What is a Mantra?

A mantra is composed of psychically potent sound syllables that are capable of influencing the human system both physically and spiritually. They can excite the emotions and give suggestion to the mind. They influence both the one who chants them and the one hears them. The word mantra comes from the Sanskrit word Mantrana, which means advice or suggestions. According to the Upanishads, the original abode of the mantra was the 'Parma Akesh' or primeval ether, the eternal and immutable substratum of the universe.

A mantra is also an energy field composed of certain frequencies that have a pattern of their own and a vibration field that creates different intonation. These frequencies and the sympathetic overtones generated by them influence our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous, which are spread in a fine neural network through our internal organs in the body. The sympathetic response generates the Nero-motor response and influences two hemisphere of the human cerebral cortex.

Mantra practice involves the left hemisphere of the brain and is therefore effective in increasing positive emotions. The intonation and melody, which are the essential parts of Mantras, remove negative emotions. In association with a Yantra or a picture of a deity - the mantra also provides the right hemisphere with a concrete visual image of the object of emotional attention or "Bhakti" - devotion.

This is the way mantra affects the emotional self. Spiritual sounds may be poems, chants, prayers or hymns all create emotional frequencies and open new dimensions in our consciousness. The practice of Mantra is more than a suggestion or an idea. It is a means of getting in touch with our inner self. This is the essence of "Bhakti Yoga" - which is the simplest and the most effective way by which we can connect to the supreme and infinite consciousness.

Every mantra has six elements: -

  •    'Rishi' or The Seer
  •    'Raga' or The Melody
  •    'Devta' or The Presiding Deity
  •    'Bija' or The Seed Sound
  •    'Shakti' or The Power
  •    'Kilaka' or The Pillar

Rishi - Seers

The intensions of the Mantra worshipper or 'Mantra Shadak' are his or her responsibility. One must thus be clear about why one picks up this tool of Mantra meditation. Good or bad Karmas are categorized according to the effect they create inside and outside the individual, who should be prepared to acknowledge responsibility for the same.

Raga - Melody

The raga is comparable to a western melody line - a sound or sequence of single sounds, without harmony. When chanting a Mantra, it is extremely important not to change the raga and its key, because the rate of vibration on which the sound is based on integral part of the Mantra.

Rishi - Seers

The Devta is the presiding deity of the mantra. The informing powers a very personal aspect of God. It is the wisdom that comes from a higher source and is like a single beam of sunlight. One beam that is singled out and given a name so that the disciple can develop a personal relationship with and worship on aspect of God that he or she can understand and experience.

Bija - Seer Sound

Each mantra has a Bija or seed. This represents the sound string defined by the Seers as being the repository of auditory energy sources. The form and content of the Bija have been handed down from the ages. The Bija gives the mantra in which it is used, its special power of self-generation and effects. Just as within a seed is hidden within tree, so too, the energy of the mantra is resident in the seed on which it is based. This helps the mantra to manifest itself into spiritual consciousness.

Shakti - The Power

The power, the consciousness, within the mantra is 'Shakti' - the Divine Mother, the goddess of the spoken word. The male aspect of the God is energy in a state of equilibrium; the female aspect is the dynamic energy, which manifests as Creation. This energy is the source of creation of all living beings. In the mantra this energy is present in a pure form. The potency of the mantra is realized through repetitions, until the individual chanting the same, feels the presence of God. This is a spiritual experience, which the Mantras help to bring about.

Kilaka - The Pillar

The Kilaka is at first, the driving force, the persistence and will power that the discipline needs to pursue the Mantra. But when the power of the Mantra begins to take on a self generating 'flywheel motion', the Kilaka becomes a very fine thread joining the discipline to the mantra, to the power of the mantra, to the Guru and to the deity, until all are manifest as one.

In Tantra, there are ten categories of actions (Karmas) that a mantra can accomplish. These ten categories cover all aspects of human desires, good and bad and include all the ways that mantra can be used.

The intensions of the Mantra worshipper or "Mantra Shadak" are his or her responsibility. One must thus be clear about why one picks up this tool of Mantra meditation. Good or bad Karmas are categorized according to the effect they create inside and outside the individual, who should be prepared to acknowledge responsibility for the same.

1. Shanti (Peaceful) Karma: Mantra that makes one free from disease, psychological problems, fears, illusions and worldly and environmental troubles; and mantra done without any desire for reward, power or attachment.

2. Istambhan Karma: Mantra used to stop the movement of any living thing or inanimate object in nature.

3. Mohan Karma: Mantra used to attract a man, woman or animal. Mesmerism and hypnotism come under this category. Also known as SAMMOHAN.

4. Uchchatan Karma: Mantra used to disturb the mental equilibrium of any living being. Such a mantra increase doubt, uncertainty, fear and delusion in the person on whom the same is directed.

5. Vashikaran Karma: Mantra used to enslave somebody. The one on whom the mantra is used, loses his own discrimination and will power and become like a puppet. Vashikaran means controlling the consciousness of the one on whom the mantra is used. (Vash = control, karan = doing.)

6. Akarshan Karma: Mantra used to attract somebody who is living at a distant place.

7. Jrambhan Karma: Mantra used to change behavior patterns so that the one on whom the mantra is used starts acting the way the one using the mantra.

8. Vidweshan Karma: Mantra used to create opposition between two individuals. This kind of mantra creates anger, hatred, jealousy and aggression in both individuals towards each other. With others, their behavior remain as usual; it only changes with the one whom the user of the mantra chooses and the result is animosity.

9. Maran Karma: Mantra used to kill somebody. This kind of use of mantra brings instantaneous death without any physical ailment of disorder.

10. Pushti Karma: Mantra used to increase one's own or another's wealth, name, fame, goodwill, social status, power etc. Also known as Paustik.

The attitude of an aspirant plays an important role on Mantra recitation & worship. Mantra is energy. It can be used for either good or bad purposes. One can compare this with Fire - which is pure energy; it can cook our food to sustain us and nourishes us. It can also burn us and kill us.

If a Sadhak (devotee) is proactive in mantra recitation for personal spiritual growth, it helps him/her to evolve, but if the mantra is practiced to help others, it serves a double purpose. It helps both the persons for whom mantra is recited and it also helps the person, who is reciting the mantra. On the other hand, if the mantra is used to harm somebody, the person who recites it will also not escape the harmful effects of the mantra. So it is important for an inspiring mantra worshipper to understand the prerequisites and requisites of mantra worship.

Prerequisites of Mantra Sadhana

Guru - Spiritual guide Diksha - Initiation given by teacher to student Abhishek - Special rites of eight types given by teacher to student at initiation

Requisites of Mantra Sadhana

  • Samkalpa - Firm determination
  • Dridh Iccha Shakti - Strong willpower
  • Astha - Faith
  • Shuchita - Purity
  • Ekagrita - Concentration
  • Asana - Postures
  • Pranayama - Breathing techniques
  • Mala - Rosary
  • Dhyana - Meditation
  • Japa - Repetition of mantra
  • Homa - Fire worship
  • Dhairya - Patience