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What is Mantra and Mantra Chanting?


A mantra is a Sanskrit word that can be a sacred utterance or sound, a syllable, word, or group of words in Sanskrit believed to have religious or spiritual powers. Some mantras have a literal meaning while others do not. The earliest mantras are at least 3500 years old. If we break down the word itself in Sanskrit, we can divide it into three parts:

Manaha - Mind

Yantra - Instrument

Iti mantra - Therefore

The mind is an instrument, therefore we chant Mantras.

Chanting is the repetition of Mantras for a fixed number or unlimited period of time.


IntentionMeaning, and Pronunciation

When we chant a mantra, we use the mind as an instrument to fulfill the purpose of our intention.

It is important to have an intention when we chant a mantra. Hence, it is also important to know the meaning of a particular mantra when we are chanting it. The meaning of the mantra helps us to set out the intention. The reason behind why we wish to chant it. This helps us to chant the mantra with sincerity knowing that our wish will be fulfilled.

The more we chant a mantra, the depth of its meaning is felt, and eventually its purpose will be fulfilled. We should chant a mantra with sincerity, faith, and bhakti (devotion).

Eg: Imagine someone’s living room. The first time you walk into space, you notice a few things at first glance and then you leave. However every time you walk into space you notice more things in the space. The more time you spend in the space and observe carefully, you start to notice all the articles in the space, where things are kept, you eventually start to notice cracks in the walls, and other tiny blemishes or little things you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. None of these would have been noticed, had we not taken the time to observe it for some time.

It is the same with Mantra chanting. Slowly, with time, we begin to appreciate the meaning of a mantra and witness its effects.

One of the most common Mantras that everyone has heard is the chanting of the Om mantra. Let us understand a little bit about this word.



Om is the Universal Sound of Creation. This single word contains all the sounds of the entire Universe. It is usually chanted at the beginning of almost every single mantra, at the start and end of a yoga class, and can be chanted at any time and any place and even inside your mind. The vibrations created by chanting this mantra can slow down the nervous system and induce one with a feeling of calm and centered oneness with the self. It creates a very positive effect on the environment around you.  Science has also conducted various researches on the effects of chanting this mantra and has found that it creates activity in the brain that is similar to the stimulation of the vagus nerve which is used to trust epilepsy and depression.

Contrary to popular belief, Om actually consists of 4 syllables and not one. 

It is a union of the body, mind and soul.

Nadi - subtle energy channel.

Shodhana- purification. By this technique, we are working to cleanse the Nadis in our body thus bringing about a balance in our system.


A - This represents the conscious state; that which is eternal and influenced by our 5 senses.

U - The subconscious state; that which is within and which we experience with our eyes closed; this is the state where we dream.

M - The superconscious state; this is the innermost part of us, it has no desires and no dreams, it is universal and pure


This is the state in between, where there is no movement or activity, it is a state of bliss.

When we chant the Om sound, we actually chant AAA, OOO, MMMM, …….(silence to feel the vibrations in our throat, body, and the environment). With continuous practice, we make sure to remember that the sound comes from our abdomen and travels upwards through our chest and throat and not directly from our throat itself. It is similar to singing.

It’s very important to pronounce all the words correctly as each word creates vibrations in your throat, body and sends the right vibrations out in the Universe as well.

Science also believes that Mantras are like affirmations. They are constant motivations and reminders of the purpose. The more you repeat an affirmation or mantra, the more signals you are sending to your brain and to the Universe about your intention.

For the Universe, you have to be very clear about the specific reason why you are chanting a particular mantra. Else, you will be confusing the Universe and your efforts will go in vain.

One generally chants until their wishes are fulfilled.


Mantras can be chanted out loudly, they can be whispered and heard only by you, they can be written down over and over in a book or they can be recited in the mind. The last is the most advanced way of chanting a mantra.

Sometimes people also chant mantras for no specific reason. Maybe they are a devotee of that particular God or Goddess. In these cases, they are chanting out of Bhakti.

Most of the Gods in the Hindu Scriptures have certain numbers that are associated with them. It is said that you should chant Mantras a certain number of times deepening on which God you are chanting to.

Eg:  The number of all Devis is 9. So Mantras to Goddesses can be chanted a minimum of 9 times

The best time to chant a mantra is at Sandhya - 20 minutes before sunrise or just 20 minutes after Sunset.

About Author: Sanjjay Raturi
The Seeker, Writer, Himalayan Philosopher
Sanjjay Raturi "Sagar" was born into a Brahmin family in the North Indian Himalayas. He has been connected to spirituality since birth, growing up in a beautiful place near the source of the holy river Ganges. This led him to start practicing mantra chanting and meditation during his childhood.
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