What does this phrase mean: "Ye dharmaḥ hetuprabhāvaḥ"


In H.v.Glasenapps article “The Influence of Buddhist Philosophy” I find the following sentence:

The two Russian scho­lars, Theodore Stcherbatsky, and his pupil, Otto Rosenberg, have shown that the doctrine of the “dharmas,” i.e. impersonal soul forces, is the central phi­losophical conception which is at the bottom of all Buddhist philosophical thought. The great Bel­gi­an indologist, La Valle Poussin, has dealt more mi­nu­tely with the problem in his magnificent trans­la­ti­on of Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakoṣa. We under­stand now why the celebrated stanza “ Ye dharmaḥ hetuprabhāvaḥ ” is the credo of all Buddhists.

I couldn’t find this “Ye dharmaḥ hetuprabhāvaḥ” simply using google, however he assigns this phrase quite a basic importance. So what does it mean? Is this just the “I take refuge to the dharma”?


The phrase your looking for is typically spelled “Ye dhammā hetuppabhavā” in Pāḷi and it means (roughly) “That things arise from causes”

It occures in the Pāḷi Canon here (which corresponds to this point in Horner’s translation).

It was Ven Assaji’s answer when asked “What is the doctrine of your teacher?” by a gentleman named Sāriputta :smile: Upon hearing “that things arise from causes,” Sāriputta immediately understood, and ran to tell his friend Moggallāna that he had finally found their teacher. :heart_eyes:


Not big answer, just “Thank you, Alex!”


Just to clarify, the line is a fragment of a larger saying, which is supplied in the full verse. In English we might capture the effect as “Of those things that arise from causes …”

Clearly the saying was so well known that it was assumed everyone understood it from just the fragment, as we might in English say “When in Rome”.


Thank you, Venerable, for the detailing of it! But now you made me curious (since I’m not a native speaker of english) - what would be the completion of “when in Rome”? And what of the three dots in the other phrase?


“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

See the passage in context at the link given by Alex above. I would translate the verse something like:

Of those things that arise from causes,
the Realized One has spoken of their cause,
and of their cessation too.
This is the doctrine of the Great Ascetic.


Thank you again, Venerable! This is both very smooth and simple.

I’ve just also checked german translations, and the story of Sariputta is (as I also remembered it) a very amazing one, and even gets fresh air when it is pointed to in this focus-of-importance/basicness.

(Btw. just for releasing some emotion: reading the v. Glasenapp text(s) really opens the mind and I’d just got the impulse to immediately travel to the north-indian holy places to give reverence to the Buddha… )