I am new to Buddhism, and yet somehow felt my life significantly improved after sincerely adopting some Buddhist values and memorizing and chanting several mantras like Mahakaruna Dharani, Cundi Dharani, Jvala Mahaugra Dharani, and several others .. For some reason, the name Shurangama Mantra keeps repeating in my head - perhaps after reading its name for the first time couple months ago.
For now, I would really like to incorporate Shurangama Mantra into my daily routines, but I've been overwhelmed by information from the Internet. Being a new Buddhist, It took my a while to even learn who Master Hsuan Hua was. Anyway, here are the following questions I'd like to ask about practicing Shurangama Mantra:
1. What's a recommended routine supposed to be like? Obviously I don't have access to initiations and teachers who could teach me mudras, so what regiment would be most effective given my situation? There are the Five Great Heart Mantras from Master Hsuan Hua, then there are also the Heart Mantra consisted of the last 11 lines of the Dharani. Are we supposed to read both? How many times? Well, I would like to memorize the entire long mantra someday, but for now at least we should start with the heart mantras, right?
2. Can we chant in Sanskrit instead of Mandarin? Did Master Hsuan Hua have any objection to this? This is the part that got me really confused. When it comes to Shurangama Mantra information in the Internet, almost every website expounded the mantra in unusual Chinese latin writings that are neither Wade Giles nor Pinyin. It is my understanding that to properly say a Mandarin word, you need to follow one of the four tones the word belongs to. Obviously, "dwo jr two" doesn't convey this tonality information. For this reason, I would really like to chant the Sanskrit instead of the unsual Chinese writings. However, my research on the Internet so far indicates that the Chinese version could be older than the Sanskrit version, so I'm worried that chanting the Sanskrit mantra may not have the better effect - especially when the transliteration doesn't quite sound the same:
104: Chedana - Chr Two Ni (OK)
105: Akala - E Jya La (OK)
106: Mrtyu - Mi Li Jyu (OK)
107: Prasamana - Bwo Li Dan La Ye (DIFFERENT)
108: Karim - Ning Jye Li (DIFFERENT)
And the above makes me not so sure about chanting the Sanskrit, given some theories that said that the Chinese Shurangama Dharani is older than the Sanskrit one. Anyway, back to the point, is it still OK to chant in Sanskrit, and why? I wish I could chant Sanskrit because I memorize Sanskrit words far faster than Chinese ones ...