12. What is a Mantra?

Bhai Kaahn Singh Nabha explains in the Encyclopedia of SGGS Ji called Mahan Kosh:


In Hinduism a mantra is a special word that is contemplated in order to please a god or goddess or to possess some supernatural powers.    In Sikhism the first teaching is that the One Creator God cannot be possessed by a mantra.  God cannot be brought under anyones control by contemplating a mantra.  


“Na jantra meh na tantr meh na mantr vas aavehee”  


Having said that a mantra cannot bring the One Creator God under a person’s control, it can bring a person’s mind under God’s control.  A mantra is still useful for bringing the mind under control so it walks on the focused path to One God.


Mantra means a word or phrase that helps the mind (man) ferry across (tra) the ocean of emotions, pain and pleasure, anger, greed , lust, attachment, worries, ego , pride, slander, jealousy and desires.


The “Beej Mantra” of a religion is the source from which all other mantras have sprouted.  Just like a tree, its roots, leaves and fruits are contained within the seed, all Mantras are contained within the Beej Mantra.   In Sikhism the source or seed (BEEJ) of the whole of Creation including all mantras is “The One Creator God”.   The Beej Mantra in Sikhism is the symbol  pronounced as “Ik Oankar”.




The Beej Mantra, the Seed Mantra, is spiritual wisdom for everyone.


Anyone, from any class, may chant the Naam.


SGGS 274 – Sukhmani
Sing the Kirtan of the Lord’s Praises, and the Beej Mantra, the Seed Mantra.


SGGS 891


Even the homeless find a home in the world hereafter.


SGGS 891






He takes the Beej Mantra, the Seed Mantra, and keeps it in his heart.


SGGS 974


Turning his mind away from the world, he focuses on the cosmic void of the absolute Lord. ||5||


SGGS 974


From the seed has sprung the root.  The “Mool Mantra” in a religion is the root mantr.  


According to Sikh faith the “mool mantr” is the expansion of   and contains the compact message of God to humanity.


“Ik oankar satnaam kartapurakh nirbhau nirvair akal murat ajuni saibhan gurprasad.”


The root holds up the tree.  The whole message to humanity in Siri Guru Granth Sahib ji is an expansion of the root mantr.


Guru Nanak Dev Ji:
Chanting the Mool Mantra, and the Name of the Lord, the source of nectar, says Nanak, I have found the Perfect Lord. ||5||
SSGS 1040
Guru Arjun Dev Ji says


The Mul Mantra, the Root Mantra, is the only cure for the mind; I have installed faith in God in my mind.
SGGS 675
The One Creator God
Whose Name is “The Truth”,
the Doer,
Without Fear,
Without Hate,
Realised with the
Guru’s Blessings.



Also Satnaam is defined in more detail as:


1) “gurmat da mool mantr .  jis da arth ha tin kal vich ik ras hoan vala prasid parbrahm”


2) The one whose name is Truth


Meaninng in past, present and future, the one Supreme Essence whose Name is Truth.


Dust of your Feet