Avalokitesvara mantra Om Mani Padme Hum

Mantras are prayers based on a Sanskrit formula taken from the Buddhist scriptures and believed to have special power. The mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, is the most popular Tibetan Buddhist mantra. It is the mantra of Avalokitesvara (Chenrezi), the patron Tibetan deity of compassion, who revealed this formula for the benefit of all humanity. It is sometimes simply called the mani and the six-syllable mantra roughly translates "Hail to the Jewel in the Lotus Blossom". More specifically:

  • Om (or aum) is the mystic sound which is a symbol of the inexpressible Absolute
  • Mani means "jewel" and refers to Chenrezi (Avalokitesvara) or the Doctrine of Buddha
  • Padme means in the lotus and implies divine purity
  • Hum is an exclamation signifying defiance of evil influences or powers
  • Hri, sometimes added as a seventh syllable, dispels sorrow and symbolizes the reality behind phenomena

The mantra is generally written in Tibetan letters. There are layers of meanings and interpretation for this mantra. Tibetan lamas describe the mani as "the essence of all happiness, prosperity and knowledge, and the great means of liberation." Repeating the six syllables is said to release each of the six classes of sentient beings from their bonds. Believers believe reciting the mani will assure them a rebirth in the Western Paradise of Amitabha, Buddha of Boundless Light.