In Mahayana Buddhism chanting mantras is one of the core practices and each mantra is associated with a certain Buddha form (yidam).

Since in Theravada Buddhism there is no meditations on yidams (or am I wrong?), I'm wondering what is the role of mantra chanting. Are there secret mantras which can be recited only after receiving the transmission from the teacher or can the mantras be shared publicly and used by anyone? And finally, are prayer beads (malas) commonly used?

  • Are u chanting any mantra? I did, it's called Cundi Mantra. Though I would like to consider myself as Theravada Buddhist. Mar 28, 2015 at 18:04

3 Answers 3


There is chanting of Pirith. This is not done as a meditation but sometimes advocated to be done when sloth and torpor is preventing you from meditating to raise energy levels. So in a way it can be used as part of your meditation sitting through not exclusively doing this but use it when needed to progress your meditation siting.

  • I think the word Pirith is not a pali word. Shouldn't it be corrected as Paritta?
    – dmsp
    Aug 26, 2014 at 14:58
  • 1
    This is how it is pronounced in Sri Lanka. Aug 27, 2014 at 2:34
  • In this case, us Westerners should try to familiarize with the Sri Lankan spellings or pronounciations of many Buddhist terms. It might come in handy.
    – Anthony
    Jan 4, 2015 at 18:56

In Burmese flavour of Theravada Buddhism, mantras as Sacred utterance with Magical Powers, although believed and practised by many, are not the core part of the teachings. But if you mean mantras as mental notes or chants - they are commonly used to build concentration and the same goes for the prayer beads.

There are no secret teachings in Theravada Buddhism, any teachings that are not aligned with The Pali Cannon are regarded as non-Theravadan.


Chanting is incredibly common in Theravada Buddhism. I'm not sure exactly what would count as "chanting mantras," however. Mantra meditation is common, but it's usually silent.

There are no "secret" procedures in Theravada. Monks aren't allowed to disclose certain things to lay people, but there wouldn't be any secret meditation techniques or chants.

There are some monks such as Ajahn Suchart who see chanting as beginner's level meditation. The same would not apply to mantras, however.

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