- 1. Origin and meaning of Path of Mantra (Mantrayoga)
- 2. Parts of a mantra
- 3. Chanting a mantra (mantrajapa)
- 4. Types of mantra
Some definitions of the word mantra are as follows:
A. ‘मननात् त्रायते इति मंत्र: ।’ manan means bringing only one thought to one’s mind repeatedly and trayate means to protect. In other words mantra refers to that which when thought of repeatedly protects oneself and also that which protects one from the mind or that which helps to bring about the dissolution of the mind. At a further stage Mantrayoga also means that state in which contemplation (manan) stops during chanting, there is dissolution of the mind, cessation of the mantra, dissolution of the triad (triputi) that is, of the mantra, the one chanting the mantra and the act of chanting and the seeker attains the state of dissolution (layavastha).
B. ‘Mantra refers to the collection of letters which assists in acquisition of the favourable and the vanquishing of obstacles. The word mantra is derived from mantri, a Sanskrut word which means secret speeches (guhyabhashane). It has various meanings like acquisition of secret objectives, acquisition of secret meanings, invoking a deity for a specific cause, etc. Philosophically it means that by contemplation (manan) of which, knowledge about the oneness of the entire world, that is the embodied soul (jiva), Brahman and the universe is bestowed upon oneself and that by which the embodied soul acquires Liberation (Mukti) from worldly bondages and Righteousness (Dharma), wealth (artha) and desire (kama) are achieved in this world.
C. "मंत्रा: मननात् ।'' means a mantra is that on which one contemplates (manan) and from which one acquires the knowledge about sacrificial fires (yadnya), God and the soul (Nirukta 7.12).
D. मकारो मननं प्राह त्रकारस्त्राणमुच्यते ।
मननत्राणसंयुक्तो मंत्र इत्यभिधीयते ।।
The meaning: In the word mantra ‘ma’ (म) refers to contemplation (manan) and ‘tra’ (त्र) to protection (tran). Thus that which consists of contemplation (manan) and protection is called a mantra.’ (1)
E. The word mantra is derived from ‘man’ (मन्) and ‘tra’ (त्र). ‘Man’ refers to the mind and ‘tra’ to vital energy (pran). That which is done with the fusion of the mind and vital energy is called a mantra.
F. According to the science of Tantra: ‘According to the sorcerers (tantriks) sound (nad or dhvani) being the fundamental frequency of creation appears foremost in the origin of the universe. Sound is a subtle part of the divine energy (chit shakti) of the embodied soul (jiva). Just as sound waves are produced in the atmosphere due to air currents, so also in the body of the embodied soul sound waves are generated due to flow of a type of vital energy (pranvayu). A word is generated from this sound. Later, a mantra originates from it. The energy contained in a mantra is beyond one’s imagination.’(2)
मंत्राणां पल्लवो वासो । मंत्राणां प्रणव: शिर: ।
शिर: पल्लव संयुक्तो । कामधुक् भवेत् ।।
The meaning: The letters or words in a mantra constitute its body and the Om at its beginning, is the head. If both the head and the body are present then with that mantra one’s aspirations are fulfilled.
Usually a mantra consists of the following:
The Name of the deity which is to be worshipped. Usually Shri or Om is prefixed to the deity’s Name. [Refer ‘Prefixing Shri or Om to the Name’.]
Whatever is to be asked of the deity.
Pallav refers to the last or the decorative part of the mantra. Pallav also means to collect, the description of the benefit derived, etc. Often the ‘namaha’ in a mantra expresses salutation to the deity. That is the pallav. The words in the mantra are also known as pallav.
The meaning of some words which appear at the end of a mantra: ‘Often several words like namaha, svaha, svadha, vashat, voushat, hum and phat are joined to the bijas. These words either depict the mental state of a seeker at the time of chanting the mantra or whatever one wishes to achieve with their usage. Their implied meanings are as follows.
|A. Namaha||: The serene and peaceful state of the antahkaran
appeasing the deity of the mantra by surrendering to it.
|B. Svaha||: Destruction of harmful energy, for instance curing
a disease and doing good to others, appeasing the
deity of the mantra with offerings.
|C. Svadha||: Self-contentment, strengthening oneself|
|D. Vashat||: A spiritual emotion of destroying the enemy|
|E. Voushat||: To create conflicts or opposition among enemies,
to acquire power and wealth
|F. Hum||: Anger and courage, to frighten one’s enemy|
|G. Phat||: A spiritual emotion of attacking the enemy, to
drive the enemy away.’(3)
A. Kilak means a wedge or a clue to a mystical puzzle. The Guru gives the kilak of the mantra. Consequently the energy of the mantra is manifested. Kilak means the description, proximity, speed and method of pronunciation, the rhythm of recitation of the mantra (alap), etc. Sometimes the kilak assumes the form of a prior notice. 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, that is a wedge or a clue to a mystical puzzle. Only when the mantra is chanted along with it does it prove to be fruitful. Understanding that word, and chanting along with it or 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. One comes across ‘Shrimat Hanuman kilakam’ in Shriramaraksha verse (stotra).
B. Movement of the saman vital energy (vayu) is essential to activate the kundalini (spiritual energy). Nadibandha (blocking the channels) is performed to achieve it. The energy used to perform nadibandha is also called kilak. Kilak means the expulsion of the saman vital energy from which energy is generated. Nadibandha also occurs if a mantra is chanted appropriately.
‘Every mantra includes three principles, the pranav, the bija, and the deity. The secrets of The Almighty within and beyond the universe are present in the pranav principle. Through the bija principle one becomes aware of one’s true nature (prakruti), the type of one’s relationship with The Almighty and the unmanifest energy within oneself which is making attempts to manifest itself. Knowledge of the deity principle gives one the realisation of The Lord’s wish which is to be fulfilled through oneself.’ (4)
Repetition of a mantra understanding its meaning, along with faith and spiritual emotion is called chanting a mantra (mantrajapa).
A. The Vedas: ‘Vedic mantras are superior to all other mantras. The Sanhita section of the Vedas is itself regarded as a mantra. The Gayatri mantra in the Rugveda was first written by Sage Vishvamitra and is considered superior to the others. The Atharvaveda too is a treasure house of various mantras. Mantras or meanings are created in various sciences such as astrology, Ayurveda, Spirituality, etc. when different bijas are prefixed to the Vedic verses.
B. The texts of the Tantras: As in the Vedas thousands of mantras have also been mentioned in the texts of the Tantras.
The Vedic and Tantrik mantras: Since the Vedic mantras are the very breath of The Lord they are efficacious (siddha) mantras. Hence according to Vedic scholars no rituals are deemed necessary for their chanting. Contrary to this, the sorcerers (tantriks) have prescribed specific rituals even for the Vedic mantras.
In the science of Mantra, the armour (self protection), argala (generation of energy, destruction of distressing energies) and kilak are equally important and without the accomplishment of all these, a mantra cannot become efficacious. In the Tantrik path the armour and argala are deemed to be inferior and greater importance is attached to the kilak. According to the science of Tantra mere removal of obstacles preventing the accomplishment of the tantra is sufficient for proving the tantra, as this science is based on gross objects. 5% of the effectiveness of a tantra is due to the qualities of the object used in it, for instance black lentil (udid). The effect is purely due to the intrinsic qualities of the object and not due to any external process.
C. The Shabar texts: Thousands of Shabar mantras are given in these texts. They are also known as mantras of spirits (paishachik mantras) and are often meaningless. In these mantras emphasis is laid not on the meaning but on the sound. These mantras are of an inferior quality because through them a seeker develops communion with spirits and not deities.’(5) They have been written in a number of languages like Sanskrut, Prakrut (a dialect derived from Sanskrut), Marathi, Arabic, etc. The notes in some of the Shabar mantras are an admixture of the sounds of insects, animals, birds, etc.
A. With meaningful words: Mantras such as the Gayatri mantra have a specific meaning.
B. Without meaningful words: Some mantras pertaining to spirits and others like ‘Gan gan ganata bote’ as chanted by Saint Gajanan Maharaj of Shegaon or monosyllables such as lam, vam, sham, etc. which represent various spiritual energy chakras in our body appear meaningless at face value. Some of these seemingly meaningless mantras too have a deep meaning. For instance the Sanskrut letter Om is composed of the three letters a (अ), u (उ) and m (म). These represent the sattva, raja and tama components respectively. Om, a combination of the three components (trigunas) is in fact a symbol of the one beyond the three components (trigunatit). Vowels have high frequencies, most consonants have medium frequencies, whereas y (य), r (र), v (व) and h (ह) have low frequencies. Om, however has all these three frequencies.
A. The existing types
|1. Bijamantra||: Monosyllabic mantras like yam, ram, rham, rhim|
|2. Mulamantra||: 2 to 10 letters or the deity’s subtle body known
|3. Pindamantra||: 11 to 20 letters|
|4. Malamantra||: A mantra with more than 20 letters or one
chanted with a mala (rosary)
B. Types according to the Nitya Tantra
|1. Pinda||: A mantra with only one letter|
|2. Kartari||: 2 letters|
|3. Bija||: 3 to 9 letters|
|4. Mantra||: 10 to 20 letters|
|5. Mala||: More than 20 letters|
C. Some prevalent examples
|1. With one letter||: Om (ॐ)|
|2. With five letters||: Namaha Shivaya (नम: शिवाय ।)|
|3. With six letters||: Om namaha Shivaya (ॐ नम: शिवाय ।)
Om namo Vishnave (ॐ नमो विष्णवे।)
|4. With seven letters||: Om rhim Suryaya namaha
(ॐ र्हीं सूर्याय नम: ।)
|5. With eight letters||: Om namo Vasudevaya
(ॐ नमो वासुदेवाय ।)
|6. With nine letters||: Om gam Ganapataye namaha
(ॐ गं गणपतये नम: ।)
|7. With twelve letters||: Om namo Bhagvate Vasudevaya
(ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय ।)
|8. With thirteen letters||: Shrirama jai Rama jai jai Rama
(श्री राम जय राम जय जय राम ।)
In the science of Tantra masculine and neuter mantras are called mantras while the feminine ones are known as vidya (knowledge).
A. Masculine [solar (soura)] mantras: Mantras concluding with words like ‘hum, phat’ are considered as masculine mantras. Such mantras help in vanquishing enemies or in changing the minds of others. Mantras of the Sun deity too are masculine mantras.
B. Feminine [lunar (som)] mantras: Mantras concluding with words like tham, svaha or svadha should be considered as feminine mantras. Such mantras are useful in curing illnesses. Mantras of the moon are considered to be feminine mantras.
C. Neuter mantras: Mantras ending with ‘namaha’ are considered as neuter mantras. Such mantras are used to fulfill some desire.
This is also called a sabija mantra as besides the letters it is laden with the Guru’s resolve (sankalpa) and divine consciousness (chaitanya) too. [For further details refer ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 4 – Path of Guru's Grace (Gurukrupayoga), point Gurumantra’.] In the routine spiritual practice commenced on one’s own, the energy of spiritual practice is operational whereas in the initiation of a mantra both, the energy of spiritual practice as well as the energy of the mantra become operational.
‘The bija is the seedling of the mantra. It is from this seedling that shoots of the science of Mantra spread. The energy of any mantra lies in its bija. The chanting of a mantra is efficacious only if an appropriate bija is selected. The bijas activate the deity of the mantra. In this context the Bruhadgandharvatantra relates –
मन्त्रोच्चारणमात्रेण देवरूपं प्रजायते ।।
The meaning: O Parvati, I will tell you the divine nature of bijas. Mere pronunciation of a bijamantra, causes the manifestation of the deity at that site.
Bijas are also extremely useful from the physical and psychological point of view. When pronouncing bijas a particular frequency is generated leading to the production of specific sound waves. Spread of these waves activates certain centres and chakras in the body, which in turn facilitate the proper flow of the vital energies (pranas) through the channels (nadis). It is said that chanting of a bijamantra helps to achieve a healthy body, pure mind, increase in the mental (psychic) energy, sharp intellect, etc.
Mr. Woodrof has explained about bijas of various deities, their implied meaning and objectives in the following way:
|1. Om (ॐ)||: This is a bija too. It has to be pronounced before
all bijas and mantras. It is called the pranav
bija. This itself is the bija or the gist of the Vedas.
All the bijas originate from the pranav bija.
This is an eternal and non-dualistic (advait) bija.
|2. Aim (ऐं)||: The bija of Sarasvati. The objective is the same
|3. Krim (क्रीं)||: The bija of Kali, k = Kali, r = Brahman and i =
Mahamaya (the Great Illusion). The dot in
Sanskrut (anusvar) means overcoming
unhappiness. The objective is to overcome
|4. Klim (क्लीं)||: The bija of Krushna or desire (kama), k =
Krushna or kama (desire), l = Indra, i =
satisfaction and the dot refers to generation of
happiness. Its objective is acquisition of happiness.
|5. Gam (गं)||: The bija of Ganesh, g = Ganesh, the dot
represents overcoming unhappiness; its objective
is overcoming unhappiness.
|6. Dum (दूं)||: The bija of Durga, d = Durga, u = protection and
the dot refers to the act of protection. Its objective
|7. Shrim (श्रीं)||: The bija of Lakshmi, sh = Lakshmi, r = wealth,
i = satisfaction and the dot represents overcoming
unhappiness. Its objectives are prosperity and
|8. Strim (स्त्रीं)||: The bija of Vadhu, s = protection from crisis, t =
saviour energy, r = Liberation (Mukti), i =
Mahamaya (the Great Illusion) and the dot
indicates overcoming unhappiness. Its objective
is overcoming unhappiness.
|9. Rhim (र्हीं)||: It is the bija of Brahman (Shiva) and Energy
(Shakti), h = Shiva (Brahman), r = Prakruti, r =
Mahamaya and the dot indicates overcoming
unhappiness. Its objective is to overcome
|10. Hum (हूं)||: The bija of Varma or Kurcha, h = Shiva, u =
Bhairav and the dot indicates overcoming
happiness. Its objective is to overcome
|11. Houm (हौं)||: The bija of grace (prasadbija), h = Shiva, ou =
grace of Lord Shiva or Sadashiv and the dot
refers to overcoming of grief. Its objective is to
overcome unhappiness with the grace of Lord
Shiva or Sadashiv.
|12. Kshroum (क्ष्रौं)||: The bija of Nrusinha, ksh = Nrusinha, r =
Brahman, ou = Urdhvadanta and the dot
represents overcoming grief. Its objective is
Various combinations are created when bijas are combined. Two or more bijas can be combined. As a result, great diversity is created in the energy of the mantra for example,‘rhim shrim krim’ is a conjoined bijamantra. All the three bijas are various forms of the same energy – rhim = the Great Illusion (Maya), shrim = Lakshmi and krim = the deity Kali. According to the scriptures (Darshans) these three bijas represent creation, sustenance and destruction respectively. The Fetkarini Tantra gives the yogic meaning of some conjoined bijas, for example when rhim is joined twice it becomes a bija of coyness (lajjabija). This is considered to be the bija of the principle of entire creation. To illustrate this with an example, a legend states that at the time of creation of the universe The Creator felt coy for the first time. ‘Shrim’ means maintaining harmony between the functions of Lord Vishnu namely nurture and sustenance.’(6)
B. Types according to the motive
1. With worldly expectation (sakam): The mantra begins with rhim, shrim, klim, etc.
2. Without worldly expectation (nishkam): The mantra commences with Om. All mantras originate from Om. It is a symbol of Brahman, God and the Vedas. Hence, the mantra ‘Om’ can bestow the Final Liberation (Moksha).
3. Both with and without expectation: The bijas like rhim are suffixed to Om and are followed by the other letters in the mantra.
C. Some important bijamantras
|klim||Maya (the Great,
|krum||Svaha, Kalpini||hum||Kalkuta Durga|
D. Bijamantras according to the Devnagari alphabets
|tam||Pruthvi, Marut||tham||Vanhi, Kapali|
|dham||Shankhini, Dhanesh||nam||Jvalini, Sinhanadi|
|ham||Shiva, Yogavaktra||lam||Pruthvi, Vyapini|
* The first sound of all the four Vedas has created the bija im or aim.
‘The Shakta Tantra quotes not only the Names of various deities like Vishnupriya, Dhumrabhairavi, Rudrashakini, Vidyujjivha, Kalpini, Agnivallabha, Ghorakshi, Kalaratri, Urdhvakeshi, Durga, Lokamata, etc. but also the independent bijas for their worship. The Shaiva Tantra mentions the forms of Shiva such as Varan Chand, Jvalamukh, Raktadanshtra, Asitang, Valayamukh, Vidyunmukh, Kapali, Kapardi, Mahakal, Dhumradhvaja, etc. and also gives the respective bijas which fulfill varied objectives.’(7)
E. Bijamantras of the five cosmic elements (panchamahabhutas)
1. Pruthvi (absolute earth) : lam
2. Apa (absolute water) : vam
3. Tej (absolute fire) : ram
4. Vayu (absolute air) : yam
5. Akash (absolute ether) : ham, kham
F. Bijamantras practised with worldly expectation (sakam) [according to the Bijanighantu text]
|The Objective||The bijamantra|
|1. Acquisition of knowledge||aim|
|2. Acquisition of worldly happiness||rhim|
|3. Achieving the impossible||am|
|5. Acquisition of good health and
prevention of untimely death
|Om jum saha|
|6. Progress and prosperity in all spheres||soum|
|7. Fulfillment of wishes||Klim|
|8. Successful completion of actions
|9. Satisfaction, Serenity||rhom|
|10. Winning debates||lhim|
|11. Hatred (Dvesh)||Hum|
|12. Hindering others progress||tam tam|
|13. Killing (maran)||khem khem|
|14. Hypnotising (sammohan)||blrum|
|15. Controlling someone else’s mind
|16. Attraction (akarshan)||voushat|
G. Bijamantras which cure disease
1. Chakras, bijamantras and organs
|1. Muladhar||lam, lrum||The anus|
|2. Svadhishthan||vam||The sex organs|
|3. Manipur||ram, rum||The organs of digestion|
|4. Anahat||yam||The heart and lungs|
|5. Vishuddha||ham||The organs of speech|
|6. Adnya||Om||The nervous system (mind and intellect)|
Information about the association of the chakras with various organs and the appropriate bijamantras for them is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 38 – Kundaliniyoga (Path of Activation of Spiritual Energy)’. The bijamantras purify the chakras and channels (nadis) and make the organs disease free.
2. Diseases of organs and bijamantras: The bijamantras which are useful in the diseases of certain organs are given below:
|Rhaam||: Diseases of the chest, heart, respiratory tract and brain|
|Rhim||: Diseases of the nose, throat and palate|
|Rhum||: Diseases of the liver, spleen, intestines, stomach
|Rhaim||: Diseases of the kidneys, urinary bladder|
|Rhoum||: Diseases of the anus and organs of digestion|
|Rham||: Disorders of the chest and throat.|
H. The four social classes (varnas) and bijamantras
1. Brahman : rhim
2. Kshatriya : shrim
3. Vaishya : klim
4. Shudra : aim
I. The three components (trigunas) and bijamantras: The bijas s, r and t correspond to the sattva, raja and tama components respectively.
‘This is a terminology from the Tantrik path. In all tantrik methods there is a tendency to consolidate the mantras into a single letter. The mantras which are consolidated using the Sanskrut letters shrim, rhim, klim, etc. are called bijakshars. Just as powerful subatomic particles are produced as a result of the disintegration of a substance so also it is believed that the bijakshar contains energy equivalent to millions of subatomic particles. In the science of Tantra, bijakshars are used to make a yantra, mantra or a tantra immensely powerful and mysterious. The Shabdasiddhanta of Mimansak advocates the concept of various presiding deities of the bijakshars and states that a bijakshar mantra is eternal. The meaning lies in the word, not in the one who understands it.
Writing bijakshars like shrim, rhim, klim, rhoum, svaha, etc. is an art in itself. Intense spiritual practice and the knowledge of control over the usage of words is essential to write, utter and put them into practice. Perhaps scripts of the perfected ones (siddhas) came into being only to be able to write down the bijakshars. Ten rules have been prescribed for writing them. The length and breadth of every bijakshar has special significance. Only by writing down a bijakshar is its mystery, purity and secrecy revealed. It is said that a mantra without the conjunction of bijakshars becomes devoid of meaning and power.’(8)
‘Path of Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga) and Path of Mantra (Mantrayoga)’, published by Sanatan Sanstha.
Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh. Publishers: Pandit Mahadevshastri Joshi, Secretary, Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal, 410 Shanivar Peth, Pune 411 030.
Vol. 1 and 2: Second edition Vol. 3 to 10: First edition
1. Vol. 6, Pg. 648 2. Vol. 4, Pg. 5
3. Vol. 6, Pg. 187 4. Vol. 4, Pg. 5
5. Vol. 6, Pg. 649 6. Vol. 6, Pg. 186-187
7. Vol. 6, Pg. 187 8. Vol. 6, Pg. 187-188