The bodhisattva Manjushri represents the highest wisdom, intelligence, will, and omniscience, and exercises complete illumination. His name means “Gentle Glory”. In this article, I want to share with you a very powerful Manjushri mantra that enhances wisdom and improves one’s skills in debating, memory, writing, and other literary abilities. Moreover, a regular practice of this mantra can help reach enlightenment and reconnect with your divine nature.
But first, let me tell you about Manjushri.
Who Is Manjushri?
Manjushri is one of the Four Great Bodhisattvas of Chinese Buddhism, the other three being Ksitigarbha, Avalokitesvara, and Samantabhadra.
Manjushri is also revered as the patron of the arts and sciences, orator, patron of astrologers. For example, Buddhist writers, before starting to write a book or a poem, first turn to Manjushri for help or begin creation with a prayer in his honor.
Buddhists ask Manjushri to grant them wisdom, transcendental knowledge, mastery in studying, ability to interpret sacred texts, eloquence, and a good memory. He is the patron of literature. He helps to consciously use the power of the word as a tool for liberation from ignorance. Anyone can ask Manjushri for enlightenment and he will surely give one all the tools you need to reach it. However, only one’s discipline and devotion can lead to enlightenment.
Manjushri, who once attained the state of a Buddha, refused to enter Nirvana until people freed themselves of ignorance and misery.
He appears as a constant assistant to Buddha Shakyamuni in his enlightening mission.
Manjushri’s mission as a bodhisattva is to eradicate ignorance and the evil it generates. Therefore, Manjushri is depicted as a beautiful young man with a flaming sword raised in one hand and a book in the other.
Manjushri is usually depicted in a sitting cross-legged position on a Lotus throne. He is dressed in the usual bodhisattva clothes.
Usually, Manjushri is depicted as a young man 26-years old. This important symbol reminds us that Manjushri is the beginning of insight. The youth symbolism is vital, since most suffering humans, even the most advanced among us, could be said to be just at the “beginning” of understanding and insight.
Most often we can see Manjushri having a Golden yellow body, which symbolizes the wealth of his knowledge.
In his right hand, he holds a Fiery sword that cuts through ignorance and duality.
In his left hand, he holds a Lotus that symbolizes purity of thoughts and motivation.
There is the Sutra laying on the Lotus which symbolizes the Transcendental Wisdom.
The symbols and iconography can vary depending on the culture. However, all the symbols are always related to wisdom.
There are also different specialized forms of Manjushri: Black, Orange, Four-armed Namsangiti, wrathful Yamantaka, and many others.
Manjushri Mantra Benefits
In traditional Buddhist schools, the beginning of any training starts with Manjushri mantra chanting. This is how Buddhists tune themselves in learning and mastering new knowledge.
Manjushri mantra is chanted for both inner wisdom and worldly knowledge. It gives both intellectual wisdom and wisdom beyond all words and thought.
It helps in learning, developing intelligence and good memory. It also brings good insight and intuitive knowledge.
Manjushri mantra practice also helps in:
- learning and understanding astrology;
- improving debating skills;
- boosting memory;
- reaching enlightenment;
- reconnecting with your divine nature.
Manjushri mantra is a symbol of the ultimate essence and profound simplicity. Each of the seven syllables of this mantra is deeply profound — conveying within in it the essence of all other mantras.
Here is the text of Manjushri mantra:
OM AH RA PA TSA NA DHIH
Manjushri Mantra Meaning
Now I want to share with you a beautiful commentary on the essence of Manjushri mantra from a Tantric Buddhist point of view delivered by Khenchen Pracchimba Dorjee Rinpoche.
OM represents a combination of the three pure sounds that signify the holy body, speech, and mind.
AH represents the insight that all Dharmas and all “things” are unproduced. This realization develops as we examine everything. That means that we ask questions such as: What do my body and mind consist of? What do all the things around me consist of? As a result of repeated inquiry and contemplation, the realization of emptiness as the true nature of our mind, as well as all external phenomena, arises. Understanding the emptiness of everything is the path of wisdom.
RA represents an understanding of emptiness. This approach emphasizes the emptiness of the self but believes that at the deepest level everything consists of very small subatomic particles.
PA stands for meditation. There are two basic types of meditation: the conceptual (thinking) and the non-conceptual (without thinking) meditation. In conceptual meditation, we rely on thinking about various concepts such as impermanence, suffering or karma. This is actually not considered a meditation in the strict sense. The ‘real’ meditation is non-conceptual and means that we see the nature of phenomena directly. In our practice, we usually first combine the conceptual and the non-conceptual meditation until we are able to rest in the nature of mind completely without thinking. For example, if you have to ask yourself whether your meditation is conceptual or non-conceptual you are practicing conceptual (thinking) meditation. If you engage in a true non-conceptual meditation you don’t have to check whether your meditation is conceptual or non-conceptual – your feeling of resting in the nature of mind is so reassuring that there are no questions to be asked.
TSA symbolizes the importance of samsara and nirvana. The exact nature of both nirvana and samsara is emptiness. But if we don’t understand the exact nature of samsara, it manifests to us in the form of three sufferings.
The three sufferings are:
- the suffering of change;
- the suffering upon suffering;
- the suffering of everything composite.
If we exactly experientially understand the real nature of samsara it will instead appear to us in the form of three kinds of peace:
- arhat peace;
- bodhisattva peace;
- Buddha peace.
NA stands for karma. In short, it means that all the suffering we experience is the result of our previous non-virtuous actions and all our happiness results from our previous virtuous deeds. There are two basic kinds of karma: the individual karma and the collective karma. Our individual karma is related to our personal deeds and their results. We need to understand that with each action of our body, speech and mind we are sewing the seeds of our future experience.
DHIH represents the wisdom path teachings. It is the fruition of all the practices represented by the previous syllables. We can imagine that our samsara mind is like a block of ice flowing in the water of nirvana wisdom. The syllable DHIH represents the fruition of our practice that melts the ice of our samsaric mind into the water – its real Buddha-nature.
How To Practice Manjushri Mantra?
Before chanting Manjushri mantra you should set your intention. You can do it in any form. For example: “I dedicate the Chanting of Manjushri mantra to … (name your request).”
After setting the intention, chant Manjushri mantra for 108 times and practice the visualization described below while chanting.
Visualize a horizontal moon disk in your heart.
Imagine a six-spoked wheel on it, and at its hub, there is an upright orange seed syllable DHIH.
Just above the wheel’s spokes, there are the syllables OM AH RA PA TSA NA standing clockwise. Light emanates from the DHIH and other mantra syllables.
Imagine how this light fills your body and cleanses all negative karma and obscurations, especially those arising from ignorance.
Now visualize how the darkness of ignorance is completely eliminated and the light of wisdom increases to illuminate all objects of knowledge.