Mantras, Satsang, Kirtan: Meaning and Origin

Mantras ( also mantras ) are usually recited or sung at the beginning and end of a yoga session or meditation. Among other things, they form the framework for what comes afterwards. But what exactly is a mantra? What are the origins and why are they so important in yoga alongside pranayama and meditation?

Mantra: meditation

Mantras are sacred syllables, words, verses or phrases from the ancient Indian language Sanskrit . The sound bodies carry subtle (spiritual) energy, which manifests itself in a certain rhythm through repeated recitation, listening or singing and in this way can open us to higher truths. Mantras were received and passed on in deep meditation by “self-realized” masters, so-called Rishis. Devanagari is the pronounced phonetic form of Sanskrit and is referred to as the language of the gods. Mantras are therefore invocations to the highest being, to the highest realities. They are your prayer to all that is.

The sacred chants are many thousands of years old and have their original starting point among the early Indian, Mongolian and Tibetan peoples. The chanting of mantras is found in many very old cultures and the practice and knowledge of it has survived to this day.

Man means "to think" and trai means to "protect" or "liberate" from the phenomenal world. Every mantra has a certain power in its sound vibration, a spiritual power. Mantra repetition is considered one of the most effective practices to clear and uplift the mind. To really understand mantras and their effects, two things are important: everything in the universe is vibration or energy. Quantum physics has already confirmed this and everything resonates with each other in some way or can be made to resonate with each other.

The body of sound creates a certain sound and these sounds are vibrations and create certain forms in the visible world. There is an experiment where the mantra Om formed the shape of the Sri Yantra in the sand.

By reciting certain mantras, for example a healing mantra, you are feeding and invoking this energy around you.

The six parts of it mantra

Every true mantra has six qualities that make it up:

  1. Rishi - a seer or master/guru who has found supreme truth through the mantra. (Enlightenment)
  2. Matra - a sound vibration that is influenced by meter, rhythm and pitch
  3. Bija - the essence of the mantra (the effect of the mantra, where it should lead, a divine aspect that is invoked)
  4. Ishta Devata - cosmic power; Deity presiding over the mantra
  5. Shakti - the power behind the mantra, e.g. arising from the first parts of a mantra (Rishi, Bija, Ishta Devata)
  6. Kilaka - a seal that closes the effect of the mantra so that it reveals its hidden consciousness and we ultimately become the mantra itself

What are satsang and kirtan?

Kirtan has its roots in India and describes the singing of spiritual songs, which is sung in antiphon in a group. Common chanting is usually accompanied by instruments such as the harmonium, among others. One or more singers each prescribe a line and those present repeat it together. A kirtan is a kind of spiritual concert and a part of Bhakti - Yoga (yoga of devotion).
A kirtan is, so to speak, a prayer through music in which one sings songs about or for deities and their aspects with deep devotion.

The chanting of mantras and kirtans is a part of satsang in traditional yoga.
Satsang literally means: Being together with the truth and describes a spiritual gathering of people who sing mantras and meditate together.

In Indian ashrams or traditional yoga centers, satsang traditionally always takes place early in the morning and in the evening and forms a spiritual framework for the day.

Mantra recitation can be applied to various yoga practices, such as mantra yoga , mantra meditation and also mantra consecration, in which one receives a selected mantra and is ceremonially initiated into it. In the next blog article you will get a little more insight into the topic of mantra yoga and how exactly a mantra consecration is carried out.

In the meantime, you can find instructions for a mantra meditation here and find out what popular mantras there are.

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