大悲咒 (Great Compassionate Mantra).
This is one of the most popular mantras among present-day Buddhists. It is not to be confused with the longer mantra that is also often referred to as 大悲咒, and in English is often simply called “The Great Dharani”. That longer mantra is also known as “The Nilakantha Dharani”, but the shorter mantra (the one that is the subject of this post) is also often called the Nilakantha Dharani. Scroll down below the video for more on the longer version of the mantra.
Taken one at a time, the three characters of the mantra’s title are 大 (dà = “great”), 悲 (bēi = “compassion”), and 咒 (zhòu = “mantra”). See the comments of the video below for the full transliteration of the mantra, and enjoy the video! (In Vietnamese the mantra is called CHÚ ĐẠI BI. The video is by Tinna Tinh, who was born in Prague – her mother is Czech and her rather is Vietnamese. She now lives in Ho Chi Minh City.
The above video is of the shorter “Great Compassionate Mantra”. The longer version, aka the “Nilakantha Dharani” or just the “Great Dharani”, is also very popular throughout East Asia. The prominent Sanskrit scholar Lokesh Chandra has even written a whole book on the subject (and there is even a cassette recording available with different versions of the Dharani as it is chanted in different parts of East Asia). Here is a link to that book: The Thousand-armed Avalokiteśvara. And here is an excerpt from the blurb for that book:
“A Fundamental Work Based On Original Sanskrit, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, The Lost Iranian Language Sogdian And Tibetan Works-On The Origin Of Avalokitesvara. It Indentifies The Several Prevalent Folk-Deities Which Were Assimilated Into The Iconographical Form. The Worship Of Avalokitesvara Was Accompanied By A Dharani (Recited Hymn). This Work Describes Five Versions Of the Dharani ….”
And here is another, somewhat funkier, version:
And here is a link to another video, which is a recording of a group of people sitting in my living room in Rockville Maryland chanting the longer “Nilakantha Dharani” (specifically the version that is recited by Korean Buddhists):
Here is a the mp3 file for the above version: