What Could Mean More? Om Mani Padme Hum

Om mani padme hum is an ancient mantra that is related to the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara, and with therefore the Dalai Lama, who is considered to be an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara.*

Let’s look first at how Tibetans pronounce om mani padme hum, in this video:

 

 

ChenrezigTibetans, who typically pronounce the mantra as “Om mani peme hung,” believe that Avalokiteshvara, who we call Chenrezig, has a very special connection with Tibetans as our protector.

In Tibetan, we say, “Chenrezig po kang chen pay lha kyel,” which means: “Chenrezig is the Tibetans’ Buddha.” By practicing Chenrezig’s mantra, we believe that we can accumulate merit and purify our delusions.

Every Tibetan child is taught the mantra by our parents, and we all use it very commonly in daily life, and especially if we make a prayer walk (kora) or go to the temple, or pray using a rosary (mala).

Basically, any mantra is “a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of ‘creating transformation.'” **  See also our posts on the Green Tara mantra, White Tara and her mantra, and the Buddha Shakyamuni mantra.

This mantra naturally comes to our hearts in any kind of difficult situation. For example, when I was in an earthquake in Dharamsala once, when the earth started shaking, I automatically started praying, “Om mani peme hung.”

 

Om Mani Padme Hum

Om Mani Padme Hum

 

Many people recite the mantra thousands of times in a day as part of their daily prayer practice. We also print it on prayer flags that blow the prayer to the winds, carve it on stones, and insert papers printed with it inside holy statues and in prayer wheels. Almost all Tibetans recite the prayer, even though many of us don’t know the meaning.

The most common meaning offered for the mantra is usually something like “Behold! The jewel in the lotus!” or “Praise to the jewel in the lotus.” But it is almost impossible to give one exact meaning for “om mani padme hum,” since it has been interpreted in many ways. Below, you can see His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s interpretations.

Also, we might say that its meaning as a spiritual sound goes beyond the literal meaning of its syllables.

The Meaning of Om Mani Padme Hum From Two Buddhist Masters

From His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

It is very good to recite the mantra Om mani padme hum, but while you are doing it, you should be thinking on its meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and vast …. The first, OM … symbolizes the practitioner’s impure body, speech, and mind; it also symbolizes the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha…. The path is indicated by the next four syllables. MANI, meaning jewel, symbolizes the … altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassionate and loving…. The two syllables, PADME, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom…. Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable HUM, which indicates indivisibility…. Thus the six syllables, om mani padme hum, mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha….

— His Holiness the Dalai Lama, www.sacred-texts.com* and Wikipedia

From Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

The mantra Om Mani Päme Hum is easy to say yet quite powerful, because it contains the essence of the entire teaching. When you say the first syllable Om it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity, Ma helps perfect the practice of pure ethics, and Ni helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance and patience. Pä, the fourth syllable, helps to achieve perfection of perseverance, Me helps achieve perfection in the practice of concentration, and the final sixth syllable Hum helps achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom. So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom. The path of these six perfections is the path walked by all the Buddhas of the three times. What could then be more meaningful than to say the mantra and accomplish the six perfections?

— Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones,  ISBN 0-87773-493-3

  Links:

Books:

Footnotes:

* The first known reference to the mantra is in the Karandavyuha Sutra, “a Mahayana sutra that was compiled at the end of the 4th century or beginning of the 5th century” A.D. (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karandavyuha_Sutra)

** Feuerstein, G. The Deeper Dimension of Yoga. Shambala Publications, Boston, MA. 2003. (Via Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mantra)

*** Several web sites contain the same information, and we have not been able to locate the original source of the information, though the transcription is attributed to Ngawang Tashi (Tsawa) of Drepung Loseling, Mundgod, India.

Buddhism Series

 

By Lobsang Wangdu

Comments

  1. Hi! I am planning on tattooing om mani padme hum on my body, but when i search the sentence in Sanskrit it seems like there are several ways of writing it? The picture you have here on this post, the one by Christopher J. Fynn, can i tattoo that one? Is that the correct way of writing the sentence in Sanskrit? I’m gonna link a page with a picture of different ways of writing it, it was that page that made me confused..

    http://nyima108.blogspot.no/2006/07/om-mani-padme-hum.html

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for asking. This made us notice we had a slightly wrong spelling. We changed the spelling on our post so now it is the correct one. Note that this one on our site is transliterated Sanskrit in Tibetan writing. You can compare the one on our page now with the 4th one on the nyima108 blog. That one on that page has a slight error — an extra dot. Hope this helps.

  2. Radha Raghoebir mrs says:

    Dear sirs,

    I would like to print the english meaning of the mantra’s Ohm mani padme ohm and Ohm tare tutare ture svaha, but from your website there is no print option.

    Kindly I request you to sent me the abovementioned english meanings. I really love those mantras and I am very glad that I have found the meaning of it.

    Appreciated a lot.

    Regards,
    mrs. Radha

  3. Thank you for being a part of the great illusion, without you my heart would be empty. Even though I don’t practice, I can’t help myself from loving you all so very much, and at times I miss you terribly! I have chanted in the past om mani pedme hum, even though I didn’t know what it meant, the mantra felt gud inside my being. Thanks from the heart eternally. Love & Peace

  4. Jonathan MacMillan says:

    Hi Yolanda

    Thank you for getting back to me so quickly.

    I have another question however. Is there a specific rhythm or pace or speed with which to recite the OM MANI PADME HUM mantra while using my mala?.

    I’m just a bit concerned about my breathing when I recite the mantra with my mala.

    The only other reference I have is with the SOHAM mantra which has the simple SO on the inhalation and HAM on the exhalation.

    Any help and guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you again.

    Sincerely,
    Jonathan

    • Hi Jonathan,
      There is no special rhythm or pace or speed for reciting om mani padme hum. You may find that your speed or rhythm changes from time to time and that is fine. We hope this helps. It is great that you are working on saying your mantras the best way that you can, but remember that the most important thing is that your motivation is good — and after that everything is very small in importance, meaning if you say your mantras with a good heart and spirit, with the intention of growing compassion, any way that you do it “technically” honestly doesn’t matter at all.

  5. Jonathan MacMillan says:

    Can anyone chant/recite/use the OM MANI PADME HUM mantra?. Even without proper/formal initiation?.

    I have recently purchased my first mala and am a little hesitant to simply go ahead and “assume” a mantra.

    For that reason, I have settled with the SOHAM mantra based on its natural/God given nature.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,
    Jonathan

    • Hi Jonathan,
      It’s no problem to recite om mani padme hung without a formal initiation or transmission. It’s nice if you get the blessing from your teacher, but not at all required. This is true for all of the mantras on our website.

      Our best to you!

      • Jonathan MacMillan says:

        Hi Yolanda

        Thank you for getting back to me so quickly.

        I have another question however. Is there a specific rhythm or pace or speed with which to recite the OM MANI PADME HUM mantra while using my mala?.

        I’m just a bit concerned about my breathing when I recite the mantra with my mala.

        The only other reference I have is with the SOHAM mantra which has the simple SO on the inhalation and HAM on the exhalation.

        Any help and guidance would be greatly appreciated.

        Thank you again.

        Sincerely,
        Jonathan

  6. maleka star says:

    I. Am grateful for these insights. Reciting of om mani padme hum has been the most comforting & affirming reality to date in this grand illusion – for me takes me out of myself & the selfish thoughts of suicide or the discomfort of the human existence allowing my trickster mind peace -that all is. As it is!
    I Am OM…………………………………….

  7. In The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying: The spiritual Classic and international bestseller, Appendix 4: Two Mantras, Sogyal Rinpoche, Rinpoche offers beautiful meanings of the two most famous mantras in Tibet along with the story of Avalokiteshvara.

    “The two most famous mantras in Tibet are the mantra of Padmasambhava, called the Vajra Guru Mantra, OM AH HUM VAJRA GURU PADMA SIDDHI HUM, and the mantra of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, OM MANI PADME HUM. Like most mantras they are in Sanskrit, the ancient sacred language of India.”

    Also, a place to find great inspiration is http://living-and-dying.org/ which has many personal stories of how this book based on the teachings of the Buddha and the great masters of Tibet have benefited their lives.

  8. Francisco Jose says:

    Esta es mi respuesta a tal bendición

    See user: pancho031062 at YouTube

  9. Hi, I would like to get so help to write some Tibetan script. I need hi res editable SVG file of the major mantras, eg:

    Om Mani Padme Hum

    OM Tara Tuttare Tare Soha

    Om Ami Dewa Hrih

    I sincerely appreciate if you could point me in the right dirrection

    Thanks

  10. I prepared a special OM Mantra Fractal Animation – http://youtu.be/xvVa64ltsYQ

  11. James Lewis says:

    OM is the great syllable, the sound and vibration of the changing universe, mani ped me is the diamond that cuts through illusion and reveals prajnaparamita, Hum is the unification of the knowledge

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