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Vajrapani mantra

Om Vajrapani Hum

Vajrapani doesn’t, to many newcomers to Buddhism, look very Buddhist at all. He is a Bodhisattva who represents the energy of the enlightened mind, and his mantra also symbolizes that quality.

Vajrapani is pictured dancing wildly within a halo of flames, which represent transformation.

He holds a vajra (thunderbolt) in his right hand, which emphasizes the power to cut through the darkness of delusion. Vajrapani looks wrathful, but as a representation of the enlightened mind, he’s completely free from hatred.

Vajrapani

Vajrapani’s mantra is simply his name, which means "wielder of the thunderbolt", framed between the mystical syllables Om and Hūm. This mantra helps us to gain access to the irrepressible energy that Vajrapani symbolizes. A familiarity with Vajrapani does, of course, help here, although the sound of the mantra is itself rather energetic.

Click below to listen to an MP3 version:

Pronunciation notes:

  • a is pronounced as u in cut
  • ā is like a in father
  • j is hard, like j in judge
  • uu is long, like oo in book
  • m in hum is pronounced ng, as in long

The Bodhisattva Vajrapāni (alternative spelling: Vajrapani)

Vajrapani is a member, along with Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri, of the trinity of Bodhisattvas known as the Three Family Protectors. The Buddha family of which Vajrapani is the protector is the Vajra (thunderbolt) family, which includes Akshobya (the lord of the Vajra family) and Yamantaka.

Vajrapani (Holder of the Thunderbolt) represents the energy of the enlightened mind, and energy that breaks through delusion. He dances wildly within a halo of flames, which represent the transformative power of Awakening. He holds a vajra (thunderbolt) in his right hand, which emphasizes the power to cut through the darkness of delusion.

Vajrapani

Non-Buddhists (and Theravadin Buddhists) seeing Vajrapani for the first time may wonder how such a wrathful-looking figure could possibly fit with the peaceful associations they have with the Buddhist tradition, although such figures are actually very common in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Of course it’s not really possible adequately to represent the qualities of Enlightenment in any image, and so even the peaceful forms of Buddhas and bodhisattvas are to some extent misleading.

Enlightened beings do not, in reality, sit around all day on lotuses smiling serenely. The Buddha himself was fearlessly active in engaging with the other religious figures and philosophers of his day. His fearless approach to life is perhaps characterized mostly clearly by his encounter with Angulimala, who was an infamous bandit who killed his victims and added a finger from each to the garland he wore around his neck (his name means "Garland of Fingers"). Although warned to stay away from this dangerous figure, the Buddha insisted on going into the forest to confront Angulimala, who converted to Buddhism, became a monk, and eventually became Enlightened.

Therefore, it’s just as appropriate to represent an Enlightened being as dancing wildly, naked and fearless.

Another way of looking at the apparent fierceness of Vajrapani and other "wrathful" figures is to consider what a Buddha looks like from the point of view of that part of ourselves that doesn’t want to change. We may, at some level, want to meditate, to live ethically, and so on, but other parts of us are profoundly threatened by the possibility of change.

Our habits can form a kind of "sub-personality" that can try to hijack our lives. After all, habits of denial, craving, and aversion face extinction if we continue to practice the path of mindfulness and compassion, so it’s not surprising that they sometimes put up a protest. From the point of view of those powerful and yet primitive parts of ourselves, Enlightenment, rather than looking attractive, seems to be threatening and demonic.

Because of this dual nature, Vajrapani has his peaceful forms as well, and early depictions of him, while muscular and athletic, are nothing like the wild figure depicted above.

Vajrapani’s origins

Vajrapani has his origins in the Pali canon, as a Yaksha, or nature spirit. In this story, in the Digha Nikaya, a Brahmin (priestly) youth named Ambattha, is first of all rude to the Buddha, believing him to be of a lower social caste, and then refuses to answer a question the Buddha — who is unfailingly polite in the encounter — puts to him about his ancestry.

After Ambattha refuses to answer the question twice, the Buddha reminds him that there is a traditional belief that if you refuse to answer the question of an enlightened one three times, your head will split in seven pieces. Of course this never happens, but "Vajirapani" (the Pali form of his name) appears, ready to make good on the ancient prophecy. Ambattha is of course terrified and promptly answers the Buddha’s question.

Vajrapani also has his mythic roots in Indra, the Indian thunder god. He’s thus connected to Zeus and Jupiter, who, along with Indra, are all variants of the same thunderbolt-wielding sky-deity. ("Dyaus" is Sanskrit for "sky," and Indra is also known as "Indra Dyaus." "Zeus" is the Greek form of Dyaus. Jupiter is "Dyaus-piter" or "sky father.")

vajrapani-herakles

The earliest depictions of Vajrapani, as we noted above, are not particularly wrathful. In this image, from the second century, both the Buddha (seated) and Vajrapani (standing) are sculpted in classic Greek style. Vajrapani here is shown as a powerful muscular figure protecting the Buddha, and his iconography is essentially that of Herakles (Hercules). The characteristics he shares with the later form are the vajra (thunderbolt), his powerful frame, and his semi-nakedness, which is typical of a Greek athlete.

In later forms, as Vajrapani becomes more other-worldly, he is shown as being dark blue in color. He perhaps borrows this color from Akshobhya, the head of the Vajra Family. But this is also the color of a thunder cloud.

He represents the power, energy, and fearlessness of the Buddhas. He stands in (or rather is caught in) the warrior pose that will be familiar to those who practice Hatha Yoga. In his outstretched right hand he wields a vajra, and his left hand holds a lasso with which to bind demons.

Vajrapani wears a loin-cloth around his hips. The cloth is made from the skin of a tiger. He is adorned with the five-pointed Bodhisattva crown, but the crown bears five skulls. He has necklace hanging to his belly, but he also has a snake around his neck. Snakes and dragons are associated with clouds and rain, fitting in with Vajrapani’s origins as a god of thunder.

Vajrapani has a bulging third eye in the center of his forehead. Just as Ambattha’s hairs stood on end when he encountered Vajirapani, so the bodhisattva’s hair flies wildly in the air.

Although Vajrapani and other similar figures are often described as "wrathful" it’s important to realize that they do not represent ordinary anger, but simply the power and fearlessness of the awakened mind. There is no place in Buddhist practice for "righteous anger," and despite his appearance Vajrapani is a profoundly compassionate figure.

Comments

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Comment from caroze
Time: September 1, 2007, 6:04 am

Tashi Delek, I got a Divination-prayer for bettering my health, the Chagdor Nyenpa Vajrapani mantra “om badzar tsantra maha rokana hung phat”, can you tell me the exact meaning of that please? Thanks.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 1, 2007, 7:55 am

Hi Caroze. I’m afraid that one defeats me. It’s in Tibetanized (i.e. mangled) Sanskrit and I haven’t been able to figure out what it might have originally been. Om and Hung (Hum) are obvious, as is “Phat”, which means literally “crack!” (i.e. the sound of something cracking) but which I’ve seen translated as “away with evil.” “Maha” means great. The rest is beyond me. A true Sanskrit scholar or Tibetan teacher would have a better shot at figuring this out.

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Comment from Jayarava
Time: September 28, 2007, 11:01 am

Well, it’s a wrathful mantra…

So Vajrapani in Tibetan is Chana Dorje… holder of the Vajra.

Badzar is, I think, Vajra – it is written benza in Tibetan which could conceivably be mangled as Badzar

tsantra is not a word in Sanskrit or Tibetan (as far as I can tell) so I think it’s a transliteration problem – the word will sound something like that, but be written in different ways. Sometimes Tibetans write ch as tsa (as in a ra pa tsa na). I think this is Chana – ie the other part of Vajrapani’s name.

Maharokana is probably maharoshana – great wrath. Which fits the wrathful form of Vajrapani

Hum as you say…

Phat is used to subdue demons, and is tacked on to wrathful mantras sometimes.

So I could be wrong but I think this is:
Om vajrapani maharosana hum phat
or with diacritics
o.m vajrapa.ni mahaaro.sana huu.m pha.t

Which is a variation on the more standard short vajrapani mantra
om Vajrapani hum.

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Comment from K.
Time: February 19, 2008, 12:42 am

hello,

The meaning of a mantra is not important. A mantra is a protection for the mind. What is important is the faith in the mantra.

So it mean that the mantra will bettering your health!

Vajrapani help to dispel inner and external obstacles : sickness, delusions, negativities…

have a good practice !

k.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: February 19, 2008, 9:15 am

Hi K.

That’s certainly what people say, that the meaning of mantras (and also the pronunciation) isn’t as important as the faith we have in it. And in fact I think to some extent even faith in the mantra isn’t necessary because the mere act of repeating something “neutral” (i.e. a thought that doesn’t stir up ill will, craving, or delusion) gives the mind a break from negativity.

At the same time, people are often curious about what mantras mean, and I think that can be very healthy. Taking too much on faith can be problematic, and the intellect needs to be engaged in spiritual practice as well.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from joshua
Time: April 2, 2008, 8:58 am

Both faith in the mantra and it’s pronunciation are important. If you do not chant the mantra correctly, you will never get any results. Bijaskara is a sanskrit word which means seed syllable. The mantra is made up of these sounds which when recited have an effect upon our mind. Our speech is imbued with the vibration of the syllables which in turn reverberates through our body and also our heart. Mantra recitation is not a tantric practice nesscessarily in Buddhism, it is a mahayana practice as well. The only difference is that in tantra one has detailed explanations about it’s functionality. Because this is a wrathful form of Vajrapani, it is a tantric deity. There are no wrathful forms spoken of, directly atleast in mahayana.
So the pronunciation is auhm vahj rah pah knee
hum. OM VAJRAPANI HUM. Vajrapani is the embodiement of the Buddhas power, energy, ability or force if you will.
Namo Mahabodhisattva Vajrapani!
Joshua

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Comment from Mbeleck
Time: April 28, 2008, 9:50 am

Hello!
Does the Blue Buddha has a name which can be invoked? I would like to practice this invokation.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: April 28, 2008, 12:14 pm

Hello again Mbeleck,

Do you mean the blue Buddha Akshobya? He does have a mantra, and in fact I plan to add a page about him and that mantra. The mantra is OM VAJRA AKSHOBYA HUM. Please let me know if that wasn’t what you meant.

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Comment from Nic
Time: September 20, 2008, 7:44 am

Hi,
I was wondering if you had any links to picture’s of vajrapani’s mantra in sanskrit or tibetan calligraphy?
Thanks so much.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 21, 2008, 1:41 pm

Nic: Visible Mantra is the place to go for written mantras. Google is also a good place to start: http://images.google.com/images?q=vajrapani%20mantra

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Comment from Steve
Time: November 7, 2008, 12:52 pm

Hi there
Love this site; enjoying exploring it.
Talking of energy- I would like to have more energy and need less sleep so I can do more in my busy life. If I was to use the Vajrapani Mantra as a means to increase my energy (a long with other measures such as practice in general and diet etc.) would this be an appropriate ‘use’ of the mantra and the figure? Is this a good approach to buddhist figures and the qualities they represent in general?
With Metta
Stephen

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: November 7, 2008, 11:26 pm

Hi Steve,

I used to use the Vajrapani mantra to get me out of bed to meditate in the morning, so my answer would be “go ahead”! It’s a good thing to channel more “virya” (energy) into our lives, as long as we’re doing relatively skillful things with that energy.

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Comment from Brian
Time: November 28, 2008, 12:40 pm

Hi everyone, the website is great. I am an intitate in both the Nyingma (Khenpos Pladen Sherab and Tsewang Dongyal) and
Kagyu (Trungpa Rinpoche) Lineages. I’d like to add to the comments from Bodhipaksa to Steve; by all means chant the
Vajrapani mantra, however Bodhipaksa’s comment “As long as we are doing skillful things with that energy” is deeply important. It would
be advisable to practice Zhang Zhuang (standing Chi Gung) or practice the internal martial arts of Tai Chi, Ba Gua Chang, Hsing-I
Chuan, or Kum Nye or Hatha Yoga to open, cleanse, and stretch the meridians and channels in the body. For the mantric energy of
wrathful Buddhas/Bodhisattvas, the “inner wiring” of the body has to be prepared. We don’t want to open to 800 watts of power when
our wiring is only prepared to handle one hundred. Drink lots of water, the flames around Vajrapani, though cool to the
touch can still fry. Vajrapani is one of the dieties revered at the at the Shaolin Temple. The mantra is Great for weightlifting too.
Good Luck to all!

Tashi Delek!, May All Beings be Happy and free of suffering.
Brian

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Comment from Steve
Time: November 29, 2008, 11:48 am

Thanks for those replies. I’ve done a bit of tai-Chi in the past so that’s useful advice.

Another question on mantras- is there something inherent in the sound of a mantra that summons up the qualities of that particular figure or does it depend on ones intention and associations in ones mind, having studied that particular figure, when chanting the mantra.

I imagine it is both of these things but would be interetsed to know peoples opinion.

Metta
Steve

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: December 4, 2008, 2:09 pm

Hi Steve,

There are different schools of thought on that question. My personal view is that it’s all to do with intention and associations, with preventing the mind from thinking unhelpful thoughts, and with developing a sense of devotion. I’m sure there are many Buddhists who would say it’s all to do with the sound, but since every single person produces a unique sound then I can’t see how that could be the case. We’ve also no guarantee whatsoever that we pronounce mantras the way they were said 1,000 years ago!

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Comment from Jens
Time: February 28, 2009, 3:43 pm

The picture of the blue Vajrapani posted here, shows a Manifestation
of the “Lhalung Sangdag” Terma. According to the Lineageholder
of this practice, one needs to have the transmission of a qualified master, that means an initiation or lung, to produce the effect of the
mantra. Otherwise it doesn`t work, even if one knows how to pronounce it.
If one received the transmission of a mantra of a tantric deity ,like Vajrapani, in a correct way, then it is necessary to keep it secret !
If one shares it, for example here, one also cannot produce its function.
This is said by many serious masters, and it might be worth to consider
for visitors of this webside.
Best wishes, jens

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Comment from Steve
Time: February 28, 2009, 4:55 pm

Hmm. Thanks Jens. That last posting brings up some interesting questions for me. I practice in the context of the FWBO, where we are encouarged to explore and do pujas to figures such as Vajrapani and chant their mantras, but are not given a Sadana- a meditation practice where we ‘meet’ this figure- by our teacher until we are ordained and considered ‘ready’ to do the practice; I think thats because Sadana is a insight practice, andso to do with spiritual death, which isn’t a healthy practice to do if not grounded enough in positive emotion and integrated enough. Where exploration of the figure ends and insight practice begins I’m not sure however (that’s my impression anyway; your thoufghts Bodhipaksa?)

From my own experience Jens I’m not sure I agree with your comments about the mantra ‘not working’ if you share it with someone, and like to think the qualities of these enlightened beings do not belong to anybody, and that if the attempt to worship and chant the mantras of the figures will ‘work’ if the practitioner is sincere.

At the same time I acknowledge needing to be respectful of the figures power and lineage, as well as only taking on practces under the guidance of someone more experienced.

If one were to share the transmission of the mantra here (is it possible to transmit these things over the website, what speed would the connection need to be?) how long does that bar one evoking the figures enlightened qualities?

With Metta
Steve

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: February 28, 2009, 9:25 pm

I think the problem here is seeing things from the perspective of one tradition only and not taking a wider historical view. Vajrapani crops up in the Pali canon, and he appears also in some early Mahayana texts which predate the arising of the Tantra and even of Tibetan Buddhism. His visualization and mantra are done in my tradition (FWBO) as a Mahayana, and not a Tantric, practice.

In Buddhism, by the way, it’s axiomatic that it our mental states that determine the effect of our actions, including the practices we do. If you’ve been told that something is a secret and you shouldn’t discuss it with people then I guess it’s generally the ethical thing to do to protect those secrets. But if the thing you’ve been told is a secret isn’t actually a secret then I don’t think it’s wise to blame people who happen to have access to that knowledge.

A skilled introduction to the deity being visualized can certainly take the practitioner deeper into the practice, but if mantras are recited mindfully even without a visualization (which is effectively what I’m passing on here) there will still be benefits.

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Comment from Jens
Time: March 1, 2009, 12:30 pm

Hello, yes i should have thought about the fact that there are different
kinds of mantras. I am far from being an expert on this field, but of course there are mantras used more like invocations or prayers. There is
also a big difference of the use of mantras in the sutra vehicle and the
tantric vehicle. I didn`t know the context you are practising.
My idea was not to blame someone, but to share what i heard and read
from many tibetan masters of vajrayana-buddhism (not only one tradition). If one practises tantric buddhism, or plans to do one day, i think one should be aware of that. It doesn´t matter if a mantra is
widely known, like that of vajrapani, or tara, but for someone who is doing a yidam-practice, it is still crucial not to tell this mantra others
who don´t have the same transmission. This principle of tantric buddhism is something you can read or hear easily from someone
who has authority for you.
I am not native english-speaking, but i do my best.
Jens

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Comment from mondo
Time: April 26, 2009, 12:20 pm

Great site. Great flow of follow-ups too. Almost feel like this is the place to learn Tibetan. Keep the insights coming. Very helpful. Doing the Manjushri Mantra now along with the White Lotus and Guru Rinpoche mantra and glad to see input about Om Ah Ra Pa Chana D’hii. Was circumambulating the 4 armed Manjushri at WenShu Pavillion in Chengdu and doing the mantra just like that when a ‘Master’ came up to me and said: Om Ahjah, Rahjah Pahjah Chanah DiiHii. Been doing it like that since. Have you ever heard of it said that way? I haven’t seen it that way anywhere else, but hey…it was one of those moments on the path.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: April 26, 2009, 7:55 pm

Hi Mondo,

I’ve never come across that pronunciation, but it’s a big world and there are lots of linguistic quirks bound to show up when Sanskrit syllables meet mouths trained to speak other languages.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from Budi Iwantoro
Time: May 19, 2009, 11:50 pm

Yes, Vajrapani is one of compasion deity among Avalokitesvara, Manjusri and Tara, I have a very strong experience after chanting this mantra which teach by my Guru Jamyang Khentze Rinpoche. I have seen a temple of Vajrapani at Taipei so powerful and the energy is so strong, I will go back again one time, the temple is located near Beitou.

Actualy we can find a Vajrapani at Mendut temple, on the way to Borobudur Yogyakarta Indonesia.

I am one of the practiser of Vajrapani, and need more information about Him sharing with all Budhist friend

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Comment from denhen
Time: July 28, 2009, 8:49 am

There are two versions of mantra:

1. Peaceful form: Om Benza Pani Hum
2. Wrathful form: Om Bezar Tsan Dra Ma Ha Ro Kha Na Hung Phet

Could anyoe clarify, Tanks Advance.

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Comment from mondo
Time: July 28, 2009, 10:07 am

My comment would be to go up to Jayarava’s comment of Sept. 07. He pretty much clears it all up. I would like to add I’ve heard your ‘Benzar’ pronounced what seems to me to be Banzar. With the multiple dialects of Tibet there must be subtle variations over each mountain range!!!

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Comment from mani
Time: September 16, 2009, 11:05 am

dear bodhipaksa,

i’m a little confused about the pronunciation of “hum” is it hung or hoom.
the devanagri skrip reads as hoom. i’ve always found this confusing as this is such a principal sound found in so many mantras. could you help me with this.
warmly,
mani

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 16, 2009, 12:11 pm

Hi Mani,

There’s a pronunciation guide in the article. (Ahem. If in doubt, read the article).

Huṃ is pronounced as “hoong.” The dot under the m indicates open-mouthed nasalization. Usually when you say m (as in English “hum”) you put the lips together, but in huṃ the mouth is open and the outbreath resonates in the nasal cavities. It resembles certain sounds in French, as with a word like chanson, where the final vowel is nasalized.

I hope this helps.

All the best,
Bodhipaksa

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Comment from mondo
Time: September 16, 2009, 1:06 pm

Hi Bo Dhi Pa Ksa,

Above, you mention how making sounds is an individual thing. I would like to expand that to the rest of the ‘senses’ and their features in the mind of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Especially in the ‘hearing’ feature…the brother who first informed me how to pronounce the Om Ah Aum Banzar Guru Padma Se Ta Hung mantra had heard it pronounced Om Ah Aum Banzar Guzu Bema Se Ta Hung. So that’s what I got started with in reciting. Hewas very acutely and emphatically intent on me ‘getting it right’. Then, months later, receiving a CD with Master reciting this mantra, and with my listening skills peeked, lo and behold; Master was saying Om Ah Aum Banzar Guru Padma Se Ta Hung!
I’ve learned that Bema is the pronounciation for Padma in Chinese and the brother is indeed Chinese. He’d also said that Guzu was another way of saying Guru. Of course I’ve been sticking with Master’s way of saying the Guru Rinpoche mantra since hearing it clearly. But I would like to think my brother simply has a ‘different’ hearing faculty in his mind than me. This of course sends me off into the consideration of our senses being particular to each of us perhaps due to genetics, culture and who knows what else. Like you say, It is a big world. And there are many variations. Consider the native language you grow up with. The vowels and consonates vary all over. And Chinese has sounds that do not exist in English what to say of Sansrit, and Tibetan.

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Pingback from Experimenting With Visualization
Time: January 9, 2010, 4:31 am

[...] http://www.wildmind.org/mantras/figures/vajrapani True Buddha School Net English Homepage The first link is a little bit about him and the second is the meditation I tried. Again, I'm not really an adherent to any religion but I find the imagery associated with him and his theme of "virya", proactive and compassionate power or action, resonates with me. And it doesn't hurt that my inner child thinks that a giant blue man who likes being on fire is inherently awesome [...]

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Comment from Rinchen Phuntsok
Time: May 6, 2010, 1:01 pm

I think the dibate could clarifiy by distinguish if the mantra belongs to the sutra or the tantra. If the mantra is found in the Sutras, that mantra does not require wang or lung (empowerment and/or tranmission respectively).
Mostly all the wrathful mantras requires at least the lung or transmission. That is one of the conditions in the tantra or vajrayana way. One of the samayas…
Some peaceful mantras are found in the sutras. Those mantras are not necessarily involved in the empowerment, but some of them are. Even, there are some peaceful mantras related to terma teachings that need specifically the lung of that terma in order to be kept (chanted/recited or practiced)

Best regards,
Rinchen.

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Comment from mondo
Time: May 6, 2010, 2:21 pm

Oh, Badzar is also a tibetan word for vajra. The vajra as a symbol…some say ‘diamond’ and also ‘lightening bolt’, each reflecting on the ‘light’ feature. Anyway, I seem to remember from way back in the Mahabharata, the war is raging and the ‘bad side’ has decided to break out the ultimate weapon: the vajrapani!!! This is when Krsna makes Arjuna and his brothers wait on the far edge of the valley. Krsna, Arjuna’s charioteer then proceeds into the midst of the battle and annihilates everything. At Los Alamos when the very first atomic bomb was set off, this very part of the Mahabharata flashed into Oppenheimer’s mind, and he then realized what Krsna did. Yet this does not explain this ultimate weapon, the vajrapani, but it shows how important it was for Krsna to ast as he did to prevent its deployment.
Now, Vajrapani is credited with coming down to earth on a mountaintop in [I think] Ceylon/Sri Lanka and giving the vajrayana to 8 masters [not really sure about the number present-I just like 8's] while Vajradhara is credited with giving it to Garab Dorje [Prahevajra]. With the vajrayana’s focus on the union of emptiness and clarity, I’m reflecting that ‘The Ultimate Weapon’ for ending wars, conflicts, and strife is the Vajrapani: Release from the tensions of grasping and striving, hoping and fearing, and whatever else….

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Comment from B.F. Connell
Time: May 10, 2010, 2:51 pm

I’m a Nyingma and Kagyu initiate of 20 plus years, and after having been around during the Trungpa/Osel Tendzin, AIDS debacle in the late seventies early eighties it was my meditation on Vajrapani that kept the verse of the original founder of this spiritual path creeping into my mind “Oh monks be lamps unto yourselves. “Trust no scripture because it is held in esteem, trust no teacher or lineage….” Vajrapani is the ultimate trust and confidenced in oneself. All this nonsense about “transmission” and tantric vows blah, blah be careful or dieties will come and punish you blah, blah blah. Tell that to that to the Chinese who entered Tibet like walking in a park on a sunny day. Where was all the spiritual power then?! Vajrapani is the reflection that my beloved Tibetan Buddhism can be and in some cases is as full of mythic B.S. as any of the western religions. Vajrapani is hardcore mirror. The translation of his mantra into English has been best interepreted by the U.S. Navy SEALs 1. You don’t gotta like it , you just gotta do it. 2. The only easy day was yesterday (a statement of ultimate confidence, not depression) and finally 3. S2 (S squared) for when you don’t feel like meditating. S2 stands for “Sit the fuck down and shut the fuck up!” Vajrapani’s mantra is excellent for lifting weights (he has been associated with Hercules). Take bicep curles for instance rep #1 is “OM” rep #2 is “Vajra” rep#3 is “Pani”, rep #4 is “Hung” and rep #5 is “Phat” If you say the mantra OM Vajrapani Hung Phat, two times you’ve done ten reps of what ever excercise your doing. I say it silently as I exhale, not out loud. Do as you see fit. It spiritualizes your workouts. And finally too many of you loveable, kooky buddhist kids get hung up on or should I say hum(?) up on pronounciation of mantra. Reminds me of an old Sufi mystic tale about the subject. The village idiot lived on an island and was chanting, “Cat, goat, fish tail, fart, muffin” in praise of God, when the village scholar, teacher, lecturer and generally well respected man of God and author of several commentaries on Islam and all things mystical who was walking on the beach, heard him, shat in his drawers at this disrepectful cretin’s mutterings to the Divine, got in a boat, rowed out to the island, and proceeded to give him the “scoop” on what was what and how to say this and when to say that. Then the scholar rowed back to the beach certain that he had pleased God and done a good deed teaching this imbecile the proper pronounciation. Next day our scholar was walking on the beach and heard the guy say the same wrong pronounciation, again. Mad as hell he rows out, re-instructs the guy and rows back. As he’s midway between the beach and the island he hears this splashing and its the doofus, running on top of the water, who when he catches up to the scholar’s boat, stands on the water without sinking and says “Is the last word of the last verse God or dog, I’ can’t remember?” Chant with feeling, for those you love, but most especially eneimes and those unkind to you or others and remember that Vajrapani is Divine Love to the stubborn ego. Don’t worry so much about the pronunciation. Love to you all. Have fun doing nothing. Sometimes, not often, but sometimes a kick in the “coin purse” and a puch in the nose, whether actual or verbal IS the most spiritual thing you can do. Just doing it without fear of “karmic retribution” or over analysis or fear of the pain of what might happen is Vajrapani. Picking a fight with ten bikers to see how “in touch you are with your Vajrapani nature” may addict you to pain killers and keep you aquainted with physical therapy for half a year or more and is not Vajrapani. It falls under the spiritual principle of “stupidity”. All the best.

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Comment from mondo
Time: May 27, 2010, 3:54 am

Bodhipaksa, In Tulku Thondup’s THE PRACTICE OF DZOGCHEN he makes a reference by quote to the Arya Bodhipaksa Nirdesa Sutra. Perhaps you can turn me on to this sutra in English??? Sure hope so. I too am a Manjusri freak and see where he is immenant in this sutra. Or at least give me more info on it than just the couple of parargraphs in Tulku Thondup’s book. I’m going to Hong Kong the 30th and they have a great buddhist bookstore there. Maybe I can find it. Wish me luck.

Also, what about Vajrakilaya, or vajrakila, or vajrakumura? Seems like he must be kin to vajrapanin and vajradhare along with vajrasattva. Got his mantra handy? I’ll be asking my master about it soon. I’ll let you know how it goes a la Qin Hai Tibetan Buddhism from the Dorjechen himself…an emanation of Manjusri.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 29, 2010, 12:05 pm

Hi Mondo,

There’s a traditional list of 37 Bodhipaksa Dharmas, although I don’t know if that’s what the Nirdesa is about — I’ve never seen it. If you do come across it, please let me know!

I have a book about Vajrakila/Phurba — the Adamantine Tent-Peg. I think it was “Cult of the Deity Vajrakila” by Martin J. Boord. It was a most interesting book, and I was fascinated by such things at those times (early 90′s). My spiritual tastes are a bit more “vanilla” now! It’s long out of print, by the way. There’s a more recent book by Khenpo Namdrol Rinpoche that I haven’t read. He has many mantras. Here’s what Boord has to say about one of them:

…the dharani that accompanies the mudra of the vajra spikes is OM KILI KILI VAJRA VAJRI BHURA BANDHA BANDHA HUM PHAT in which KILI KILI is “spike, spike”, referring both to the spike and to the action of spiking, VAJRA is ‘unassailable wisdom’ (vajraprajna) and VAJRI is ‘unshakeable meditation’ (vajradhyana). BHURA is ‘firmness’ and BANDHA BANDHA is “binding, binding”. HUM is the seed syllable of terror and also of bodhicitta and PHAT is the seed syllable of crushing and destroying. The dharani thus means that unassailable wisdom and unshakeable meditation spike down, firmly bind and terrify the demons, crushing and destroying their great power.

I’m now more involved in observing the impermanence of my experiences :)

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Comment from mondo
Time: June 20, 2010, 8:43 am

Thanks for your response. Ran across ‘something’ about enunciating Phat. It is enunciated with intense sound…loud even. Then I heard that is also the case with Ha as in swo ha and also Hung. Always the last syllable can be enunciated emphatically. Why? Here’s a mondo idea about this: With a loud enunciation, first you inhale before hand and then using the full set of lungs, depress the abdomine/solar plexus expelling the breathe upwards…all while focusing on the heart chakra sending this Mind up the Central Channel up through the 1,000 petaled lotus Chakra and on up to teh dhyanan buddhas and beyond. Phat pronounced by my Master sounds like HUT. When he said it I was reminded of how in the Marine Corps when an officer walked into a room, someone would always say, “10-HUT!!!”…attention in English. At attention one’s spine is supposed to be straight. When doing the mantra, bend the head over as if in a bow thereby pointing that soft spot at the top of the head north…up. I project, after doing a few hundred thousand of these this way the light will dawn. Also, the indocrine system’s adrenal glands are only signalled via the solar plexus. With crunching in the solar plexus to emphatically pronounce these ‘last syllables’ there is a sensation of ‘ripples up the spine’. Seems to be a union of prajna-yama and man-tra effecting movement of the heart chakra flowing up the central channel. Pretty much the entire abdomine crunches as the solar plexus initiates the pulse of the breathe upwards.

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Comment from mondo
Time: June 20, 2010, 8:59 am

To B. F. Connell…where was Vajrapani then??? Destiny. It was time for all of those expatiate Lamas to take ‘it’ to the rest of the world. Prior to ‘the invasion’ Tibet was a closely guarded secret and little Tibetan Buddhism got to the outside world. The Dalai Lama was only the Dalai Lama of Tibet. Now he is the Dalai Lama of the entire world. By attempting to stamp out a religion, Mao instead sent it to the entire world. How would I have ever met Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche at Tail of The Tiger Buddhist Community in E. Barnet, Vt. if he’d not left Tibet when he did? How would there be a Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado if Mao hadn’t driven all those lamas from Tibet? History is hard to understand. The killings, the burning down of Monasteries. This was not the first time. Probabaly won’t be the last. When Islam burned down Nalanda and killed off most of the buddhists in India, it was just after the Prajnaparamita got taken to China. If it and other sutras hadn’t been hidden in a cave in a remote area when China went through a similar killing and burning srpee, where would we find these Sutras now? Somehow, [buddha's might] the dharma goes on despite the insane actions of political leaders. Strangely enough Mao’s decision to eradicate Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet only sent it to even more masses all over the world. Who made him do that? Perhaps Vajrapani works in mysterious ways…dancing in a fire holding a vajra, an emptiness lightening bolt in his hand. Even the Cultural Revolution while seeming bizarre at first has managed to give China a great sense of preserving its ancient culture now…kind of a reaction to a strange action. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Stillness is best.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: June 20, 2010, 10:52 am

I have to say that I don’t think of Vajrapani or other “deities” as being objectively existent entities that will do anything like protect a country from invasion. I think of them as personifications of deeper aspects of ourselves, and ultimately as personifications of the Enlightened mind. I think we can have a relationship with them almost as if they were objectively existent entities; after all we have conversations with “other people” entirely within our own thoughts all the time, so this is nothing unusual. But I think that we have to bear in mind all the time that the deity and ourselves are not separate.

Vajrapani acts as a protector when we embody “his” energy and fearlessness. Of course it’s really “our” energy and fearlessness — the energy and fearlessness that arise when we let go of the narrow, fear-based attitudes that come from clinging.

So where was Vajrapani when the Chinese invaded? I think he was absent. I don’t think that Tibetan culture was embodying fearlessness or energy. For a long time they’d lived, cozily cut-off from the outside world — perhaps with a fear of “contamination” or with a sense of arrogance, or perhaps just complacency. A confident Tibetan culture would have been engaged with the world, sending out missions to teach their religion and culture, and forming alliances and friendships with other nations.

I think the Chinese invasion did in fact put the Tibetans in touch with Vajrapani. No longer having a safe, cozy, isolated homeland and their rather static culture to cling to, they were forced into engagement with the world. I’m not arguing that the Chinese invasion was a good thing — it was a great evil — but just that there were some consequences that were beneficial in the short-term at least.

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Comment from mondo
Time: June 20, 2010, 11:30 am

I agree wholeheartedly about the personification features plus the clinging obscurations. You’re one heavy dude Bodhipaksa. I guess I’m sort of liking your use of “…forced into engagement with the world.” point. Forces are kind of an emanation of ‘emptiness’. Hard to hold a ‘force’ in one’s hands, hence unreal…empty. Magnetism, gravity, all forces invisible…like the sky. The Maoist force, clashing with as you well put it, the tibetans clinging to a static culture, made for a somewhat rapid explosion of Tibetan Buddhist information into the rest of the world. I doubt if anyone ever thought that was going to happen way back there in the late ’50′s.
Impermanence has its fascinationg changes doesn’t it? The historical scene goes through its changes and our own inner changes in awarenesses has its own impermanences too. Thank you for your great responses.

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Comment from VibeVoid
Time: July 8, 2010, 3:29 pm

i’ve read The Bodhisattva and Spiritual Emanation of Aksobhya from a website and within the first paragraph it speaks of “The musicality of being is the clear tone of a bell”. i practice zazen and use the koan “who is it that hears” while using a singingbowl and am wondering if theirs further refrences to this meditation technique within the teachings of Vajrayana. I realise this might be a obscure refrence and nothing more but i thought i would atlest try.

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Comment from mondo
Time: July 8, 2010, 10:54 pm

Ok VibeVoid, the first ‘sound’ is the bell sound at the 1,000 petal lotus which as you go beyond there mellows into the gong sound. Next comes the sound of the conch(sp?), then something like a guitar, or sitar, and flinally a flute. But none of these ‘sounds’ are quite like what we are presently aware of instrumentally in ‘this world’. They are more ‘ephemeral’. In Sant Mat they are spoken of as the ‘names’ of the dieties of ‘the regions’ with the ‘flute sound’ being the realm of Sat Purusha. Characteristically Sat Purusha is the Being where in His presence you ‘hear’ the TRUTH [Dharma]. There are two ‘regions’ above Sat Nam, Sat Purusha’s realm/pure land: Anama and Agama Purushas. Anama goes beyond ‘names’ and Agama: beyond the beyond. In Sant Mat going in, up and into these beyond realms is the path[mat] of The Sound Current[Dhara].
In the Surangama Sutra it is following the path of Hearing which both Avalokitesvara and Manjusri take reaching ‘Enlightenment’. You’re doing great. “Who is it that hears?” is a great introspection. Just keep following it. In Nyingma one is asked to find your mind. This helps in understanding Emptiness. Easily overlooked is the awareness or clarity of this ‘looking for’. Seeing ‘Nothing’ is to some a nihilistic result. That is an overlooking of the presence of the senses; in this case seeing. The senses are and hearing is. I’d say,”misicality of Being” as in Heideger’s Being and Time especially the Joan Stambaugh translation. But following hearing is perfect. “Who is it that hears?” is not a koan. It is a mondo…a question/answer. The answer’s key is in spontanaeity. Which is to say, “There will come a ‘moment’ and the lightebning bolt[vajra] will arrive.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: July 9, 2010, 10:38 am

Hi, Vibevoid.

The bell is a common symbol in Vajrayana Buddhism, usually paired with the vajra (thunderbolt). There’s a nice summary of the relationship between the two here: http://www.himalayanmart.com/VajraGhanta.php

I suppose I take the idea of the sound of reality to be a metaphor. Reality (impermanence, insubstantiality, unsatisfactoriness) is present at all times, but it’s like a sound that we rarely pay attention to, as if we were ADD students “zoning out” in class — they’re “tuned in” to distraction and “tune out” the teachings that are coming their way. The kind of koan you’re doing is a way of paying attention to the insubstantiality of the self, and so you’re trying to “tune in” to that particular sound (speaking metaphorically, of course).

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Comment from Clint
Time: November 22, 2010, 1:12 pm

I started with Buddhism in the beginning of 2010, I have found the results and the broadening of my mental scope so amazing! I perceive things in a much wider and wisdom filled way, much better than before. I also mentioned in a post on the Tara Mantra that I have OCD and when I started with Buddhism the image of Vajrapani made me a bit uncomfortable and started giving me doubts about Him, that He may be a demon etc. Interestingly everytime I’d go to the Buddhist Meditation Centre where I am a member, the large statue of Vajrapani would draw my attention but having OCD I would try and sit in a position where I would not see Him but His image kept calling my attention and now finally after chanting the Mantra of Manjushri and reading and studying more I understand the reason why Vajrapani was drawing my attention. I now regard Him as a central part of my spiritual practice and the more I learn the more I incorporate His Mantra into my life. I now see Vajrapani in a totally different light, a true guardian, protector and action deity. So much compassion emanates from Him as well, like a big grizzly bear protecting his cubs. Buddhism is really doing a lot for me, so much good! I just have a question, do you need an empowerment to do Vajrapani Mantra regularly? Or can I simply continue to chant the Mantra and Meditate?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: November 22, 2010, 1:20 pm

Hi, Clint.

I’m not familiar with all the ins and outs of Tibetan Buddhism, although from what I understand an “empowerment” is simply someone teaching you the practice. In my own tradition there are no empowerments, and anyone can chant the mantra. So I’d say, feel free!

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Comment from Clint
Time: November 22, 2010, 1:28 pm

Perfect! Thank you very much! PS: What is your tradition? :-))

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: November 22, 2010, 1:41 pm

I’m a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order, which is an ecumenical tradition, founded in the 1960s by an English bhikkhu.

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Comment from mondo
Time: November 22, 2010, 2:53 pm

Try reading Tsele Natsok Rangdrol’s EMPOWERMENT, translated by Erik Pema Kunzang to get the deeper aspects of empowerment. Personally it seems to me that the ‘Master’ giving you the empowerment is the key. The Master is the gateway or door to the perfection of wisdom, and how you ‘see’ your Master will determine how you receive your reward(s); empowerment(s). By starting with the Manjusri mantra is great. Being ‘drawn’ to Vajrapani is as if you got an empowerment to proceed further. Vajrapani, Vajradhara, and Vajrasattva are the beings who open you to Samantabhadra and Samantabhadri: Emptiness and intrinsic reflective awareness. Sounds to me you are doing just fine. More to come.

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Comment from Rinchen Phuntsok
Time: November 22, 2010, 4:12 pm

The first commitment in Tantra, and that applies to anyone involved in Vajrayana methods…is receive the empowerment o “Wang”. In order to recite the mantra of any tantric practice, the second commitment is to receive the transmition or “lung”, and finally the third commitment is receive the K’hrid (Tri) or explanation of the practice from any authorized Lama or Teacher. So, In order to practice and recite any mantra is required to have at least the transmition and explanation…. Some mantras do not strongly required the “lung”, I.E. chenrezig mantra, but definitely is more auspicious to have it. Same thing with empowerment. If you have empowerment but not the transmition, you are allowed to do the entire practice related to that empowerment. The lung is applied to the context of a particular tantric practice or saddhana, portions of it or even the mantra only.

Hope this clarifiesa lil’ bit.

best regards,
Rinchen.

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Comment from Clint
Time: November 22, 2010, 6:28 pm

Thank you very much Mondo and Rinchen Phuntsok for your comments, very helpful indeed! I find what Mondo says to be particularly interesting. Thanks again and yes more to come for sure :-))

Love and Light
Clint

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Comment from Steve T
Time: May 8, 2011, 6:46 pm

The RealAudio sample should be corrected, it is pronounced:

OM BENZA PANI HUM

Vajra is pronounced “BENZA”

Thanks

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 8, 2011, 9:32 pm

Hi, Steve.

I’m afraid the Sanskrit mantra is not pronounced as you indicate. You’re trying to faithfully reproduce a Tibetan mispronunciation of a Sanskrit mantra, which is rather charming in a way. Tibetan is in an entirely different language group from Sanskrit, and so Tibetans find it impossible to reproduce its sounds accurately. It’s like when native Japanese speakers substitute “R” for “L” so that “hallowed” becomes “harrowed.” English and Sanskrit are both in the same language group — both are Indo-European languages — and it’s much easier for us to pronounce Sanskrit. We never quite do it perfectly, but it’s much easier for us than it is for Tibetans. It’s rather interesting that English speakers try so carefully to copy the mispronunciations of Tibetan teachers to the point that they feel impelled to criticize those who pronounce Sanskrit more correctly.

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Comment from mondo
Time: May 9, 2011, 9:07 pm

Hi Bodhipaksa and Steve, In THE GREAT IMAGE there is an account of Vairochana going to India and bringing back The Great Perfection given to him by Sri Simha. In order to ‘sneak’ it out of the country he puts it into code. This code becomes the new written language of Tibet at the time. So what we call Tibetan is indeed a synthesis of the old Tibetan language and Sanskrit modified to not look exactly like Sanskrit. Tricky. Tibetan does have an alphabet and there are many sites on the net to learn about this language. I find it interesting that Tibetan can make all of the sounds that the Chinese language makes, but does it with an alphabet which Chinese does not have. The Chinese characters language is enormous and complex but does not have an alphabet. Ugh! Now Vajra does have a couple of different spellings in Tibetan. You see there are 3 distinctly different schools or dialects of Tibetan if not even more. So Vajra can be spelled Benza, Benzer, Badzar in Tibetan. How it is pronounced is another matter. Usually you can hear your lama pronounce it either directly or via electronic means. So go with that.
My thought is that VajraPani, and all of ‘The Buddhas’ if anthropomorphised…they know all of the languages and then some. I find it idiotic to propose they only know a singularity of linguistical awareness. Reminds me of one of the major reasons the Moslems and the Jews are at each others’ throats…pardon the pun…The moslems say God or Allah only hears prayers in Arabic and The Jews maintain He only hears prayers in Hebrew. Silly. Indeed all words are empty be them Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew or whatever. They are just conventional pointers. The VajraCutter Sutra is a great baseline for such linguistical theory. And yet going into various theories about frequencies and reverberances of sound envolving the awakening of centers of awareness within this ‘Form’/body opening oneself to ‘higher mind’ via ehterial speech/mantra ain’t a bad way to go wither. The Mantrayana as skillful means on the Vajrayana Path makes for an incredible journey which you can travel sitting perfectly still sort of….

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Comment from Rinchen Phuntsok
Time: May 9, 2011, 10:37 pm

And I’ll add that finally…..one need to should recite the mantra as the teacher or Guru has tought. If the Guru recited that mantra in sanskrit, one should keep that pronunciation. If it was recited in tibetanized sanskrit – corrupted sanskrit, one should do the same. That’s because in that way , one can receive the blessings of the lineage of Gurus.

Best regards,
Rinchen.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 10, 2011, 7:03 am

Yes, I definitely think we need to respect the traditions in which we practice. If there are “errors” in the mantra or in its pronunciation, those should not be changed without the blessing of our teacher.

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Comment from mondo
Time: May 10, 2011, 10:45 am

Exactly. Yet let me bring up a ‘point’. Of course I’d like to think everyone ‘hears’ sounds the same way ‘I’ do. I’ve come to notice that this view is incorrect. It comes out when you hear two devotees arguing about how their Master actually said the mantra. So, personal clarity…how you actually hear your Guru, Master, Teacher pronounce the mantra is how to do it. Question: how about the Surangama Sutra? Both Avalokitesvara and Manjusri follow ‘Hearing’ back to its source and arrive at enlightenment. They both explain how they went about their investigation of hearing. Well worth the read.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: May 10, 2011, 10:51 am

Well, you have to get feedback from the teacher. It’s very common even in chanting things like the refuges and precepts that certain people consistently chant what they think they hear rather than what they actually hear. Sometimes it needs to be pointed out that a word is being mispronounced.

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Comment from ken
Time: June 8, 2011, 11:14 am

Hello to all bros and sis,

Actually, I have been searching for vajrapani practice secret until I come across this blog. I started to chant om vajrapani hum since 2006 after being taught by a “master” friend. Lately, I am experiencing some very weird sensations on some part of my body, it feels like butterflies kissing my skin. I can even see bright spark with “zzztt-zztt” sound.

So far, the following brother was quite close to the guidance I’m searching for, excuse me for pasting it here again.
—————————————-
Comment from Brian
Time: November 28, 2008, 12:40 pm

Hi everyone, the website is great. I am an intitate in both the Nyingma (Khenpos Pladen Sherab and Tsewang Dongyal) and
Kagyu (Trungpa Rinpoche) Lineages. I’d like to add to the comments from Bodhipaksa to Steve; by all means chant the
Vajrapani mantra, however Bodhipaksa’s comment “As long as we are doing skillful things with that energy” is deeply important. It would
be advisable to practice Zhang Zhuang (standing Chi Gung) or practice the internal martial arts of Tai Chi, Ba Gua Chang, Hsing-I
Chuan, or Kum Nye or Hatha Yoga to open, cleanse, and stretch the meridians and channels in the body. For the mantric energy of
wrathful Buddhas/Bodhisattvas, the “inner wiring” of the body has to be prepared. We don’t want to open to 800 watts of power when
our wiring is only prepared to handle one hundred. Drink lots of water, the flames around Vajrapani, though cool to the
touch can still fry. Vajrapani is one of the dieties revered at the at the Shaolin Temple. The mantra is Great for weightlifting too.
Good Luck to all!

Tashi Delek!, May All Beings be Happy and free of suffering.
Brian

—————

Brian, where are you? Can you kindly help me?

May all be well and happy.

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Comment from Karma Tsering Lhamo
Time: September 9, 2011, 2:43 pm

What is the absolute correction pronunciation of the Tibetan words: Phat or Phet

Any help with this appreciated;-)

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 9, 2011, 3:05 pm

It’s a Sanskrit rather than a Tibetan word. If Tibetan has adopted “phat” as a loan word, I’ve no idea how they’d pronounce it. Also if it’s being used in a Sanskrit mantra and chanted by Tibetans, I don’t know how they’d pronounce it. But in Sanskrit “ph” the “h” is sounded, and it would be like the p-h combination in “cup-hut”. In fact the “a” is pronounced as the “u” in Enlgish “but” or “hut,” although the “t” is retroflex and pronounced with the tip of the tongue pressed against the hard palate. You’d get an accurate pronunciation by saying the “p-hut” part of “cup-hut” in a fake Indian accent. When people fake an Indian accent they instinctively use retroflex t’s. The word should be pronounced vigorously, since it’s (I believe) meant to represent a thunder-crack.

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Comment from mondo
Time: September 9, 2011, 10:32 pm

Bodhipaksa, you are great! I am only familiar with the Amdo dialect which my Master pronounces and He doesn’t pronounce the ‘p’. So it sounds like HUT!!! In the Marine Corps, the sounds made for the command ‘Attention’ is 10-HUT!!!. That HUt came to mind when I heard Master say HUT. As the last sound in the POWA Mantra it reads as PHAT and is pronounced HUT with great emphasis; burst. The burst is kind of sorta also for the movement of energy in the Heart chakra up the central channe. That being so, the last syllable of any mantra can be given the same emphasis. Hung is so often a lsst syllable too and can be emphasized similarly. What do you say?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 10, 2011, 1:59 pm

Yes, hum is often emphasized, but it depends on what mantra it’s in. In Om manipadme hum it’s not typically given much emphasis at all, but in Om Vajrapani Hum it tends to be emphasized more. But it never seems to be chanted as emphatically as “phat,” which is more declarative.

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Comment from mondo
Time: September 14, 2011, 10:29 am

Actually I’ve heard Phat also said rather simply or just spoken. Yet it still sounds like hut. Tibetan and Chinese have such incredible ways to put letters in a word that go unpronounced. I wonder why? I mean Hat could easily sound like hut in English. The English A has so many ways to be sounded. Ah, At and some renditions with Uh. Ususally in Chinese a P is a B. It’s crazy speech if you ask me.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 14, 2011, 11:31 am

It’s similar in American English, though. Americans could easily say MUN-duh-luh (close enough for maṇḍala), but they insist on man-DAH-lah. It’s hard to speak someone else’s language, since it tends to get filtered through the pronunciation rules of your native tongue, and with Chinese and Tibetan not even being from the same language group as Sanskrit, it’s even harder for them.

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Comment from mondo
Time: September 14, 2011, 6:35 pm

Yes you’re right Sanskrit or Ghandarvi was the language the Tibetans created their script off of, but again you’re right, they felt they had to ‘code’ it or ‘bastardize’ their script to get the sutras out of India at the time. It was politics. Yet Chinese phonemics seem to be their pronounciation mode. My Master has Mantra books with the Tibetan on the top lines while Chinese below for all of His Chinese disciples. The Chinese people can say or sing the mantras easily that way, but the Chinese semantics are not the Tibetan semantics. So it seems to me semantically the Tibetan follows the Ghandarvi although the script is quite different while phonemically the base seems to be Chinese. Historically Tibet has a history of looking towards India for its philosophical guidance while also having China as a deep influence. Kind of like whetre East meets West. Indeed on Tibetan King had two wives; one from China and one from Nepal.

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Comment from Cezar
Time: September 30, 2011, 5:02 pm

To Karma Tsering Lhamo regarding Phat pronounciation:

If we are to consider a first hand account, Alexandra David-Neel would be a credible source. She speaks about it in her book “With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet” but in more detail also in her work in “Immortalite et reincarnation.” In the latter she details the pronounciation of Phat in the Bardo Thos Tol chapter as [phet!]. She insists numerous times that it is pronounced [phet!]. Also, she saw both ceremonies and people applying p’howa on themselves successfully. So perhaps it is safe at least to say that according to her phat pronounced [phet!] really works.
That’s not to say the other versions are wrong, but personally I listen to Al David-Neel when it comes to tiny details like that that can make a difference.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: September 30, 2011, 7:12 pm

If someone’s intension is to be faithful to the Tibetan tradition in which they’re training, they should follow the guidance of their guru, for that’s the Tibetan way. I wouldn’t advise taking David-Néel as an authority over one’s own teacher. She may have been wrong, or she may be talking about a specific dialect. Personally, I don’t think that the correct pronunciation makes any real difference, but as a matter of respect it’s best to follow one’s teacher. Of course if you think the teacher is wrong, take it up with them…

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Comment from mondo
Time: September 30, 2011, 11:52 pm

Nice to know the Alexandra David-Neal information, but your own personal Guru is the key. I’m wondering about the semantics of Phat. My meager understanding about the mantra is for one’s trip to the bardo afterlife and being helped there by your Guru to be led to a pure land. But I’m wondering…if you’re lucky enough to manage the Rainbow Body upon the sequence of dying events, then is going to a Pure Land even necessary? Which is to say…There’s essentially 5 Pure Lands: Amaghosiddhi’s, Akshobia’s, Ratnasambhaba’s, Amida’s and Vairocana’s with Vairocana’s also being Samantabadhra’s too; Akanista. Most Gurus say they want to take you to Amida’s pure land. Why not Akinista? Supposedly The Buddha is there. And from my limited viewpoint…it seems to me once this ‘Enlightenment’ ever happens…when you come out of it, you’re right here on Earth again yet with a different view; Earth as Pure Land. Perhaps I’m terribly confused…that would’nt supprise me at all. The mind can twist things around.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: October 1, 2011, 12:33 am

You, know, I think that’s one of these thing where the Buddha’s teaching on speculating thinking comes in. We need to concentrate on this life and on pulling out the poisoned arrow, not on speculating on what’s going to happen after we die.

For the record, I’m a “this is your one shot, and even if you get enlightened you’re still going to die and that’s it” sort of a fella.

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Comment from mondo
Time: October 1, 2011, 7:44 am

I guess you agree with the Hinayana view that the Parinirvana Sutra is not a sutra. And with your view I suggest you never read The Parinirvana Sutra which parallels Socrates’ Apology almost verbatim. And Lord knows, stay away from anything by Maitraya. You need not even consider there is a buddha garbha within you which is The Real You. You must know the sravaka/ Hinayanist even go so far as to refute Nagarjuna and say his Prajnaparamita Sutras are not real sutras. In them if read carefully you’ll see Manjusri expaining about how we never die and it’s because we’ve never been born. The Heart Sutra says as much also despite the Hinayana putting this Sutra into the not real sutras class too. One life…one death…actually neither nor.

Maybe this ‘One Shot’ is the last straw before conceptuality dissolves. Good luck with that.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: October 1, 2011, 6:26 pm

You’re getting a bit carried away with your speculation about my views, Mondo.

The Parinirvana Sutra, and the other Mahayana Sutras, are clearly sutras. They weren’t taught by the Buddha, but they’re inspired works that obviously come from a deep level of practice, and in many cases (particularly with regard to the teachings on shunyata, they take the teachings of the Buddha to new depths). Buddhism is a ongoing exploration of the path to Awakening, and it would be silly to dismiss the achievements and insights of later writings just because they weren’t written by the Buddha himself (and much of the Pali canon is not the teaching of the Buddha, either).

As for the Tathagathagarbha doctrine, I’m afraid, yes, that’s not something I can swallow. I see it as a step back from the radicalness of the Buddha’s teaching on anatta, and in fact it’s remarkably similar to some fo the views that the Buddha argued against. The Buddha would not have agreed at all with the language of “the Real You.” I’ve seen through the illusion of my own self enough to know that there is no “real me.”

The word “hinayana,” by the way, means “inferior vehicle,” and was a polemical term invented by the Mahayanists in order to denigrate other schools and to demonstrate their own superiority. It’s time the term was retired, I think.

And the Buddha (according to the Pali canon) implicitly said that it was acceptable to believe that there was only this one life. Who am I to disagree with the Tathagata? :)

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Comment from mondo
Time: October 2, 2011, 6:00 am

Sorry about the speculations, but my degree is in philosophy and speculating is a habit. For me, my first reading of The Heart Sutra was way back in ’69. Something about it left me with a feeling it was so deep. The ‘Form’ and ‘Emptiness’ interplay of course got to me at first. What the heck was Avalokitesvara trying to tell us. Since that time…many years later I dwelled on the next line where he goes into ‘no this’s and that’s’; particularly the ‘no birth and no death’ feature. And also I see where ‘Form’ can mean ‘Body’ and ‘Emptiness’ cam be translated as ‘Mind’. That’s where I’m coming from. Plus a favorite of yours and mine, Manjusri explains in Saptasatika translated by Conze that if he were to take someone out of samsara, then no one would be taken out of samsara. Deep Manjusri is indeed. To me at first glance he seems to be saying something about the oneness of Samsara and Nirvana. So I can see you and for that matter, everyone seeing this life as The Life in that we are here right now. The past is gone and the future ain’t yet. Meanwhile The Dharmakaya is…as The One. I don’t know, i’ll have to reread the Parinirvana Sutra over and over again. My first philosophical event occured reading Plato’s DIALOGUES OF SOCRATES and in it The Apology rang true for me and to find Buddha saying the same thing again rang true. Yes, in it those gathered around him were shocked when he spoke of just his body dying but he would live on. Then he explained how this teaching would be shown by the coming Buddha soon to follow. That next Buddha was Padmasambhava who has clarified the ‘Siddhi’ approach to Tathagata Gharbha. Oh well…still here and sometimes now.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: October 2, 2011, 3:22 pm

The Heart Sutra is an early favorite of mine as well, although it was 1982 before I encountered it. At the Buddhist center I was attending it was frequently chanted, and so I have it memorized. In fact the first Dharma talk I ever gave was about the Heart Sutra…

Both body and mind are empty! The sutra runs through the five skandhas, of form, feeling, apperception, habitual formations, and consciousness, and states that each one is empty. Empty of what? Empty of a self, or anything that could be the basis of a self. Empty of permanence. Empty of separateness.

Emptiness, here, is a restatement of the Buddha’s recurring observation about the skandhas: “This is not me; this is not mine; I am not this.” He encouraged us to become aware of anything and everything that we might identify as a permanent and separate self, or as the basis of a permanent and separate self, and to cultivate that reflection in order to cease clinging to the notion of a self. It’s a radical approach, and one that was too much for some Buddhists, which is why we’ve ended up with the Vedic/Buddhist hybrid that we call Tathagatagarbha.

Oy, oy, oy!

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Comment from mondo
Time: October 2, 2011, 10:11 pm

Right On Bodhipaksa! Emptiness is where all of ‘This’ is coming from. Even ‘The Buddha’ is Emptiness. You’re Emptiness, I’m Emptiness and all else. From the universe to the smallest atom, all is emptiness and and emptiness is all…vajra. In ‘looking for one’s mind’ emptiness is all that can be found. Except for this ‘looking’. Hence Awareness. Emptiness is Aware. Yet we seem to be aware of ‘our life. This is the initiation of metaphore…or ‘Selfishness’. Next step ‘down’ is the evolution of ‘I-ness’ mine-ness and ‘others’. All illusions, dreams, etc.. And true, tathagata garbha is easily seen as ‘something’ which it is not. It is just a metaphore for Emptiness. Now, when was any Emptiness born? Not. When does any Emptiness get born? Not. Emptiness simply is and always has been and will be although of course time is emptiness too. Looking at time: the past is gone…emptiness. The future hasn’t arrived yet… emptiness. And even now is totally impermanent…emptiness. I really like the metaphore of Space. Sace simply is and all that we think is as objects in this Space is moving IN space. Space is perflectly still and it is Emptiness. Of course it is a concept which is why The Diamond Sutra is so well akin to The Heart Sutra … our words are only what this illusion of our ‘self’ can use to speak with and they are all at source Empty yet with a touch of Awareness although oftentimes confused.
When Vajrapani comes down to the mountain top where the sages are there to greet him, such as we’ve been chatting about are touches of the Dharma teachings he gave the sages. Why is Vajrapani dancing in flames with a vajra in his hand? The energy of Emptiness: Vajra. It is from Emptiness where the power of Vajrapani’s Mantra originates. It resonates with our ‘own’ emptiness and empowers ‘our’ awareness of which none is ‘our’s’. Vajra-pani: emptiness energy; Vajra-sattva: emptiness being and Vajra-dhara: emptiness awareness; the three vajra-brothers. Great metaphors.

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Comment from Cezar
Time: October 4, 2011, 2:04 am

To Bodhipaksa/mondo:
The fellow has only asked about the pronounciation. He didn’t say he was willing to take whatever answer he gets on the net over his guru’s instructions. You guys got way ahead with assumptions attributed to me, which I have not made.
A while ago mondo also replied to him regarding what he heard as far as the Phat pronounciation. I know one should listen to one’s guru; about that pronounciation I also dared to give a quote – not from a sacred text, from the first Westerner who got there and witnessed quite a bit. It was probably just a bit more than the “I heard that” level. You don’t have to shoot me. It was at this level only – discussion… over the internet. That was all. I didn’t suggest to take this over his guru’s. Peace and be good.

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: October 4, 2011, 8:33 am

Sorry. I didn’t mean to sound like I was jumping on you. The original poster used a Tibetan name, so I assumed (perhaps wrongly) that he/she was practicing in a Tibetan lineage. Still, while David-Néel’s observation is interesting, it would be better to consult a Tibetan teacher about the pronunciation.

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Comment from mondo
Time: October 4, 2011, 9:01 am

Please let me apologize for going off on tangents. Like I said, ‘Nice to know what Alexandra said about Phat. The pronounciation I’ve heard from my Guru and his Guru sounded to me as ‘Hut. Reflecting into my ‘this life’ past, I recall distinctly when an officer came into the barracks in the Marine Corps the first person to see him would exclaim, “Ten-Hut!” That HUT sound is also used frequently in American football as the signal to snap the ball. Hut just seems unique to me besides it being how I heard it from my Master. But, you might consider that although were ‘hear sounds’ chances are many people hearing the same enunciation can hear it differently. Indeed I have talked with some of Master’s other disciples here in Chengdu and they do hear it differently although some hear it just as I do.
Hate to use the word ‘I’ but sometimes we have to go with what we’ve got, or what’s got us.

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Comment from Rodrigo B
Time: September 26, 2012, 11:59 pm

Many thanks for all the comments Bodhipaksa and all, i really appreciate the work you do, I´m a mexican guy who has been in some retreats, and expects sometimes too much from life, just want to tell that yes sometimes we would like others to see “reality” as we see it, and I have very hard tried it with my own family and friends, i had to give up and appreciate what there is, not fearing our weaknesses and looking through a more, how to say open-hearted view of things… Now I think we see sometimes the Path with our limited old way of perceiving and need fresh look to all, sometimes at least, I know some of Sangharaksitas work and it has been very helpful to me to know about his voice and applie it to life, as a guide in the climbing my own hughe ( enormous) mountain… I congratulate all of you. I met once Buddhapalita as I remember his name when I went to Gujyaloka some greetings to him…
keep up the good work I trust the Vajra and its symbolism and all This Mantras… In a way today I was doing some puja and met this page in the web…

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Comment from Bhikkhu Trinley (Gelong)
Time: October 18, 2012, 3:38 pm

Hi! I just want to explain that
1. The Tibetan mantras are not mangled! The Tibetan scholars devised a system of transliteration to write Sanskrit with Tibetan letters as *Mantras cannot be translated*!. The Consonants are written under each other until a vowel then another stack is beginning until the next vowel etc. Only if Tibetans read this like ordinary Tibetan then it becomes mangled. Also they used a ba to write va and a dza to write ja (va jra -> ba – n – dzra; ra ja -> ra – dza). Now, some people claim that this was the actual pronunciation as the Tibetans did *hear* it! So, Bandzra *might* be the correct way and not Vajra. We have similar changes in other languages as Beta in old Greek becomes Veeta in modern Greek. But I am not a linguist! ;)
2. Mantras only need correct pronunciation to work – no faith necessary! But in the Tibetan system empowerment is necessary and the Mantra should be pronounced as during the empowerment.
All the best
Bhikkhu Trinley

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Comment from Bhikkhu Trinley (Gelong)
Time: October 18, 2012, 3:58 pm

The correct pronunciation of Phat is P’at!
While P’a represents accumulation, ‘at represents the cutting off.
So, it abbreviates the Buddhist path of accumulation of wisdom and merit and then the giving away of all of it (creation/completion). This structure can be found in all practices be it ‘Hinayana’ or other. Even in Hinayana you have to grasp the Dhamma before you can let go, because letting go must be based on awakened wisdom.
All the best
Bhikkhu Trinley

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Comment from Kelzang Dawa
Time: October 4, 2013, 5:02 am

I would be happy if you could kindly provide me some Buddhist texts on Vajrapani recitation. Because I could not find the text unlike other texts

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: October 4, 2013, 12:17 pm

I’m afraid I don’t have any texts that I can send you, Kelzang Dawa.

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Comment from Chenzal Kraznay
Time: April 21, 2014, 9:30 am

Is it OK to recite Vajrapani mantra without an empowerment or formal teaching and initiation?

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Comment from Bodhipaksa
Time: April 23, 2014, 9:24 am

Yes, that’s fine. Vajrapani was originally practiced in the non-Tantric Mahayana tradition. Since merely reciting the mantra, or even visualizing the figure of Vajrapani, is not in itself a Tantric practice you don’t need any formal initiation.

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