written in Siddham script, tattooed on my arm to remind me of my recent ordination. These same people would criticize that.

I do recall that the Tibetan lama that I originally took refuge with had tattoos all over his hands, and he's one of the heads of the Sakyas, so opinions are just that, opinions. (and, yes, his were mantras or other Tibetan script)

Okashii Budo said...

I've often toyed with the idea of "Form is no other than emptiness" in Chinese (se bu yi kong) for a tattoo. But like you, I was told that "dharma tattoos" were basically a way of showing disrespect to the sutras - a concept which I don't understand. It isn't, after all, the sutras to which we should show our respect, but the concepts which they teach and represent. At least, that's how I see it.
It feels to me like, when we begin worrying about such things as being respectful to the Chinese characters (or Sanskrit, or any other characters) that represent the concepts of the Buddha's teaching - instead of the teaching itself - we're dangerously close to over-emphasizing the religion of Buddhism over its actual purpose.
And when that happens, I worry that we've lost someting very important.

Merv said...

Yo Brother in Dharma...

The siddham script would look cool... the Chinese character's of The Mantra is incomplete...

Do what you think is right... I'm not sure if I can quote this but here goes....

In the end, we have to get rid of our attachment to the Dharma itself....

I am not at that stage where the ancient wise ones can just write the names of bodhisattvas on an undergarmet as one of the Zen Chinese masters of the past did... I'm still a bit confused here and there.. but I try my best to tame my own....

Jayarava said...

Perhaps if you had asked the artist who did the Siddhaṃ script calligraphy - me - he could have answered your questions...

I read and write Siddhaṃ reasonably proficiently these days, although mistakes do occur - in this case the calligraphy you've taken from my website is both valid and accurate. Please be aware that my art is copyrighted, and I generally charge for tattoo designs.

I can tell you that neither version of the Heart Sutra in Sanskrit has oṃ in the mantra.

As for getting a tattoo - if you think its meaningful then why not?

Please do get back to me if you have any questions about the mantra or the script, I'm happy to help.

Best Wishes
Jayarava

valleyvintner said...

Dharma Brother James,

Congratulations! As others have already posted, there are small variations in the Heart Sutra and the Kanji mantra you posted is only half complete.

I learned my slivers of Zen from Kyozan Joshu Sasaki, senior abbot of the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism and founder of (among several) the Mount Baldy Zen Center.

Your motive for tattooing the mantra on your forearms is crystal clear to me. Nor can I imagine Joshu Sasaki Roshi beating you to death with his paper fan over a devotional tattoo! But he'd swat you for not being able to show him your Original Face.

In the Sino-Japanese text we don't chant the "Om" either, only "Gya-te gya-te etc." But it still works.

They call him James Ure said...

ValleyVintner:

So minus the "Om" part the script is accurate being the Heart Sutra mantra? I'm not talking about the Kanji but the first one?

FB said...

I like the Heart sutra a lot, and one of the parts I like the most is this mantra actually. Here you can find more info and also the caligraphy on Tibetan (which I'd choose for a tattoo):

http://www.visiblemantra.org/heart.html

greetings!
Fab

Kotengu said...

It’s quite a coincidence, cause I was trying to verify the accuracy of the same text for the same purpose, make a tattoo, I was concerned at first with the answers, but in the end they don’t changed my mind, I live in Brazil and practiced zen for many years, and in zen people don’t mind the scriptures very much, however in Tibetan Buddhism this kind of concern exists (I’am actually studding under a Tibetan master), but in the end every thing is emptiness, why mind so much about a tattoo?

I liked very much the answer of the artist who did the calligraphy, I hope he don’t mind two persons using his art in their skin, but that what happens when you put stuff in the internet, any way, thank you very much for the calligraphy. Any way, I will ask the opinion of my teacher and when a do that a let you know. Much obliged for you initiative, it helped me a lot. A ask you patience with I wrote some word wrongly, my mother language is Portuguese.

I have many friends in china and Japan, (I speak Japanese also) and I will ask their help in finding the correct spelling in Chinese and Japanese for you, I know how important a tattoo con be. I already have many kanjis in my body, so personally I would rather prefer in sankrist or Tibetan.

God Luck with you tattoo, my best wishes.

Jayarava said...

@Kotengu said "I liked very much the answer of the artist who did the calligraphy, I hope he don’t mind two persons using his art in their skin, but that what happens when you put stuff in the internet, any way, thank you very much for the calligraphy."

Well you could use it against my wished but what kind of Buddhist would you be? Best to ask my permission and offer me some compensation for using my art work. If you do use it then I would expect misfortune to befall you - because karma is like that.

Jayarava said...

BTW I did an analysis of tadyathā in the Heart Sūtra in November. I show that grammatically and syntactically it is not part of the mantra.

Kotengu said...

Dear Jayarava I find very amusing your curse, you could have made it sounds more terrible! I personally don’t understand much of karma despite my years of study, any way, in respect of your wish I will not use your art work. However, I strongly suggest that you stop putting that kind of thing in internet with you not really intended to share with people. Any way, here is my teacher answer, she is been a Buddhist noun for 40 years given or taken, and a person with great spiritual accomplishment, I hope her words help the owner of this blog. I will do the Chinese and Japanese calligraphy and give to him graciously in the next couple of weeks.

"Really don't know how to answer you. as i've never had a tatoo or wish to have one. so I've never thought about what could or could not be correct to have written on my body. In thailand some people cover their whole body in prayers as a form of protection.
More important is check your intention of why you want to do this. make sure its not just another way to maintain the way you identify with who you think you are. If that is the case it would be contradictory to what is said in the heart sutra- better to really have some idea of the meaning of the Heart Sutra before tatooing it on your body then at least you can explain to others what is written there so you can make it not only of benefit to yourself but others too.
love Az"

Jayarava said...

@Kotengu I very specifically did not curse you!! I pointed out that taking something from me against my wishes is said, by the Buddha, to result in misfortune. Karma. Not a curse. Just pointing out that actions have consequences. If you mistreat my generosity, then that can't be good for you.

I make it clear that my work is copyright which means everyone can enjoy it, but before re-using it in any medium everyone should seek my permission. It is the same as downloading music. I prefer to trust people and that usually pays off.

Your teacher sounds wise - I have said much the same thing about tattoos for some time. You should be able to read and explain it. I seldom agree to do tattoos for anyone. Did you ask her about your attitude to using my calligraphy without permission? I'd be interested in what she thought about that.

Kotengu said...

Yes, dear Jayarava, I told her all the story (by the way it’s a quite interesting one), you are right about your clame of ownership, that’s the very reason I shall not use your calligraphy any more. However, let’s not let this conversation and the “winning or losing” argument let us make more strong the ties we use to “identify with who you think you are” to borrow these wise words, for you need the illusion of ego in order to winning or losing. I’m grateful that you had shared your wisdom with such an ignorant person like me, even if sounds like a curse, thank you for your generosity. Congratulations for your artwork, I hope you can improve even more in your craft and in the path of enlightment.

I already asked my teacher of Japanese, who is actually in Japan for his doctor degree in history, for the calligraphy in Japanese, and asked a older kung fu brother of mine who lives in china for the calligraphy in Chinese (he is actually a Chinese person), I personally guarantee the accuracy of both and when they send to me I will send to the blog, and ask the owner to share it for free with any one interested. My best wishes for you dear Jayarava and for the owner of the blog, very soon you will get your tattoo.

Kotengu said...

Yes, dear Jayarava, I told her all the story (by the way it’s a quite interesting one), you are right about your clame of ownership, that’s the very reason I shall not use your calligraphy any more. However, let’s not let this conversation and the “winning or losing” argument let us make more strong the ties we use to “identify with who you think you are” to borrow these wise words, for you need the illusion of ego in order to winning or losing. I’m grateful that you had shared your wisdom with such an ignorant person like me, even if sounds like a curse, thank you for your generosity. Congratulations for your artwork, I hope you can improve even more in your craft and in the path of enlightment.

I already asked my teacher of Japanese, who is actually in Japan for his doctor degree in history, for the calligraphy in Japanese, and asked a older kung fu brother of mine who lives in china for the calligraphy in Chinese (he is actually a Chinese person), I personally guarantee the accuracy of both and when they send to me I will send to the blog, and ask the owner to share it for free with any one interested. My best wishes for you dear Jayarava and for the owner of the blog, very soon you will get your tattoo.

Kotengu said...

Hello, sorry for the delay, I was training outside of my home town. My older brother (sirin) Kao gave me the mantra in Chinese (it’s one hundred percent accurate), I believe in Japanese the kanjis are the same, the only change is the way you pronounce, however I still have to confirm that. Any way here it is, I’m still trying to get the calligraphy in Bonji, I didn’t had any answer yet from my contacts in Japan, but I hope soon enough I shall get an answer. One more time, I apologize for my English.



It’s an image, so I hope I can post it, otherwise, please give-me your email address so I can send it via email.

They call him James Ure said...

Kotengu:

Here's my email: jaymur@gmail.com

SR said...

Japanese Kanji is highly like the Chinese script and almost wholly borrowed from there, so if Kanji seems Chinese,no sweat.The other script sample is definitely Siddham. Asfar as the tattoo goes it would be respectful if you do not have it tattooed but in the end the decision must be yours. It would be a disrespect to the sutra if it is on dislay as a tattoo because such things are not meant for it. they must come to only those who actively seek them SRG

Al said...

Respectful or not according to whom, SR?

I have siddham (refuge vows) tattooed on my arm to remind me of the vows.

Al said...

The Sakya lama that I originally took refuge with had Tibetan tattoos on the knuckles of his hands (and they were probably 50 years old).

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