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Many Paths to One God

Mantras And Sacred Symbols

"The Vedas are mantric teachings. They consist of various mantric chants or hymns cognized by different seers or Rishis from the Cosmic Mind. They set forth Dharma or natural law, which is mantra in manifestation."

Excerpted from: "The Mantric Approach of the Vedas," 
by David Frawley

A mantra is a thought manifest in, or encapsulated by, a sacred utterance that possesses profound spiritual significance. Sound holds a key place in Hindu thought. Some writers believe that it preceded the creation of the universe, and its vibrations are thought to bind the atoms of the world. Mantras are sacred syllables that encapsulate particular forms of cosmic power (shakti). 

In Hinduism, a mantra is sacred and spiritually beneficial. By chanting a mantra repeatedly with love and devotion a person can become spiritually illumined. He develops a pure mind which enables him to see God.

Each mantra has a presiding deity over it who is supposed to be giving the results of chanting of mantra (mantra phala) .Mantra means which has to be repeated and understood. Literally it means the verse which explains the prescribed meaning:

Man- to repeat (manana) and 
tra - the power of trana. 

There are different forms of mantra, such as the "seed" (bija) mantra, which is thought to be an energy pervading both the human body and the universe. The deities are believed to be manifestations of bija mantras: Shiva, for example, is linked with the mantra "hrim" and Kali is associated with the syllable "krim".

There are mantras that accomplish many kinds of wondrous deeds simply by correctly chanting them. Other mantras help purify one's consciousness, give spiritual enlightenment, and put one in touch with the Supreme.

Hindus also believe that a mantra received from a saint or holy man is far more effective than mantras picked from a book.

A mantra that has already helped someone to have God-realization is believed to have great spiritual potency. Such a mantra is called a siddha mantra.

There are two mantras that are especially recommended in the Vedic literature. One is omkara or the om mantra, and the other is Hare Krishna Maha Mantra. Hindus believe that these two mantras can deliver one to the realm beyond material existence.


Mantra-yoga is a tradition found in almost every spiritual path and religion in the world. It may involve the repetition or chanting of a prayer or mantra for one's own meditation, or it may involve the congregational singing of spiritually uplifting songs, prayers, or the sacred names of the Supreme Being. Mantra yoga helps a devotee to focus his/her mind on the Supreme, which helps spiritualize his/her consciousness. 

Man means the mind, 
tra means deliverance.

Therefore, a spiritual mantra is the pure sound vibration for delivering the mind from material to spiritual consciousness. This is the goal of any spiritual path.

Mantra Yoga is said to be a gradual path to wisdom, on which the yogi can accumulate a host of siddhis (accomplishments). Many orthodox Hindus still see Mantra Yoga as a magical system which has origins in the intonations chanted by Vedic priests during sacrifices. These priests derived much authority from their claims to be able to summon the gods by uttering the correct sounds, thereby becoming more powerful than the gods themselves.

In Bhagavad-gita God Krishna explains that He is the transcendental OM mantra and that the chanting of japa (chanting a mantra quietly for one's own meditation) is the purest of His representations and sacrifices. It is understood that by chanting japa and hearing the holy sounds of the mantra, one can come to the
platform of spiritual realization. The energy in the sound vibration of the mantra prepares and opens one's consciousness to higher levels of reality. This is the process of mantra-yoga.

Chanting the names of God brings a devotee in direct contact with God in proportion to the chanter's purity. This process of self- realization is the way of success for everyone. The Bhagavatam (2.1.11) discloses that the chanting of God's names in the manner of the great authorities is the doubtless way to spiritual success for everyone, no matter whether they are full of material desires or free of all desires, or self-satisfied because of their spiritual knowledge.

Simply by relying on the chanting of the holy names of God, one need not depend upon other processes, rituals, paraphernalia, or persons. One does not even have to be initiated by a spiritual master to chant mantra. As the Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya-lila, 15.108) says, one does not have to take initiation, but only has to chant the holy names. Thus, deliverance is available to all kinds of people.


There are generally believed to be four classes of sound (shabda): 

  1. Supreme sound (para shabda) is the most subtle of the four, and is the sound made by the base chakra.

  2. Visible sound (pashyanti shabda) is associated with the heart and is manifested as the prime syllable Om.

  3. Middle sound (madhyama shabda) incorporates the basic sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet and is the source of secondary mantras.

  4. Manifest sound (vaikhari shabda) is the sound of human speech, and is considered the lowest of the four classes.

Popular Mantras

Sacred Symbol of OM

Namaskar Mantra





The Four Great Goddess Mantra

The Maha-Mrityunjaya Mantra

The Gayatri Mantra

Shiva Prarthana

Shiva Dhun

Hare Krishna Maha Mantra

Krishna Worship

See Also:

How To Chant

Rudraksha Beads - Hinduism's 'Miracle Bead'


Faith And Idol Worship

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