I found this You Tube clip on OM from God is Good by Thebes interesting, intriguing and good to listen to, though I’ve no idea what this has to do with OM, the Hindu Buddhist primal mantra.
Those who wish to listen to the OM mantra can look up an earliest post on Sound is Inner Energy of Life .
There are a few Sanskrit words from Hindu Scriptures that are terribly misused, even by Indians and Hindus. Karma is, of course, the most prominent of these, and i shall come to it in a future post. Here, i would like to explain what the words mantra and tantra mean.
The root word ‘tra’ means to protect in Sanskrit. ‘Man’ refers to mind and thought. ‘Tan’ refers to body and senses. Mantra refers to techniques, usually, sounds and vibrations, which protect our mind and thoughts, keeping them pure and truthful.
Tantra refers to techniques of protection of the body using any of the sensory perceptions. It does not, as the Western world seems to view it today, represent esoteric, exotic and erotic sexual techniques made notorious by soft porn sites.
Mantra is a sound that may or may not mean anything in a literal sense. It can be a mere sound that creates an inner energy vibration in our chakras, inner energy centers. It may also be a longer and meaningful invocation or prayer. Japa, another word not well understood, means repetition. A continuously repeated mantra, usually with the help of the mala, the prayer bead, becomes a japa. Continuously repeated OM mantra, becomes a japa, a mantra japa.
Japa is a ritualistic variation of the mantra. A mantra taught by a teacher who has experienced the energy and power of that mantra himself, becomes the initiation to a disciple, called diksha.
Tantra is usually is a centering technique, and is part of the process of dharana in Patanjali Yoga. Often it is given in a short epigram form called sūtra. You can use a mantra as a sound or vibration, even when you do not understood the meaning, and it can lead to experience. A tantra being a technique, generally, needs to be understood and practiced.
Both tantra and mantra, in the hands of the uninitiated, are potentially dangerous. Both are extraordinarily powerful tools of invoking the inner energy and deserve caution and wisdom. I speak from personal experience of misuse and suffering.
OM is probably an exception. The primal sound of creation and hence the primal or pranava mantra, OM cannot be misused. It allows the inner energy to expand and merge with the cosmic energy. But OM too is not meditation. It is a centering technique, a dharana.
In meditation, dhyana, one needs no aids, no mantra and no tantra. You just need to be. Meditation does not merely protect; it leads to liberation.