pronunciation of 6-syllable mantra

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pronunciation of 6-syllable mantra

Postby Buddhanataka » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:59 pm

Dear all friends

As for the six-syllable mantra of Avalokiteshvara, namely om mani padme hum my understanding of the correct pronunciation of the seed-syllables is thus

OM rhymes with "home"
HUM rhymes with "whom"

But often as not it is written as HUNG which suggests it is being pronounced as rhymes with "boo(i)ng"
But I'm sure the anusvara or freckle on the M (actually on the U) is only for grammatical purposes and is not pronounced, just as the anusvara-freckle on the M (actually the O) of OM is like that; so one says OM as in "home" not OM as in "o[w]ing", and likewise HUM as in "whom" rather than HUNG as is "hoo[ti]ing". Of course if the syllable in question occurs directly before a consonant as in the constructions OMKARA or HUMKARA (respectively, "the letter OM" and "the letter HUM") the nazalization of the thigle comes int effect, but in the case of the bijas or seed-syllables standing alone it is not thus.


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Re: pronunciation of 6-syllable mantra

Postby justsit » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:13 am

The True Sound of Truth
An old story .... A devoted meditator, after years concentrating on a particular mantra, had attained enough insight to begin teaching. The student's humility was far from perfect, but the teachers at the monastery were not worried.
A few years of successful teaching left the meditator with no thoughts about learning from anyone; but upon hearing about a famous hermit living nearby, the opportunity was too exciting to be passed up.
The hermit lived alone on an island at the middle of a lake, so the meditator hired a man with a boat to row across to the island. The meditator was very respectful of the old hermit. As they shared some tea made with herbs the meditator asked him about his spiritual practice. The old man said he had no spiritual practice, except for a mantra which he repeated all the time to himself. The meditator was pleased: the hermit was using the same mantra he used himself -- but when the hermit spoke the mantra aloud, the meditator was horrified!
"What's wrong?" asked the hermit.
"I don't know what to say. I'm afraid you've wasted your whole life! You are pronouncing the mantra incorrectly!"
"Oh, Dear! That is terrible. How should I say it?"
The meditator gave the correct pronunciation, and the old hermit was very grateful, asking to be left alone so he could get started right away. On the way back across the lake the meditator, now confirmed as an accomplished teacher, was pondering the sad fate of the hermit.
"It's so fortunate that I came along. At least he will have a little time to practice correctly before he dies." Just then, the meditator noticed that the boatman was looking quite shocked, and turned to see the hermit standing respectfully on the water, next to the boat.
"Excuse me, please. I hate to bother you, but I've forgotten the correct pronunciation again. Would you please repeat it for me?"
"You obviously don't need it," stammered the meditator; but the old man persisted in his polite request until the meditator relented and told him again the way he thought the mantra should be pronounced.
The old hermit was saying the mantra very carefully, slowly, over and over, as he walked across the surface of the water back to the island.

More about the mantra Here.


Re: pronunciation of 6-syllable mantra

Postby Buddhanataka » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:38 am

Thanks for the link and according to them it sounds like the HUM is even a short U, as in "hook" rather than a long U as is "whom". But in the Karandavyuha Sutra when it was originally pronounced, it is with a long U as in "whom":

mahāvidyopadeśo nāma pañcamaṁ prakaraṇam

mahāvidyopadeśo nāma pañcamaṁ prakaraṇam |

atha padmottamastathāgato'rhan samyaksaṁbuddho avalokiteśvarametadavocat–dadasva me kulaputra ṣaḍakṣarīṁ mahāvidyāṁ rājñīm, yenāhamanekasattvakoṭīniyutaśatasahasrāṇi duḥkhātparimocayeyam | yathā te kṣipraṁ cānuttarāṁ samyaksaṁbodhimabhisaṁbudhyante ||

athe avalokiteśvaro bodhisattvo mahāsattvaḥ padmottamasya tathāgatasyārhataḥ samyaksaṁbuddhasyemāṁ ṣaḍakṣarīṁ mahāvidyāmanuprayacchati–

|| * || + || 0 || + || om maṇipadme hūṁ || + || 0 || + || * ||

Source: ... 433731c406
And in your link as well it suggests the nazalization is effected so that we get HUM with a short U and a NG rather than an M sound. But in the Sutra where is was first spoken by Avalokiteshvara according to the extant manuscript it is said as "hūṁ" which gives a pronunciation that rhymes with "whom" or "zoom".
So I suppose it depends what tradition you follow, that of the Mahayana sutras where the mantra was originally pronounced, or that of other traditions where they have adopted their own preferred alternative pronunciation.

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Re: pronunciation of 6-syllable mantra

Postby muni » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:52 am ... re=related

:heart: For all those who suffered so hard. May all be in completely comfort. _/\_
Spending your time with true spiritual friends will fill you with love for all beings.

Sentient beings, self and others, enemies and dear ones-all are made by thoughts. It is like seeing a rope and mistaking it for a snake. We have been deluded by our thoughts. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

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