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The Sahita part of the Vedas contains many eons-old mantras. The Sahits, the oldest part of the Vedas, are filled with various mantras, hymns, prayers, and litanies. About 10552 Mantras, divided into ten books called Mandalas, are found in the Rigveda Samhita. A Sukta consists of several Mantras. There are many different mantras, such as c (verses from the Rigveda, for instance) and sman (musical chants from the Samaveda, for example).
Hinduism holds that the Vedas are holy texts revealed (and not written) by the seers (Rishis). Yaska, a linguist and ancient commentator, asserts that these sacred revelations from long ago were later transmitted orally and serve as the basis for Hindu tradition.
Tantric traditions used mantras extensively in ritual and meditation and held that each Mantra is a deity in sonic form, putting mantras front and centre.
Function and structure
The solemnization and ratification of rituals is one purpose of mantras. In Vedic rituals, each mantra is accompanied by action. Unless the Apastamba Srauta Sutra states explicitly that one ritual act corresponds to multiple mantras, each ritual act is accompanied by a single mantra. According to Gonda and others, a Vedic mantra and each accompanying ritual act have a relationship and rationale. In these instances, mantras served as both a tool of ritual efficacy for the priest and a method of instruction for others performing ritual acts.
Hinduism's ideas of worship, virtues, and spirituality evolved as the Puranas and Epics were written, and new schools of Hinduism were established, each of which continued to create and perfect its mantras. Alper contends that mantras' purpose in Hinduism changed from mundane to redemptive. In other words, during the Vedic era, mantras were recited to achieve practical, everyday goals, such as pleading with a deity for assistance in finding lost cattle, curing a disease, winning a competitive sport, or leaving one's home. Vedic mantras can be translated literally, which implies that their purpose in these instances was to help people deal with the uncertainties and problems of daily life. Hinduism later adopted the practice of reciting mantras to achieve a transcendental redemptive goal, such as escaping the cycle of birth and death, receiving forgiveness for past transgressions, or forging a spiritual bond with the god. In these situations, mantras served as a tool for coping with the human condition. Alper asserts that redemptive spiritual mantras paved the way for mantras. Each component need not have a literal meaning but only serve to enhance the metaphysical and spiritual process through their combined resonance and musicality.
Overall, explains Alper, using Śivasūtra mantras as an example, Hindu mantras have philosophical themes and are metaphorical with social dimension and meaning; in other words, they are a spiritual language and instrument of thought.
According to Staal, Hindu mantras may be spoken aloud, anirukta (not enunciated), upamsu (inaudible), or Manasa (not spoken but recited in mind). In ritual use, mantras are often silent instruments of meditation.
For almost every mantra, there are six limbs called Shadanga. These six limbs are Seer (Rishi), Deity (Devata), Seed (Beeja), Energy (Shakti), Poetic Metre (Chanda), and Kilaka (Lock).