Mantras are words or syllables in Sanskrit which when repeated in meditation helps you transcend into a higher state of consciousness. They are typically melodic, mathematically structured meters, believed to be resonant with numinous qualities.

OM – At its simplest, the word ‘OM’ itself serves as a Mantra. 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, Brahma, and the first manifestation of Brahma 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.

The etymology of the word Mantra – Mantra is a Sanskrit word consisting of the root word Man meaning to think and suffix Tra meaning instrument. The whole word can be translated as an instrument of thought.

We know the fact that nature is full of sounds. When we spend time in nature listening to the chirping birds, rustling leaves, the swishing of wind our physiology becomes harmonized or we would rather say there is a positive vibe around us. Same is the case with Mantra. It is a sound of healing. These specific sound or vibration can create a desired effect of healing, transformation, and inner awakening.

Importance of chanting Mantras in Ayurveda

Mantras are Vedic in origin. Ayurveda is considered as the upaveda or auxiliary knowledge of Atharva Veda. In Ayurveda, apart from herbal remedies for diseases, a Daivavyapashrayya treatment (magico-religious practices) is one of the important management measures. Mantra recitation is the part of it which is cited to enhance the healing. It is equally applicable in preventive and therapeutic aspects.

Ayurveda receives the equal status of Mantra as it is being narrated at the advice of Atreya Rsis. ‘Rsi’ means a saint, one who has perceived Mantras and has invented new theories or concepts and explained them in a new light.

Shabda (sound) is the very basic form of energy, which is also ever existent as Akasha (ether). Mantra affects not only on manas (Psyche) and Aatma (soul) but five sense organs are similarly involved in this process because these are the instruments through which waves of mantra reaching up to the soul and mind.

There are numerous references emphasizing Mantra recitation in Ayurveda.

  • When a child is born, Ayurveda advises reciting Mantra on the right ear of the newborn asking gods to protect him/her from evil spirits.
  • In the treatment of fever, Acharya Charaka recommends the chanting of ‘Vishnu sahasra nama’ (thousand names of Hindu deity – Lord Vishnu)
  • Before collection of herbal drugs, mantras have to be chanted.
  • In the treatment of poisoning, Insanity, and Epilepsy, chanting mantras has been described as a treatment.

These are only a few examples. In various places of the ancient classics role of mantras has been described and well defined.

The Vedas interpret that the vowels and consonants of Sanskrit as coming from the Damaru (drum) of Lord Siva. The individual letters of the Sanskrit alphabet are derived from the basic strands of energy vibrating at the central part of the existence of human beings. The vibrations created by sound thought and actions really do have an impact on the inner self of human beings, as well as on environment and hence the universe. The mantra is letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and can create a positive, friendly and a healing effect.

A study conducted by C.R Karnick has shown that ‘in plants from the stage of the seedling to the maturity’ are affected by certain types of sound waves, especially Mantras. 16 Plants have shown a positive response to these type of sound waves regarding their growth and efficacy in curing diseases.

Balancing your body’s frequency has tremendous health effects on the body. Practicing mindfulness, nature awareness and stillness helps you to find your balance. Same is the case with using vibrational cosmetics. It means turning your body in to the earth’s rhythm and finding your inner purpose and following your heart.

The study of the psychophysiological effect of mantra recitation, principally in yogic exercises, contributes to the understanding of the essentially psychosomatic use of sacred formulas and ritual diagrams in Ayurvedic medicine.

Mantras in Ayurveda act as a vibratory vehicle, and it helps in promoting healing. Recently, the western medicine has done numerous studies on the effects of sound on health. Vibroacoustic Therapy has proven to be essential in the improvement of certain diseases and illness; however, it relatively new discovery has prevented and lack of validated results have prevented this treatment to be used widely.

Vibroacoustic sound therapy has proven to have significant results benefitting human health both physiologically and mentally. The low vibrations increase cellular movement, thus increasing energy and cellular regeneration in the body. Consequently, inflammation and pain are reduced because of this treatment.

Chanting a mantra like a syllable “Om” is a long-practiced method of meditation, meant to help the mind stay focused and present. Now science is catching up, discovering the physical effects of such sounds. A 2011 study that examined Om chanting through analysis of MRI scans found that the practice deactivated regions of the brain involved with alertness and self-awareness — when people chanted, they turned down their stress and stimulus receptors. Researches have also proved that, along with calming your spirits, Vibrations improves your breathing rate and boosts oxygen distribution throughout the body.

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Article prepared by – Dr Arya Krishna

References –

  1. Swagata D Tavhare and K Nishteswar, Collection Practices of Medicinal Plants – Vedic, Ayurvedic and Modern Perspectives, International Journal of Pharmaceutical & Biological Archives 2014; 5(5): 54 – 61
  2. Hua Lu and Linda Wiraton, studying circadian rhythms in plants and their pathogens might lead to precision medicine for people, The Conversation
  3. Aparna Pravin Deshpande. Mantra (Incantations) – Divine remedial in Ayurveda. AyurpharmInt J AyurAlli 2014;3(3):61-72.
  4. R.Karnick, Anc sci Life, 1983 Jan-Mar; 2(3): 141–147.
  5. Charaka Samhita, Part-1 (Charakachandrika Hindi commentary). Brahmananda Tripathi, Ganga sahay Pandey, editors. 1st ed. Varanasi: ChaukhambhaSurbharatiPrakashana; 2009. Sharirasthana, 8/46. p.967.
  6. Charaka Samhita, Part-2 (Ayushi Hindi commentary). Harishchandrasinha Kushavaha, editor. 1st ed. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientaliya; 2009. Chikitsasthana, 3/312,313. p.134
  7. Charaka Samhita, Part-2 (Ayushi Hindi commentary). Harishchandrasinha Kushavaha, editor. 1st ed. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientaliya; 2009. Chikitsasthana, 3/312,313. p.134
  8. Charaka Samhita, Part-2 (Ayushi Hindi commentary). Harishchandrasinha Kushavaha, editor. 1st ed. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientaliya; 2009. Chikitsasthana, 3/312,313. p.134
  9. R.Karnick, Anc sci Life, 1983 Jan-Mar; 2(3): 141–147.
  10. Orme-Johnson DW, Farrow JT. Scientific Research on Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program: Collected Papers, Volume 1. Rheinweiler, West Germany: MERU Press, 1977
  11. Alexander CN et al.Trial of stress reduction for hypertension in older African Americans: II. Sex and risk subgroup analysis. Hypertension 1996 28:228-237
  12. Wallace RK et al.Scientific Research on Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi programCollected Papers, Volumes 5 and 6. Fairfield, Iowa: Maharishi University of Management Press, 1995, in press
  13. Alexander CN et al. Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness, and longevity: an experimental study with the elderly. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 1989 57:950-964
  14. Boyd-Brewer, Chris, and Ruth McCaffrey. 2004. Vibroacoustic Sound Therapy Improves Pain Management and More. Holistic Nursing Practice 18 (3): 111-8.
  15. Punkanen, Marko, and Esa Ala-Ruona. 2012. Contemporary Vibroacoustic Therapy: Perspectives on Clinical Practice, Research, and Training. Music & Medicine4 (3): 128-35.