Paritta Chanting is the recital of some of the suttas uttered by the Buddha in the Pali language for the blessings and protection of the devotees.
Paritta Chanting or Sutta Chanting is a well-known Buddhist practice conducted all over the world, especially in Theravada Buddhist countries where the Pali language is used for recitals. Many of these are important suttas from the basic teachings of the Buddha which were selected by His disciples.
The suttas that Buddhists recite for protection are known as Paritta Chanting. Here 'protection' means shielding ourselves from various forms of evil spirits, misfortunes, sickness and influence of the planetary systems as well as instilling confidence in the mind.
The vibrant sound of the chanting creates a very pleasing atmosphere in the vicinity. The rhythm of the chanting is also important. One might have noticed that when monks recite these suttas, different intonations are adopted to harmonise with different suttas intended for different quarters. It was found very early during man's spiritual development that certain rhythms of the human voice could produce significant psychological states of peacefulness and serenity in the minds of ardent listeners. Furthermore, intonation at certain levels would appeal to devas, whilst certain rhythms would create a good influence over lower beings like animals, snakes, or even spirits or ghosts. Therefore, a soothing and correct rhythm is an important aspect of Paritta Chanting.
When the suttas are chanted, three great and powerful forces are activated. These are the forces of the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha. Buddhism is the combination of these 'Three Jewels' and when invoked together they can bring great blessings to mankind. Devotees who were tired and fatigued have experienced relief and calmness after listening to the chanting of suttas. Such an experience is different from that provided by music because music can create excitement in our mind and pander to our emotions but does not create spiritual devotion and confidence.
For more than 2,500 years, Buddhist devotees have experienced the good effects of sutta chanting. We should try to understand how and why the words uttered by the Buddha for blessing purposes could be so effective even after His passing away. It is mentioned in the Buddha’s Teaching that ever since He had the aspiration to become a Buddha during His previous births, He had strongly upheld one particular principle, namely, to abstain from ‘telling lies’. Without abusing or misusing His words, He spoke gently without hurting the feelings of others. The power of Truth has become a source of strength in the words uttered by the Buddha with great compassion. However, the power of the Buddha's word alone is not enough to secure blessing without the devotion and understanding of the devotees.
The miraculous effect experienced by many people in ridding themselves of their sickness and other mental disturbances through the medium of the Buddhist suttas, enabled them to develop their faith and confidence in this form of religious service.