November 14, 2007

Mani, Prayer Wheels of Ladakh

The Buddhist place their Prayer Wheels (called Mani) in monastries, temples, libraries and sometimes in public places and turn them at every opportunity to invoke the blessings of compassion, protection, harmony, prevent natural diseases and promote peace in the world.

The prayer wheel is of a hollow metal cylinder, often beautifully embossed, mounted on a rod handle and containing a tightly wound scroll printed with a mantra. Attached to the cylinder is a lead weight with a chain, which facilitates the rotation. The Buddhist prayers (
mantras) are printed or etched on the cylinder.

Prayer Wheel of Diskit Gompa, Nubra Valley, Ladakh

The prayer wheel combines a mantra, "Ohm Mani Pradme" [Om the Jewel in the Lotus Hum] numbering six syllables in the mantra of Avalokitesvara with a movement. The syllables are carved outside the wheel as well as kept inside the wheel printed in the paper in numerous numbers.

The correct way of meditative movement (mudra) is attained by spinning the wheel clockwise (click picture below) with a certain wrist movement. Inside the prayer wheel is a scroll with the mantra
Ohm Mani Pradme repeated 50 times.

Prayer Wheels of Thiksey Monastery, Leh, Ladakh

According to myth, spinning the wheel by one revolution will evoke 50 blessing. One can easily attain 1000 blessing per minute by appropriate spinning of the wheel. It is interesting to watch the little children moving the Manis with the correct wrist movement and the right amount of force.

There are also hand held prayer wheels, called Chokhor in certain places, which are normally hollow wooden or metal cylinder attached to a handle.

Prayer wheels vary in size and type. In Ladakh, it is common for bucket-sized prayer wheels to be lined up on wooden racks along walking paths circling monasteries and other sacred sites, for the benefit of visiting pilgrims.

The Buddhist believe that the prayer wheel is also useful for illiterate members of their lay community, since they believe they can "read" the prayers by turning the wheel.


Priyank said...

Nice, isn't it? The way common man (and not just the preist) is involved in the religion?

San said...

Putting one's prayers in motion, how lovely. Thank you for the beautiful images.

Came over from Chewy's place. You saw the little man watching over the birch log, same as I did. That made me darn curious.

Come over to visit someday.

imac said...

nice photos and lovely thoughts.

Keshi said...

fascinating prayer wheel wow!


AJEYA RAO said...

I once went to a tibetan settlement near Madikeri, Karnataka. Its really nioce to notice that the place where they go seems to be very bright, colorful and beautiful. I bought a small prayer wheel too.

Ananda Niyogi said...

Very nice photos and an informative post Celine! I love the Buddhist art on display in the monasteries, especially the thangkas and the wall paintings

indicaspecies said...

Yes, but isn’t it the case with all religions? Unless you are referring to the instances of mandatory participation of priests, pandits, pujaris and the like to complete certain complicated rituals.

indicaspecies said...

Hi, and welcome. I am glad that you also could see what I did at Chewy’s. So I can safely say now that am not hallucinating..haha.

Am delighted that you liked the pictures. Am coming over to you right away. :)

indicaspecies said...

Thank you very much. :)

indicaspecies said...

I’m glad you found it fascinating. :)

indicaspecies said...

Do you mean the one at Bylakuppe near Madikere (Coorg)? If so, I’ve been there about 2 years back and it’s an interesting place. It’s like a little Tibet in Karnataka, isn’t it? I found their prayer hall particularly peaceful. Still recall their well-maintained sprawling gardens.

indicaspecies said...

Thank you. :)

Art, and especially visual arts, is an important aspect of Buddhism. In fact, in history there’s a reference that it might have even influenced the development of Hindu art. And yes, their thangkas are truly beautiful and I particularly love those with geometric shapes on silk.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the informative description of the prayer wheels.

indicaspecies said...

You are always welcome Darlene. :)

Michele Benjamin said...

I love your blog Celine.
I chant Ohm Mani Pradme on the way to work sometimes.
This prayer wheel is very interesting.
I never heard of this!!!
YOu have some awesome photos!!!!

indicaspecies said...


Now I know the secret of your peaceful countenance.

Thank you for being here and I am pleased that you like my pictures.

backpakker said...

simple and yet spiritual ..I didnt know about the myth. I love prayer wheels husband got me a small one from ladakh..

Pijush said...

Rare capture Celine. Wonderfully depicted narration and liked the shots. Take care

indicaspecies said...

That's sweet of him, isn't it?

indicaspecies said...

Thank you very much.

Sigma said...

nice post and pictures, and of couse the information. I love going to monasteries - they have such a serene atmosphere, and are very beautifully painted.

indicaspecies said...

Thank you.
I love going to monasteries as well and feel similarly while there. :)

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful detailed information about his beautiful object...I somehow have fascination for the Buddhism religion as also the prayer wheel & whenever I come acroos one, I do make it a point rotating them....Nice reading & lovely photos too!

indicaspecies said...

I'm fascinated as well and I've always found the atmosphere around Gompas serene. Thank you for the kind words. :)