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Prajñaparamita mantra

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha

Sacred Sound: Mantra Meditations for Centeredness and Inspiration is available as a double CD or MP3 download from our online store.
If you have a diacritic font installed this mantra is transliterated thus: Gate gate pāragate pārasamgate bodhi svāhā

This mantra represents a class of Mahayana scriptures known as the Prajñaparamita (perfection of Wisdom) Sutras. These include such famous teachings as the Heart Sutra and the Diamond Sutra. These texts were the subject of worship in Mahayana Buddhism, in much the same way that devotional figures were.

Prajñaparamita eventually became personified as a goddess, but this is not her mantra. This one is associated with the Perfection of Wisdom texts themselves.

The words here do have a literal meaning:

"Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone utterly beyond, Enlightenment hail!"

Diamond Sutra

Incidentally, the Diamond Sutra (shown above) is the world’s earliest complete survival of a dated printed book, made in AD 868.

Click below to listen to an MP3 version:

Pronunciation notes:

o is pronounced like o in ore
a is pronounced as u in cut
ā is like a in father
i in speech is pronounced like i in mill, but in chanting is often pronounced like ee in bee when it comes at the end of a word
m in parasamgate is pronounced like ng in long

The Heart Sutra

The Prajñaparamita Mantra famously concludes the shorter version of the Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita Hridaya).

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva,
when pursuing the deep prajñaparamita,
recognized the five skandhas as completely empty
and passed beyond all vexations and distress.

Shariputra, appearances are not different from emptiness,
emptiness is not different to appearances.
Appearances are emptiness,
emptiness is an appearance.

Impressions, thoughts, associations
and knowing too, are also like this.
Shariputra, all dharmas are empty of appearances,
are not created, are not extinguished,
are not defiled, are not pure;
do not increase, do not decrease.

For this reason, amidst emptiness there are no appearances,
nor are there any impressions, thoughts, associations and knowing,
There is no eye, ear, nose, tongue, touch, ideas.
There are no colors, sounds, smells,
tastes and touch dharmas.
There is no eye-element up to no imagining nor knowledge element.
Neither is any non-understanding,
nor is there any end to non-understanding up to no old-age and death.
Neither is there any end to old-age and death.
There is no suffering, cause, extinction or path.
There is no knowledge nor anything to find.

Because there isn’t anything to find,
the bodhisattva is free because of relying upon prajñaparamita:
a heart without any obstruction.

Because there are no obstructions, there is no fear.
Abandoning, overturning dreams and concepts,
finally reaches nirvana.

Because all the Buddhas of the three times have relied upon prajñaparamita, they have found anuttarasamyaksambodhi.

For this reason, know prajñaparamita is the great spiritual mantra.
The great understanding mantra.
The supreme mantra.
The unequaled mantra, able to cut through all vexation
because in reality there is no emptiness.

Speak the prajñaparamita mantra, speak the mantra’s words:

gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.

(Chinese to English translation, by Willam J. Giddings, 2003)

Comments

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Comment from Dan Dorta
Time: August 28, 2007, 2:39 am

This, of all buddhist Sutras I know, is my favourite, since it’s central to the Zen teachings. Regards, Dan.

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Comment from Ra
Time: August 1, 2008, 5:26 pm

Hello,
This is a wonderful and powerful mantra…one of my favorite Sutras.. I am looking for it written in original sanskrit, and have had little success.. Might anyone be able to help?

Thank you!

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 1, 2008, 5:51 pm

Hi Ra,

Strictly speaking there is no “original” written form of Sanskrit because it was an oral language. When it was committed to writing it was rendered in many different scripts. You’ll find one such script — the siddham — on the excellent visible mantra site. It’s rather lovely.

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Comment from Ra
Time: August 2, 2008, 5:16 pm

Thank you, Bohdipaksa! The Siddham is very beautiful..and will be helpful in my exploration and expression of the heart sutra.

All my best,
Ra

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Comment from Zenshin
Time: August 2, 2008, 5:43 pm

After many years of practicing and teaching, and avoiding practicing and teaching, Buddhism the repetition of this mantra has became the focal point of my meditation and my practice. In my foolishness it seems nowadays that the Heart Sutra and this mantra embrace the very heart of Buddhism. Zenshin

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Comment from sky wong
Time: August 8, 2008, 5:19 am

every time i chant this holy mantra (mandarin version) i have discover so much miraculous feeling & calm my mind. now i starting to chant the Sanskrit version, very long n not easy to remember. hope Buddha bless me for good memory.

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Pingback from Non-Duality (Or, A Cool Thing I Learned on Retreat) « 자보 Living in the Dash
Time: October 23, 2008, 8:39 pm

[...] Paramita means “perfection of wisdom.” It is a mantra, an ideal, and, it turns out, an Indian goddess. The practice involves absorbing and becoming the [...]

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Comment from Arjuna
Time: January 30, 2009, 6:46 am

The sound recording here is sublime!

It really is the highest of high sutras – every line has the potential to explode.

I’m extremely grateful for this site!

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Comment from Mike W
Time: April 7, 2009, 6:08 pm

Thanks for posting the MP3 of the chant. that is excellent. I was looking for an audio verison of the mantra and here it is. :)

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Comment from mondo
Time: July 28, 2009, 11:20 am

If you go to Fodian.net you can find an awesome storehouse of Sutras in many languages set up by Rulu. From the Large Perfection of Wisdom by Edward Conze thru the 8000 Verses of the Prajnaparamita and so many more, into the various translations of The Heart Sutra and even The Diamond Sutra galore. My question is: which sutras are associated specifically with being akin to The Prajnaparamita. Is there a ‘Lineage’ so as to speak? And where does the S(h)urangama Sutra fit in. Therein Manjushri’s Gatha is rather telling.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 30, 2009, 3:24 pm

Hi Mondo,

There’s a decent article on Wikipedia about the Prajnaparamita corpus of teachings, so I’d suggest reading that. I’m afraid the Surangama Sutra is one I’m not familiar with.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Schnoebi
Time: August 11, 2009, 3:11 am

Prajñaparamita mantra in Mandarin Chinese. I appreciate it was a year ago that SkyWong posted a comment, but just wondered if anyone can offer the Mandarin Chinese version of the mantra to include pin-jin (romanised form)?

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Comment from mondo
Time: August 11, 2009, 8:54 am

Went to my Master, LongYang, The 5th DorjeChen and asked for a Prajnaparamita mantra. He began to give me: Om Mune Mune Mahamunaya, but said, “No”. Then He gave me: Om Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Swa Ha. Next, I went on a search for a Thanka in the Tibetan Quarter of Chengdu; the Wuhou district, but the shops didn’t have one hanging on a wall. I did find a shop with computers and quite a big fancy printer, and they made one for me in only one day. That evening I was lucky enough to have Master bless it. Hopefully I’ll learn enough Tibetan this year to be ‘conversational’ in it enough to speak with Tibetans in their own language…and maybe even read some real ‘books’. Any help in learning Tibetan would be greatly appreciated.
A fellow Nyingmapa informs me the DorjeChens are emanations of Manjushri with a focus on Longchenpa’s Nyingtig. DorjeChen is a repository of Longchenpa’s teachings.

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Comment from mondo
Time: September 19, 2009, 1:05 am

The Prajnaparamita Sutras…how many are they and what collection of Sutras come after them? Details please. Been obsessed with ‘studying’ all of them as I’ve found on Fodian net. Began with Conze’s trans. of The Large Prajnaparamita Sutra and proceeded to his work on the 8000 and now working on his 700 lines. Also have gone over ‘Copper’s’ works too. Can’t get enough of The Prajnaparamita. Hey, in the Parinirvana Sutra, Buddha gives an explanation of the ‘no-self’ teachings he gave up to that point and then goes into the ‘reality’ of a self. Seems to ‘me’ therein is a clear statement about the 2 truths and clarifies The Uttaratantra Shastra and so much more.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 21, 2009, 9:08 am

Hi Mondo,

I’m glad you’re enjoying the Prajnaparamita Sutras. As far as I’m aware, this Wikipedia article is accurate in listing the PP texts.

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Comment from mondo
Time: September 21, 2009, 10:06 pm

Great article!!! Iconographically, Manjusri has a fiery sword and the Prajnaparamita. Depictions of the Goddess, Prajnaparamita also has the Prajnaparamita, yet in her right hand is a vajra (dorje). And down from Samantabhadra comes Vajrapani, Vajrasattva, and Vajradhara. So it seems to me the Vajra Family is really a focus which is headed by Akshobya. You’d mentioned you were going to expand on his mantra.
I’m looking forward to what you have to say…soon I hope.

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Comment from khookaysoon
Time: December 7, 2009, 1:43 am

This mantra is a panacea when one dwells upon the truth it expounds. To experience grief one must first create it in one’s mind. Let go, simply let go, for in truth there is nothing to hold on to. Salutations to the Blessed Guanyin.

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Comment from Osiris
Time: March 6, 2010, 8:36 am

I have from the books of Master Samael Aun Weor that with the practice of this mantra one can eventually experience Samadhi satori bliss ecstasy the eliminating void, so are any experiences anybody would be willing to share. Peace be upon

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Comment from cal
Time: March 15, 2010, 11:43 pm

hi Bodhipaksa, about the above picture you posted in this section, i was reading the words and found it to be neither the heart sutra nor any section of the diamond sutra. perhaps you may want to take a look at the source of the picture?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: March 16, 2010, 10:26 am

Ha! That’s interesting. I’m sure I was told it was the Diamond Sutra, but I don’t read Chinese so I’d no way of confirming that. I’ll look for a genuine version.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: March 16, 2010, 10:41 am

OK, the new image (from Wikimedia commons) should be the Diamond Sutra.

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Comment from cal
Time: March 16, 2010, 11:20 pm

haha, i have no way of confirming too now that since the words are mantras (speech purifying mantra) to be recited before reciting the sutra. since the source (Wikimedia commons) said so, so shall be it then :)

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Comment from Sdes8555
Time: March 21, 2011, 1:37 pm

I want to get a tattoo of Prajnaparamita. Anybody know what script would be good? Thanks

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Comment from mondo
Time: March 21, 2011, 10:36 pm

Say Bodhipaksa…The first time this time around when I picked up The Perfection of Wisdom was back in undergraduate school about 1971. It was the yellow Edward Conze volumne. At first glance it just went over my head. So I looked into it enough to find The Heart Sutra and read that one. Years later I read The Heart Sutra many times and also got through The Diamond Sutra too. A few years ago now long in the tooth I finally got into reading many sutras and read Conze’s work on The Perfection of
Wisdom in 6000 Lines and in 700 Lines and The Large Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in 20,000 Lines. Yes, the feeling that all I wanted to hear about, read, and even make copies of was The Perfection of Wisdom Sutra. What a fulfilling time!!! Indeed his Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in 700 Lines I’ve re-read maybe a dozen times. What with all of Manjusri’s emphasis on Unthinkability the sutra finishes up with The Tathagata explaining a concentration which focuses on Stillness…so again can I please wrestle out of you your deep understanding about The Akshobya Mantra?

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Comment from Andrew
Time: July 8, 2011, 3:32 pm

Hi,

Is there somewhere I can download/buy the MP3 Prajnaparamita Mantra that is playable on you web site at http://www.wildmind.org/mantras/figures/gategate

Thanks,
Andrew

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 10, 2011, 2:54 pm

I’m afraid not, but I’d be happy to email you the file as long as it’s just for personal use.

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Comment from Diana
Time: August 21, 2011, 3:59 am

hello!
Even though i have heard this mantra many times i have never heard such a beautiful version, it transmits peace, calmness.
Have you already created a material i can buy that includes this mantra in the version you have in your page? please let me know.
Thanks
Diana

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 22, 2011, 5:30 pm

I’m emailing you the file right now, Diana. It’s not available on a CD.

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Comment from Dmitry
Time: May 3, 2012, 11:24 pm

Hi

This mantra helped me to get rid of arrhythmia. Also insomnia was gone. Many thanks for this wonderful site!!!

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Comment from Stephen gladstone
Time: August 3, 2012, 5:58 pm

Hi could you please email me the MP3 Prajnaparamita Mantra its for personal use.
Many thanks for this wonderful site.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 3, 2012, 6:58 pm

Sure. It’ll be on its way in a minute.

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Comment from Dmitry
Time: August 15, 2012, 11:11 pm

I found out that it’s inspiring reading Prajnaparamita and listening Liza Gerrard’s “Space Weaver”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQrIyF_R_kA&feature=related

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: August 15, 2012, 11:47 pm

She’s an amazing singer. I prefer to just read when I read, though.

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Comment from Dmitry
Time: September 14, 2012, 11:17 pm

This translation is eternally beautiful – a perfect poetic form. There are, however other translations. One of them belongs to Ven. Dharma Master Lok To. The second passage is presented as follows:
“O, Sariputra, form does not differ from voidness, and voidness does not differ from form. Form is voidness and the void is form; the same is true for feeling, conception, volition and consciousness.”
I have a feeling that there are somewhat different aspects in both translations but cannot explain for myself. Could You please kindly clarify what translation or interpretation is considered as “canonical” and closest to the tibetian original?
Best regards
Dmitriy

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 15, 2012, 10:29 am

Hi, Dmitry.

Both translations are actually fine. Lok To has translated “rupa” as form, which is accurate, but then so is Giddings’ “appearances” since rupa refers to the appearance, or form, of physical objects. Lok To translates shunyata as voidness, which is also fine, although I prefer Giddings’ “empty,” since “voidness” seems to reify what is in fact an absence, suggesting that there is some “thing” called voidness from which form appears. “Empty” makes it clear that forms/appearances are “empty” of self-nature — that is they don’t exist in themselves, but arise in dependence upon other things and are impermanent. But Lok To’s translation, while potentially misleading, is more literal, since shunyata is an abstract noun derived from the adjective “shunya,” meaning “empty” — hence “empty-ness.”

There are no translations that can be accepted in any absolute sense as being “the best.” It comes down to individual (but hopefully informed) preference. I hope this helps.

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Comment from Dmitry
Time: September 16, 2012, 9:06 am

Hi Bodhipaksa,

Thank You for your concise explanation. You showed a bridge between “Form” and “appearances” as “forms”. This is just wonderful and understanding for me now. So do I prefer “Empty” – “Emptiness” verbal derivation. Also Giddings makes “empty” a verb. For me “Form” is way too philosophical, too explanatory. Giddings managed to “show” by the very form of his translation as opposite to “say” explicitely – oh, when I try to explain myself I feel that meanings are lost.

Best regards

Dmitriy

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Comment from GorillaMind
Time: October 6, 2012, 11:22 pm

This is a wonderful help! Do you have any advice on accentuation (pitch not stress accent in Sanskrit, right?) I’ve asked elsewhere and been pointed to Tibetan recordings, which…does not quite allay doubt.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: October 7, 2012, 9:14 pm

There is a recording on this page. That should give you the information you need.

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Pingback from The Heart of Understanding – Thich Nhat Hanh | eremosaustralia
Time: December 19, 2012, 12:34 am

[...] freely in temples; and also etched onto jewellery, ritual objects and cups. In these forms the Sutra becomes something like a [...]

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Comment from Rick
Time: September 16, 2013, 10:23 pm

Hi!
The Prajnaparamita mantra recording sounds interesting.
I have been using it without the same rising and falling tones (notes), liking low monotone sound and find it healing- my question is where do the “notes” originate, and the “song” can have same “meaning” with different “melody” or “no melody” right?!
Where the Sutra says “the mantra in Prajnaparamita spoken thus”
I take that literally and like single tone (and silent) repetition. I can do that right? peace, and thanks!

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 17, 2013, 10:28 am

The tunes don’t really matter. They’re just a cultural thing and a matter or preference.

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Comment from Michael Martinez
Time: October 3, 2013, 12:03 pm

Please email me the MP3 file. I would like to listen to it for my personal use.

Thank you,

Michael

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: October 3, 2013, 2:02 pm

You can download it here, Michael: http://www.wildmind.org/audio/gategate.mp3

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Comment from Nicole
Time: April 14, 2014, 6:50 pm

Your comment about the mantra “gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi soha” not being the same as the mantra of the goddess is really confusing me. I just received a Prajnaparamita empowerment from a Tibetan lama at Sakya monastary in Seattle, and we meditated on the goddess as an embodiment of the teaching and this was the mantra we used. Is it different in Tantric Buddhism with deity yoga versus other forms? Or is my understanding completely off?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: April 16, 2014, 11:10 am

I’m passing on what I’ve been taught, which may of course be incorrect. Miranda Eberle Shaw says in Buddhist Goddesses of India that the mantra of the goddess Prajnaparamita is praised in the 8000-Line Perfect Wisdom Scripture but isn’t found in that scripture. And she says that there’s no way to know if the mantra being discussed is the same as the one in the Heart Sutra. Jayarava has oṃ āḥ dhīḥ hūṃ svā hā and oṃ namo bhagavatyai āryaprajñāpāramitāyai as the mantras of the goddess, as distinct from the mantra of the Heart Sutra. Bear in mind that he practices in the same tradition as I do.

It’s possible that different traditions have made different associations. The separation of the goddess from the HS mantra may be an error, or perhaps the association of the two is an error. But once an error has gone on long enough, it becomes a tradition, so I suggest you just go along with what you’ve been taught in this instance.

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