Open main menu
Stone statue of Buddha from Sultanganj with Ye Dharma Hetu inscribed on the lotus base (magnify to see)

Ye dharmā hetu (Sanskrit: ये धर्मा हेतु), is a famous Sanskrit dhāraṇī 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 is also found in Canonical Pali texts (Mahāvaggapāli PTS Vinaya Vol 1, pg 40).

It is referred to as the Dependent Origination Dhāraṇī.

These words were used by the Arahat Assaji (Skr: Aśvajit) when asked about the teaching of the Buddha. On the spot Sariputta (Skt: Śāriputra) attained the first Path (Sotāpatti) and later told them to his friend Moggallāna (Skt: Maudgalyayana) who also attained. They then went to the Buddha, along with 500 of their disciples, and asked to become his disciples.[3]


Original Sanskrit textEdit

The Dependent Origination Dhāraṇī in Ranjana and Tibetan scripts

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


In Roman transliteration this dhāraṇī is variously transliterated, depending on the language it was written in. In Sanskrit it appears as:

ye dharmā hetu-prabhavā
hetuṃ teṣāṃ tathāgato hy avadat,
teṣāṃ ca yo nirodha
evaṃ vādī mahāśramaṇa

In Pāḷi:

ye dhammā hetuppabhavā tesaṁ hetuṁ tathāgato āha,
tesaṃca yo nirodho - evaṁvādī mahāsamaṇo.


The meaning is:

Of those phenomena which arise from causes:
Those causes have been taught by the Tathāgata (Buddha),
And their cessation too - thus proclaims the Great Ascetic.[citation needed]

The Pāḷi commentaries take the first line as pointing to suffering (dukkha), the second to its cause (samudaya) and the third to its cessation (nirodha).

Miniature ChaityasEdit

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 imagesEdit

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 InscriptionsEdit

The Bukit Meriam inscription from Kedah includes two additional lines. The inscription is now in the Indian Museum, Calcutta. Other similar inscriptions were found in the Kedah region.[5]

Ye dharmma hetuprabhavā hetun-teṣān-Tathāgata āha,
teṣān-ca yo nirodha evam-vādi Mahāśramaṇaḥ

Ajñānāc-cīyate karmma, janmanaḥ karmma kāraṇam
jñānān-na cīyate karmma, karmmābhāvān-na jāyate.

The additional 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 alsoEdit


  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. JSTOR 25202861.
  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. ^ Text and Translation of their story:
  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 linksEdit