Om Benza Satva Hum is the short form of the Vajrasattva Mantra.
Also known as the Prince of Purity, Vajrasattva is snow-white in color. His name can be translated into literal English as meaning “Embodying Reality/or Being.” In illustrations and statues depicting him, Vajrasattva is shown as a young healthy man who has all of the physical trappings of wealthy royalty. The Vajrasattva mantra is also known as the 100 Syllable Mantra. It is typically repeated 100,000 times with the goal of purifying the karma of the individual reciting it.
The Vajrasattva mantra or 100 syllable mantra is as follows.
Oṃ Vajrasattva Samayam
Dṛḍho Me Bhava
Sutoṣyo Me Bhava
Supoṣyo Me Bhava
Anurakto Me Bhava
Sarva Siddhiṃ Me Prayaccha
Sarva Karma Su Ca Me
Cittaṃ Sreyaḥ Kuru Hum
Ha Ha Ha Ha Hoḥ
Bhagavan Sarva Tathagatavajra
Ma Me Munca
Vajri Bhava Maha Samaya Sattva
Ah (Hum Phaṭ)
The basic version of this mantra ends with the Ah portion. However, the Hum is typically added when the mantra is being recited to benefit someone who has died, and the Phat is typically added to the mantra when it is being recited in order to subdue demons.
The literal translation for this mantra can be complex to convert into understandable English, but one of the translations for this mantra is often found to be the following.
O Vajrasattva honor the agreement
Reveal yourself as the vajra-being
Be steadfast for me
Be very pleased for me
Be wholly nourishing for me
Be passionate for me
Grant me all success
And in all actions make my mind more lucid
O Blessed One, vajra of all those in that state, don't abandon me
O being of the great contract be a vajra-bearer
The hundred syllable mantra can also be found in a shortened version that is a lot more frequently chanted.
Om Benza Satva Hum
Both versions of the Vajrasattva mantra are used in aid of the purification of the karma, but the longer version is typically the version most often used at funerals or other ceremonies that are in aid of the purification of the individual’s karma. It can often also be recited prior to undertaking a new pathway on the journey of enlightenment, again as a means of karma purification.
This mantra is entreating Vajrasattva to stand beside the individual as a spiritual friend and guide who will manifest in their meditations and in other areas of their lives. The mantra is imploring Vajrasattva to be both the means for a pathway and the pathway itself towards enlightenment for all sentient beings.
One aspect of the Vajrasattva mantra that often baffles those who are not yet familiar with it is the “Ha ha ha ha ho” group of syllables. However, it is believed that the recitation of these syllables is symbolic of the sound of joyful liberation; typically liberation from the negativities that are causing us to suffer. This group of five syllables is also thought to be representative of the five Buddha families; all of whom are emanations of Vajrasattva.
Whether chanted as a part of the purification rites at a ceremony, or to be used as means of purifying your own karma, this is a powerful mantra.