Let the spaciousness of Nature bring spaciousness to your mind.
Word by word translation
of 22 Sanskrit mantras
What Does the Mantra Mean?
Manta Meditation - Stabilising then Attracting the Mind to Spirituality.
Reciting mantra is a form of meditation, and the dictionary meaning of kīrtana is “recite”. To learn and practise meditation, we need to give the mind something to focus on, so we can stabilise and quieten our mind. This is our first step towards the Peace that we long for, in the noise and busy-ness of this modern world. Image, sound and touch is normally offered to beginners, as the meditation object. We train the mind to move from thinking to sensing. As a strategy to free our consciousness from unnecessary and unhelpful thought.
Groups of Hindu origin that teach mantra meditation in Australia include Transcendental Meditation, Sahaja Yoga, Satya Sai Baba, The Mantra Room, and the Hare Krishna sect. When the mantra is recited out loud, especially a large group, the sound and the sensation of reciting the mantra are both meditation objects for the beginner.
Having first slowed the mind down, and stabilised it, the next step is to attract the mind towards the beauty of the spiritual Qualities or bodhyaṅga. This is the special advantage of mantra meditation, for mantra and mantra words are steeped in spirituality; they have some “special energy” to them. When we are naturally attracted to our spiritual essence, then it is so much easier to cultivate and practice : contentment, appreciation, enjoyment, good will and friendliness, clarity and thus good decision making.
Kirtan is a special kind of mantra meditation because we can also use it as a music meditation. In this, we give undivided attention to the sound of the music and its dynamics. Allow the beauty of the professional performance to attract our mind into the music as a meditation. Become absorbed into music appreciation. My webpage on “Music Meditation” details this practise.
This suggests that any suitable sound could be used for a meditation object, and we might guess that the mantra does not need to have meaning, nor be translated. The mantra can just be sounds of some “special energy”, that have “descended from the celestial realm to the material, with no loss of potency.” Indeed, this might be how many people view Kirtan and the mantras used in Kirtan. In India, it’s not customary for the leader to give a talk about the meaning of the mantra when it’s recited. (The audience already knows.)
The Hidden Meaning of these Mantras.
For the mantras chosen by our Kirtan musicians all have deep spiritual significance. That’s why they have been recited by millions for millennia, in devotional atmosphere. There is powerful “energy” behind them. These mantras are a succinct poetry that express important Dharma themes that can help us in purification practise and our efforts to realise spiritual Liberation. If we can somehow access this knowledge. And one purpose of this website is to explore and reveal this hidden meaning of these mantras.
The problem is that it’s a website. The kind of consciousness we use to (try to) get info off the internet is quite opposite to the kind of consciousness of meditation, and spiritual realisation.
The Need to Slow Down.
If we just rush thru the discussion of the mantra meaning, impatiently wanting to “know” what the mantra means, then we will defeat our purpose. For this deep spiritual knowledge needs a mind that is still, focussed, clear, bright, wise and very happy to be like this. We need the consciousness of meditation to access the hidden meaning of the mantra.
So please do not be tempted nor driven to read these mantra discussions in a hurry. Nor read the longer ones continually without a break. Be compassionate to your self. Allow your mind to slow down, move towards inner peace, and rejuvenating stillness and silence. Take a break now and then to let the Dharma soak in.
Try to resist the temptation to skim thru the many different mantra discussions on this website. It’s probably better to read about - only one mantra per visit. Prolonged refection is recommended on any particular mantra, to (try to) access its hidden meaning and value for our spiritual essence.
Please remember this too. These mantras can take us to spiritual Liberation, and that is beyond the thought driven self. Such Freedom is beyond mere personal opinion, and all the attachments we can have to our opinions. Especially our well formed views. So please try to leave opinions, judgements, comparisons outside. They really do not help us to access the hidden meaning of these mantras.
Mantra and Deity.
I explore the following themes when I discuss mantra meanings -
- spiritual practice, especially
- taking personal responsibility for our advancement to Liberation, and our transcendence from suffering
- the dynamics of the healing process,
- the dynamics of how pain is released or expelled, and
- how we can develop and protect the spiritual Qualities.
In this, Deity is something that will come to us, sooner or later, when conditions are favourable for a visit. Our task is to create these necessary conditions. Our task is to make effort, guided by our own experience of what works best for us.
Deity then appears in the form of release and transcendence, or as the Presence of the spiritual Qualities. Thus Deity is an experience, not a prescribed religious belief, in these translations. The important perception is that Deity comes from : beyond the ego and opinions, perhaps from outside ourselves.
Kirtan lyrics are all about Deity, yet this word is not clearly defined. How can we develop an understanding of Deity that is –
- unifying, and
- true to Hindu themes?
Deity in Story Telling.
Most modern Hindu beliefs and religious practices come from the Purana (purāṇa) scriptures, dating mostly from the first millennium CE. Each Purana tells stories around a principal character, either a God or a Sage, and cover history, sacred sites, rituals, astrology, mantras, philosophy, and the importance of service. There are eighteen major Puranas, including Srimad Bhagavatam and Ramayana, and many minor ones. Rama-yana is most popular, and tells stories of Prince Rama, his wife Sita, and his assistant Hanuman, who embody ideal qualities and conduct.
As a result, the various Names for Deity used in mantra are often presented as characters in a kind of religious theatre, in stories that are often imaginative and magical. In tribal times, the culture, history, spirituality and philosophy of the tribe was conveyed by traditional story telling, for they could not read, nor write, nor make books (let alone movies or websites!). Modern day story telling is not really like this.
I rely more on dictionary meanings of these Names for Deity, and less on the Purana stories, when I discuss mantra meaning.
Best wishes from Mike.
©Copyright by Mike Browning, 2021. You are permitted and encouraged to copy text from this webpage and use as you see fit, provided it is not harmful to mantra-translate.