People are powerless in many ways, but super-powerful in a few. Control over actions is one thing each person can control, with effort. This is our ultimate challenge. That is, to rise above the day-to-day static and connect with the bigger picture of reality. That’s the road to Nirvana, or Enlightenment. The other direction is a dead end. Learn how reciting ancient mantras can help set you in the right direction.
Mantras are energy-based sounds that vibrate throughout the body when spoken aloud. Embedded within some sounds are thousands of years of accumulated energy. Sound travels five times more efficiently through water than air. The human body is over 70% water. That makes the human body an excellent conductor of energy from sound vibrations.
Benefits of reciting mantras
Reciting specific mantras out loud regulates breathing patterns and heart-rate. Prana is another name for the life-force. Pranayama is an advanced Yogic technique where the conscious mind controls the breath. Chanting mantras out loud regulates the breath and generates natural prana. As prana accumulates, benefits emerge. For some, that inspires perseverance. In this manner, reciting mantras can serve as an easy entry point for spiritual beginners.
Mental Benefits: sound vibration from mantras comes from divine inspiration. This inspiration enters the physical body when the user chants. This generates sound vibrations that vibrate beyond the body and into the world. This process weakens the mind’s six enemies. Those are lust, anger, greed, pride, delusion, and jealousy.
Spiritual Benefits: chanting mantras with sincerity places focus on God (or the Divine). By focusing on the Divine, focus on the material world melts. That leads to detachment.
When a person can visualize any object with closed eyes, he can learn to do the same with open eyes. By further development of concentration, he can connect with God’s all-powerful consciousness. Then he can materialize his thought into objects. – Paramhansa Yogananda
Mantras for all races and religions
Humans use mantras across many cultures and religions. The Hindus coined the mantra term and defined the process. But other cultures use similar techniques:
- Catholic: the Prayer of St. Francis is one of our favorites. Daily repetition enforces the idea that you are the power of your universe. By giving, ye shall receive.
- Buddhist: Auṃ maṇi padme hūṃ is a Sanskrit mantra believed to contain the condensed form of all Buddhist teachings. This mantra is a key component of both Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese Taoism.
- Christian: repetitive prayer using beads includes well-known mantras like the Jesus Prayer and Hail Mary Prayer.
Mantra Starter Pack
Repeating mantras is a powerful way of keeping in the present. This stills the “monkey mind”. Different mantras work better with different people. In tradition, devotees study under a guru. At the right time, the guru will give them the mantra best suited to their being.
If you don’t have a guru, use visualization to find your mantra instead.
Below are some of Planet Asia’s favorite mantras:
The Gayatri Mantra is an appeal to the Supreme Being for enlightenment. It can be applied across all religions and beliefs.
Per ancient Hindu texts, the Supreme Being gave the mantra to the sage Vishwamitra. His job was to spread it among humanity.
Om Bhur Bhuvaḥ Swaḥ
Bhargo Devasya Dhīmahi
Dhiyo Yonaḥ Prachodayāt
- What it does: this rockets vibrations through the entire universe from the heart of the chanter. It’s an appeal to share divine wisdom across existence.
- English translation: “May the divine light of the Supreme Being illuminate our intellect and lead us along a path of righteousness”.
Vajra Guru Mantra
Padmasambhava was an enlightened badass. By day, he taught gentle lessons about Buddhism. By night, he decimated the demons of Tibet, which allowed Buddhism to take root there.
He is worshiped as a “second Buddha” in Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal, and the Indian Himalayas. The Vajra Guru Mantra represents the essence of Padmasambhava.
Om Ah Hum Vajra Guru Padma Siddhi Hum. – Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava)
- What it does: energy vibrated by chanting the mantra carries the essence of Buddha’s 84000 Dharmas. Chanting once is equal to the entire teachings of the Buddha. 100 daily recitations makes you more attractive to others. Food, wealth, and pleasures will appear.
- English translation: “I invoke you, Vajra Guru, Padmasambhava, by your blessing may you grant us supreme and ordinary realization.”
Ancient Hindu texts refer to the end of times as the Kali Yuga. This is an age of cruelty and delusion.
Kali is a Goddess of destruction. She energizes sin, ignorance and decay. In Hindu scriptures, you can overcome Kali’s negative temptations by chanting the names of Krishna.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,
Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama,
Rama Rama, Hare Hare
- What it does: this frees the reciter from material bondage. Vibrations from reciting activate spiritual energies. Freedom from material bondage opens the door for further progress towards enlightenment.
- English translation: Only three names are repeated: Lords Krishna, Rama and Hare (a combination of Vishnu and Shakti energies)
Panchakshari Shiva Mantra
In Hindu mythology, Shiva is one of the gods of the Trimurti (Hindu Trinity).
Brahmá creates the universe and Vishnu preserves it. When Vishnu’s work falls apart, Shiva swoops in to usher in destruction and rebirth. This is why Shiva is often referred to as the “destroyer of evil”.
Om Namah Shivaya
- What it does: this calls your deepest power reserves from within. It boosts inner potential and strength while filling life with positive energy. You can use this mantra unstrcutured, as you prefer. Recite once, or 1000 times — go with the flow and use as needed.
- English translation: “I bow to Shiva.”
Shiva Gayatri Mantra
This powerful mantra is also known as the Rudra Gayatri Mantra. For Hindu devotees, each day of the week belongs to a deity. Monday is for Lord Shiva. Reciting this mantra on Mondays pleases Shiva. His pleasure sends down energies that benefit the chanter.
Tanno Rudrah Prachodayat
- What it does: reciting the Shiva Gayatri Mantra helps to lead a fearless life. It removes supernatural fears and improves self-strength. It also clears the fog of depression and mental disease.
- English translation: “I pray to the mightiest of the Gods, the ideal Purusha, Mahadev. Bless me with the intellect and enlighten me with knowledge.”
Build your own mantra collection
In Hindu tradition, you can’t choose a mantra — you need to have a guru give you one. That’s not realistic in modern times for a few reasons. First, nobody has the time or energy for devotion in the daily grind of modern life. Second, the gurus of our time are inauthentic, with ulterior motives.
In 1998, I wandered around mystical places in India. I ended up in Varanasi, seeking inspiration from the Ganges. There, I met a Malaysian monk. He had come to Varanasi to renounce all worldly possessions and meditate. I asked him to give me a mantra. He refused.
For many several days, after, I kept running into him along the ghats. I keep pestering him for a mantra until he finally agreed. He sized up my auras, mumbled a few things, and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he gave me a mantra to use as my own.
That mantra stayed with me. Over the years, I picked up a few more. Today I have a collection that I recite once a day.
I’ve got no scientific proof that it helps. I keep up the practice because it makes me feel good. When you focus on mantras, mental chatter fades. Chanting brings clarity and focus — while generating positive sound vibrations.