Protective suttas for overcoming Mara

Hi friends,

I’ve just found a very useful sutta for overcoming Mara, MA 50, and would like to share with you. I’d also appreciate your input for other protective sutta(s) for overcoming Mara.

Thanks and Metta,


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What is the Majjhima Nikaya equivalent of MA 50?
With Metta

ma50 恭敬 恭敬
ma50 an5.22 Dutiyaagārava Sutta
an10.3 Paṭhamaupanisa Sutta
an10.4 Dutiyaupanisa Sutta
an11.3 Paṭhamaupanisā Sutta
an11.4 Dutiyaupanisā Sutta
an5.168 Sīla Sutta
an5.21 Paṭhamaagārava Sutta
an5.24 Dussīla Sutta
an6.50 Indriyasaṃvara Sutta
an7.65 Hirīottappa Sutta
an8.81 Satisampajañña Sutta
ma45 慚愧
ma46 慚愧
ma49 恭敬

The Buddha did not overcome Mara by chanting protective verses, but by actively engaging his armies with the weapon of wisdom:

“Seeing the surrounding army ready and Mara mounted (on his elephant), I am going out to fight so that he may not shift me from my position. This army of yours which the world together with the devas is unable to subdue, that I will destroy with wisdom, like an unbaked clay-bowl with a stone.”—Sn 3.2

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I think that the analogies that Buddha provides are also very helpful. Several helpful analogies for the utility of sati (reflective mindfulness) are presented in MN 119 SuttaCentral. These include:

  1. Jug of water that is full with sati and thus impervious to Mara: “The Buddha offers an image of the mind like a water jug. If it is half-full of water, Mara—the personification of delusion in Buddhist mythic imagery—can gain access and cause all sorts of mischief. This happens when one senses the world with half of one’s available awareness, and thinks about it with the other half. Mara, a trickster figure, represents the unseen (i.e., unconscious) neurotic habitual tendencies that usually direct mental chatter. But if the water jug is full to the brim, Mara can gain no access. Conscious awareness is fully engaged, but with direct sense experience rather than with mental narrative. By filling up the senses, one empties out the mind. With the peace that ensues from quieting the mind in this way, Dharma investigation can begin.” (Unlimiting Mind: The Radically Experiential Psychology of Buddhism by Andrew Olendzki).

  2. A light ball of string being unable to break the door of a mind well-guarded by sati: "Would that light ball of string find an entry into that door-panel made entirely of hardwood?”
    “No, sir.”
    “In the same way, when a mendicant has developed and cultivated mindfulness of the body, Māra cannot find a vulnerability and doesn’t get hold of them.”

Another helpful analogy is that of the fortress (not to be conflated with the gatekeeper analogy for the breath used in the commentaries) that is described here: SN 35:204  Kiṁsuka Sutta | The Riddle Tree

I find analogies helpful because the imagery allows me to call them to mind. For example, with the in-breath, I can imagine filling myself with sati so that there is no room in my mind for unskillful thoughts (Mara can be viewed as an analogy for unskillful thoughts). Other very pragmatic, easy to implement helpful strategies are presented in MN20 SuttaCentral


Hi Starter, here are some suttas which are considered ‘protective’ and are often chanted as part of paritta chanting which you may or may not have heard of:

Mangala sutta
Ratana sutta
Metta sutta

There’s also the Atanatiya sutta

I read The Banner’s crest sutta recently were the Buddha advises the mendicants to recollect the virtues of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha if you ever find yourself in a fearful situation.

In The Fear and Dread sutta, the Buddha talks about the challenges he faced when staying in remote locations whilst still striving for enlightment and what he did to overcome fear.

I believe that there is definitely some kind of power when you chant the suttas, espcially if you chant them with a lot of faith and enthusiasm.

I think ultimately though the real power is in actually practicing what is outlined in these suttas, which is hard to do, but not impossible.

In the end, the real protection is in one’s virtue and practice. This is the real protection. :anjal:

The Buddha says Be your own Island


Unwholesome thoughts actively seek nutriment (SN 46.51 ‘Food’), driven by the current of samsara as are living beings, so practice must be purposeful:

“A crow circled a stone
the color of fat
— ‘Maybe I’ve found
something tender here.
Maybe there’s something delicious’ —
but not getting anything delicious there,
the crow went away.”—Sn 3.2

The strategies the Buddha uses in the fight are fourfold- the great endeavours of Right Effort:

“The monk rouses his will to avoid the arising of evil, unwholesome things not yet arisen … to overcome them … to develop wholesome things not yet arisen … to maintain them, and not to let them disappear, but to bring them to growth, to maturity and to the full perfection of development. And he makes effort, stirs up his energy, exerts his mind and strives” (A. IV, 13).

(1) "What now, o monks, is the effort to avoid? Perceiving a form, or a sound, or an odour, or a taste, or a bodily or mental impression, the monk neither adheres to the whole nor to its parts. And he strives to ward off that through which evil and unwholesome things might arise, such as greed and sorrow, if he remained with unguarded senses; and he watches over his senses, restrains his senses. This is called the effort to avoid.

(2) "What now is the effort to overcome? The monk does not retain any thought of sensual lust, or any other evil, unwholesome states that may have arisen; he abandons them, dispels them, destroys them, causes them to disappear. This is called the effort to overcome.

(3) "What now is the effort to develop? The monk develops the factors of enlightenment, bent on solitude, on detachment, on extinction, and ending in deliverance, namely: mindfulness ( sati ), investigation of the law ( dhamma-vicaya ), energy ( viriya ), rapture ( pīti ), tranquillity ( passaddhi ), concentraton ( samādhi ), equanimity ( upekkhā ). This is called the effort to develop.

(4) “What now is the effort to maintain? The monk keeps firmly in his mind a favourable object of concentration, such as the mental image of a skeleton, a corpse infested by worms, a corpse blueblack in colour, a festering corpse, a corpse riddled with holes, a corpse swollen up. This is called the effort to maintain” (A. IV, 14).—Nyanatiloka


Hi friends,

Many thanks for your kind help. Sorry I made a mistake in my first post. It should be MN 50 (The Rebuke of Mara Māratajjanīyasutta), not MA 50.

MN 50 is very useful in overcoming Mara and demons (corrupted assuras).

In addition, I found the following in DN 33 SuttaCentral :

“Ten qualities that serve as protector.

  1. Firstly, a mendicant is ethical, restrained in the monastic code, conducting themselves well and seeking alms in suitable places. Seeing danger in the slightest fault, they keep the rules they’ve undertaken. …

This is a quality that serves as protector.

  1. Furthermore, a mendicant is very learned, remembering and keeping what they’ve learned. These teachings are good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end, meaningful and well-phrased, describing a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. They are very learned in such teachings, remembering them, reinforcing them by recitation, mentally scrutinizing them, and comprehending them theoretically.

This too is a quality that serves as protector.

  1. Furthermore, a mendicant has good friends, companions, and associates.

This too is a quality that serves as protector.

  1. Furthermore, a mendicant is easy to admonish, having qualities that make them easy to admonish. They’re patient, and take instruction respectfully.

This too is a quality that serves as protector.

  1. Furthermore, a mendicant is deft and tireless in a diverse spectrum of duties for their spiritual companions, understanding how to go about things in order to complete and organize the work.

This too is a quality that serves as protector.

  1. Furthermore, a mendicant loves the teachings and is a delight to converse with, being full of joy in the teaching and training.

This too is a quality that serves as protector.

  1. Furthermore, a mendicant is content with any kind of robes, alms-food, lodgings, and medicines and supplies for the sick.

This too is a quality that serves as protector.

  1. Furthermore, a mendicant lives with energy roused up for giving up unskillful qualities and embracing skillful qualities. They are strong, staunchly vigorous, not slacking off when it comes to developing skillful qualities.

This too is a quality that serves as protector.

  1. Furthermore, a mendicant is mindful. They have utmost mindfulness and alertness, and can remember and recall what was said and done long ago.

This too is a quality that serves as protector.

  1. Furthermore, a mendicant is wise. They have the wisdom of arising and passing away which is noble, penetrative, and leads to the complete ending of suffering.

This too is a quality that serves as protector."

With Metta,