Sacred syllable, word, or set of words that have spiritual potency. From its etymology, there are two main ways of translating the word mantra, a “mind instrument” and a form of mental activity that brings salvation.

  1. The Sanskrit word mantra comes from man (“mind” orto think”) and the suffix tra, which is used to make words denoting instruments or objects. Thus, a mantra is an instrument of thought, or a mind instrument.

A mantra is a tool to transport the mind from a state of activity to one of stillness and silence. Therefore, thinking activity associated with a mantra is no ordinary thinking: it is not vikalpa (the conceptual, discursive form of thought that accompanies empirical language). It is a more intense, more effective thinking activity, a cogitation that is also one-pointed, since it is connected with a concentrated form of speech and endowed with special potency and efficacy.

  1. Another etymological interpretation of the word mantra relates the suffix tra to the Sanskrit root trai (“to save”). In this way, mantra is seen as a special form of “mental activity that brings salvation.”