Mantra Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Say this to yourself: “This guide will tell me everything about the meaning of mantra.” It’s got definitions, examples, the origin, and more.

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Learning words when we’re young is often taught through repetition. When we have new words to learn, we look up their definition, practice spelling them, and use the words in sentences. You might even find an easy example that you can say over and over again to help it sink in. The word you will learn here — mantra — will teach you the significance of repeated phrases.

What Is the Meaning of Mantra?

According to the dictionary, mantra is a noun. In Hinduism, it is a word that is chanted or sung like an incantation or as a prayer. Additionally, a mantra is a repeated word, phrase, or formula. 

Mantras in this context are often truisms. A truism is an obviously true statement, but it is not a new statement and does not offer new insight.

What Is the Origin of the Word Mantra?

Mantra is a late 18th-century English word that means mind. The English word mantra can trace its roots to the Sanskrit word man. In Sanskrit, it literally translates to “a thought,” as in the thought behind an action or speech. In Sanskrit, man– means “think” and relates to the mind. 

Classical Sanskrit is from South Asia, and it is a transregional and transcultural language derived from the civilizations that flourished there. The word mantra is a sacred utterance. It can be a numinous sound or a syllable. It can also be a word, group of words, or a phrase. The sacred utterance is usually in Sanskrit or Pali, but it can be from other languages that mantra practitioners believe have power. 

The power of a language could be religious, magical, or even spiritual. For some mantras, there is a particular rhythm and structure. Other mantras have a literal meaning. Still, mantras exist that have neither a meaning nor a syntactic structure.

The earliest known mantras were in Vedic Sanskrit in India. One of the most famous mantras you’ve probably heard is one of these early mantras: aum or om. Aum is believed to be the first sound created on Earth. 

It is easy to imagine the stillness of such a moment. The quiet of man before language, and then, aum enters into existence. For many, the sound resonates. In fact, the sound creates a reverberation in the body that is said to calm and quiet the body and mind. It is still used the world over as a part of meditative practices.

How Do We Use Mantras?

Mantras can be as simple as the sacred word aum or om, or they can range into more complex and sophisticated forms that are melodic phrases. Even without a literal meaning, some mantras are considered deeply meaningful and hold significant spiritual interpretations.

The use of mantras can vary in type, structure, importance, and function, but they are used in several philosophies such as:

  • Hinduism
  • Buddhism
  • Sikhism
  • Jainism

In Japanese, the word shingon means mantra, and shingon is a Japanese tradition. Similarly, mantras are important in tantra, referring to Buddhism and Hinduism.

The Four Vedas

Mantras can be found in the four Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. The four Vedas are: 

  • The Rigveda
  • The Yajurveda
  • The Samaveda
  • The Atharvaveda

These texts date back to 1500 BCE or even 900 BCE. It is interesting to learn how they are still spiritually and culturally significant. These sacred texts hold mantras that are believed to have spiritual powers. They are believed to enhance religious thought. The sound vibration from a chant of a Vedic hymn can give life to manifestations. 

For Hindus, these mantras are sacred formulas to awaken the longing for truth, immortality, love, peace, knowledge, and other natural yearnings, and they can be the key to transformation. 

In Tibetan Buddhism, some mantras are considered sacred formulas as well. For example, the mantra “Om tare tutare ture soha” is said to eliminate disease, disasters, and troubles like a sort of healing response. 

Yogic Mantras

In Kundalini yoga or mantra yoga, a mantra is chanted alongside repetitive poses and breathing techniques to activate a spiritual energy. In meditation, mantras are used as an object of concentration. 

There are three types of mantras that you learn in yoga, and they are:

  • Bija (seed)
  • Saguna (with form)
  • Nirguna (without form)

Bija mantras also correlate with the seven chakras of Hinduism and the main deities of Hindu. The sacred formula of important mantras can unlock one’s spiritual essence with frequency. 

For Hindus, Shiva is the “auspicious one” and is a major deity in Hinduism. The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra or the “great death-conquering” mantra is chanted 108 times to Shiva in the hopes that Shiva will bestow long life as the god Brahma did for Markandeya according to Vedism.

A Shiva devotee is taken to Mount Kailash at the time of their death. When you learn more about the spiritual significance in parts of the Vedic literature, it’s easier to understand the true meaning of the word mantra.

What Are Synonyms for the Word Mantra?

Synonyms help reveal more about a word’s meaning because they have the same meaning. They’re also a helpful tool for finding ways to incorporate a word into your vocabulary. Here are a few synonyms for the word mantra:

  • Hymn
  • Melody
  • Shout
  • Singing
  • Tune
  • Intonation
  • Psalm
  • Song
  • Incantation
  • Trill
  • Warble

What Are Antonyms for the Word Mantra?

Antonyms reveal the opposite meaning of a word. Sometimes it can be necessary to know what a word doesn’t mean to understand its meaning more fully. Here are a few antonyms for the word mantra:

  • Action
  • Implementation
  • Activity
  • Movement
  • Working
  • Enactment
  • Work
  • Execution

Examples of the Word Mantra in a Sentence

Examples are a useful tool for displaying how to use a word in a sentence. This can also provide context for further understanding the meaning of a word. Here are a few examples of mantra used in sentences:

  • He repeated the word over and over to himself as a mantra. 
  • I have recited the mantra every morning for over a year.
  • “I am healthy; I am wealthy” has become my personal mantra as I work on myself.
  • Mantras can be as therapeutic as meditation.
  • There are three Buddhist mantras.

The Last Word

In summary, when you take the time to learn words that date back through other cultures, you may learn more than just how a word is defined. Hopefully, now you know mantras’ cultural and spiritual significance and their impact on people. You’ll be better prepared to use the word in a sentence, and you just might feel inspired to recite the mantra, “Knowledge is power.”


  1. Veda | Definition, Scriptures, Books, & Facts | Britannica 
  2. Mantra Definition & Meaning | 
  3. Sanskrit | Department of South Asian Studies | Harvard