Inscription of Candi Cebongan (Hariti)


source : ?, Inskripsi Candi Cebongan,

In 1925, W. F. Stutterheim published a paper in Djawa V (1925): 247- 252 on ‘An important Hindu-Javanese drawing on copper’, which has been reprinted in Studies in Indonesian Archaeology (The Hague 1956). He identifies the copper plate drawing as that of Devï Durga on the basis of earlier remarks of Krom. She is carrying a child in both hands, and Devï Durga never bears a child like this. A glance at the plate leads one to the conclusion that it is a depiction of Harïti holding her youngest and dearest son Priyahkara, the “charm of the whole which makes this figure in its tenderly caressing and motherly attitude so attractive”. In the Nispanna-yogavalï her iconography is sa-putra ‘with a son’. Harïti is still worshipped as the guardian goddess of children in Bali, and her wood-sculptures continue to be carved by modern artists.

The paper of Stutterheim considers the plate to originate from ‘a sivaite sphere’, which is an error due to wrong identification. The inscription engraved on the plate commences with tadyatha, which is clearly an opening word for Buddhist dharanïs. This Buddhist expression is but natural as Harïti is a Buddhist goddess. Stutterheim remarks: “And it appears from the various names enumerated, as well as from the corresponding mystical syllables, that the goddess is mentioned with all her qualities, but particularly as the mother of the Gods, the Mother of God” (p. 148). ‘The Mother of God’ is a Christian expression which has no relevance to this copper-plate inscription. Further, Harïti is invoked not as the mother of gods, but as vajra-bala-garbhe (1.1), that is, whose womb holds a vajra-child, a child as strong as a vajra who can survive all the rigours of ancient life. Harïti had five hundred sons, and she is referred to as panca-putra-sata-parivara in the Mahayaksï- Harïti-Priyankara-sadhana-vidhi, translated by Amoghavajra during the years A.D. 746-771, into Chinese as Ta-yo-ch’a-nü-huan-hsi-mu-ping-ai- tzü-ch’êng-chiu-fa (Nanjio 1392, Taisho edition vol. 21 no. 1260). All the 500 children were alive and hence she became vajra-bala-garbha.

Stutterheim makes an observation on p. 149 which contradicts his identification of the goddess with Durga. Here he has come closer to the correct nature of the goddess as tantric and furthermore he is somehow unconsciously aware of an error though he does not realise it explicitly: “And yet, as the inscription shows, the representation here is not to be called much less tantric; it verges quite closely on it. This demonstrates once more the danger which occurs when knowledge does not precede the extasies of beauty.”

Stutterheim accuses the writer of the inscription that he “was either very careless or did not know Sanskrit sufficiently well” (p. 155). Many of the errors sought to be imposed on the writer are nothing but wrong orthography, due to wrong pronunciation or’misreading of an original, e.g. 1.2 visobane (b<bh<dh) for visodhane. The confusion of sibilants is common in Indonesia as well as India: s, s, s and is not a sign of ignorance. The confusion of b & v, n & n, are due to pronunciation habits. Stutterheim says: “The ë of cële in line 6 is rather strange, we would not have expected an Indonesian sound between all these Sanskrit sounds”, but Sanskrit a is pronounced as a closed vowel (ë) in India. Savisatrapram(adha)ni (line 9) is careless copying, but Stutterheim commits the blunder of emending it to the impossible sarva-satva- pramathani ‘the vanquisher of all beings’. It can be emended to sarva- satru-pramathani, ‘the vanquisher of all enemies’. We present here the correct text of the inscription:


Tadyatha. Om vipula-garbhe vipula-vimale jayagarbhe vajra-bala-ga rbhe gatï-gahane gagana-visodhane (i.°sobane) sarva-papa-visodha- ne Orh gu navati. gaganavicarini giri-giri. gamari-gamari. gaha-gaha. (ga) rbhari-garbhari. gabhari-gabhari gambhari-gambhari. gatiga. Ga [ti]. nigamare gubha-gubha. ibhani-ibhani cule vimale mu cële jaya-vijaya. sarva-bhaya-vigate  gambha-sambharani siri-siri. miri-miri. piri- piri. ghiri-ghiri. Sama ntakamani sarva-satru (i. savisatra)-pram(atha)ni raksa-raksa sa saparivara sarva-sattvarh1:ts ca. viri-viri. vividhavarana-vina sini muri-muri. mili-mili. Ka male vimale. jaye vi jaye jayavati (i. jahevate) jaya lo vati (i. jahevati) bhagavati ratna-makuta-maladhari bahuvidha-vicitra-vema-dha rini. bhagavati mahavidyadevi raksa raksa ma saparivararh sattvarhs ca samantat sarva-pa ls pa-visodhani huru-huru. raksa-raksa ma sa pariva.rarh sarva-sattvarhs ca anathan atranan apa bhayanan asaranan parimocaya (i.°la) sa(r)va- duhkhe-bhyah (i. Duhle 0) candi candini vegavati sarva- dusta-nihsarani (i.nisaranï) vijaya-vahini. huru-huru mu24 ru-muru. curu-curu. Ayumpalani sura-vara-mathani sarva-deva-gana-svadite viri-viri. Samantava lokite prabha-prabhe (i.pradha0) suprabha-visuddhe sa2T rva-papa-visodhani dhara-dhara dharani dhare-dhare musu-musu. sumu-sumu pumu- pumu. ruru-ruru cale calaya dustam suyasan sri-vapu jaya kamale ksini-ksini vara dangaje Om padma-visuddhe gara-gara. giri-giri. kuru- kuru mangala-visuddhe pavitra-müli langani-lahgani. lara-lara. jvalita- sïlare samanta-prasa^ritavabhasita-suddhe jvala-jvala sarva-deva-gana- samakarsani satya-vra te tara-tara taraya sarva-sattvantavalokite lahu- lahu tuhu-tuhu turu-turu. ghiri-ghiri hani-hani. ksani-ksani. sarva- graha-raksini.



         i.            The figure 2 denotes the repetition of the word which appears before it.

       ii.            The whole dharanï is couched in generalia, the role of Hariti as the guardian- deity of the children being implied because of the taboo of making explicit anything even remotely untoward to children. Moreover, the gods love the esoteric; paroksapriya devah.

Om ! Thou fertile in conception, of immense immaculateness, be victorious, of unfailing womb, which gives birth to children as strong as the vajra, of ways inscrutable, as pure and purifying as the heavens, and removing all sins, [such art thou]. Om! endowed with virtues, roaming the skies, retain 2, secure 2, hold 2 [the foetus], oh fertile one 2, fertile one 2, fertile one 2, fast one 2, ever-moving, privy 2, carnally known 2, petite (cule), immaculate, unrestrained (mucile), be victorious, oh victress, free from all fears.

Hold the foetus, retain 2, retain 2, retain 2, retain 2, it —, vanquishing all enemies protect 2 me along with my family, as well as all sentient beings, omnipotent one ! Destroying all sorts of sullying accretions, appear 2, bless 2. Oh goddess [charming and excellent like a] lotus, immaculate one, oh victress, ever victress, victorious one 2, oh adorable, wearing a coronet and necklace of jewels, draped in fabrics of varied and exotic weaves. Oh adorable, the goddess of supreme esoteric lore, protect 2 me, my family and sentient beings, everywhere. Oh redeemer of all sins, quick 2, protect 2 me, my family, all sentient beings, who are helpless, without protection, carried away by fear, seeking refuge, deliver us from all afflictions. Fearsome, fierce, dynamic, exterminator of all the wicked, victress triumphant, quick 2, fast 2, come 2 [with thine grace], thou the giver of long life, thou who can crush even the mighty gods, adored by all the classes of gods, omnipotent one. [Gracing] all with thine benign look, resplendent and illumined, pure in radiance, purifying all sins (or sinners), sustain 2, holdress, thou who holdest … . Oh dynamic one (cale) turn out the wicked —, —. Victory to thee, oh goddess [as excellent as the] lotus, guardian 2, oh goddess of love (angaja) granting boon [of progeny]. Om! oh as pure as the lotus [in the mire of worldly existence], retain 2, hold 2, act 2. Thou the auspicious and virtuous one, originally pure, loving one 2, fondle 2, of flaming piety, whose splendour irradiates purity in all directions, glow 2. Attracting all the classes of gods, of truthful vow, redeem 2, save all beings, thou that viewest the yonder (anta), quick 2, fast 2, hasten 2. Retain 2 [the foetus], kill 2 [the evil demons], protect 2, thou the protectress against all demons [who prey on children].

Before we remark on the linguistic aspects of the inscription it is necessary to bear in mind that the dharanï and the accompanying sketch are intended to propitiate Harïti as the “protectress of children, worshipped in Northern India by bereaved parents”, expecially if infant mortality in the family was high. Hsüan-tsang records the stüpa which marked the place of cruel yaksinï Hariti’s conversion to Buddhism as the benign Harïti, before which common folk made offerings to obtain offspring. The worship of Harïti was popular in Gandhara, and at Ajanta, Aurangabad and Ellora, as attested by sculptural remains. Sculptures of Harïti and her spouse Pancika are met with in a special shrine dedicated to them in Cave 2 of Ajanta. Smaller panels depict her in Caves 2 and 23 of Ajanta on the architraves of the cells inside the viharas. At Ellora she is sculptured in a separate niche, where Mr. M. N. Deshpande terms her as “the goddess auspicious to children”. The cult of Harïti was founded on the desire for posterity and it reached Java quite early. On the north wall of the antechamber of Chandi Mendut, which dates to about A.D. 800, she is seated on a throne, holds a child to her breast while several children play around her. In Bali an ancient statute of Harïti with seven children has been found at pura Goa Gajah near Bëdulu. Another image from pura Panataran Parilan at Pejeng shows her with five children, and it is dated A.D. 1091.

Harïti as the goddess of fecundity or as the guardian of children is invoked in the dharanï. The very opening words of the dharanï are various epithets pertaining to fecundity: vipula-garbhe, vipula-vimale, jaya-garbhe, vajra-bala-garbhe. Garbhari gabhari gambhari (1.4) are variants of garbhini ‘pregnant’ intentionally altered for esoteric effects. Ghiri (1.8, 36), gaha (1.3), gara giri (1.32) refer to the retention of the foetus from the root V grah meaning ‘to retain’: mis is evident from line 7 where ghiri is preceded by gambha-sambharani ‘one who holds the foetus’.

The goddess Harïti as the guardian of children was held in high veneration because of the high rate of infant mortality in ancient times. Jaya-garbhe vajra-bala-garbhe (1.1) refer to the victorious {jaya) out-come, and invincibility (vajra) of the foetus to death, dhara dharani dhare (11. 27-28) also connotes retention. In line 24 she is prayed to for long life: ayumpalani ‘one who grants long life’. In line 31 the mystic expression ksini stands for raksini as can be seen from the phrase ksani. sarva-graha-raksini in the last line 36, where the concomitance of ksani with raksini makes it clear that the initial syllable ra has been dropped. The dharanï is an invocation not only for guarding the children in particular but also the family and all beings in general, in the true Buddhist spirit of universal altruism, in the ideal of the bodhisattva.

Another aspect of Harïti is her immaculateness. She had the extra-ordinary number of five hundred children by yaksa Pancika of whom Priyankara was the youngest. In the opening line vipula-garbhe is followed by vipula-vimale, both in a vocative apposition, subtly alluding to the immaculate purity (vimala) of the foetus (garbha), and herice secure in the glory of social grace. Harïti redeems all sins {sarva-papa- visodhane, or °ni lines 2, 18-19, 27). She is the destroyer of all sullying accretions (vividhavarana-vinösini, line 11). She is invoked as imma-culate (vimale, line 13), as pure as the lotus is in the mire of its worldly existence (padma-visuddhe, 1.32), so pure as to be auspicious (mangala- visuddhe, line 32), originally pure and holy (pavitra-müli, line 33).

Though primarily a goddess of fertility, Harïti is all-powerful, victorious all around (lines 6, 13, 14, 23), beyond all fears (1.6), destroys all poisons (1.9), ferocious and dynamic (1.22), does away all wicked ones (1.23), and her prowess can crush even the mighty gods if need be (1.24).

The sandha-bhasa expressions were intentionally made recondite and inserted in the otherwise regular text of the dharanïs to impart sonorous effects and a psychic mystique. They have not been worked out so far. They follow a pattern of ‘jingling compounds’ following a normal word, e.g. in gambha-sambharani siri miri piri ghiri, the s of sambharani becomes the starting-point of the mystic insertion siri. It has an analogy in the additions of stobhas in the Vedic texts. siri is followed by the jingling mirri piri ghiri, where ghiri recaptures the g (<gh) of garbha-sambharani. The consonantal variation in siri miri piri ghiri has a parallel in line 28 musu sumu pumu ruru: in both the three initial variant consonants are s m p, while the last one varies due to their differing contexts.

In line 5 vimale mucële is a jingling phrase of vimale. In lines 11,25 viri may denote the omnipotence of the goddess and stand for vïrï a pseudo-feminine form of vïra; anyhow their contextual setting can imply it. Huru in lines 19, 23 (huru muru curu) is a variant of lahu <.laghu ‘fast, quick’, an exhortation of a zealous devotee to drive away all evils expeditiously. The dharanï ends with lahu tuhu turu ghiri hani — all of which express the dire urgency of the prayer: here turu is from tvara  ‘quick, quick’, tuhu is a joining assonance of lahu and turu  which partakes of the sound elements of both. Hani is for hana ‘kill, kill’ the evil demons, for only then can she protect (ksani) the officiant from evil demons which is her function: such would be the general tenor of the closing phrase: hani ksani sarva-graha-raksini. Stutterheim translates it as “protectress of all planets — which may perhaps refer to an astral significance” (p. 157). Here sarva-graha is a technical term which is defined in Sanskrit medical (ayurveda) works as dvadasa bala-graha ‘twelve demons who prey upon children’ . A manuscript entided Sarvartha-cintamani enumerates these twelve: skanda, visakha, apasmara, pitrgraha, naigamesa, sakunï, sïtapütana, mukhamandika, pütana, andhapütana., revatï and suska-revatï. They are also mentioned in die Buddhist work Dharmakosa-sangraha written by Amrtananda for the British Resident in Nepal , Mr . B. Hodg- son. Among the Tun-huang paintings there are three pothi leaves on which six of diese child-harming demons are illustrated with inscriptions in Chinese and Khotanese. Two other fragments have also been discovered from Tun-huang on which child-harming demons are painted. (Waley, 1931: p. 241 CCCLXVI) . They illustrate ten grahas. In the Chinese Tripitaka, Hu-ch’u-t’ung-tzü t’o-lc-ni ching (Nanjio 488, Taisho 1028a) is a dharanï-sütra for protecting children, against sixteen evil spirits most of which are common to the above. It was translated into Chinese by Bodhiruci during A.D. 508-537. Rites for warding off evil disease-causing demons were part of the functions of Harïti . Stutterheim’s translation of graha as planet is out of the question.

His entire paper labours under a wrong iconographic identification, to which is added lack of knowledge of hymnal or ritual literature in Sanskrit, absence of the socio-cultural context which provides rare insights to elucidate the pseudo-grammatic or cryptic forms, and above all the lack of feeling for a culture that is still alive. When dealing with the present inscription a better understanding of Hindu-Buddhist life is essential to appreciate the knowledge of the writer of the inscription, who was operating in a well-known thaumaturgic world where the grammarian was not the sole monarch of the situation, and the trans-logical was expressed in the mystic assonance of dimly recognised words surcharged with a psycho-somatic power .

International Academy of Indian Culture


Quarterly Report of the Archaeological Survey for 1914, 2nd quarter, pp. 60-61.

Ed. B. Bhattacharyya, Baroda 1949, text p. 66.

Lokesh Chandra, Sanskrit Texts from the Imperial Palace at Peking, part 19, pp. 7651-55.

 Alice Getty, Gods of Northern Buddhism, repr. Tokyo 1962, p. 84.

 S. Beal, Buddhist Records of the Western World [ = India], London 1906, vol. 1: 110-111.

Ajanta Murals, ed. A. Ghosh, New Delhi 1967, p. 27, Plate Q.

A. J. Bernet Kempers, Ancient Indonesian Art, Cambridge, Mass. 1959, plate 56 described on p. 39.

W. F. Stutterheim, Oudheden van Bali, Singaradja 1930, fig. 25, text 130-131, fig. 38, text 76, 85, 142.

Alice Getty, o.c, p. 84.

Ed. Lokesh Chandra, pp. 108-109.

Arthur Waley, A Catalogue of Paintings recovered from Tun-huang by Sir

Aurel Stein, London 1931, p. 170, CLXXVII; illustrated in Aurel Stein,. Serindia, pi. XGVI.


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