Sunday, January 27, 2008


Mantras belong to the Agama Shastra. Mantra, Tantra and Yantra make up Agama. Each of these divisions are vast and knowledge about the self / universe is encoded in all of them.

Coming to Mantras, this is how Mantra is defined in Sanskrit.. 'Mananat trayate iti mantrah'

it means.. The repetition (mananat) of which, you overcome/protected (trayate) [read overcome or protection from bondage/troubles/cycles of birth and death] is (iti) called Mantra.

We have heard many mantras.. Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namo Narayanaya, Gayatri mantra, Sri Rudram, Sri Vishnusahasra nama and so on.. Each mantra is very profound and carries immense amount of knowledge .. even the meaning is enough to put one into meditation. for example. Gayatri is defined as 'gayantam trayate iti gayatri'.. it means the one who protects (trayate) the one who sings (gayantam) is (iti) gayatri

Each of these mantras has a definite structure. Mantra is never taken by itself. For example before Gayatri mantra is chanted, we say:

Savitriya Rishirvishwamitrah (The rishi is Vishwamitra)
Chhandah (The meter is gayatri)
Savita Devata (The presiding deity is Savita or Sun)

Every mantra comes with the following fundamental aspects:

rishi or sage: Mantras are not created, rather they are revealed to the sage during deep blissful meditation when the prana ascends sahasrara chakra. Thats why we touch the crown of the head while taking the rishi's name. So the rishis are called mantra drashtas (the seers of the mantra) rather than the mantra kartas (the makers).

raga/Chandas or melody/meter: The chanting of the mantra is probably the most important of all. Its all about the sounds and the vibrations. So it comes with a meter or pitch. This is just like we have talams (adi, rupaka, etc) in classical music. The names of these meters are gayatri (its also the name of a meter), anushtup, trishtup, brihati, pangti, etc. They come with a distinctive time length for each cycle. For example the Bhagavad Gita is written in Anushtup, the Rig Veda is written in Gayatri meter, etc.

devata or deity: There is a presiding deity for every mantra on whom the devotee meditates on by keeping it in the heart chakra. Thats why the heart region is touched while taking the name of the devata. For Gayatri mantra , its the sun. All this has to be done with so much love (heart chakra = love), respect and innocence. I think the way the entire agama is structured is just so beautiful. Even before this is done, the devotee does pranayama to get his mind centered and then with a lot of love and gratitude the mantra is taken. If there is no love and respect, the mantra doesnt bear any fruit.

You can find these three features before any mantra is chanted. For example in Sri Rudram we say

asya sri rudradhayaya prashna maha mantrasya
aghora rishihi

anushtup chhandaha
sankarshana murti svarupo yosaavadityaha
paramapurushah sa yesha rudro devataa
namashivayeti bijam
shivatarayeti shaktihi
mahaadevaayeti kilakam
sri samba sadashiva prasada sidhyarthe jape viniyogaha

You might have noticed few more limbs or angas of the mantra here.. like bijam (seed), shakti (power), kilakam (pillar or crux), vinoy0ga (the purpose).

They also occur for example in Sri Vishnusahasra Namam:

asya sri vishNoH sahara-nAma-stotra-mahA-mantrasya
sri veda-vyAso bhagavAn RishiH, anushtup
sri mahA-vishNuH paramAtmA sriman-nArAyaNo

amritAmSUdbhavo bhAnuriti bIjam
devakInandanaH srashteti SaktiH
udbhavah kshobhano deva-iti paramo mantraH
Sankha-bHrt nandakI cakrIti
SArnga-dhanvA gadhA-dhara-iti astram
rathAnga-pANiH akshobhyah-iti netram
tri-sAmA sAmagah sAmeti kavacham
Anandam para-brahmeti yoniH
rituh sudarsanah kAleti dig-bandhaH
sri visva-rUpa iti dhyAnam

sri mahA-vishNu-prItyarthe sri-sahasranAma-jape viniyogah

ok. This was the prelude to the mantra.. Now comes the mantra. The divine is in the sound. This is the whole basis of mantras. The words we speak can bring a smile on a face or churn someone's mind. The whole power is in the words and we know this very well. Music, sound, words are all divine. In gayatri we say ayatu varada devi aksharam brahma sammitam. Thats why one entire veda (sama veda) has been dedicated for music. Krishna says in the Gita, of all the vedas, I reside in sama veda (vedaanaam samo asmi) Chapter 10, verse 22. The ancient seers knew the power of words very well and they structured them so wondefully. Each sound vibration from the mantra chanting enlivens a specific part of the human body. The rhythm and the dynamics of these sounds in the body are just phenomenal and very conducive for the mind to slip into meditation and go into total rest. The mantras have many more secrets hidden, for example, the 24 syllabus that the Gayatri is made of correspond to the 24 vertebraes of the spinal column, the namakam and chamakam carry ancient ayurvedic medicinal recipes that are used to cure diseases. The vast amount of good a mantra does is really unfathomable.

On a higher level, the mantras are designed to give us what the seer experienced.. to take us to the same level, into the bliss and beauty. We shoud be so grateful for all the risihis who have revealed these mantras and lifted us to their level and have taken us back to the source. There are specific mantras for specific purposes, like increasing intelligence (ppl with tumba buddhi need not go for this), wealth, health, etc. but anyways, sarva deva namaskaraha keshavam pratigacchati.

One interesting modern day experiment on how our words influence our minds and even body structure was conducted by Dr. Emoto. Different sounds of love, friendliness, etc were played out to water crystals as well sounds of negativity to a different set. He found out that crystals with the positive words are so beautiful and well organized compared to the other set. If this can happen to water molecules, imagine how our own thoughts and the words we speak effect our bodies and environment.

Gurudev says .. " Weigh your words before you speak them out. They are pearls of your life. Don't throw them; don't lose them for nothing. "

Thats so wonderfully said. The more we are aware of what we speak the more weight they have, more good can come out of them.

In the shanti mantra om bhadram karnebhih.. its chanted.. sthirairangai tushtuvagm sastanubhih.. let my words be stable and consistent and spread harmony


Jai Gurudev

All glories to my Gurudev, the one with the sweetest name


Anonymous said...

Oye..finally i can comment. Focus on dissertating, not some mantra fundas..get your ... to work, will ya? and get a GF also, shld keep u super busy...hahahahhaha

Anonymous said...

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