Sound is sacred. Sound is powerful. It connects us, heals us and expands our hearts. Mantra chanting opens us up to sound on another level and has an enigmatic transformative power. It is an ancient key for unlocking the mysteries of the entire universe.
Mantra has been described as a sacred utterance, or numinous sound. The earliest mantras took birth in India over 3,000 years ago and were composed in Vedic Sanskrit.
World-renowned musicians and chant masters, Deva Premal and Miten describe mantras as energetic sound formulas. According to them, mantras are a bridge to something that slows us down and puts everything into perspective. They believe that the way out of today’s troubles is to go within, and so they travel the world sharing the medicine of mantra.
The mantras that we chant are in Sanskrit–a sacred language of ancient India that is no longer spoken. The mantras were created by the rishis (wise ones) as paths to awareness, using the power of particular sounds to create specific energy responses.
The Way Out is In
In Sanskrit ‘man’ means mind and ‘tra’ means ‘to free from’. So mantra is literally a tool to free the mind. – Deva Premal & Miten
Deva Premal and Miten believe that the most powerful way out of the darkness is by finding the light inside us, through the practice of meditation. They offer mantra music as a portal to inner stillness, silence, and peace, and they offer musical gatherings as a means of heart-centered connection with others across the globe–an antidote to the increasing sense of alienation from each other.
Chanting mantras has the power to transform mind, body, and spirit. Kurshed Batliwala, author, speaker and senior teacher with the Art of Living Foundation, says the technical definition of mantra means ‘that which uplifts the mind.’ He says mantra affects our inner consciousness and our physical body and creates a state of connection and joy:
It’s something very beautiful, the mantra is basically sound. There are five elements; earth, water, fire, air and space. Mantra comes in space. The other four elements are associated with the senses. All the other elements are encompassed in space. So mantra is something that can affect and perhaps actually control all the elements. Mantra can actually even control and affect your body and mind. That is what is really fascinating about mantras.
Can Mantra Really Heal?
Deva Premal grew up immersed in the sacred sounds of mantra.
When my mother was pregnant with me, their welcome was to sing the Gayatri Mantra throughout the pregnancy. As I grew up we continued to chant the Gayatri Mantra together regularly before sleep. I didn’t really know what I was singing… and why. I just did it because I was told to! It wasn’t until much later that I came to appreciate these precious times and what my parents wanted to give me. – Deva Premal
This mantra was to play an amazing role in propelling Deva to centre stage later in her life and helping to unlock her gift and life purpose. Deva and Miten met in India, while both were living with their guru Osho at his ashram. Miten was an experienced musician who had been playing in bands in London and was one of the main musicians at the ashram. Deva soon joined him, playing instrumental backup, using her voice to harmonise to his songs. Amazingly enough, Deva shares she felt shy about singing in front of people and lacked confidence in her voice at that time. But at a spiritual music festival in England Deva heard someone chanting the Gayatri mantra and she immediately reconnected with ‘her‘ mantra. As she chanted the sacred mantra for the first time since her childhood, her fears suddenly and entirely dissolved. It seemed that Gayatri was calling on Deva, to step out of the shadows and into her own radiant light. She went on to record the Gayatri mantra on her first album, which she made for her community and friends, and it catapulted her to international fame.
The Meeting of Science and Mantra
Today, all over the world, people are waking up to the power of mantra. With the massive growth in yoga in the West, and all the healing wisdom it has to offer, many people are embracing mantra chanting, kirtan, and meditation.
For over twenty years, Deva Premal and Miten have travelled the world sharing mantra with people from the remote jungles of Peru, to the urban jungles of New York. They have received numerous letters from people from across the globe who share dramatic stories of healing just from listening to and chanting along with their sacred music.
A teacher for autistic children wrote to Deva Premal and Miten about her experience playing The Essence CD to her class, as part of a noontime relaxation hour: Within a few weeks, two of the children, who had never uttered one word, began singing along with the Gayatri mantra, then began singing each track on the entire album.
How to Chant
The ancient mantras are needed today more than ever in our busy, stressful lives, and are bringing healing, a sense of belonging, oneness, and community to people all over the world.
Mantra chanting is a sacred and beautiful practice. It can be done alone or in groups. “You don’t have to be Pavarotti,” says Miten. “Anyone can sing mantra.”
Mantra can be easily picked up, and singing along to a favourite mantra track is a good way to learn the correct pronunciation and to familiarise yourself with a particular mantra.
Traditionally, mantras are chanted in cycles of 108 repetitions. According to the Vedic scriptures, our physical and subtle bodies contain 108 major nadis, or energy channels. When we chant a mantra 108 times, that sound vibration can fill all of the energy lines in our bodies and balance them. – Deva Premal and Miten
Deva Premal and Miten suggest starting with Om and using this mantra on your out breath as you fall asleep, so you rest in the sacred sound of Om. They also provide 21-day mantra courses.
Awakening the power of mantra in your life is as simple as committing to a daily practice, or finding one mantra you feel connected to and learning this mantra. It is a journey that returns us to the ancient magic and healing power of sound and can have amazing life-changing benefits.