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The Mystic Syllable

Human mind is always under the influence of external and internal events. These events generate tremendous thought waves and makes the mind restless. Taming the ever turbulent mind is not an easy task. That is why most of the people miserably fail to attain higher stages of meditation. They may sit with eyes closed and no other activity at hand but they simply can't meditate. Attaining deep stages of meditation requires a lot of rigorous training and to that end reciting Mantras is one of the most effective way.

The word Mantra is a combination of two syllables - Man + Tra. Man means thinking and Tra means liberation. Thus Mantra is a combination of one or more words that liberates the practitioner if contemplated upon. There is also another meaning of the word Mantra - the one who protects. Thus Mantra protects the practitioner from physical, mental, moral and spiritual dangers.

One important aspect of Mantras is that they are not invented but rather discovered. Ancient Indian sages (called rishis) and Yogis discovered them in the super conscious state of mind. In the deep state of meditation these combinations of letters and words were reveled to them.

A mantra usually takes the form of one or more letters arranged in a definitive sequence of sounds of which the letters are the representative signs. Thus mantras are sounds. It is our day to day experience that sound represents some form. For example, when you say "donkey", this word creates certain form in your mind that you identify as donkey. This world consists of forms that have names. Name and its form are two sides of the same coin. Without the one the other cannot exist. If you have name it must have form and if you have form it must have name. Remember that when you hear some foreign sound which you never heard before it still triggers a form in your mind but your brain cannot identify that form clearly.

Mantras being sound are vibrations. These vibrations are responsible for forms. During school days many of you might have verified this fact with a simple experiment. You take a tuning fork and strike it near a cardboard on which fine particles of iron are arranged. The particles arrange themselves in certain shape or form. This sound vibrations are responsible for generating forms. This is an important concept in  Yoga and Tantra. Later you will learn some more details about sound and creation.

Mantras can be classified as Vedic, Pauranic or Tantric. The Vedic mantras are from Vedas, Puranic mantras are from puranas whereas Tantric mantras are from Tantras. Vedic mantras are generally knowledge oriented e.g. Aham Bramhasmi (I am Bramhan), Tat Twam Asi (You are That). Puranic mantras are generally devotional e.g. Om Namo Narayama, Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevays. Tantric mantras often do not have any meaning but they are Bija mantras (seed mantras) e.g. Lam, yam, Aim etc. Irrespective of the class of mantras the sacred word Om is considered as the highest of them. Om is considered as the essence of all the Vedas. People often believe that Om is a letter of Sanskrit alphabet. However, in reality it is language independent. It is a sacred sound that symbolizes the Supreme Reality and this supreme reality cannot be tied to a particular language.

Mantras are used to tame the mind. Reciting a mantra again and again is called as Japa. Thus Japa means the repetition of a mantra with faith and devotion. Japa is of three types:

  • Vachika or loud
  • Upanshu or chanted in soft voice so that only the practitioner can hear it
  • Manasik or mental recitation

Out of these three types the Manasik Japa is the best. However, during initial stages it is recommended to chant it loudly. This way the mantra is embossed clearly on your mind. One important thing to remember while doing Japa is that one must concentrate on the Japa. Just "lip service" is not sufficient. It is easy to get your mind carried away while doing the Japa. One needs to bring it back time and again. Below are some suggestions that aid concentration:

  • Visualize the mantra as you are reciting it
  • Visualize as if you are writing the mantra while chanting is going on
  • Listen to the mantra with great attention with "mental" ear
  • Clearly visualize the form represented by the mantra you are chanting

You will find that once the mantra sinks and gets embossed deeply in your mind it works at subconscious level also.


Bipin Joshi is a software consultant, an author and a yoga mentor with more than 22 years of experience in classical yoga system of India. He is an internationally published author and has authored or co-authored more than ten technology books for Apress and WROX press. He has been awarded as a Most Valuable Professional by Microsoft. He has also written a few Marathi books including Devachya Davya Hati and Natha Sankentincha Danshu. Having embraced yoga way of life he also teaches Kriya and Meditation to selected individuals.

बिपीन जोशी लिखित देवाच्या डाव्या हाती आणि नाथ संकेतींचा दंशु या पुस्तकांची आपली प्रत आजच विकत घ्या. त्यांच्या अजपा योग मार्गदर्शनाविषयी अधिक माहिती येथे उपलब्ध आहे.


Posted On : 15 Jan 2007


Tags : Yoga Mantra Yoga Kundalini Chakras Meditation Natha Courses