What is mantra? “Mantra is that which when repeated again and again, shows the way to trana, liberation”. In the spiritual sphere, the word trana is used in the sense of paritrana, permanent liberation. The word trana is derived from the Sanskrit verb, trae plus anat, and means, “saving from danger, relief from bondage”. Suppose someone binds you hand and foot, and somehow your bonds are untied. It means you have attained liberation; but at any time you may again fall into bondage.
Today there is no bondage, but tomorrow, it may come back. There is no permanent escape in trana. But paritrana means that once bondages are removed, they will never come back. Hence that consecrated word which, by repeating it internally repeatedly, will bring about one’s permanent liberation, is termed a mantra.
The vibrational expression and emanation of the psycho-spiritual entity that forms the subtlest part of human existence, is guided by mantra. During sadhana, the mind advances more in accordance with the vibration. This is the work of a mantra, its excellence.
You cannot call all sounds as mantras, because they do not possess the capacity to liberate one from bondage. There are so many sounds, syllables and words in the universe. Each word is meaningful. Every syllable bears a special import; nothing is meaningless or insignificant, but only that sound, whose acoustic expressions or acoustic waves have the stamina to goad the subtlest portion of the human mind unto the supreme stance, can be a mantra.
When a Mahakaola chooses a word or words, fills them with the cosmic vibration and makes that vibrational flow move in perfect rhythm with the macrocosmic vitality, then, that mantra is called a siddha mantra, a perfected mantra. Only a siddha mantra can show one the path of liberation, because in such a mantra, there lies hidden so much vital energy that can draw out the subtler aspects of humanity.
When the mind of even a learned person turns towards crude physicality, then, what can pull the mind towards subtlety, benevolence, and break the shackles of crude bondage? The living mantra can.
For spiritual progress, mantra is indispensable. Without such progress, existence will not be meaningful. And while one is moving in the spiritual sphere, one will at the same time have to discharge his duties towards the psychic and physical world in a proper way. This is what human life is all about.
For spiritual progress, one must not ignore the psychic realm or the mundane external sphere. One will move steadily in the spiritual sphere, and the rjuta, straightforwardness; sahas, courage and satyanistha, love of truth, that grow, will be utilised for the mental welfare of the entire world.
Spiritual aspirants will engage themselves in common welfare – in the physical world – because no one can render service as much as a spiritualist can. Hence such a person should remember that he is doing sadhana for spiritual salvation, and this endeavour will be successful only if it is dedicated to the service of the world.
Finally, with the help of mantra, one will attain mantra chaitanya, mantra consciousness. And thus, one finds a beacon to guide one onward towards his goal.