Sanskrit Manuscripts : Pañcarakṣā, Saptavāra

Sanskrit Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'> This manuscript includes a <i>Pañcarakṣā</i> collection and a <i>Saptavāra</i> collection. The <i>Pañcarakṣā</i> "Five Protections" consists of the <i>Mahāpratisarā</i>, <i>Mahāmāyūrī</i>, <i>Mahāsāhasrapramardanī</i>, <i>Mahāmantrānusāriṇī</i>, and <i>Mahāśītavatī</i> (in various sequences). The earliest evidence for texts grouped together as the "Five Great Dhāraṇīs" comes from Tibetan catalogues around 800 CE, but this compendium is somewhat different from the surviving Sanskrit collection, which is preserved in manuscripts dating back to the eleventh century. These scriptures include spells, enumerations of benefits and ritual instructions for use. With the course of time all of them became deified and five related goddesses emerged. It is, however, important to note that the texts themselves do not have any references to these goddesses. The <i>Saptavāra</i> ("Seven Days") usually incorporates seven <i>dhāraṇī</i>s, the <i>Vasudhārā</i>, <i>Vajravidāraṇā</i>, <i>Gaṇapatihṛdayā</i>, <i>Uṣṇīṣavijayā</i>, <i>Parṇaśavarī/Prajñāpāramitā</i>, <i>Mārīcī</i>, and <i>Grahamātṛkā</i>. This collection associates each <i>dhāraṇī</i> with a specific day of the week, a tradition going back to at least the sixteenth century in Nepal. This paper manuscript, probably to be ascribed to the 17th or 18th century, is illuminated with miniatures of the various goddesses, represented at the beginning of each <i>dhāraṇī</i>. The original wood cover bears traces of ritual worship. Instead of the <i>Vasudhārā</i>, the <i>Saptavāra</i> contained in this manuscript begins with the <i>Vasudhārānāmāṣṭottaraśataka</i> (although the final rubric mistakenly identifies it as a <i>Vasudhārādhāraṇī</i>). The manuscript is incomplete as it misses the last folio, which contained the end of the colophon. </p>


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