The Kāraṇḍavyūha Sūtra (Tibetan: 'phags pa za ma tog bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo; Chinese: 佛說大乘莊嚴寶王經, Taishō Tripiṭaka 1050) is a Mahayana sūtra which extols the virtues and powers of the great Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, and which is particularly notable for introducing the mantra Om mani padme hum into the sūtra tradition.
It is notable for its presentation of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara as 'the supreme Buddhist isvara (divine lord) or 'great cosmic purusa' (cosmic person/ being), whose effulgence is even greater than that of any other bodhisattva or Buddha.
'The sun and moon are said to be born from the bodhisattva's eyes, Mahesvara (Siva) from his brow, Brahma from his shoulders, Narayana Vishnu from his heart, Sarasvati from his teeth, the winds from his mouth, the earth from his feet and the sky from his stomach.'.
A. Studholme sees this famous mantra as being a declarative aspiration, possibly meaning 'I in the jewel-lotus', with the jewel-lotus being a reference to birth in the lotus made of jewels in the Buddhist Paradise of Buddha Amitabha Sukhavati.
'Om Manipadme Hum, then, is both the paramahrdaya, or 'innermost heart', of Avalokitesvara ... It is also ... a mahavidya, a mantra capable of bringing about the 'great knowledge of enlightenment itself ...'
'Avalokitesvara himself, the verse sutra adds, is an emanation of the Adibuddha, or 'primordial Buddha', a term that is explicitly said to be synoymous with Svayambhu and Adinatha, 'primordial lord'.'
According to a Tibetan legendary tradition, the text of Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra arrived in a casket from the sky unto the roof of the palace of the 28th king of Tibet, Lha Thothori Nyantsen who died in 650 C.E., in southern Tibet.
This coincides with one version of dating of the Kāraṇḍavyūhasūtra, somewhere in the 4th or perhaps early 5th century, however it seems more likely that the sutra has originated in Kashmir, due to closeness to characteristics to Kasmiri tantric traditions of the time and to Avataṁsakasūtra earlier associated with the Central Asian regions.