Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sūtra


1. Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sūtra

The Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sūtra (English: Dhāraṇī of the Victorious Buddha-Crown) is a Mahāyāna Sūtra from India.

The Sūtra is dedicated to Uṣṇīṣavijaya ("Victorious One with Uṣṇīṣa"; Tibetan: Tsuktor Namgyälma), a Buddha of long life in female form, who removes obstacles that shorten one’s life-span.

Uṣṇīṣa is a 3-dimensional oval topknot at the top of the head.

2. History

The Sūtra was translated a total of 8 times from Sanskrit to Chinese between 679-988 CE.

It gained wide circulation in China, and its practices have been utilized since the Tang dynasty, from which it then spread to the rest of East Asia.

The Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī is associated with Mount Wutai, which in the Chinese Buddhist tradition is considered the Bodhimaṇḍa of Mañjuśrī.

Sacred stone tablets with the Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī carved into them have been distributed widely in some regions of the Far East.

3. Contents

The purpose of this sūtra is said to be to help sentient beings in a troubled and tumultuous world.

According to this sūtra, beings will leave suffering and obtain happiness, increasing in their prosperity and longevity, remove karmic obstacles, eliminate disasters and calamities, remove enmity and hatred, fulfil all wishes, and quickly be led onto the Buddha's way.

The Sūtra text says:

If someone hears this Dhāraṇī even just for a moment, he will not undergo karmic retribution from evil karma and severe hindrances accumulated from thousands of kalpas ago,

that would otherwise cause him to revolve in the cycles of birth and death - in all kinds of life forms in the evil paths - hell, hungry ghost, animal, realm of King Yama, Asuras...ferocious animals, crawling creatures and even ants and other life forms...

he will be reborn in the Buddha Pure Lands, together with all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, or in a distinguished Brahmin or Kṣatriya family, or in some other wealthy and reputable families.

According to the text, major applications of this dhāraṇī include:

  1. Destroy calamities and rescue those in difficulties
  2. Eliminate offenses and create good deeds
  3. Purify all karmic obstructions
  4. Increase blessings and lengthen lifespan
  5. Attain anuttara-samyak-saṁbodhi
  6. Relieve beings in the ghost realm
  7. Benefit birds, animals and all crawling creatures
  8. Increase wisdom
  9. Revert the fixed karma;
  10. Eliminate various illness;
  11. Destroy hells;
  12. Ensure the safety of the households, and having children to inherit the family pride;
  13. Harmonise husbands and wives;
  14. Be able to reborn in Sukhāvatī or other pure lands;
  15. Heal sickness inflicted by pretas;
  16. Request for rain etc.

4. Sūtra

Ākāśagarbha Bodhisattva

Uṣṇīṣavijaya | Namgyälma

According to the Sūtra a Devaputra by the name of Susthita was enjoying the supremely wonderful bliss of heavenly life.

But then he suddenly heard a voice in space saying,

Devaputra Susthita, you have only 7 days left to live.

After death, you will be reborn in Jambudvīpa (Earth) as an animal for 7 successive lives. Then you will fall into the hells to undergo more sufferings.

Only after fulfilling your karmic retribution will you be reborn in the human realm, but to a humble and destitute family; while in the mother’s womb you will be without eyes and be born blind.

On hearing this, Devaputra Susthita was so terrified and rushed over to the Heavenly Palace of Lord Śakra. Bursting into tears, he prostrated himself and telling what had happened to Lord Śakra.

Lord Śakra immediately calmed his mind to enter Samādhi.

Instantly, he saw that Susthita would undergo 7 successive evil paths in the forms of a pig, dog, jackal, monkey, python, crow and vulture, all feeding on filth and putrescence.

Lord Śakra could not think of any way to help Susthita.

He felt that only the Tathāgata, Arhat, Samyaksaṁbuddha could save Susthita from falling into the great sufferings of evil destinies.

Soon after nightfall, Lord Śakra made preparation and head to the garden of Anāthapiṇḍada.

Upon arrival, Lord Śakra prostrated himself to the Buddha, then circumambulated the Buddha 7 times clockwise in worship, before laying out this great Pūjā (offerings).

Kneeling in front of the Buddha, Lord Śakra described the future destiny of Devaputra Susthita.

Instantly, the Uṣṇīṣa (crown of the head) of the Tathāgata radiated multiple rays of light, illuminating the world in all 10 directions with the light.

The Buddha smiled and said to Lord Śakra,

Lord of Heaven, there is a Dhāraṇī known as the Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī.

It can purify all evil paths, completely eliminating all sufferings of beings in the realms of hell, King Yama and animals, destroy all the hells, and transfer sentient beings onto the virtuous path.

After hearing all the disclosure, Lord of Heaven appealed to the Buddha to discourse of this great Dhāraṇī.

The Buddha aware of Lord Śakra’s intention and his eagerness to hear His discourse of this Dhāraṇī and so immediately proclaimed the Mantra.

Then the Buddha told Lord Śakra,

The Mantra is known as the Purifying All Evil Path Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī. It can eliminate all evil karmic hindrances and eradicate the suffering of all evil paths.

Again the Buddha told Lord Śakra that this great Dhāraṇī is proclaimed together by Buddhas as numerous as 88 koṭi (100 million) of the grains of sand of the Ganges River.

All Buddhas rejoice and uphold this Dhāraṇī that is verified by the wisdom seal of the Vairocana Tathāgata.

Again the Buddha reminded Lord Śakra should, in turn, transmit it to Devaputra Susthita and in addition, you yourself should receive and uphold it, recite, contemplate and treasure it, memorize and preserve it.

This Dhāraṇī should be widely proclaimed to all beings in the Jambudvīpa world and entrust him for the benefit of all heavenly beings.

The Buddha also reminded Lord Śakra should diligently uphold and protect it, never letting it be forgotten or lost.

After the Lord Śakra received this Dhāraṇī practice from the Buddha, he returned to his heavenly palace to convey it to Devaputra Susthita.

Having received this Dhāraṇī, Devaputra Susthita kept practices as instructed for 6 days and 6 nights, after which all his wishes were completely fulfilled.

When 7 days were over, Lord Śakra brought Devaputra Susthita, together with other heavenly beings, respectfully approached the Buddha and presented their grand offerings.

Once they had respectfully circumambulated a 100 thousand times, paid homage to the Buddha, then happily took their seats and listened to the Buddha preach the Dharma.

The World Honoured One then extended his golden arm and touched Devaputra Susthita to bestow a prediction of Devaputra Susthita's attainment to Bodhi.

5. Mantra

The Uṣṇīṣavijaya Dhāraṇī text in Sanskrit for recitation is:

namo bhagavate trailokya prativiśiṣṭaya buddhāya bhagavate.
tadyathā, om, viśodhaya viśodhaya, asama-sama
samantāvabhāsa-spharaṇa gati gahana svabhāva viśuddhe,
abhiṣiñcatu mām. sugata vara vacana amṛta abhiṣekai mahā mantra-padai.
āhara āhara āyuḥ saṃ-dhāraṇi. śodhaya śodhaya gagana viśuddhe.
uṣṇīṣa vijaya viśuddhe sahasra-raśmi sam-codite.
sarva tathāgata avalokani ṣaṭ-pāramitā-paripūraṇi.
sarva tathāgata mati daśa-bhūmi prati-ṣṭhite.
sarva tathāgata hṛdaya adhiṣṭhānādhiṣṭhita mahā-mudre.
vajra kāya sam-hatana viśuddhe.
sarva āvaraṇa apāya-durgati pari viśuddhe, prati-nivartaya āyuh śuddhe.
samaya adhiṣṭhite. maṇi maṇi mahā maṇi.
tathatā bhūta-koṭi pariśuddhe. visphuṭa buddhi śuddhe.
jaya jaya, vijaya vijaya. smara smara, sarva buddha adhiṣṭhita śuddhe,
vajri vajragārbhe vajram bhavatu mama śarīram.
sarva sattvānām ca kāya pari viśuddhe. sarva gati pariśuddhe.
sarva tathāgata siñca me samāśvāsayantu.
sarva tathāgata samāśvāsa adhiṣṭhite.
budhya budhya, vibudhya vibudhya,
bodhaya bodhaya, vibodhaya vibodhaya samanta pariśuddhe.
sarva tathāgata hṛdaya adhiṣṭhānādhiṣṭhita mahā-mudre svāhā.

In addition to the long dhāraṇī, there is the much shorter Uṣṇīṣavijaya heart-mantra:

oṁ amṛta tejovati svāhā ||