Free Press Journal

Understanding the real meaning of mantras


Our culture has been reduced to mere chants of mantras and shlokas on particular occasions. We need to understand that these mantras are not mere words but ways to connect yourself to the truth of your existence…the divine

I am sure the title of today’s column caught your attention and sent a shiver down your spine. Even those who are not very well versed with Hindi or are of any faith, know and detest these words as it is associated with death; the flip side of life. A truth which we run away from, all our lives. We all are aware that every beginning has an end and our existence in this world is nothing but a journey from birth to death. The journey starts the moment we are born and every day we are moving closer towards our final destination…death. But we do not want to accept this fact, we live in a water bubble, thinking that it would last forever. Hence, everything which is associates with death is detested, including the chant “Ram naam satya hai”. However, the mantra has nothing to do with death but is a reminder to each one of us that it is the divine which lasts forever and is the ultimate truth and reason for your existence. It is the divinity in you, the ‘Ram’ in you which is the truth and shall prevail.

But if you visit someone and are greeted by someone with ‘Ram naam satya hai’, how would you feel? You might even be offended by that greeting, isn’t it? The reason is that you associate the mantra with a particular ritual (death) but not the fact it tries to imply and remind you of.

We today are losing our heritage and rich culture of Vedic knowledge not only due to our narrow thinking which runs after facts and reasoning but also due to lack of knowledge of the language and philosophy behind the mantras. We are blindly following the traditions and repeating the mantras like a parrot with absolutely no effort to read between the lines which is nothing but the way to perpetual peace within – the secret and purpose of our lives.

Importance of rituals

In today’s world when everything runs on a fast track and is based on evidence and logic, rituals are losing their importance and are being reduced to a mere eyewash at times as per our convenience.

However, rituals are important for our spiritual growth. Rituals provide us with a focal point and distract our minds from the consciousness of body to the consciousness of our inner self; which in a way is required and is crucial for our survival. The mind which wanders and runs after the worldly pleasures endlessly making us a beast of desires, ready to prey on our own being, can only be tamed if one distracts his / her mind from the world outside and rituals and shlokas gives us that way out of the web of our own mind.

Every word chanted has a deep meaning and gives us an opportunity to demonstrate reverence for being in the moment, moment to moment.

You are the universe

Rituals are inherent in the spiritual belief system of almost all cultures. The purpose of all the schools of thoughts is the same – to elevate one’s physical and emotional consciousness in order to attune with our inner peace and tranquillity. To achieve spiritual ecstasy, with the source of our creation.

While you feel one with the cosmos while focusing on to the truth of your existence, you build a newfound assurance and begin to nurture our creativity and make a conscious effort to liberate your spontaneity and awareness. Rituals make us aware – of our body, our core of existence, our consciousness and our liberated self. Living in awareness and realising the fact that you are beyond the experiences of your body is the first step towards seeking knowledge and spirituality.

Perpetual meditation

What about atheists, one may wonder. If one does not believe in rituals, how does one connect to the divinity within? But the answer is simple. Our mind and bodies are conditioned for auto-tuning towards peace and harmony with yourself and the nature around you. If the mind engages too much into logic and reasoning, like it does with the atheists, mind automatically diverts itself to ‘perpetual meditation’ such as running, swimming, dancing, yoga or other artistic expressions. The physical awareness and mental ecstasy is almost what you feel when you connect through chanting mantras or doing a ritual.

Connect and communicate

The compelling urge to be one with the universe and be connected with other living forces around is met with when rituals and ceremonies are performed either solitary or shared. One feels a sense of belonging, security and assurance that the life’s journey which might press you down at times is a common factor with others around you. This gives you the strength to face life squarely with a will to sail through adversities and come out a winner, and while doing so others are with you too, struggling with their own challenges.

Absence of rituals might leave you feeling estranged from your own existence because then you might feel disconnected, confused, alone and bereft. Isolated from the rituals you might feel isolated in extremely intense times, we dangle stranded in an enormously complex universe without a spiritual safety net to save us.

Stop being a parrot

In today’s times when there is so much of chaos within each one’s mind, one needs to stop and detox, refuel and put your mind back on track of sanity. So every time you chant a mantra or hear one, try to know the word meaning and the philosophical meaning behind it. Make it an opportunity to connect with the infinite within the apparent finite you. Feel the positive energies flowing through you and the negative energies breaking away. Chant the mantras with full focus or if you are an atheist run, paint, sing, dance with the same focus; you will be energised and will feel the peace within.

So next time you hear ‘Ram naam satya hai’ don’t be perplexed, close your ears or shrink in fear but smile in affirmation and get back your focus to that ‘satya’.