Mani mantra

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Avalokiteshvara thangka, courtesy of Lama Tsondru Sangpo

The Mani mantra is the six syllable mantra of Avalokiteshvara: oṃ mani padme hūṃ (Skt.; Tib. ཨོཾ་མ་ཎི་པདྨེ་ཧཱུྂ༔, om mani pémé hung, Wyl. oM ma Ni pad+me hU~M`:). In the terma tradition, Avalokiteshvara's seed syllable hrīḥ is added to the end of the mantra, making seven syllables.

Description of the Mani Mantra

The mantra was first introduced in the Mahayana Sutra The Basket's Display. The sutra describes its inconceivable benefits but does not explain its meaning. Simply said, maṇi (Skt.) means 'jewel' and padme (Skt.) means 'lotus'. Later scriptures, such as the Mani Kabum did offer many explanations, for example describing how each individual syllable of the mantra has profound meaning and blessing.

According to the Mani Kabum the syllables relate to the six paramitas as follows[1]

OM to the perfection of generosity
MA to the perfection of discipline
NI to the perfection of patience
PE to the perfection of perseverance
ME to the perfection of meditation
HUNG to the perfection of wisdom

Each syllable purifies a particular destructive emotion and cause of rebirth[2]:

OM purifies pride and the seed of rebirth in the god realm
MA purifies envy and the seed of rebirth in the demigod realm
NI purifies desire and the seed of rebirth in the human realm
PE purifies ignorance and stupidity and the seed of rebirth in the animal realm
ME purifies stinginess and the seed of rebirth in the hungry ghost realm
HUNG purifies anger and hatred and the seed of rebirth in the hell realm

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said[3]:

There is no mantra that can be considered superior to the maṇi, which includes not only all the functions but also all the power and blessings of all other mantras. The learned sages of the past, like the great Karma Chakme, for example, were unable to find anywhere in the scriptures a mantra more beneficial, quintessential, or easier to practice than the maṇi; so it was this mantra that they took as their main practice. Even just hearing the maṇi can be enough to free beings from samsara.
The maṇi is not just a string of ordinary words. It contains all the blessings and compassion of Chenrezik; in fact, it is Chenrezik himself in the form of sound. As we are now, our karmic obscurations prevent us from being able to actually meet Chenrezik in his Buddha-field; but what we can do is listen to his mantra, recite it, read it, and write it beautifully in golden letters. Since there is no difference between the deity himself and the mantra which is his essence, these activities bring great benefit. The six syllables are the expression of the six pāramitās of Chenrezik, and as he himself said, whoever recites the six-syllable mantra will perfect the six pāramitās and purify all karmic obscurations.

Benefits of the Mani Mantra

The Noble Mahayana Sutra The Basket's Display states:

Then Tathāgata Padmottama praised the qualities of this six-syllable mahāvidyā:
‘Noble son, it is like this. As a comparison, I can know the number of atoms, but, noble son, I cannot calculate the accumulation of merit from repeating the six-syllable mahāvidyā once.'[4]
Those beings who continually possess the six-syllable mahāvidyā and are dedicated to repeating it are meritorious. When they repeat it, bhagavats and buddhas to the number of sand grains in ninety-nine Ganges Rivers gather around them, bodhisattvas to the number of atoms gather around them, and they reach the entranceway to the six perfections.[5]
A noble son or noble daughter who repeats the six-syllable mahāvidyā will have indestructible mental brilliance. He or she will become a pure mass of wisdom. That person will have great love and great compassion. That person will complete the six perfections each day.[6]

Padmasambhava said:[7]

Om Mani Padme Hung is the quintessence of the Great Compassionate One, so the merit of uttering it just once is incalculable. It is possible to count the number of raindrops falling during twelve years of monsoon, but the merit of uttering the Six Syllables just once cannot be counted. It is possible to count the drops of water in the great ocean, one by one, but the merit of uttering the Six Syllables just once cannot be counted.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche continues:

In this decadent age, because of their limited intelligence and lack of determination, people need to practice the Dharma in an essentialized form. The practice of combining devotion to the teacher as inseparable from Chenrezik with the recitation of the six-syllable mantra fulfills this need. This six-syllable mantra, the maṇi, is so easy to recite, yet it concentrates within it the substance of all the Buddhist scriptures. It is the essence of Chenrezi’s heart, and the blessings it brings are infinite. If you make it your main practice, humans, celestial beings, and even harmful spirits will be well disposed to you, and you will have a long life free from illness and obstacles. In your next life you will be born in the Blissful Buddha-field of the Potala Mountain, or at the very least in a place where the Dharma prevails. This is because Chenrezi’s mantra contains the infinite blessing and compassion of the Buddhas.
Reciting the six syllables of the maṇi perfects the six pāramitās and firmly blocks any possibility of rebirth in the six realms of saṃsāra. It is a simple practice, easy to understand and accessible to all, and at the same time it contains the essence of the Dharma. If you take the maṇi as your refuge both in happiness and in sorrow, Chenrezi will always be with you, you will feel more and more devotion without any effort, and all by itself the realization of the Mahāyāna path will arise in your being.

It is said:

Reciting oṃ mani padme hūṃ one hundred or one thousand times is of equal merit to reciting the whole of the Kangyur.
Reciting oṃ mani padme hūṃ ten thousand times closes the door to rebirth in the lower realms.
Reciting oṃ mani padme hūṃ one million times one will reach the level of an irreversible bodhisattva.
Reciting oṃ mani padme hūṃ ten million times one will attain perfect buddhahood.


  1. Wangchen Rinpoche, Buddhist Fasting Practice - The Nyungne Method of Thousand-Armed Chenrezig (Ithaca: Snow Lion Publications, 2009)
  2. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, How to recite the Mani Mantra (Namo Buddha Publications, 2019)
  3. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Patrul Rinpoche, The Heart Treasure of the Enlightened Ones (Boston: Shambhala, 1993)
  7. In Jewels of Enlightenment - Wisdom teachings from the great Tibetan masters, compiled and translated by Erik Pema Kunsang; edited by Marcia Binder Schmidt & Michael Tweed (Boston: Shambhala, 2003)

Further Reading

External Links