The word mantra means "sacred utterance" in Sanskrit. For most of us, it refers to a sacred word or set of words repeated at great length. According to Indian tradition, a mantra is eternal and uncreated, divine power itself in the form of sound. To utter a mantra is therefore to put oneself into an intimate relationship with God or the Absolute. While some mantras serve special purposes- to cast a spell, for example- most often they work to still the mind and inspire the heart through simple, repetitive prayer.
Perhaps the most famous of all mantras is the single syllable OM, understood to be the sound and symbol of ultimate reality, the divine word in
its purest form; it is perhaps the oldest mantra known, dating back nearly 3,000 years.
Another mantra celebrates various names and incarnations of the god Vishnu:
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