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January 24, 2008

Om Mani Padme Hum - Mantra of Compassionate Buddha

Acknowledgement to Ms. Ella Brewer for allowing us to use the material published in this blog. For more information on her work, please visit

One of the most loved and universally chanted by Buddhist throughout the world. This mantra is commonly known as the Compassionate Buddha's mantra. The Compassionate Buddha, fondly known as Kuan Yin by the Chinese, Chenrezig by the Tibetan, Avalokiteshvara in the ancient Sanskrit of India or as Kannon in Japan.

This six syllable mantra might look very simple and easy to recite, but it consists of 84,000 teachings of Buddha, the essence of all Dharma. No matter how little compassion we generated in our daily lives, we certainly have ties and connection with the Compassionate Buddha without realising it.

As Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche has commented, just recite the mantra once, it purifies the four defeats of breaking the four root vows of self – liberation and the five uninterrupted negative karma. Even by reciting the mantra just one time, you collect the same merit as having made offering to an inconceivable number of Buddhas.
It is good to recite the mantra and contemplate the meaning of the six syllables.
The first syllables OM consisted of A, U and M. They symbolise our impure body, speech and mind and also the pure exalted body, speech and mind of a Buddha. No sentient beings in the beginning or eons and eons before are free from faults and possesses good quality. It is a gradual process of transformation of our body, speech and mind from impurity states into pure Dharma.

The 2nd and 3rd syllables MANI means Jewel, symbolises factors of methods, compassion and love, the altruistic intention to become enlightened. Just as a jewel is capable of removing poverty or difficulties, similarly just as a wish fulfilling jewel fulfills wishes of sentient beings and the altruistic intention to become enlightened not for oneself but for the benefit of all sentient beings. His Holiness the Dalai Lama commented.

The 4th & 5th syllables PADME means lotus and symbolises wisdom. Just as a beautiful lotus grows forth from mud and is unstained by the dirt. It is equivalent to wisdom which is capable of keeping us out from contradiction.

The last syllable HUM means inseparability or indivisibility of the unity of method and wisdom in order to achieve purity.

Thus the six syllables, OM MANI PADME HUM means that in depending on the practice of the path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, we can transform our impure body, speech and mind into pure exalted body, speech and mind of a Buddha.

Compiled and written by Thubten Namdak of LDC, Malaysia.