The Spiritual Background
ॐ दीप ज्योति परब्रह्म दीपं सर्वे मोहनं ।
दीपं सजते सर्वं सन्ध्या दीपं सर्वं सत्यं
OM DĪP JYOTI PARABRAHMA
DĪPAṂ SARVE MOHANAṂ
DĪPAṂ SAJATE SARVAṂ SANDHYĀ
DĪPAṂ SARVAṂ SATYAM
OM ŚĀNTIḤ ŚĀNTIḤ ŚĀNTIḤ
OM is the light of God
It removes the darkness of ignorance
Only this light banishes darkness
OM DEEP is the light of wisdom and knowledge
OM Peace Peace Peace
Mantras are words with great vibration and powerful spiritual energy.
In one Bhajan it is said: “We give and take through words. We communicate and understand through words”.
Each word has its own vibration and when spoken, produces a corresponding effect according to its meaning and vibration. A friendly and polite word such as “Would you please be kind enough to do this for me”, gives rise to a completely different reaction than an aggressive form of address, such as: “Now, do what I have said!”. The people, place, time and circumstance are all the same, as is the mouth, tongue and language. The only difference is in the words.
In the Astral world there are also certain words necessary for communication and, as in our world, there are some rules to be observed. If we would like to telephone someone and our own phone or that of the other person is out of order, no conversation can take place. Therefore, a basic requirement for communication is that both the sending station and the receiving station function well. But there is still one more condition to be fulfilled. Communication cannot take place if the language spoken by one party is not understood by that of the other party, even if both telephones are in working order.
Animals also possess their own “language”. For example, fish communicate with each other without words, but by direct transmission of the energy waves of the brain. If we observe a school of fish it often seems to us amazing and almost incomprehensible how perfectly their movements coordinate. They swim very densely, side-by-side without ever colliding, and move simultaneously and precisely in the same direction.
Therefore on every level there is some language that serves the purpose of communication.
As previously mentioned, a Mantra is a series of words which in their entirety form a sound with a positive vibration. Words mean sound and sound produces vibration. Vibration is power - an all-pervasive, creative power that generates movement and resonance. Energy means life and where there is life there is also creativity.
Word and sound are the strongest powers in the Cosmos. Many people believe that love is the strongest power, but that is wrong. Earthly love is quite frail and capricious. But words are very powerful. Words can make someone happy or unhappy. They can awaken love or destroy it.
Sri Mahaprabhuji said: “Words should fall from your lips like fragrant flowers”. One poem suggests: “Be sure to make everyone happy through your words. Allow peace and harmony to vibrate through you and radiate from you.”
To say something kind to someone costs nothing. But a harsh or malicious word can cost very much. Therefore it can only be to our advantage to speak kindly and with friendliness in each situation. If this seems impossible, then it is better to be silent. We should carefully consider each one of our thoughts in our heart before we express it, because afterwards no power on earth can fetch it back. A proverb says: “Three things never come back - the words that you have spoken, the bullet that has been shot and the soul that has left the body”.
The two syllables of the word Mantra mean, “man” (mind) and “tra” (liberation). Mantra is a sound that can liberate the mind from fear, dependency and sorrow. Once the mind is freed, other problems are automatically resolved because the greatest problem is the mind itself. The mind is restless and constantly occupied with many thoughts. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life and worldly problems, we find no time to think of God. Mantra gives the mind peace and guides our thoughts.
Another meaning of the syllable “tra” is fulfilment. A glass of water can satisfy the need of one who is thirsty. But what type of thirst is it that plagues the mind and how can this be satiated? How is the mind bound and how can it detach itself?
The Atma, our inner Self, is the essence of the Cosmic Self, whose nature is Maha Ananda, Supreme Bliss. Therefore the inner-most characteristic of each individual, as a part of the Cosmic Self, is Ananda, bliss. The Atma is not born, it is immortal. The Atma, our true Self, is sat-chit-ananda - truth, consciousness, bliss. The unquenchable thirst of our spirit longs for this, to dissolve itself fully in this bliss. Only when it is immersed in Ananda can peace be found. Before we can reach the longed-for water, we must work hard to remove the earth and stones. These obstacles are the daily problems and difficulties that we have to cope with. Mantra can help us overcome our daily worries and concerns, illness and misfortune. Mantra will lead us to the experience of Ananda - unconditional bliss.
Yoga is the basis of all knowledge. Yoga means the light, consciousness and existence, that always was, always is and always will be. All that is visible and not visible, is united in harmony and balance through the principle of Yoga. It is the power that unites knowledge, the knower and the object of knowledge. The Yogis and Rishis discovered and explored this knowledge in meditation, in order to pass it on for the welfare of humanity. The characters of the Sanskrit script were also discovered in meditation and each one has a corresponding effect upon a certain level of the Universe. The Sanskrit Mantras that we use today originate from the spiritual work of the Yogis. This is the reason why the impact of the Mantras in the original Sanskrit is many times greater than in any other language. The Sanskrit characters are known as Devanagari (Deva means “God” and Nagar means “citizen”). Sanskrit is the “writing of the Gods”. This means that this language has existed since the beginning of the world.
There are several forms of Mantra:
Bhajan (Spiritual Song)
A Bhajan transmits spiritual wisdom and clarity. Singing Bhajans inspires both the singer and listener. Bhajans purify the consciousness, elevate feelings and awaken devotion (Bhakti).
Kirtan (Repetition of God's Name in Song)
This particular form of Mantra practice relates especially to our emotional side. Loving repetition of the Divine name transmits a strong spiritual energy and purifies the consciousness. In principle however, Kirtans should not be sung for more than 5-10 minutes, because when performed for too long and with too much exuberance, Kirtan singing arouses excessive emotion, which may lead to trance, loss of reality and ecstatic states.
Prayer is a ceremonial form of Mantra. It is a “dialogue with God” and can be formulated freely, or from a prepared text for a special occasion such as morning prayer, evening prayer, Grace, etc. In prayer we feel God's presence very clearly. Prayer helps us to resolve our problems, develops our spirituality and confidence in ourselves, and in God.
Another form of Mantra is the Healing Mantra. Disharmony or blockages in the Nadis or Chakra manifest in the human body in the form of illness. These centres are influenced by vibration, therefore by words. In this way the vibration of the Mantra also exerts a pleasant, harmonising, healing influence upon the physical body. However, the effect of the Healing Mantra only develops fully when certain physical and mental disciplines are followed. In order to prevent misuse they are transmitted orally by the initiates and not written down.
A Self-Realised Master gives an effective Spiritual Mantra to the disciple. The Master imparts this Mantra to those disciples who will work seriously on their spiritual development and strive for Moksha (liberation). Mantra is given in the ceremony of Mantra Diksha (“Mantra Initiation”). A Spiritual Mantra guides us on the spiritual path, deepens our meditation and concentration, and helps us overcome inner fears and doubt. It is also of great benefit for stress, anxiety and psychic imbalance and in difficult life circumstances.
Mantra is a bright torch for the spiritual aspirant, lighting the path through the darkness of ignorance. It is a great pillar of strength, providing us with protection and help whenever we feel helpless or abandoned. Mantra is the “soul” of our meditation. Meditation without Mantra is fruitless. Meditation without Mantra is like a body without a soul.
The Bija Mantra
After long and continuous practice, the disciple reaches the essence of the Mantra received from the Master. The Bija Mantra is used in Kriya practice and deep meditation. Bija means “seed”. Contained in the tiny space of a single seed, is the entire structure of the whole tree. In the same way, the Bija Mantra holds the power of the entire Universe. Whether or not the power of the Mantra (Mantra Shakti) brings God-Realisation, depends solely upon the disciple. If we want to hit a certain target with a stone, our success depends on our strength, concentration and sense of intent. Similarly it is the unshakable belief, discipline, motivation and devotion of the aspirant that determines whether or not the Mantra is realised.
Once a Master visited a small village, where he was asked by two farmers to grant them Mantra. The Master replied that before he could give a Mantra, they must first pass a test. To each farmer he gave a soybean with the instruction to guard it well until he came again.
One farmer immediately returned to his house and placed the soybean in a casket, which he firmly locked. To him this seemed the safest way to keep the precious gift from the Master. But the other farmer thought: “Who knows when the Master will come again, by then the bean may be spoiled or lost.” So he decided to plant the soybean. Soon a tender, young plant appeared, which he carefully watered and nurtured. At the time of harvest the plant yielded a handful of soybeans. As the Master did not return to the village, the farmer planted the beans, and the following summer harvested a whole sack of soybeans!
After three, long years, the Master finally returned to the village, whereupon both farmers once more beseeched him for a Mantra. “First give me the bean that I entrusted to you,” he said to them. Quickly one farmer fetched his jewelled casket, but when he opened the box, inside lay only a dead moth that had slipped in and eaten the bean. The other sat there and waited. “Where is your bean?” the Master asked. The farmer answered, “Your bean has multiplied so much that I am not able to bring it here, but if you come with me I can show it to you.” He led the Master to his storeroom, where the harvest of 100 kilos of soybean was stored. This farmer received Mantra from the Master while the other had to wait some time more.
One who receives a Mantra and merely “puts it in their pocket” without putting it into practice, is just like the farmer who locked the soybean in a box where it was eaten by the “moth of time”. Only practice makes a Master.
The Mantra may be used in any life situation and even during our daily routine to relax and quieten the mind. It will bring clarity and the ability to think positively. As with all things, we should also avoid excessive and extreme practice and never “force” anything. A Yogi represents moderation in all things. As stated in the Bhagavad Gita (VI/16): “Yoga will not be mastered by one who eats too much or who fasts excessively, nor by one who sleeps too much, or too little.”
In principle, a spiritual Mantra never causes harm to anyone. At the most, it will remain without effect if the right inner attitude is lacking or the practice is irregular. With Mantra our spiritual practice and hence our life becomes fruitful.
When this happens, there comes to dwell in our heart something that no one can ever take away. We never feel alone again. Mantra protects us in every life situation. It fills us with a positive vibration whenever we think of the Mantra or speak it. In this way it purifies our inner Self. For external purification we need soap and water. For purification of the mind, consciousness and intellect, the Mantra serves us well. The pure energy of the Mantra removes all blemish and fault from the mind and consciousness. It gives us the possibility to establish contact between our Self and God and unite us with the Supreme Consciousness.
Sri Tulsidasji said: If you would like to find enlightenment outside and inside, then place on the threshold of your tongue the lustrous pearl of the Divine Name (Mantra).