The Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāraṇī or Great Compassion Mantra (or dharani) of Avalokitesvara is known all around the world. It is popular in Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, English and several other language versions.
A dhāraṇī is generally understood as a mnemonic device which puts in a nutshell the meaning of a particular teaching or chapter of a sutra. This dharani does not translate well into the English language because the Sanskrit words were chosen not only for meaning but also for rhyme, rhythm and mitre. Translation does not do it justice. Some non-Sanskrit-speaking Wayists learn the meaning of the adoration in their own language, but partake in the Sanskrit version.
This mantra / dharani cites 84 of the manifestations that Avalokitesvara will take to help people along the Way. The sutra that this dharani points to, narrates a discourse between Buddhas and the Lord Avalokitesvara wherein one learn that Avalokitesvara brings salvation from all sins, even those that were previously considered to be venial sins (unforgivable sins that lead to death of the soul). Therefore, not only does the World Savior Avalokitesvara appear to us in the form of any of the gods, or in any other form that is most acceptable to us at the time, He also ushers in an era (or teaching) that all sins can be forgiven as there are no unforgivable consequences for sins—we can be forgiven and get opportunities to work through those karmic lessons to one day gain release from the cycle of rebirth. This is the Great Compassion ushered in by Avalokitesvara.
Wayists familiar with the so-called “Our Father”, a Christian prayer, will note a similar message. Basically, after the adorations, first to the Almighty then to Avalokitesvara in his many manifestations, the devotee pleads with the deity to come down from heaven, come out of the statue on our altar to work in our soul, and transform our lives.
Imee Ooi performs a solemn version
Nilakantha Dharani (Great Compassion Mantra) @ Imee Ooi__
To learn the Sanskrit chant, this is well suited for it:
Namo Ratna Trayaya
Nama Arya Jyana
Byuhara Jaya Tathagataya
Arahate Samyaksam Buddhaya
Namah Sarwa Tathagate Bhyayh Arahatda Bhayh
Samyaksam Buddhe Bhayh
Namah Arya Awalokite
Tatyata Om Dhara Dhara
Iti Wit Je Chalee Chalee
Kusume Kusama Wa Re
Ili Mili Chiti
Jwala Mapanaya Shoha
Namo Ratna Trayaya.
Namah Arya Avalokitesvaraya
Bodhisattvaya Mahasattvaya Mahakarunikaya
Sarva Bandhana Chedana Karaya .
Sarva Bhava Samudram Sosana Karana.
Sarva Vyadhi Prasamana Karaya.
Sarva Mrtyu Upa-Drava Viansana Karana .
Sarva Bhaye Su Trana Karaya.
Tasmat Namas – Krtva Idam
Arya Avalokitesvara Bhastinam Nilakantha
Pi Nama Hrdayam Avarta Isyami
Sarvartha-sadhanam Subham Ajeyam
Sarva Bhutanam Bhava Marga Visuddhakam
Tadyatha, Om Aloke Aloka-mati Lokati Krante.
He Hare Arya Avalokitesvara
Maha bodhisattva , He Boddhisattva , He
Maha bodhisattva , He Virya Bodhisattva
He Mahakarunika Smara Hradayam.
Hi Hi , Hare Arya Avalokitesvara Mahesvara Parama
Kuru Kuru Karman
Sadhaya Sadhaya Vidyam.
Ni Hi , Ni Hi Varnam Kamam-Game .
Siddha Yogesvara .
Dhuru Dhuru Viryanti, Maha Viryanti .
Dhara Dhara Dharendresvara.
Cala Cala Vimala Amala Murte
Arya Avalokitesvara Jina Krsna Jata-Makuta
Valam Ma Pra-Lamba Maha Siddha
Vidya dhara.Vara Vara Maha Vara .
Bala Bala Maha Bala.
Cala Cala Maha Cala
Krsna-Varna Nigha Krsna – Paksa Nirghatana.
He Padma-Hasta Cara Cara Desa
Caresvara Krsna –Sarpa Krta Yajnopavita
Ehyehi Maha Varaha-Mukha,Tripura-Dahanesvara" class="wiki wikinew text-danger tips">Varaha-Mukha,Tripura-Dahanesvara
Narayana Va Rupa Vara Marga Ari .
He Nilakantha , He Mahakara ,
Hala hala Visa Nir-jita Lokasya.
Raga Visa Vinasana.
Dvesa Visa Vinasana.
Moha Visa Vinasana
Huru Huru Mala, Huru Huru Hare, Maha Padmanabha
Sara Sara , Sri Sri , Suru Suru ,
Bhu ruc Bhu ruc
Buddhiya Buddhiya , Boddhaya Boddhaya
Maitri Nilakantha Ehyehi Vama
Shitha Simha-Mukha Hasa Hasa,
Munca Munca Mahattahasam Ehiyehi Pa
Maha Siddha Yogesvara
Bhana Bhana Vaco
Sadhaya Sadhaya Vidyam.
Smara Smaratam Bhagavantam Lokita
Vilokitam Lokesvaram Tathagatam Dadahi
Me Drasana Kamasya Darsanam
Pra-Hiadaya Mana Svaha.
Maha Siddhaya Svaha
Siddha Yogesvaraya Svaha
Maha-dara Simha-Mukhaya Svaha
Siddha Vidyadharaya Svaha
Krsna-Sarpa Krta Yajnopavitaya Svaha
Maha Lakutadaharaya Svaha
Sankha-Sabdani Bodhanaya Svaha
Vama Skandhadesa Shitha Krsnajinaya Svaha
Vyaghra-Carma Nivasanaya Svaha
Sarva Siddhesvaraya Svaha
Namo Bhagavate Arya Avalokitesvaraya Bodhisattvaya
Maha Sattvaya Mahakarunikaya
Sidhyanthu Me Mantra-Padaya Svaha
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I quickly know all Dharmas;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I soon obtain the Wisdom Eye;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I quickly ferry all living beings (to the
shore of liberation);
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I soon obtain virtuous skillful means (to enlighten various living beings);
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I quickly board the Prajna (wisdom) Boat;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I soon transcend the ocean of suffering;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I quickly achieve precepts, Samadhi and the Way;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I soon ascend the mountain of Nirvana;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I quickly dwell in the house of non-action;
Namo great compassionate Avalokitesvara, May I soon unite with the Dharma-Nature Body.
If I go towards the mountain of knives, the mountain of knives of itself breaks up;
If I go towards the boiling oil, the boiling oil of itself dries up;
If I go towards the hells, the hells of themselves disappear;
If I go towards the hungry ghosts, the hungry ghosts of themselves become full.
If I go towards the demons, their evil thoughts of themselves are tamed.
If I go towards the animals, they themselves attain great wisdom.
General Translation of the Great Compassion Mantra
Adoration to the Almighty One.
Adoration to the noble Avalokitesvara, bodhisattva, the Great Compassionate One.
I continually adore the One who Dispels all Fears,
O noble Avalokitesvara, to You adoration, O Nilakantha.
I shall clearly sing the ‘heart’ dharani for the sake of all beings, for it is pure and serves all purposes for all beings, as it purifies the path of soul existence.
Therefore, Lord of Radiance, World-Transcending One.
Come, come, great bodhisattva, descend, descend. Bear in mind my heart-dharani.
Do, do the work in our souls.
Hold fast, oh Victor, oh Great Victorious One.
Hold on, hold on, oh Lord of the Dharani.
Move, move oh my immaculate image, come, come.
Destroy every poison.
Quick, bear in mind, quick, quick, descend, descend.
Enlightened being, O enlightened being, enlighten me, enlighten me. Oh merciful
My Lord, appear unto me. To You who sees our all, amen. To the Great Lord, amen. To the Great Lord in Yoga, amen. To my Lord, amen. To the Varaha*, amen.
Adoration to the Triple Gem. Adoration to the noble Avalokitesvara bodhisattva, amen.
In the Vishnu Purana, Varaha represents yajna (sacrifice), as the eternal upholder of the earth. His feet represent the Vedas (scriptures). His tusks represent sacrificial stakes. His teeth are offerings. His mouth is the altar with tongue of sacrificial fire. The hair on his head denotes the sacrificial grass. The eyes represent the day and the night. The head represents the seat of the Brahmin (priest). The mane represents the hymns of the Vedas. His nostrils are for oblation. His joints represent the various ceremonies. The ears are said to indicate rites (voluntary and obligatory). Thus, Varaha is the ultimate sacrifice which removes from us any further requirements to make sacrifices—signalling the end of sacrificial religion. Varaha symbolizes the resurrection of the earth from a pralaya (dissolution of the universe) and the establishment of a new kalpa (aeon or era). Symbolism also signifies evolution from in this era. It could also represent the rescue of earth from “false cults”.