Mantras are sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words, composed in Vedic Sanskrit thousands of years ago by rishis or ancient Hindu scientists. Mantra is two words: Man and tra. Man means mind. Tra means the heat of life. Ra means sun. The divine energy of sound is embedded in Mantras. Mantras have psychological and spiritual powers and help to induce an altered state of consciousness. Mantras uses sound to evoke movement of physical and emotional energy through stimulation of the nervous system. It may or may not have literal meaning.
A practice of repetitively uttering the same mantra for an auspicious number of times is called Japa. The most popular number for japa is 108 and is done with the help of malas (bead necklaces). If one word is chanted in a stepwise fashion, tunefully and with proper rhythm in poetic meter ceaselessly, a cyclic movement is created. By chanting of mantras (Japa), both in the inner psyche of the devotee and in the external cosmos an extraordinary energy stream commences flowing.
Mantras can be done vocally, sub-vocally (whispering) or silently in the mind. Group chanting or recitation of mantra can synchronize the brainwaves between the participants, achieving yet another level of collective effect, as has been shown between musicians. In chanting of mantras, half energy goes outside and the remaining half roams about within the body. Half the energy of words uttered radiates in the external world and the other half commences a powerful process within the body.
Mantra Yoga is a scientific method devised by the Rishis to activate the extrasensory energy centers within to facilitate the sublime flow of vital spiritual currents in this majestic living system. It improves health, peace, prosperity and spiritual progress. Our ability of focusing becomes better.
Shloka from holy Hindu texts like the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutra, even the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Durga saptashati or Chandi is a mantra.
Om is one of myriad such mantras. Gāyatri mantra derived from Rig Veda verse 3.62.10, and the Purușasūkta mantra from Rig Veda verse 10.90 are most auspicious mantras for japa at sunrise and sunset; it is claimed to purify the mind and spirit.
One of the schools of Hindu philosophy i.e. Purva or karma Mimamsa deals with ritualistic part (karma kanda) of vedas to satisfy the urges of Dharma, Artha (wealth), Kama (sensual pleasure). It is believed that all-pervading consciousness manifests itself in different stages, each of which has a different form (deity) and sound vibration (mantra). Wherever a particular ritual is performed with the proper utilization of mantras, the deity related to those mantras is present because when the vibration is concentrated, the materialized form of the deity appears. Both deities and mantras operate on a principle similar to the conversion of energy into matter and matter into energy in physics.
So, mantra is a powerful combination of words which, if recited, takes the vibratory effect of each of our molecules into the Infinity of the Cosmos.
Mantras exist in various schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Similar hymns, chants, compositions, and concepts are found in Zoroastrianism, Taoism, ancient Hebrew, Tibetan, Christianity, and elsewhere. In Japanese, mantras are called Shingon.
The use, structure, function, importance, and types of mantras vary according to the school and philosophy of Hinduism and Buddhism. Mantras serve a central role in tantra. In this school, mantras are considered to be a sacred formula and a deeply personal ritual, effective only after initiation. In other schools of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or Sikhism, initiation is not a requirement.
The various aspects of Mantras viz. what is Mantra, Reciting of Mantras, Impacts of Chanting of Mantras, Science behind Mantras and Hindu Philosophy of Mantras, are mentioned below.
KARMA YOGA –I AM NOT DOER
In Sanskrit, Kri means to do; all action is Karma. Whatever we do (thinking, talking, listening, breathing, walking etc.) that is karma, physical or mental and it leaves marks or impression or samskara on the mind-stuff. These impressions are sometimes not obvious on the surface but they work beneath the surface, subconsciously. The sum total of these impressions on the mind form character of the person at that moment. If good impressions prevail, the character becomes good; if bad, it becomes bad.
But good and bad are both bondages of the soul. The solution reached in the Gita in regard to this bondage-producing nature of work is that, if we do not attach ourselves to the work we do, it will not have any binding effect on our soul. By non-attachment, you overcome and deny the power of anything to act upon you.
Bhagwat geeta (verse 5 chapter 3) - न हि कश्चित्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् । कार्यते ह्यवशः कर्म सर्वः प्रकृतिजैर्गुणैः॥
i.e. Indeed no person can remain without doing work anytime. Because of nature-generated qualities force him to do work.
Bhagwat geeta (verse 27 chapter 3) - प्रकृतेः क्रियमाणानि गुणैः कर्माणि सर्वशः। अहंकारविमूढात्मा कर्ताहमिति मन्यते ॥
i.e. In fact, all the karmas are done due to qualities of nature. Since the soul is fascinated by ego, one thinks due to ignorance, ‘I am a doer'.
Bhagwat geeta (verse 47 chapter 2) - कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भुर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥
i.e. Actions done with expectation of its rewards bring bondage. Our duty is only in doing karma, never in its fruits. If we do not be attached to it, we get purification of heart and ultimately knowledge of the Self.
The dynamics of Karma Yoga such as ‘Good or Bad Karma – the bondage of the soul’, ‘motives of karma’, ‘karma without attachment’, ‘what is good karma’, ‘forces of karma’, ‘instruments of karma’ and ‘Karma for liberation’ are mentioned hereunder.
Good or Bad Karma – the bondage of the soul