Om mani padme hum



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Om mani padme hum is probably the most famous mantra in Buddhism, the six syllabled mantra of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan Chenrezig). The mantra is particularly associated with the four-armed Shadakshari form of Avalokiteshvara.

The Dalai Lama is said to be an incarnation of Chenrezig or Avalokiteshvara, so the mantra is especially revered by his devotees and it is commonly carved onto rocks and written on paper which is then inserted into prayer wheels to increase its effects.

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, maṇi padme, is often interpreted as "jewel in the lotus," Sanskrit maṇ "jewel, gem" 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". The oṃ is straightforward as the sacred syllable prefixed to many mantras, and the hūṃ is an exclamation or interjection, the like of which are also frequently found in mantras.

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

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