A very basic foundation of the science of mantra
Two basic reasons for doing mantra.
Laukika mantras (used to fulfill our desires, not sacred but worldly) and moksha mantras (used to reach god).
Science of mantra is basically split into the Shadangas (six parts): Rsi (or Rishi), Chandas, Presiding Devata, Bija, Shakti and Kilaka
Every Mantra has a Rishi. The Rishi sits on the head. Rishi nyasa is to worship the Rishi of the mantra on our head so the Rishi will bless us with the knowledge and siddhi of the mantra. Rishi means the seer who got that mantra through divine vision (darshana) for the first time and got sidhi of that mantra. Some rishis also discover mantras, then they will become rishi of that mantra. A rishi is not a normal man, nor are they just a wise man nor just an enlightened being. There is a level of capacity and a level, they are divine human beings, seers of thought.
Chandas is actual pronunciation of that mantra and its metre or the science behind the metre. That is “how” the pronunciation of the sound (mantra) while doing japa. It is how to say the mantra in a particular rhythm so the diety is pleased. The best meter is gyatri (24 syllables). Gyatri has 24 syllables, the next chanda has 28 syllables, then the next has 32 (anustup chanda). It goes 4+4+4…this is the formula. In three movements gyatri can cross the zodiac two times, 24 syllables, 12 signs and 12 signs. 24 is auspicious because of the siddhams. When chanda is perfect it creates a vibration in the room that continues in the room even after mantra. When gayatri is said once the whole room gets light, with proper chanda (meter) all around will get benefit. If said incorrect the person saying it will get benefit but not others, one cannot alter the vibration in a room, and will not be able to effect others. Chanda has the power to affect others.There are 26 types of chandas. It is the rhythm to be followed to chant a mantra. All mantras are named traditionally with a Chandas. There are different combinations of swaras (accents) and gati (speed). Manasika, Vachika, Upanshu, Udatta-Anudatta, Swarita, for a few of the many modes of japa that are also described in the chandas for a mantra. The chandas is selected for the spiritual sadhana processes of practising a mantra is called the yati. The selection of a yati and chandas for a given mantra is decided with reference to the purpose of the sadhana, the configuration of the mantra and syllables, and the mental and spiritual level of the sadhaka. Then there is the sloka metre. Gayatri chandas is 24 syllables total, Usnih chandas is 28, Anushtub chandas is 32, Brhati is 36, Pankti is 40, Trishtub is 44, Jagati is 48. Just to name a few. Each is detailed as to what the sadhana is that the mantra is for. There is a way to create one mantra to fit all of these sloka metres, but that gets pretty complicated and way beyond the scope of this article.
Devata is the god who will give the benefits, the one who appears when we are doing that mantra. Generally for each mantra there will be a Adhisthana Devata (governing deity) with specific meditative form and possibly specific mudra, asana, what they may hold in their hands, their dress or ornaments they wear, etc. Every mantra has a devata who sits in the heart. The devata is invoked by the mantra to come into the heart. If you use a krora (harsh) devata, then a harsh devata will come into your heart. A person will get the mantra siddhi when the mantra devata sits in the heart. The Ishta devata is already in the heart, and you (atmakaraka) is already in the heart. In vishishtadvaita there is two, in advaita they are the same (there is just One). The mantra devata should never be inimical to the Ishta or the Atmakaraka, in temporal relationship according to the jyotish chart of an individual. This is seen on the level of tatva. If mantra devata hurts the Ishta or AK there will be a lot of trouble. Certain devas are specicic for certain purposes. The devata must even be individualized for the specific form of an individual diety, whether to use Kaleshwara or Mahakala. If the mantra devata is inimical to the lagna in a persons chart, a person’s character will fall, they may get into bad things, the body will start to pain, and they may start sinful behavior.
Bija resembles the basic character (tattva) of the mantra. It is the seed, which decides the route in which, the energy generated by chanting will be directed. Tattva is a character of that mantra. Generally expressed in terms of Prithvi, Jala (soft), Agni (sharp), Vayu, Akasa, Surya or Chandra. Every mantra has a bija (seed syllable) from which it sprouts, which creates the mantra. Namah Sivaya comes form the bija ‘Haum’. Hare Krshna mahamantra comes from “Kleem’. When doing sadhana the mantra should be placed on the lingam within the root chakra. One should concentrate there and feel the mantra emanate and rise up from there, this can lead some to fall into lower energies if not focused.
Kilaka is the key to open the lock to get results. It is the door bolt. One can not enter in to the room of results without opening it. As we can not see or get in or get anything out from a house without opening the lock on the front door, in the same manner we can not get any result from that mantra without performing kilaka. In doing mantra japa, we should do this for getting results. It is the sealing and unsealing of a mantra. Every mantra is a temple and needs someone to open the door for you to go inside, utkilana- to unlock. This is why getting a mantra out of a book is almost impossible because you need someone to unlock the door to it. This can be from a Guru. They open it for you, or they give you an utkilan mantra, they give you the key to unlock the mantra. Then you will get results quickly.
The key is in the solar plexus with the Sun god who is the Guru for everyone. The 1000 Maharishis sit in the Sun chariot with the keys. 1000 rays come from the Maharishis. When you pick up a mantra the rishi goes to the crown of the head. It is said in a year pick up one mantra, don’t pick up ten rishis at once. If one is doing multiple mantras at once, try to make them from the same rishi. But do not randomly do many mantras from many random rishis.
Shakti is the power/energy of mantra that is created. This is the power we get, when we chant a mantra. Every mantra has a Shakti which is established in the feet. The feet move you in a particular direction, as the sakti of a mantra guides you to go in a specific direction. “Gatistwam Gatistwam Twam Eka Bhavani”. It is the Shakti which gives gati (direction) in life.
Stotrams reside in the heart and have built in unlocks but they can’t do as much as a mantra. Stotra is a dance between the atman and the paratman.
For an example in the Mrtunjaya Mantra
trayaṁbakkaṁ yajāmahe sugandhiṁ puṣṭivardhanam|
urvāruhamiva bandhanān mṛtyormūkṣīya māmṛtāt ||
1. Mantra Ṛṣi is the Guru, the teacher of the mantra and to who the mantra was revealed for the first time for the benefit of the world – siras (head). In this case the Ṛṣi is Maharṣi Vasiṣṭha.
2. Chandas (meter, which is technically very specific for each mantra) – mukha (mouth). This vedic mantra is in anuṣṭubh chandas. This is a metre having four pada (feet) of 8 phonemes each making the entire Anuṣṭubh meter as composed of 32 (8 x 4 = 32) syllables. Any change in the metre will distort the chandas and the mantra vibration will be destroyed.
3. Devatā (the deity of the mantra) – hṛdaya (heart). In this case the devatā is Lord Shiva addressed as “Śrī Tryaṁbakkeśvara Mṛtyuṅjaya devatā”, the jyotirliñga.
4. Bīja (the seed syllable that created the mantra and contains the mantra within itself, like the seed that creates the tree) – Liñga (sexual organ). There are some opinion on this, but the most appropriate one is given by Vāmadeva Ṛṣi as हo (hauṁ).
5. Shakti (the physical power of the mantra like the mother) – pada (feet). It is the giver of gati or direction. In this case the śaktī is Devī Aṁṛteśvarī, addressed as hi (hrīṁ).
But wait there is alot more..
If you think you can just say (mispronounce) a mantra without knowing all this……
I placed a google search for mrtunjaya to prove a point….. I selected the very first one to come up. You can do this as well. Infact, check for yourself most of what comes up. Not much out there having any understanding of anything, Nor pronunciation or metre, what we would look at as syncopation.
It states that this is the Maha Mrtunjaya mantra:
Om Tryambhakam Yajamahe
Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam |
Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat ||
I don’t count 32 syllables. I count 34 in what is written above from this gal who does satsang and has this mantra on her website. Then she has an audio of her leading it being chanted. Oh my! The rishis turn in their graves, if they were in graves. Boy is the pronunciation is slaughtered and if you were to have any knowledge of what is really being done here, just wow. There is even 35 syllables in what she chants. This is like dialing up the wrong number and saying that you still are talking to your mom. And even worse, nobody ever picked up. Could also be be considered like someone calling you boob when your name is bob, get it? Or calling you Silly and your name is Sally and even much worse.
It is no wonder most Westerner teachers say “Oh, pronunciation doesn’t really matter in mantra.” They don’t have a clue either. This is not meant to bag on this woman or other teachers because where are they going to get the real knowledge? Although then she has a “dharma talk” as well. If someone doesn’t have the respect to study and actually know what they are teaching, what kind of dharma are they living?
Most of what you are going to get in the modern world is like this. Sorry, it does not actually do anything except make you feel all good about yourself for saying something that comes from another culture. Cultural Appropriation.
To think that pronunciation is not important is making the entire sciences existence invalid. Think about this one hard.
They say they agree that mantra is about the mind and what the western world has come up with is that the science is about frequency, but then they have to bow out and say that its intention? Really? And even be adamat about it? Why even call it mantra then? Call it prayer or better since prayer even has more depth than that, just call it intentional talking, motivational words maybe.
Okay then we step into even more depth with just a tip toe into the waters to understand that there is then a pranayam that is does with the mantras with puraka (inhalation), kumbhaka (retention), and Rechaka (exhalation).
And next we just speak to the fact that there is then nyasa. The upasaka or the reciter of the mantra, has to embody himself for the mantra they are chanting. This is what is called as Nyasa, rituals of purification and touching the various parts of the body with mantras. For that purpose, there are different methods, called as Anga Nyasa, Kara Nyasa, Rishyadi Nyasa, Hridayadi Nyasa, Panchatattwa Nyasa, Varna Nyasa etc. Each one is specific and has it’s special benefits. This site has a good example of the explanation of one tantrik nyasa, mahashodhanyasa… http://www.astrojyoti.com/mahashodhanyasa.htm.
If that is not enough, there is more to it than that as well.
Kavacha, Sankalpa and Ardha
Kavacha is the protection from bad elements to obstruct mantra. There may be dangers involved based on our capacity and suitability to do chanting of that mantra. To overcome these we have to wear this protection (kavach).
Sankalpa, this is the most important thing of mantra. Sankalpa means the reason for what we are doing this chanting? We have to set up a goal to do mantra. ie. to reach god or to fulfill any desire etc. Without goal setting the mantra japam may not continue for long time and the benefits for doing mantra are not recognizable. That means the effect of mantra will be useful in any other means, we may recognise that or not. So to get perfect result from mantra we have to make a sankalpa.
Ardha is the meaning of that mantra, Knowing meaning of that mantra will clarify several doubts regarding that mantra. it gives clarity and context.
There is another classification of mantras: long term creative, instantly creative, instantly destructive, and long term destructive.
Isn’t thinking, and being adamant about mantra (or any other vedic science like yoga) being based on your intention just a completely narcissistic and ignorant view of reality?
Why is it that kundalini has 50 letters?