Thursday, February 11, 2010

Om Tara Mantra

I love mantras. Being a generally musical being, they move me deeply. When I get a mantra in my head, listen to a chant, or join in one, I feel it resonating to every fiber of my being.

I'm not religious (not to be confused with "I am an athiest" - because I'm not!), and when I first encountered mantras I felt extremely uncomfortable, almost afraid of them. They seemed "cult-y" and foreign to me, and I disliked that they named deities I was unfamiliar with or didn't believe in. A while later down the yoga path, now I love the joining of voices that mantras and kirtan give us. It is such a blessing to sit in a room full of people and all sing along - no more culty to me than a campfire or a kindergarten round of "row row row your boat"!

One mantra in particular I love: the Om Tara mantra. It is a mantra dedicated to the female incarnation of the Bodhisattva (one who follows the path of compassion), Tara. Tara's name means "star" or "she who ferries across", and she symbolizes Compassion in Action. Her mantra goes like this:

Om Tara Tuttare Ture Svaha

Essentially the Om Tara mantra represents a progression towards spiritual liberation through compassionate action. Om Tara invokes the essence of compassion in our being. Tuttare represents liberation from delusions that cause suffering. Ture symbolizes liberation from the perception of duality; i.e. to truly be compassionate one must link the suffering of others with one's own suffering, and therefore devote yourself to ending all suffering, not just your own personal suffering. Finally, Svaha is a closing syllable that asks for the meaning of the mantra to take hold in your own mind. [For a more detailed explanation, check out this site.]

Do you like mantras, or dislike them? Does the idea of chanting together with others make you joyful or uncomfortable? What are your favourite mantras?


  1. i have to admit, i love chanting ohms, but am not a fan of mantras. but i do love listening and singing along to Krishna Das, but I think the kirtan, spiritual fervour would make me uncomfortable...

    it's interesting to read your progression though, and you never know where my journey will take me :)

  2. I love mantras too, but it isn't part of my regular practice. We used to sing mantras, as well as parts of the Yoga Sutras in TT. We'd also do simple chanting like Shanti, Shanti, Shanti, Om. It was beautiful blending voices and hearts. I don't even chant Om in my regular classes because in my part of the world and where I teach people would get a little freaked out. Its something I've been thinking about introducing, especially on nights when I have a small class and they are my regulars.

    This mantra is beautiful. Do you find that by using them you see shifts in yourself based on what you are chanting/trying to evoke?

  3. Thought I'd leave you a message to stop by sometime. I left something for you there on my post yesterday and didn't want you to miss it.

  4. Do you ever chant solo? At home?

    Like you, I am moved by chanting. In Hawaii, the deep, resonant chanting for traditional hula (which hardly resembles the modern variety, performed for tourists!) is a visceral experience.

    But I cannot imagine chanting in my home practice: for one thing, I practice in a public place! In class, my teacher (Iyengar yoga) often starts with three oms and the invocation to Patanjali. We do it either all together or by call and response. So that's the only place I chant...

  5. I love chanting - the resonance and the vibration. With Kirtan, you get such a wonderful sense of community, of voices joined.

    This post is reminding me that I would probably enjoy adding chanting to my regular practice!

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone!!

    Eco Yogini - I get where you're coming from. I guess for me, Kirtan is just about the singing, not about the spiritual meanings.

    Heather - I used to think that about my classes as well! Really! But when I decided to try it, it was really well received. Now I end all my classes with a simple chant: either 3 Oms, "Om Shanti" or "Loka Samasta Sukino Bhavantu" (may all beings everywhere be happy and free - a nice non-religious one). I have also used other mantras in workshops as 'icebreakers'.

    YogaSpy - I don't always chant in my home practice. But I do sing a LOT of kirtan in my car! LOL. Some days I get inspired though and I get out my book and sing the Ashtanga Invocation before my asanas. It's an awesome way to get into the headspace. And yes, it makes a difference to my practice!

    Marie - Just try it and tell me how it goes!!