Avalokitesvara mantra

Oṃ Mani Padme Hūṃ / Om Mani Padme Hum

Avalokiteshvara (or Avalokiteśvara) is a Bodhisattva who represents compassion, and his mantra also symbolizes that quality. Avalokiteshvara means “The Lord Who Looks Down (in compassion)”.

There are various forms of Avalokiteśvara (Chenrezig in Tibetan). The four-armed form is shown here. There is also a 1000-armed form — the many arms symbolizing compassion in action. And in the far east, Avalokiteshvara turned into the female Bodhisattva, Kuan Yin.

Avalokiteśvara Mantra Meaning

  • Oṃ, as I’ve explained elsewhere, has only a mystical meaning — suggesting primordial reality, or the potential for enlightenment that pervades the universe.
  • Mani means jewel.
  • Padma means lotus (why the form in the mantra is “padme” is explained below).
  • Huṃ, like Oṃ, has no conceptual meaning.

Both jewels and lotuses are important symbolic elements in Buddhism.

Jewels represent what is most precious, so that Buddhists worship not just the Buddha, but the three jewels (Buddha, Dharma, or the teachings, and Sangha, or spiritual community). and jewels were considered indestructible, which made them an excellent symbol for eternal truths.

The lotus represents purity, in terms of how the enlightened mind is untouched by the negativity of the world. Just as the lotus can exist in muddy water without being soiled, so an enlightened being can exist in an impure world without becoming contaminated by its greed, hatred, or delusion.

The mantra is often “translated” as “Hail to the jewel in the lotus” but the Sanskrit simply can’t mean that.

The central element, manipadme, seems to be a name, Manipadma (“The Jewel Lotus One”) with the -e ending signifying the vocative case, meaning that Manipadma — is being invoked (“O Jewel Lotus One”).

But if this is the case, then according to the rules of classical Sanskrit, then Manipadma would have to be a feminine figure. And Avalokiteśvara is male.

However, if the mantra was originally in a non-Sanskrit language with different grammatical rules, and the vocative -e ending was applicable in that language to a masculine figure, then Manipadma would simply be another name for Avalokiteshvara.

The mantra of Avalokitesvara would then mean “Oṃ, O Jewel Lotus One, Hūṃ” — the “Jewel Lotus One” being an alternative name for Avalokitesvara himself.

How the Mantra Works

Mantras often start with Oṃ, have a central element that’s related to the figure the mantra belongs to (sometimes that’s simply their name), and then end with another syllable, which is commonly Hūṃ, although it can also be “Svāhā” or something else.

The way I understand mantras is that the central part connect us (Hūṃ) with Oṃ, which is the potential for awakening that lies within the universe, and within us. So effectively we’re saying:

  1. Oṃ: This is the potential for enlightenment, which Manipadme (aka Avalokiteshvara) makes available for me.
  2. Manipadme: O, Avalokiteshvara, you are my path to enlightenment.
  3. Hūṃ: Here’s me, asking for, and hopefully embodying enlightenment.

I never studied Sanskrit, but I did study Pali, which is a related language, at university. And one of the things you discover is that often you have to read a Pali sentence backward in order to make sense of it. So I suggest reading the three points in the numbered list in reverse order so that you’ll have a better sense of how an ancient Indian Buddhist would have understood the mantra.

The Significance of the Mantra

This is probably the best known Buddhist mantra. I swear I remember hearing it chanted on an episode of the BBC Sci-fi series, Dr Who, when I was a young kid back in the 1960s, and even before that, in the 1940’s it featured on an American radio show called the Green Lama.

This mantra is very widely chanted in Tibet, and not only chanted but carved onto stones, printed onto flags, and embossed onto prayer wheels. The illustration above shows the mantra’s six syllables, which from left to right are: Om Ma Ni Pa Dme Hum.

Tibetans find Sanskrit hard to pronounce (so do westerners, actually, but in different ways) and so Tibetans pronounce “Padme” as “peh-may”.

Recordings of the Mantra

We’ve created a YouTube video of images of Avalokitesvara, accompanied by the mantra:

Or click below to listen to an audio-only recording of the Avalokitesvara mantra:

Pronunciation notes for the Avalokitesvara mantra

o is pronounced like o in ore
a is pronounced as u in cut
e is pronounced as a in made
ū is like oo in cool
ṃ in hūṃ is pronounced like the NG in English “lung”

The Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara (or Avalokiteshvara)

Avalokiteshvara’s name means “The Lord Who Looks Down (in compassion).”

Avalokiteshvara forms a protective trinity along with Manjushri and Vajrapani. He is the protector of the Lotus family of deities, which also includes Amitabha and Tara.

In Tibet, Avalokitesvara is known as Chenrezig, and the Dalai Lama is said to be an emanation of this Bodhisattva. In the far east, Avalokiteshvara turned into the female Bodhisattva, Kuan Yin (Chinese) or Kannon (Japanese).

Avalokitesvara is also popularly known as Padmapani, or “Holder of the Lotus.”

Avalokiteśvara’s Four Arms


To western eyes, the depiction of Avalokiteshvara as having four arms can seem bizarre or alien. The first time that I saw a picture of this Bodhisattva I was mildly repelled, and couldn’t help wondering about how all those arms joined to the body!

Later I came to realize that this is simply an iconographic convention, and one that we also have in an important Western art form, the comic strip. How does a comic strip artist show that a character is in motion? Often this is done by having motion lines behind a figure to show movement, or by showing multiple versions of body parts, like a stroboscopic photograph. Here’s an example:

Stone Soup comic, showing multiple faces.

Similarly, Eastern artists, trying to depict the multifarious compassionate activities of Avalokiteshvara, chose to depict him as having four arms. Avalokiteshvara’s compassion and wisdom have too many dimensions to be represented by a conventional human figure, and so each arm represents a different aspect of his compassionate nature.

The central pair of hands clasps the mani, or jewel, to Avalokiteshvara’s heart in a prayer-like attitude. The jewel represents compassion, which is his principle attribute. The jewel is held to his heart because compassion is central to Avalokiteshvara’s being. Compassion is Avalokiteshvara’s essence.

The outer arms hold a mala (rosary) and a lotus flower, as if as gifts. These are Avalokiteshvara’s offerings to the world — his compassionate activity extending into the world. The lotus symbolizes wisdom, while the mala represents the gift of meditation, and also comments on the necessity for the constant repetition of skillful activities in order to attain enlightenment.

The Thousand-Armed Avalokiteśvara

This multi-limbed approach was taken to another level in the thousand-armed and eleven-headed form of Avalokiteshvara. According to legend, Avalokiteshvara made a vow, in the presence of the Buddha Amitabha, to manifest in all the realms of existence in order to save all sentient beings. He also vowed that if he were to lose his compassion for even a moment, that he would shatter into a thousand pieces.

At one time, having worked tirelessly for the welfare of beings, Avalokiteshvara, at Amitabha’s prompting, looked back and saw that there were still uncountable beings suffering in samsara. At that point he became discourage, fainted, and shattered into a thousand pieces. Amitabha gathered up the pieces and reassembled them into a form with thousand arms and eleven heads.

The eleven heads symbolize the eleven directions of space, suggesting that Avalokiteshvara’s compassionate gaze is infinite in scope. Each of the thousand hands, which are arrayed like an aura around the standing figure of Avalokiteshvara, has an eye in the center of the palm, suggesting that his beneficial activities are informed by transcendental wisdom. Many of the hands bear implements, suggesting the skilful means that Avalokiteshvara employs in saving sentient beings from the sufferings of samsara.

Although he is associated with compassion, Avalokiteshvara is, like all Bodhisattvas, symbolic of wisdom as well. He is connected with the Heart Sutra in particular, and that text is in fact a teaching he gave on the topic of emptiness (shunyata) to Shariputra. He is also associated with the Lotus Sutra.

Avalokiteshvara is the spiritual father of Tara, who is said to have been born from a lotus that grew in a lake formed by the tears he shed as he gazed in compassion at the infinite sufferings of the world.

103 Comments. Leave new

  • Thank you very much for the useful information. I have been making prayer flags for the meditation area in my yard, and this information has been inspiring. May you reach enlightenment quickly.

  • Mbeleck Mandenge
    July 12, 2007 11:16 am

    Thank you very much.
    Can I ask a broader question?
    In my life I have never been in contact with confessional Buddhism excepting the Sokka Gakkai variety. By temperament I am not inclined to this variety. All the other varieties as I have some acquaintance in literature it seems to me please my heart. Does it make sense for me to identify myself with Buddhists when I have never been in the company of anyone especially of any initiate from whom I can actually see the practice? And to what extent would the chanting of a mantra in my manner suffice for my yearning to feel the identity of a Buddhist?

  • That’s a good question, Mbeleck. Many people when they encounter Buddhist teachings find that they have a heart response of feeling that they’ve come home. There’s a sense of the inherent and natural truth of Buddhist teaching. So in the West especially there’s a tendency for people to discover — in isolation — that they have an affinity with Buddhist practice. And I believe that to be an entirely appropriate response.

    Traditionally, one is a Buddhist when one has “Gone for Refuge” to the Buddha, the Dharma (the teachings), and the Sangha (the spiritual community). This means in essence that one has decided that Enlightenment (the open-ended development of awareness and compassion) is one’s goal in life, that the Dharma is the best way to attain that goal, and that one aspires to attain that goal in the company of others.

    Not all these Refuges come into focus in our lives at the same time. It sounds like the first two have for you, and that your task is now to find an appropriate context in which to practice. Exactly which spiritual community one joins is often a matter both of personal preference and of geography!

    I wish you good fortune in finding an appropriate sangha for your needs.

  • Mbeleck Mandenge
    July 23, 2007 9:04 am

    Thank you for the considered response I get to my queries:perhaps in you, for the time I have found a teacher. Would you suggest a Buddha image [or a bodhisattva image] I can post on the wall of my room, and some Buddhist text which may be practical accompaniment?

  • Hello again, Mbeleck.

    The choice of a Buddha image is really a very personal thing, and I’d suggest that you find an image that you’re simply attracted to.

    My first Buddha image was a Nepalese woodcut of Akshobhya. I just found that I liked the image when I saw it in a local shop, and I’d no idea who Akshobhya was (or even that the figure was Akshobhya) but when later I did some investigation I discovered that he was associated with qualities that particularly fascinated me (for example the element Water and the Mirror-Like Wisdom).

    So I’d suggest that you follow your heart (or your eye) on this matter and find what interests you — then explore the iconography and mythology of that figure to deepen your sense of fascination. Vessantara’s book, “Meeting the Buddhas” is an excellent resource for getting background information, by the way.

  • Mbeleck Mandenge
    July 27, 2007 11:57 am

    I will be delighed to be specifically instructed on how to practice the chanting of the Avalokitesvara mantra and be hinted on events in my mental and spiritial life I would be watchful for which would nean progress of some sort. I do not know whether this request of mine is a sensible one. I earnestly would engage on the life of discipline as The Buddha would prescribe and I wish there anyone I would go for inspiration in a practical way. Can you give me this?

  • Hello Mbeleck,

    It’s always worth asking! Unfortunately because of lack and time and resources we’re not really able to take on the role of being your spiritual teacher. I’d encourage you to look for a local Buddhist group, if that’s at all possible. Unfortunately I don’t know where you live or whether there are such groups in your locality. If you write to us through our contact form we might be able to make some recommendations. But I wish you well with your practice.

    With best wishes,

  • Wahab Abayomi Omiwole
    January 7, 2008 11:42 am

    I have listened to the audio of chant “Om Mani Padme Hum”. Could you, please, teach me how to chant and how many times per day, etc

  • Hi Wahab,

    I’d hope there’s enough guidance here for you to learn to chant the mantra. There’s no set number of times that a mantra should be chanted per day. You can simply call the mantra to mind as often as possible — for example when waiting in a queue, or when walking, or when waking up or going to sleep.

  • In 1996 when i was seriously ill doctors diagnoised it as thrombosis and heart is damaged. They suggested some medicines and called for a review after on month. Within this one month duration i used to go for net browsing and suddenly like a boon i got this “mani” mantra. Daily i used to spend 7 hours in net surfing and studied in detail about this mantra. The benefits are numerous but as far as i am concerned my health is rapidly improved. Now this mantra is always in my breath viz., in every inhale and exhale. Particularly when going for a long walk in the early hours it will really show its benefits. Now i am a regular practitioner of this mantra and gaining all merits. When i am asleep this chanting is always there in my mind i used to see glittering stars, a blue coloued light in the sky and sometimes feel sitting with famous buddhist monks who were chanting this mantra rythemic.

    When the review meet with my doctors they got wondered and could not trace out any heart trouble symptoms.

    So it is my appeal to every one who see this reponse in site to practise this mantra and reap the benefits.

    I trusted this mantra
    Practised it vigorously and benefitted out of it………

    Buddham saranam gachhami
    Sangham saranam gachhami
    Dharmam saranam gachhami

  • may i ask what is the correct pronunciation of this mantra?is it om mani pa mi hung or om mani pe me hum?which pronunciation is correct or both are correct?between what do we have to do after chanting the mantra?thanks

  • Hi Doubtful,

    There’s a pronunciation guide above :)

    It’s Hung and not hum.

    I’m not sure what you meant by your last question, I’m afraid. Can you rephrase that?

  • Is it helpfull if we keep a photo of lotus & jewel while chanting om mane padme hum.
    will it help to concentrate better.
    please tell me what should i keep in mind while chanting a mantra

  • Hi Pradeep,

    This is the kind of thing you might want to experiment with, although in my experience it’s enough simply to pay attention to the sound of the mantra and so see what, if any mental images come to mind.

    Although a familiarity with what jewels and lotuses look like can certainly help prime the mind for this kind of spontaneous visualization, it might be best to look at these kinds of photographs outside of meditation. And I wouldn’t suggest that in your meditation you try to reproduce in your mind the images you’ve seen on a photo, but instead (as I suggested above) allow any images to emerge naturally.

    In mantra practice the object of our meditation is paying attention to the sound of the mantra, and perhaps also to a mental or physical image of the Buddha or bodhisattva.

    I hope this helps.

    With metta,

  • Namaste
    Radiant beings of Buddha-nature.

    As an invocation of Avalokitesvara, the general pronunciation of the mantra is: Om Mani Padme Hum.

    As an invocation of Cherenzig, the Tibetan pronunciation of the mantra is: Om Mani Peme Hung.

    May all sentient beings be endowed with happiness.
    May they abide in equanimity, free from attachment or aversion.

  • Hi Earthshine,

    Chenrezig is just the Tibetan name for Avalokiteshvara (it’s a rough translation) and so the two are the same figure. The Tibetan form of the mantra is just a Tibetan (mis)pronunciation, so they’re not two different mantras for different figures.

    I hope that’s helpful.

    All the best,

  • Hello Bodhipaksa,

    I concur. They are only avatars, manifestations or embodiments of the same essential nature of love and compassion. Kind of like you and I. My previous comment was in response to doubtful’s inquiry, to which you had pretty much already elucidated. It would be most enjoyable to converse further about Vajrasattva, Zen koans, Kundalini or anything else present in the collective unconcious. Bodhi means “enlightened, luminous”; what does paksa mean?

    It is always helpful.


  • Paksha means “wings” — so my name is “Wings of Enightenment.”

  • We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time
    -T. S. Eliot Four Quartets

    This web site is beyond the Beyond. It is crazy good. Overflowing with true compassionate support and good ol’ bhakti yoga. Bodhipaksa, I would just like to say: You the man! The Wingman! You are a beacon of the Light of humanity and your speech is of the unfolding of the Dharma. So… the first, primordial buddha is Samantabhadra, Siddhartha is the fourth buddha Sakyamuni and then there’s the fifth, future buddha, Maitreya. Could you possibly further clarify concerning the nature or energy of the five historical buddhas?

    Until then,

  • Hi Earthshine,

    Thanks very much for your kind comments. It’s encouraging to receive expressions of appreciation.

    I’m afraid I don’t know much about these other Buddhas. There seem to be various lists in different traditions, with differing numbers of supposedly historical Buddhas. Dipankara, Shakyamuni and Maitreya make up the set of Buddhas of the past, present, and future. There’s also a list of five Buddhas of the present kalpa, but I know next to nothing about them. I’m not even sure that there is much information out there on the topic! It may be that there are sutras waiting to be translated that give more information on these other Buddhas, or they may be, in effect, no more than placeholder names that outline a supposed lineage. Or it may be that there’s information out there that I just haven’t come across yet — and that’s quite probable since I haven’t ever thought to do any research on this. My own background is rooted in a study of the Pali scriptures (plus practice of largely Theravadin meditation) as well as study of the more common Mahayana scriptures. There’s a lot of more exotic stuff out there that I’m simply unfamiliar with. If you find any good sources please let me know!

    Getting back to these other Buddhas, though: one problem is that the tradition became very stereotypical. It was assumed that the legends surrounding Shakyamuni provided a basic framework that described the life of all historical Buddhas, and so if you come across a “biography” of another Buddha (and I do remember reading an account of either Dipankara or Kashapa — I can’t recall which) you’ll notice that it runs through the same patterns: born to a rich family, renounces the world, becomes enlightened, has two chief disciples and an attendant, etc.

    All the best,

  • how are these names pronounced avalokiteshvara and chenrezig

  • Hi Debbie,

    I’ve added a rough pronunciation guide — just hover over the first instances of these two names on this page to see it. These are very approximate, I’m afraid.

    Take care,

  • Namo Buddhaya, I just want to add to this forum about my self experience occured when practising the chanting of the mantra. There were very bright light surrouinding, body seems to be elevated and the mind were filled with energy of compassion for all . Sadhu sadhu sadhu

  • I love Avalokiteswara so much and cry all the time when I think that He wants to save everyone. I never knew he had made this vow and I was shocked because when I was in a temple and contemplating i got the message that if Buddha is Compassionate, He can’t leave anyone behind..hence Avalokiteswara..it really shocked me that Avalokite is alive and around..Like Kidhr A.s. is to Muslims, the Green Immortal that helps people when they need it. i know this may sound soppy but I imagine Avalokite embracing the Planet with those 1000 arms, it’s a nice snug thought at bedtime that makes me not fear death anymore.
    Love and peace to you all.

  • Thank you for the info. Om Mani Padme Hum

  • I had picked up a tapestry of Avalokitishvara the teacher when I was 19. Amazing! I did not know what a wonderful tool this was when I have hung it in my abode. I feel deeply connected to this presence.

  • Buddhist Believer
    April 13, 2009 4:27 pm

    Avalokitishvara is also known as Kwan Yin Pusa. She is a female Goddess of Compassion. She can be a male or female. I believe, it is said that, when appearing in front of all the male monks, Avalokitishvara is shy and so, she transform herself into a male Buddha. She disguised herself. Truely Avalokitishvara is a SHE. I even saw her in my dreams a few times standing by the beautiful clear water river or lake with many collectible rocks, smiles at me and spoken a few words to me. She mostly appearing riding on a green dragon and by the river. She appear in white robe and bared foot.

  • urgyen tsering
    July 3, 2009 1:11 am

    Please explain more elaborately the mantra of THOUSAND ARMED BODDHISATTVA OF COMPASSION. May your spring forth with
    thousand branches and thousand fruits.

  • I did some work a few years back converting the dharani of the 1000-armed Avalokiteshvara from mangled Tibetanized Sanskrit into something resembling proper Sanskrit, and on a translation. Some of it was pure guesswork though, so I’ve just emailed my work to Jayarava to get his opinion. If he’s happy to do check out my work on the mantra I’ll be happy to post our joint efforts.

  • pl tell me the pronounciation of OM MANI PADME HUM. I am so upset. I chant: OM MANI PADME HUU (m silent)

  • ‘lo,

    was just curious to know when one would recite the mid-length great compassion mantra vs. when one would recite the longer version? do the two have different purposes/effects, or are they equivalent from a practice standpoint?

    (the lazy-butt in me is hoping the latter, since i already have the mid-length memorized, and have been reciting it for weeks as part of my meditation routine…)


  • may lord of compasionate will blessed us may his guardian will always stayed inside us
    om mani padme hum
    namo avalokitesvara bodhisatva

  • HI i m thoroughly confused about pronounciation,,do we say like this–Om ma nee pad mae om?

  • Hi Ritu,

    It would be helpful if you could tell me precisely what in the pronunciation guide and in the audio posted above in unclear. I’ll be happy to change the guide is there’s some ambiguity. To reply to your final question, what you’ve written could be pronounced in a number of different ways, but the last syllable is definitely incorrect. “Hum” is not pronounced “om.”

  • Hello there, I was hoping to find someone who can help me understand this Avalokiteshvara Mantra I’ve been listening to:

    Namo Ratna Trayaya
    Namo Arya Jnana
    Sagara, Vairochana
    Byuhara Jara Tathagataya
    Arahate, Samyaksam Buddhaya
    Namo Sardwa Tathagate Bhyay
    Ar-hata Bhyah
    Samyaksam Buddhe Bhyay
    Namo Arya Avalokite
    Shoraya Bodhisattvaya
    Maha Sattvaya
    Maha Karunikaya
    Tadyata, Om Dara Dara
    Diri Diri Duru Duru
    Itte We, Itte Chale Chale
    Purachale Purachale
    Kusume Kusuma Wa Re
    Ili Milli Chiti Ja-valam Apanaye Shoha

    Do you know where this mantra is derived? And what merits are there in learning this by heart and chanting it everyday?

    Thank you so much.

    With kindest regards,

  • audrey,

    this is a form of the great compassion dharani that i mentioned in a comment slightly farther up – also known as Arya Ekadasa Mukha Dharani, mantra for the holy eleven faced avalokitesvara. i have been chanting this mantra in this form daily since september and have found it to be quite effective for bringing about a sense of active compassion. go to wikipedia and look up nilakantha dharani – it will show you the full length mantra along with translations and listing of benefits for its recitation.

    originally, i had questioned whether there was an advantage to reciting the full length great compassion dharani over this version (besides the obvious exercise in mindfulness associated with memorizing and learning to pronounce a longer, somewhat more complex version), but all of the information i have found points to no – that this version embodies the same seed principle as the full version and is just as efficacious provided your heart-intent is present and sincere.

    the only place that i have seen this exact version used outside of personal practice is in a formal sadhana to white chenrezig… and now i can’t find the link… but i’ll keep digging – unfortunately, i’m approaching this from an outsider perspective who can’t read tibettan or sanskrit or chinese, so that’s making the gathering of information somewhat more difficult.


  • Yes, this is the mantra of the 1000-armed Avalokiteshvara. The version I have, which is an attempt to correct a corrupted Tibetan version is:

    Namo Ratna Trayāya, (homage to the triple gem)
    Namah Aryā Jñāna Sāgara, (homage to the ocean of noble wisdom)
    Vairocana, (the illuminator)
    Vyuharajāya (to the king of the host [also the name of a bodhisattva])
    Tathagatāya, (to the tathagata)
    Arhate, (to the arhat)
    Samyak sambuddhāya, (to the perfectly awakened one)
    Nama Sarva TathagatebhyaH (homage to all tathagatas)
    ArhatebhyaH, (to the arhats)
    Samyak SambuddhebhyaH, (to the fully and perfectly awakened ones)
    Nama Aryā Avalokiteshvarāya (homage to noble Avalokitesvara)
    Bodhisattvāya, (to the bodhisattva)
    Maha Sattvāya, (to the great being)
    Maha Karunikāya, (to the greatly compassionate one)
    Tadyatha (thus):Om Dhāra Dhāra, (bearing)
    Dhīri Dhīri, (firm)
    Dhuru Dhuru (bearing a burden)
    Itte Vatte, (??)
    Cale Cale, (moving, trembling, shaking)
    Pracale Pracale, (moving, trembling, shaking)
    Kusume (in flower)
    Kusume Vare, (in the circumference)
    Hili Mili (??)
    Citi Jvālam, (blazing understanding)
    Apanaye Svāhā. (leading away) hail!

    The “translation” towards the end involves a lot of guesswork. Even Jayarava, who’s pretty hot on the Sanskrit these days, couldn’t make much of it.

  • Thank you liquidquick, bodhipaksa!

    A rinpoche my mother was once hosting, adviced me to chant the Green Tara Mantra because it would help me. But I enjoy listening to this Great Compassion Mantra (that’s what it’s called right?) and would really love to memorise this by heart one day if I can.

    I think listening to the music and singing along with it (as if it were some pop tune) also helps? It’s doesn’t have to be a sombre, serious affair whereby I have to sit down and meditate and chant it in a repetitive manner?

  • Rock it, Audrey!

  • Is it ok if i chant all 3:

  • hi R, while it is ok to chant all 3 in general, for practise, it is still wise to choose one that correspond to your heart mostly.

    “om mani padme hum” is the well known mantra that invokes the 2 main qualities of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva for your very own spiritual well being – that is compassion (mani) and wisdom (padme).

    “namo guan shi yin pusa” is the chinese translation of Avalokiteshvra Bodhisattava’s name. Following the popular “Universal Door Chapter” of the Lotus Sutra, Chinese Buddhism popularise the chanting of the Bodhisattva’s name because the chapter taught the many merits one can gain by reciting the Bodhisattva’s name, especially when one is in danger or feeling helpless.

    “namo myoho renge kyo” is not really a practise that has direct connection with Avalokiteshvra Bodhisattva though. while it is made popular by Nichiren Sect (Japanese), Nichiren Sect itself till today may still has some hierarchy problems in connecting themselves to the mainstream of East Asian Buddhism due to some differences in the teachings. but still that is a buddhist sectarian problem. there is nothing wrong, in fact, with chanting “namo myoho renge kyo” because that is a japanese translation of “Homage to the Lotus Sutra”. in fact, the Lotus Sutra itself also taught the merits of upholding the name of the sutra.

    hope i did not confuse you or anyone else. if you feel more inclined to Avalokiteshvra Bodhisattva and would like to learn Buddhism through him/her, you can choose from a dozens of methods that has direct connection with him/her. but whatever method you choose, all methods of Avalokiteshvra Bodhisattva is to teach and invoke the compassion and wisdom in oneself.

  • I have been reciting the full version of great compassion mantra in Sanskrit everyday repeatedly untill finally i master it by heart . Anyhow, i have doubt about my pronounciation in sanskrit form. So, can anyone please show me any weblink available for Sanskrit chanting of Great Compassion mantra .Thank you.

  • Chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is a practice directly connected to Avalokitesvara. The compassion of Avalokitesvara and his wisdom as “As the Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds” are described in the 25th Chapter of Myoho Renge Kyo (Mystic Law of the Lotus Flower Sutra). The strongest Japanese proponent of chanting the title of Lotus Flower Sutra was Nichiren in the 13th century. Nichiren said “this chapter is is one of profound secrecy…it deals with averting disaster…prolonging one’s life span…the king among pivotal sutras…through it one may carry on the teachings of the highest stage of enlightenment.” Nichiren concludes “the ‘Preceiver of the World’s Sounds’ represents the essence of the Lotus Sutra…(and Avalokitesvara’s)..essence is Nam-myoho-renge-kyo”.

    For me, the important point is “universal gateway perceiving sounds”. That is, pay more attention to empty space which sound appears in. Again, gateway.

  • Guy Davidson
    July 6, 2010 6:07 pm

    The Dr Who story you’re thinking of is Planet Of The Spiders, 1974; this is also where I first heard the chant

  • Guy Davidson
    July 6, 2010 6:26 pm

    having said that, it appeared earlier in a 1967 story called The Abominable Snowmen, set in Tibet: I suspect that might be the one you remember. Only exists as audio now though.


    https://web.archive.org/web/20101226004110/https://www.chakoteya.net/DoctorWho/11-5.htm (you can get this on DVD)

    • Yes, that sounds more like it. I did in fact remember it as being in an episode featuring the abominable snowman, but I assumed, given what you said in your last post, that I’d misremembered. I’m only seeing “Planet of the Spiders” on VHS on Amazon. Ah, just checked on Wikipedia and it says it’s coming out on DVD later this year. Fantastic! Thanks very much for the leads.

  • Clarence Hill
    July 24, 2010 10:30 am

    Thank you very much. I am also new at this and have a great interest in studying this and other Buddhist practices. I just found out about the Aryaloka Buddhist Center and the Triratna community and I am very interested in knowing more. I live in the Tilton, N.H. area so Newmarket is a little far for me. Is there a small group that I could perhaps contact in this area?
    I have read you comments on a number of differant topics and you have been very heplful. You are of great service to so many, great blessings and peace to you.

    • Hi Clarence,

      Thanks for your kind words. I teach at Aryaloka myself.

      There’s no group closer to you than Newmarket, I’m afraid, except for the prison classes that meet on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings in concord. That might not exactly be what you’re looking for, and to participate you’d have to go through a prison volunteer training course, so it’s not ideal.

      There are some all-day events at Aryaloka at weekends, and it’s not really that far to travel for a full day. Perhaps that’s the best solution?

  • Hi there, just a quick question to Bodhipaksa, what do you think of Nichiren Buddhism? I’ve heard a lot of controversy regarding the Sokka Gakkai but I have heard a lot of very positive things about the Nichiren Shu sect. Since Nichiren Shu goes for refuge to the Three Jewels etc they are regarded as being followers of Buddha Shakyamuni but my question is, what do you make of their teaching that the Lotus Sutra is the highest of Buddha’s teachings? I’ve tried chanting their chant and it does really calm the mind. I just wanted your input :-)


    • As I understand Nichiren’s teachings (which I’ve never studied, so this is all second-hand), he claimed that all Buddhist schools but his were heretical and did not lead to enlightenment, and that the only authentic way to gain enlightenment was through the Lotus Sutra. So it seems that he didn’t just regard it as the highest Buddhist teaching (it isn’t one of the Buddha’s teachings, of course, coming centuries after the parinirvana) but as the only effective Buddhist teaching. I find all this very offputting. That’s not to say that there might not be many fine, open-minded, and tolerant followers of Nichiren’s teachings, but I disagree with Nichiren’s perspective. I don’t think there’s anything in the later Buddhist tradition that’s more profound than the Pali scriptures. Sangharakshita once said that there are higher teachings, only deeper understandings. And I think there’s a lot of truth in that. Later teachings are not necessarily “higher.” They just have different emphases and new metaphors. But they’re different emphases concerning the same truths that the Buddha outlined and that were later recorded as the Pali canon.

      It doesn’t surprise me that chanting the “mantra” calms the mind. I think chanting virtually anything calms the mind, because it takes up mental space that would otherwise be occupied with the hindrances!

  • Hello Mr. Bodhi

    I have found that this mantra has a variation: Om Mani Padme Hum Hrih. Hrih is secretly chanted. Is that true?
    How to chant Hrih?


    thank you

  • hello

    i have been searching for this answer for long ….can you help me??
    I love listening to the mantra of Avalokiteshwara and have even found the lyrics….yet can you tell me how to pronounce the words for they sound different from the written text.

    Namo Ratna Trayaya,
    Namo Arya Jnana
    Sagara, Vairochana,
    Byuhara Jara Tathagataya,
    Arahate, Samyaksam Buddhaya,
    Namo Sarwa Tathagate Bhyay,
    Arhata Bhyah,
    Samyaksam Buddhe Bhyah,
    Namo Arya Avalokite
    shoraya Bodhisattvaya,
    Maha Sattvaya,
    Maha Karunikaya,
    Tadyata, Om Dara Dara,
    Diri Diri, Duru Duru
    Itte We, Itte Chale Chale,
    Purachale Purachale,
    Kusume Kusuma Wa Re,
    Ili Milli, Chiti Jvalam, Apanaye Shoha

  • Hi, Nishka.

    You’ll find the same mantra further up this page. I’ve posted (also on this page, in one of the comments) a version in corrected Sanskrit (to the best of my ability). Sanskrit pronunciation is very phonetic, so any guide to Sanskrit pronunciation will tell you how it’s pronounced. If it’s a Tibetan chanter you’re comparing the written form to, be aware that Tibetans utterly mangle Sanskrit pronunciation.


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