Ye Dharma Hetu
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Ye Dharma Hetu
Stone statue of Buddha from Sultanganj with Ye Dharma Hetu inscribed on the lotus base (magnify to see)

Ye dharm? hetu (Sanskrit: ?), is a famous Sanskrit dh?ra widely used in ancient times, and is often found carved on chaityas, images, or placed within chaityas.[1][2]

It is often used in Sanskrit, but is also found in Canonical Pali texts (Mah?vaggap?li PTS Vinaya Vol 1, pg 40).

It is referred to as the Dependent Origination Dh?ra.

These words were used by the Arahat Assaji (Skr: A?vajit) when asked about the teaching of the Buddha. On the spot Sariputta (Skt?riputra) attained the first Path (Sot?patti) and later told them to his friend Moggall?na (Skt: Maudgalyayana) who also attained. They then went to the Buddha, along with 500 of their disciples, and asked to become his disciples.[3]

Original Sanskrit text

The Dependent Origination Dh?ra in Ranjana and Tibetan scripts

?- ?
? ?


In Roman transliteration this dh?ra is variously transliterated, depending on the language it was written in. In Sanskrit it appears as:

ye dharm? hetuprabhav?
hetu? te tath?gato hy avadat,
te ca yo nirodha
eva?v?d? mahrama?a?

In Pi:

ye dhamm? hetuppabhav? tesa? hetu? tath?gato ?ha,
tesa? ca yo nirodho eva?v?d? mah?sama?o.


The meaning is:

Of those phenomena which arise from causes:
Those causes have been taught by the Tath?gata (Buddha),
And their cessation too - thus proclaims the Great Ascetic.[]

The Pi commentaries take the first line as pointing to suffering (dukkha), the second to its cause (samudaya) and the third to its cessation (nirodha).

Miniature Chaityas

The mantra has been widely used. It has been used at Sarnath, Tirhut, Kanari Copperplate, Tagoung, Sherghatti, near Gaya, Allahabad column, Sanchi etc.

On Buddha images

The mantra was often also carved below the images of the Buddha. A Buddhist screen (parikara) and accompanying Buddha image is now preserved at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. While the objects were found in South India, the mantra is given in north Indian 8-9th century script, perhaps originating from the Pala region.[4]

Malaysia Inscriptions

The Bukit Meriam inscription from Kedah includes two additional lines. The inscription is now in the Indian Museum, Calcutta. Other similar inscriptions were found in the Kedah region.[5]

?- ?
? ?

? ?

Ye dharmma hetuprabhav? hetun-ten-Tath?gata ?ha,
ten-ca yo nirodha evam-v?di Mahrama?a?

Ajñ?n?c-c?yate karmma, janmana? karmma k?ra?am
jñ?n?n-na c?yate karmma, karmm?bh?v?n-na j?yate.

The additional lines can be translated as
Through ignorance karma is accumulated, the cause of birth is karma.
Through knowledge karma is not accumulated. Through absence of karma, one is not reborn.

See also


  1. ^ "A New Document of Indian Painting Pratapaditya Pal". The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (No. 3/4): 103-111. Oct 1965. JSTOR 25202861.
  2. ^ On the miniature chaityas, Lieut.-Col. Sykes, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Volume 16, By Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland,, University Press, 1856
  3. ^ Text and Translation of their story:
  4. ^ Jan Fontein, A Buddhist Altarpiece from South India, MFA Bulletin, Vol. 78 (1980), pp. 4-21, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  5. ^ The Malay Peninsula: Crossroads of the Maritime Silk-Road (100 Bc-1300 Ad), by Michel Jacq-Hergoualc'h, BRILL, 2002. p. 213

External links

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