Gate Gate Para Gate Para Sam Gate Bodhi Swaha

Last Updated: May 20, 2020

Definition - What does Gate Gate Para Gate Para Sam Gate Bodhi Swaha mean?

Gate gate para gate para sam gate bodhi swaha (Sanskrit: गते गते पार गते पार संगते बोधि स्वाहा) is a Buddhist mantra that is found at the end of the Heart Sutra, often cited as the best-known Buddhist scripture and included in the Prajnaparamita (“Perfection of Wisdom”) section of the Mahayana Buddhist canon. It is also known as the Heart Calming Mantra.

There are a couple translations, but they share the same general focus. This mantra can be translated as “Gone, gone, gone to the other shore beyond. O what an awakening, all hail!”. A shorter, more concise translation is: “gone beyond the beyond to enlightenment”. Another perspective on this mantra is, “Gone, gone, gone all the way over, everyone gone to the other shore, enlightenment, hail!"


Gate gate para gate para sam gate bodhi swaha mantra written in English and Sanskrit inside a gold circle

Yogapedia explains Gate Gate Para Gate Para Sam Gate Bodhi Swaha

Each word in gate gate para gate para sam gate bodhi swaha has it's own significance. The breakdown of each word is as followed:

  • Gate means gone.
  • Paragate signifies gone to the further shore and is a stock Sanskrit expression used by Buddhists and Jains to refer to arahants. (The word para signifies the bank of a river opposite to the one on which one is presently standing.
  • Parasamgate signifies completely gone to the further shore. (The syllable sam means: altogether, thoroughly, or completely.)
  • The syllable bodhi is a feminine noun that signifies awakening, knowledge and enlightenment.
  • The syllable swaha is an indeclinable part from Vedic Sanskrit. It is said to be the name of the wife of Agni, the god of fire. This syllable is used at the end of a chanting that accompanies a burnt offering made at a Vedic sacrifice (rather as “amen” is used at the end of a prayer in Christian liturgy). This syllable cannot really be translated, since it is a performative word.

This prayer appears at the end of The Heart Sutra is a teaching by Chenrezig, who is also known as Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion.

This sutra is chanted frequently by followers of Buddhism at meetings and daily meditation practice. Although The Heart Sutra is very brief it contains fundamental concepts of Buddhist Philosophy. These include the four noble truths, the skandhas, the central concept of Mahayana Buddhism, Emptiness and the cycle of interdependence.

This particular mantra is powerful and poetic in its ushering in an experience of enlightenment and the encouragement to let it all go. Its repetitive nature is meditative and calming, and yet it is also deferential to the divine in oneself as seen in the final word, swaha. Swaha is traditionally said at the end of making an oblation to God(s). This mantra speaks to life’s impermanence and the acceptance of that truth.

This mantra can be meditated upon, chanted or sung. It is beautiful and contains its own rhythms. It is distinctly Buddhist in nature, but still holds true to being an authentic Sanskrit mantra.

When chanted correctly it should flow with ease and be rhythmical. The “a” is pronounced in an open fashion like the “a” in father. The “o” is pronounced like the “o” in the word open. The “dhi” in the word bodhi is pronounced with a little extra air to make the “d” aspirated.

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