Thursday 27 January 2011

The Mani Mantra

The Mani mantra of Avalokiteśvara arranged on a lotus Mandala.
Each of the letters are placed on each petal starting at the bottom
(Easterly quarter) running clock-wise:
oṃ ma ṇi pad me hūṃ 
In the center of the mandala is the seed syllable hri
Copyright Tashi mannox 2018 

"Mani-wood" The famous Hollywood sign adapted by Tashi July 2009.

It is said that on seeing the form of the Mani mantra, to hear the sound of the Mani mantra: oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ is to purify and liberate from the un-enlightened state of ignorance.

The meaning of the Mantra by His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

"It is very good to recite the mantra oṃ ma ṇi pad me hūṃ but while you are doing it, you should be thinking of it's meaning, for the meaning of the six syllables is great and vast. 
The first, oṃ is symbolic of the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha. maṇi means jewel, symbolizes the factors of method-the altruistic intention to become enlightened, through compassion and love. padme meaning lotus, symbolizes wisdom. Just as a lotus grows from the mud, but is not sullied by the faults of mud, so wisdom is capable of putting you in a situation of non-contradiction whereas there would be contradiction if you did not have wisdom. ...Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and wisdom, symbolized by hūṃ which indicates indivisibility...
Thus together these syllables mean that in dependence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom, you can transform your impure body, speech, mind into the pure exalted body, speech, mind of a Buddha."

The practice of the Mani mantra and how to integrate pure perception on a spiritual path is explained further here.

In Tibet, whole hillsides are seen as a great opportunity to plot out huge images of the sacred mantra, often with white stones. Such constructions are believed to emanate  blessing across the land, if not as a constant reminder of the mantras sacred and positive meaning.

A enormous Mani mantra in East Tibet.

The mantra was also commonly carved on flat stones and piled up in great heaps that sometimes stretch for a mile or more. As an act of respect, a person would always pass with the mantras on their right, circling clock-wise.

Other such devotional activities, such as hand spinning prayer wheels filled with mantras minutely printed on tight coils of paper, is considered that with a good intention and the act of turning the wheel, the power of the mantra is activated, similarly mantra printed prayer flags utter their prays caught on the wind.

In our modern times the sacred Mani mantra could not be more applicable in meaning and benefit. For the meaning of the Mani mantra is steeped in Loving-kindness and understanding, each of the six syllables purifying and converting negative emotions into wisdom, which is a fundamental basis to our confused state of being, that transformed; can only lead to a happy state of mind.

A modern electric powered prayer wheel,
made by the Father of Tashi: Peter Mannox
precious jewels decorate the rings of the drum
between which the Mani mantra is illuminated
in gold Lantsa Sanskrit lettering.

Our modern world also allows prayer wheels to be driven by electricity. The prayer wheel pictured above, housed at the Samye Ling Temple in Scotland, contains billions of Mantras on micro film. For every one rotation of the wheel; there are seven Mani mantras dedicated to each Human being on the planet, the praying wheel turns continually day and night.

The earliest written version of the Mani mantra is know in the Lantsha and Wartu Sanskrit forms, used by Buddhist monks in India and Tibet in the 11th century.

The mani mantra in the ancient Wartu or Vartu Sanskrit.

© Tashi Mannox 2022

Lantsha Sanskrit Mani mantra.

© Tashi Mannox 2022

The beginning of the Tibetan written language was developed to accommodate the  migration of the Buddhist teachings from India to Tibet. The original Indian manuscripts were scribed in both Lantsha and Wartu, these were fundamental to the Buddhist textual tradition and very much their visual identity. Indeed Lantsha and Wartu is still today considered a sacred and classical written language, which is often upheld; painted and gilded high up on Tibetan temple walls, beams and pillars.
The Mani mantra arranged as a monogram, a very
condensed and convoluted form of
Lantsha Sanskrit called Kutaksyar.
© Tashi Mannox 2022

As the written form of a mantra is considered divine, there was much care and respect when translating Sanskrit to Tibetan. Moreover, most mantras where translated phonetically into Tibetan, maintaing as near correct as possible to the original quality of sound, which is considered integral to the meditation practice they belong to.

The classical Uchen script style is perhaps the most common and recognizable of the Mani mantra in Tibetan, a script style very similar in appearance to Sanskrit to an untrained eye,  so it is somewhat understandable that the Uchen style is often miscalled 'Tibetan Sanskrit'.
The Mani mantra is an early form of Tibetan called High Uchen

© Tashi Mannox 2022
Below follows a list of the Mani mantra in the main Tibetan script styles, these are shown without the traditional 'heading character' the addition of a heading character dose not change the meaning of the mantra, for more explanation on the heading character.

A more standard version of the Mani mantra in the Uchen script.

© Tashi Mannox 2022 

The Mani mantra in a short form called Tsugtung

© Tashi Mannox 2022

A script style derived from East Tibet, Kham, called Petsug or Khamyig

© Tashi Mannox 2022

A more cursive script form called Dru-tsa

© Tashi Mannox 2022

A quick style of hand-writing called Khyug

© Tashi Mannox 2022

The Mani mantra in three scripts,
From left to right:
vertically stacked in Uchen
Horyig seal script

© Tashi Mannox 2022

The Horyig and Phags-pa scripts are related to Mongolian and where developed for the use of seals across Mongolia Tibet and China. A more in-depth explanation on the Phags-pa script is shown here, and for the Horyig script please click here.

The Mani mantra has in recent times become popular as a tattoo design. Because the mantra is a sacred word, there are advised guidelines as where and where not to place the mantra, this is not only to safe-guard the mantras integrity but also to curb any negative karma to others and ones self in miss-placing the mantra, such as up-side-down or back-to-front.

Many of the above mantras and more are available as high resolution downloadable images from the Tashi Mannox on-line store.

Wednesday 19 January 2011


Life is an opportunity. 


Acrylic paint on heavy water colour paper, 57x76cm 2007

The words ‘seize the moment’ in the Tibetan Dru-tsa script is depicted wrapped with the stems and leaves of five different coloured lotus flowers. 
Each of these flowers represent the Five Buddha families. The analogy of the five flower buds is the opportunity to transform the five negative emotions, pride, attachment, anger,  jealousy and stupidity, into the five wisdoms represented in the manifestation of the Five Buddha families and their corresponding colours.  
As any plant that will take root and blossoms in slightest of conducive conditions, its leaves hooked and curl to grab as opportunists, just like every moment of life with the experience of karmic fruition, is an opportunity to take hold and transform a negative situation into a positive advantage. 

༄། དལ་འབྱོར་འདི་ནི་རྙེད་པར་ཤིན་ཏུ་དཀའ། སྐྱེས་བུའི་དོན་སྒྲུབ་ཐོབ་པར་གྱུར་པ་ལ། གལ་ཏེ་འདི་ལ་ཕན་པ་མ་བསྒྲུབས་ན། ཕྱིས་འདི་ཡང་དག་འབྱོར་པར་ག་ལ་འགྱུར།།

This free and well-favoured human form is difficult to obtain.
Now that you have the chance to realise the full human potential

If you don’t make good use of this opportunity,
How could you possibly expect to have such a chance again?
Shantideva: Engaging in the Conduct of a Bodhisattva, I, 4

A detail showing the fine brush work shading, a technique used in
traditional Tibetan Thanka painting.

Tashi is pleased to announce that this illuminated calligraphy called "Opportunity" is now available as limited edition prints of a large size of 67x50cm and a half size of 50x37 cm.

These excellent quality reproductions are premium-quality giclée printed, on mould-made papers (the finest and oldest paper-making technique) of 310-315 g/m². The papers; Velin and Aquarelle 100% rag, are of museum conservation standard, ensures stability and UV colorfast ink longevity of more than 120 years.

Each image is carefully colour matched and in sharpness to the original artwork. The prints are hand signed and stamped with the artists’ personal ‘water tiger’ seal. 

Other prints available from the collection of Tashi's works with their current prices are listed on the link here.

Tuesday 18 January 2011


i-D is not just a fashion magazine, it addresses much more humanistic issues, such values: to open our eyes, beyond price, to learn and pass it on, family future positive, Soul and for inspiration: see Tashi Mannox, SOUL i-D edition 10. 

Tashi said "this is a wonderful magazine that has inspired me for many years. Now i-D finds inspiration in my work, how amazing! i would never have imagined the day, i feel humbled".

Tashi as a young monk dreaming the day he would make the cover of i-D