Differences Between A Mantra, Sutra, Shloka and Stotra, with examples

Differences Between A Mantra, Sutra, Shloka and Stotra image
Mantra Shloka Stotra

Sanskrit Language is filled with phrases, that are not just rich in sound, and beautiful in meaning, but also with phrases that have a direct physical impact on the human body, and mind.

These phrases, are of many kinds, and are
generally referred to with words like shloka, mantra, sutra and stotra. There is a lot of confusion,as to what these words mean.

In this article, let's look at what these words actually mean and the differences between them, along with some examples.

  • Sutra

 is a phrase that is an encoded message. The literal meaning of the word sutra, is a string. People who realize the meaning of a sutra, can present that sutra, in their own words. It is humorously said that these people, called gurus could weave any kind of garland, of words, which is unique to them, and express their realization, but the Sutra, which is the thread, or the core concept that holds that garland of words, remains the same.

Some examples of Sutras are The Yoga Sutra by Patanjali and the Kama Sutra by Vatsyayana.

  • shloka

 is any type of rhythmic verse. It could be either from a story, a song,or
a hymn of a god or goddess, or from any book for that matter. If the words are arranged in a particualr rhythm or meter, it can be called a shloka. A shloka can be a sutra, based on how crisp it is, and the message it conveys.

Some examples of shlokas are the verses from
chanakya neeti, or from poems, like meghadutam. They can also be on the gods, like saraswati namastubhyam for goddess saraswati, and vakratunda mahakaya, for ganapati.

  • Mantras,

 on the other hand, are phrases, which
have a deep spiritual significance. These phrases may or may not have any traditional sense of meaning. Many a times, it is a Guru, who realizes this mantra within his or her own self. The etymology of a Mantra, is mananaat traayatE iti mantrah, which means, that which delivers results on repeated chant, is a mantra.

While shlokas, sutras, and stotras can be
expounded upon, understood and relished for their meaning, Mantras are meant to be experienced, used and worked upon to reach higher possibilities of life.

One of the most famous mantras, is ofcourse,
Om Namah Shivaya - which is called a panchakshari because it has five letters in it ; There are millions more, based on the gurus that gave them.

Mantras, can also be in the form of A Shloka
or Sutra, based on the guru that consecrated them.

And finally,

  • Stuti

 or stotra, is a verse,
in praise of someone or something. Stotras are groups of multiple shlokas put
together. They are called by various names, like panchakam if there are 5 shlokas, shatakam for 6, ashtakam for 8, dashakam for 10 and so on...

Generally Stutis or Stotras, are made for
Kings, or Gods and Goddesses. These are very ornamental works, with elaborate descriptions of the greatness of the subject being praised.

Some famous examples are mahishasura mardini
stora by shankaracharya, shiva tandava stora by ravana. Shankaracharya actually composed a strotram, in praise of the loin cloth! This is known by the name of kaupeena panchakam, and is actually a highly philosophical, and an extremely simple work, at the same time.

I would like to present Adi Shankaracharya's
brilliance before i conclude this article. Where many great poets and sages shine as
masters of their fields, in composing sanskrit literature, Adi Shankara stands tallest, with
Soundarya Lahari, a compilation of 100 mesmerizing shlokas, describing the beauty of the mother goddess, shakti. Each shloka in this stotra, works as a mantra, targeted at a particular aspect of human wellbeing. It is truly a blessing to be able to read, recite and reap the rewards of this magnificent work.

I hope you enjoyed this article.

Mantras: The Science of Using Sound | Sadhguru

Differences Between A Mantra, Sutra, Shloka and Stotra, with examples Differences Between A Mantra, Sutra, Shloka and Stotra, with examples Reviewed by Niranjan Yamgar on July 25, 2019 Rating: 5

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