May 25-30,2011 3:30-4:30 pm

The Extraordinary Aspiration of the Practice of Samantabhadra

Raji Ramanan

“The Extraordinary Aspiration of the Practice of Samantabhadra” , extracted from the Gandavyūha chapter of the Avatamsaka sūtra, is one of the most favored prayers of the Buddhist liturgy and rightfully called “The King of Prayers”, for it summarizes the extraordinary activities of bodhisattvas as well as both the profound and extensive paths. A closer look at the Sanskrit meaning of Samantabhadra’s name suggests this prayer’s reach. Samanta is a being on every side, universal, complete, whole; whereas Bhadra connotes auspiciousness, blessing, goodness. Thus Samantabhadra is translated as "The Universal Good," or “The Completely Good or Auspicious”. And what could be interpreted as completely good, auspicious in every way? In Buddhist terms it is the practice of bodhichitta, which transforms our state of mind in every moment; it is the mind that aspires after the welfare of all sentient beings, and it is the path of a bodhisattva. Through the recitation of this prayer, plus the right motivation, sincere effort, open-mindedness and wisdom, we can strive to put our mind in this rightful direction.

During five days, with two daily sessions, we will chant the verses of “The King of Prayers” in Sanskrit, with emphasis on the correct pronunciation. The short time may not offer opportunity for an explanation of all the words, but whenever possible we will draw out the rich meaning of the verses.

Raji Ramanan has a deep interest in Sanskrit as a classical language and a language of chants. She is a translator extensively involved in projects related to Buddhism, Indian culture, and social movements.

If time permits, there will also be practictes of chantings of the following mantras:

  • Triratna Vandanā  -In Praise of three Jewels
  • Refuge and Bodhicittotpāda
  • Four Immeasurables
  • Dedication