The Tibetan prayer wheel has been around for centuries. The earliest written record dates to 400 A.D. in Ladakh by a Chinese pilgrim. The lineage can be traced to the Indian master Arya Nagarjuna but was also taught by Indian Buddhist masters.
The prayer wheel comes in many different sizes from hand-held to the enormous size of up to twelve feet tall and a diameter of up to six feet wide. The most common prayer wheel is the hand-held or Mani wheel.
The Mani wheel is a hollow metal cylinder that is mounted on a rod. It is often embossed with the mantra (OM MANI PADME HUM). Inside the cylinder is tightly scrolled paper with the mantra printed on it. The Tibetan mantra means “Praise to the jewel in the Lotus.” It is attributed to the mythological figure of Bodhisattva who appears in the Lotus Sutra.
There are also larger versions that are often near pathways to monasteries or other sacred sites. They are placed there for those walking by to rotate while silently or vocally repeating the mantra. They are also placed in areas near water, fire, or wind so that the elements can spin it as well.
There are rules to abide by when using the prayer wheel during worship. The prayer wheel must always be rotated in a clockwise direction. This is done so that the mantra can be read, and it follows the direction of the sun. One must be in full concentration of the body, mind, and speech.
By repeating the mantra as the prayer wheel spins, it is believed that one will attract the dynamic attention and blessings of the Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion. The more repetitions of the mantra, the more benefits one will receive.
The benefits one can receive is plentiful. It is believed that those who rotate the prayer wheel repetitiously will be aided by the Dakinis, Deities and Dharma protectors.
The prayer wheel is considered precious due to the power that it will grant everything a worshipper request. Its power is compared to one hundred monks praying for their whole life.
The prayer wheel would give the power of a rapid blessing and give the freedom from anti-Buddhists, demons, vow-breakers, untimely deaths, and guard one against all negativities. Any person who turns the prayer wheel shall never again be born with any anomalies or disorders in their life.
It does not matter what time the prayer wheel may be rotated. It can be spun during a worshipper’s daily meditation, during a spiritual practice, or while reciting the mantra. It may also be spun while watching tv, reading a book, listening to music or any other part of one’s daily life. However, it is never to be used during a Lama delivering a speech or while he is teaching.
If you are interested in learning more or wish to purchase a Tibetan Prayer Wheel of your own, you can find it at Navadurga Handicraft & Singing Bowl House in Alameda, California. You can also purchase it at their online store www.navadurgasingingbowl.com and have your purchases delivered directly to your door.