Ever wondered what’s that text carved on Tibetan Prayer Wheels and what does it mean?
Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ
Commonly known among the Tibetans as the Mani Mantra, and thereby, the wheels as Mani Wheels, it is also found written on Tibetan Prayer Flags, carved/engraved on rocks (some found in the Zanskar Region of Kargil District of Jammu and Kashmir), and jewellery.
While it is interpreted by different scholars in different ways, Tsangsar Tulku Rinpoche summed it up to perfection, dividing the mantra into six syllables, to symbolise purification of the six realms of existence.
Om – Perfecting ‘Generosity’ by purifying ‘Pride/Ego’ – Samsaric Realm of ‘Devas’
Ma – Perfecting ‘Ethics’ by purifying ‘Jealousy/Lust for entertainment’ – Samsaric Realm of ‘Asuras’
Ni – Perfecting ‘Patience’ by purifying ‘Passion/Desire’ – Samsaric Realm of ‘Humans’
Pad – Perfecting ‘Diligence’ by purifying ‘Ignorance/Prejudiced’ – Samsaric Realm of ‘Animals’
Me – Perfecting ‘Renunciation’ by purifying ‘Greed/Possessiveness’ – Samsaric Realm of ‘Pretas’
Hum – Perfecting ‘Wisdom’ by purifying ‘Aggression/Hatred’ – Samsaric Realm of ‘Naraka’
In the translation of a text by the Fourth Panchen Lama, Amitabha Buddha says “Anyone who recites the six syllables while turning the dharma wheel at the same time is equal in fortune to the Thousand Buddhas.” In the same text Shakyamuni Buddha says that “Turning the prayer wheel once is better than having done one, seven, or nine years of retreat.” The prayer wheel is a very powerful merit field; one accumulates extensive merit and purifies obstacles.
So, the next time you visit a Tibetan Monastery, you’ll see it in a different light. I know I will. Peace!