Part of the Matheson Trust Sacred Audio Collection
The six syllables of this, Buddhism’s most famous mantra, are said to contain all the teachings of Buddha.
The Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva of India can take on many forms. He can be male or female, and have four, eighteen or up to a thousand arms. No matter what form he takes, he is the bodhisattva of compassion. In China and Japan, Avalokiteshvara has taken on the feminine form known as Guanyin (Kuan-yin, Kwan-yin, Kannon). In Tibet, he is known as Chenrezig.
This six-character Buddhist mantra is pronounced differently depending on the language. In Chinese (Mandarin) the characters are pronounced an ma ni ba mi hong. In Tibetan, the characters are pronounced om ma ni pad me hum, as can be heard in this recording by a Tibetan monk. This is also the mantra written on Tibetan prayer wheels (Mani wheel).
With thanks to Traditional Chinese Culture Institute International, Washington, DC.Click here to download – 00:48
• Follow this link for a brief video clip in which HH the 14th Dalai Lama explains this mantra.
Buddhists believe that chanting this “Six Word Mantra” will bring forth the attention and blessings of Guanyin/Chenrezig. It is appropriate that a mantra serves as the link to the Bodhisattva since the root meaning of Avalokiteshvara is “he who observes the sounds of the world”.
It is impossible to provide a simple yet accurate translation of the mantra but it is sometimes translated as “Behold! The jewel in the lotus!”