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A Definitive Guide to Essential Sanskrit Mantras

Reading Time: 13 minutes


Since the beginning of human kind music and sound has been used as a tool to heal emotions, facilitate meditation, connect with spiritual beings and self, and celebrate milestones. There are certain vibrations and rhythms that tune into different energies and chakras to reduce stress and promote healing and well-being.

Mantras are sacred sounds that people can use to achieve a higher sense of self-awareness and mindfulness. The simple Sanskrit words emanate sounds that help clean worldly mental clutter and facilitate meditation, thus transforming our perception of reality and evoking positivity into our lives.

Mantra is a Sanskrit word that comes from the roots manas and tra, which mean linear thinking of the mind and to cross over, respectively. These sounds have the power to take us beyond our mortal state and connect us with our spirituality. We have to set aside time to practice mantras to have a clear view of our reality and to avoid allowing negative thoughts and words to affect our well-being.

From the Sanskrit:

Manas (mind) + trai (to protect, to set free from) = mantra (to set free from the mind)

Many of the mantras we chant today have originated thousands of years ago, during the Vedic times. The vibrations these sounds that ignite and help focus energy on our chakras, thus healing our spirits and bodies. It has been scientifically proven that mantras stimulate certain parts of our brains which creates a healing response throughout our bodies. Mantras can not only heal our emotions, but also strengthen our immune and neurological systems.

Role Of Sound & Music in Healing

As you already know, sound vibrations affect our thoughts, feelings, and our experience in the world. The way we respond to the sounds that surround us shape our personalities over time. In fact, sounds can completely change our lives in seconds. For example, harsh words can break a relationship between two people just as kind words can bring comfort and enlightenment to someone’s life.

Due to the many worldly distractions that surround us, we don’t notice how our minds react to all of these sounds, but the truth is that they influence how we live our lives.

Pythagoras prescribed music for physical and mental healing

According to Pythagoras, the first person to prescribe music as medication, sound is a powerful tool to heal any type of ailment. He taught that every atom produces a sound, which results from its movement. These sounds create a universal harmony, which are transferable to the observer. When we expose ourselves to these sounds, we can feel an internal harmony that benefits our well being.

He prescribed certain sounds to manage anger, sadness, anxiety, achieve serenity, purify the mind, and heal the body.

Mantras have the same purpose and are based on the same knowledge that sound can have a significant impact in the body, mind, and soul.

Poetry was believed to bring world peace

A British scholar named John Dee, who lived in the Renaissance period, believed that when certain words were combined with specific sounds, they could create a purifying effect in the minds and hearts of listeners. Thus, political and religious hatred would be put aside and there would be no reason for people to fight and go into wars.

He believed in that so strongly that he developed measured poetic rhythms that, according to him, could bring about world peace. Unfortunately, his theory didn’t gain much traction and still hasn’t prevented global conflicts, but it illustrates how powerful sounds can be.

Sounds can make flowers happy or depressed

American journalist Peter Tompkins talks about an experiment made to observe the relationship between flowers and sound. In his book, The Secret Life of Plants, he stated that a group of flowers that only listened to rock and roll was inclining away from the speakers, while the group of plants that listened to classical music not only had grown more than any other group, but aligned themselves toward the speakers, as if they were getting closer to the sound. 

Other experiments have shown that sound therapy can:

  • Help students score higher on tests;
  • Help people achieve difficult goals and persevere;
  • Help at-risk children improve their overall self-concept;
  • Help children perform better in spatial and temporal reasoning ability;
  • Increase levels of interleukin-1 in the blood from 12.5 percent to 14 percent.

Indigenous Traditions of Chanting Mantras

Aside from Western and modern-day theories revolving around its power, the belief that sound can heal and transform people has been around for thousands of years and among many civilizations.

Some cultures have mastered the art of utilizing the human voice, the world’s oldest musical instrument. Chant traditions have been used for centuries in ritual and sacred ceremonies to evoke gods and spirits.


Aborigines are the indigenous peoples of Australia and have great respect for their chants, allowing only a few to be heard by outside visitors. British anthropologist A. P. Elkin in his book, The Australian Aborigines, describes the chants as “Byzantine-like solemn chanting in iambic measures by male voices in unison to Kunapipi, the Mother Goddess cult of the Central North.”

The Mbuti

The Mbuti is a group of Pygmies of the Ituri Forest of eastern Congo and use chanting as a main tool for healing. They chant to awake the forest and attract its attention to the needs of its children.

They believe that the forest is naturally benevolent and will grant their problems to be solved.

The Melanesians

The Melanesians are traders of New Guinea and considered to be the most focused chanters. They live by the kula, a complex series of procedures, and believe that chants can enable them to live successfully. Their chanting is all about achieving optimum results in everyday activities and the kula.

According to Bronislaw Malinowski, the Melanesians believe that “all magic comes from the netherworld,” and its power depends on magical formulas and the personality of the person who chants them. 

Native Americans

Chants have a significant role in healing and problem solving for the Native Americans. They believe music can empower medicine men and common people. People can use chants to call upon these powers at any time.

According to Native American tradition, there are 55 chans, each one with up to 26 verses. They also believe that the chants must be sung in a designated sequence, with several variations existing to evoke different powers.

Christian Prayer

We rarely think of a prayer as a chant. However, they are considered to be Gregorian chants that are a powerful tool for awakening the mind and heart of chanters and listeners. 

Scholar Katherine Le Mee says in Chant that medieval people “knew that setting lines of scripture to song would imprint them ever more deeply into the memories of the worshipers, and that the words’ effects would be sustained over longer periods of time, with great intensity.”

Mantras, like Christian prayers, break up unhealthy and negative patterns stored in our physical and subtle bodies.

Kabbalistic Chanting

Jewish Kabbalistic thought and Vedic thought are very similar. Every letter has a meaning and rationale, cause and effect of a preceding cause and produces a magical effect — the vowels especially.

Abraham Abulfia lived in the late 13th century and made esoteric knowledge available to ordinary people. He is usually compared to Buddha, who also made mantras available to all. Moses Cordovero says in his book The Pomegranate Orchard, that manifestations of God’s characteristics descend into human consciousness in the form of sound.

Most chanting traditions around the world believe that they can change the body and the soul with sound. As you begin using mantras daily, you will probably notice a sense of calmness and peace. Therefore, you may want to keep you mantra personal just like other civilizations have done.

How Mantras Work

Mantras are the language our human spiritual physiology uses to connect with our subtle body. They can have significant impacts in our lives — on our mental and physical health and on how we deal with our daily experiences.

Mantras will ignite the energy stored in our chakras — our karmic energy that we inherit from past lives — and increase their capacity to hold even more energy. The increased ability to hold energy improves our well-being.

Mantras increase our spiritual power. They draw on the environment’s energy and expose us to kundalini energy — a rare experience for those of us living in western countries. Mantras are highly associated with karma and chakras, which we discuss in further detail in this article. They clear blockages in our chakras, allowing a feminine dormant power cell in the first chakra to distribute enough energy to the other chakras. This will restore our health, improve our lives, and remove karmic conditions hindering our growth.

The power of mantras lies on the vibrational effect of the syllables we chant repeatedly. This vibration produces energy and brings us into a state of consciousness that we can’t achieve otherwise. It’s that vibration that gives life to our chakras and makes them vibrant.

To find more about how mantras work: How mantras can change your life?

How to Use a Mantra

Before using a mantra, you should have a clear understanding of what the issue you want to solve is. You can write it on a piece of paper and place it somewhere visible when you are chanting your mantra. 

After you’ve practiced chanting mantras for a while, you may want to adopt a chanting discipline. You can either chant the mantra as often as possible for 21 days or use the 40-day discipline. 

When chanting mantras, choose a place where you can concentrate and there will be no disruptions. It’s always good to do the practice at the same time daily, twice a day. The best time to say your mantra is two hours before dawn until dawn and two hours before sunset until sunset. But if you can’t find a quiet place at these hours, don’t let that keep you from practicing your mantra. 

You can also use a rosary or a mala to keep track of how many times you are repeating your mantra. Also, keep a spiritual journal where you can record your experiences while chanting your mantra. After a while, you may begin to have spiritual experiences and impressions that you won’t want to forget.

Remember that mantras will cause an effect in your life and you may feel some discomfort at first with the changes that you will experience, but keep pressing and don’t give up, even if your body tells you it is too tired. Change is never comfortable, so it’s natural to fight it, but try to resist the spiritual tests that will come your way and you will soon feel the joys and positive effects mantras bring into our lives. Click here to know more about how you can use mantras to improve your life.

Seed Mantras

Seed mantras, also known as bija mantras, have no translation but work with a specific focus. Their vibrations contain high levels of energy and a person will only find meaning in them once they experience the effects of chanting these mantras. 

Seed mantras work best when you have a focus in mind. So if you have an issue you need to resolve or a goal you want to achieve, pick a seed sound that best represents the energy you want. 

Here are the 10 types of seed mantras:

  • Shrim
  • Ein
  • Klim
  • Dum
  • Krim
  • Gum
  • Glaum
  • Haum
  • Kshraum
  • Hrim

Moreover, our chakras each have a bija mantra that activates their potential; by chanting the mantra, the energy associated with the chakra can be amplified, accelerated, and purified. It would be best if you experienced this power individually since the results will be different for each person.

Below are the types of chakra bija mantras:

  • Lam
  • Vam
  • Ram
  • Yam
  • Hum
  • Om

Once you define your seed mantra, work with it for 10 days, repeating it as often as possible. Spend five to ten minutes twice a day meditating on the mantra. When you feel that it is working, do it for another 30 days. Watch your progress after the 40th day.

This article discusses seed mantras and how they work more in depth.

Teachers and Gurus

Contrary to what most people believe, the guru is not a person, but rather a cosmic principle called upaguru in Sanskrit, or “the teacher without form.” The syllable gu means “darkness” and the syllable ru means “that which dispels it.” Therefore, the guru is a principle that turns darkness away and brings the mind to the understanding that it needs to surrender to the light and enlightenment.

Gurus are often portrayed as teachers who guide students toward spiritual realization or enlightenment. Thus, students progress more quickly when they follow the guru’s leadership.

However, the guru exists within each of us as a principle that is accessible at any time depending on your soul’s blueprint. According to Thomas Ashley-Farrand in his book Healing Mantras, “the true guru is a principle that resides in your own heart and will lead you, as you are ready, on your spiritual journey of many winding paths.”

There are some people who have been transformed by the guru principle and offer a helping hand, surrendering themselves in service to help others find enlightenment. One must be careful when these teachers lose themselves to worldly praise and stop being a spiritual air and become a hindrance. It’s worth remembering that even these gurus are human and they are susceptible to errors. 

Be certain your spiritual teacher reflects the message from your inner teacher accurately when seeking counsel.

Mantras help find the right guru for your needs

There will be times when you may need spiritual help but won’t be able to find your inner teacher. In times like these, having an outer teacher can help with your progress.

It’s difficult to know who is more advanced and who is the suitable person to help you with your spiritual path. A mantra can, however, direct you to the right person because it strengthens the conscious connection between mind and upaguru principle.

Mantras will also help you determine how long you need the help of the teacher, be it one day, one year or a lifetime.

Individuals can become gurus through mantras

First, it’s good to note that those who wish to become gurus should do so with a goal to help others in their spiritual progress.

The more you practice mantras, the more energized your chakras become. At one point, there will be so much energy and power within themselves that it reaches and impacts those who are only listening to it. This is when a person has reached the stage where they can help others with their practice in the guru-disciple tradition.

Ashley-Farrand states that “initiation in this context means imparting a mantra ‘with power’ to a deserving student.” That way, the student will advance much more quickly than they would if they practiced the mantra alone.

The guru-disciple relationship is an important tool for the advancement of spiritual progress. But the guru has to keep in mind that he or she is only an instrument of the instrument, a servant of your inner guru.

Moving on from spiritual teachers

Every true guru knows they are only an instrument, a servant of your inner guru. It’s natural to feel like it’s time to move onto new endeavors and findings, which means parting ways with your outer teacher is not a sin. Honor the teacher who has come into your life and be grateful for their teachings but always listen to your inner teacher’s guidance and follow the upaguru to the next lesson.

Mantra to strengthen connection with your inner teacher

The mantra below gives easy access to your conscious mind to your inner teacher. This mantra contains the seed Gum, which is connected with Ganesha and removes obstacles.

Om Gum Gurubhyo Namaha

(Om Goom Goo-Roo-Byo Nahm-Ah-Ha)

“Om and salutations to that which removes the darkness of ignorance and all impediments thereto.”

What do you want to be?

When a baby is born, we all become amazed by that brand new life, full of potential, that has just arrived in this world. Although we are in awe of the many possibilities of what that little baby will become as an adult, we often overlook the reality that surrounds him or her.

The truth is that the baby’s future will be impacted by many factors — wealth, education, geographic locations, DNA, health, etc. Aside from that, their astrological blueprint karma shows up, the solar placement qualities influence desires and predispositions, the planetary alignments shape energy patterns and personality, and the dormant karma from their past lives is just waiting to be released when the time comes.

All of these limiting forces impact our ability to make decisions. However, human beings can’t help but respond to their karma and their drive to progress, both individually and collectively. 

Once we grow up and start choosing our path, the consequences determine many events in our lives.

Esoteric Levers

We are here on this earth to live intentionally, and that’s what it means to have a consciousness. Mantras can produce gentle or powerful changes that will impact our spiritual path. They are levers for changing our lives, whether they are small or big.

We control who we want to become, and mantras help us achieve our goals in this life. The more diligently we practice them, the closer we will be to reaching our objectives.

Who do you want to be?

The main goal of spiritual discipline is to achieve virtue and an ideal state of being. The effects and active pursuit of our spiritual decisions determine our fate. At this point, you should have an idea of what your spiritual ideal looks like and have probably framed your ultimate destination. You can now dedicate your spiritual practice and disciplines toward achieving your ideal nature.

May your efforts of Sanskrit mantra bring the enlightenment you are seeking in your life and help you fulfill your spiritual goals. Once you are healed, states Ashley-Farrand, you will arrive at a state of love:

  1. Love is based upon unity: You are part of what you love.
  2. Love involves understanding: The beloved reveals its secrets to the lover and seeks comfort in it.
  3. Love is an expression of selflessness: The needs of the beloved are more important than those of the lover.
  4. Love is transcendental: Love evokes miracles.
  5. In love, the means and the ends are one: The only way to achieve the state of love is by loving.
  6. Love can be a gift of God.
  7. Love means service: Love is expressed with actions, service to others, not with words.
  8. The search for love is the end of all meaning: Our searches will be worth nothing if we don’t have love.

Love is our birthplace, our final refuge, and our reason for being: Compassion and love are the ultimate destination of our search.

to be continued …