Mantra – sounds or words?

The correct way to chant a mantra, traditionally, is to receive it from a person who understands it deeply and is willing to guide you through its use and practices, and to then chant the mantra under that guidance. This is called diksha and shiksha. Diksha refers to getting the mantra and shiksha refers to getting the guidance on what it means and how to use it. 
Mantras are composed of words, that is why we have to pay attention to the words. That’s what it means to “hear”, “hear the sound”, or “hear the sound vibration.” “Vibration” doesn’t mean that some zig zag wavelength is reorganizing your wavelengths and bio rhythms. That is new age mumbo jumbo, I think. “Vibration” simply describes what a word is. It is a sound, thus it is a vibration. Sound vibrations in the form of words carry meaning. It is the meaning which the crucially important essence of a word, the sound alone is merely the outer shell, and the wavelengths are simply threads forming that shell. 
Mantras are made of words, not tones. They are words, not abstract sine wave frequencies and tones. The most important thing for using a mantra effectively is to understand those words, their meaning and meaning formed by the placement of the words together, the grammar. That is what shiksha is all about! After receiving a mantra we must get shiksha about that mantra, otherwise the diksha is incomplete and thus not very effective. 
If we chant a mantra without understanding much about it, the best effect we can expect is that it will eventually cause us to seek shiksha so we can comprehend the meaning. When the words are understood and the meanings are deeply contemplated, visualized and explored while chanting it, then a mantrap gives its full effect.


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