Mantra Yoga

A speech given by Paramahamsa Satyananda at the Chhattisgarh yoga seminar, Korea, February 17th, 1974 (Translated by Swami Sivananda - a disciple of Swami Satyananda Saraswati)

Blessed Spiritual Seekers

Hari Om

Today I want to explain to you a little about the science of mantra Yoga. The mantra shastra is a very deep and great science, which if understood correctly can give you victory over your lower nature. The Mantra shastra is very ancient and in previous ages people knew this science well. Recently however, the people's faith in the mantra shastra has lessened and gradually this knowledge has become hidden to such an extent that nowadays, in the name of mantra, anything is said. It has therefore become necessary to speak of this science for the sake of spiritual aspirants.

Mankind's most ancient scriptures are the Vedas and from the Vedas the tantra shastra has taken birth. From the tantra, the mantra shastra has come out. The mantra shastra was never written just as we write any ordinary type of book but there were ancient rishis and munis, 'sages', who had the actual realization of mantra. When the rishis, in meditation, were able to transcend the material consciousness, rising to a very high level, those subtle sounds heard by them in that higher plane were called mantra. To make it more clear to you, just make up some syllables in your mind, it is not mantra, but those whose souls are purified and, through meditation, have established their consciousness to a very high level beyond this body and mind, the sounds perceived by them in that higher state are called mantra.

The rishis had the experience of mantra on three different levels, the realisation of the mantra in three planes of consciousness. When the consciousness passes from the gross body into the subtle body, the sound perceived at that time make one collection. The mantras heard in the subtle body form another group and when the consciousness from the subtle or second body enters in the third body, certain mantras realized at that time form a third group.

First I want to make you understand what I mean when I say first body, second body, third and so on. When I say body I do not mean only body, rather, I mean body consciousness, that body through which your consciousness is functioning. When the body consciousness is realized through the medium of the five gross senses that is called the gross body consciousness, the first body, where your mind intellect and memory are working.

Now then, what is the second body? When you practice meditation, your awareness travels deeper and deeper inside and in that inner meditation you began to see beautiful visions and dreams. That which is called the second body, not something tangible, it is the subtle or astral body, Sukshma Shastra, psychic consciousness, or the subconscious body. That is the second plane of consciousness.

Now what is known as the third body? When meditation becomes deeper and deeper, the state of void (shoonya) comes. No awareness of external, nor of internal, the experience of 'the dark night of the soul.' Like midnight, formless, sightless, where there is no awareness of 'I', that is called the third body, the causal body, karana sharira, or the unconscious body. In the Vedas it has been called Hiranyagarbha (the golden womb). There are many names given by psychologists also.

In the third and fourth levels of consciousness the awareness of the external world is absent. There is no awareness of my old name, my old form, but there is the experience of the eternal self (akhanda swaroop) this is called samadhi, the fourth level of consciousness or turiya and many other names.

All this has been given in the Gayatri Mantra:

Aum Bhu Aum Bhuwah Aum Swah Aum Maha Aum Janah Aum Tapah,

Aum Satyam, Aum Tat Saviturvarenyam Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi, Dhtyoyanah Prachodayat.

Aum Bhu, that is the first body (bhu loka or the material plane); Aum Bhuwah, the second body (the intermediate or astral plane); Aum Swah, the third body (the heavenly or divine plane). After this the following mantras come in the fourth body. Mahar loka, Jano loka, Mapo loka and Satya loka do not mean material worlds, but rather the planes of consciousness.

As the rishis sat in meditation, they received in higher levels the sounds known as mantra. For this reason the mantras are not a creation of the human mind, they were not made by any man but rather they were received from higher sources. Just as in the religion of Islam it is said that the Koran was written by God. This means that whoever received Koran had attained a very high yogic state. In the same way the Christians speak of the Bible as a revealed scripture. Our own Sanatan Dharma (the eternal religion of the Hindus) and vedic religion is understood as not having been written by mankind. The Vedas were not written by man, it does not mean that the pen which wrote them was in god's hand, it only means that they were revealed to the rishis after they had transcended the material consciousness and the same is also said concerning the Ramacharitamanas (Ramayana).

Of all the types of mantra explained so far, the first, the highest, is Aum. Aum is the seed (beej) mantra of all mantras. The rishis realized this Aum in the very highest planes of consciousness, in the state of self realization (atma-sakshatkar). First Aum and after it the mantras of Gayatri: Aum Bhu, Aum Bhuwah, Aum Swaha. The twenty four syllables of Gayatri, plus the Aum should be known as the original mantra. The vedic rishis who received these mantras were established on a very high level.

All the mantras in existence have come out from the Aum. It is composed of three sounds, 'A', 'U', 'M', 'AUM' and in all societies, in all religions, this AUM is found in one form or another whether Christian or Muslim, the Aum is foremost of mantras.

Following this are the mantras pertaining to the third body, the unconscious body, which are known as beeja (seed) mantras. We call them potential mantras, containing the dormant potential energy of different forces. As many powers or forces as there are in the world, each one is having its own beej mantras, just like Aim for Saraswati, Shrim for Laxmi, Klim, Hrim, and so on. All the short, seemingly meaningless mantras which you might have heard, are called beeja mantras. Those beeja mantras are just like little bombs, the type of time bomb that explodes just at the right moment, or just as you see a thing, a seed in the earth, and from that grows a fantastic tree giving thousands of fruits, such is the power of the beeja mantra. With the practice of anusthan (prolonged repetition for a fixed time and number) and regular sadhana the power of the mantra is awakened. When that power is awakened, the consciousness takes the form of the mantra and then the real work of the mantra begins.

Please remember one thing. There is much criticism against our Hindu religion, the objection being that in Hinduism, there are so many Gods and Goddesses. But I will tell you in the words of a scientist that Shakti (energy) is not only of one type. It has innumerable forms, but the prime shakti, the root shakti, is one. Its manifestations are endless that is why we worship the Devi (Goddess Shakti) in as many different forms. The same thing is in science, see the electricity is flowing and from it the amplifier, the tape recorder, all of your big factories are working. The same energy which gives heat from the heater, gives coolness from the fan, these are the varied manifestations of one energy. Therefore, those who object may realise it alright, but the truth is that Shakti is not just one kind. Intellect is one shakti, memory is one shakti, speech, prana (force), knowledge, are all shaktis without which we cannot exist. That is why, for the awakening of these different powers, there are different beeja mantras.

For an example, the vidya shakti power of knowledge is in the form of Saraswati. Now I am not talking of goddess Saraswati who's idol is worshipped in the temple, but I mean that energy of that shakti which is within us in the form of vidya or Saraswati. What is the way to awaken this energy? Of all the methods given, the best is to take the beeja mantra of that shakti and to awaken its sleeping potential.

There are many other types of shaktis, pertaining to the body, of diseases, even to the snake's poison and so on. In many diseases, if the japa anusthan (prolonged repetition) of the Mritunjay mantra "Aum triyambakam yejaamahe sugundhim pushti wardhanam urwarukamiva bandhanat mrityormukshiya mamritat" is performed the power of the mantra is awakened internally giving the desired result. By the practice of mantra jap (repetition), the aspirants conscious will power is awakened and through the will power everything is accomplished.

All the beeja mantras must be practiced strictly according to certain rules and regulations. Just by reading in a book somewhere they should not be practiced, but only after understanding well the purpose and necessity of the beeja mantra, before anusthan is undertaken.

On this subject, it is explained in the tantra shastra, to make a yantra (mystic diagram) first and within that yantra write the beeja mantras. For example, the mantra "Shri", Shri as you know, is the mantra of Laxmi (Goddess of prosperity). If you want to make this yantra, the best way is to carve it on crystal, that is called, "shri chakram". I don't know if it is found here or not, but if you go to south India, or to Orissa, you will find this Shri Chakra. But crystal is a very rare thing which everyone cannot find, therefore, the Shri Chakra is also made on copper and in that the mantra Shri is written and the anusthan is performed. I have given you just one example of the many mantras which can be first installed in the yantra. The anusthan of the beeja mantras should never be practiced in a careless manner.

Now comes the next group of mantras, like Aum Namah Shivaya, Shri Ram, Hare Krishna and all mantras pertaining to the second body. Any one with faith may practice jap of these mantras.

We must think now, what can we accomplish by the use of mantra, what benefits can be gained from them? The best thing is that every person should have one mantra for himself. If you cannot decide on the mantra independently, then you must take help from someone, and after deciding mantra, jap must be practiced daily with complete discipline. Once you decide to do nine malas of jap a day, it is important to do nine malas, or if you decided twelve malas you should be regular with that number.

One suggestion I will give to you, all those who practice jap of Gayatri mantra will find it very beneficial for their health and intellect. In my own experience, those who suffer from skin diseases or iron deficiency (anaemia) are helped much by the surya or sun mantras. For the skin diseases such as eczema and teucoderma, the sun mantra can help much if the anusthan is practiced properly.

Through mantra one can remove disease, sorrow and restlessness. Mantra is so powerful that within a moment one can change bad habits also.

Now it is important for people to study and understand this science in the right way.

In my childhood, I had one experience about which will tell you. It was in Allahabad, when I was very young, only 7-8 years, and I happened to see to Muslims playing with a snake. Just as I was passing, I saw one snake charmer make a ring by drawing a circle on the ground with a stick and in that circle was a first class snake, a big cobra. Now the cobra belonged to the snake charmer and there was some kind of argument between him and the other man. During young age I could not follow completely their talk, it was all mantra-tantra business. The other man said 'now I will see how your snake will get out' and taking a stick he drew one or two more lines, then the snake just sat there, it came up just to the line then turned back again. I was just seeing all this, not understanding anything, so I asked him, what is happening. He told me, "I have thrown mantras on all four sides of the snake, so now it can not come out". I saw them fighting together. One tried to throw a grain of rice or dal on the other which he had but didn't throw for fear of the other man would also throw some rice on him. (Rice is one medium through which the mantra is thrown). So they circled on each other trying to throw the rice for about ten or fifteen minutes, when at last a big crowd gathered bringing their tantric battle to an end. Anyway the cobra was released which I did not see. This incident struck in my mind for many days, but then I forgot about it.

I grew up, and as a Hindu boy received the sacred thread, went on with my work, and the curiosity I once had about mantra disappeared. So many years after, I came to my guru's ashram in Rishikesh. One day, one American family came to stay at the ashram, a husband, wife and two children. I am speaking about the Rishikesh ashram of many years ago in 1942-43 on the banks of Ganges River, surrounded on all sides by dense jungle, where at night your step might fall on a scorpion. One day the small girl was stung so severely by a scorpion that it seemed that within ten minutes she would be Aum Tat Sat, dead. The scorpions bite is very painful, I know because I was also bitten once, a man forgets completely about his social status and just cries like a child. Even the strongest man who can lift 250 pounds (120 Kg) or swim against the current of the Ganges for three hours will loose his strength and weep for the whole night. So you can imagine how that child was crying. I thought, now she must die.

Just next to the ashram was a police station and from there somebody brought one constable. He came bringing a small knife with him and with that knife he removed the poison within five minutes. In five minutes the girl was completely normal. I asked him, 'what mantra have you used' and he said 'Kali Calcutta Wali '(the goddess Kali, patron deity of Calcutta). I was simply surprised! Now, I was raised by Arya Samaj (a sect which does not accept the concept of personal gods and goddesses), I was educated at a convent school with Christians and many of my close relatives at home were muslins. When I heard the name of ‘Calcutta Wali’ my entire faith was shaken. I said, "Oh, I know Kali Calcutta Wali, Kali is just a name and Calcutta is a place, that much I know, so how could poison be removed just by words?"

Gradually my attention was caught. I asked many people and started to read books about tantra and to practice mantra anusthan myself. There have been so many experiences, so many wonderful benefits that it is not even possible to express. What I want to explain is that those words 'Kali Calcutta Wali' may seem completely simple and ordinary to us but for the man who has realized them, they know that they are not ordinary at all. Those sounds which the rishis realised are not only simple words but full of power. That is why we say sound (Shabda) is Brahma (supreme-consciousness), that there is power in the mantra and to awaken this power everyone should find within himself a method.

I will give you one suggestion, everyone should have his own mantra and practice jap with complete regularity, for 1 minute or half an hour daily. At the time of jap, concentration is not necessary. Please understand this properly. At the time of mantra jap concentration of mind is not important, but what is important is faith and belief. If your faith is weak and your concentration is strong, you will not attain the power of the mantra. If your concentration is weak, you mind is running here and there, but your faith and devotion is unshakable, the mantra will awaken soon within you. For this reason much emphasis is placed on faith and devotion in the mantra shastra.

There are two forces, two powers in the mantra. One is the power of consciousness, shiv, what is called Purusha. The other is the force nature, matter, or Prakriti. Through sadhana, these two forces are awakened and after awakening they will continue to help you for the whole of your life.

You might have heard the experiences of many others regarding mantra and I have also told you of my experiences. Now, definitely, try to bring the science of mantra into your own life.