Mantras are energy based sounds that vibrate through the body. The word "mantra" is a Sanskrit word consisting of two syllables: "man" (mind) and "tra" (deliverance). Thus, a mantra is a pure sound vibration which helps the mind to tune with the cosmic energy. They are either written, visualized, sung, or spoken. Reciting a mantra continuously "purifies the speech and 'protects the mind' by maintaining a constant spiritual connection; and of course it helps disperse mental chatter.Chanting is the process of repeating a mantra over and over to touch the deepest level of the self. Of all languages, Sanskrit most closely approaches telepathic language because of its affinity to the fifty primeval sounds.
Mantras cannot be concocted or tailor-made for the individual, despite some current claims. They have always existed in a latent state as sound energies. Just as gravity was discovered but not invented by Newton, mantras were revealed to the ancient masters. They have been codified in the scriptures and handed down from guru to disciple. Although it is customary for the guru when giving initiation to accept voluntary offerings of fruit, flowers or money, the selling of mantras is strictly against all spiritual rules. Mantra, deity or guru, once chosen, should not be changed. There are many paths up the mountain. Perseverance on one alone will bring the aspirant to the top faster than if he were to spread his energies in exploring all the alternative paths.
Mantras used by spiritual aspirants to achieve God-realization are called deity mantras. They are saguna, with qualities or form-producing, and aid the conceptualization process, just as do visual symbols. In time, recitation gives rise to the actual form of the particular deity.
As a specialized sound-body of consciousness, the mantra is the deity itself. The form of the deity manifests as the visible portion of the sound. The mantra, therefore, must be repeated in the proper way, with attention to the syllables and rhythm. If translated, it created in translation are no longer the body of the deity, and therefore cannot evoke it. Only the rhythmical vibrations of the Sanskrit syllables properly recited can regulate the unsteady vibrations of the worshipper and permit the form of the deity to arise. Westerners are prone to think that the various mantras refer to different gods, and that there is a wide diversity in the culminating experience. It must never be forgotten that the deities are aspects of the one Divine whose grandeur is too vast for the mind to comprehend at the beginning of spiritual practice. To use again the analogy of the mountain, the many paths to the top can be viewed as the worship of the various aspects of God. The hill itself is one hill, and the summit is the same. After reaching the pinnacle, one will have the vision to encompass the totality. At the time of initiation by a guru, one's deity, or ishta devata, is chosen. If one cannot discover his own natural inclination, the teacher will choose the deity in accordance with his insight. Once the deity and appropriate mantra have been selected, and the aspirant has received initiation, he works with the mantra until reaching enlightenment. The mantra becomes his theme song, so to speak. He makes its vibrations his own, and to the extent that he can do this, he is drawn closer to God. Other deity mantras can also be used in a supplementary way. For example, the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra protects against accidents, incurable diseases and calamities, and bestows longevity and immortality. It is also a moksha mantra, bringing liberation. Those who do japa of it daily will enjoy health, long life and ultimate enlightenment.