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The mantra in Tibetan script.
"om manipadme hūṃ", written in Tibetan script on a rock outside the Potala Palace in Tibet.

Om mani padme hum[1] (Derived from the Sanskrit, Devanagari ओं मणिपद्मे हूं, IAST oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ), is a mantra particularly associated with the four-armed Shadakshari form of Avalokiteshvara. Mani means the jewel and Padma-the lotus. The six syllabled mantra of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan Chenrezig, Chinese Guanyin).

The mantra is especially revered by the devotees of the Dalai Lama , as he is said to be an incarnation of Chenrezig or Avalokiteshvara.

It is commonly carved onto rocks and written on paper which is inserted into prayer wheels, said to increase the mantra's effects.



Om Mani Peme Hung in Tibetan script

In English the mantra is variously transliterated, depending on the schools of Buddhism as well as individual teachers.

Note that Buddhist mantras always use oṃ ओं and never auṃ औं. Specifically the form ॐ with its strong Hindu associations is inappropriate in a Buddhist context. Most authorities consider maṇipadme to be one compound word rather than two simple words. Sanskrit does not have capital letters leaving capitalisation of transliterated mantras varying irrationally from all caps, to initial caps, to no caps. All caps is typical of older scholarly works, and in Tibetan Sadhana texts.

Possible spellings and their romanizations include:

  • Tibetan: ཨོཾ་མ་ཎི་པ་དྨེ་ཧཱུྃ། Om Mani Peme Hung or Om Mani Beh Meh Hung
  • Devanagari: ओं मणि पद्मे हूँ; IAST: oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ
  • Bengali: ওঁ মণিপদ্মে হুঁ
  • Tamil: ஓம் மணி பத்மே ஹூம்
  • Chinese 唵嘛呢叭咪吽, pinyin Ǎn mání bāmī hōng (due to changes over time in pronunciation, this transcription has been adopted in favor of the transliteration found in the Karandavyuha Sutra, 唵麼抳缽訥銘吽 Ǎn mání bōnàmíng hōng)
  • Korean Hangul 옴 마니 파드메 훔 Om mani padeume hum or 옴 마니 반메 훔 Om mani banme hum
  • Japanese Katakana オンマニハンドメイウン On mani handomei un
  • Mongolian: Ум маани бадми хум or Um maani badmi khum
  • Vietnamese: Úm ma ni bát ni hồng or Án ma ni bát mê hồng
  • Thai: โอม มณี ปัทเม หุม


The mantra with the six syllables coloured.

Mantras may be interpreted by practitioners in many ways, or even as mere sequences of sound whose effects lie beyond strict meaning.

The middle part of the mantra, maṇipadme, is often interpreted as "jewel in the lotus," Sanskrit maṇí "jewel, gem, cintamani" and the locative of padma "lotus", but according to Donald Lopez it is much more likely that maṇipadme is in fact a vocative, not a locative, addressing a bodhisattva called maṇipadma, "Jewel-Lotus"- an alternate epithet of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.[2] It is preceded by the oṃ syllable and followed by the hūṃ syllable, both interjections without linguistic meaning.

Lopez also notes that the majority of Tibetan Buddhist texts have regarded the translation of the mantra as secondary, focusing instead on the correspondence of the six syllables of the mantra to various other groupings of six in the Buddhist tradition.[3] For example, in the Chenrezig Sadhana, Tsangsar Tulku Rinpoche expands upon the mantra's meaning, taking its six syllables to represent the purification of the six realms of existence:[4]

Syllable Six Pāramitās Purifies Samsaric realm Colours Symbol of the Deity (Wish them) To be born in
Om Generosity Pride / Bliss Devas White Wisdom Perfect Realm of Potala
Ma Ethics Jealousy / Lust for entertainment Asuras Green Compassion Perfect Realm of Potala
Ni Patience Passion / desire Humans Yellow Body, speech, mind
quality and activity
Pad Diligence Ignorance / prejudice Animals Blue Equanimity the presence of Protector (Chenrezig)
Me Renunciation Poverty / possessiveness Pretas (hungry ghosts) Red Bliss Perfect Realm of Potala
Hum Wisdom Aggression / hatred Naraka Black Quality of Compassion the presence of the Lotus Throne (of Chenrezig)

Karandavyuha Sutra definition

The first known description of the mantra appears in the Karandavyuha Sutra (Chinese: 佛說大乘莊嚴寶王經 (Taisho Tripitaka 1050) [5]; English: Buddha speaks Mahayana Sublime Treasure King Sutra), which is part of certain Mahayana canons such as the Tibetan. In this sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha states, "This is the most beneficial mantra. Even I made this aspiration to all the million Buddhas and subsequently received this teaching from Buddha Amitabha."[6]

H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama's definition

"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 factors of method: (the) altruistic intention to become enlightened, compassion, and love.[...]"
"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[...]"
-- H.H. Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, "Om Mani Padme Hum"[7]

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's definition

"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[8]

Karma Thubten Trinley's definition

"These are the six syllables which prevent rebirth into the six realms of cyclic existence. It translates literally as 'OM the jewel in the lotus HUM'. OM prevents rebirth in the god realm, MA prevents rebirth in the Asura (Titan) Realm, NI prevents rebirth in the Human realm, PA prevents rebirth in the Animal realm, ME prevents rebirth in the Hungry ghost realm, and HUM prevents rebirth in the Hell realm."
—Karma Thubten Trinley


The mantra: Om Mani Peme Hung Hri

As Bucknell, et al. (1986: p. 15) opine, the complete Avalokiteshvara Mantra includes a final Hrīh (hrih, pronounced "heRee"), which is iconographically depicted in the central space of the syllabic mandala as seen in the ceiling decoration of the Potala Palace.[9] The hrīh though is not vocalized 'externally' nor audibly but is instead traditionally, inaudibly intoned or resonated 'internally' or 'secretly' through intentionality.


As mentioned above, the mantra originated in the Karandavyuha Sutra in the Chinese Buddhist canon.[5] However, some other Buddhist scholars argue that the mantra as practiced in Tibetan Buddhism was based on the Sadhanamala published in the twelfth century.[10]



  • Teachings from the Mani retreat, Chenrezig Institute, December 2000 (2001) by Shramana Lama Zopa Rinpoche, ISBN 978-1891868108, Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive downloadable
  • Bucknell, Roderick & Stuart-Fox, Martin (1986). The Twilight Language: Explorations in Buddhist Meditation and Symbolism. Curzon Press: London. ISBN 0-312-82540-4
  • Lopez, Donald (1998). Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. University of Chicago Press: Chicago. ISBN 0-226-49311-3.
  • The phrase "Om mani padme Hum" also occurs in the song "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence - FYI" by Japanese-American singer Utada Hikaru, and in the song "Strange Phenomena" by English artist Kate Bush.

"Under the Blanket" by Trevor Hall last lyric of the whole song.

See also


  1. ^ Pronunciation of the mantra as chanted by a Tibetan refugee: Wave Format and Real Audio Format.
  2. ^ Lopez, 331; the vocative would have to be feminine
  3. ^ Lopez, 130
  4. ^ Tsangsar Tulku Rinpoche, Chenrezig sadhana
  5. ^ a b Studholme, Alexander (2002). The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra. State University of New York Press. pp. 256. ISBN 0791453901.  
  6. ^ Mantras
  7. ^ Gyatso, Tenzin. Om Mani Padme Hum
  8. ^ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones. ISBN 0-87773-493-3
  9. ^ Bucknell, Roderick & Stuart-Fox, Martin (1986). The Twilight Language: Explorations in Buddhist Meditation and Symbolism. Curzon Press: London. ISBN 0-312-82540-4, p.15
  10. ^ Li, Yu. "Analysis of the Six Syllable practice - the relationship between The Six Syllable and Amitabha". Retrieved September 1, 2008.  

Further reading

  • Alexander Studholme: The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum. Albany NY: State University of New York Press, 2002 ISBN 0-7914-5389-8 (incl. Table of Contents)
  • Mark Unno: Shingon Refractions: Myōe and the Mantra of Light. Somerville MA, USA: Wisdom Publications, 2004 ISBN 0-86171-390-7
  • Bucknell, Roderick & Stuart-Fox, Martin (1986). The Twilight Language: Explorations in Buddhist Meditation and Symbolism. Curzon Press: London. ISBN 0-312-82540-4
  • A.H. Francke: The Meaning of Om Mani Padme-Hum, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1915
  • Lama Anagarika Govinda: Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism, 1969. Samuel Weiser, Inc: NYC, NY. ISBN 0-87728-064-9.

External links

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