The Mani Mantra

Reciting and hearing a mantra is just like seeing the Buddha. It helps to internalize the mantra and to be mindful of the state of enlightenment. Mantras are also powerful spells and create a connection to the Buddhas.

Almost all Bhutanese, beginning from an infant to an old, recite Mani mantra, ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ thousands of times in a day as part of daily prayer, while circumambulating stupa or temple, or during leisure walks.

Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion

It is the six-syllable Sanskrit mantra associated with Avalokiteshvara, the Boddhisattva of Compassion. The Mani mantra is considered the simplest but most sacred of all mantras. By reciting the mantra a hundred times, the merits accrued are believed to be equivalent to the merit earned by reading the 108 volumes of the Kangyur, which contain the Buddha’s entire teachings.

Though precise literal meaning and translation is difficult, the basic English translation of mantra would be ‘Hail, jewel in the lotus.

Om – hail, a sacred sound

Mani – jewel or bead

Padme – lotus flower

Hum – the embodiment of enlightenment

Tsangsar Tulku Rinpoche expands upon the mantra’s meaning, taking its six syllables to represent the purification of the six realms of existence:

Syllable Paramita Power Realm Color Heaven
Om Generosity Purifies Pride God White Potala
Ma Ethics Purifies Jealousy Demi-god Green Potala
Ni Patience Purifies Desire Human Yellow Dewachen
Pad Diligence Purifies Ignorance Animal Blue Avalokitshvara
Me Renunciation Purifies  Greed Hungry ghost Red Potala
Hum Wisdom Purifies Hatred Hell Black Avalokitshvara
Mani mantra carved on stone

Buddha has mentioned, in of the sutras, that “This is the most beneficial mantra. Even I made this aspiration to all the million Buddhas and subsequently received this teaching from Buddha Amitabha.

Mani mantra printed on prayer flags

The Mani mantra is also found printed on prayer flags, carved on stones, and inserted inside holy statues and in prayer wheels. When the flags are blown and the wheel spinned, the effect is the same as reciting the mantra.

One thought on “Om Mani Padme Hum: why Bhutanese chant mantra

  1. The culture of this country is so enchanting…
    Waiting for my destination to direct to here someday…

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