Mantra

मननात्‌ त्रायते इति मंत्र:  – The word mantra is derived from the root word “man” which means    to meditate – to bringing concentration to one’s mind and trayate means to protect.  The mantra, to explain in simple terms means – which protects the person that meditates.

Mantra doesn’t mean just a  collection of letters , a phrase or a word.  It is indeed a spiritual formula which when repeated silently in the mind has to capacity to transform consciousness and assists in   vanquishing of obstacles.  It means guhyabhashane – because it involves, invoking a deity for a specific cause, acquiring guhya artha , acquiring knowledge about homa and yagna etc.

The mantra is most effective when repeated silently in the mind you should not chant it out aloud.  It need not require any fixed time or place or any special equipments.  Repeat your mantra silently when ever you get a chance from your busy schedules.  The mantra can be recited when you are worried, nervous , resentful, it works to steady your mind and all these emotions that run against you will stop getting effective.  The key is to keep the mantra simple, chant silently and with concentration.

How to select a mantra effectively?

Take your time, select the mantra that appeals to you the most, different forms of Ganesha have different mantras.  Every one is attracted to a different forms of Ganesha, select the mantra of that form that appeals to you, if you don’t know the mantra even the name of that form of Ganesha will do.

Understanding a Mantra:

The akshara or the letters in a mantra constitute its body and the Om at its beginning, is the head of the mantra.  Every mantra has  principally been divided into  five parts.   These are

  •  Rishi   
  •  Chandas  
  • Devata
  •  Bija
  •  Sakti

and finally the most important is the sixth part called Kilaka, which means a wedge or a clue to a mystical puzzle. The Guru gives the kilak of the mantra.  When a Kilaka or the lock is present inside the mantra it prevents the mantra from opening up and fructifying.

When a sage creates a mantra along with a precondition that ‘without the pronunciation of a particular word prior to the mantra, the practice of the mantra will not be fruitful’, then the mere chanting of the mantra does not prove to be of any avail such a word is termed as a kilak of a mantra.  Only by destroying the relationship of that word with the mantra is called nishkilan or utkilan. However, only spiritually evolved persons can give guidance to this effect.

Mantras are classified into

1)  Dharma Mantra  – These develop a sense of life purpose along with skills, power and knowledge.

2)  Artha Mantra – Develop prosperity and helps in reaching our material goals

3)  Kama Mantra –  Helps in obtaining our desires, wishes, happiness

4) Moksha Mantra – Helps in obtaining liberation

5) Arogya Mantra – Helps in well being of the body and mind.   Counter diseases and promotes longevity

Mantras and guna

  • Satvika Guna – For moksha
  • Rajasika Guna – For achievement of wealth, career, goals,power
  • Tamasic Guna – For harming someone, for vashikarana.

Mantras may be male, female or neutral. Female mantras are called Vidyas  while solar and neuter forms are called mantras. Mantras are only such if they were first revealed by a rishi or seer. Only then do they have life, according to the tradition. A mantra can only work if it is received from a guru who has, herself or himself, received it in an unbroken line from its first rishi. There are, however, exceptions to this, according to some tantras which prescribe methods of purification for mantras received in dream. And, according to Mahachinachara, the Kali mantra does not rely on the very elaborate rules usually found in the Tantras.

The bija mantra Shreem is described as Vishnupriya – the beloved of Vishnu – that is Lakshmi, according to the Uddhara Kosha.  Sha means Maha Lakshmi, Ra means wealth, Ee is contentment.

The syllable Hrim is called the Maya bija. It is also Raudri, according to the Bhutadamara. The Uddhara Kosha describes it as the Para or supreme bija.  Ha means Siva, Ra is prakriti, Ee means Mahamaya. This is the beej mantra for Mahamaya.

The bija mantra Krim is described as the pitribhuvasini, that is the goddess who dwells in the ancestral or cremation ground, Kali. It is also the dravana and kledana bija.  Ka is Kali, Ra is Brahman, and Ee is Mahamaya.

Gam: This is the Ganesh beej. Ga means Ganesh and bindu is the dispeller of sorrow.

Hum with the long letter ‘u’ is called the Kurcha bija and is the mantra of the Mother worshiped by heroes (viras). The Bhutadamara also describes it as the mantra of Mahakala. Ha is Siva and U is Bhairava. Hum (with the short letter ‘u’) is called the Kavacha or armour bija. It is the bija of Chandabhairavi.

Aim is called Vagbhava bija and is the syllable of Sarasvati, according to the Bhutadamara.

Phat is the bija of the great fire at the end of time (Pralayagnirmahajvala).

Krom is called the Krodhisha bija. Svaha, otherwise known as Thah Thah, is Vahnijaya, representing the fire sacrifice.

Klim is the deluder of the three worlds bija, also known as Kama or Manmatha,  Kamabija. Ka means Kamadeva, the lord of desire; it also means Lord Krishna. La means Indra and Ee means contentment or satisfaction.

 The bija Hrum (with long letter ‘u’) is the single syllable mantra of Kalaratri, the great night of time. The same bija, but with a short letter ‘u’, is the mantra of Vaivasvata.  Haum: In this mantra, Ha is Shiva and Au is Sadashiva. The nada and bindu mean that which dispels sorrow. This is the beej mantra for worshipping Shiva.

Kshraum: This is the beej of Narasimha, a fierce half-man-half-lion incarnation of Vishnu. Ksha is Narasimha, Ra is Brahma, Au means with teeth pointing upwards.

Below is the Matrika Chakra. This, says Ram Kumar Rai in his excellent Encyclopaedia of Yoga, is to be drawn with saffron (kesara) for Shakti worship and with ashes (bhasma) for Shiva worship. It contains all the 51 matrikas and is used in the first of the ten rites to purify a mantra (samskara) after it has been received from a guru. On the petals of the yantra are the consonants while the vowels are in the eight spokes. In the centre is the syllable Hsauh while in the cardinal directions is the Bam bija and in the intermediate directions the Tham bija mantra.

Perhaps one of the clearest expositions of the tantrik view of mantra is given in Sir John Woodroffe’s collection of essays, Shakti and Shakta, chapter 24.

The supreme absolute (Parabrahman) exists in the human being (jivatma) as Shabda Brahman, the absolute as sound. Mantras are not prayers and the relationship of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, whether consonants or vowels, he says, point to the appearance of devata (divinity) in different forms. An uttered mantra is the manifestation of a more subtle sound while mantras themselves are forms of Kundalini. Mantras may be male, female or neutral. Female mantras are called Vidyas.

“By Mantra the sought for (Sadhya) Devata appears, and by Siddhi therein is had vision of the three worlds. As the Mantra is in fact Devata, by practice thereof this is known. Not merely do the rhythmical vibrations of its sound regulate the unsteady vibrations of the sheaths of the worshipper, but therefrom the image of the Devata appears.” (op cit) Mantras are masculine (solar), feminine (lunar) or neuter. A female mantra is called a vidya, which means knowledge, while solar and neuter forms are called mantras. Mantras are only such if they were first revealed by a rishi or seer. Only then do they have life, according to the tradition. A mantra can only work if it is received from a guru who has, herself or himself, received it in an unbroken line from its first rishi. There are, however, exceptions to this, according to some tantras which prescribe methods of purification for mantras received in dream. And, according to Mahachinachara, the Kali  mantra does not rely on the very elaborate rules usually found in the Tantras.

In describing mantras, the different tantrik texts always give their origin or rishi as well as the metre to pronounce them. While a mantra is divinity in sound form, a yantra is the same in geometrical form and an image the devata in gross form. Refer also to the page on Tattvas on the relationship between the consonants and the 36 tattvas.

We all try our best to accomplish nitya puja, use special mantras and rituals in our upasana.   Every devata has a different sadhana procedure.  Many devotees follow the Shodashopchaar puja in which 16 articles are offered , while some don’t  count this in the procedure and instead just offer prayers to the upasana devata.   Instead of concentrating on the shodashapchaar puja, this article will concentrate on other aspects like for example

The asana used  in order to make the physical body free of ailments and gain divine powers. Basically a man acts as a bad conductor and does not allow energy of Mantra chanting from being earthed hence an appropriate asana has to be used. Deer skin, tiger skin, grass, silk, cotton and wool mats are best while torn, burnt, and used mats are prohibited but what is the effects of each material? Deer skin for gain of knowledge, tiger skin for spiritual progress & wealth, and wool for riddance from sorrows and poverty are prescribed in our shastras.  The direction to face also matters and changes as per different sadhana.  Each upasana has a different and specific direction.

Every Upasaka has to understand that each sadhana  has a specific asana like Padamasan, Sukhasan, Siddhasana etc.  The start of the puja [ day and time ] is very important and must be started on the auspicious day and one must be punctual of the time.

The start of the sadhana must be done using a shanka mudra.    Encircle your left thumb with the four fingers of your right hand. Touch the right thumb to the extended middle finger of your left hand. The two hands should look like a conch shell.

 

There are many types of vratas that a sadhak can take up.

  • Chanting the mantra for about 24000 times which means 27 malas for 9 days and 240 ahutis offered in yagna.
  • Chanting the mantra for about 1.25 lakh times which means 33 malas in 40 days and 1250 ahutis are offered in yagna.
  • Chanting the mantra for about 24 Lakh times which means 66 malas in 1 year and 1/10 ahutis are offered in yagna.

Further references:

Sir John Woodroffe’s collection of essays, Shakti and Shakta

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