Mantra Garland of Avalokiteshvara card, image painted by Andy Weber, measuring 10.5cm x 15cm
According to legend, the most famous patron deity of Tibet, Avalokitesvara (literal translation: the one with the unwavering eye), took a vow in front of Amitabha Buddha never to give up work to liberate all sentient beings from samsara. After aeons, he looked at his achievement and felt disillusioned with his efforts. His body split into 1000 pieces. In his agony, he cried out to Amitabha who sculpted his head into 9 heads symbolizing the 9 paths in Buddhist practice and placed himself and Vajrapani (aspect of skilful means) on top.
Through meditation on Avalokitesvara and the recitation of his mantra, OM MANI PADME HUM, devotees increase their compassion towards themselves and all living beings. Each syllable indicates one of the six realms in samsara. The white OM refers to the gods realm, the green MA to the demigods, the yellow NI to the humans, the blue PAD to the animals, the red ME to the spirits and the black HUM to the hell realms. The centre seed syllable HRI represents the most subtle mind of Avalokitesvara, the mind of endless compassion.
The recitation of the mantra grants protection from rebirth in the lower realms and increases the awareness that the outer six realms are just a reflection of one´s mind and the result of past karma.