Seven Branches Series
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Courtesy of Himalayan Art Resources
Texts on the theme of the seven-branch (yan lag bdun pa; saptāṅga) service, commonly consisting of 1) prostration/homage, 2) making offerings, 3) confession of negative actions, 4) rejoicing in others' virtue, 5) requesting the turning of the dharma wheel, 6) imploring teachers to remain and not pass into parinirvāṇa, and 7) dedicating merit to the enlightenment of all sentient beings.
- The Seven Branches from Samantabhadra’s “Aspiration to Good Actions” (Zangchö Mönlam) from the Words of the Buddha
Extracted from Samantabhadra’s “Aspiration to Good Actions” (bzang spyod smon lam, Toh 1095), this is the section on the seven branches (yan lag bdun pa; saptāṅga): 1) prostration, 2) offering, 3) confession, 4) rejoicing, 5) imploring the buddhas to turn the wheel of dharma, 6) requesting the buddhas not to enter nirvāṇa, and 7) dedication. This section is commonly recited as part of the preliminaries to other practices.
Lists of the seven branches (yan lag bdun; saptāṅga) vary. In this short text by the influential Kashmiri scholar Śākyaśrībhadra, which is included in the Tengyur (Toh 3980), the seven are: 1) prostration, 2) offering, 3) taking refuge, 4) confession, 5) rejoicing, 6) generating bodhicitta, and 7) making prayers of aspiration.
This practice of eight branches (prostration, taking refuge, offering real and imagined gifts, confession, rejoicing, generating bodhicitta, offering the body, and dedication of merit) derive from the Tantra System Vajrakīla (rgyud lugs phur pa), which is part of the Nyingma Kama collection, but appear in other texts, especially empowerment rites.