Chanting Mantras

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Chant anywhere anytime

Mananaat traayate iti mantrah - That which uplifts by constant repetition is a Mantra

A "mantra" (/ˈmæntrə, ˈmɑːn-, ˈmʌn-/ (Sanskrit: मन्त्र) 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 spiritual powers. Mantra meditation helps to induce an altered state of consciousness. A mantra may or may not have a syntactic structure or literal meaning.

The earliest mantras were composed in Vedic Sanskrit by Hindus in India, and are at least 3000 years old. Mantras now exist in various schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Since the Vedas are impersonal and eternal, the exact historical date of the origin of Mantra chanting is hard to arrive at. For example, every Mantra in the Vedas, Upanishads and various religious traditions (sampradayas) within Hindu religion begin with Om or Aum - the primordial sound, the sound that is said to have its origins at the time of the creation of the cosmos - also referred to as the 'Big Bang'.

Reading mantras in Sanskrit, the ancient language of India, can certainly be intimidating. (How exactly do you pronounce śāntiḥ again?) Gurmukhi, a sacred script used in Kundalini Yoga, is more straightforward than Sanskrit but can also sound like a mouthful, at first. The good news: you don’t have to memorize a sonnet-length mantra to achieve positive results. Even single-word mantras—like Om—can be pretty powerful.

A mental instrument

Think of a mantra as a mental instrument that fine-tunes your yoga practice. “Incorporating mantras into practice can help to make it sacred and take it out of the realm of the physical and into a higher state of awareness,” says Zoë Slatoff-Ponté, author of Yogavataranam: The Translation of Yoga.
Cultivating a sonic presence can be liberating in a way, as you experience the numinous nature of the sound. It is said that each chakra has a particular vibration and certain mantras can resonate and harmonize that energy. “A mantra is a much more complex concept than a mere chant,” adds Risha Lee, curator of Exhibitions at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. “It unites sound, body, and mind in a deeply philosophical experience.”

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Chant anytime, anywhere

While reciting a mantra before or after you step on the mat can enhance your practice, you don’t have to be in yoga mode to chant. Mantras are a yoga tool you can use to calm your mind anywhere, anytime. Feeling stressed, lonely, anxious, excited? Pick a word, phrase, or invocation and chant it in a way that works for you: loudly, softly, or even internally. To reap the most benefits, shorter mantras should be chanted 108 times (mala beads can help with that) and longer mantras can be repeated up to three times. In any case, allocate a few minutes to focus your attention on the sound.
“The pronunciation of mantras is very important,” Slatoff-Ponté says. “Ideally, one learns the correct pronunciation from a teacher, who can also recommend a specific mantra for you.”

Sound Is Power

The sound of Mantra can lift the believer towards the higher self. These sound elements of Sanskrit language are permanent entities and are of everlasting significance. In the recitation of Sanskrit Mantras the sound is very important, for it can bring transformation in you while leading you to power and strength.
Different sounds have different effects on human psyche. If a soft sound of wind rustling through leaves soothes our nerves, the musical note of running stream enchants our heart, thunders may cause awe and fear.

The sacred utterances or chanting of Sanskrit Mantras provide us with the power to attain our goals and lift ourselves from the ordinary to the higher level of consciousness. They give us the power to cure diseases; ward off evils; gain wealth; acquire supernatural powers; worship a deity for exalted communion and for attaining blissful state and attain liberation.

Healing by Mantropathy

The chanting of Om in Transcendental Meditation has now received widespread recognition. Mantras can be used to treat tension and many other difficult diseases that are yet to come. The Brahmvarchas Shodh Sansthan, research center for integration of science and spirituality in Shantikunj, Haridwar, India, is the only place which carries out extensive experiments on 'mantra shakti'. The result of these experiments is used to testify that Mantropathy can be used scientifically for healing and environment cleansing.

How to Chant

There are many schools of thought on the methods of chanting. A mantra chanted correctly or incorrectly, knowingly or unknowingly, carefully or carelessly, is sure to bear the desired result for physical and mental well-being. It is also believed by many that the glory of Mantra chanting cannot be established through reasoning and intellect. It can be experienced or realized only through devotion, faith and constant repetition of the Mantra.
According to some scholars, Mantra chanting is Mantra Yoga. The simple yet powerful Mantra, Om or Aum harmonizes the physical forces with the emotional forces with the intellectual forces. When this happens, you begin to feel like a complete being - mentally and physically. But this process is very slow and requires a lot of patience and unfailing faith.

Keep the Faith!

It is important to have complete faith in the recitation of mantras. It is primarily through faith - aided by strong will - that one achieves one's goals. A sound body and calm mind are essential for the chanter of mantras. Once you are free from all worries and have achieved stability in mind and body, you will derive maximum benefit through the recitation of mantras. You must have a definite object in view and a strong will power to obtain the desired objective, and then direct that will to achieve the goal.

Here are 5 favourite Sanskrit mantras, with their ancient meanings and how we can adopt them into our modern lives:

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OM

Translation: The sound of the universe. It's the first, original vibration, representing the birth, death and re-birth process.

Modern adaptation: Chanting the sound OM brings us into harmonic resonance with the universe – this is a scientific fact! OM is said to vibrate at 432 Hertz, which is the natural musical pitch of the Universe, as opposed to 440 Hertz, which is the frequency of most modern music. Decreasing your frequency to coincide with that of the Universe stills the fluctuations of the mind, allowing you to practice yoga through sound. OM is an idyllic way to begin and end a yoga or mediation practice, and also comes in handy when you just need to chill out.

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Om Namah Shivaya

Translation: I bow to Shiva, the supreme deity of transformation who represents the truest, highest self.
Modern adaptation: In the book Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert is given this mantra by her Guru, which she lovingly refers to as the “Amazing Grace of Sanskrit.” Her interpretation is, “I honor the divinity within myself.” This is a great mantra to help build self-confidence, reminding us that we are all made up of divine energy and should treat ourselves accordingly.

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Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

Translation: May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all
Modern adaptation: Most commonly associated with the Jivamukti Yoga School, this mantra is a powerful way to dedicate yourself to living a life of non-harming and being of service to the greater good. This mantra encourages cooperation, compassion and living in harmony with the environment, animals and our fellow human beings.

Shanti Mantra
Om Saha Naavavatu
Saha Nau Bhunaktu
Saha Veeryam Karavaavahai
Tejasvi Aavadheetamastu Maa Vidvishaavahai Om

Translation: May the Lord protect and bless us. May he nourish us, giving us strength to work together for the good of humanity. May our learning be brilliant and purposeful. May we never turn against one another.
Modern adaptation: A perfect mantra to start a yoga class, a new day, or even a new business with. It unites the participants and sets a tone of non-competitiveness, unity, and working together towards a common goal.

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Om Gum Ganapatayei Namah

Translation: I bow to the elephant-faced deity [Ganesh] who is capable of removing all obstacles. I pray for blessings and protection.”
Modern adaptation: In Hindu teachings, Ganesh is known as the god of wisdom and success and the destroyer of obstacles.

Learn more about the art of mantra chanting and the amazing effects they have on your wellbeing at our deep transformational retreats in India. Book and join us this September in Gokarna or in October in Rishikesh.
 

Mantra Chanting in India
Annie Wyatt