Vajrasattva mantra of 100 syllables

Vajrasattva is a Bodhisattva that symbolizes primordial purity. Meditating upon him helps us to purify the mind of greed, hatred, and delusion. At his heart he holds a vajra thunderbolt, which represents his upaya, or his skill in liberating beings by means of compassion. At his waist he holds a bell representing wisdom.

Vajra means “thunderbolt,” although it can also mean “diamond.” The thunderbolt was the most powerful force, while the diamond was the most indestructible object known. The vajra that he holds is almost identical to some of the stylized thunderbolts held by Zeus in ancient Greek statues. “Sattva” means “being.”

Vajrasattva is therefore the “Thunderbolt being.” This makes him a kind of Buddhist Zeus, although his thunderbolts are destructive only of that which holds us back from awakening.

Below is the text of the 100-syllable mantra of Vajrasattva. You’ll find a link to an audio version of the mantra at the foot of this article. If you want to see the script for this mantra, visit the excellent article at Visible Mantra.

oṃ vajrasattva samayam
anupālaya
vajrasattva tvenopatiṣṭha
dṛḍho me bhava
sutośyo me bhava
supośyo me bhava
anurakto me bhava
sarva siddhiṃ me prayaccha
sarva karma su ca me
cittaṃ śreyaḥ kuru hūṃ
ha ha ha ha hoḥ
bhagavan sarva tathāgatavajra
mā me muñca
vajrī bhava mahā samaya sattva
āḥ (hūṃ phaṭ)

A symbol of the mind’s inherent purity

Vajrasattva’s name (Tib. dorje sempa) means “diamond being.” He represents the innate purity of the mind.

You can imagine your mind as being like a sky through which clouds pass. The clouds come and they go, but the sky remains untouched. The sky is inherently blue and clear, and although its blueness and clarity can be obscured it can never be destroyed. The clouds are like the greed, hatred, and delusion that pollute the mind. Because of the transient nature of these mental states, they cannot be said to be an inherent part of the mind. They may obscure the mind’s inherent awareness and compassion, but those qualities are never absent.

The meaning of the mantra

The mantra means:

Oṃ Vajrasattva! Preserve the bond!
As Vajrasattva stand before me.
Be firm for me.
Be greatly pleased for me.
Deeply nourish me.
Love me passionately.
Grant me siddhi in all things,
And in all actions make my mind most excellent. hūṃ!
ha ha ha ha ho!
Blessed One! Vajra of all the Tathāgatas! Do not abandon me.
Be the Vajra-bearer, Being of the Great Bond!
āḥ (hūṃ phaṭ)

Explanation of the mantra

  • Vessantara, in Meeting the Buddhas, suggests that in the first line (“Oṃ Vajrasattva! Preserve the bond!”) we are acknowledging our alienation from our true nature by calling upon Vajrasattva to preserve the bond, or samaya, whereby we do the Vajrasattva invocation regularly and Vajrasattva for his part responds by bestowing upon us the fruits of the practice. This “bond” represents a mutual commitment on the part of the practitioner and Vajrasattva. In psycho-spiritual terms, if you strive to realize your own innate purity, your innate purity will strive to manifest itself from the depths of the unconscious.
  • We then (“As Vajrasattva stand before me”) call upon Vajrasattva as a spiritual friend (kalyanamitra), to manifest in our meditation and in our lives.
  • We entreat Vajrasattva (“Be firm for me”) to be with us constantly. We are endeavoring to constantly come back to recognizing the mind’s true nature.
  • “Be greatly pleased for me. Deeply nourish me. Love me passionately.” Vajrasattva becomes more like an intimate friend or even a lover, and is no longer just a protector. He’s someone who knows us deeply and cares passionately for us. He is our own deepest nature, so at this stage in the mantra we’re experiencing a reunion with ourselves. In the words of the poet Derek Walcott, “You will love again the stranger who was your self.”
  • “Grant me siddhi in all things, And in all actions make my mind most excellent.” We now embody the qualities of Vajrasattva himself, and so to some extent we have become him. Siddhi is a Sanskrit word that literally means “perfection,” “accomplishment,” “attainment,” or “success,” and it refers to spiritual power attained through practice.
  • “Ha ha ha ha ho!” This is the joyful sound of liberation. These five syllables are also said to represent the five Buddha families, which are all emanations of Vajrasattva.
  • “Blessed One! Vajra of all the Tathāgatas! Do not abandon me.” Having experienced the innate purity of the mind, we aspire always to stay in touch with it. The “Tathāgatas” are the Buddhas, and the “Vajra of all the Tathāgatas” is the innately pure nature of the Awakened mind.
  • “Be the Vajra-bearer, Being of the Great Bond!” This suggests that we are imploring Vajrasattva to be means for and path to Enlightenment for all beings. He is the vajra-bearer (the representation of Awakening” for all sentient beings.
  • According to Vessantara, the syllable “hūṃ” is added to the mantra when someone has died, and the syllable “phaṭ” is added in order to subdue demons. Without the hūṃ and the phaṭ the mantra has exactly 100 syllables. However in the Triratna tradition I practice in they are routinely included because that is the form of the mantra Sangharakshita received from Dudjom Rinpoche.

More About Vajrasattva

VajrasattvaVajrasattva sits above the Mandala of the Five Buddhas, which includes Akshobya, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, Amoghasiddhi, and Vairocana. In some traditions he’s regarded as being the ādi-buddha, or the primordial Buddha from whom all other Buddhas emanate. If Vajrasattva is seen as being the mind’s innate purity, then his primordiality and his being the origin of the other Buddhas makes sense — all manifestations of Awakening are nothing more than a revealing of the mind’s innate awareness and compassion.

The most distinctive symbols associated with Vajrasattva are his bell and vajra (or thunderbolt). The bell represents wisdom, and the vajra represents the Bodhisattva’s upaya, or his skill in liberating beings by means of compassion.

Vajrasattva is generally white in color, representing his purity. He is dressed in the Bodhisattva robes of a prince, adorned with jewels, and with long flowing hair. He is eternally young, existing outside of time and space.

MP3 version of the Vajrasattva mantra, chanted by Bodhipaksa

You can listen to the 100 Syllable Mantra of Vajrasattva below, chanted by Bodhipaksa.

MP3 version of the mantra, chanted by Choden Rinpoche

And here’s another version, this time chanted by Choden Rinpoche, a Tibetan teacher who was born in 1933 in eastern Tibet, and who teaches in the centers of the Gelug FPMT (Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition). You’ll hear that it’s the same basic mantra, chanted in a different style.

Note

Needless to say there are many variants and corruptions of this mantra. The version at the start of this article is a “corrected” version of the mantra that was originally given to Sangharakshita by his teacher, Dudjom Rinpoche. The Sanskrit in that version had become slightly corrupted, and so the original Sanskrit was restored by Sanskrit scholar Sthiramati.

The text of the version chanted by Choden Rinpoche, above, is as follows:

Om vajrasatta samaya
Manupalaya
Vajrasattva denopa titha
Dido me bhava
Suto kayo me bhava
Supo kayo me bhava,
Anurakto me bhava
Sarva siddhi me prayatsa
Sarva karma su tsame
Tsittam shriyam kuru hum
Ha ha ha ha ho
Bhagavan sarva tathagata
Vajra mame muntsa
Vajra bhava
Maha samaya sattva
Ah hum phet

If you compare this with the corrected version above you’ll see that a lot of distortions have crept into the Tibetan version because of the transliteration from Sanskrit, to Tibetan, back to English.

See also Saccanama’s article, Original faces: reflections on purification, for a personal perspective on Vajrasattva.

39 Comments. Leave new

  • Flora Aynsley
    May 31, 2019 4:58 pm

    Namaste
    I cannot use the link to Choden Rinpoche chants…I am so excited to see it may be possible to hear him chant Vajrasattva mantra..can you please tell me what to do
    Many thanks
    Flora

    Reply
    • Unfortunately I don’t know why you can’t use that link, so I’m not in a position to help.

      Reply
  • Vladimir Boskovic
    May 8, 2019 1:52 pm

    I don’t understand why it needed to be “corrected,” the first version is in classical Sanskrit pronunciation, the second is the Tibetan pronunciation of Sanskrit, not a distortion.

    Reply
    • It’s “corrected” because this version does not come straight from a Sanskrit source, but came to my teacher through the Tibetan lineage via Dudjom Rinpoche. The mantra was then restored by a Sanskrit scholar to what would have been its original Sanskrit form.

      Reply
  • i wish practice more, but in lithuiania no busdit smonk scools… nothing, ny heart scream of sad…

    Reply
  • dear bodhipaksha may I ask why this mantra cannot reveal to us original text Sanskrit some time I’m confuse this translations are few things are incorrect may be I can figure out corrected one from Sanskrit if you able to put here for origin text and thank you we love Sanskrit mantra

    Reply
  • If someone likes to chant this mantra alongside with audio, check this one. :) It’s hypnotizing :)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_4xkutQ-SE&list=FLZVZf7qkRan6KqvGdHHZ5eQ&index=23

    Reply
  • Yesterday evening, I had the opportunity to attend a Vajrasattva empowerment with a Tibetan Geshe and monks who were visiting Mt. Shasta, CA. The evening prior, I attended a purification ceremony in preparation for the Vajrasattva empowerment; we chanted Green Tara mantra. We repeated the 100 syllable mantra after the Geshe, syllable by syllable; then they gave us a very shortened version for daily practice if one could not chant the 100-syllable mantra the “required” number of times (21 repetitions). Most supporting info was quite abbreviated, due to the short amount of time, so I really appreciate the info I found on this site about how to actually do the Vajrasattva practice. I’ve also found some very nice versions of the mantra on YouTube.

    Reply
  • Thank you very much. This will go far with my Buddhist class. Thank you for teaching the dharma

    Reply
  • hi, i like to chant this mantra.
    but someone said that it has to be transmitted or have an initiation first with the tantrayana guru
    is it true ?

    Reply
    • “Vajrasattva mantra recitation and visualization may be undertaken merely within the context of sutra practice, before beginning any practice of tantra.” [Source]

      Reply
  • Thank you so much. This has really deepened my practice. Beautifully expressed and inspiring!

    Reply
  • I’m unclear on something. Which of the two Vajrasattvas mantras is the “corrected” version? Or, is one of the two versions “wrong”?

    Reply
    • Ah, right. Apologies. The article had been edited, making it less clear what was being referred to as the “corrected” version. The one with the accurate Sanskrit is the one at the very start of the article. The version that’s below the two audio mantras is the corrupted Sanskrit version.

      Reply
  • i love mantras..thank you

    Reply
  • For repeating mantras right click on the mantra and then select ‘loop’

    Reply
  • Tejaswinii Shende
    January 8, 2014 3:15 am

    Excellent , I am happy to visit your webside and reading and hering vajrasattava mantra,
    Thanks

    Reply
  • Thank you for the article. I find it very helpful as I am a beginner. I am unable to open the mantra mp3. Could you please send me the link? Thanks again

    Reply
  • I chanted 10,000 times so far. It used to take me 1 hour for 108times, now it takes me 30mins. I think you get used to it and it gets faster each time. It gets easier for me each time. I have 90,000 more to go

    Reply
  • Dear Bodhipaksa,
    is it possible we can download the Audio of your recording, so we can save the audio in our mobile and chant it while we free. Appreciate your help..
    i really enjoying reading this article.. may all who reading your article and listening to the audio, shall soon be free from Samsara and attain Budhahood for the benefit of all sentient Beings. :)

    Reply
  • I was wondering if you know any mantras that will help succeed in an obstacle or help you basically over come an obstacle grant a specific wish something like that..Sometime’s the mind it self is not strong enough and you need the help of something bigger
    ?
    thank’s

    Reply
    • Hi, Amanda.

      I don’t think about mantras granting wishes, or anything like that, but they can help us overcome our perceived limitations and thus our obstacles. Any mantra that you’re drawn to can help you in this regard. I think it’s simply best to find a mantra that resonates with you, or a figure who resonates with you.

      Reply
  • Hahaha!!! Maia is actually MY daughter’s name, and I often call her Nala, which is actually our dog ;) Happily she does have a sense of humour!

    Reply
    • Oh, those names are confusingly similar!

      It’s not as bad as my sister, though, who had (first) a cat she called Douglas, and (second) a fiance who happened to be called Douglas.

      Reply
  • I certainly did … it would play for hours on end :).

    Reply
  • It’s the one above: “MP3 version of the mantra, chanted by Bodhipaksa
    You can listen to the 100 Syllable Mantra of Vajrasattva below, chanted by Bodhipaksa.” … when I used to click the play button it would loop over and over, and that was how I learned the mantra. I guess that means I’ll just have to chant it myself now ;)

    Reply
  • I have gone back to this page many a time and am so grateful to you for this. The MP3 you chant used to loop … can you loop it again? Please :)

    Reply
    • Thanks for your kind comments.

      To be honest I don’t know which MP3 file that would be. I didn’t know we ever had any files looped.

      Reply
  • Hi, Rayno,

    “Purifying bad karma” isn’t anything magical. It’s just another way of saying “cultivate positive states of mind (and insight), and get rid of greed, hatred, and delusion.”

    All spiritual practice purifies bad karma. I’ve explained elsewhere how mantras work as a spiritual practice, but in essence when you’re chanting a mantra you’re developing mindfulness and faith, and preventing the mind from indulging in negative mental states.

    Reply
  • Is that true this mantra can purify my bad karma? How is the process?

    thanks

    Reply
  • Chandra Cheung
    January 12, 2011 9:55 pm

    Dear Mr. Jones…. thanks for sharing the experience….
    that information would be great….

    Reply
  • sunrose maskey
    December 4, 2010 1:45 am

    i suggest you to add more mantras like namo ratna traya ya for purification of deeds n karma

    Reply
  • Hello:
    I there a rule of thumb on how long it shold take a repetition of the 100 syllable mantra (108:1 rosary) When I began 108 reps would take almost an hout.. after about 10,000 I found i was completeing the same in about half an hour.. I seem to get great effect and am surprised at the quickening pace.. Has anyone else had this experience.. Should i make an effort to slow down?
    Tanks for the article and comments.

    Reply
  • Maria Elena Guevara
    July 26, 2009 11:22 am

    I think that before the line “anurakto me ….bhava” and after “sutokayo….bhava”, there is a missing line.
    I love this space.
    Thx
    Maria

    Reply
  • I actually have one question. I follow the Diamond-Way tradition and have been taught that the bell represents the feminine energy (wisdom) and the dorje or vajra represents the masculine energy (compassion), however in this article, it is described the other way around.

    Could you please clarify this? Thank you! I really have enjoyed this article!

    Reply
    • I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Yesterday I used my daughter’s name to address my iguana. Sometimes the mind means to say or write one thing, but something totally different comes out. You are of course correct, and I’ve amended the article. Thanks for spotting that, Yoda. I mean Maia. I mean Mar.

      Reply
  • Hi Bodhipaksa

    The explanation in Vessantara’s book also come from Sthiramati’s corrected text and translation. It was in an article in the old Order Journal which became the Western Buddhist Review. Padmaloka have a copy of the journal.

    Cheers
    Jayarava

    Reply

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