The 2010 Spring Numata Lecture was delivered by Jacob Dalton on April 30, 2010. The following episode is the audio-only version of Prof. Dalton’s talk.

The Tibetan manuscripts from Dunhuang include a large number of copied dhāraṇīs, both sūtras and stand-alone spells. In this talk I will examine the content, the colophons, and the formats of these manuscripts and attempt to draw some broader conclusions about how dhāraṇīs were used by early Tibetan Buddhists living around Dunhuang. I will then turn to the dhāraṇī collections (dhāraṇī-saṃgraha). The contents of these collections could vary according to the interests of the manuscripts’ owners, yet certain shared patterns may be discerned. The significance of these formal patterns becomes clear when we see how the same template was used by later Tibetans to structure the dhāraṇī (gzungs ‘dus) section of their Tibetan canon (bka’ ‘gyur). Finally, I will step back to consider the historical development of dhāraṇī ritual practice and textual codification in light of the emergence of the tantras around the seventh century.

Originally recorded April 30, 2010 at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in the Jodo Shinshu Center, Berkeley, Ca.
Copyright © 2010 Jacob Dalton

How Dhāraṇīs Were Proto-tantric: Ritual Uses of Buddhist Spells in Dunhuang and Beyond
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