Swami Rama explains what mantra means in the below video shared by Kamal Didi and the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust, India.

The transcript of the short talk is also shared below.

Now, I will explain to you what mantra means. Mananāt trāyatē, that’s meaning of, it’s a Sanskrit word, mantra, which means that which dispels the darkness of ignorance, that which guides, that which leads, that which enlightens. There are 4-5 meanings, many meanings, you see. So, there are many mantras which are chanted, but there are many mantras which are just remembered. And there are many levels of remembering mantra. You remember a mantra silently, where your mind follows the mantra towards silence, because silence, mantra leads you to silence.

You remember mantra superficially – how much money have I received today, nononononono… Oh, my husband says like that; Ok tomorrow morning I will show… You see. It depends on how, what mantra you have. There are varieties of mantras; best of the wines are never taken in paper cup. Nobody takes, he will be a fool who takes that, he will not have best of the wine. One who has got best of the wine will also have chalice.

So there are special, very special mantras when the traditional teachers impart those mantras to their students. When they come out with overwhelmingly the height of gladness, they impart that mantra, come on, do this. And it is perfect; you don’t have to do anything. It’s a gift received from the tradition through a particular teacher. It’s a great art, it’s great philosophy, it’s complete spirituality in it.