A mantra is a potent formula that contains a mystical power that is unlocked when the mantra is recited or focused on. This is why it is important to know how to recite a mantra.
Mantras were revealed to ancient sages who went deep within themselves in meditation. They were in Sanskrit which is known as the language of the Gods.
These days, positive statements or affirmations are also called “mantras”. They can be powerful in changing how we think and behave. Examples of these affirmations are, “I am always divinely guided and loved”, “Life is easy and joyful,” and “I choose peace”.
Traditional Sanskrit mantras on the other hand, contain divine power. They help to purify the mind, transform our character, and bring out the spiritual shine from within us.
Many mantras are different names of the one God. In my last article, What is a mantra? I gave some examples of these mantras such as Om Namah Shivaya, Om Shree Rama Jaya Rama Jaya Jaya Rama and Om Namo Narayanaya.
Here are some more:
Om Sri Ramaya Namah (Prostrations to Lord Rama)
Om Bhagavate Vasudevaya Namah (Prostrations to Lord Krishna, son of Vasudeva)
Om Shree Hanumate Namah (Prostrations to Lord Hanuman)
In What is a mantra? I explain why mantras are names of deities and the benefits of chanting particular mantras.
How to recite a mantra—3 ways
The continuous repetition of a mantra with faith and reverence is called japa.
Like the memory of a loved one that constantly stays at the back of your mind, a mantra is meant to be remembered and repeated continuously. You can do japa while doing everyday ordinary things such as showering, walking, gardening, doing laundry, driving, or cooking.
How to recite a mantra? Japa can be practiced in three ways—aloud, softly and mentally. Loud japa is the easiest. It doesn’t require too much concentration and is a good way to do japa when you first start your practice. Reciting out loud helps to drown out distracting or negative thoughts and brings your focus to the mantra.
Once you are able to recite aloud with focus, you can recite it softly, so only you can hear it. This type of japa requires more of your attention and is easier to do once you are able to recite aloud with focus.
The best way to recite a mantra is mentally. You will be able to do mental japa only when you’ve mastered chanting aloud and softly. You would have recited it so many times that it’s now easy to repeat it in your mind.
You can do mental japa before going to sleep. This will imbed it in your subconscious mind which will continue to recite it while you sleep. Your mantra will then be the first thought that arises in your mind when you wake up.
This is a great way to uplift and program your subconscious mind to constantly think of the mantra. The divine vibrations will continue to sooth and calm you while you sleep, and you will wake up happy, in a good mood. This will positively influence your day and interactions with others.
Why recite a mantra 108 times?
Ideally, one should dedicate a special time in the day for japa. Practising japa calms and focuses the mind, and so it is especially helpful to use it as a preparation for meditation.
To help to rein in the wandering mind and keep it constantly on the mantra, a rosary or mala is used.
Traditionally, a mala is made up of 108 beads which is a significant number. This is because the sum of 1+ 0 + 8 is 9, which is a special number.
9 is special because the sum of the digits of any multiple of 9 always add up to 9 as seen in the number 108. Also, any number (except 0) multiplied by 9 is a multiple of 9 whose digits always add up to 9.
For example, 9 x 2 = 18 (1 + 8 = 9), 9 x 5 = 54 (5 + 4 = 9) and 9 x 22 = 198 (1 + 9 + 8 = 18 which is then further added: 1 + 8 = 9)
As a result of having this special quality, the number 9 represents completeness or Spirit.
Spirit is the one supreme Cause that expresses as creation or the world of matter.
What is the significance of the number 8 in 108?
The world of matter is represented by the number 8. Why 8? According to the Bhagavad Gita 7:4, the world of matter is made up of eight factors.
At the level of an individual, they are the five subtle elements, the mind, intellect and ego.
The five subtle elements make up our five sense organs. The faculty of hearing comes from the element of space, touch from air, seeing from fire, tasting from water and smelling from earth.
The mind consolidates the stimuli coming in through the sense organs; the intellect understands and interprets that stimuli, and the ego claims ownership of all seven of the above-mentioned factors—the five sense organs, mind and intellect.
The world has emerged from one Cause or Spirit. How has the One become this magnificently diverse world? The answer lies in the symbolism represented by the number 0 in 108.
According to Vedanta, it is through the power of maya, the mysterious creative power of Spirit represented by the number 0 that makes the One appear as many.
On its own, maya has no power to create the world, just as the number 0 on its own has no value. But when Spirit expresses its creative potential—its maya, it has the power to create a world of infinite names and forms.
So, reciting a mantra 108 times connects us to the remembrance of the one Spirit that expresses as the world of matter through its divine power, maya.
Aside from having 108 beads, malas can also be made of 27 beads (one quarter of 108) or 54 beads (one half of 108). All multiples of 9 are auspicious.
Recite a mantra and purify your mind
Just as fire cleanses gold of its impurities, reciting a mantra purifies the heart and rids the mind of negative emotions and sinful tendencies. This is especially so when a mantra is chanted with concentration on its meaning* with faith and love.
Click on the video to watch how to recite a mantra using a mala.
Video: How to Recite a Mantra using a mala or rosary with 108 beads
Please scroll down to view the video.
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So beautiful!!! Thank you so very much for being so clear in your explanation
I happy to know you found it easy to understand. Thanks for sharing!
Very well explained,
Interesting, I was trying to explain this to my daughter yesterday, before I saw your article.
It was her birthday (March 9) and her car license plate number is 135.
My own birthday is July 18, 1935.
I have forwarded this article to her.
You have very well explained the significance of 108.
In a way, it is the divine Shakti, Mahamaya, who is responsible for Maya the 0. She has thrown the veil of ignorance over the Reality.
On the other hand, it is the same Divine Shakti who can help us remove the veil of ignorance so that we can experience the Reality, if we worship her and chant her Bija Mantra:
OM Aim Hriim Kliim Chaa-mundaayai Vichhe
You and your daughter certainly have the auspicious number 9 occurring significantly in your lives! It’s interesting that you mention that there is a Bija mantra for the divine power or shakti. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but is this mantra for Mother Durga?
I remember Guruji, Swami Tejomayananda telling us in one of his talks that to overcome Maya, we should surrender to the Supreme Lord, who is the Lord of Maya or Mayapati. When we surrender, the Lord removes our fears and sorrows and releases us from the clutches of His divine power or Maya.
The Bhagavad Gita 7:14 also says the same thing: “Verily this divine illusion of Mine, made up of gunas is difficult to cross over; those who take refuge in Me, they alone cross over this illusion.”
You’re correct, this Mantra is for Mother Durga.
Lord Rama explained to Lakshmana what is Maya. Maya is “Me and Mine, You and Your”.
Satya Sai Baba said, everyone says “I want peace.” You get rid of “I” and “Want “ and you have Peace.
Very well explained , as always Manisha..
Thanks Kiran. Glad you found it useful!