11 June 2010

Siddhaṃ Manuscript

I was looking at the Siddhaṃ article on Wikipedia tonight and noticed some new edits including a picture of a manuscript described as "A replica of siddhaṃ manuscript on palm-leaf in 609 CE." I was casually looking at it and saw the Heart Sūtra mantra - gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā - and then sure enough the entire Heart Sūtra, followed by the beginning of another text I have yet to identify. I've emailed the uploader (who seems to have copied it from a book) but as yet know nothing more about it.

The original manuscript was published in Buddhist Texts from Japan. (Anecdota Oxoniensia, Aryan series), 1881. (now out of copy-right), online: www.archive.org ; and reproduced in 'Buddhist Mantras of Sanskrit Siddhaṃ': www.wisdombox.org [pdf]

The Sūtra starts at the beginning of the first page, and ends at the end of line one of the second page. I'll try to find the time to transcribe the whole thing, but in the mean time here is the mantra section which begins slightly to the right of halfway along the first line of the second page:

tadythā gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā *

The Heart Sūtra is followed by the Uṣnīṣavijaya Dhāraṇī.

The last line is a syllabary. It begins with a flourish and then the word "siddhaṃ" then the Sanskrit alphabet in the usual order ending with "...llaṃ kṣa."


  1. Hi Jayarava,

    These are extremely useful resources. The two books are simply great !!

    BTW you may want to look at this too:


    It has several nuisances such as having "Om" after Tadyathaa. The Om shape also looks more or like the modern Devanagari Om. The text is obviously corrupted at some places. A closer reading reading might throw more light.

    Vinodh Rajan

    (BTW is there anyway to have the good old URL + Name in the comments field rather than forcing the usage of other ID's)

  2. Thanks Vinodh

    Sorry about the comments. I had thought anonymous commenting was on. I'll see if Blogger has some other options. These days blogs are attracting an increasing number of spam comments!

    That Heart Sūtra ms has particularly awful handwriting, so it wouldn't surprise me if the text was corrupt - the copyist was sloppy and had no sense of style. And yes it does look suspiciously like auṃ. Ugh.

    Can you read the cursive script at the end? It seems to be commenting on the mantra. I think it looks like some form of Tibetan dbu-me (or headless) script. Is this a Tibetan/Nepalese copy? It might explain all the dots between the words, which is bizarre for an India writer.

    I note it's uploaded the same person as uploaded the other Siddhaṃ ms, so he may be able to supply more details.

  3. I think it is a Sogdian manuscript.

  4. Oh. It's easy to forget about Central Asia. I asked the guy who uploaded it and didn't get a very helpful answer this time. It's something that was published in Chinese apparently and is now out of copyright.