Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra
Om Manipadme Hum, perhaps the most well-known and most widely used of all Buddhist mantras, lies at the heart of the Tibetan system and is cherished by both laymen and lama alike. This book presents a new interpretation of the meaning of Om Manipadme Hum, and includes a detailed, annotated precis of Karandavyuha Sutra, opening up this important work to a wider audience. The earliest textual source is the Karandavyuha Sutra, which describes both the compassion of Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva whole power the mantra invokes, and the mythical tale of the search and discovery of the mantra. Through a detailed analysis of this sutra, Studholme explores the historical and doctrinal forces behind the appearance of Om Manipadme Hum in India at around the middle of the first millennium c.e. He argues that the Karandavyuha Sutra has close affinities to non-Buddhist puranic literature, and that the conception of Avalokitesvara and his six-syllable mantra is influenced by the conception of the Hindu deity Siva and his five-syllable mantra Namah Sivaya. The Karandavyuha Sutra reflects historical situation in which the Buddhist monastic establishment was coming into contact with Buddhist tantric practitioners, themselves influenced by Saivite practitioners.