Using Mantras In Your Daily Life
Mantras are sacred syllables, usually in Sanskrit, uttered by Hindus during official ceremonies, prayers and invocations to gods. Each mantra is a sacred sound enforced and empowered by the power of the mind. Its essential purpose is communication with gods at the most personal level to seek their help and cooperation to achieve particular aims.
Mantras are used by worshippers in Hinduism (and in related religions also such as Buddhism and Jainism) for various purposes but most commonly in invocations and prayers. In a general sense, a mantra is a divine prayer. However, compared to ordinary prayers, it is more structured and organized in its use as well as application. Each mantra is associated with a specified deity, which empowers the mantra with purity and potency so that when used appropriately it can manifest the desire and intention of the worshipper.
A mantra can be a word, phrase, elaborate ritual chant, statement, or a prayer song. The Vedic hymns are usually a series of mantras sung on different occasions and for specific purposes by qualified priests. Since the sound hidden in the mantras need to be released during chanting, prior preparation and practice are considered important in the use of mantras.
The mantras are believed to be heavenly in origin, revealed by gods to humans for their welfare and to facilitate communication between them and the humans and between the heaven and the earth. The sounds released from the mantras travel through the space and the mid-region to reach the heaven. That carrying and conveying power is said to be that of Brahman who is the presiding deity of the Space (Akasa). Although speech and thought play an important role in the chanting of the mantras, the body also has a certain ritual importance in making them effective. Hence, cleanliness (suddhi), self-control, austerities, and purification rituals are integral parts of mantra use.
In Hinduism, Mantras are used to invoke gods, create right circumstances, cleanse past sins, manifest desires, establish peace and prosperity, seek progeny and continuation of family lineage, extol gods, protect oneself from evil and enemies, or even to harm and destroy others. They can also be used internally during yoga, worship, and meditation, to stabilize the mind and body and awaken the hidden energies, divinities, and potentials, and achieve supernatural powers (siddhis) or self-realization, or both.
Each mantra is considered a sacred expression of the higher mind, packed with divine energies, capable of manifesting miraculous results, when expressed properly. And when you fill it with the deepest and purest of human aspiration, it becomes the boat by which you can cross the ocean of earthly life and reach the other shore. A mantra is indestructible, since its source is Brahman. It is also Akshara Brahman, Brahman as indestructible syllables, revealed to the humans through enlightened beings, for the welfare of the world. It has the vibrations of the Higher realms which can transform people upon earth and prepare them for liberation.
You may come into contact with mantras according to your destiny. Many teacher traditions of Hinduism keep their personal mantras secret and do not reveal them even to their followers until they reach certain stage in their spiritual progress. You may find many mantras in books and public domains, but those that are given to you by a spiritual master said to have greater potency and transformative power. Sometimes, mantras may be revealed to you in dream states by your spiritual guardians. You can choose any mantra you want, preferably the one prescribed by an enlightened master, or the one that comes to you naturally due to the disposition of your mind, or some previous karma, or through your intuition or some transcendental or meditative state.
Once you are initiated and given a mantra, the rest depends upon your sincerity, resolve and effort. Depending upon your state of mind and spiritual progress, your personal mantra reveals to you its hidden message and potency or it may create conditions and circumstances that will result in your inner awakening. Sometimes the mantra itself may not have any potency, but the sounds may invoke in you certain deeper states of peace and relaxation. Therefore, it is belter not to read too much into the mantras and make sense of them. The Vedic hymns were chanted by priests in India for over 2000 years without knowing what they actually meant. Until recent times, no one tried to translate them into other languages.
It is also always better not to be impatient in your use of mantras, and let the mantra do its work slowly. Do not try to push hard or pull the energy of the mantra into you. A friend of mine once continuously chanted Gayatri mantra for three days and ended up in a road accident. He was lucky to escape unhurt while the vehicle in which he was travelling was badly damaged. It was unclear whether the chanting saved him or an improper chanting caused the accident.
It is always safe to use discretion and chant the mantras with due respect for the deity in them at the right time, right place and with the right attitude. Another important precaution to remember is to chant the mantras with a Sattvic attitude. Then you will be safe. Most dangerous is the aggressive tamasic chanting, which the demons do with the sole purpose of achieving a desired end and with total disregard to the consequences it may create.
If you do not have a personal mantra, do not worry. Sometimes it is not even necessary. If you have a strong aspiration in your heart, you will progress on the spiritual path and establish the right conditions in you and around you, which may facilitate your further progress. A mantra, in the final analysis, is but a means to self-transformation and inner purification. Sometimes, while using them you may reach the ultimate goal rather circuitously through the worldly ends that you desire. Therefore, you should be careful about your aims and intentions, how you may use the mantras.
Never take the mantras for granted with a casual attitude, or use them to harm others or invoke evil powers. It is much better if you use them for the welfare of others or to help others. Mantras have the power to help you or trouble you. Hence, your knowledge of mantras and their secret powers should not make you proud, selfish or arrogant.
Always remember that each mantra is a deity in word and sound form and should be treated with utmost respect, the way you would relate to a deity in the sanctum sanctorum of a temple. When you utter the mantra, you pour life into it and release its energy into the universe. Therefore, you should be careful and when and how you may use them. You should also have faith in the mantras you use. Otherwise, you may not find them effective. Finally, you may not need any mantras if your previous deeds are good enough, and you have accumulated enough merit and sattva to establish inner peace, purity, and harmony. Then your very words acquire the power of mantras and manifest your intent and purpose.
Suggestions for Further Reading
- The Samkhya Philosophy and 24 Principles of Creation
- The Bhagavadgita On The Problem Of Sorrow
- The Concept of Atman or Eternal Soul in Hinduism
- The Practice of Atma Yoga Or The Yoga Of Self
- The Problem of Maya Or Illusion and How To Deal With It
- Belief In Atman, The Eternal Soul Or The Inner Self
- Brahman, The Highest God Of Hinduism
- The Bhagavad Gita Original Translations
- The Bhagavadgita, Philosophy and Concepts
- Bhakti yoga or the Yoga of Devotion
- Hinduism And The Evolution of Life And Consciousness
- Why to Study the Bhagavadgita Parts 1 to 4
- The Triple Gunas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas
- The Practice of Tantra and Tantric Ritual in Hinduism and Buddhism
- The Tradition Of Gurus and Gurukulas in Hinduism
- Origin, Definition and Introduction to Hinduism
- Hinduism, Way of Life, Beliefs and Practices
- A Summary of the Bhagavadgita
- Avatar, the Reincarnation of God Upon Earth
- The Bhagavadgita on Karma, the Law of Actions
- The Mandukya Upanishad
- The Bhagavadgita On The Mind And Its Control
- Symbolic Significance of Numbers in Hinduism
- The Belief of Reincarnation of Soul in Hinduism
- The True Meaning Of Renunciation According To Hinduism
- The Symbolic Significance of Puja Or Worship In Hinduism
- Introduction to the Upanishads of Hinduism
- Origin, Principles, Practice and Types of Yoga
- Hinduism and the Belief in one God
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