We explain what a mantra is, what are the different meanings of this term and some of the most popular mantras.
The term "mantra" appears in the texts of various Eastern mystical traditions.
What is a mantra?
A phrase or word is known as a mantra that, endowed or not with literal meaning, contains a mystical, spiritual or psychological power that can be unleashed by repeating it successively, inducing the mind to a state similar to trance.
The term "mantra" comes from Sanskrit, an ancient and ceremonial language, still used in rites in various regions of India and Nepal, and is made up of the voicesman- ("mind") and the suffix–tra instrumental, so it could be translated from Sanskrit as a "mental tool." Hence, its repetition during rituals and physical practices (such as yoga) is destined to generate a certain effect on the psyche.
This term appears in texts different oriental mystical traditions, such as the Hindu (in the Rig-veda, the oldest sacred book) as an instrument of thought, that is to say, prayer, I pray, hymn or song.
In Tibetan Buddhism, on the other hand, each mantra is understood as representing some specific aspect of enlightenment, which must be recited to assimilate or train in that aspect of the enlightened mind. In this tradition, the mantra can also be written or waved on a flag and have the same effect as if it were pronounced.
Finally, in the psychology Western culture, the neurotic repetition of some subjects is called a mantra, whose purpose and consequence is to strengthen a conduct circular or repetitive. This meaning comes precisely from the mystical idea of the repetition of the mantra, used in this case as metaphor of a pathological mental process.
Some known mantras
Some of the most popular mantras:
- Om mani padme hum. One of the most famous of the religion, linked with compassion and with the deity Avalokiteshvara, whose reincarnation would become the Dalai Lama.
- Nam Miojo Rengue Kio. Referred to the law of cause and effect, with which the reciter commits his life.
- Om Namah Shivaia. Dedicated to the god Shivá, it embodies the virtues of an enlightened life: truth, simplicity and love.
- Majá-mritiun-yaia. Coming from Sanskrit and Hinduism, is the prayer to Conquer the Great Death, and it appears in the Rig-veda. It is also addressed to Shivá, the destroyer god of the universe.
- Om aim sarasuatiai namah. Dedicated to the Hunduist goddess of wisdom, Sarasvati, one of the three main goddesses of religion along with Laksmi (beauty and good luck) and Durga (maternal love and Justice violent).