Ye Dharma Hetu

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Ye dharmā hetu (Sanskrit: ये धर्मा हेतु, is a famous Sanskrit mantra 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 has also been used in Pali.

It is referred to as the Dependent Origination Dharani. It is believed that it was with these words that Gautama Buddha influenced Sariputra and Maudgalyayana to follow him.[3]

Original Sanskrit text[edit]

ये धर्मा हेतु प्रभवा हेतुं
तेषां तथागतः ह्यवदत्
तेषां च यो निरोध
एवं वादी महाश्रमण


In English the mantra is variously transliterated, depending on the schools of Buddhism as well as individual teachers.

ye dharmā hetu prabhavā hetun,
teṣāṃ tathāgato hyavadat,
teṣāṃ ca yo nirodha,
evaṃ vādī mahāśramaṇa


Mantras may be interpreted in many ways, or even as mere sequences of sound whose effects lie beyond strict meaning. The liternal meaning is:

All phenomena arise from causes;
Those causes have been taught by the Tathagata (Buddha),
And their cessation too has been proclaimed by the Great Shramana.

Miniature Chaityas[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

Kedah inscription, Cherok Tokun Inscription, Mahanavika Budhagupta inscription includes two additional lines:[5]

Ye dharmma hetu-prabhava tesha[m] hetu[n] Tathagato aha
Yeshan cha yo nirodha eva[m] vadi Maha-sramana[h]

Ajnanach chiyate karma janmanam ka[r]ma karanam
Jnanan na kriyate karmma karmmabhavana jayate.

The addeded 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[edit]


  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. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  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. ^ Jan Fontein, A Buddhist Altarpiece from South India, MFA Bulletin, Vol. 78 (1980), pp. 4-21, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  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[edit]