Special Topics

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q2: Will mispronunciation of the mantras impact its meritorious effect?

A2: Mispronunciations when reciting the mantra will not affect its merits, as sincerity and faith in mantra recitation are more important than accuracy in pronunciation. Mantras were originally recited in Sanskrit, but with the spread of Buddhism across different regions, transliterated versions in Tibetan and Chinese appeared. Still, this neither changes the meaning nor affects the merits stemming the mantra itself.

There are some folk stories about mispronunciation when reciting the mantra. In ancient times, there lived an old lady who diligently recited the "Brilliant Mantra of Six Words (Om mani padme hum)" for many years. One day, a realized Buddhist master happened to pass by; from a distance he saw the house enveloped in a luminous glow, and thought that there must be a practitioner with great achievements inside. Upon entering, he saw an illiterate elderly lady reciting the mantra instead, and even mispronouncing the last word. With good intention, the master corrected her mistake—only to find that, as he left the house and looked back, the glow from within the house had vanished.

Incidentally, the old lady was filled with remorse after the master corrected her pronunciation, thinking that her mistake in pronunciation had negated all those years of practice. This in turn caused her to lose focus in her recitation and any spiritual response from it. When the master realized what had happened, he went back and told the old lady that he misremembered, and she should continue her recitations as before; that is, her pronunciation was not wrong. Before the master left, he looked back to see that the house was glowing once again. Hence, the core of mantra recitation lies in the sincerity of our heart and the focus of our mind.

When reciting the mantra, if we are wary of mispronunciations or omissions, we can always recite the "Dharani to Patch Flaws in Recitation" three times at the end of our practice, in order to better consummate our mantra recitations as well as avoid having any mental burdens in our mind.

Extended Reading:

Dharani Recitation Practice: Learning the Spiritual Codes of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Understanding the Structure of Dharanis

How to Choose Which Mantra to Recite?

The Methods of Reciting Mantras

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q1: What is the difference between chanting the Buddha's name and reciting the mantra?

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q2: Will mispronunciation of the mantras impact its meritorious effect?

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q3: Is the chanting of a mantra effective only when we know its meaning?

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q4: How can reciting mantras eliminate karmic obstacles and prevent disasters?

Q&A about Mantra Recitation: Q5: Can a wish be fulfilled by reciting a mantra?

Resource: Issue 356 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: Issue 356 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation

Translation: Jonathan (演森)
Editing: Cheng-yu Chang (張振郁), Keith Brown