What is Mantra? What are the benefits of Chanting Mantras?
Mantra is a Sanskrit word derived from "Manah" and "Yantra". Manah literally means "Mind" and the word "Yantra" means instrument. So, the mantra is the instrument for the mind.
In Sanskrit: मनः यन्त्र इति मंत्रः |
This phrase also indicated the same meaning of mantras. Practically, the mantras are sacred syllable given or suggested by the Gurus/Teachers. The students (Sadhaka) should follow the Mantras given by his/her Guru.
The mantras are basically divided into 2 forms:
1) Mantra Chanting
2) Listening to the Mantras
The word "chanting" means to revise or to utter any phrase or words repeatedly. Listening simply means paying attention in hearing the mantras. Now the common question that comes into mind is that what are the benefits of Mantra Chanting?
If you check any of the religions, you will find that prayers are the important parts of spirituality. Mantras are selected prayer phrases that are offered to gods and goddesses to get the blessings that we need for motivation in life. So do not worry, all mantras have positive meanings.
Mantra chanting or listening both have benefits but Mantra Chanting is more powerful than listening.
For example, taking food is good for health, but cooking food gives one additional benefit that is you can cook anytime in future and get the food cooked. But if you are dependent on someone for food, you have to wait until he/she won't cook.
Same, listening mantra is like a downloaded movie and you just enjoy by the level of ears and brain. But when you chant the mantra, your mouth, ears, brain, heart, and many more organs are involved in this activity.
If you notice your body, you will find that it is like a musical instrument when you say something the vibrations are common, but when you chant mantras in the right way, you will immediately feel the vibrations in the body. The reason behind it is that the words selected in Vedic Mantras are in Sanskrit language and the Sanskrit language is the ancient language ever on earth which has balanced characters/alphabets.
If you understand it more deeply, you will see that the vibrations are always around where the body is empty. Such as throat, stomach etc but never on the filled flesh part such as hand or thigh.
Listening to the mantra is also beneficial for a peaceful life, good sleep, reducing stress, reducing anger, and much more.
The scientists have researched a lot on mantras and found that chanting the mantras can affect positively on nervous system and the brain. Each of the mantras has a different sound, a different pitch, tone and speed of utterance. Each mantra also has different meanings and of course, humans pray for what they have not, not for what they already have. Suppose, you have lot of wealth, of course, by mantras you say thanks to God and also wish for other essentials such as health and happiness. Mantras give results according to the intention/motive or tenor.
Let's understand this by an example:
Suppose someone is chanting a mantra for happiness and he is doing it regularly, in this case, the Gods and Goddesses or angels get the prayers and try to understand the word "happiness". Because happiness is a mental state and it can be different for everyone. For someone, happiness is just travelling in different places, for someone, happiness is a successful business and maybe for someone, it is a good job.
Therefore, if you are cooking food and chanting mantra, like your childhood favourite song, it will never work for you. Because not only singing or chanting is important, but also the paying attention is important too.
For example, there is a small baby who is weeping for a colourful toy. The father bought for him a good toy and gifted him, now he was happy for just some minutes but again he started to weep because he realises that he wanted a specific toy and that is an animal i.e. an elephant. The same rule applies to Mantras, you have to be straightforward and accurate about your desires otherwise you will not get any results.
If you are following the Bhakti Marg (Path of Devotion), there will be no right - no wrong situation for you because, in Bhakti, the intention and intuition are more important than anything else. But if you are practicing Mantras for any special objective, it does matter to pronounce it in the right way.