Yoga is more than a physical activity that people do for fitness; it comprises of various practices, including physical forms, meditation, breathwork, and chanting. Chants are a widespread yoga practice and are believed to have plenty of benefits for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
What comes to your mind when we talk about chants in yoga? Most people think about the popular yoga chant- “OM.” However, there is one mantra that is even more popular: “OM MANI PADME HUM.”
If you’re a beginner yogi, you might wonder what Om Manu Padme Hum means and why it is an essential practice in your yoga classes. This article will discuss the meaning of this famous mantra, its benefits, and its significance.
Om Mani Padme Hum- An Overview of the Buddhist Mantra
The Om Mani Padme Hum mantra is at the heart of many Buddhist traditions.
According to Tibetan culture, this mantra is the most powerful because it contains all of Buddha’s teachings. It is very much the summation of Buddhist belief.
The Tibetans believe that knowing this Buddhist mantra is equivalent to knowing enlightenment- a critical element of the Buddhist belief system. Supposedly, the Buddhist verse contains the truth about the nature of suffering, how it exists, and how it eventually ends.
Buddhist believers also repeat Om Mani Padme Hum over and over to invoke compassion and unconditional love. Saying this verse silently or out loud is an excellent way of connecting with your inner self, which many believe to be compassionate and loving. According to this particular belief, all humans are innately loving and compassionate.
The mantra can be difficult translating from Sanskrit to English, since it is not easy to put the essence of the Buddhist verse into a few sentences. Secondly, understanding the nature of Om Mani Padme Hum and its meaning becomes challenging.
In Buddhist culture, the believers repeat various mantras until they gain a specific element of “emptiness.” On this note, you must understand that the Buddhist meaning of emptiness is not the same as its traditional meaning, i.e. nothingness.
Instead, the Buddhist feeling of emptiness refers to experiencing oneself in the present moment without the attachment of ego that would usually be there.
An “empty” existence leads to enlightenment and awareness. The form allows you to gather your intuitive knowledge and free yourself from suffering. Therefore, repeating Om Mani Padme Hum helps eliminate suffering.
Why Do Yogis Chant the Om Mani Padme Hum Mantra?
Continuous chanting of Om Mani Padme Hum creates a calming environment that heals the body and mind. It also establishes unity within a group of yogis as they chant it together and connect on a spiritual level.
Some popular reasons why yogis chant this ancient Buddhist mantra include:
- Detachment from ego
- Clarity of thoughts and mind
- Release of Karma
- Manifestation of a better life
- More awareness
Prayer Wheels or Mani
Om Mani Padme Hum is a special Buddhist Mantra you will find etched into stones throughout Northern India, Tibet, and Nepal. Many believe that gazing on a written or etched mantra has the same benevolent benefits as chanting it repeatedly.
Therefore, modern seekers prefer purchasing rings with engraved lettering of Om Mani Padme Hum. Prayer wheels or Mani come in various sizes for all Buddhist believers and yogis, allowing them to meditate while chanting Om Mani Padme Hum.
Buddhist practitioners spin these prayer wheels while chanting the mantra to receive blessings and benefit from its positive effects. According to Tibetan Buddhism, each prayer wheel rotation offers the same benefits as a year-long Buddhist retreat.
What Does Om Mani Padme Hum Mean?
In English, Om Mani Padme Hum commonly translates to “Praise to the jewel in the Lotus.” New seekers in Buddhism and beginner yogis struggle to make sense of this translation.
Nevertheless, the meaning is more profound than most yogis think. After all, the ancient Buddhist mantra wraps all of Buddha’s teachings in one phrase.
“OHM-MAH-NEE-PAHD-MAY-HUM” is the correct way to pronounce this Sanskrit verse, which comprises of four melodic words. You will find each of these four words in colorful Tibetan prayer flags.
Breaking Down the Buddhist Mantra
Since it’s such an important Buddhist Mantra, breaking it down can allow yogis to better understand what it means.
The first syllable, Om, is the spiritual vibration of the universe, one of the most essential sounds. The humming vibration is the primordial sound the universe makes when unfolding into existence.
As such, Om is the word that brought all creation into existence. Therefore, the first syllable of the particular Buddhist mantra holds everything that was, is, and will ever be.
In the context of chants and mantras, the sound of Om can destroy egoistic attachment, replacing it with generosity. Cleansing away ego and pride, it lives in the samsaric realm of the god.
Om features three letters- “A,” “U,” and “M.” The three letters represent one’s impure body, mind, and speech. In contrast to the practitioner’s impurity, these letters represent Buddha’s holy body, mind, and speech.
In yoga, OM helps transforms the practitioner’s impure body into Buddha’s likeness. After all, leaving the impure state is also how Buddha became enlightened. But, how can one do so? The next four syllables indicate the path.
Om sets a yogi’s intention for the practice according to the Buddhist belief and yogic values.
The second syllable of Om Mani Padme Hum, Mani, translates to ‘jewel.’
Like Om sets the path for enlightenment, Mani symbolizes the altruistic intention of becoming enlightened. In fact, it defines the state of mind capable of eliminating difficulties and poverty.
The Buddhists believe that chanting the mantra can save them from spiritual poverty, similar to how an expensive jewel can remove poverty. Just as a pearl-like beads can fulfill the wishes of a sentient being, Mani can fulfill the intention of becoming enlightened.
The first syllable in part, “Ma,” seemingly dissolves attachment to jealousy and fleeting pleasures. Instead of these attachments, it cultivates ethics and helps one practice ethical behavior to become enlightened.
On the other hand, “Ni” is mainly associated with removing unhealthy attachments to passion and desire. It purifies the passions and desires of the human body, establishing patience, as it allows you to be more patient with yourself and others. As such, Ni also contributes to ethical behavior.
Mani loosens our attachments with jealousy and other desires. Chanting this Sanskrit word sets yoga instructors and students in a suitable heart space for becoming enlightened.
As Mani removes our attachments with jealousy and desires, Padme dissolves the attachment with prejudice, establishing perseverance.
According to the Buddhist belief, chanting “Pad” dissolves a human being’s ignorance, purifying their judgment. It represents diligence that helps eliminate various judgmental notions and prejudices. After purifying, Pad cultivates perseverance. This syllable mainly resides within the samsaric realm of animals.
The second syllable making Padme, “Me,” dissolves human attachment with feelings of possessiveness. Buddhists believe that the Sanskrit word purifies attachment and cultivates powers of concentration. The “Me” syllable resides in the samsaric realm of the hungry ghost.
Together, the syllables “Pad” and “Me” make up the Sanskrit word “Padma,” which translates to Lotus in English. A Lotus represents wisdom and purity due to the flower’s unique characteristics.
A lotus grows out of mud yet remains unstained by its growing environment. Similarly, wisdom grows out of conflict and manages to stay unsoiled by various challenges that come with life. Therefore, wisdom allows you to stay pure like the lotus, even through hardships.
In simpler terms, wisdom represented by Padme or Lotus flower can save you from contradictions. Meanwhile, you will likely experience more contradictions without wisdom. Chanting Padme reminds you to lose your attachment to conflicts.
According to the Buddhist belief system, various types of wisdom exist, but “wisdom realizing emptiness” is the most significant. This type of wisdom acknowledges impermanence and realizes the emptiness of existence.
The final syllable of Om Mani Padme Hum, Hum, represents purity and unity, defining wisdom through invisibility. Buddhists believe that this Sanskrit word can dissolve human attachment with hatred and feelings of aggression. It purifies one of hatred and cultivates their innate wisdom.
You can achieve Hum through the invisible unity of wisdom and method. ‘Method’ is a person’s dependence on a particular practice, whereas wisdom transforms into enlightenment. Thus, the four words (six syllables) represent purity that a practitioner can achieve from the union of wisdom and method.
The sutra system teaches that the invisibility of wisdom and method is about how the two elements affect one another. Similarly, in tantric, the same element of invisibility refers to the conscious state of mind. Your consciousness has both wisdom and method as one entity.
Hum is also the seed syllable of Ashobhya- the unfluctuating and immovable one of the five conqueror Buddhas. And since it resides within the samsaric realm of hell, nothing can disturb Hum. It is immoveable and unshakeable.
Om Mani Padme Hum- The Six Syllables and Their Recitation
The Sanskrit words making the powerful chant of Om Mani Padme Hum create a path from generosity to wisdom. The six syllables of the mantra are:
Each Buddha of the three times walked this path to leave impurity and become enlightened. Similarly, anyone who practices the chant can transform their impure body, mind, and speech into a Buddha’s heavenly body, mind, and speech.
According to the Buddhist belief, all humans have purity and wisdom within their continuum. Thus, we only need to seek Buddhahood inside ourselves to become enlightened like Buddha.
The Jewel Is in the Lotus
It may be abundantly clear that the Sanskrit Mantra holds many meanings in Buddhism. While each syllable and word has power, Om Mani Padme Hum generally translates to “praise to the jewel in the Lotus” or “the jewel is in the Lotus.”
The six syllables convey that we all have a Lotus flower within us that may be covered in dirt. Chanting the mantra repeatedly or meditating on it with honest intentions can help remove the mud.
Eventually, reciting Om Mani Padme Hum in yoga cleanses our Lotus flower until we are pure and wise. It enlightens us to make us more compassionate and loving. However, you can only attain enlightenment when you meditate on the meaning and recite the mantra regularly.
Mantra Meditation- Step-by-Step Guide
Mantra meditation offers a lot of freedom for the practitioner. You can practice it for as long as you want, depending on your available time and preference.
Usually, yogis chant the mantra for around five to twenty minutes, here is a short step-by-step guide to help you develop the habit.
Position yourself on the floor or sit in a comfortable chair. If needed, use a cushion or blanket to support your posture as well.
Once comfortable, close your eyes. Then, practice a breathing exercise you like for several minutes until you can fully relax.
Start saying your mantra slowly. Breathe in and out as you say it for the second time, and so on. Focus on the words and their meanings when chanting Om Mani Padme Hum.
Repeat the mantra for some time. When you want to stop meditating, gently slow your recitation and lower your voice until it fades.
Then, sit in silence for a few minutes before coming out of the meditation. You may experience several thoughts and feelings at this point, including a calm and relaxed mood.
What is the Meaning of the Mantra Om Mani Padme Hum?
Om Mani Padme Hum is a powerful Mantra in Buddhism that means “The jewel is in the Lotus.” Buddhist belief teaches that we all have a Lotus flower within us. Escaping impurity can remove the dirt we grow in; we can become pure and enlightened. Om Mani Padme Hum wraps all of Buddha’s teachings in a single phrase.
Is Om Mani Padme Hum a Healing Mantra?
The ancient Sanskrit mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum, translates to “The jewel is in the Lotus.” Chanting this verse and meditating on the meaning creates a path that transforms the body, mind, and speech. It has purifying powers that can heal an individual’s suffering and help one become enlightened.
How Should I Practice the Om Mani Padme Hum Mantra?
Practicing the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra is no different than other mantras. You can chant this powerful verse out loud or meditate silently on its meaning. Make sure to remove distractions and get in a relaxed state of mind when practicing Om Mani Padme Hum. You can recite this Buddhist mantra for as long as you wish.
Om Mani Padme Hum is a simple yet incredibly powerful Buddhist mantra. According to the Buddhist belief system, it eases suffering and creates a path to purity and wisdom.
In Yoga, Om Mani Padme Hum purifies the body, mind, and speech, guiding you on the path of enlightenment. It allows you to feel close to your innate self and others around you.