Mantra-s are an very important part of the Viniyoga® tradition. The word itself, mantra, has a very important meaning. The first part of the word, MAN, means « manas, mind ». The second one, TRA, means « to cross, to protect ». This definition, from the Mantra-Yoga-Saṁhitā,explains this idea under the following definition : mananāttrāyate iti mantraḥ. Mantra hence is what protects from the mind (meaning that the work done with the mind protects as mantra practice is a meditation done with the mind). This idea is not easy to understand from an occidental point of view : how the fact of repeating a mantra during some times can have a positive impact on the practitioner ? In fact, mantra create energy (prāṇa), that is why a practice done with mantra is called sagarbha: « with an embryo » (with life actually).This represent well the fact that mantra brings prāṇa(life) to the practice. Each mantra is the holder of some specific energy. This is due to the power of the sanskrit language. It is said in the śastra(the classical texts) that the sound of the Sanskrit contains the meaning. Hence the name of the sun contain the energy of the sun, the name of the mountain contain the name of the mountain. This is why it is considered as a sacred language. Another very important aspect of mantra is that mantra are meant to be positive : tat codakeṣu mantrakhyāḥ : « what praise something is a mantra ». Most of mantra end with the word namaḥ which means « respectful salutation ». Sometimes, the word svaḥindicate a prayer to something that we consider as higher. There are few different ways of working with mantra.
1) The first way of working with mantra is called cikitsa. Mantra-s are then used with a therapeutical application. They have the power to heal the care seeker by giving an energy which is lacking inside the system of the practitioner. They have a quick result, they have the power to quickly change somebody’s mind. For instance, the mantra māṁ pāhi which means : « protect me ». This mantra has the power to make the practitioner feeling protected. This protection is highly significant nowadays, where medicine is more considered as a matter of fact rather than a matter of care and protection.
2) The second way of working with mantra is a mantra that will bring you to understand and to realize your dharma. It is called laukika. One mantra is very much shared with this intention in India, traditionaly to every boys who were around 6 years old. The ritual sandhyavandanam is taught to them as a way of praising the sun and asking him to illuminate their mind. With clarity, it becomes much easier to what is their own dharma.
3) The third way is called vaidika. It is a spiritual application of the mantra. Practised in this way, this mantra has the ability to show the reality behing the ordinary senses to the practitioner. When he realizes the power of his mantra, the sadhakawill see the tattva [the principles of reality] : he will understand and experiment the metaphysicals concepts. Applied in this way, the mantra will work with concept like « light », « God », « consciousness ».
A very important warning has to be uttered here : mantra are meant to be taught by a teacher to somebody that has the ability to hold the person during his practice. The changes that mantra-s brings inside the practitioner are so deep that sometimes some emotional help is required to maintain the stability of the student. This is the case every level of practice. One, for instance, can realizes why he got sick, another what his dharmais and another one may realizes that he not have the power that he think in his life and begin to surrender the higher force, etc. With the practice of mantra, every realization brings its level of change and challenges. But practiced in a way that make the practitioner gaining some maturity, yes, mantra are one of the best protector.
Article by: Philip Rigo, Viniyoga® Teacher