The Tree of Knowledge
The Secret Quality of Sacred Mantras
Mantras are sound vibrations that permeate every cell of your being; they let the mind dissolve. Mantras are impulses or rhythms of consciousness. They create spiritual vibrations. Mantra is that which saves you from repetitiveness. A repetitive thought is a worry. Mantras help to free you from worries. Often we wonder why we chant some sounds without understanding their meanings. Can something that we do not understand help us?
The meaning of every mantra is infinity. It is a sound vibration beyond the cognition of the mind. When the mind is unable to do this, it simply dissolves and moves into a meditative space.
A mantra is like a seed. Every seed has the potential to become a tree. Similarly, these sound vibrations contain all the possibilities of creation. Some mantras are in seed form, called the bija mantras. Others are fully expressed, that is the fruit of the mantra is also expressed, like the Gayatri Mantra.
Mantras are a secret. That which is kept a secret alerts the subconscious mind. Mantras work at the level of consciousness. When we want a seed to sprout, it needs to be sown into the soil, hidden, a secret. If it is simply thrown around, birds may eat them up. We can read and learn about mantras and their uses from books and the internet but that will only satisfy the intellect and not translate into experience.
When we chant the mantras, or listen to them, we get purity of mind and word. This prepares us for meditation. As a result of the sound vibrations, different patterns of the mind rearrange themselves to become tranquil. Agitation is reduced, helping us to turn inward. For instance, when we laugh, our happiness increases. When we cry, the heaviness of sorrow is released. Just as sounds of laughter and crying help, mantras act similarly. Repetition of mantras creates a psychological or mental response that is deep, beyond the realm of words or expression. It can only be experienced. Speech falls short as it cannot go beyond expression into the experiential level.
When the mind is calm and centred, it can turn inward. Only a mind turned inward can experience the vastness and beauty of Divine Consciousness. When our focus is outward on the objects of the senses, our mind is scattered; it races after one craving or another. Physical senses seek to know all about the external universe. Meditation is the tool for inner exploration. ‘Antarmukhi Sada Sukhi’ – one whose mind is turned inward is ever in bliss. Mantras are tools that allow the mind to dissolve and repose in the Self.
Why should we repose in the Self? How is this going to help us in our day-to-day life? When a river is calm, it reflects. When the mind is calm, there is greater clarity of expression. Our sense of observation, perception and expression improves. As a result, we are able to communicate effectively and clearly.
Most of our problems and misunderstandings arise because of a lack of effective communication. When our mind is free from agitation, the way we interact and communicate is much more pleasant and effective. Our efforts are not hindered by communication gaps. This leads to a lot of positivity in outlook.
Mantras are as subtle as the air that creates ripples in the water as it gently moves over it. Air is all-pervading and at the same time affects specific regions. The field of mantras is also one such. It is all-pervading; it creates an impact on the one who is practising.
(Source: Bhanumathi Narasimhan, Director of women and child welfare programmes, India)
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Mantra is a Sanskrit word derived from two roots: Manasa or mind and tarana or save. Mantra is something that saves, which uplifts.
Who we are today is based on what we identify with. If I identify with the body or the mind, then I am a finite person limited by my own finite identification. What is needed is a tool which chips away at this finite identification and helps us become infinite in our awareness and capabilities. Mantra is one such tool.
A mantra contains a string of syllables, set to a meter. The mantra is chanted in a certain set way to get results. Mantras and their sound conceal an image of the deity they represent. When chanted, they produce a specific form of that deity, so a Rama mantra will produce a specific image of Rama, within the consciousness of the one who chants. But initially, this image will form only for the duration of time that the person repeats the mantra. Later on, as the mantra becomes more potent within our consciousness in terms of its ability to produce an actual form of the deity, this image remains with us for longer periods.
We are eventually led to the point where the deity actually becomes present within the sadhaka. This may sound somewhat fantastic, but Ramakrishna Paramhansa, it is said, could see the divine Mother Kali whenever he wanted and eventually his identification with his body had been destroyed that only God was present there. His ability to go into super conscious states is well known.
Mantra sadhana is ideally done in private, where the practitioner feels safe, in a clean and dry place after the sadhaka has bathed and completed ablutions. No food should be eaten at least two hours before the practice is undertaken. The body must remain as still as possible. If you are trying to achieve a goal, then don’t publicise your sadhana.
Most Vedic mantras require specific intonation of specific syllables, which may be impossible for you to master correctly. A Vedic mantra incorrectly recited is unlikely to yield result.
Mantras can be repeated in three major ways, the most common with your oral speech or vaikhari. This may destroy tamas in the practitioner, but still relies on oral speech and if your Sanskrit is not good then there is a danger that you may not get any result. Furthermore the problem is that you are unlikely to remain still during recitation.
Upamsu or using your lips is another method, but produces no sound. Finally comes the manasika method, that is recitation of the mantra in the mind. This method is best for achieving concentration and mental peace and it should eventually lead to the start of severing the identification of the practitioner with the self. Identification with the deity follows eventually.
Counting of mantra numbers may be useful in the beginning for the first few years and can be done on a rosary of 108 beads. Later on as mantra recitation becomes a daily practice, the need for a rosary diminishes quite significantly. Eventually the identification of the self with the body may so diminish that the practitioner may enter a state of divine bliss in which one may forget to chant the mantra itself, so overpowering is the silence of divine bliss.
Source: Manish Pandit, Consultant in nuclear medicine physician in the UK, astrologer, author and filmmaker
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