Filed in Chanting

Mantra: Tool for Thinking

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The Sanskrit word mantra combines the root man (“to think”) with the suffix tra (“instrument” or “tool”). Therefore, mantra means literally “tool for thinking.” Since earliest Buddhist times, the repetition of sacred phrases has been used as an aid for meditation—to purify and focus the mind, to offer devotion or thanks, and to protect and nurture the spiritual activity of a particular person or place. Some authors differentiate between bijas, or “seed syllables” (pure sounds, such as om); “mixed” mantras, which combine bijas with words having translatable meanings; and dharanis (phrases that are similar in function to mantras but can be translated word for word).

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