Oṃ Ye Dharma! The Tendrel Verse

The concept of tendrel (རྟེན་འབྲེལ་) or pratītyasamutpāda is a central philosophy of Buddhism. Teachings on tendrel explain the theory of causation on which Buddhist moral, philosophical and spiritual systems are based. An earlier essay describes tendrel in general and the ways to generate auspicious tendrel by bringing together all the right causes and conditions for a project or event. This essay focuses on one of the common things Bhutanese do in order to bring about auspiciousness or consecrate an object: recite a formulaic verse focusing on tendrel.

Ye dharmā hetuprabhavā

hetuṃ teṣāṃ tathāgataḥ hyavadat

teṣāṃ ca yo nirodha

evaṃ vādī mahāśramaṇaḥ

 

This verse is said to have been spoken by one of the Buddha’s earliest disciples Aśvajit. When Śāriputra, who was an ascetic seeking spirituality, saw Aśvajit walking along the streets of Magadha, he was mesmerized by the latter’s tranquillity and aura. Śāriputra asked Aśvajit who his teacher was, and what practices enabled him to attain such tranquillity and transcendence, to which Aśvajit is said to have replied that he was a student of the Buddha. Regarding his teacher’s message, he said:

All things originate from causes.

The Tathāgata have taught those causes,

And that which is the cessation of the causes

Is also proclaimed by the Great Sage.

 

Upon hearing those words, Śāriputra saw the light of wisdom and reached the first level of spiritual attainment. Following that, he brought his friend and co-spiritualist Maudgalyāyana to meet the Buddha. Later, the pair became the Buddha’s two foremost disciples. Meanwhile, Aśvajit’s verse gained great popularity and came to be used almost like a Buddhist doctrinal slogan. When Buddhism was rendered into Choekey, the verse was translated as follows, and gained great popularity:

ཆོས་རྣམས་ཐམས་ཅད་རྒྱུ་ལས་བྱུང་།།

དེ་རྒྱུ་དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པས་གསུངས།།

རྒྱུ་ལ་འགོག་པ་གང་ཡིན་པ།།

དགེ་སྦྱོང་ཆེན་པོས་འདི་སྐད་གསུངས།།

 

Another, lesser known version of the translation, is found in the Kanjur:

ཆོས་རྣམས་གང་དག་རྒྱུ་ལས་བྱུང་བ་དང་།།

དེ་ཡི་རྒྱུ་དང་དེ་འགོག་གང་ཡིན་པའང་།།

དེ་བཞིན་གཤེགས་པ་ཉིད་ཀྱིས་བཀའ་བསྩལ་ཏེ།།

དེ་སྐད་གསུང་བའི་ཚུལ་ཅན་དགེ་སྦྱོང་ཆེ།།

 

This “Ye Dharma” verse, as it is known today, is inscribed on temples, stūpas, statues and other religious monuments. It is chanted as part of prayers for auspiciousness and consecration. As it encapsulates the Buddhist doctrine of dependent arising, it is used in many Buddhist rituals and ceremonies by all Buddhist traditions. The verse is often recited as a mantra by adding Oṃ at the beginning and Svāha at the end.

 

Karma Phuntsho is the Director of Shejun Agency for Bhutan’s Cultural Documentation and Research, the President of the Loden Foundation and the author of The History of Bhutan. The piece was initially published in Bhutan’s national newspaper Kuensel as part of a series called “Why We Do What We Do.”

 

Bhutan Cultural Library Verses of auspiciousness Bhutan

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An overview of the function and structure of a standard verse of auspiciousness recited in Bhutan and throughout the Buddhist world.

Collection Bhutan Cultural Library
Visibility Public - accessible to all site users (default)
Author Karma Phuntsho
Editor Ariana Maki
Year published 2017
Original year published 2016
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