MANTRA: RHYTHMIC WORD OF THE INFINITE

SPEAKER:  ASHOKE SENGUPTA

Mantra may be defined as a sacred utterance, numinous sound, or a syllable, word, phonemes, or a group of words, believed to have an occult, mystical or spiritual power on the body, life and mind of individuals and collectivities as well as on the world at large. A mantra may or may not have syntactic structure or commonly understood meaning; it may be a full verse, or some seed-sounds like the eternal syllable of the Veda (AUM or OM) or the bija used by the Tantriks (e.g. Hring, Shring, Aing, Hong, Jong, Hung, Phat, etc.) which are supposed to carry in them their symbolic significance and secret power.   These seed-sounds may be chanted either separately or in conjunction with verses as mantra, to have the intended effect.

Mantras are an essential part of all religions originating in India – Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Mantra-like words or sound-formations are also found to be used in Taoism, Zoroastrianism as well as in the Abrahamic or other religions originating in West Asia and North Africa.

 

ETYMOLOGY AND ORIGIN

The Sanskrit word mantra consists of the root man (manas) signifying mind or thought-process and the suffix – tra meaning tools or instruments. As per this interpretation, mantra is an instrument of mind or thought. Another such interpretation (which does not strictly follow the etymological formula) by a saint, is that mantra came from man+tran (liberation) meaning that which liberates or purifies the mind.

The Chinese equivalent of the word mantra is zhenyan, literally meaning “true words”.   The Japanese on’yomi reading of this Chinese word is shingon, which is also used as the proper name for a prominent esoteric Japanese sect, called Shingon.

In India, the origin of mantra is often considered to be Veda. The verses of Rig Veda, for example, are termed mantras, which are thematically arranged and put under Mandalas and sub-divided in Suktas, with the name of the Rishis to whom these mantras are attributed, indicated in each Sukta. There are also mantras used in the Tantra, which some scholars consider to have a pre-Vedic origin.

Since when the mantras were being used in India? Nineteenth century Western scholars did not give more than 3 to 4 thousand years of antiquity to Vedas. But latest findings and conjectures arising from archeological, genetic, radiological research and interpolations of the positions of stars and planets referred to in ancient texts including Ramayana and Mahabharata, put Krishna’s life-time at 5000 + years, Rama’s life-time at 7,000 + years, which may mean Vedic period was around 8000 years ago or still further beck in time. And if Tantra is pre-Vedic, then origin of mantras would have been still earlier.

Some scholars like Staal think that mantras may be older than language. This points to the possibility that primitive men, who had not yet developed a language in the modern sense of the term, might have used sound-constructs which, they believed, had put them in touch with the powers of the invisible world. Origin of mantra is, therefore, the origin of man on the earth.

 

DEFINITION OF MANTRA

There is no universally accepted definition of mantra, and scholars have given their own interpretations. Renou has defined mantra as thought. According to Silburn, mantras are structured formulas of thoughts. Farquhar points out that mantras are a religious thought, prayer, sacred utterance but also believed to be a spell or weapon of supernatural power. Zimmer defines mantra as a verbal instrument to produce something in one’s mind. Bharati’s definition, particularly in the context of Tantra, views mantra as a combination of mixed genuine and quasi morphemes arranged in conventional patterns, based on codified esoteric traditions, passed on from a guru to a disciple through prescribed initiation. Jan Gonda defines mantra as general name for the verses, formulas of sequence of words in prose which contain praise, are believed to have religious, magical or spiritual efficiency, which are meditated upon, recited, muttered or sung in a ritual and which are collected in the methodically arranged ancient religious texts of India.

In fact, Indian yogis have always given supreme importance to mantras. For them, it is a cry of the soul that leaps in ecstasy and adoration at the vision of Truth. Sri Aurobindo reveals: “The Mantra, poetic expression of the deepest spiritual reality, is only possible when three highest intensities of poetic speech meet and become indissolubly one, a highest intensity of rhythmic movement, a highest intensity of interwoven verbal form and thought-substance, of style and a highest intensity of the soul’s vision of truth.”

Indian spiritual view of mantra is largely shaped by the Vedic Rishis who considered Veda mantras as apaurusheya, one that are not composed by any man. The seer only sees it (mantradrashta rishi), hears it in his inner being, which makes entire Veda as Shruti-shastra, as opposed to other humanly composed spiritual texts (smriti-shastra). Sri Aurobindo explains: “What the Vedic poets meant by the Mantra was an inspired and revealed seeing and visioned thinking, attended by a realisation, to use the ponderous but necessary modern word of some inmost truth of God and self and man and nature and cosmos and life and things and thought and experience and deed. It was a thinking that came on the wings of a great soul rhythm, chandas. For the seeing could not be separated from the hearing; it was one act. Nor could the living of the truths in oneself which we mean by realisation, be separated from either, for the presence of it in the soul and its possession of the mind must precede or accompany in the creator or human channel that expression of the inner sight and hearing which takes the shape of the luminous word.  The Mantra is born through the heart and shaped or massed by the thinking mind into a chariot of that godhead of the Eternal of whom the truth seen is a face or a form. And in the mind too of the fit outward hearer who listen to the word of the poet-seer, these three must come together, if our word is a real Mantra, the sight of the inmost truth must accompany the hearing, the possession of the inmost spirit of it by the mind and its coming home to the soul must accompany or follow immediately upon the rhythmic message of the Word and the mind’s sight of the Truth.”

 

THEORY OF MANTRA

 In fact, mantra was the very basis of ancient Indian culture, both in theory and practice. “The theory of the mantra is that it is a word of power born of the secret depths of our being where it has been brooded upon by a deeper consciousness than the mental, framed in the heart and not originally constructed by the intellect, held in the mind, again concentrated on by the waking mental consciousness and then thrown out silently or vocally – the silent word is perhaps held to be more potent than the spoken – precisely for the work of creation. The mantra can not only create new subjective states in ourselves, alter our physical being, reveal knowledge and faculties we did not before possess, can not only produce similar results in other minds than that of the user, but can produce vibrations in the mental and vital atmosphere which result in effects, in actions and even in the production of material forms on the physical plane.”

Are we looking at a science of mantra that we often overlook? “Even ordinarily, even daily and hourly we do produce by the word within us thought-vibrations, thought-forms which result in the corresponding vital and physical vibrations, act upon others, and end in the individual creation and of forms in the physical world. Man is constantly acting upon both by the silently and spoken word and he so acts and creates thought less directly and powerfully even in the rest of Nature. But because we remain engrossed with external forms and events and do not take the trouble of examining its subtle and nonphysical processes, we remain ignorant of all these field of science behind.”

Sri Aurobindo has pointed out that the Vedic use of mantra is only a conscious utilization of this secret power of the word. And if one takes the theory that underlies it along with another hypothesis of a creative vibration of sound behind every formation, one begins to understand the idea of original creative Word.

According to Indian tradition, this original creative Word is the srishtibak of Brahma, with which the universe was created. There are other old traditions, like the Old Testament, which speak of the creative Word: “Let there be light and there was light.” Sri Aurobindo says: “In the system of the Mystics, which has partially survived in the schools of Indian Yoga, the Word is power, the Word creates. For all creation is expression everything exists already in the secret abode of the infinite, guha hitam, and has only to be brought out hare in apparent form by the active consciousness. Certain schools of Vedic thought even suppose the worlds to have been created by the goddess Word (Vak Devi) and sound as first etheric vibration to have preceded formation. In the Veda itself there are passages which treat the poetic measures (Chanda) of the sacred Mantras, – anushtubh, trishtubh, gayatri, – as symbolic of the rhythms in which the universal movement of things is cast. By expansion then we create and men are even said to create the gods in themselves by the Mantra. Again, that which we have created in our consciousness by the Word, we can fix there by the Word to become part of ourselves and effective not only in our inner life but upon the outer physical world. By expression we form by affirmation we establish. As a power of expression the word is termed gih or vacas, as a power of affirmation, stoma…

In the Tantrik worship, mantras are considered to be its basic building blocks. A mantra has four koshas or sheaths. First, as a Word, it has a meaning; another more subtle form is its feeling; still more subtle is a deep intense and constant awareness or presence and the fourth, the most subtle level is the soundless sound, a state of ajapa-japa.

 

PRACTICE OF MANTRA: SOME ILLUSTRATIONS

In the Vedic tradition, aantras are to be chanted correctly, the correctness includes proper pronunciation of each word as well as adherence to the prescribed accents. There is a story about a king who performed yajna for protecting his kingdom from the enemy who had threatened to capture it. The Rik mantra chanted for the Yajna described Indra slaying the asura Vrittra with his thunder (vajra). In the mantra, reference to Indra was in the Udatta(acute) accent and that to Vrittra in Anudatta (grave) accent. The priest performing the Yajna chanted the mantra wrongly, putting reference to Vrittra in Udatta accent. This produced the opposite effect and in the ensuing war, the king was defeated and killed.

The question of correctness covers not only pronunciation and accent during chanting, but also choosing the correct mantras for the intended outcome. We may recall a historical event of the Mughal period when an inadvertent use of inappropriate mantras, had an unintended outcome. It is well known that the Vishwanath temple of Benaras was repeatedly destroyed by he invaders during the medieval period. During the realm of Emperor Akbar, Hindus had a more tolerant ruler. Some prominent Hindus in Akbar’s court, particularly Raja Todarmall, decided to construct a new magnificent Vishwanath temple at the holy city of Benaras. The priest, who was entrusted with the task of performing the puja to install the temple, was trying to muster the occult forces, through rituals and mantras, so that the temple lasts far many centuries. During the ceremony, the Chief priest was called to perform puja in another minor temple in the same premises. He left the ceremony at the main temple for a short while, asking one of his assistants to continue chanting. The young priest chanted some well known Upanishadic mantra like Pashyema Sharadah Shatam, Jivesme Sharadah Shatam, which are prayers for a man to live a healthy life for hundred years. But such a mantra was totally inappropriate for the foundation ceremony for the temple, which was intended to survive many centuries. It is a historical fact that one hundred years after establishing the grand temple, it was destroyed by Akbar’s great grandson, Aurangzeb!

Analyzing the theory of the mantra earlier in this paper, we have found that mantras can have great power on the internal mental and emotional state of human beings as well as on the external physical surroundings. The stories of miraculous powers of great yogis and Tantriks as well as those recorded in our epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata, would have to be considered in this background. Each of the devastating weapons used in the battle of Kurukshetra by great heroes on both sides – Arjuna, Karna, Bhisma, Drona, etc., was said to be powered and activated by a secret mantra. There are two instances in Mahabharata, which confirm that these weapons were mantra-based. In his final battle with Arjuna, Karna who had the bow and arrows with himself, could not throw a single potent weapon towards Arjuna since due to the curse of his guru, Parushuram, he forgot all the mantras necessary to activate such weapons. Again, towards the end of the Mahabharata episode, the great warrior Arjuna was seen helplessly watching the Yadava women, being escorted by him from Dwarka to Hastinapura, abducted by robbers. Arjuna could not throw a single potent weapon towards the decoits as he could not remember the mantras to activate the powerful weapons. It is said that Lord Krishna had departed from life by that time and that was why Arjun’s divine powers were also gone.

If we follow the narration in the epic, no great hero with miraculous powers appeared in the scene after Arjuna’s death. The traditional explanation is that with Lord Krishna’s demise, all that mantra-based miraculous powers were withdrawn   But stories of yogis and tantriks wielding miraculous powers, are also common place. Moreover, from the writings of highly credible scholars like Pandit Gopinath Kaviraj, one hears the accounts of secret ashramas in the Himalayas, of great yogis doing tapasya for centuries and practicing mystic sciences like Surya Vijnan and wielding extra-ordinary powers. It is said that these mystic/yogic systems they practice, are largely mantra-based.

Mantras can be effective not only in the life of individuals, but also for collectivities. Bandemataram is such a mantra that awoke the nation during the days of India’s freedom movement. The author, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhya wrote the song Bandemataram in Sanskrit and Bengali mixed in early 1870s. It was a part of his historical novel “Anandamath’, which portrayed the story of the revolt of a group of Sannyasis against the rule of British East India Company. Bandemataram was shown as their patriotic war cry. Beginning from anti-partition of Bengal movement of 1905, the mantra (Bandemataram) became the war cry of every patriotic Indian during the freedom movement. Sri Aurobindo then a nationalist leader wrote Bandemataram came as a mantra given to the nation. The Mother revealed herself to the people. It was a mantra of patriotism that awoke the entire nation. He termed Bankim Chandra as a seer who found this mantra in his vision (Mantra-drashta Rishi.) There are hardly any parallel in world history of the power Bandemataram exerted on the people of India.

 

PRACTICE OF MANTRA: THE PATH OF YOGA

Chanting or repetition of a mantra (mantra japa) is considered as an important means for God-realization and spiritual progress in most of the religions and system of yoga. There are millions of mantras available in various spiritual texts, shastras, and it is necessary to choose the right mantra/mantras that would assist the spiritual progress of an individual.

In many religious sects and yogic disciplines the selection of the right mantra for an individual is performed by a guru. There is a sacred and often a secret ritual of initiation of a disciple by the guru, called mantradiksha.

Commenting on the system, the Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual collaborator, said: “Basically, the guru’s real power is to fill up the gaps! To bring you into contact: when you are on the higher planes, to bring you into contact with the Highest. Or to bring you into contact with your soul, your psychic being within, or to bring you into contact with the Supreme – but that not many can do.”

She also points out that “a true mantra … is something that wails up from within. It must spring from within… spontaneously, like a profound, intense need of your being – then it has power, because it is not something that comes from outside, it is your very own cry.”

The Mother said that a mantra can provide great help in our day-to-day life, particularly when we are in difficulty if we ‘develop the habit, automatically at this moment, of calling as by a mantra .. that has an extraordinary effect.’ She said, one must farm the habit of repeating the mantra in moments when difficulties come. “If you form the habit, one day it will come to you spontaneously: when the difficulty comes, at the same time the mantra will come. Then you will see the results are wonderful.”

In the Indian religious system, a mantra may be used in four different ways.

  • Uchcharita (spoken loud)
  • Anirukta (not enunciated)
  • Upamsu (inaudible)
  • Manasa (not spoken, but recited in the mind),

There is, however, a fifth type of mantra, called ajapa that continues constantly in the inner recess of our being. Our external mind is generally unaware of it. While it is not clear whether every human being has a current of ajapa within himself, many people who have a spiritual bent of mind, reported hearing this mantra japa within themselves in rare moments of benediction or crisis and a few may have been aware of it frequently in their external consciousness. But ajapa is always an index of an awakened inner being unconnected with what we are externally aware of.

Upanishads prescribe triple steps to realize Atman (Brahman) – shravana (learning from shastras, sacred texts), manana (reflections on what are learned from these texts) and nididhyasana (meditation on Atman). The same triple paths are indicated in another manner in sage Yajnavalkya’s teaching to wife Maitrayi (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad) in reply to her expressed aspiration of how to attain immortality (amrita). He said ‘atma va are drashtavyah, shratavya, mantavya nidiyasitavyah’. “Ramanujacharya, the great exponent of Vishishtadvaita philosophy, while commenting on this triple path to self-realization or God-realization, said the culmination of these is nididhyasana, or constant focusing of one’s consciousness on the Divine – Atman, Brahman or God. He said the meditation should be incessant like the flow of oil, tailadhara vat!

Here we are facing a practical problem. While it may be possible for an ascetic doing tapasya in a cave to remain continuously in meditation (although he too would require to give time for sleeping, eating and answering to other calls of the body), this would be a tough call for a man of the world, who is required to take many worldly responsibilities, to keep his external mind focused only on the divine. The yogic systems have, however, found out a solution to this problem – taking the worldly duties with a different attitude. A song by the poet Ramprasad, an ardent devotee of goddess Kali, advise the sadhak to recite his mantra, given by the Guru, day and night, and take all activities, eating, sleeping, going round the city, conversing with people etc., as an offering to mother Kali. An intense practice of this kind would create a condition like nididhyasana even for a person, engaged in multi-fold worldly activities. And herein comes the role of ajapa, where pure waters of the mantra flows constantly like a river-stream gone under ground (antah salila), keeping the inner consciousness of the sadhaka focused on his divine goal.

There is, however, a Tantrik/ Siddha view of ajapa-japa, T.N. Ganapathy, renowned scholar of Siddha tradition, writes:

“According to the Tantras, mantra is an inexplicable mystery of sound. In the Tantric tradition shabda is not merely a process, taking one towards the Supreme Reality, it is itself divine. Shabda-Brahman the sound-form of the Supreme Reality. It is the aim of the yogin to be absorbed in this eternal, undifferentiated sound. By the process of breathing every jiva is doing a japa, that is, utterance of a mantra. The breath of every person in entering makes the sound sah and in coming out that of ham.  These sounds make so’ham (I am He).   Throughout day and night every living being performs this japa constantly but unconsciously. This called ajapa-japa.

 According to Ganapathy, the repetition of mantras is called purascarana in Tantric language. It means performing or carrying out before. Mantra plays an important part in arousing the kundalini. Kundalini power has two forms – the subtle luminous form and the subtle sound form. Mantra as a subtle sound-form helps in arousing the kundalini. This aspect of the Kundalini is accomplished by ‘subtle sounds’ which are ‘luminous’ and not accessible to the external senses. The yogin through Kundalini-Yoga must exert himself to obtain sounds as subtle as possible; and finally he will reach a state where he experiences no sound at all. This is the state of Para-Brahman or Parama Shiva. The Nada-bindu-upanishad speaks of the different sounds heard by a yogin during his yogic practices. There are actually four traditions of the mantras used and taught by the yogins. They are: Veda mantra, Purana mantra, Tantra mantra and Apta mantra (oral tradition).

There is a prevailing view that most of the mantras are ‘full of sound and fury signifying nothing.’ Of course, majority of the mantras are sequence of sounds which have no apparent meaning. Their meaning is unintelligible to the uninitiated. These mystical syllables have the unique capacity to maintain the religious life of a man and the tradition to which he belongs. They stand as support for concentration. For the yogin also the so called unmeant syllables have a message. In the Tamil Siddha tradition the unmeaningness of the syllables is their real message and the real meaning. By negating all possible meanings to the mantra, the yogin realizes the real, transcendental meaning that Reality is ‘beyond the beyond’ and that it is vettaveli, verum-pai, shunya and indescribable.”

 

NOTES ON SOME WELL-KNOWN MANTRAS

Pranav Mantra

Pranav Mantra, the mono syllable word OM or AUM is the most important mantra coming out of Veda. It represents all of Brahman – what is manifest as well as whatever is in the unmanifest. Sri Aurobindo wrote:

“OM is the imperishable Word. OM is the Universe, and this is the exposition of OM. The past, the present and the future, all that was, all that is, all that will be, is OM. Likewise all else that may exist beyond the bound of Time, that too is OM.”

OM is sometimes used alone for mantra japa. Otherwise it mostly is prefixed or occasionally suffixed in most of the Vedic and Tantric mantras. Otherwise it is mostly prefixed or occasionally suffixed in most of the Vedic and Tantric mantras.

 

Gayatri Mantra

 Another famous mantra in the Vedic system, attributed to Rishi Vishwamitra. It is the mantra for bringing the light of Truth into all the planes of the being. The power of Gayatri is the Light of the Divine Truth. It is a mantra of Knowledge.

The mantra is written in Gayatri Chanda, which has 24 syllables. The Rig Vedic form of the Mantra is

Om Tat Savitur Varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi

dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.

 This has 24 syllables, as per rules of Chanda. But there is another version of Gayatri found in Yajur Veda and used for conducting a Yajna:

 Om Bhur BhuvaSwah tat Savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.

This yajurvedic version of Gayatri is more well-known. Evidently, it has more than 24 syllables.

 

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra

 Attributed to Rishi Vasishtha, this Rik mantra prays for attainment of immortality. Although the immortality aspire for in this sastra is the immortality of the inner being, of atman, it is said the mantra can save the life of a person, which is threatened by an accident or a disease or a grievous hurt if the person is yet to reach the ripe old age of 100.

Pavamana Mantra

 This is from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. It portrays men’s eternal aspiration for ascent to a realm of Truth, Light and Immortality.

Asatoma sadgamaya, tamosama jyotirgamaya,

Mrityorma amritam gamaya

 Lead me from unreal to real, from darkness to light, from death to immortality.

 

Shanti mantra

 This is from Taittiriya Upanishad.

Om Sahana vavatu

Sahanau bhunaktu

Sahaviryam karvavahai

Tajasvi navadhitamastu

Ma vidvisavahai

Om Shantih, Shantih, Shantihi.

 

Tantrik Mantras

 The Tantrik Mantras use the seed (bija) sounds, like hring, shring, kling, aing, hung, hang, jang, phat, etc. These words may not have a normal dictionary meaning, but in Tantrik philosophy each one of the bija represents a deity or express one aspect of the divinity. These bijas may be used separately or in conjunction with other words. A typical Tantrik mantra, a hymn to goddess Chamunda, is given below:

Om aing hring shring kling

Chamundai namo vichche

 What are the origin of Tantrik Bijas? Some say, the tantrik monosyllabic mantras or sounds called bijas are found in the Vedas. The use of phat was mentioned in Rig Veda and is clearly found in Vajasaneyi Samhita. The Taittiriya Aranyaka (4.27) distinctly mentions chanting consisting of the sounds Khat, Phat and Kat. Again the Chandogya Upanishad (1.1) and Ashvalayana Shrauta-Sutra (1.1) explicitly refer to hinkaropasana and aunkaropasana.    

 

The simple mantra – MA

 The common word MA meaning mother is also used as a mantra in sadhana. Here is an etymological explanation as to why it is effective as a mantra. It has been stated in the scriptures that the Sanskrit letter M is the bija (seed-syllable) for Chandra, the moon. Chandra contains amrita, divine nectar, and is cooling and peaceful; it is the embodiment of bliss. When the sadhaka repeats this seed-syllable, peace, bliss and devotion become established in his mind, vital and body. Then the hostile forces, which create obstacles in his life and are the cause of depression, greed, attachment, lust and anger, cannot easily become active. Consequently the sadhaka obtains encouragement and happiness and takes interest in his sadhana. The obstacles become less and, as his mind, vital and body become purified, the Divine Power descends int them and starts the work of transformation.

By adding the Sanskrit letter A to the letter M, one gets the word MA. A is the seed-syllable for agni, the purifying spiritual fire. Because the letter A in the word MA is the seed-syllable for the purifying spiritual fire, the sadhak’s three types of karma, which are the results of his unfavourable past actions – sanchita (the results of actions from previous lives), kriyamana (the results of actions from this life) and prarabdha (the present destiny – will be burnt away by the japa of Ma.

 

 SECRET-SACRED MANTRAS: BOTH WHITE AND BLACK

 But all mantras are not in the public domain. There are said to be many mantras, some very sacred and beneficial, some dark and dangerous which are held as closely guarded secrets in hidden ashramas or in the dens of those dealing with black magic. There are said to be very powerful mantras, which can bring a paradigm shift in the way thins are in the world.

First the dangerous world of black magic, variously termed as jadu tona, tuk tak, etc. in India. The practitioners of this arts or science have supposedly powers to buy people under one’s control (vashikaran), cause harm to or even kill people (maran) and also various others obnoxious or undesirable things with their mantras. There are plenty of reasonably credible accounts of people about black magic. I met a sannyasin, who first hand witnessed a maran kriya (tantra act of killing by mantra in a Bengal village. Two village women, both engaged in dehusking of paddy with a large stone apparatus, called dhenki, were quarrelling with one another. When tempers rose, one of the women muttered a terse rhyme in rustic Bengali. Next moment, the large dhenki stone quivered and then moved at considerable speed to hit the other woman standing in opposite side of the road.

Then there are the powers of ashtasiddhi, which many yogis are said to have achieved. The first three of the eight siddhis are anima, laghima and garima. Anima is the power to disassemble ones body to atoms (anu) that makes one invisible and then to reassemble it again. Laghima is to make the body so light, that it can float in the air. Garima is to make one’s body huge and heavy like a hillock. Incidentally, these are the very powers the Bhima’s son Ghatotkatcha used in Kurukshetra war, creating panic in Kaurava army.

 Gopinath Kaviraj, the famous scholar and saint, noted that the Mahatmas or saints in the secret Himalayan Ashram (Jnanganj) practice Surya Vijnan which have miraculous powers like attaining a very long life, cure disease, carry heavy things over a distance etc. A book on Jnanganj, narrate one incident of a sadhu who was given a rose, but he converted it a small bird, by transferring the life-seed of rose to the birds. And these miraculous powers are mantra-based too.

The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, who in her early youth was an adept in occultism, and roamed those occult realms in her subtle body, once received a Mantra of Life. This is the mantra by which one can give life and also take it, create life and also destroy it. Mother said, ‘This mantra was shut away, sealed, with my name on it in Sanskrit.” It is a different matter that she did not choose to use that mantra, but it shows that such mantras that can bring cataclysmic changes the the world, are always there.

I would like to end this paper with a poem by Sri Aurobindo which describes the supreme power of mantra on man’s spiritual pursuit:

“As when the mantra sinks in Yogi’s ear,

Its message enters stirring the blind brain

And keeps in the dim ignorant cells its sound;

The hearer understands a form of words

And, musing on the index thought it holds,

He strives to read it with the labouring mind,

But finds bright hints, not the embodied truth:

Then, falling silent in himself to know

He meets the deeper listening of his soul:

The Word repeats itself in rhythmic strains:

Thought, vision, feeling, sense, the body’s self

Are seized unutterably and he endures

An ecstasy and an immortal change;

He feels a Wideness and becomes a Power,

All knowledge rushes on him like a sea:

Transmuted by the white spiritual ray

He walks in naked heavens of joy and calm,

Sees the God-face and hears transcendent speech”

 

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