SCIENCE BEHIND THE MANTRAS
SOUND AND VIBRATIONS
The omnipresent eternal origin of sound is called Sabda and it is the initial expression of Brahman. Where there is sound there is vibration. Scriptures say that vibrations are also expressions of Brahman. Universe is a network of vibrations with different frequencies. Everything exists in the form of vibration before it manifest (vyakta). Even, we after shedding the gross body, the subtle body and causal body continue to exist in the form of subtle vibrations till it takes another gross body. We exist in an ocean of vibrations with different frequencies.
Sound has two effects. First, the meaning of the sound has psychological effect on the mind. Second, the sound itself (without its meaning) has an effect on the mind and body. For example, when you hear a drum beat, it has no meaning; however, our body and mind reacts to the sound. There are two types of sound. They are audible sound (vyakta) and non-audible (avyakta). If the frequency is in the range of 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz then the sound is audible. If the frequency is below 20Hz then it is said as infra frequency and it is not audible. If the frequency is above 20.000Hz then it is said as ultra frequency and the sound is non-audible. The universe has sound waves of all frequencies among which some are audible and some are non-audible.
Vibrations once generated exist for ever in the Universe. Thus, vibrations of words, mantras and thoughts of Rishis and great spiritual personalities remain in the space for ever. They influence us in every way. Thoughts and words of every human being exist in the Universe for ever as vibrations. Thought waves are equally powerful like sound waves. An intense thought wave can penetrate the far layers of the Cosmos. The vibrations emitted by all beings and every entity in the Universe are superimposed on the basic vibration and eternal sound of the Universe ‘OM’. By meditating on this basic vibration ‘OM’, we can feel its existence in us and we can feel that we are connected to the rest of the world. Scriptures say that Om or Omkara is the initial sound which came in to existence after the unfolding of the Universe. A dedicated mantra practitioner (sadhaka) can sense the omkara reverberating inside him. Every sound manifest from the basic sound ‘OM’, and is pronounced as ‘AUM’. The Universal vibration which is reverberating in music is called Nada and the Universal origin of sound is called Sabda.
WHAT ARE MANTRAS
Mantras are cosmic vibrations which are revealed to the Rishis in their trance. Rishis had the capacity to decode the vibrations and reveal to us as mantras. Great philosophies and spiritual secrets are encapsulated in the form of mantras. Mantra means mental retention and repetition that relieves the mind from ego and worldly attachments and leads to the path of ultimate freedom. Mantras are used mainly for four purposes namely for dharma (righteous act), artha (achievement of goal and objects to facilitate dharma), kama (achievement of happiness and fulfillment of desires to expand one’s dharma) and moksha (liberation of the soul). Apart from this there are arogya mantras which are widely used in ayurvedic treatments. Some mantras can also be twisted and used for non-righteous acts by perverted minded people.
Mantras when chanted purify the gross, subtle and causal bodies. Mantra uproots the evil tendency, implant, enhances virtues, and makes one’s destiny positive. Mantras erase the impressions of evil tendencies (sins) present in the causal body. Mantras help to reflect our original nature which is divine. Individual Consciousness is part of the Universal Consciousness. Each individual is divine. Our core desires also has power to manifest in the external world. We dilute that power by our negative thoughts and doubts. Mantras help us to realize these facts.
Vibrations of mantras carry immense energy. They are further amplified by the prana, refined spiritual thoughts, faith of the practitioner and by the static and thermal electricity of the practitioner. The circular flow of the blood, inhalation and exhalation by the lungs, expansion and compression of the muscles, beating of the heart etc produces a subtle thermal and static electricity which is also said as bio-electric energy. Apart from this continuous generation of thoughts and emotions also produce electromagnetic waves. All these help to energize the mantra to achieve the goal.
HOW DOES A MANTRA WORK
Mantras have the power to connect the individual consciousness to the Universal Consciousness. Sanskrit mantras are formed by selecting the appropriate syllables in Sanskrit to get the required frequency. Vibrations produced by pronouncing Sanskrit words have high vibration frequency than pronouncing words from other languages. The combination of Sanskrit syllables in a mantra gives a specific sonic effect. Sometimes a single syllable (beej mantra) gives that effect. Therefore, a mantra with perfect accent, pitch, amplitude and rhythm has a very powerful effect. If the pronunciation is wrong then its effect diminishes. A powerful sound can travel anywhere in the Universe. Repeating the mantra for a certain number of times is called mantra japa. Repetition helps to generate the specific sonic pattern.
When a mantra is chanted it has direct effect on the body, mind and the atmosphere surrounding the sadhaka. In the body, the chanting of the mantra induces energy in the seven main chakras, nerve centers, mind and brain. Every mantra has a meter which is called chandas. Only the right syllable and right chandas give the required sonic effect. Each mantra has its own sonic pattern which makes them effective.
The intensity and faith with which we chant a mantra gives the mantra its power. Our faith in the mantra helps to connect the mantra with the divine consciousness easily. The powerful vibration of the mantra establishes a link between the individual and the different cosmic layers. Sound waves can travel thousands of miles, combining with other sound waves with similar frequencies. These sound waves return back to us along with the gathered sound waves on their travel. They come back in a magnified form. Thus, whatever we think or utter influences the surrounding and return back to us.
Pt.Sriram sharma acharya in his book “Science of sound and mantras” explains, ‘every mantra is linked to a devata except the mantra ‘OM’. A devata symbolizes an eternal energy field of specific flow of cosmic consciousness. When a mantra is chanted in a specific rhythmic manner, its associated sonic waves expand in a specific pattern. It travels in space and penetrates the corresponding cosmic field of divine power. When we concentrate on the mantra, a subtle energy is generated from the mind. This subtle energy helps the transmission of the sound waves to reach the desired energy field. The waves of the mantra travel and collide with the corresponding divine power center and results in the reflection of the desired cosmic radiation, as per the aim of the associated mantra. This cosmic radiation returns back to the physical and subtle energy level in and around the sadhaka’. If the sadhaka wishes, the divine cosmic radiation can be directed to any desired place. The quality of the returning waves depends on the intensity, emotion and faith with which the original mantra waves are transmitted. The original transmitted mantra waves are magnified by the cosmic divine power for which the mantra is aimed at and they return back to the sadhaka. The sound vibration and emotional energy with faith gives life to the mantra. The regularity in timing, its speed, numbers of repetitions are important to generate the appropriate sonic vibrations from the japa of a mantra. While doing mantra japa, the mind must rely within the mantra and not on external matters.
When mantra japa is performed along with yagna (sacrificial fire), the herbs used in the yagna and the thermal energy produced by the sacred fire multiplies the effect of the mantra by energizing the sonic vibrations of the mantra and expands them at the cosmic level. This in turn brings back manifold benefits to a vast domain. Furthermore, Pt. Sriram sharma acharya also explains ‘when the sonic waves generated by chanting of the mantra collide with the thermal energy generated by the yagna fire, it amplifies the sabda (inner energy) in the mantra. The spiral waves of electrons in the yagna vapour play the role of ‘transmitter’ to ‘communicate’ the signals of the mantra in the etheric whole. Thus the positive effects of the mantra are spread to a large domain and many people are benefited by yagna’. The vibrations of the mantra are more felt in the subtle body than in the gross body. It brings many positive effects to the sadhaka. The speed by which one recites the mantra must match one’s natural frequency of speech. As said before, linguistic meaning have only a psychological effect and prime importance is given for the sonic pattern generated by pronouncing the mantra. The densely energized and compact beej mantras like ‘hreem’, ‘shreem’, ‘kleem’, ‘aim’, etc do not have a linguistic meaning. It may denote a specific divine power. However, it is the force of the sound vibration which makes them highly powerful. These highly energized mantras are used in tantric tradition. Tantric tradition is devotional worship of various deities (divine power) and mantras are used to reveal the inner truth of these deities. Tantric mantras have very high potential and it has specific targets. The vibration generated by pronouncing these mantras have direct and intense effect and their misuse results in physical and mental disorder. In tantric tradition, the mantra is the sound form of the deity.
Continuous repetition of a mantra for sometime produces a centrifugal force of attraction created by the circular, cyclic and upward movements of the associated sonic waves produced by the japa of the mantra. The speed by which one chants the mantra must be constant. The consistency and continuity gives a cyclic motion to the sonic waves generated by the japa. This helps to activate the related divine powers and attract the desired result.
As said earlier, while chanting a mantra the sonic patterns produced by the different configuration of syllables are very important. In this aspect, chanting of gayatri mantra is very powerful. The twenty four syllable gayatri mantra produces very powerful vibration in and around the sadhaka. The rhythmic pattern (meter) for chanting a mantra is called chandas. Gayatri is the name of a meter (chandas) in Rig Veda. When a mantra is repeated with its appropriate chandas, its specific pattern of sonic waveform is generated. Gayatri mantra is chanted to the Sun devata. A regular dedicated sadhaka gets vital energy, inspiration and divine illumination from the Sun God, Savitha. The communication may be very slow in the beginning; however it gradually increases by practice.
Devata represents the specific cosmic energy field. It can also be said as the divine quality and aspect of the Universal Consciousness. The same quality is present in us but it may be in an inactivate state. A mantra to a particular devata activates the corresponding quality in us as well and it helps us to connect with that particular realm of Consciousness. For example, some of the divine qualities are Lakshmi for wealth, Saraswati for learning and knowledge, Kali for strength and vigour, Shiva for peace etc. Only a specific mantra can link the sadhaka (individual consciousness) with the particular devata.
Different forms of devata are the different expressions of the non-dual Universal Consciousness. Every sound has a certain vibration and has its corresponding image. Dr. Hans Jenny’s Tonoscope is the instrument which produces sonic transformation. When you pass a sound in tonoscope it converts the sound to its corresponding vibration image. When you chant a mantra with mental concentration it produces its related vibration image of the devata. However, it is too subtle to be perceived by the normal senses.
Atmosphere also amplifies the effect of the mantra japa. Mantras chanted in the cave, in cremation ground, in thick forest, near the bank of the river or sea shore, in sacred places like temples, in front of the rising sun, in front of the ghee lit lamp are more powerful. Chanting of mantras inside the house gives only a moderate effect.
Vibrations of the mantra impact at the gross and subtle level. In the gross level, vibrations of mantras stimulate the otherwise latent glands and energy centers in the body of the sadhaka. Some specific energy lies hidden in some glands of our body. When you chant a mantra its vibrations stammers these glands, stimulate these glands and release the energy. Utterances of certain words have this impact on certain glands and stimulate the energies which activate right wisdom. Mantras are composed based on this principle. At the subtle level, the power of shraddha (faith) of the sadhaka in the mantra gives a conscious force that induces a subtle magnetic attraction of the desired goal. The strength and power of attraction of the gross and subtle fields become very strong by continuous repetition. Some of the ways by which mantras can be chanted are
- vachika japa – mantras are chanted in a manner that they are audible to others. It is most suitable for beginners. In this japa the rhythm, amplitude and pitch must be consistent.
- Upansu japa – mantras are chanted in such a way that there will be lip movement but no sound. This method is useful for extroverts and makes one introvert.
- Manasika japa – the japa is performed silently in the mind. The mind is focused upon the meaning of the mantra. This type of japa is very powerful. It activates the chakras and nerve centers more quickly.
- Ajapa japa – with every inhalation and exhalation, mantra is recited. For example, ‘SO’ is recited with inhalation and ‘HAM’ is recited with exhalation. Soham is said as the hamsa mantra. Much concentration is needed for this practice. Ajapa japa is mostly used in yogic practices.
- Pradakshina japa – when a mantra is chanted while doing circular motion (pradakshina) of the deity in sacred places, it is called pradakshina japa. This is very popular among people who follow the bhakti culture.
Mantras are the sound power. Yantra is its geometrical representation or form of the deity associated with that mantra and tantra is the knowledge of application of mantra and yantra.
In yogic science, mantras are chanted along with pranayama and they are highly powerful. By dedicated yoga sadhana we can generate vibrations from the seven important chakras and this helps our spiritual transformation.
In ayurvedic medicine, the Rishis understood the deep connection of the mantras and its effect on particular nerve centers. Sounds have deep impact on our body and mind and this forms the basis of their treatment.
When we chant a mantra the vibration pattern settles in the subconscious level of the mind. It clams the mind whenever it gets agitated. Mantras have the power to erase the deep seated negative impressions in our mind. It has the power to change our mind from tamas to rajas and to sattva. By using mantras we can restructure our karmic tendencies. Therefore, regular practice of the mantra japa is highly beneficial.
Pt. Shriram sharma acharya, Science of sound and mantras., shantikunj, Haridwar., 2003
OM swami., The ancient science of mantras., Jaico Publishing house., Mumbai., 2017
Dr. David Frawley., Mantra yoga and Primal sound., New age books., New Delhi., 2011