The Kalachakra Tantra and Mantra

Published: 20th May 2009
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The Kalachakra Tantra and Mantra

The Kalachakra tantra has been held sacred and preserved in both India and Tibet for over 2500 years. The Kalachakra tantra helps purify the body and mind. Kalachakra literally means, Time wheel or Time Circle. Some sections of the Kalachakra tantra have been lost over time, but the beginning parts of this tantra still remain. The proper name for the Kalachakra tantra is the Kalachakra Laghuntantra.

The Kalachakra tantra is thought to be the most advanced form of Vajrayana Buddhism, and it is most prominent in the Jonang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The circles of time are associated with the rotations of the planets and moon cycles, breath cycles, and even the cycles of our bodies.

There are both inner and outer realms to the Kalachakra tantra. This idea of an inner realm and an outer realm is common in both Buddhism and Hinduism. The outer realm is also known as the gross realm. The inner realm is also known as the subtle realm. This consists of what is apparent on the surface. The inner realm consists of the interior workings of things, such as the relationship of internal energies and the chakras. The inner and outer realm of the Kalachakra tantra can be thought of like the relationship of body and mind and how these two correspond to one another.

There are five chapters in the Kalachakra tantra. The first two chapters deal with the outer realm and the last three deal with the inner realm. The first chapter is also known as the ground kalachakra, and it relates to the physical world. The second chapter refers to the inner world. The third chapter concerns the preparation for the meditation practices. The fourth chapter is about the meditation itself, and the fifth chapter describes the enlightenment available from the practices.

The Kalachakra tantra is most commonly taught to monks and other serious Buddhist practitioners after a period of initiation. This initiation period prepares the practitioner to practice the Kalachakra tantra is their quest for Buddhahood.

The Dalai Lamas are particularly concerned with the Kalachakra practice, including the current Dalai Lama. The 14th Dalai Lama's kalachkra initiations are given to tens of thousands of people at a time.

There is an often misunderstood difference between a tantra and a mantra. A tantra is a larger text that gives detailed guidelines for spiritual practice. On the other hand, a mantra is a combination of syllables which, when chanted, provide a line between the practitioner and the divine to whom they are chanting. Different mantras can call on different deities for various purposes.


The Kalachakra mantra consists of the syllables shown above. Om ah hum hoh are the first four syllables in this mantra, and they are the vajra syllables of the body, speech, mind, and wisdom, in that order. Meditation on the first four syllables alone can lead to purification of the mind and body in preparation for enlightenment.

In the condensed form of the mantra it is often shortened to (Om ham ksha ma la va ra ya) or (Ham ksha ma la va ra ya). These letters are often seen written on top of each other as in the kalachakra mantra symbol. These seven symbols, along with the moon, the sun, and a flame make up the ten-fold powerful symbol, which is one of the most well-known Buddhist symbols.

To purchase jewelry with the Kalachakra mantra symbol, please check us out at Om Tibetan Jewelry.

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