Great Compassion Mantra
This mantra is believed to have been transmitted to an assembly of monks by the Bodhisattva, Avalokiteśvara. Avalokiteśvara asked for Gautama Buddha's permission to speak, and when granted, he narrated a story dating back billions of eons into the history of the cosmos. The story reads as follows:
AVALOKITESVARA: Billions of eons ago, a Buddha appeared in the world. This Buddha's compassion towards me - and all living beings - was so great that he spoke this expansive, immaculate, unhindered, Great Compassionate Dharani. With his golden hand, he rubbed my head and spoke.
AMITABHA: Virtuous man, hold this mantra so that you may grant benefit and joy to all living beings in the coming age of evil.
AVALOKITESVARA: Before I heard the mantra, I was at the first level of Bodhisattva and, upon hearing the mantra, I advanced beyond the eighth level of Bodhisattva. With a joyful heart, I vowed: 'If I were given one thousand hands and eyes right this instant, then I will work towards the benefit and happiness of all living beings.'
Immediately after I took this vow, my body sprouted one thousand hands and eyes, and the worlds in the ten directions shook in six different ways. Thousands of Buddhas from the ten directions shone their light upon my body and lit up an incalculable number of worlds.
Benefits of Reciting the Mantra
Avalokiteśvara reported a host of benefits for memorizing and chanting the Great Compassion Mantra. Among them are the following:
- Peaceful deaths
- Favorable rebirths
- The power to command ghosts
- The power to command demons
- Protection from harassment by ghosts, demons and Devas
- Being watched over by honorable and divine beings
Many more benefits are reported, and an exhaustive list can be found in the Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāraṇī Sutra.
Citation for this transliteration: Chandra, Lokesh (1988). The Thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara. Page 142. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. ISBN 81-7017-247-0.
nama āryāvalokiteśvarāya bodhisattvāya mahāsattvāya mahākāruṇikāya
oṃ sarva-bhayeṣu trāṇa-karāya tasmai namaskṛtvā imaṃ āryāvalokiteśvara-stavaṃ nīlakaṇṭha-nāma
hṛdayaṃ vartayiṣyāmi sarvārtha-sādhanaṃ śubhaṃ
ajeyaṃ sarva-bhutānāṃ bhava-mara-viśodhakaṃ
oṃ āloka e āloka-mati lokātikrānta ehy-ehi hare mahābodhisattva
smara smara hṛdayam
hi hi hare āryāvalokiteśvara maheśvara parama-maitra-citta mahākāruṇikā
dehi-dehi me varaṃ kamaṃ
dhuru-dhuru vijayate mahāvijayate
cala-cala malla vimal-āmala-mūṛtte
hulu hare padmanābha
sara-sara siri-siri suru-suru
buddhya-buddhya bodhaya-bodhaya maitriya nīlakaṇṭha
kāmasya darśanena prahlādaya manaḥ svāhā
namaḥ āryāvalokiteśvarāya svāhā