Praise of Mahakala

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The Praise of Mahākāla is a Mongolian Buddhist poem written in the Mongolian script by an Oirat or Uyghur scholar of the Sakya school, Choiji Odser (chos kyi 'od gser).[1]

The poem is one of the many manuscripts found at Turfan. It dates from around 1305 and shows evidence of woodblock printing during that time. The poem is written in traditional Mongolian poetical style and rhyme such as that found in The Secret History of the Mongols and provides a valuable insight into Middle Mongol.

Choiji Odser[edit]

Choiji Odser (Mongolian: Чойжи-Одсэр, [ˈtʃʰɞe̯.tʃ˭ɪ ˈɔt.sər]; 1260–1320),[2] whose name may be translated as "Light of the Dharma", was a famous scholar during the early Yuan dynasty who played a major role in standardizing the Mongolian language and script. He produced the first work on Mongolian grammar in 1305 and translated many works from Sanskrit and Tibetan. There is a great deal of information about him in Mongolian, Chinese and Tibetan sources. He was the guru and spiritual advisor to Külüg Khan, who was the Yuan emperor. In the 24th book of the History of Yuan, his erudition is praised and it is written that he was awarded ten thousand paper money notes. Only the 12 last pages remain from his ten chapter Commentary on the Bodhisattvacaryāvatāra (also found at Turpan) and it is written at the end of this same work that he had one thousand copies printed at the Miaoying Temple in Khanbaliq (now Beijing) in 1312.[3]

The original text in Mongolian (modernized pronunciation)[edit]

Hamgaa gaihuulsan erdmiig chin (original: Qamuγ-a γaiqaγuluγsan erdem-i činü)
Hagarhaiya holbon magtsugai (Qaγaraqay-a qolban maγtasuγai)
Dorvon gartai, negen niguurtai (Dörben γar-tai nigen niγur-tai)
Dugreg ulaan gurvan nudtei (Dügerig ulaγan γurban nidütei)
Torolh urgasan shar ustei (Törölki urγuγsan šira üsütei)
Tugel humuuniig zuusan araatai (Tügel kümün-i jaγuγsan araγ-a-tai)
Urin gemuudiig ogtolruun (Urin gem-üd-i oγtolor-un)
Urd baruun gartaa ildtei (Uridu baraγun γar-taγan üldütei)
Olon sejgiig tarhaaruun (Olan sešig-i tarγaγar-un)
Ulam nogoo gart gavaltai (Ulam nögüge γar-tur kabala-tai)
Deerhi asursiig darruun
Deed zuun gartaa jadtai
Delgesen orongot sereeg
Ded doord gart barisan
Zaluu turihan tsaraitai
Zaanii arisan tsamtstai
Zarimlan uhriin arisand
Zalgasan ilt nuruuvchtai
Baatar amit arslang
Baruun chihendee suihtei
Baraan ereen mogoig
Bas zuun chihendee suihtei
Holboj huzuundee erihtei
Har nuguud mogoi bustei
Hamgaa hii met huchtei
Gaihamshig holog hurd
Halzan iljig hologtei
Hoh ogtorgui dahi nariig
Holsnii tusaar urguulj
Holoo tomor chodroor
Husuulen chimsen Mahagali
Chinii duug sonsvoos
Chin Sumber tag beer hodlood
Tsustan daisdiin zurhiig
Chanaraas shilguutgegch Mahagali
Amurlisan setgelt bogootol
Ad totgodiig ayugturuun
Aguulsan chanariig uzuulj
Alaraa hurgegch Mahagali
Eldev huvilgaan gargaj
Erhten tengers asursiig
Esreg oortoo sogtgoson
Erdemtei bogd Mahagali
Saivaar odsonii ilt
Shashin nomiig evdegchin
Samuu muu setgeltniig
Shamshaasugai gegeen Mahagali
Edugee tuun (…)
Erdemten nomchniig sahiad
Ed el yavahuun amitniig
Enh amruul Mahagali
Chanar muu setgej buruun
Chihend saihan oguulegchin
Tsustan daisan adsiig
Chinii hucheer butaltugai
Nomiin ezen, haan, hatun
Nomchin said, hovguud ohid
Noyod hurged bugdiig
Nohtson sahitugai Mahagali
Hutagtai chinii erdmiig
Holboj magtsan buyanaar
Hotol amitan tonilj
Hooson boltugai ene orchihui
Ahui erdmiig chini huraaj
Ayalguu holbon magtagch
Ayagha takhimlig Choiji-Odser
Al (…) ba (…) gartugai
Egshig duugaaraan duulbaas
Ovchin adas hen amirlaad
Etsest burhan boltugai.
English translation (literal):
Let me eloquently praise in rhymes
Your mighty wisdom renowned to all
With four arms and unique face
With three red circular eyes
With naturally growing yellow hair
With teeth grinding an entire human
You uproot sins of passion
With a sword in your front right hand
You disperse countless doubts
With a skull in your other hand
You crush the asuras on high
With a spear in your upper left hand
Holding an open trident
In your next lower hand
With a lean young face
With an elephant-skin robe
With an open back-vestment connected to
A half-cut of cowskin
With a heroic-hearted lion as
An earring on your right ear
With a dark and speckled snake as
An earring on your left ear too
(Line missing)
(Line missing)
With prayer beads linked around your neck
With a black snake as your belt
With might that is capable of everything
With a bald donkey mount
As your amazing wheel-vehicle
Making the sun in the blue sky
Rise by your sweat
Mahakala, who adorns admirably
His legs with metal chains
If your voice is heard
Firm Mount Sumeru quakes
Mahakala, who makes quiver from the depths
The hearts of bloody enemies
Though you are of a peaceful spirit
You frighten demons and hindrances
Mahakala, who leads towards “alaraa”
By showing an “aguulsan” quality
The wise divine Mahakala
Who by working various wonders
Did subject before himself
The powerful gods and asuras
Punish, luminous Mahakala
The evil rebellious spirits
Who destroy religion and dharma
Though outwardly of the Well-Departed (Buddha).
Give rest in peace, Mahakala
To all friendly sentient beings
While protecting scholars and the devout
Now … (line incomplete)
May we shatter by your strength
Bloody enemy demons
Who speak sweetly in the ear
Yet wish evil in their hearts
Attach yourself to and protect, Mahakala
The lord of dharma, king and queen
Teachers, ministers, sons and daughters
Nobles and sons-in-law, each and everyone.
By the merit of praising in these rhymes
Your holiness’ mighty wisdom
May all beings reach nirvana
And may this cycle become empty
May the monk Choiji-Odser
Who summarizing all your mighty wisdom
Melodically offers these rhymed praises
Escape … (line incomplete)
(line missing)
If they sing with their melodious song
May all illnesses and demons be pacified
And each become Buddhas at the end.


  1. ^ Sanders, Alan J.K. (2010). Historical Dictionary of Mongolia. Scarecrow Press. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-8108-7452-7.
  2. ^ Sanders, Alan J.K. (2010). Historical Dictionary of Mongolia. Scarecrow Press. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-8108-7452-7.
  3. ^ Wallace, Vesna. "Buddhist Literature-Mongolia-Brill Encyclopedia". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Picture of manuscript (lines 1-20), The Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
  • Ts. Damdinsuren. Mongolin uran zohiolin deej zuun bilig orshvai. Ulaanbaatar, 1958.