A Mantra (मंत्र / Sanskrit: मन्त्र) is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit (संस्कृत) believed by practitioners to have psychological and/or spiritual powers.
A Mantra (मंत्र) may or may not have a syntactic structure or literal meaning.
The earliest Mantras (मंत्र) were composed in
Vedic Sanskrit (वैदिक संस्कृत) in India, and are at least 3000 years old.
Mantras (मंत्र) now exist in various schools of Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म), Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म), Jainism (जैन धर्म), and Sikhism
In Japanese Shingon tradition (真言宗 Shingon-shū / Shingon Buddhism), the word "Shingon" (真言, zhēnyán) means "Mantra" (मंत्र).
Similar hymns, antiphons, chants, compositions, and concepts are found in Zoroastrianism (الزرادشتية), Taoism (道教), Christianity, and elsewhere.
The use, structure, function, importance, and
types of Mantras (मंत्र) vary according to
the school and philosophy of Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म) and Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म).
Mantras (मंत्र) serve a central role in Tantra (तन्त्र).
In this school, Mantras (मंत्र) are considered to be a sacred formula and a deeply personal ritual, effective only after initiation.
In other schools of Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म), Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म), Jainism (जैन धर्म) or Sikhism (सिख धर्म), initiation is not a requirement.
Mantras (मंत्र) come in many forms, including Ṛc (आर / verses
from the ऋग्वेद, Rigveda for example) and Sāman (सामान / musical chants
from the सामवेद, Sāmaveda for example).
They are typically melodic, mathematically structured meters, believed to be resonant with numinous qualities.
At its simplest, the word ॐ (Aum, Om) serves as a Mantra (मंत्र).
In more sophisticated forms, Mantras (मंत्र) are melodic phrases with spiritual interpretations such as a human longing for truth, reality, light, immortality, peace, love, knowledge, and action.
Some Mantras (मंत्र) have no literal meaning, yet are musically uplifting and spiritually meaningful.
- Vedic Sanskrit (वैदिक संस्कृत) is an Indo-European language, more specifically one branch of the Indo-Iranian group.
It is the ancient language of the Vedas (वेद) of Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म), texts compiled over the period of the mid-2nd to mid-1st Millennium BCE.
- Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म) is an Indian Religion and Dharma (धर्म), or way of life, widely practiced in the Indian Subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia.
Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म) has been called the oldest religion in the world, and some practitioners and scholars refer to it as Sanātana Dharma (सनातन धर्म), "the eternal tradition", or the "eternal way", beyond human history.
- Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म) is the world's fourth-largest Religion with over 520 million followers, or over 7% of the global population, known as Buddhists.
Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म) encompasses a variety of traditions, beliefs and spiritual practices largely based on original teachings attributed to the Buddha (बुद्ध) or Gautama Buddha (गौतम बुद्ध / c. 563/480 - c. 483/400 BCE) or Siddhārtha Gautama (सिद्धार्थ गौतम) and resulting interpreted philosophies.
Buddhism originated in ancient India as a Śramaṇa (श्रमण) tradition sometime between the 6th and 4th centuries BCE, spreading through much of Asia.
Two major extant branches of Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म) are generally recognized by scholars: Theravada (थेरवडा / "The School of the Elders") and Mahayana (महायान / "The Great Vehicle").
- Jainism traditionally known as Jain Dharma (जैन धर्म) is an ancient Indian Religion.
Followers of Jainism (जैन धर्म) are called "Jains", a word derived from the Sanskrit (संस्कृत) word jina (जिना / victor) who connotes the path of victory in crossing over life's stream of rebirths by destroying the karma (कर्म) through an ethical and spiritual life.
- Sikhism (सिख धर्म / Punjabi: ਸਿੱਖੀ) is a Monotheistic Religion that originated in the Punjab (पंजाब) Region in the Northern part of the Indian Subcontinent around the end of the 15th Century.
The fundamental beliefs of Sikhism (सिख धर्म / Punjabi: ਸਿੱਖੀ), articulated in the sacred scripture Guru Granth Sahib (Punjabi: ਗੁਰੂ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ), include faith and meditation on the name of the One Creator, divine unity and equality of all humankind, engaging in selfless service, striving for justice for the benefit and prosperity of all and honest conduct and livelihood while living a householder's life.
- Shingon Buddhism (真言宗 Shingon-shū) is one of the major schools of Buddhism (佛 教) in Japan and one of the few surviving Vajrayana (वज्रयान) lineages in East Asia, originally spread from India to China through travelling monks such as Vajrabodhi (金剛智) and Amoghavajra (अमोघवज्र, 不空).
Known in Chinese as the Tangmi (唐密; the Esoteric School in 塘, Tang Dynasty of China), these Esoteric teachings would later flourish in Japan under the auspices of a Buddhist monk named Kūkai (空海), who traveled to Tang (塘) China to acquire and request transmission of the Esoteric teachings.
For that reason, it is often called Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, or Orthodox Esoteric Buddhism.
- Zoroastrianism (الزرادشتية) is one of the world's oldest continuously practiced Religions.
It is a Heterodox yet Orthopraxic faith centered in a Dualistic Cosmology of good and evil and an eschatology predicting the ultimate conquest of evil with theological elements of Henotheism, Monotheism / Monism, and Polytheism.
Ascribed to the teachings of the Iranian-speaking spiritual leader Zoroaster (زرادشت / also known as زاراهشترا, Zarathushtra), it exalts an uncreated and benevolent deity of wisdom, Ahura Mazda (أهورا مازدا / Wise Lord), as its supreme being.
Major features of Zoroastrianism (الزرادشتية), such as Messianism, Judgment after death, Heaven and Hell, and Free Will may have influenced other Religious and philosophical systems, including Second Temple Judaism, Gnosticism, Greek philosophy, Christianity, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, and Buddhism.
- Taoism (道教) is a Philosophical or Religious tradition of Chinese origin which emphasizes living in harmony with the Tao (道 / "the Way").
The Tao (道) is a fundamental idea in most Chinese Philosophical Schools; in Taoism (道教), however, it denotes the principle that is the source, pattern and substance of everything that exists.
- Tantra (तन्त्र / "loom, weave, system") denotes the Esoteric traditions of Hinduism (हिंदू धर्म) and Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म) that co-developed most likely about the middle of the 1st Millennium AD.
The term "Tantra" (तन्त्र), in the Indian traditions, also means any systematic broadly applicable "text, theory, system, method, instrument, technique or practice".
Starting in the early centuries of Common Era, newly revealed Tantras (तन्त्र) centering on Vishnu (विष्णु), Shiva (शिव) or Shakti (शक्ति) emerged.
In Buddhism (बौद्ध धर्म), the Vajrayana (वज्रयान) tradition is known for its extensive tantra ideas and practices.
Tantric Hindu and Buddhist traditions have influenced other Eastern Religious traditions such as Jainism (जैन धर्म), the Tibetan Bön tradition (བོན), Daoism (道教) and the Japanese Shintō tradition (神道).