A mantra is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and/or spiritual powers. Some mantras have a syntactic structure and literal meaning, while others do not.
The earliest mantras were composed in Vedic Sanskrit in India, and are at least 3000 years old. Mantras now exist in various schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. In Japanese Shingon tradition, the word Shingon means mantra. Similar hymns, antiphons, chants, compositions, and concepts are found in Zoroastrianism, Taoism, Christianity, and elsewhere.
The use, structure, function, importance, and types of mantras vary according to the school and philosophy of Hinduism and Buddhism. Mantras serve a central role in tantra. In this school, mantras are considered to be a sacred formula and a deeply personal ritual, effective only after initiation. In other schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or Sikhism, initiation is not a requirement.
Mantras come in many forms. They are typically melodic, mathematically structured meters, believed to be resonant with numinous qualities. At its simplest, the wor (Aum, Om serves as a mantra. In more sophisticated forms, mantras are melodic phrases with spiritual interpretations such as a human longing for truth, reality, light, immortality, peace, love, knowledge, and action. Some mantras without literal meaning are musically uplifting and spiritually meaningful.
- What makes a mantra different from an ordinary statement?
- Who can utter a mantra?
- Which is believed to be the Universal sound?
- How are mantras vibrated?
- How is chanting done?