Life is a form of vibration of color, matter, energy particles; even emotions have a vibration. The Vedas state that creation arises from the first sound of the universe, the primordial sound Aum. The definition of mantra varies because there are so many types of mantras: Áyurvedic mantras, astrological mantras, seed (bíja) mantras, deities mantras etc.
A special group of mantras is Guru mantras. These are words enlivened by the spiritual teacher to awaken our inner kundaliní power and develop our spiritual growth of Self-Realization. Different Gurus or Masters use different mantras; some use meaningless sounds, some use musical sounds, some use the mantra aum, aum namaà Sivaya, etc; and others use name-symbol or deity mantras. It is believed that any words the Guru speaks to a person are mantras or awakeners of kundaliní. If the Master (Guru) says, “eat an apple,” that would be a mantra for that moment. Some gurus use only the playing of music to realize the Divine. Some meditate on the Divine as unmanifest, formless.
The sound itself relates to the element of ether, the source of all the other elements. By calming and awakening the inner self through sound, a person can calm, harmonize, and balance all the elements that are in his or her life.
The mantra is that which saves us from the workings of the mind. Thought or meditation vanishes
with the stopping of mental activities. With the stopping of mental activities, yoga is attained, which is nothing but self-concentration or self-centeredness.
– Yoga Sutra
Life-breath—or Soul (kundaliní shakti)—is the mantra, the savior of the mind, because the mind is a vibration of life-breath. When the life-breath flows through the sushumná (a mystical tube within the spine) to the crown of the head, the mind becomes fixed in the Brahmarandhra, within the crown chakra (Sahasrárara), and it disappears, becoming calm, peaceful, or inactive. Thus, the mantra is nothing but the breath of life.
This life-breath, when exhaled, makes the sound ‘Hang,’ and when inhaled, makes the sound ‘Sah’. This mantra occurs in all creatures 21,600 times daily over the entire 24 hour period. Those of keen yogic awareness can actually hear this sound. This Gáyatrí or mantra is known as ajapa, and is the giver of salvation to Yogis. Gáyatrí originates at the múládhára—or base chakra, has a dot-like appearance, and sustains the Self. Náda—or sound— evolves from this imperceptible kundaliní sprout.
Yogis perceive this sound as a sprout from an invisible seed. As it moves to the navel, it can logically be perceived as visible rumbling, as if from the clouds.
It then moves up to the heart as unstruck sound and is finally heard in the throat so as to produce all sounds, alphabets, words, sentences, mantras, scriptures, etc. So all mantras emanate from náda— or sound, originating at the first chakra.
Mantras, to be successful, must be enlivened or animated; this occurs by waking the kundaliní shakti.
Generally, it is believed that one needs a Guru to enliven the word or mantra. Otherwise, everyone could refer to a book or go to a religious service and feel the awakening of life within. Some rare individuals, who have developed much spiritual sincerity and earnestness, can enliven mantras for themselves, but this is rare.
The importance of the mantra is the deity established by it. A mantra is an attribute and deity is the goal. Just as the term “sun” and its effulgence have a relationship, so the mantra and its deity have a connection. Mantra and its deity meditation, bring concentration through meditation, and the result is that the deity is revealed in the Soul.