What is a Mantra?

Mantras are formulaic sound vibrations that contain within them sacred syllables representative of, and containing, spiritual power. Reciting mantras in certain ways and meditating on them allows you to focus the spiritual power innate in the mantra.

The word ‘mantra’ is composed, in Sanskrit, of two root words. ‘Man’ which means mind or thinking and ‘tra’ which means freedom and to release, so the world ‘mantra’ literally translates to ‘to free the mind’ and the world ‘yoga’ means to yoke or to link (with god or your own essential nature)

How Can You Use Mantras?

Mantras are mostly used as a tool for enlightenment and meditation, but are also used in vashtu (Indian feng shui), ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine), tantra and astrology.

The vedas and tantras of ancient India are full of explanations of the wonders of mantras, which have as many purposes as there are mantras. Some mantras are to be used for the realisation of your own true nature, enlightenment, to bring peacefulness to your mind and for the control of your own energy. Whereas other mantras are to be invoked for supposed control of the natural world, magical powers and even more malefic purposes.

Some of the types of mantras are as follows:

Moksha - These mantras are used for the purpose self realisation and liberation from the cycle of repeated birth and death (samsara) within the material world.

Shantikaran - These are mantras traditionally used the curing and healing of diseases and ailments, as well as for the negation of malefic astrological influences.

Vashikaran - This class of mantras is one primarily used by yogis and tantrics as “controlling mantras”, either to influence and control people, subtle energies other other things.

There are different ways of chanting mantras; Vaikari Japa is when the mantra is spoken loudly, which is considered best for devotional mantras. Upamsu Japa is when mantras are whispered softly to yourself, this is what most people tend to do while practicing mantra yoga. When a mantra is repeated mentally that’s called Manasika Japa, this form of mantra repetition is considered best in the tantric schools of Hinduism and Buddhism. Writing the mantra repetitively by hand is Likhita Japa, a favoured technique by tantrics and recommended throughout the various tantras and agamas as a form of mantra yoga that shows results exceedingly quickly.

Parts of a Mantra

Mantras have six essential parts or aspects, they are as follows:

Rishi - Mantras descend from master to disciple, beginning with an ancient sage, or rishi, and are passed down through systems of yoga and philosophy, each mantra is represented by its original sage

Devata - Repetition of a mantra will gradually reveal the form of the deity or devata, central to the mantra. This allows the aspirant to develop a personal relationship with the presiding deity of the mantra that is chanted.

Bija - Within every mantra is the bija (seed) which is its source of potency. These “seed syllables” do not have translations or direct meaning, but the sound vibration of the bija is inherently powerful. The most well known bija mantra is that of Aum, or Om. Which is used to begin almost every Vedic mantra.

Kilaka - Kilaka means pillar, this is the will power that every practitioner must gain to practice the mantra regularly.

Shakti - The power of a mantra.