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Mantras caved into rock in Tibet

In Tibet, many Buddhists carve mantras into rocks as a form of meditation.

A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that are considered capable of "creating transformation" (cf. spiritual transformation).[1] Their use and type varies according to the school and philosophy associated with the mantra.

Mantras (Devanāgarī मन्त्र) originated in the Vedic tradition of India, later becoming an essential part of the Hindu tradition and a customary practice within Buddhism and Jainism. The use of mantras is now widespread throughout various spiritual movements which are based on, or off-shoots of, the practices in the earlier Eastern traditions and religions.



Sanskrit character for Aum

In the context of the Vedas, the term mantra refers to the entire portion which contains the texts called Rig, Yajur or Saam, that is, the metrical part as opposed to the prose Brahmana commentary. With the transition from ritualistic Vedic traditions to mystical and egalitarian Hindu schools of Yoga, Vedanta, Tantra and Bhakti, the orthodox attitude of the elite nature of mantra knowledge gave way to spiritual interpretations of mantras as a translation of the human will or desire into a form of action, with some features in common with spells in general.

For the authors of the Hindu scriptures of the Upanishads, the syllable Aum, itself constituting a mantra, represents Brahman, the godhead, as well as the whole of creation. Kūkai suggests that all sounds are the voice of the Dharmakaya Buddha — i.e. as in Hindu Upanishadic and Yogic thought, these sounds are manifestations of ultimate reality, in the sense of sound symbolism postulating that the vocal sounds of the mantra have inherent meaning independent of the understanding of the person uttering them.

Nevertheless, such understanding of what a mantra may symbolize or how it may function differs throughout the various traditions and also depends on the context in which it is written or sounded. In some instances there are multiple layers of symbolism associated with each sound, many of which are specific to particular schools of thought. For an example of such see the syllable: Aum which is central to both Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

While Hindu tantra eventually came to see the letters as well as the sounds as representatives of the divine, the shift toward writing occurred when Buddhism traveled to China. Although China lacked a unifying, ecclesiastic language like Sanskrit, China achieved its cultural unity through a written language with characters that were flexible in pronunciation but more precise in meaning. The Chinese prized written language much more highly than did the Indian Buddhist missionaries, and the writing of mantras became a spiritual practice in its own right. So that whereas Brahmins had been very strict on correct pronunciation, the Chinese, and indeed other Far-Eastern Buddhists were less concerned with this than correctly writing something down. The practice of writing mantras, and copying texts as a spiritual practice, became very refined in Japan, and the writing in the Siddham script in which the Sanskrit of many Buddhist Sutras were written is only really seen in Japan nowadays. However, written mantra-repetition in Hindu practices, with Sanskrit in any number of scripts, is well-known to many sects in India as well.

Khanna (2003: p. 21) links mantras and yantras to thoughtforms:

Mantras, the Sanskrit syllables inscribed on yantras, are essentially 'thought forms' representing divinities or cosmic powers, which exert their influence by means of sound-vibrations.[2]


The Sanskrit word mantra- (m. मन्त्रः, also n. मन्त्रं) consists of the root man- "to think" (also in manas "mind") and the suffix -tra meaning, tool, hence a literal translation would be "instrument of thought".[3] [4]

Another explanation is that the suffix -tra means "protection".[5]

Another explanation is that the suffix -tra comes from the root trayoti (as with Tantra) which means "liberation". Thus a mantra would be an instrument that provides liberation of (or from) the mind.

The Chinese translation is zhenyan 眞言, 真言, literally "true words", the Japanese on'yomi reading of the Chinese being shingon (which is also used as the proper name for the prominent esoteric Shingon sect).

Mantra in Hinduism

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Mantras were originally conceived in the Vedas. Most mantras follow the written pattern of two line "shlokas" although they are often found in single line or even single word form.

The most basic mantra is Aum, which in Hinduism is known as the "pranava mantra," the source of all mantras. The Hindu philosophy behind this is the idea of nama-rupa (name-form), which supposes that all things, ideas or entities in existence, within the phenomenological cosmos, have name and form of some sort. The most basic name and form is the primordial vibration of Aum, as it is the first manifested nama-rupa of Brahman, the unmanifest reality/unreality. Essentially, before existence and beyond existence is only One reality, Brahma, and the first manifestation of Brahma in existence is Aum. For this reason, Aum is considered to be the most fundamental and powerful mantra, and thus is prefixed and suffixed to all Hindu prayers. While some mantras may invoke individual Gods or principles, the most fundamental mantras, like 'Aum,' the 'Shanti Mantra,' the 'Gayatri Mantra' and others all ultimately focus on the One reality.

In the Hindu tantra the universe is sound. The supreme (para) brings forth existence through the Word (Shabda). Creation consists of vibrations at various frequencies and amplitudes giving rise to the phenomena of the world. The purest vibrations are the, the imperishable letters which are revealed to us, imperfectly as the audible sounds and visible forms.

Var.nas are the atoms of sound. A complex symbolic association was built up between letters and the elements, gods, signs of the zodiac, parts of the body – letters became rich in these associations. For example in the Aitrareya-aranya-Upanishad we find:

"The mute consonants represent the earth, the sibilants the sky, the vowels heaven. The mute consonants represent fire, the sibilants air, the vowels the sun? The mute consonants represent the eye, the sibilants the ear, the vowels the mind"

In effect each letter became a mantra and the language of the Vedas, Sanskrit, corresponds profoundly to the nature of things. Thus the Vedas come to represent reality itself. The seed syllable Aum represents the underlying unity of reality, which is Brahman.

All elements and energies in the Cosmos can be influenced and guided by Mantras. There are several forms of Mantra:[6][7]

  • Bhajan - Spiritual Song.
  • Kirtan - Repetition of God's Name in Song.
  • Prayer - Prayer is a way of communing with God.
  • Healing Mantra - the vibration of the Healing Mantra exerts healing influence.
  • Guru mantra - The Guru Mantra represents the essence of prayer, and anchors us in God, the Atma and the Supreme Self. It is the first initiation given by the Master to the disciple on the spiritual path.
  • The Bija Mantra - Bija mantra represents the essence of the Guru Mantra. It is the vibration and the "call" of the soul. Its effects develop more readily in deep meditation. As it works at the astral level it guides and influences the course of our destiny.

Continuous practice of mantra purifies the Consciousness and the mind, and removes the Karmas in much the same way as constantly walking over weeds crushes them. A spiritual Mantra always contains the word OM and the name of the divine incarnation. A Master only ever passes on a Guru Mantra (Siddha Mantra) to another according to the ancient Master-Disciple tradition. Siddha Mantra works in such a way that the spiritual power contained within the vibration of the word(s) is realized within us. Spiritual mantras are generally written in Sanskrit and play an important role in awakening of the Chakras. Lord Shiva transmitted the Sanskrit language to humans and its sounds are known as Deva's. The word "Deva" has three meanings: God, protector (guardian angel) and cosmic vibration. Lord Shiva brought the Deva's down to earth in the form of Letters and this is why the Sanskrit letters are known as Devanagari (citizens of God). Vibrations can be audible or inaudible. Thoughts and feelings are counted as soundless vibrations. These are no less effective then the spoken word.

The mantra is internalized in five stages:

  • Likhita - through writing
  • Vaikhari - through speaking
  • Upamshu - through whispering
  • Manasa - through thinking
  • Ajapa - through uninterrupted inner repetition

Mantra japa

Mantra japa was a concept of the Vedic sages that incorporates mantras as one of the main forms of puja, or worship, whose ultimate end is seen as moksha/liberation. Essentially, Mantra Japa means repetition of mantra,[8] and it has become an established practice of all Hindu streams, from the various Yoga to Tantra. It involves repetition of a mantra over and over again, usually in cycles of auspicious numbers (in multiples of three), the most popular being 108. For this reason, Hindu malas (bead necklaces) developed, containing 108 beads and a head bead (sometimes referred to as the 'meru', or 'guru' bead). The devotee performing japa using his/her fingers counts each bead as he/she repeats the chosen mantra. Having reached 108 repetitions, if he/she wishes to continue another cycle of mantras, the devotee must turn the mala around without crossing the head bead and repeat.

It is said that through japa the devotee attains one-pointedness, or extreme focus, on the chosen deity or principal idea of the mantra. The vibrations and sounds of the mantra are considered extremely important, and thus reverberations of the sound are supposed to awaken the Kundalini[9] or spiritual life force and even stimulate chakras according to many Hindu schools of thought.[10]

Any shloka from holy Hindu texts like the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutra, even the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Durga saptashati or Chandi are considered powerful enough to be repeated to great effect, and have therefore the status of mantra.

Some very common mantras, called Nama japa, are formed by taking a deity's name and saluting it thus: "Aum Namah (name of deity)" (meaning "I honor/salute...") or "Aum Jai (name of deity)" (meaning "Hail..."). There are several other such permutations, including:

  • Aum Namah Shivaya or Aum Namo Bhagavate Rudraya Namah (Aum and salutations to Lord Shiva)
  • Aum Namo Narayanaya or Aum Namo Bhagavate Vasudevãya (Aum and salutations to God Vishnu)
  • Aum Shri Ganeshaya Namah (Aum and salutations to Shri Ganesha)
  • Aum Kalikayai Namah (Aum and salutations to Kali)
  • Aum Sri Maha Kalikayai Namah (the basic Kali mantra above is strengthened with the words Sri [an expression of great respect] and Maha [great]. It has been said that this mantra is rarely given to anyone because it is so intense.)[11]
  • Aum Hrim Chandikãyai Namah (Aum and salutations to Chandika)
  • Aum Radha Krishnaya Namaha (a mantra to Radha, said to promote love in a relationship)[12]
  • Aum Namo Venkateshaya Namah (Aum and salutations to Lord Venkateswara)

Repeating an entire mantric text, such as the Durga Saptashati, in its entirety is called patha.

The use of Mantras is described in various texts which constitute Mantra Shastra (shastra, sastra: law-book, rule or treatise[13]).

Some Jain / Hindu mantras


The Navkar Mantra is the supreme Jain mantra and the fundamental prayer in Jainism which can be recited at any time of the day. While praying by reciting this mantra, the devotee bows with respect to Arihantas, Siddhas, spiritual leaders (Acharyas), teachers (Upadyayas) and all the monks. This worships the virtues of all the supreme spiritual people instead of just worshipping one particular person. It is important to note that the Navkar Mantra does not mention the names of even Tirthankaras and Siddhas. At the time of recitation, a Jain devotee remembers their virtues and tries to emulate them. In this mantra Jains bow down to these supreme spiritual personalities, and therefore, it is also called Namokar Mantra.

Namo Arihantânam Namo Siddhânam Namo Âyariyânam Namo Uvajjhâyanam Namo Loe Savva Sahûnam Eso Panch Namokkaro, Savva Pâvappanâsano, Mangalanam Cha Savvesim, Padhamam Havai Mangalam.

Namo Arihantânam I bow to the Arihantâs (Prophets).
Namo Siddhânam I bow to the Siddhâs (Liberated Souls).
Namo Âyariyânam I bow to the Âchâryas (Preceptors or Spiritual Leaders).
Namo Uvajjhâyanam I bow to the Upadhyâya (Teachers).
Namo Loe Savva Sahûnam I bow to all the Sadhûs (Saints).
Eso Panch Namokkaro, Savva Pâvappanâsano
Mangalanam Cha Savvesim, Padhamam Havai Mangalam
This fivefold bow (mantra) destroys all sins and obstacles
and of all auspicious mantras, is the first and foremost one.

Universal Prayer

सर्वेषां स्वस्ति भवतु । सर्वेषां शान्तिर्भवतु ।
सर्वेषां पूर्नं भवतु । सर्वेषां मड्गलं भवतु ॥
Sarveśām Svastir Bhavatu
Sarveśām Sāntir Bhavatu
Sarveśām Pūrnam Bhavatu
Sarveśām Mangalam Bhavatu
May good befall all,
May there be peace for all
May all be fit for perfection,
May all experience that which is auspicious.
सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः। सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु। मा कश्चित् दुःख भाग्भवेत्॥
Sarve bhavantu sukhinaḥ | Sarve santu nirāmayāḥ
sarve bhadrāṇi paśyantu | Mā kaścit duḥkha bhāgbhavet||
Om, May all be happy. May all be healthy.
May we all experience what is good and let no one suffer.

Vishnu mantras

Some famous Vaishnava mantras are:

"Om Namo Narayanaya"
"Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya"
"Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram"
"Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare"
"Om Sri Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijana Vallabhaya Namaha"

Shanti mantras

Aum.. Aum.. Aum..
Sahana vavatu sahanou bhunaktu
Sahaveeryam karavavahai
Mavid visha vahai hi
Aum Shanthi.. Shanthi.. Shanthihi.
Let us be together. Let us eat together.
Let us produce the energy together.
Let there be no limit to our energies.
Let there be no ill feeling among us.
Aum... Peace, Peace, Peace.
(Before Food)
– Black[krishna] Yajurveda Taittiriya Upanishad 2.2.2

Lead me from ignorance to truth

असतोमा सद्गमय। तमसोमा ज्योतिर् गमया।
मृत्योर्मामृतं गमय॥
Asato mā sad gamaya
Tamaso mā jyotir gamaya
Mṛtyormā amṛtam gamaya
Aum śānti śānti śāntiḥ (Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.3.28)
From ignorance, lead me to truth;
From darkness, lead me to light;
From death, lead me to immortality
Aum peace, peace, peace


The Gayatri mantra is considered one of the most universal of all Hindu mantras, invoking the universal Brahman as the principle of knowledge and the illumination of the primordial Sun.

ॐ भूर्भुवस्व: |
तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यम् |
भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि |
धियो यो न: प्रचोदयात्
Aum Bhūr Bhuva Svaha
(Aum) Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhīmahi
Dhiyo Yo Nahah Prachodayāt, (Aum)[14]

Additional Hindu mantras

Mantra in Zoroastrianism

Indo-Iranian *mantra is preserved in Avestan manthra, effectively meaning "word" but with far-reaching implications: Manthras are inherently "true" (aša), and the proper recitation of them brings about (realizes) what is inherently true in them. It may then be said that manthras are both an expression of being and "right working" and the recitation of them is crucial to the maintenance of order and being. (See also: Avestan aša- and Vedic ṛtá-)

Indo-Iranian *sātyas mantras (Yasna 31.6: haiθīm mathrem) thus "does not simply mean 'true Word' but formulated thought which is in conformity with the reality' or 'poetic (religious) formula with inherent fulfillment (realization).'"[16]

Mantra in Buddhism

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Mantra in non-esoteric Mahayana Buddhism

In Chinese Buddhism, ten small mantras[17][18][19][20][21][22][23] were finalized by the monk Yulin (玉琳國師), a teacher of the Shunzhi Emperor for monks, nuns, and laity to chant in the morning.

Along with the ten mantras, the Great Compassion Mantra, the Shurangama Mantra of the Shurangama, Heart Sutra and various forms of nianfo are also chanted.

Mantra in Shingon Buddhism

Kūkai (774-835), a noted Buddhist monk, advanced a general theory of language based on his analysis of two forms of Buddhist ritual language: dharani (dhāra.nī) and mantra. Mantra is restricted to esoteric Buddhist practice whereas dharani is found in both esoteric and exoteric ritual. Dharanis for instance are found in the Heart Sutra. The term "shingon" (lit. true word) is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese term for mantra, chen yen.

The word dharani derives from a Sanskrit root dh.r which means to hold or maintain. Ryuichi Abe suggests that it is generally understood as a mnemonic device which encapsulates the meaning of a section or chapter of a sutra. Dharanis are also considered to protect the one who chants them from malign influences and calamities.

The term mantra is traditionally said to be derived from two roots: man, to think; and the action-oriented suffix -tra. Thus a mantra can be considered to be a linguistic device for deepening ones thought, or in the Buddhist context for developing the enlightened mind. However, it is also true that mantras have been used as magic spells for very mundane purposes such as attaining wealth and long life, and eliminating enemies. In daily living, many thought the pronunciation of the mantra was not important to take its effect and the expected effect may not happen because of fixed karma (定業), or because there appears a better way to solve the situation.

The distinction between dharani and mantra is difficult to make. We can say that all mantras are dharanis but that not all dharanis are mantras. Mantras do tend to be shorter. Both tend to contain a number of unintelligible phonic fragments such as Om, or Hu.m, which is perhaps why some people consider them to be essentially meaningless. Kūkai made mantra a special class of dharani which showed that every syllable of a dharani was a manifestation of the true nature of reality – in Buddhist terms that all sound is a manifestation of shunyata or emptiness of self-nature. Thus rather than being devoid of meaning, Kūkai suggests that dharanis are in fact saturated with meaning – every syllable is symbolic on multiple levels.

One of Kūkai's distinctive contributions was to take this symbolic association even further by saying that there is no essential difference between the syllables of mantras and sacred texts, and those of ordinary language. If one understood the workings of mantra, then any sounds could be a representative of ultimate reality. This emphasis on sounds was one of the drivers for Kūkai's championing of the phonetic writing system, the kana, which was adopted in Japan around the time of Kūkai. He is generally credited with the invention of the kana, but there is apparently some doubt about this story amongst scholars.

This mantra-based theory of language had a powerful effect on Japanese thought and society which up until Kūkai's time had been dominated by imported Chinese culture of thought, particularly in the form of the Classical Chinese language which was used in the court and amongst the literati, and Confucianism which was the dominant political ideology. In particular Kūkai was able to use this new theory of language to create links between indigenous Japanese culture and Buddhism. For instance, he made a link between the Buddha Mahavairocana and the Shinto sun Goddess Amaterasu. Since the emperors were thought to be descended form Amaterasu, Kūkai had found a powerful connection here that linked the emperors with the Buddha, and also in finding a way to integrate Shinto with Buddhism, something that had not happened with Confucianism. Buddhism then became essentially an indigenous religion in a way that Confucianism had not. And it was through language, and mantra that this connection was made. Kūkai helped to elucidate what mantra is in a way that had not been done before: he addresses the fundamental questions of what a text is, how signs function, and above all, what language is. In this he covers some of the same ground as modern day Structuralists and others scholars of language, although he comes to very different conclusions.

In this system of thought all sounds are said to originate from "a" – which is the short a sound in father. For esoteric Buddhism "a" has a special function because it is associated with Shunyata or the idea that no thing exists in its own right, but is contingent upon causes and conditions. (See Dependent origination) In Sanskrit "a" is a prefix which changes the meaning of a word into its opposite, so "vidya" is understanding, and "avidya" is ignorance (the same arrangement is also found in many Greek words, like e.g. "atheism" vs. "theism" and "apathy" vs. "pathos"). The letter a is both visualised in the Siddham script, and pronounced in rituals and meditation practices. In the Mahavairocana Sutra which is central to Shingon Buddhism it says: Thanks to the original vows of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, a miraculous force resides in the mantras, so that by pronouncing them one acquires merit without limits". [in Conze, p. 183]

Mantra in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism

Mantrayana (Sanskrit), that may be rendered as "way of mantra", was the original self-identifying name of those that have come to be determined 'Nyingmapa'. The Nyingmapa which may be rendered as "those of the ancient way", a name constructed due to the genesis of the Sarma "fresh", "new" traditions. Mantrayana has developed into a synonym of Vajrayana.

Noted translator of Buddhist texts Edward Conze (1904 - 1979) distinguishes three periods in the Buddhist use of mantra.

Initially, according to Conze, like their fellow Indians, Buddhists used mantra as protective spells to ward off malign influences. Despite a Vinaya rule which forbids monks engaging in the Brahminical practice of chanting mantras for material gain, there are a number of protective for a group of ascetic monks. However, even at this early stage, there is perhaps something more than animistic magic at work. Particularly in the case of the Ratana Sutta the efficacy of the verses seems to be related to the concept of "truth". Each verse of the sutta ends with "by the virtue of this truth may there be happiness".

Conze notes that later mantras were used more to guard the spiritual life of the chanter, and sections on mantras began to be included in some Mahayana sutras such as the White Lotus Sutra, and the Lankavatara Sutra. The scope of protection also changed in this time. In the Sutra of Golden Light the Four Great Kings promise to exercise sovereignty over the different classes of demigods, to protect the whole of Jambudvipa (the India sub continent), to protect monks who proclaim the sutra, and to protect kings who patronise the monks who proclaim the sutra. The apotheosis of this type of approach is the Nichiren school of Buddhism that was founded in 13th century Japan, and which distilled many previously complex Buddhist practices down to the veneration of the Lotus Sutra through recitation of the daimoku: "Nam myoho renge kyo" which translates as "Homage to the Lotus Sutra".

The third period began, according to Conze, in about the 7th century, to take centre stage and become a vehicle for salvation in their own right. Tantra started to gain momentum in the 6th and 7th century, with specifically Buddhist forms appearing as early as 300CE. Mantrayana was an early name for the what is now more commonly known as Vajrayana, which gives us a hint as to the place of mantra in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. The aim of Vajrayana practice is to give the practitioner a direct experience of reality, of things as they really are. Mantras function as symbols of that reality, and different mantras are different aspects of that reality – for example wisdom or compassion. Mantras are often associated with a particular deity, one famous exception being the Prajnaparamita mantra associated with the Heart Sutra. One of the key Vajrayana strategies for bringing about a direct experience of reality is to engage the entire psycho-physical organism in the practices. In one Buddhist analysis the person consists of 'body, speech and mind' (refer: Three Vajra). So a typical sadhana or meditation practice might include mudras, or symbolic hand gestures; the recitations of mantras; as well as the visualisation of celestial beings and visualising the letters of the mantra which is being recited. Clearly here mantra is associated with speech. The meditator may visualise the letters in front of themselves, or within their body. They may be pronounced out loud, or internally in the mind only.

Om mani padme hung

Probably the most famous mantra of Buddhism is Om mani padme hum, the six syllable mantra of the Bodhisattva of compassion Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan: Chenrezig, Chinese: Guanyin). This mantra is particularly associated with the four-armed Shadakshari form of Avalokiteshvara. The Dalai Lama is said to be an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, and so the mantra is especially revered by his devotees.

The book Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism by Lama Anagarika Govinda, is a classic example of how a mantra like om mani padme hung can contain many levels of symbolic meaning.

Donald Lopez gives a good discussion of this mantra and its various interpretations in his book Prisoners of Shangri-LA: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. Lopez is an authoritative writer and challenges the stereotypical analysis of the mantra as meaning "The Jewel in the Lotus", an interpretation that is not supported by either a linguistic analysis, nor by Tibetan tradition, and is symptomatic of the Western Orientalist approach to the 'exotic' East. He suggests that Manipadma is actually the name of a bodhisattva, a form of Avalokiteshvara who has many other names in any case including Padmapani or lotus flower in hand. The Brahminical insistence on absolutely correct pronunciation of Sanskrit broke down as Buddhism was exported to other countries where the inhabitants found it impossible to reproduce the sounds. So in Tibet, for instance, where this mantra is on the lips of many Tibetans all their waking hours, the mantra is pronounced Om mani peme hum.

Some other mantras in Tibetan Buddhism

The following list of mantras is from Kailash - Journal of Himalayan Studies, Volume 1, Number 2, 1973. (pp. 168-169) (augmented by other contributors). It also includes renderings of Om mani padme hung.

Please note that the word swaha is sometimes shown as svaha, and is usually pronounced as 'so-ha' by Tibetans. Spellings tend to vary in the transliterations to English, for example, hum and hung are generally the same word. The mantras used in Tibetan Buddhist practice are in Sanskrit, to preserve the original mantras. Visualizations and other practices are usually done in the Tibetan language.

  • Om wagishwari hum This is the mantra of the Mahabodhisattva Manjusri, Tibetan: Jampelyang (Wylie "'jam dpal dbyangs")... The Buddha in his wisdom aspect.
  • Om mani padme hung The mantra of Avalokitesvara, Mahabodhisattva, the Buddha in his compassion aspect.
  • Om vajrapani hung The mantra of the Buddha as Protector of the Secret Teachings. ie: as the Mahabodhisattva Channa Dorje (Vajrapani).
  • om vajrasattva hung The short mantra for Vajrasattva, there is also a full 100-syllable mantra for Vajrasattva.
  • Om ah hung vajra guru padma siddhi hung The mantra of the Vajraguru Guru Padma Sambhava who established Mahayana Buddhism and Tantra in Tibet.
  • Om tare tuttare ture svaha The mantra of Jetsun Dolma or Tara, the Mother of the Buddhas.
  • Om tare tuttare ture mama ayurjnana punye pushting svaha The mantra of Dölkar or White Tara, the emanation of
  • Om (Oh-m) Tare (Tar-ay) Tutare (Too-tar-ay) Ture (Too-ray) Soha (So-hah), Mantra of Green Tara - OM represents Tara's sacred body, speech and mind. TARE means liberating from all discontent. TUTARE means liberating from the eight fears, the external dangers, but mainly from the internal dangers, the delusions. TURE means liberating from duality; it shows the true cessation of confusion. SOHA means "may the meaning of the mantra take root in my mind."

According to Tibetan Buddhism, this mantra (Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha) can not only eliminate disease, troubles disasters and Karma but will also bring believers blessings, longer life and even the wisdom to transcend one's circle of reincarnation. Tara representing long life and health.

  • Om amarani jiwantiye svaha The mantra of the Buddha of limitless life: the Buddha Amitayus (Tibetan Tsépagmed) in celestial form.
  • Om dhrung svaha The purification mantra of the mother Namgyalma.
  • Om ami dhewa hri The mantra of the Buddha Amitabha (Hopagmed) of the Western Pureland, his skin the colour of the setting sun.
  • Om ami dewa hri The mantra of Amitabha (Ompagme in Tibetan).
  • Om ah ra pa tsa na dhih The mantra of the "sweet-voiced one", Jampelyang (Wylie "'jam dpal dbyangs") or Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of wisdom.
  • Hung vajra phat The mantra of the Mahabodhisattva Vajrapani in his angry (Dragpo) form.
  • Om muni muni maha muniye sakyamuni swaha The mantra of Buddha Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha
  • Om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha The mantra of the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra (Heart Sutra)
  • Om maitri maitreya maha karuna ye The Maitri mantra, the seed mantra of Maitreya.
  • Namo bhagavate Bhaishajya-guru vaidurya-praba-rajaya tathagataya arhate samyak-sambuddhaya tadyata *Tadyata OM bhaishajye bhaishajye maha bhaishajya raja-samudgate svaha The mantra of the 'Medicine Buddha', from Chinese translations of the Master of Healing Sutra.

Mantras in other sects and religions

  • Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō The mantra of the Nichiren Buddhism.
  • Om Guru Lian-sheng Siddhi Hum, the shorten mantra, or Om Ah Hum Guru Bei Ah Ho Sa Sa Maha Lian Sheng Siddhi Hum The mantra of the True Buddha School.
  • Ná Mó Běn Shī Dà Zì Zai Wáng Fó (南無本師大自在王佛)[24] The mantra of the Buddhayana sect (佛乘宗).
  • Wú Tài Fó Mí Lè (無太佛彌勒)[25][26] some authors said it is the secret[27][28] mantra of the I-Kuan Tao.
  • Námó Tiānyuán Tàibǎo Āmítuófó (南無天元太保阿彌陀佛) The mantra of the Xiantiandao (先天道) and the Tongshanshe (同善社).[29][30]
  • Guān Shì Yīn Pú Sà (觀世音菩薩) The mantra of the Li-ism[31][32]
  • Zhēnkōngjiāxiàng, wúshēngfùmǔ (真空家鄉,無生父母) The mantra of the Luo Sect (羅教)[33]
  • Jot na run jan, om kar, rar run kar, so ham, sat nam or you nie ran yang, om ga, ra ran ga, som hang, sat naam[34] some said the mantra of Ching Hai and the names of the devas of the first to fifth levels.
  • Zhōngshùliánmíngdé, zhèngyìxìnrěngōng, bóxiàoréncíjiào, jiéjiǎnzhēnlǐhé (忠恕廉明德、正義信忍公、博孝仁慈覺、節儉真禮和) The mantra of the Tiender and the Lord of Universe Church[35]

Mantras in Manichaeism

There are mantras in Manichaeism such as Qīngjìng guāngmíng dàlì zhìhuì wúshàng zhìzhēn móní guāngfó (清淨光明大力智慧無上至真摩尼光佛).[36][37]

Mantras in Taoism

There are mantras in Taoism such as the words in Dafan yinyu wuliang yin (大梵隱語無量音) and the Tibetan Buddhism mantra om (唵).[38]

Mantra in Sikhism

In the Sikh religion, a mantar or mantra is a Shabad (Word or hymn) from Gurbani to concentrate the mind on God and the message of the Ten Gurus.

Mantras have two components of primary importance - Meaning and Sound. First is the actual meaning of the word or words and the second is the effective sound (vibration). For the mantra to be effective, great emphasis is put on correct pronunciation and the level of concentration of the mind on the meaning of the word or words that are recited.

Due to this emphasis, some care has to be taken regarding the place and surrounding in which the mantras are recited; the way in which these are delivered - ie, a loud; quietly; in a group; with music; without music; etc. The purpose of mantras is to deliver the mind from illusion and material inclinations and to bring concentration and focus to the mind.

  • Chanting is the process of the continuously repeating a mantra.

The main mantras of Sikhism are:

Mantra in other traditions or contexts

The Transcendental Meditation technique, also known as 'TM', uses mantras that are assigned to the practitioner to be used as sound only, without connection to any meaning or idea.[39]

The spiritual exercises of Surat Shabda Yoga include simran (repetition, particularly silent repetition of a mantra given at initiation), dhyan (concentration, viewing, or contemplation, particularly on the Inner Master), and bhajan (listening to the inner sounds of the Shabda or the Shabda Master).

In the Islamic Sufi tradition, chants of the 99 Names of Allah are popular invocations of attributes as are the names of the Prophet, see Dhikr.

In the Jewish spin-off group of Breslover Hasidut, a popular mantra is Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me'uman.

In Neo-Pagan ritual, deities may be invoked by a recitation of their many names or aspects.

A form of Christian meditation was taught by Dom John Main that involves the silent repetition of a mantra.

Repetition of a "mantram" (e.g., mantra) or holy name is Point 2 in the eight-point Passage Meditation program taught by Eknath Easwaran, who recommended using a mantram drawn from a faith tradition, east or west. The mantram is to be used frequently throughout the day, at opportune moments.[40] This method of mantram repetition, and the larger program, was developed for use in any major faith tradition, or outside all traditions.[41] Easwaran's method of mantram repetition has been the subject of scientific research at the San Diego Veterans Administration, which has suggested health benefits that include managing stress and reducing symptoms of PTSD.[42][43]

See also


  1. Feuerstein, G. The Deeper Dimension of Yoga. Shambala Publications, Boston, MA. 2003.
  2. Khanna, Madhu (2003). Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity. Inner Traditions. ISBN 0892811323 & ISBN 978-0892811328. p.21
  3. Macdonell, Arthur A., A Sanskrit Grammar for Students § 182.1.b, p. 162(Oxford University Press, 3rd edition, 1927).
  4. Whitney, W.D., Sanskrit Grammar § 1185.c, p. 449(New York, 2003, ISBN 0-486-43136-3).
  5. Mullin, G.H., The Dalai Lamas on tantra, p.11 (Snow Lion, 2006).
  6. Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, The hidden power in humans, Ibera Verlag, 2004, pages 58-62 ISBN 3-85052-197-4
  7. Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda, The System “Yoga in Daily Life”, 2005 by Ibera Verlag, ISBN 3-85052-000-5, p. 400-401
  8. A Dictionary of Hinduism, Margaret and James Stutley (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers) 2002, p.126
  9. A Dictionary of Hinduism, p.156
  10. A Dictionary of Hinduism, pp.57,58
  11. Meditation and Mantras, Swami Vishnu-Devananda (Motilal Banarsidass Publishers) 1981, p.66
  12. Shakti Mantras, Thomas Ashley-Farrand (Ballantine Books) 2003, p.182
  13. A Dictionary of Hinduism, p.271
  14. Meditation and Mantras, p.75
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Meditation and Mantras, p.80
  16. Schlerath, Bernfried (1987), ""Aša: Avestan Aša"", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 2:694-696, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul  p. 695.
  17. pinyin of ten mantras
  18. Introduction to Mahayana Buddhist Sutras and Mantras
  20. Quang Duc
  21. Thu Vien Hoa Sen
  22. Van Phat Danh: Cong Phu Khuya
  24. 本師『大自在王佛』的出處
  25. 問(無太佛彌勒)是什麼意思 ?
  29. 口訣辨正
  30. 同善社#
  31. 在理教与杨柳青
  32. (三)理 教
  33. 畫符念咒:清代民間秘密宗教的符咒療法
  34. 歹年冬,厚肖人
  35. 人生守則廿字真言感恩、知足、惜福,天帝教祝福您!
  36. 摩尼教“大神咒”研究 - 傳統中國研究
  37. 摩尼教的转世生命:从救世到捉鬼
  38. 道教咒術初探
  39. Shear,Jonathon,Editor.The Experience of Meditation:Experts Introduce the Major Traditions,pg.28.Paragon House. St Paul, MN.,2006.
  40. In Hinduism, frequent repetition at opportune moments is a common type of japa.
  41. Eknath Easwaran (2008). The Mantram Handbook (5th ed.). Tomales, CA: Nilgiri Press. ISBN 1586380281 (originally published 1977).
  42. Jill E. Bormann, Steven Thorp, Julie L. Wetherell, & Shahrokh Golshan (2008). A Spiritually Based Group Intervention for Combat Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Holistic Nursing v26 n2, pp 109-116. PMID 18356284, DOI: 10.1177/0898010107311276.
  43. Jill E. Bormann & Doug Oman (2007). Mantram or holy name repetition: Health benefits from a portable spiritual practice. In Thomas G. Plante, & Carl E. Thoresen (Eds.), Spirit, science and health: How the spiritual mind fuels physical wellness (pp. 94-112) (table of contents), Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 978-0-275-99506-5


  • Abe, R. The weaving of mantra: Kukai and the construction of esoteric Buddhist discourse. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.)
  • Beyer, S. Magic and ritual in Tibet: the cult of Tara. (Delhi: Motilal Banarsisdass, 1996).
  • Conze, E. Buddhism : its essence and development. (London : Faber, c1951).
  • Eknath Easwaran Mantram Handbook Nilgiri Press (4th ed. ISBN 9780915132980) (5th ed. ISBN 9781586380281)
  • Gelongma Karma Khechong Palmo. Mantras On The Prayer Flag. Kailash - Journal of Himalayan Studies, Volume 1, Number 2, 1973. (pp. 168-169).
  • Gombrich, R. F. Theravaada Buddhism: a social history from ancient Benares to modern Colombo. (London, Routledge, 1988)
  • Govinda (Lama Anagarika). Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism. (London : Rider, 1959).
  • Khanna, Madhu. Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity. (Inner Traditions, 2003). ISBN 089 2811 323 & ISBN 089 2811 328
  • Lopez, D. Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. (Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1998)
  • Mullin, G.H. The Dalai Lamas on Tantra, (Ithaca : Snow Lion, 2006).
  • The Rider Encyclopedia of Eastern Philosophy and religion. (London : Rider, 1986).
  • Skilton, A. A concise history of Buddhism. (Birmingham : Windhorse Publications, 1994).
  • Sangharakshita. Transforming Self and World: themes from the Sutra of Golden Light. (Birmingham : Windhorse Publications, 1994).
  • Walsh, M. The Long discourses of the Buddha: a translation of the Digha Nikaya. (Boston : Wisdom Publications, 1987)
  • Durgananda, Swami. Meditation Revolution. (Agama Press, 1997). ISBN 0 9654096 0 0
  • Vishnu-Devananda, Swami. Meditation and Mantras. (Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 1981). ISBN 81 208 1615 3
  • Ashley-Farrand, Thomas. Shakti Mantras. (Ballantine Books 2003). ISBN 0 345 44304 7
  • Stutley, Margaret and James. A Dictionary of Hinduism. (Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 2002). ISBN 81 215 1074 0

External links

Hinduism mantra

Buddhist mantra

Vedic and Hindu Mantra


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