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Books on Mantra and Tantra

‘Mantra’ – sacred syllable, spell, or incantation, is divine power clothed in sound. As clothes are inner, upper, and the uppermost, Tantra identifies three kinds of sounds: ‘Sphota’ – the transcendental, inaudible, defined as ‘unstruck sound’; ‘Nada’ – the supersonic sound; and, ‘Dhwani’ – the audible sound. A ‘Mantra’ wears all three kinds of sounds, that is, recited loud, or commemorated unspoken within, the ‘Mantra’ charges with divine energy all sounds and thereby ‘Vayu’– air, the vehicle of sound. As ‘Vayu’ is life within and beyond, which the ‘Mantra’ charges with divine energy, the ‘sadhaka’, by using ‘Mantra’ as his divine instrument, emerges as better-prepared for the final attainment, that is, kindling of ‘Kundalini Shakti’.

The term ‘Mantra’ is made of two syllables: ‘Man’ and ‘Tra’, the former meaning ‘mind’ or ‘speech’, and the latter ‘to guide’ or ‘to protect’, that is, ‘Mantra’ guides and protects the mind and speech. The ‘Mantra’ is an articulated word. A ‘Mantra’ may have more words, but not occurring in grammatical sequence forming a sentence.

Without being communicable in terms of meaning, this ‘word’ connects the ‘sadhaka’ with the Brahmanda’, deity, or the object meditated on. Usually ‘Mantras’ are divine names preceded by ‘Bijaksharas’, the letters which are indeclinable seed-sounds. ‘AUM’, the monosyllabic ‘Bijamantra’, which by its three sounds A U M symbolises God’s three aspects – creation, preservation and destruction, is the source of all ‘Mantras’.

Similarly, all ‘Mantras’ end with, or have intermittent ‘Anushvaras’, a phonetic sound transcribed as a ‘dot’ – ‘bindu’, which is in Tantra the symbol of Shiva-Shakti, creative process, seed, and the creation. Thus, every ‘Mantra’ constantly draws its power from the Timeless Shiva and Shakti.

Other monosyllabic ‘bija-mantras’ are ‘hrim’, ‘shrim’, ‘krim’, and ‘klim’. ‘Hrim’ is the ‘bijamantra’ of Bhuvaneshvari representing female energy; ‘krim’, of Kali representing the power to create and destroy; ‘shrim’, of Lakshmi, representing abundance and multiplicity; and, ‘klim’, of procreative desire of Shiva as Kama representing joy and bliss. ‘Mantras’ are sometimes classified as male, female and neuter, the male ending with ‘hum’ or ‘phat’, female, with ‘svaha’, and neuter, with ‘namah’.


Q1. How many types of mantra are there?


Three main types of Mantras are


Bija (seed): can be used individually, and is most often incorporated into Saguna mantras to invest them with a special “seed” power. Correlate to the seven chakras and the main Hindu deities.


Saguna:  mantras invoke the forms of the individual deities or personalized aspects of God. The recitation of the Saguna mantras gives rise to the actual form of the particular deity, manifesting its power.


Nirguna: mantras originate from the Vedic texts and are the oldest of the three. No deities or personalized aspects of God are invoked, they don’t have any specific form

Q2. How do mantras work scientifically?


Chanting of Mantras creates thought-energy waves, and the organism vibrates in tune with the energy and spiritual appeal of a chant. Scientists say that when a mantra is chanted rhythmically, it creates a neuro-linguistic effect. Such an effect occurs even if the meaning of the mantra is not known.


Religious chanting appears to increase endogenous neural oscillations in the low-frequency delta-band, especially in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). This brain region shows the largest decrease in centrality during religious chanting in a highly-trained meditator. Chanting can help synchronize the left and right sides of the brain and promote relaxing (alpha) brain waves.

Q3. How many times should you repeat mantras?


To recite a mantra 108 times brings harmony with the vibrations of the universe. Famous mathematicians of Vedic culture saw 108 as some of the completeness of presence. Ayurveda says that we have 108 marma points (vital points of life forces) in our bodies. Thus all mantras are chanted 108 times because each chant represents a journey from our material self toward our highest spiritual self. Each chant is believed to bring us 1 unit closer to our god within. The natural difference between the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their diameters, thus the number interfaces them.

Q4. Why is mantra so important?

Mantra has the power to soothe anxiety and create joyous feelings. The sound vibrations produced during mantra chanting stimulate and balance the chakras (energy centers of the body). Mantra meditation has been linked to calm concentration and quiescence of the mental chatter, to deep absorption and mystical states. Each mantra invokes a precise power and is used for very specific purposes: spiritual power, the healing of diseases, for the attainment of worldly desires. The power of mantra yoga comes from its ability to stop negative thought loops, focus our minds, and transform the quality and nature of our consciousness.