A mantra is the holy name of God. According to Hinduism any person who chants the holy name of God or Goddess is bound to develop a pure mind in the course of time. The power of chanting a mantra is accepted by many religious leaders too. There is a strong belief that a man who chants the name of God or mantra can see God too.
The word ‘mantra’ can be derived as ‘mananaat traayate iti mantrah’. ‘Manana’ means ‘reflecting on something’ and hence the inner meaning goes as ‘reflecting upon which a person is protected from the perils of life such as bondage and attachment’. Hence a mantra though a word in composition should not be underestimated in its power. Although several mantras are composed of a single word, their power is great to bring enormous benefits both in terms of spiritual and material fronts.
Hinduism believes that regular chanting of a mantra regulates the thinking faculty of the mind and makes a person spiritually oriented. The spiritual growth of the chanter increases in the course of time. It is said that a mantra transferred from the mouth of a teacher to the taught has a greater impact on the life of the taught since it carries with it the spiritual experience and the power of the teacher. Hence the chanting of a mantra should be learned directly from a teacher than from holy books. Pronunciation of the syllables of a mantra plays a great part in bringing about the desired results as far as the spiritual growth of the person is concerned.
Two of the most important mantras are the Pranava mantra called the ‘Aum’ and the Gayatri Mantra. Both are effective in bringing about spiritual growth in the life of the chanter. Gayatri mantra helps the chanter to advance towards spiritual realization or God realization. It purifies the mind and brings about brilliance and radiance upon the countenance of the chanter. Gayatri mantra is also known by the name of Savitri mantra. You will find the Gayatri mantra in the Rig Veda. This mantra is considered a very effective mantra by the Hindus. Its efficacy cannot be questioned at all according to the practitioners. This mantra is not just a word in its composition but is a congregation of several words that take the form of a prayer. Hence Gayatri mantra is regarded by many Hindus as a kind of prayer that can bestow prosperity and success on the life of the chanter.
The chanter of course is expected to chant the Gayatri mantra with all devotion and steadfast faith. Any mantra uttered without faith is said to be powerless. Hence faith and steadfast devotion are very important when it comes to the chanting of any mantra for that matter. There is a belief that Gayatri mantra if chanted with devotion and faith has the ability to keep diseases too at bay. In Sanskrit the Gayatri mantra goes as follows:
Aum bhur bhuvah svah tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.
The meaning of the Gayatri mantra is as follows: Aum we meditate on the luster of the adorable divine being, who is the receptacle and the savior of the three worlds, namely, the earth, the ether and the heaven called as Bhuloka, Bhuvarloka and Svarloka respectively. May that divine being kindle our intellect so that we may realize the Supreme Brahman or Being.
If this mantra is chanted regularly three times in a day, preferably in the morning, in the afternoon and in the twilight, then it is bound to bestow enormous benefits upon you both physically and mentally. It is believed that Gayatri mantra brings about health benefits as well. The syllables in the mantra are so powerful that regular chanting of these syllables regulates the breathing pattern too. The respiratory and the nervous systems are said to be greatly benefited by the regular chanting of the Gayatri mantra. The Brahmins are supposed to recite the Gayatri mantra on a daily basis after the Yajnopavita or the Sacred Thread ceremony is over. This ceremony is also called as Upanayana. It is one of the important household karmas or duties. Sacred Thread ceremony is performed prior to the marriage ceremony. A person, especially a Brahmin is not supposed to marry before the performance of the Sacred Thread ceremony during which the Gayatri mantra is imparted to him by his father or the teacher.
It is interesting to note that any given mantra is associated with the name of the sage to whom the mantra was revealed first. It also is addressed to a deity. The Gayatri mantra is believed to be addressed to the Sun God, otherwise called as Savita. ‘Suryo Pratyaksha Devata’ goes the religious saying which means ‘The Sun God is the perceivable God’. Every vedic mantra or verse is defined by a meter. So is Gayatri mantra which is composed in the Gayatri meter that comprises of 24 syllables. The name of the meter is ultimately given to the mantra too and hence it is called by the name Gayatri mantra. It is important to note that the Gayatri mantra begins with the mystic syllable ‘aum’. It is believed that ‘aum’ is the basis for all the words that originates from the vocal organ.
The throat is the fundamental unit of the vocal organ. The sound of ‘a’ in ‘aum’ is produced by the throat whereas the sounds ‘u’ and ‘m’ are said to have originated from the lips. Since the universe is filled by words and their meanings, it can be said that the sound ‘aum’ is the representation of the universe as a whole. The syllable ‘aum’ is secular in character and hence can be chanted by people from all walks of life and from all races and communities. In the same way since Gayatri mantra too begins with ‘aum’ it is believed that it bestows lot of benefits on the chanter whoever he or she may be.