Updated: May 14
There actually are books where one can look up a mantra. But is that a good idea? Let me tell you what I’ve been taught about mantras over the decades I’ve been in the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition.
A mantra is a vibration, a word or sound that repeats in the mind that serves as a focal point for meditation. It’s not just any sound. There are an infinite variety of vibrations, and a mantra is in a special category all its own.
Think of a word, “grok.” Imagine repeating that word, over and over, in your mind. “grok, grok, grok.” You might imagine that “grok” sound might in some way affect your mind. Similarly, if, instead of “grok,” the sound “eeem” repeated in your mind, the effect might be different. One sound might affect you in one way, and the other differently. One sound might weigh you down, dumb you down, while another might lighten you, awaken you. According to the Yogic mantra science, this is exactly the case. Different mantras affect one’s mind differently.
Once a man who was depressed went to the Himalayan master Swami Rama, who in turn asked Dr. Usharbudh Arya (later known as Swami Veda Bharati) to give the man a mantra to help overcome the depression. Dr. Arya gave the mantra. After some time, the man came back and said that he was no longer depressed, but now he was angry all the time. A second mantra was then given to relieve the anger. Dr. Arya explained: Depression is suppressed anger. The initial mantra brought out the anger, and then a different mantra was needed to resolve it.
Because mantras can profoundly affect someone, it’s not recommended to choose one’s own mantra from a book (unless you are an expert in mantra science). Rather, just as we go to a doctor to receive medical treatment, we go to a mantra initiator to receive a mantra that is suited to us.
But there is more to the story. In the Himalayan Tradition, the mantra generally isn’t actually chosen by the initiator, but rather by the Guru. In the Himalayan Tradition, the Guru is not considered to be a person, but the Teaching Spirit. The initiator goes into a deep meditation and waits for the mantra to appear in his or her heart, and then passes that mantra to the one being initiated. The mantra is chosen intuitively. So when Dr. Arya gave a mantra, although he was an expert in the mantra science, he didn’t choose the mantra. He gave the mantra that came intuitively.
One more important point to know about mantras is that a mantra that is given by the Guru is charged with shakti, with power. Choosing a mantra from a book won’t do much good even if it’s a good mantra for you, because such a mantra would not have any power. When one is initiated into a mantra, it comes with power.
Many years ago, when I was first initiated and received a mantra, the next day, while I was at work, I was amazed that the mantra kept repeating itself in my mind, while I was working! I’d never experienced anything like that before. The mantra had a life of its own. It had shakti.
So, for these various reasons, its recommended to seek initiation into a mantra from an authorized initiator in a true meditative mantra tradition. The Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition is such a tradition.