A mantra (Sanskrit : मन्त्र, romanized: mantra, // ; Pali: mantaṃ) or mantram is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit, Pali and other languages believed by practitioners to have religious, magical or spiritual powers. Some mantras have a syntactic structure and literal meaning, while others do not.
The earliest mantras were composed in Vedic Sanskrit in India.At its simplest, the word ॐ (Aum, Om) serves as a mantra, it is believed to be the first sound which was originated on earth. Aum sound when produced creates a reverberation in the body which helps the body and mind to be calm. In more sophisticated forms, mantras are melodic phrases with spiritual interpretations such as a human longing for truth, reality, light, immortality, peace, love, knowledge, and action. Some mantras without literal meaning are musically uplifting and spiritually meaningful.
The use, structure, function, importance, and types of mantras vary according to the school and philosophy of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.In Japanese Shingon tradition, the word Shingon means mantra. Similar hymns, antiphons, chants, compositions, and concepts are found in Zoroastrianism, Taoism, Christianity, and elsewhere. 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 Sanskrit word mantra- is derived from the root man- "to think".
Scholarsconsider the use of mantras to have begun before 1000 BC. By the middle Vedic period (1000 BC to 500 BC) – claims Frits Staal – mantras in Hinduism had developed into a blend of art and science.
The Chinese translation is 眞言, 真言; zhenyan; 'true words', the Japanese on'yomi reading of the Chinese being shingon (which is also used as the proper name for the Shingon sect). According to Alex Wayman and Ryujun Tajima, "Zhenyan" (or "Shingon") means "true speech", has the sense of "an exact mantra which reveals the truth of the dharmas", and is the path of mantras.
According to Bernfried Schlerath, the concept of sātyas mantras is found in Indo-Iranian Yasna 31.6 and the Rigveda, where it is considered structured thought in conformity with the reality or poetic (religious) formulas associated with inherent fulfillment.
There is no generally accepted definition of mantra.
Renou has defined mantra as a thought.Mantras are structured formulae of thoughts, claims Silburn. Farquhar concludes that mantras are a religious thought, prayer, sacred utterance, but also believed to be a spell or weapon of supernatural power. Zimmer defines mantra as a verbal instrument to produce something in one's mind. Bharati defines mantra, in the context of the Tantric school of Hinduism, to be a combination of mixed genuine and quasi-morphemes arranged in conventional patterns, based on codified esoteric traditions, passed on from a guru to a disciple through prescribed initiation.
Jan Gonda, a widely cited scholar on Indian mantras,defines mantra as general name for the verses, formulas or sequence of words in prose which contain praise, are believed to have religious, magical or spiritual efficiency, which are meditated upon, recited, muttered or sung in a ritual, and which are collected in the methodically arranged ancient texts of Hinduism. There is no universally applicable uniform definition of mantra because mantras are used in different religions, and within each religion in different schools of philosophy. In some schools of Hinduism for example, suggests Gonda, a mantra is sakti (power) to the devotee in the form of formulated and expressed thought. Staal clarifies that mantras are not rituals, they are what is recited or chanted during a ritual.
In Oxford Living Dictionary mantra is defined as a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.Cambridge Dictionary provides two different definitions. The first refers to Hinduism and Buddhism: a word or sound that is believed to have a special spiritual power. The second definition is more general: a word or phrase that is often repeated and expresses a particularly strong belief. For instance, a football team can choose individual words as their own "mantra."
There is a long history of scholarly disagreement on the meaning of mantras and whether they are instruments of mind, as implied by the etymological origin of the word mantra. One school suggests mantras are mostly meaningless sound constructs, while the other holds them to be mostly meaningful linguistic instruments of mind.Both schools agree that mantras have melody and a well designed mathematical precision in their construction and that their influence on the reciter and listener is similar to that is observed in people around the world listening to their beloved music that is devoid of words.
Staalpresents a non-linguistic view of mantras. He suggests that verse mantras are metered and harmonized to mathematical precision (for example, in the viharanam technique), which resonate, but a lot of them are a hodgepodge of meaningless constructs such as are found in folk music around the world. Staal cautions that there are many mantras that can be translated and do have spiritual meaning and philosophical themes central to Hinduism, but that does not mean all mantras have a literal meaning. He further notes that even when mantras do not have a literal meaning, they do set a tone and ambiance in the ritual as they are recited, and thus have a straightforward and uncontroversial ritualistic meaning. The sounds may lack literal meaning, but they can have an effect. He compares mantras to bird songs, that have the power to communicate, yet do not have a literal meaning. On that saman category of Hindu mantras, which Staal described as resembling the arias of Bach's oratorios and other European classics, he notes that these mantras have musical structure, but they almost always are completely different from anything in the syntax of natural languages. Mantras are literally meaningless, yet musically meaningful to Staal. The saman chant mantras were transmitted from one Hindu generation to next verbally for over 1000 years but never written, a feat, suggests Staal, that was made possible by the strict mathematical principles used in constructing the mantras. These saman chant mantras are also mostly meaningless, cannot be literally translated as Sanskrit or any Indian language, but nevertheless are beautiful in their resonant themes, variations, inversions, and distribution. They draw the devotee in. Staal is not the first person to view Hindu mantras in this manner. The ancient Hindu Vedic ritualist Kautsa was one of the earliest scholars to note that mantras are meaningless; their function is phonetic and syntactic, not semantic.
Harvey Alperand others present mantras from the linguistic point view. They admit Staal's observation that many mantras do contain bits and pieces of meaningless jargon, but they question what language or text doesn't. The presence of an abracadabra bit does not necessarily imply the entire work is meaningless. Alper lists numerous mantras that have philosophical themes, moral principles, a call to virtuous life, and even mundane petitions. He suggests that from a set of millions of mantras, the devotee chooses some mantras voluntarily, thus expressing that speaker's intention, and the audience for that mantra is that speaker's chosen spiritual entity. Mantras deploy the language of spiritual expression, they are religious instruments, and that is what matters to the devotee. A mantra creates a feeling in the practicing person. It has an emotive numinous effect, it mesmerizes, it defies expression, and it creates sensations that are by definition private and at the heart of all religions and spiritual phenomena.
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The name ‘Veda’ is given to the vast body of literature made up of Mantra and Brahmana. So far we have been referring mostly to Mantras which constitute the Samhita portion of the Veda. The Rigveda Samhita contains about 10552 Mantras, classified into ten books called Mandalas. A Sukta is a group of Mantras.Mantras come in many forms, including ṛc (verses from the Rigveda for example) and sāman (musical chants from the Sāmaveda for example).
According to Indian traditional thoughts ‘Veda’ is regarded as revealed scripture, it is not composed by any human authors. The Vedic hymns (Suktas) or verses (Mantras) are seen and only spoken by the seers (Rishis). These seers are neither author of the Mantras nor are they responsible for the contents of the Mantras. Yaska, the oldest expositor of Veda, has distinctly said that these seers received the sacred knowledge or knowledge was revealed to them. They then handed it down to descendants by oral instruction. They are oral compilations which survived from the time immemorial. They are not only identified as scriptures, but also as the fountain head of Indian culture and human civilization.
During the early Vedic period, claims Staal,Vedic poets became fascinated by the inspirational power of poems, metered verses, and music. They referred to them with the root dhi-, which evolved into dhyana (meditation) of Hinduism, and the language used to start and assist this process manifested as a mantra. By the middle vedic period (1000 BC to 500 BC), mantras were derived from all vedic compositions. They included ṛc (verses from Rigveda for example), sāman (musical chants from the Sāmaveda for example), yajus (a muttered formula from the yajurveda for example), and nigada (a loudly spoken yajus). During the Hindu Epics period and after, mantras multiplied in many ways and diversified to meet the needs and passions of various schools of Hinduism. Mantras took a center stage in the Tantric school, which posited that each mantra ( bijas ) is a deity; it is this distinct school of Hinduism and 'each mantra is a deity' reasoning that led to the perception that some Hindus have tens of millions of gods. In the Linga Purana, Mantra is listed as one of the 1,008 names of Lord Shiva.
One function of mantras is to solemnize and ratify rituals.Each mantra, in Vedic rituals, is coupled with an act. According to Apastamba Srauta Sutra, each ritual act is accompanied by one mantra, unless the Sutra explicitly marks that one act corresponds to several mantras. According to Gonda, and others, there is a connection and rationale between a Vedic mantra and each Vedic ritual act that accompanies it. In these cases, the function of mantras was to be an instrument of ritual efficacy for the priest, and a tool of instruction for a ritual act for others.
Over time, as the Puranas and Epics were composed, the concepts of worship, virtues and spirituality evolved in Hinduism. Religions such as Jainism and Buddhism branched off, and new schools were founded, each continuing to develop and refine its own mantras. In Hinduism, suggests Alper,the function of mantras shifted from the quotidian to redemptive. In other words, in Vedic times, mantras were recited a practical, quotidian goal as intention, such as requesting a deity's help in the discovery of lost cattle, cure of illness, succeeding in competitive sport or journey away from home. The literal translation of Vedic mantras suggests that the function of mantra, in these cases, was to cope with the uncertainties and dilemmas of daily life. In a later period of Hinduism, mantras were recited with a transcendental redemptive goal as intention, such as escape from the cycle of life and rebirth, forgiveness for bad karma, and experiencing a spiritual connection with the god. The function of mantras, in these cases, was to cope with the human condition as a whole. According to Alper, redemptive spiritual mantras opened the door for mantras where every part need not have a literal meaning, but together their resonance and musical quality assisted the transcendental spiritual process. Overall, explains Alper, using Śivasūtra mantras as an example, Hindu mantras have philosophical themes and are metaphorical with social dimension and meaning; in other words, they are a spiritual language and instrument of thought.
According to Staal,Hindu mantras may be spoken aloud, anirukta (not enunciated), upamsu (inaudible), or manasa (not spoken, but recited in the mind). In ritual use, mantras are often silent instruments of meditation.
For almost every mantra, there are six limbs called Shadanga.These six limbs are: Seer (Rishi), Deity (Devata), Seed (Beeja), Energy (Shakti), Master (chanda), and Kilaka (Lock).
The most basic mantra is Om, which in Hinduism is known as the "pranava mantra," the source of all mantras. The Hindu philosophy behind this is the premise that before existence and beyond existence is only One reality, Brahman, and the first manifestation of Brahman expressed as Om. For this reason, Om is considered as a foundational idea and reminder, and thus is prefixed and suffixed to all Hindu prayers. While some mantras may invoke individual gods or principles, fundamental mantras, like the 'Shanti Mantra, the 'Gayatri Mantra' and others all ultimately focus on the One reality.
In the Tantric school the universe is sound.The supreme (para) brings forth existence through the Word (Shabda). Creation consists of vibrations at various frequencies and amplitudes giving rise to the phenomena of the world.
Buhnemann notes that deity mantras are an essential part of Tantric compendia. The tantric mantras vary in their structure and length. Mala mantras are those mantras which have an enormous number of syllables. In contrast, bija mantras are one-syllabled, typically ending in anusvara (a simple nasal sound). These are derived from the name of a deity; for example, Durga yields dum and Ganesha yields gam. Bija mantras are prefixed and appended to other mantras, thereby creating complex mantras. In the tantric school, these mantras are believed to have supernatural powers, and they are transmitted by a preceptor to a disciple in an initiation ritual.Tantric mantras found a significant audience and adaptations in medieval India, Southeast Asia and numerous other Asian countries with Buddhism.
Majumdar and other scholarssuggest mantras are central to the Tantric school, with numerous functions. From initiating and emancipating a tantric devotee to worshiping manifested forms of the divine. From enabling heightened sexual energy in the male and the female to acquiring supernormal psychological and spiritual power. From preventing evil influences to exorcizing demons, and many others. These claimed functions and other aspects of the tantric mantra are a subject of controversy among scholars.
Tantra usage is not unique to Hinduism: it is also found in Buddhism both inside and outside India.
Mantra japa is a practice of repetitively uttering the same mantra for an auspicious number of times, the most popular being 108, and sometimes just 5, 10, 28 or 1008.Japa is found in personal prayer or meditative efforts of some Hindus, as well during formal puja (group prayers). Japa is assisted by malas (bead necklaces) containing 108 beads and a head bead (sometimes referred to as the 'meru', or 'guru' bead); the devotee using his/her fingers to count each bead as he/she repeats the chosen mantra. Having reached 108 repetitions, if he/she wishes to continue another cycle of mantras, the devotee turns the mala around without crossing the head bead and repeats the cycle. Japa-yajna is claimed to be most effective if the mantra is repeated silently in mind (manasah).
According to this school, any shloka from holy Hindu texts like the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutra, even the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Durga saptashati or Chandi is a mantra, thus can be part of the japa, repeated to achieve a numinous effect.The Dharmasāstra claims 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.
There are numerous other important mantras.
Apart from Shiva Sutras, which originated from Shiva's tandava dance, the Shiva Sutras of Vasuguptaare a collection of seventy-seven aphorisms that form the foundation of the tradition of spiritual mysticism known as Kashmir Shaivism. They are attributed to the sage Vasugupta of the 9th century C.E. Sambhavopaya (1-1 to 1–22), Saktopaya (2-1 to 2–10) and Anavopaya (3-1 to 3–45) are the main sub-divisions, three means of achieving God consciousness, of which the main technique of Saktopaya is a mantra. But "mantra" in this context does not mean incantation or muttering of some sacred formula. The word "mantra" is used here in its etymological signification. That which saves one by pondering over the light of Supreme I-consciousness is a mantra. The divine Supreme I-consciousness is the dynamo of all the mantras. Deha or body has been compared to wood, "mantra" has been compared to arani—a piece of wood used for kindling fire by friction; prana has been compared to fire. Sikha or flame has been compared to atma (Self); ambara or sky has been compared to Shiva. When prana is kindled by means of mantra used as arani, fire in the form of udana arises in susumna, and then just as flame arises out of kindled fire and gets dissolved in the sky, so also atma (Self) like a flame having burnt down the fuel of the body, gets absorbed in Shiva.
The use of mantra or the repetition of certain phrases in Pali is a highly common form of meditation in the Theravada tradition. Simple mantras use repetition of the Buddha's name, "Buddho", [as "Buddho" is actually a title rather than a name] or use the "Dhamma", or the "Sangha", the community, as mantra words. Other used mantras are directed toward developing loving kindness. Some mantras direct attention to the process of change by repeating the Pali phrase that means "everything changes", while other mantras are used to develop equanimity with phrases that would be translated, "let go".
Mantra practice is often combined with breathing meditation, so that one recites a mantra simultaneously with in-breath and out-breath to help develop tranquility and concentration. Mantra meditation is especially popular among lay people. Like other basic concentration exercises, it can be used simply to the mind, or it can be the basis for an insight practice where the mantra becomes the focus of observation of how life unfolds, or an aid in surrendering and letting go."The "Buddho" mantra is widespread in the Thai Forest Tradition and was taught by Ajahn Chah and his students. Another popular mantra in Thai Buddhism is Samma-Araham, referring to the Buddha who has 'perfectly' (samma) attained 'perfection in the Buddhist sense' ( araham ), used in Dhammakaya meditation.
In the Tantric Theravada tradition of Southeast Asia, mantras are central to their method of meditation. Popular mantras in this tradition include Namo Buddhaya ("Homage to the Buddha") and Araham ("Worthy One"). There are Thai Buddhist amulet katha: that is, mantras to be recited while holding an amulet.
In Chinese Buddhism, various mantras, including the Great Compassion Mantra, the Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī from the Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī Sutra, the Mahāmāyūrī Vidyārājñī Dhāraṇī, the Heart Sutra and various forms of nianfo are commonly chanted by both monastics and laymen. A major mantra in the Chan Buddhist tradition is the Śūraṅgama Mantra from the Śūraṅgama Sutra, which extensively references Buddhist deities such as the bodhisattvas Manjushri, Mahākāla, Sitatapatra, Vajrapani and the Five Tathagatas, especially Bhaisajyaguru. It is often used for protection or purification, as it is often recited as part of the daily morning session in monasteries. In addition, various Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and deities also have mantras associated with them.
In China and Vietnam, a collection of ten small mantras (Chinese: 十小咒; Pinyin: Shíxiǎozhòu)were fixed by the monk Yulin (Chinese: 玉琳國師; Pinyin: Yùlín Guóshī), a teacher of the Shunzhi Emperor, for monks, nuns, and laity to chant during morning liturgical services. They are as follows:
Cintamani Cakravartin Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 如意寶輪王陀羅尼, Pinyin: Rúyìbǎolúnwáng Tuóluóní; associated with Cintamanicakra):
Námó fótuó yé. Námó dámó yé. Námó sēngjiā yé. Námó guānzìzài púsà móhēsà. Jùdà bēixīnzhě. Dázhítā. Ǎn. Zhuójié luōfádǐ. Zhènduō mòní. Móhē. Bōdēn mí. Lǔ lǔ lǔ lǔ. Dǐsèzhā. Shuòluō ājiélì. Shāyèhōng. Báshāhē. Ǎn. Bōtàmó. Zhènduō mòní. Shuòluōhōng. Ǎn bálǎtuó. Bōdǎn míhōng.
Adoration to the three gems. Adoration to the noble (ārya) Lord (īśvarā) who gazes down (avalokite) the world (loka), the enlightened sentient being, the great sentient being, the great compassionate one! Like this: Oṃ! Turn the wheel, the wish-fulfilling jewel, the great lotus, (quick, quick), Flame stays firm! Calling for the holy mind to destroy obstacles, So be it!
Jvala Mahaugra Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 消災吉祥神咒, Pinyin: Xiāozāi Jíxiáng Shénzhòu):
Nǎngmó sānmǎnduō. Mǔtuónán. Ābōluōdǐ. Hèduōshě. Suōnǎngnán. Dázhítā. Ǎn. Qū qū. Qū xì. Qū xì. Hōng hōng. Rùfùluō. Rùfùluō. Bōluō rùfùluō. Bōluō rùfùluō. Dǐsèchà. Dǐsèchà. Sèzhìlī. Sèzhìlī. Suōbázhā. Suōbázhā. Shàndǐ jiā. Shìlīyè. Suōfùhē.
Adoration to the universal Buddhas (and their) unimpeded religions (śāsana)! Thus: om! in the sky (ākāśa 虛空中), in emptiness, destroy, destroy (all obstacles), the holy mind! the holy mind! Flame, light, brilliant light, brilliant light, stay, stay. Shatter, shatter, burst, burst, disperses calamities (and brings) fortune/opulence (śrī) So be it!
Guna Ratna Sila Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 功德寶山神咒, Pinyin: Gōngdé Bǎoshān Shénzhòu):
Námó fótuó yé. Námó dámó yé. Námó sēngjiā yé. Ǎn. Xīdì hùlǔlǔ. Xīdōulǔ. Zhǐlìbō. Jílìpó. Xīdálī. Bùlǔlī. Suōfùhē.
Adoration to the Buddha! adoration to the Buddhist teaching! adoration to the Buddhist community! Accomplished one, quick, quick, accomplishes quick, be merciful, be compassionate, accomplishes perfectly. So be it!
Mahācundi Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 準提神咒, Pinyin: Zhǔntí Shénzhòu; associated with Cundi):
Námó sàduōnán. Sānmiǎo sānpútuó. Jùzhīnán. Dázhítā. Ǎn. Zhélì zhǔlì. Zhǔntí suōpóhē.
Adoration to 'seven billions perfect status, perfect enlightened beings', like this: om cha'le chu'le Chundi (the Extreme purity), All hail!
Aparimitāyur-jñāna-suviniścita-tejo-rājāya Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 大乘無量壽決定光明王陀羅尼, Pinyin: Dàchéng Wúliàngshòu Juédìng Guāngmíngwáng Tuóluóní; associated with Amitabha):
Ǎn. Nàmó bāgéwǎdì. Ābāluōmìdá. Āyōulī ānà. Sūbìnǐ. Shízhídá. Diézuǒ luōzǎi yě. Dátǎgědá yě. Āluōhēdì. Sānyào sānbùdá yě. Dánǐyětǎ. Ǎn. Sàlībā. Sāngsīgélī. Bālīshùdá. Dáluōmǎdì. Gěgěnà. Sāngmǎwù gědì. Shābāwǎ bǐshùdì. Mǎhē nàyě. Bālīwǎlī suōhē.
Adoration to the Honourable, Highest(pari)-Infinite(amita)-life(ayus)- insight(jnna) -decisive-light(tejo)-king(raja), Exalted-one (Tathagata, thus come), perfect disciple (Arahat), completely, perfectly enlightened one (Samyak-sambuddha). Like this: Om! all (sarva) righteous behaviour are in highest purity, reality of phenomena enters into emptiness, intrinsic nature are completely purified. Family of Great School have auspiciously completed.
Bhaiṣajyaguru Vaiḍūrya Prabhasa Tathāgatā Abhisecani Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 藥師灌頂真言, Pinyin: Yàoshī Guàndǐng Zhēnyán; associated with Bhaiṣajyaguru):
Nánmó báojiāfádì. Bǐngshāshè. Jùlǔ xuēliúlí. Bōlǎpó. Hēluōdū yě. Dátājiēduō yě. Āluōhēdì. Sānmiǎo sānbótuó yé. Dázhítā. Ǎn. Bǐngshāshì. Bǐngshāshì. Bǐngshāshè. Sānméi jiēdì shāhē.
Give Praise to Honorable Medicine-teacher lipis-light-king, the Exalted One, The perfected disciple, Perfectly Self-Awakened One! Like this: "Auspicious one! on medicine, on medicine, the medicine appears, so be it!"
Āryavalokiteśvarā Bodhisattva Vikurvana Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 觀音靈感真言, Pinyin: Guānyīn Línggǎn Zhēnyán; associated with Guanyin):
Ǎn. Maní bāmí hōng. Máhé níyánà. Jīdōutè bādá. Jītè xiēnà. Wēidálīgé. Sàérwòértǎ. Bolī xītǎgé. Nà bǔluōnà. Nàbolī. Diūtè bānnà. Nàmá lújí. Shuōluōyé shāhē.
Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ. Determined to leave greatly (the passions and delusions). Constant thought of reflection. All truths are greatly accomplished (siddha) with full (pūrṇa) satisfaction (kāmam). Manifestation (utpannā) of great (bhūri) luminosity (dyota). Adoration to the Lord (iśvarā) of the world. All hail!
Sapta Atitabuddha Karasaniya Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 七佛滅罪真言, Pinyin: Qīfó Mièzuì Zhēnyán; associated with The Seven Buddhas of Antiquity):
Lípó lípó dì. Qiúhē qiúhē dì. Tuóluóní dì. Níhēluō dì. Pílínǐ dì. Móhē jiādì. Zhēnlínggàn dì. Shāpóhē.
Calling, calling out! Revealing, Revealing all! Making heartfelt prayers! Dissolving, disappearing blame! Vanishing vanished blame! Eminent virtues appear, and all blame is truly buried and gone by this power, svaha!
Sukhāvatī-vyūha Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 往生淨土神咒, Pinyin: Wǎngshēng Jìngtǔ Shénzhòu; associated with Amitabha and his Pure Land of Sukhāvatī):
Námó ēmíduōpó yè. Duōtājiāduō yè. Duōdeyètā. Ēmílì. Dōupópí. Ēmílìduō. Xīdān pópí. Ēmílìduō. Píjiālándì. Ēmílìduō. Píjiālánduō. Jiāmínì. Jiājiānà. Zhǐduō jiālì. Suōpóhē.
Adoration to the Perfect One of Infinite Light, namely: Nectar-producing one! Nectar-creation-perfecting one! Nectar-miracle one! (One) performs miracle with nectar, he makes (nectar) to pervade as widely as sky, All Hail!
Sridevi Dhāraṇī (Chinese: 大吉祥天女咒, Pinyin: Dà Jíxiáng Tiānnǚ Zhòu; associated with Lakshmi):
南無佛陀。南無達摩。南無僧伽。南無室利。摩訶提鼻耶。怛你也他。波利富樓那。遮利三曼陀。達舍尼。摩訶毗訶羅伽帝。三曼陀。毘尼伽帝。摩訶迦利野。波祢。波囉。波祢。薩利縛栗他。三曼陀。修缽黎帝。富隸那。阿利那。達摩帝。摩訶毗鼓畢帝。摩訶彌勒帝。婁簸僧只帝。醯帝簁。僧只醯帝。三曼陀。阿他阿 [少/免] 。婆羅尼。娑婆訶
Námó fótuó. Námó dámó. Námó sēngjiā. Námó shìlì. Móhē tíbí yé. Dánǐyětā. Bōlì fùlóunà. Zhēlì sānmàntuó. Dáshění. Móhē píhēluó jiādì. Sānmàntuó. Píní jiādì. Móhē jiālì yě. Bō mí. Bō luō. Bō mí. Sàlì fùlìtā. Sānmàntuó. Xiūbōlí dì. Fùlìnà. Ālìnà. Dámódì. Móhē pígǔbì dì. Móhē mílè dì. Lóubǒ sēngzhǐ dì. Xīdìshāi. Sēngzhǐ xīdì. Sānmàntuó. Ā tā ā [shǎo/miǎn]. Póluóní. Suōpóhē.
Adoration to the Buddha, adoration to the Buddhist teaching, adoration to the Buddhist community, adoration to the great auspicious goddess! Like this: Oṃ (She) completes (pūrṇa) the deed (ka're, kama) successively (pari), all good to be seen, abides in great position, understands (mana) all good knowledge stays peaceably in great practice (caryā), in procuring (sādhane) all truths perfectly, and approaching great indestructible nature benefits (all) with great compassion, manages the great defilements, supports the welfare (of all), All Hail!
Kūkai (774–835), a noted Buddhist monk, advanced a general theory of language based on his analysis of two forms of Buddhist ritual language: dharani (dhāra.nī) and mantra. Mantra is restricted to esoteric Buddhist practice whereas dharani is found in both esoteric and exoteric ritual. Dharanis for instance are found in the Heart Sutra. The term "shingon" is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese transcription of the Sanskrit word "mantra", 真言 (zhēnyán). Kūkai classified mantra as a special class of dharani and suggested that every syllable of a dharani was a manifestation of the true nature of reality – in Buddhist terms that all sound is a manifestation of shunyata or emptiness of self-nature. Thus rather than being devoid of meaning, Kūkai suggests that dharanis are in fact saturated with meaning – every syllable is symbolic on multiple levels.
One of Kūkai's distinctive contributions was to take this symbolic association even further by saying that there is no essential difference between the syllables of mantras and sacred texts, and those of ordinary language. If one understood the workings of mantra, then any sounds could be a representative of ultimate reality. This emphasis on sounds was one of the drivers for Kūkai's championing of the phonetic writing system, the kana, which was adopted in Japan around the time of Kūkai. He is generally credited with the invention of the kana, but there is apparently some doubt about this story amongst scholars.
This mantra-based theory of language had a powerful effect on Japanese thought and society which up until Kūkai's time had been dominated by imported Chinese culture of thought, particularly in the form of the Classical Chinese language which was used in the court and amongst the literati, and Confucianism which was the dominant political ideology. In particular, Kūkai was able to use this new theory of language to create links between indigenous Japanese culture and Buddhism. For instance, he made a link between the Buddha Mahavairocana and the Shinto sun Goddess Amaterasu. Since the emperors were thought to be descended form Amaterasu, Kūkai had found a powerful connection here that linked the emperors with the Buddha, and also in finding a way to integrate Shinto with Buddhism, something that had not happened with Confucianism. Buddhism then became essentially an indigenous religion in a way that Confucianism had not. And it was through language and mantra that this connection was made. Kūkai helped to elucidate what mantra is in a way that had not been done before: he addresses the fundamental questions of what a text is, how signs function, and above all, what language is. In this, he covers some of the same ground as modern day Structuralists and others scholars of language, although he comes to very different conclusions.
In this system of thought, all sounds are said to originate from "a". For esoteric Buddhism "a" has a special function because it is associated with Shunyata or the idea that no thing exists in its own right, but is contingent upon causes and conditions. (See Dependent origination) In Sanskrit "a" is a prefix which changes the meaning of a word into its opposite, so "vidya" is understanding, and "avidya" is ignorance (the same arrangement is also found in many Greek words, like e.g. "atheism" vs. "theism" and "apathy" vs. "pathos"). The letter a is both visualised in the Siddham script and pronounced in rituals and meditation practices. In the Mahavairocana Sutra which is central to Shingon Buddhism it says: "Thanks to the original vows of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, a miraculous force resides in the mantras, so that by pronouncing them one acquires merit without limits". [in Conze, p. 183]
A mantra is Kuji-kiri in Shugendo. The practice of writing mantras, and copying texts as a spiritual practice, became very refined in Japan, and some of these are written in the Japanese script and Siddham script of Sanskrit, recited in either language. There are thirteen mantras used in Shingon-Buddhism, each dedicated to a major deity. The mantra for each deity name in Japanese, its equivalent name in Sanskrit, a transliteration of mantra, and the Japanese version in Shingon tradition are as follows:
Mantrayana (Sanskrit), which may be translated as "way of the mantra", was the original self-identifying name of those that have come to be determined 'Nyingmapa'.[ citation needed ] The Nyingmapa which may be rendered as "those of the ancient way", a name constructed due to the genesis of the Sarma "fresh", "new" traditions. Mantrayana has developed into a synonym of Vajrayana.
Noted translator of Buddhist texts Edward Conze (1904–1979) distinguishes three periods in the Buddhist use of mantra.
Initially, according to Conze, like their fellow Indians, Buddhists used mantra as protective spells to ward off malign influences. Despite a Vinaya rule which forbids monks engaging in the Brahminical practice of chanting mantras for material gain, there is a number of protective mantras for a group of ascetic monks. However, even at this early stage, there is perhaps something more than animistic magic at work. Particularly in the case of the Ratana Sutta the efficacy of the verses seems to be related to the concept of "truth". Each verse of the sutta ends with "by the virtue of this truth may there be happiness".
Conze notes that later mantras were used more to guard the spiritual life of the chanter, and sections on mantras began to be included in some Mahayana sutras such as the White Lotus Sutra, and the Lankavatara Sutra. The scope of protection also changed in this time. In the Sutra of Golden Light the Four Great Kings promise to exercise sovereignty over the different classes of demigods, to protect the whole of Jambudvipa (the Indian subcontinent), to protect monks who proclaim the sutra, and to protect kings who patronise the monks who proclaim the sutra. The apotheosis of this type of approach is the Nichiren school of Buddhism that was founded in the 13th century Japan, and which distilled many previously complex Buddhist practices down to the veneration of the Lotus Sutra through a recitation of the daimoku: "Nam myoho renge kyo" which translates as "Homage to the Lotus Sutra".
The third period began, according to Conze, in about the 7th century, to take center stage and become a vehicle for salvation in their own right. Tantra started to gain momentum in the 6th and 7th century, with specifically Buddhist forms appearing as early as 300CE. Mantrayana was an early name for what is now more commonly known as Vajrayana , which gives us a hint as to the place of mantra in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. The aim of Vajrayana practice is to give the practitioner a direct experience of reality, of things as they really are. Mantras function as symbols of that reality, and different mantras are different aspects of that reality – for example wisdom or compassion. Mantras are often associated with a particular deity, one famous exception being the Prajnaparamita mantra associated with the Heart Sutra. One of the key Vajrayana strategies for bringing about a direct experience of reality is to engage the entire psycho-physical organism in the practices. In one Buddhist analysis, the person consists of 'body, speech and mind' (refer: Three Vajra). So a typical sadhana or meditation practice might include mudras, or symbolic hand gestures; the recitations of mantras; as well as the visualisation of celestial beings and visualising the letters of the mantra which is being recited. Clearly here mantra is associated with speech. The meditator may visualise the letters in front of themselves, or within their body. They may be pronounced out loud, or internally in mind only.
Probably the most famous mantra of Buddhism is Om mani padme hum, the six syllable mantra of the Bodhisattva of compassion Avalokiteśvara (Tibetan: Chenrezig , Chinese: Guanyin ). This mantra is particularly associated with the four-armed Shadakshari form of Avalokiteśvara. The Dalai Lama is said to be an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, and so the mantra is especially revered by his devotees.
The book Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism by Lama Anagarika Govinda, gives a classic example of how such a mantra can contain many levels of symbolic meaning.
The following list of mantras is from Kailash: A Journal of Himalayan Studies , Volume 1, Number 2, 1973. (pp. 168–169) (augmented by other contributors). The mantras used in Tibetan Buddhist practice are in Sanskrit, to preserve the original mantras. Visualizations and other practices are usually done in the Tibetan language.
According to Tibetan Buddhism, this mantra (Om tare tutare ture soha) can not only eliminate disease, troubles, disasters, and karma, but will also bring believers blessings, longer life, and even the wisdom to transcend one's circle of reincarnation. Tara representing long life and health.
There are mantras in Bön and some Chinese sects.
The mantra in Chinese Buddhist canon are collected by Qianlong Emperor into a book. Kuang-Ming Lin (林光明) amended it.
The concept of mantras in Jainism mainly deals with seeking forgiveness, praising Arihants, or deities like Nakoda, Padmavati, Manibhadra, Saraswati, Lakshmi, and others.[ citation needed ] Yet some mantras are claimed to enhance intellect, prosperity, wealth or fame. There are many mantras in Jainism; most of them are in Sanskrit or Prakrit, but in the last few centuries, some have been composed in Hindi or Gujrati languages. Mantras, couplets, are either chanted or sung, either aloud or by merely moving lips or in silence by thought.
Some examples of Jain mantras are Bhaktamara Stotra, Uvasagharam Stotra and [[Rishi Mandal Mantra. The greatest is the Namokar or Navkar Mantra.Acharya Sushil Kumar, a self-realized master of the secrets of the Mantra, wrote in 1987: "There is a deep, secret science to the combination of sounds. Specific syllables are seeds for the awakening of latent powers. Only a person who has been initiated into the vibrational realms, who has actually experienced this level of reality, can fully understand the Science of Letters...the Nomokar Mantra is a treasured gift to humanity of unestimable (sic) worth for the purification, upliftment and spiritual evolution of everyone.". His book, The Song of the Soul, is a practical manual to unlock the secrets of the mantra. "Chanting with Guruji" is a compilation of well-known Jain mantras, including the Rishi Mandal Mantra.
The Navkar Mantra (literally, "Nine Line Mantra") is the central mantra of Jainism. "It is the essence of the gospel of the Tirthankars."The initial 5 lines consist of salutations to various purified souls, and the latter 4 lines are explanatory in nature, highlighting the benefits and greatness of this mantra.
Namo Arihantânam I bow to the Arihantâs (Conquerors who showed the path of liberation). Namo Siddhânam I bow to the Siddhâs (Liberated Souls). Namo Âyariyânam I bow to the Âchâryas (Preceptors or Spiritual Leaders). Namo Uvajjhâyanam I bow to the Upadhyâya (Teachers). Namo Loe Savva Sahûnam I bow to all the Sadhûs in the world (Saints or Sages). Eso Panch Namokkaro,
Mangalanam Cha Savvesim,
Padhamam Havai Mangalam.
This fivefold salutation (mantra) destroys all sins
and of all auspicious mantras, (it) is the foremost.
Pratikraman also contains the following prayer:
Khāmemi savva-jīve savvë jive khamantu me I ask pardon of all creatures, may all creatures pardon me. Mitti me savva-bhūesu, veraṃ mejjha na keṇavi May I have a friendship with all beings and enemy with none.
Forgiveness is one of the main virtues Jains cultivate. Kṣamāpanā, or supreme forgiveness, forms part of one of the ten characteristics of dharma .
In the pratikramana prayer, Jains repeatedly seek forgiveness from various creatures—even from ekindriyas or single sensed beings like plants and microorganisms that they may have harmed while eating and doing routine activities. Forgiveness is asked by uttering the phrase, Micchāmi dukkaḍaṃ.Micchāmi dukkaḍaṃ is a Prakrit phrase literally meaning "may all the evil that has been done be fruitless."
In their daily prayers and samayika, Jains recite the following Iryavahi sutra in Prakrit, seeking forgiveness from literally all creatures while involved in routine activities:
May you, O Revered One, voluntarily permit me. I would like to confess my sinful acts committed while walking. I honour your permission. I desire to absolve myself of the sinful acts by confessing them. I seek forgiveness from all those living beings which I may have tortured while walking, coming and going, treading on a living organism, seeds, green grass, dew drops, ant hills, moss, live water, live earth, spider web and others. I seek forgiveness from all these living beings, be they one sensed, two sensed, three sensed, four sensed or five sensed, which I may have kicked, covered with dust, rubbed with earth, collided with other, turned upside down, tormented, frightened, shifted from one place to another or killed and deprived them of their lives. (By confessing) may I be absolved of all these sins.
In the Sikh religion, a mantar or mantra is a Shabad (Word or hymn) from the Adi Granth to concentrate the mind on God. Through repetition of the mantra, and listening to one's own voice, thoughts are reduced and the mind rises above materialism to tune into the voice of God.
Mantras in Sikhism are fundamentally different from the secret mantras used in other religions.Unlike in other religions, Sikh mantras are open for anyone to use. They are used openly and are not taught in secret sessions but are used in front of assemblies of Sikhs.
The Mool Mantar, the first composition of Guru Nanak, is the second most widely known Sikh mantra.
The most widely known mantra in the Sikh faith is "Wahe Guru." According to the Sikh poet Bhai Gurdas, the word "Wahe Guru" is the Gurmantra, or the mantra given by the Guru, and eliminates ego.
According to the 10th Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh, the "Wahe Guru" mantra was given by God to the Order of the Khalsa, and reforms the apostate into the purified.
There are mantras in Taoism, such as the words in Dàfàn yǐnyǔ wúliàng yīn (大梵隱語無量音), the recitation of a deity's name. The Indian syllable om (唵) is also used in Taoist mantras. After the arrival of Buddhism many Taoist sects started to use Sanskrit syllables in their mantras or talisman as a way to enhance one's spiritual power aside from the traditional Han incantations. One example of this is the "heart mantra" of Pu Hua Tian Zun (普化天尊), a Taoist deity manifested from the first thunder and head of the “36 thunder gods” in orthodox religious Taoism. His mantra is "Ǎn hōng zhā lì sà mó luō - 唵吽吒唎薩嚩囉". Taoist believe this incantation to be the heart mantra of Pu Hua Tian Zun which will protect them from bad qi and calm down emotions. There are also mantras in Cheondoism, Daesun Jinrihoe, Jeung San Do and Onmyōdō.
Mantra Yoga (chanting), Japa Yoga: Vaikhari Japa (speaking), Upamsu Japa (whispering or humming), Manasika Japa (mental repetition), Likhita Japa (writing)
Amitābha, also known as Amida or Amitāyus, is a celestial buddha according to the scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism.
In Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. He has 108 avatars; one notable avatar being Padmapāṇi, the one who holds the lotus (padma). This bodhisattva is variably depicted, described and portrayed in different cultures as either male or female. In Tibet, he is known as Chenrezig. In China, Taiwan and other Chinese communities, Avalokiteśvara has evolved into the somewhat different female figure Guanyin or Guanshiyin, also known as Kannon or Kanzeon in Japan,Gwanseum in Korea and Quán Thế Âm in Vietnamese. In Nepal Mandal, this figure is known as Jana Baha Dyah, Karunamaya or Seto Machindranath. He is known as Natha Deviyo in Sri Lanka and Lokanatha In Myanmar(Burma). In Thailand and Cambodia, he is called as Lokesvara.
Shingon Buddhism is one of the major schools of Buddhism in Japan and one of the few surviving Vajrayana lineages in East Asia, originally spread from India to China through traveling monks such as Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra.
Kṣitigarbha is a bodhisattva primarily revered in East Asian Buddhism and usually depicted as a Buddhist monk. His name may be translated as "Earth Treasury", "Earth Store", "Earth Matrix", or "Earth Womb". Kṣitigarbha is known for his vow to take responsibility for the instruction of all beings in the six worlds between the death of Gautama Buddha and the rise of Maitreya, as well as his vow not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied. He is therefore often regarded as the bodhisattva of hell-beings, as well as the guardian of children and patron deity of deceased children and aborted fetuses in Japanese culture, where he is known as Jizō or Ojizō-sama.
Bhaiṣajyaguru, or Bhaishajyaguru, formally Bhaiṣajya-guru-vaiḍūrya-prabhā-rāja, is the Buddha of healing and medicine in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Commonly referred to as the "Medicine Buddha", he is described as a doctor who cures suffering using the medicine of his teachings.
The Thirteen Buddhas is a Japanese grouping of Buddhist deities, particularly in the Shingon sect of Buddhism. The deities are, in fact, not only Buddhas, but include bodhisattvas and Wisdom Kings. In Shingon services, lay followers recite a devotional mantra to each figure, though in Shingon practice, disciples will typically devote themselves to only one, depending on what the teacher assigns. Thus the chanting of the mantras of the Thirteen Buddhas are merely the basic practice of laypeople.
Ākāśagarbha is a bodhisattva in Chinese, Japanese and Korean Buddhism who is associated with the great element (mahābhūta) of space (ākāśa). He is also sometimes called Gaganagañja, which means "sky-jewel."
Dharanis, also known as a Parittas, are Buddhist chants, mnemonic codes, incantations, or recitations, usually the mantras consisting of Sanskrit or Pali phrases. Believed to be protective and with powers to generate merit for the Buddhist devotee, they constitute a major part of historic Buddhist literature. Many of these chants are in Sanskrit and Pali, written in scripts such as Siddham as well as transliterated into Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Sinhala, Thai and other regional scripts. They are similar to and reflect a continuity of the Vedic chants and mantras.
Vajrasattva is a bodhisattva in the Mahayana, Mantrayana/Vajrayana Buddhist traditions. In Chinese Buddhism and the Japanese Shingon tradition, Vajrasatva is the esoteric aspect of the bodhisattva Samantabhadra and is commonly associated with the student practitioner who through the master's teachings, attains an ever-enriching subtle and rarefied grounding in their esoteric practice. In Tibetan Buddhism Vajrasatva is associated with the sambhogakāya and purification practice.
The Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāraṇī, also known as the Mahākaruṇā(-citta) Dhāraṇī, Mahākaruṇika Dhāraṇī or Great Compassion Dhāraṇī / Mantra, is a Mahayana Buddhist dhāraṇī associated with the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara.
The Mantra of Light, also called the Mantra of the Unfailing Rope Snare, is an important mantra of the Shingon and Kegon sects of Buddhism, but is not emphasized in other Vajrayana sects of Buddhism. It is taken from the Amoghapāśakalparāja-sūtra or Sutra of the Mantra of the Unfailing Rope Snare of the Buddha Vairocana's Great Baptism and is chanted as follows:
The Heart-dhāraṇī of Avalokiteśvara-ekadaśamukha Sūtra is a Buddhist text first translated from Sanskrit into Chinese on the 28th day of the third lunar month of 656 CE, by Xuanzang. The title in Tibetan language is Spyan-ras-gzigs-dbang-phyug-shal bcu-gcig-pa, while the Sanskrit title recovered from the Tibetan translation is Avalokiteśvara ikadaśamukha dhāraṇī. Alternatively, the sutra's title has been translated as the Eleven-Faced Avalokitesvara Heart Dharani Sutra by Professor Ryuichi Abe.
Ucchuṣma ) is a Vidyārāja in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism.
Cundī, or Chunda, is a bodhisattva and a manifestation of the Cundī Dhāraṇī.
The Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī sūtra is a Mahayana sutra from India. An alternate longer Sanskrit title is the Sarvadurgatipariśodhana Uṣṇīṣa Vijaya Dhāraṇī sūtra.
Chinese Esoteric Buddhism refers to traditions of Tantra and Esoteric Buddhism that have flourished among the Chinese people. The Tantric masters Śubhakarasiṃha, Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra, established the Esoteric Buddhist Zhenyan tradition from 716 to 720 during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang. It employed mandalas, mantras, mudras, abhiṣekas, and deity yoga. The Zhenyan tradition was transported to Japan as Shingon Buddhism by Kūkai as well as influencing Korean Buddhism. The Song dynasty (960–1279) saw a second diffusion of Esoteric texts. Esoteric Buddhist practices continued to have an influence into the late imperial period and Tibetan Buddhism was also influential during the Yuan dynasty period and beyond. In the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) through to the modern period, esoteric practices and teachings became absorbed and merged with the other Chinese Buddhist traditions to a large extent.
A dharani pillar, sutra pillar, or jingchuang is a type of stone pillar engraved with dhāraṇī-sūtras or simple dhāraṇī incantations that is found in China. Dharani pillars were usually erected outside Buddhist temples, and became popular during the Tang dynasty (618–907).
Cintāmaṇicakra is a bodhisattva and a manifestation of Avalokiteśvara. He is counted as one of the six forms of the bodhisattva that represent salvation afforded to beings among the six realms of saṃsāra. Among these incarnations, Cintāmaṇicakra is believed to save those in the deva realm.
The Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra is considered an important mantra or dharani in Pure Land Buddhism and other schools of Buddhism, mainly following the Mahayana tradition. The full name of this mantra is the Dharani for pulling out the fundamental cause of karmic obstacles and obtaining rebirth in the Pure Lands (Chinese:拔一切業障根本得生淨土陀羅尼). It is also known as Pure Land Rebirth Dhāraṇī, or Rebirth Mantra for short.
In East Asian Buddhism, the Six Guanyin is a grouping of six manifestations of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, known as Guanyin (Guanshiyin) in Chinese and Kannon (Kanzeon) in Japanese.
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