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Commentary for Shitan Zhang & Pu'an Zhou; Transcription for opening of 1592 & 1609 首頁
Stanzas of Siddham1 釋談章
Chant Text;2 timings follow my recordings:3
          black from 1592 (看 see / listen 聽);
          red     from 1609 (看 see / listen 聽)

00.00   (00.00)
佛頭 Fo Tou: Buddhist Beginning

  南無佛陀耶; I submit to the Buddha;
  南無噠摩耶; I submit to the Dharma;
  南無僧迦耶。 I submit to the Sangha.
  南無本師釋迦牟尼佛。 I submit to Sakyamuni Buddha.
  南無大悲觀世音菩薩。 I submit to Great Soul Avalokiteshvara.
  南無普庵祖師菩薩。 I submit to Primary Master Pu'an Bodhisattva.
  南無百萬火首金剛王菩薩。 I submit to the Million Fiery Headed Vajra King Bodhisattva.
  ([00.54] 南無普庵禪師菩薩摩訶薩。 I submit to Chan Master Pu'an Great Bodhisattva. 6)

00.55   (01.08)
起咒 Qi Zhou: Incantation Beginning

        唵   (Om)

  A.  迦迦迦妍界,遮遮遮神惹,吒吒吒怛那,多多多檀那,波波波梵摩。
  B.  摩梵波波波,那檀多多多,那怛吒吒吒,惹神遮遮遮,界妍迦迦迦。迦迦迦妍界。 (= line 18 below)

02.01   (02.19)

第一迴 First Section (02.01; 02.19)    
  1. 迦迦雞雞俱俱雞,       俱雞俱。兼喬雞,喬雞兼, 界妍迦迦迦,迦迦迦妍界。
  2. 遮遮支支朱朱支,       朱支朱。占昭支,昭支占, 惹神遮遮遮,遮遮遮神惹。
  3. 吒吒知知都都知,       都知都。擔多知,多知擔, 那怛吒吒吒,吒吒吒怛那。(知⇒諦?)

第二迴 Second (03.15; 03.34)    
  4. 多多諦諦多多諦,       多諦多。談多諦,多諦談, 那檀多多多,多多多檀那。
  5. 波波悲悲波波悲,       波悲波。梵波悲,波悲梵, 摩梵波波波,波波波梵摩。
  6. 摩梵波波波,那檀多多多。       那怛吒吒吒,惹神遮遮遮。 界妍迦迦迦,迦迦迦妍界。

第三迴 Third Section (04.35; 04.55)    
  7. 迦迦雞雞俱俱雞, 喬兼兼兼,兼兼兼。驗堯倪,堯倪驗, 界妍迦迦迦,迦迦迦妍界。
  8. 遮遮支支朱朱支, 昭占占占,占占占。驗堯倪,堯倪驗, 惹神遮遮遮,遮遮遮神惹。
  9. 吒吒知知都都知, 多擔擔擔,擔擔擔。喃哪呢,哪呢喃, 那怛吒吒吒,吒吒吒怛那。

第四迴 Fourth Section (05.51; 06.20)    
10. 多多諦諦多多諦, 多談談談,談談談。喃哪呢,哪呢喃, 那檀多多多,多多多檀那。
11. 波波悲悲波波悲, 波梵梵梵,梵梵梵。梵摩迷,摩迷梵, 摩梵波波波,波波波梵摩。
12. 摩梵波波波,那檀多多多,       那怛吒吒吒,惹神遮遮遮。 界妍迦迦迦,迦迦迦妍界。

第五迴 Fifth Section (07.12; 07.52)    
13. 迦迦雞雞俱俱耶,          喻喻喻喻喻喻喻喻喻, 界妍迦迦迦,迦迦迦妍界。
14. 遮遮支支朱朱耶,          喻喻喻喻喻喻喻喻喻, 惹神遮遮遮,遮遮遮神惹。
15. 吒吒知知都都耶,          奴奴奴奴奴奴奴奴奴, 那怛吒吒吒,吒吒吒怛那。

第六迴 Sixth Section (08.19; 008.59)    
16. 多多諦諦多多耶,          奴奴奴奴奴奴奴奴奴, 那檀多多多,多多多檀那。
17. 波波悲悲波波耶,          母母母母母母母母母, 摩梵波波波,波波波梵摩。
18. 摩梵波波波,那檀多多多,       那怛吒吒吒,惹神遮遮遮。 界妍迦迦迦,迦迦迦妍界。

09.35   (10.16)
佛尾 Buddhist Closing

  波多吒 遮迦耶, (the first syllables of lines 5-4-3-2-1 then ye)
  夜蘭訶,阿瑟吒,薩海吒,漏嚧瘺嚧 (13 Sanskrit syllables)
  吒遮迦耶, (the first syllables of lines 3-2-1 then ye
  娑婆訶! Svaha (Hail!)
  無數天龍八部 , Countless Devas in Eight Categories;
  百萬火首金剛 。 Million Fiery Headed Vajra.
  昨日方隅 ; Yesterday (I was off in a difficult) corner;
  今朝佛地 ; This morning (I am on) Buddhist ground;
  普庵到此 ; Pu'an has come here;
  百無禁忌 。 There is nothing to worry about.

10.40 (11.17)

Footnotes (Shorthand references are explained on a separate page)

1. Stanzas of Siddham (釋談章 Shitan Zhang)
See references.

2. Chant Text
In my transcriptions of the 1589 and 1609 versions of Shitan Zhang I give the romanization of the syllables in standard modern Mandarin pronunciation. If, in fact, this piece was at least in part intended to teach pronunciation of Sanskrit syllables, then perhaps the romanizations should take that into account. As to whether it was actually intended as a dharani, see Van Gulik.

Meanwhile, I have been working on a glossary, but it remains tentative, requiring further study. This is particularly true when it comes to translating what are said to be sanskrit syllables. Thus, these begin on the first line with 迦, 雞 and 俱. In the glossary I suggest possible translations of the actual characters. However, if looking at their possible meaning based on being a transliteration from Sanskrit it has been suggested this could actually be something like "ja-ya-ka: victorious one". Further speculation about this should be done by someone more knowledgeable than I.

3. My recordings
Both were made in segments (Weehawken, NJ, October 2016; there is further comment here on how these came about). I have also transcribed both of these two surviving earliest versions, dated 1592 and 1609. In the two transcriptions I tried as much as possible to give them both the same note values. However, when playing the two versions this sounded quite unnatural, so the note values were changed when making the two recordings. Hence the note values on the recording are in a number of places somewhat different from those in my transcription.

For a much more fluent recording of a later but clearly related Shitan Zhang see the one by Hammond Yong. On the other hand, although there are innumerable recordings available for the popular modern Pu'an Zhou, the connection of that version with the one recorded here is almost impossible to hear without reading the work of François Picard.

5. 佛頭 Fo Tou: Buddhist Beginning
This opening invocation, like the "Buddhist closing", is musically distinct from the chanted middle. These are both presumably later additions to the incantation itself. However, forms of them are included in the "Main Daily Offices", i.e., the 諸經日誦 Zhujing Risong as passed down separately from the chant preserved in early qin publications. Further references are made below to the Main Daily Offices. Note also that Pu'an can be written 普庵 or 普菴, and he is also called (余)印肅, and later 彙慶禪師 . (The text is sometimes called "Buddhist Text of Pu'an".)

6. "I submit to Chan Master Pu'an Great Bodhisattva."
This mention of Pu'an himself on the last line of the invocation suggests the chant may have come first. However, some qin versions omit this line. Of the two recorded here, the 1589 version recorded here does not have it, the 1509 version does.

Other added lines at the front may also be:

  南無普庵祖師菩薩摩訶薩; I submit to Primary Master Pu'an Bodhisattva.
  摩訶船若波羅密。 Maha Prajnaparamita.


7. Structure and content of the Incantation Beginning
The qin (and nanguan) version begins the incantation with "Om" then 11 phrases. The 11 phrases have five characters each, 55 characters in all (14 of the 39 distinct ones in the incantation itself). These phrases are structured as follows:

Line A: the five phrases are the same as the five phrases ending lines 1 - 5 (also 7 - 11 and 13 - 17)
Line B: the first five phrases are the same as line A backwards; the sixth phrase = first phrase of line A

One of the functions of the invocation is said to be pedagogical: learning Sanskrit syllables. Accordingly, the syllables of the opening are said to have been organized according to their phonetic structure (as they would have been in ancient written lists of the Sanskrit alphabet/syllabary both before and after they were brought to China). As few people would have known the Sanskrit alphabet, and in any case there was apparently confusion with the written systems coming from India, this most likely was primarily done either orally or with Chinese characters, which represent syllables rather than letters.

The result for the first line of the Incantation Beginning is then as follows (adapted from Chan Chong Hin, Table 1):

Glottal    迦 kakhagaghaṅa
Palatal    遮 cachajajhaña
Lingual   吒 ṭaṭhaḍaḍhaṇa
Dental     多 tathadadhana
Labial     波 paphababhama

Some charts add a sixth column with the letters ha ya ra la va and perhaps a partial seventh with - śa ṣa sa -, but that does not fit with the present chant. More importantly, as I am not an expert in this area I hesitate very much to speculate on the significance of the other 25 characters from this piece that represent other Sanskrit syllables.

As can be seen, the 25 Romanized Sanskrit syllables were expressed in only 14 different characters. It is not yet clear to me why sometimes different syllables are written with the same character. Note that they all have the same final sound: "a". The other 25 characters apparently represent the same initials but their Sanskrit equivalents have different finals. These are discussed further in the footnote concerning the content of the incantation itself.

8. Structure and Content of the Incantation
Not all of the surviving tablatures give headings that clearly show the division of the central part (the incantation itself) into an incantation beginning followed by six sections of three lines each. The structure of these 18 lines is connected to that of the opening of the invocation, as discussed above. In addition, various patterns can be found within these 18 lines. For example,

More specifically regarding the actual text of the 18 lines of the Incantation, these seem to contain 39 distinct syllables (characters) repeated and arranged in various patterns. The 14 characters that represented 25 syllables in the Incantation Beginning are underlined below. As for the other 25 characters, they are thought to represent the same 25 initial sounds but with different finals.

All of the 39 characters representing Sanskrit syllables are as follows (the only ones for which Sanskrit pronunciation is given are those from the the Incantation Beginning, which all end on "...a"). They are listed in the order in which they are introduced within the 18 lines:

Line   Character   Mandarin   Sanskrit   Comment
      1.   ; 雞; 俱   jiā; ;   ka, kha, ga; ?; ?   Why three Sanskrit syllables for 迦?
      兼; 喬   jiān; qiáo   ?; ?  
      ;   yán; jiè   gha; ṅa  
      2.   ; 支; 朱   zhē; zhī; zhū   ca, cha, ja; ?; ?;   Why three for 遮?
      占; 昭   zhàn; zhāo   ?; ?  
      ,   shén;   jha; ña  
      3.   ; 知; 都   zhā; zhī; dōu   ṭa, ṭha, ḍa; ?; ?   Why three for 吒?
      擔;   dān; duō   ?; ta, tha, da   Why three for 多 ?
      ;   ;   ṇa, na; ḍha   Why two for 那? (知⇒諦?)
      4.   諦     ?  
      談   tán   ?  
        tán   dha  
      5.   ; 悲   ; bēi   pa, pha, ba; ?   Why three for 波?
        fàn   bha  
      7.   驗; 堯; 倪   yàn; yáo;   ?; ?; ?  
      9.   喃; 哪; 呢   nán; ; ne   ?, ?, ?  
    11.   迷     ?  
    13.   耶; 喻   ;   ?; ?  
    15.   奴     ?  
    17.   母     ?  

For most people these syllables have no intrinsic meaning, perhaps intended simply as an aid to learning how to pronounce Sanskrit syllables. To others, however, each of the characters (and/or the Sanskrit syllables they represent) would have had their own religious/mystical significance (further comment).

Lists of the Chinese characters representing these syllables can be traced back 1500 years or more. Little is known about how they may have been recited, but they can be found arranged in various ways in a number of ancient texts. Put together they could form incantations whose effect went beyond any literal meaning, the significance coming from the arrangement of the sacred syllables. Surviving Main Daily Offices do not include the opening section ("Om" plus what are above called lines A and B). The different tablatures sometimes have different versions of some of the syllables.

9. Buddhist Closing
This section begins with a syllabic summary. This is followed by a closing invocation that can be compared to the opening one.

Return to the annotated handbook list or to the Guqin ToC.