The Sanskrit alphabet is called "devanagari"
and literally means "cities of the gods". Rishis
discovered Sanskrit and used it to create the mantras.
These mantras were made up of a combination of sound vibrations,
which when recited had a specific effect on the mind and
the psyche. In the times of the Rishis,the main aim was
to attain the truth, and Sanskrit - the perfect tool
was found to be the best medium. Due to its specificity
and purity, this seemed the best language with which to
understand God's creation and as such is called "the
great spiritual anguage of the world" (Joseph Campbell).
Sanskrit is the common language of the Hindu Scriptures.
It is the oldest language in the world. It is the language
of the Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata ,
Ramayana and the Puranas. Sanskrit literature is easily
the richest literature in the history of mankind. The
word Sanskrit literally means "Perfected Language"
or "Language brought to formal perfection".
This is quite an appropriate name since NASA declared
it to be "the only unambiguous language on the planet".
Sanskrit is a scientific and systematic language. Its
grammar is perfect and has attracted scholars worldwide.
Recently well-known linguists and computer-scientists
have expressed the opinion that Sanskrit is the best language
for use with computers. Sanskrit has a perfect grammar
which has been explained to us by the world's greatest
grammarian Panini. Sanskrit is also the mother of all
Indo-European languages and the big sister of Greek
and Latin. It is the origin of all the Indian languages.
A mantra is an embodiment of a particular God or Goddess
in the form of sound.
It is not a mere formula. Nor is it a magic spell. It
is subtle form of the God or Goddess Himself or Herself.
When a mantra is repeated with concentration of mind and
the worshipper makes an effort to identify himself or
herself with the worshipped, the power of the Gods comes
to his help. Human power is thus supplemented by the divine
power. A prayer is different from the repetition of a
mantra. A prayer is a purely human effort. Prayers may
be offered in any language and in any form.
a mantra, being an embodiment of a God or Goddess in the
form of a sound, has to be repeated in that form alone
in which it first revealed itself (in the mind of a Rishi).
It is not to be learnt from books, but from the living
voice of a Guru who gives the Upadesha or initiation.
It brings about the gradual transformation of the worshipper
into the likeness of the worshipped. Therefore, the more
the worshipper advances in his/her japa (practice of repeating
the mantra), more does he/she partake of the nature and
wield the powers of the particular God or Goddess.
There are many saints or Yogis who have mastered some
particular mantras. They are known as Mantra- Siddhas.