This text contains a heterogeneous collection of ‘treasure’ works (gter ma), largely relating to the deity of Great Compassion (Mahākaruṇā). The mantra associated with the deity is known as the Ma ṇi mantra, hence the title of the collection. The historical sections include biographical material on the emperor Songtsen Gampo (Srong brtsan sgam po), who is said to be an emanation of the deity Tukjé Chenpo (Thugs rje chen po, known also as Chenrezig, sPyan ras gzigs).
The miscellany of texts included in the several manuscript and published versions of the collection vary. Traditionally, the author is said to be Songtsen Gampo himself, whose writings where rediscovered as treasure texts in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Current scholarship suggests that the primary authors of the rediscovered texts were Druptob Ngodrup (Grub thob dngos grub) in the twelfth century, Nyangrel Nyima Ozer (Nyang ral nyi ma ’od zer) (1136–1204), and Jetsun Shakya Zangpo (rJe btsun shakya bzang po) in the thirteenth century.
The sections of interest regarding Tibetan law are largely contained in volume 1, part A, sections 2 and 3, which contain different (but similar) accounts of the life of Songtsen Gampo.