The Origins of Om Manipadme Hum: A Study of the Karandavyuha Sutra

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State University of New York Press, 2002 - Religion - 222 pages
Om| Man|ipadme Huμm|, perhaps the most well-known of all Buddhist mantras, lies at the heart of the Tibetan system and is cherished by both layman and lama alike. This book documents the origins of the mantra, presents a new interpretation of its meaning, and includes a detailed, annotated précis of the Kaμran|d|avyuμha Suμtra, opening up this important Mahaμyaμna Buddhist work to a wider audience.

The Kaμran|d|avyuμha—the earliest textual source for Om| Man|ipadme Huμm|—describes both the compassionate activity of AvalokitesŒvara, the bodhisattva whose power the mantra invokes, and the mythical tale of the search for and discovery of the mantra. Through a detailed analysis of this suμtra, Studholme explores the historical and doctrinal forces behind the appearance of Om| Man|ipadme Huμm| in India at around the middle of the first millennium C.E. He argues that the Kaμran|d|avyuμha has close affinities to non-Buddhist puraμn|ic literature, and that the conception of AvalokitesŒvara and his six-syllable mantra is informed by the conception of the Hindu deity Sĺiva and his five-syllable mantra Namah| Sĺivaμya. The suμtra reflects an historical situation in which the Buddhist monastic establishment was coming into contact with Buddhist tantric practitioners, themselves influenced by Sĺaivite practitioners.

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About the author (2002)

Alexander Studholme received a Ph.D. from the Centre for Buddhist Studies, Bristol University, England.

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