Why do we use the word "mantram" instead of "mantra?"
We often get asked why we use the word mantram instead of the more familiar word mantra. Below is a brief explanation of the rationale behind the difference in use.
1) All research on "mantram" repetition originates from the work of Eknath Easwaran who founded the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation in Tomales, CA. The guidelines for how to use a mantram in the West were first introduced by Easwaran in the 1960's. He was raised in south India in Kerala and learned mantram repetition from his grandmother. --Jill Bormann, PhD, RN
2) When Sanskrit words are spoken without being embedded in a Sanskrit sentence, they are often left in their "stem" form; that is, they are not declined. Many words have a stem form that just ends in "a", as in "yoga", "deva", "mantra," etc. When speaking in Sanskrit, an unembedded word is often declined in either nominative (mantraH) or accusative (mantram). Thus, "mantram" is the accusative case of the masculine word "mantra," and declining it in this way is one way of using the word outside of a sentence when in a formal Sanskrit context.
A special thanks to John for the explanation covered in point 2.
John D. Dunne, Associate Professor
Department of Religion