A Mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words or vibrations that is considered capable of "creating transformation" Their use and type varies according to the school and philosophy associated with the mantra.
Mantras originated in the of India, later becoming an essential part of the tradition and a customary practice. The use of mantras is now widespread throughout various spiritual movements which are based on, or off-shoots of, the practices in the earlier Eastern traditions and religions.
For the authors of the Hindu scriptures of the, the syllable Aum, itself constituting a mantra, represents, the, as well as the whole of creation. Hindu scriptures including Vedas, Upnishidas suggests that all sounds are the voice of the — i.e. as in Hindu Upanishadic and Yogic thought, these sounds are manifestations of ultimate reality, in the sense of postulating that the vocal sounds of the mantra have inherent meaning independent of the understanding of the person uttering them.
Nevertheless, such understanding of what a mantra may symbolize or how it may function differs throughout the various traditions and also depends on the context in which it is written or sounded. In some instances there are multiple layers of symbolism associated with each sound, many of which are specific to particular schools of thought. For an example of such see the syllable: Aum which is central to both Hindu and Buddhist traditions.
While Hindu eventually came to see the letters as well as the sounds as representatives of the divine, the shift toward writing occurred when Buddhism traveled to China. Although China lacked a unifying, ecclesiastic language like, China achieved its cultural unity through a written language with that were flexible in pronunciation but more precise in meaning. The Chinese prized written language much more highly than did the Indian Buddhist missionaries, and the writing of mantras became a spiritual practice in its own right. So that whereas Brahmins had been very strict on correct pronunciation, the Chinese, and indeed other Far-Eastern Buddhists were less concerned with this than correctly writing something down. The practice of writing mantras, and copying texts as a spiritual practice, became very refined in Japan, and the writing in the script in which the Sanskrit of many Buddhist Sutras were written is only really seen in Japan nowadays. However, written mantra-repetition in Hindu practices, with Sanskrit in any number of scripts, is well-known to many sects in India as well.
Mantras, the Sanskrit syllables inscribed on Yantras, are essentially 'thought forms' representing divinities or cosmic powers, which exert their influence by means of sound-vibrations.
The Sanskrit word consists of the root man- "to think" "mind") and the suffix -tra, designating tools or instruments, hence a literal translation would be "instrument of thought".
An *mantra is also preserved in manthra, effectively meaning "word" but with far-reaching implications: Manthr’s are inherently "true" and the proper recitation of them brings about (realizes) what is inherently true in them. It may then be said thatmanthras are both an expression of being and "right working" and the recitation of them is crucial to the maintenance of order and being.
Mantra in Hinduism
Mantras were originally conceived in the Vedas. Most mantras follow the written pattern of two lines although they are often found in single line or even single word form.
The most basic mantra is Aum, which in Hinduism is known as the "pranava mantra," the source of all mantras. The behind this is the idea of nama-rupa (name-form), which supposes that all things, ideas or entities in existence, within the phenomenological cosmos, have name and form of some sort. The most basic name and form is the primordial vibration of Aum, as it is the first manifested nama-rupa of Brahman, the unmanifest reality/unreality. Essentially, before existence and beyond existence is only One reality, Brahma, and the first manifestation of Brahma in existence is Aum. For this reason, Aum is considered to be the most fundamental and powerful mantra, and thus is prefixed and suffixed to all Hindu . While some mantras may invoke individual Gods or principles, the most fundamental mantras, like 'Aum,' the 'Shanti Mantra,' the Mantra' and others all ultimately focus on the One reality.
In the Hindu tantra the universe is sound. The supreme (para) brings forth existence through the Word (Shabda). Creation consists of vibrations at various frequencies and amplitudes giving rise to the phenomena of the world. The purest vibrations are the var.na, the imperishable letters which are revealed to us, imperfectly as the audible sounds and visible forms.
Var.nas are the atoms of sound. A complex symbolic association was built up between letters and the elements, gods, signs of the parts of the body – letters became rich in these associations. For example in the Aitrareya-aranya-Upanishad we find:
The mute consonants represent the earth, the sibilants the sky, the vowels heaven. The mute consonants represent fire, the sibilants air, the vowels the sun? The mute consonants represent the eye, the sibilants the ear, the vowels the mind.
In effect each letter became a mantra and the language of the Vedas, Sanskrit, corresponds profoundly to the nature of things. Thus the Vedas come to represent reality itself. The seed syllable Aum represents the underlying unity of reality, which is Brahman.
There are several forms of Mantra:
Repetition of God's name in songs.
A way of communing with God.
Guru mantra: the first initiation given by the to the disciple.
Mantra: a bija mantra represents the essence of a mantra (e.g. Om).
Mantra japa was a concept of the Vedic sages that incorporates mantras as one of the main forms of , or worship, whose ultimate end is seen as /liberation. Essentially, mantra japa means repetition of mantra and it has become an established practice of all Hindu streams, from the various Yoga to Tantra. It involves repetition of a mantra over and over again, usually in cycles of auspicious numbers (in multiples of three), the most popular being . For this reason, Hindu, developed, containing 108 beads and a head bead (sometimes referred to as the. The devotee performing japa using his/her fingers counts each bead as he/she repeats the chosen mantra. Having reached 108 repetitions, if he/she wishes to continue another cycle of mantras, the devotee must turn the mala around without crossing the head bead and repeat.
To attain single-pointedness of mind, repetition of mantra's can be done in the following ways:
Mantra Yoga (chanting)
Vaikhari Japa (speaking)
Upamsu Japa (whispering or humming)
Manasika Japa (mental repetition)
Likhita Japa (writing)
It is said that through japa the devotee attains one-pointedness, or extreme focus, on the chosen deity or principal idea of the mantra. The vibrations and sounds of the mantra are considered extremely important, and thus reverberations of the sound are supposed to awaken the or spiritual life force and even stimulate according to many Hindu schools of thought. Any shloka from holy Hindu texts like the Vedas, even the or are considered powerful enough to be repeated to great effect, and have therefore the status of mantra.
Some very common mantras, called Nama japa, are formed by taking a deity's name and saluting it thus: "Aum Namah (name of deity)" (meaning "I honor/salute...") or "Aum Jai (name of deity)" (meaning "Hail..."). There are several other such permutations, including:
Aum Namo Bhagavate Rudraya Namah (Aum and salutations to Lord Shiva)
Aum Namo or Aum Namo Bhagavate Vasudevăya (Aum and salutations to God Vishnu)
Aum Shri Ganeshaya Namah (Aum and salutations to Shri Aum Kalikayai Namah)
Aum Sri Maha Kalikayai Namah (the basic mantra above is strengthened with the words Sri [an expression of great respect] andMaha [great]. It has been said that this mantra is rarely given to anyone because it is so intense.) Aum Hrim Chandikăyai Namah (Aum and salutations to.Aum Radha Krishnaya Namaha (a mantra to, said to promote love in a relationship)
Aum Namo Venkateshaya (Aum and salutations to Lord Venkat
Repeating an entire mantric text, such as the , in its entirety is The use of Mantras is described in various texts which constitute Mantra Shastra (shastra, sastra: law-book, rule or treatise.
Some of the major books which are used as reference for Mantra Shastra are:
Parasurama Kalpa Sutra
Some Hindu and Jain mantras
Gayatri Mantra Is considered one of the most universal of all Hindu mantras, invoking the universal Brahman as the principle of knowledge and the illumination of the primordial Sun.
Aum Bhur Bhuva Svaha
(Aum) Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dhiyo Yo Nahah Prachodayat, (Aum)[Lead me from ignorance to truth]
Asato ma sad gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
M?tyorma am?tam gamaya
Aum santi santi santi [From ignorance, lead me to truth;
From darkness, lead me to light;
From death, lead me to immortality]
The is the supreme Jain mantra and the fundamental in Jainism which can be recited at any time of the day. While praying by reciting this mantra, the devotee bows with respect to Arihantas, Siddhas, spiritual leaders (Acharyas), teachers (Upadyayas) and all the monks. This worships the virtues of all the supreme spiritual people instead of just worshipping one particular person. It is important to note that the Navkar Mantra does not mention the names of even Tirthankaras and Siddhas. At the time of recitation, a Jain devotee remembers their virtues and tries to emulate them. In this mantra Jains bow down to these supreme spiritual personalities, and therefore, it is also called Namokar Mantra.
Aum. Aum. Aum.
Sahana vavatu sahanou bhunaktu
Mavid visha vahai hi
Aum Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthihi
Let the Studies that we together undertake be effulgent;
Let there be no Animosity amongst us;
OM. Peace, Peace, Peace.
(Recited before the commencement of one's education)
Sarvesam Svastir Bhavatu
Sarvesam Santir Bhavatu
Sarvesam Poornam Bhavatu
Sarvesam Mangalam Bhavatu
May good befall all,
May there be peace for all
May all be fit for perfection,
May all experience that which is auspicious.
Sarve bhavantu sukhina
Sarve santu niramaya
Sarve bhadra?i pasyantu
Ma kascit du?kha bhagbhavet
Om, May all be happy. May all be healthy.
Maywe all experience what is good and let no one suffer.
Hari om tatsat Jai Gurudatt
This is a mantra of Bhagvan . Chanting or Japa of this mantra leds sadhaks to Meditation without doing any yogic process. This technique is known as ' Spontaneous Meditation', which can give experience of mental peace and happiness, and spiritual development to sadhaks.
Om Namo Narayanaya
Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
Om Sri Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijana Vallabhaya Namaha
Neo-Hindu new religious movements
The technique, also known as 'TM', uses mantras that are assigned to the practitioner to be used as sound only, without connection to any meaning or idea.
The spiritual exercises of include (repetition, particularly silent repetition of a mantra given at initiation), dhyan (concentration, viewing, or contemplation, particularly on the Inner Master), and (listening to the inner sounds of the Shabda or the Shabda Master).
Repetition of a "mantram" (e.g., mantra) or holy name is Point 2 in the eight-point program taught by , who recommended using a mantram drawn from a faith tradition, east or west. The mantra is to be used frequently throughout the day, at opportune moments. This method of mantra repetition, and the larger program, was developed for use in any major faith tradition, or outside all traditions. Easwaran's method of mantra repetition has been the subject of scientific research at the , which has suggested health benefits that include managing stress.
Mantra in non-esoteric Buddhism
In Buddhism in China and Vietnam, ten small mantras were finalized by the monk a teacher of for monks, nuns, and laity to chant in the morning.
Along with the ten mantras, the , of the
The word dharani derives from a Sanskrit root dh.r which means to hold or maintain suggests that it is generally understood as a which encapsulates the meaning of a section or chapter of a . Dharanis are also considered to protect the one who chants them from malign influences and calamities.
The term mantra is traditionally said to be derived from two roots: man, to and the action-oriented suffix -tra. Thus a mantra can be considered to be device for deepening ones thought, or in the Buddhist context for developing the However, it is also true that mantras have been used as for very mundane purposes such as attaining and long life, and eliminating enemies. In daily living, many thought the pronunciation of the mantra was not important to take its effect and the expected effect may not happen because of fixed karma (??), or because there appears a better way to solve the situation.
The distinction between dharani and mantra is difficult to make. We can say that all mantras are dharanis but that not all dharanis are mantras. Mantras do tend to be shorter. Both tend to contain a number of unintelligible fragments such as Om, or Hu.m, which is perhaps why some people consider them to be essentially meaningless. Kukai made mantra a special class of dharani which showed that every of a dharani was a manifestation of the true nature of – in Buddhist terms that all sound is a manifestation of or emptiness of self-nature. Thus rather than being devoid of meaning, Kukai suggests that dharanis are in fact saturated with meaning – every syllable is symbolic on multiple levels.
One of Kukai's distinctive contributions was to take this symbolic association even further by saying that there is no essential difference between the syllables of mantras and , and those of ordinary language. If one understood the workings of mantra, then any sounds could be a representative of ultimate reality. This emphasis on sounds was one of the drivers for Kukai's championing of the phonetic writing system, the , which was adopted in Japan around the time of Kukai. He is generally credited with the invention of the kana, but there is apparently some doubt about this story amongst .
This mantra-based theory of language had a powerful effect on Japanese thought and society which up until Kukai's time had been dominated by imported culture of thought, particularly in the form of the Classical Chinese language which was used in the court and amongst the literati, and which was the dominant political . In particular Kukai was able to use this new theory of to create links between indigenous Japanese culture and Buddhism. For instance, he made a link between the Buddha Mahavairocana and the . Since the emperors were thought to be descended form Amaterasu, Kukai had found a powerful connection here that linked the emperors with the Buddha, and also in finding a way to integrate with Buddhism, something that had not happened with Confucianism. Buddhism then became essentially an indigenous religion in a way that Confucianism had not. And it was through language, and mantra that this connection was made. Kukai helped to elucidate what mantra is in a way that had not been done before: he addresses the fundamental questions of what a text is, how signs function, and above all, what language is. In this he covers some of the same ground as modern day and others scholars of language, although he comes to very different conclusions.
In this system of thought all sounds are said to originate from "a" – which is the short a sound in father. For esoteric Buddhism "a" has a special function because it is associated with Shunyata or the idea that no thing exists in its own right, but is contingent upon causes and conditions. In Sanskrit "a" is a prefix which changes the meaning of a word into its opposite, so "vidya" is understanding, and "avidya" is ignorance (the same arrangement is also found in many words, like e.g. "atheism" vs. "theism" and "apathy" vs. "pathos"). The letter a is both visualised in the script, and pronounced in rituals and practices. In the which is central to it says: Thanks to the original vows of the Buddhas and , a force resides in the mantras, so that by pronouncing them one acquires merit without limits".]Mantra in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism
(Sanskrit), that may be rendered as "way of mantra", was the original self-identifying name of those that have come to be determined 'The Nyingmapa which may be rendered as "those of the ancient way", a name constructed due to the genesis of the "fresh", "new" traditions. Mantrayana has developed into a synonym of Vajrayana.
Noted translator of Buddhist texts distinguishes three periods in the Buddhist use of mantra.
Initially, according to Conze, like their fellow Indians, Buddhists used mantra as protective spells to ward off malign influences. Despite a rule which forbids monks engaging in the Brahminical practice of chanting mantras for material gain, there are a number of protective for a group of ascetic monks. However, even at this early stage, there is perhaps something more than at work. Particularly in the case of the efficacy of the verses seems to be related to the concept of . Each verse of the sutta ends with "by the virtue of this truth may there be happiness".
Conze notes that later mantras were used more to guard the spiritual life of the chanter, and sections on mantras began to be included in some sutras such as the , and the . The scope of protection also changed in this time. In the promise to exercise sovereignty over the different classes of demigods, to protect the whole of Jambudvipa (the India sub continent), to protect monks who proclaim the sutra, and to protect kings who patronise the monks who proclaim the sutra. The apotheosis of this type of approach is the Nichiren school of Buddhism that was founded in 13th century Japan, and which distilled many previously complex Buddhist practices down to the veneration of the Lotus Sutra through recitation of the daimoku: "Nam myoho renge kyo" which translates as "Homage to the Lotus Sutra".
The third period began, according to Conze, in about the 7th century, to take centre stage and become a vehicle for salvation in their own right. Tantra started to gain momentum in the 6th and 7th century, with specifically Buddhist forms appearing as early as 300CE. Mantrayanawas an early name for the what is now more commonly known as Vajrayana, which gives us a hint as to the place of mantra in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. The aim of Vajrayana practice is to give the practitioner a direct experience of reality, of things as they really are. Mantras function as symbols of that reality, and different mantras are different aspects of that reality – for example wisdom or compassion. Mantras are often associated with a particular deity, one famous exception being the Prajnaparamita mantra associated with the Heart Sutra. One of the key Vajrayana strategies for bringing about a direct experience of reality is to engage the entire psycho-physical organism in the practices. In one Buddhist analysis the person consists of 'body, speech and mind' (refer: Three Vajra). So a typical sadhana or meditation practice might include mudras, or symbolic hand gestures; the recitations of mantras; as well as the visualisation of celestial beings and visualising the letters of the mantra which is being recited. Clearly here mantra is associated with speech. The meditator may visualise the letters in front of themselves, or within their body. They may be pronounced out loud, or internally in the mind only.