What is a Mantra?

adelaide yoga

Someone using mala beads

A mantra is a powerful sound, vibration or sacred utterance that is used to tame the wild mind/ego, provide focus and settle the consciousness into a profound state of meditation.

The word mantra itself, roughly translates to “mind/think instrument” and speaks directly to our subconsciousness.

You may be most familiar with the seed mantra “Om” (sometimes written as “aum”). This sound is believed to be the sound of the Universe, the sound in everything and of consciousness and by repetitively chanting it, it puts you at one with the Universe and expands your awareness. The ancient yogis claim that the sound “Om” was the very first thing in existence and subsequently created all of life.

Chanting, singing or repeating mantra as an incantation or prayer is believed to bring you closer to the Divine and in doing so is purported to have physical and emotional healing properties, for the individual and on a Universal scale.

Although believed to be created in ancient Vedic times more than three thousand years ago they are not just unique to Hinduism, they are used in many Eastern and Western cultures and practises. Ave Maria can be considered a mantra in Christianity and the infamous Tibetan mantra called Om Mani Padme Hum is called upon often for world peace.

Traditionally mantras are chanted 108 times; 108 being rich with mysticism and importance in Hinduism. It’s believed to be the number of eternity and the whole of existence as well as the number of nadis we have in our bodies. Often, people will chant their mantra using mala beads, which is a traditional, specially made string of 108 wooden beads and the process involves touching a bead with each repetition. In Hinduism, there is said to be 108 pathways to God, 108 Hindu dance forms and 108 meditations.

‘The Buddhism tradition talks about the 108 earthly desires in mortals, 108 lies humans tell and 108 human delusions,’ Humanity Healing.

SIDENOTE: Did you know that Stonehenge is 108 feet in diameter?

One of the most notable long verse mantras in Hindu philosophy is the Gayatri Mantra (here’s a beautiful version performed by renowned artist, Deva Premal).

Om Bhūr Bhuva Swah

Tat Savitur varenyam

bhargo devasya dhīmahi

dhiyo yo nah prachodayāt

Here’s a close translation to English:

‘Let us meditate on that excellent glory of the divine Light. May he stimulate our understandings (knowledge, intellectual illumination)’

But there are many, many more to explore – check out Mind, Body and Green for Five Mantras That Will Change Your Life.


Did you miss our post on Pantajali?

One thought on “What is a Mantra?

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