New Publication: The Ratnaketu Dhāraṇī


Toh 138

The Ratnaketu Dhāraṇī is one of the core texts of the Mahāsannipāta collection of Mahāyāna sūtras that dates back to the formative period of Mahāyāna Buddhism, from the first to the third century ᴄᴇ. Its rich and varied narratives, likely redacted from at least two independent works, recount significant events from the lives, past and present, of the Buddha Śākyamuni and some of his main followers and opponents, both human and nonhuman. At the center of these narratives is the climactic episode from the Buddha’s life when Māra, the personification of spiritual death, sets out to destroy the Buddha and his Dharma. The mythic confrontation between these paragons of light and darkness, and the Buddha’s eventual victory, are related in vivid detail. As is common with Mahāyāna sūtras, the main narratives are frequently interwoven with Dharma instructions and interspersed with magical events. The text exemplifies two distinctive sūtra genres, “prophecies” (vyākaraṇa) and “incantations” (dhāraṇī), as it includes, respectively, prophecies of the future attainment of buddhahood by some of the Buddha’s followers and the magical formulae that are meant to ensure the survival of the Buddha’s teachings and the prosperity of its practitioners.

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The Ratnaketu Dhāraṇī

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