Question: Can we chant the mantra if we are not aware of the meaning? Is it harmful to chant the mantra in an improper way or to mispronounce the words while chanting it?
Answer: We can chant the mantra, even if we are not aware of the meaning, but it is good always to understand the meaning of the mantra before chanting for the simple reason that there are good mantras and bad mantras and wrong mantras. When I say wrong mantras, it means mantras that are not meant for the purpose that you want to chant for.
So, it’s good to understand the mantra first and then chant it. But even if you don’t understand the mantra, if someone, in whom you have complete confidence, let’s say your Guru, gives you the mantra and says don’t worry about the meaning, chant it, then you chant it with full confidence, for it’s the right mantra for you, even if you don’t know the meaning. But then it is good to know the meaning.
Now, the second part of the question is that even if you don’t know the meaning, what if you chant the mantra properly as taught to you, using the right pronunciation, making the right sound, chanting for the correct time that is given to you. Then, the effect of the mantra is as much as when you chant knowing the meaning of the mantra. As I said earlier, the words of the mantra especially the Beejakshra Mantra like Hrim, Klim etc have an effect even without even when you have no understanding of what they are. In fact, some of the sounds of Beejakshara Mantras have no specific meaning except that they represent certain deities that are manifestations of infinite energy brought down to finite sound forms.
This takes us to the next part of the question, which is, what if we chanted in the wrong way, suppose we chanted with the wrong pronunciation or we chant wrong words instead of the right word. For instance, if instead of reem you chant kareem, what happens? Is it harmful? Will it create problems for us? Well! Yes and no.
“Not knowing the effects of this mantra, if you keep chanting it under different circumstances, it’s quite possible they may have an adverse reaction on others and maybe on yourself. So, it is good to check up with a person who knows, before chanting the mantra.”