Seed Syllables

Seed syllables in Tibetan to not have any inherent meaning that can be put into words. Rather, they are auditory and visual symbols that call up a particular focus as a part of Tibetan Buddhist meditation. Seed symbols are ancient tantric symbols considered to contain the essence of a mantra and should be treated with meditative concentration, respect, and reverence. Many people will be familiar with the seed syllable “Om” that begins many mantras. The seed syllable “Kham” represents water and purification of washing away impurities.

Short History of the Tibetan Language

The early days of Tibet the culture was nomadic and had no written language, much like early Native Americans in what is now the United States. However, King Songtsen Gampo (617-99) realized the need for a written script in order to record and teach the Dharma that began to flourish in Tibet during his time. King Gampo sent 17 young men, including his minister Thonmi Sambhota, to India to study and master the five greater and five lesser arts and sciences at the great university of Nalanda. Only Sambhota returned to Tibet after mastering all of the arts and sciences, and the Sanskrit language of India. Sambhota and Gampo worked together to create a new Tibetan script for writing the Tibetan language. Sambhota then wrote an eight-volume work on the grammar of the Tibetan language.

 

Over the next 600 years Tibetan scholars translated the enormous canon of Buddhism from Sanskrit, Chinese, and other languages of the area. These translated works are so highly regarded that it is possible to recreate lost Sanskrit texts from Tibetan back to Sanskrit with incredible precision.  Likewise, a completely new Tibetan language was created in order to transmit the subtleties of Buddhist thought from what was a rather crude herdsman and warrior vocabulary.