By Promod Puri
Peace in all the cosmic environments influences
peace in humankind as well
An ingrained feature in Hinduism is the mantra. It is a productive tool that effectively generates tranquil and energetic feelings.
A mantra inherently is the delivery of sacred word(s) or a sound with literal meaning or without meaning, but capable of inducing an ambiance of divinity.
Moreover, despite their antiquated origin since the Vedic period of Hindu history, contemporary interpretations of mantras offer intellectual spirituality and mystic expressions. Melodic compositions in musical and metrical formation draw out coherent and thematic features in mantras’ verses.
Mantra’s numinous and sacred integrity lies in its literate depths, pervasiveness, and absorption in the conscious mind.
In scriptural usage, mantras are ritualistic incantations and chanting for ceremonial occasions, prayers, and worship.
Mantra is a combination of two-syllables, “man” and “tra.” The former pronounced “mon” like Monday, means mind, or it can also mean a thought. “Tra” means a dedicated instrument. It is a tool producing a sound or vibration. In tandem with “man,” “tra” completes the word mantra to mean the voice of mind or thought.
From this simple structure, the mantra has attained the revered status of devotional expression and as a meditative channel.
Recitation of mantra, termed Japa, is the key to invoke its spiritual presence. The latter comes when it is calmly heard repeatedly in our minds and connects with our cognitive or mental faculties. It is in this frame a mantra resonates in human consciousness with its numinous and sacred nature.
In principle, mantras are not rituals.
But mantras offer a ritualistic tool in most religious and even Hindu-guided non-religious social ceremonies and functions. Chanting of mantras is a ritual that sanctifies and formalizes an event, regardless of the fact whether the congregation or listeners apprehend their meanings.
Mantras do not carry any magical and healing powers or potency in their complete rendering or any of their verbal constituents.
However, mantras do create an environment of positive energy, a feeling of a relaxed body and mind. It is in this development that according to the “biology of belief,” our psychological behavior changes more towards positive thinking. Positive thoughts are a biological mandate for a healthy life.
In its most plain presentation, a mantra can be just one single word like Om. Or it could be several words long in verse composition while carrying philosophical and meaningful themes of universal values.
A mantra can also be an elementary and straightforward composition. For example, the recitation of God’s name, Parmatma, is a mantra in itself. Here the duality of the word ‘parm’ meaning supreme, and ‘Atma’ meaning an individual soul becomes a single sound of His realization. The Japa of this mantra is perhaps the most uncomplicated and most informal connection between the self and Him for the ultimate feel of Oneness.
GALLERY OF MANTRAS
A selection from the gallery of Hindu mantras, besides their religiosity, has secular attributes and universal appeal in them. The nature of their constituents affirms the depth, the vision, the philosophy, and the universality engrossed in the Hindu faith.
OM PURNAM MANTRA
ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पुर्णमुदच्यते
पूर्णश्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ॥
“ Om purnam adah purnam idam
purnat purnam udachyate
purnasya purnam adaya
An ideological and free translation of the mantra begins with the word Om (ॐ), which is personified here as God. The term ‘Purnam’ and its related derivates in the mantra mean complete and signify His completeness.
He is Complete; everything emanating from Him is complete. From the Complete Wholeness, only the entirety manifests. And even when a single complete comes out from the whole Complete, what is left is still a Complete. The products produced through Him may look small or big, but in core and quality, all are complete units.
The mantra assures complete balance in all His universal creations from the elements of nature to humankind. For humanity, the mantra conveys a message that every human being is equal in his or her completeness as manifested by Him.
Atma or a single soul is a complete manifestation of the Supreme-Atma. This duality of the Atma-Parmatm is called the Cause and effect association. Supreme-Atma is the Cause or the reason to produce an effect, meaning Atma.
The result cannot be less than the Cause. The Cause changes to the consequence but continues to remain Cause also. In essence, the mantra reinforces that in every living being, there dwells the Supreme Atma as well. Equality and divinity are the themes of the mantra concerning humanity.
The mantra also stands out in making us realize how inter-related we are in this universe.
Rajneesh (Osho), a great thinker, philosopher, and an explicit interpreter of Hinduism in modern times, explains this universal Cause-effect bond.
His explanation of the mantra:
“[Om Purnam] is one of the most significant statements ever made anywhere on the earth at any time. It contains the whole secret of the mystic approach towards life. This small sutra includes the essence of the Upanishadic vision. The concept transcends from the past and goes into the future. It remains the Everest of human consciousness. And there seems to be no possibility of going beyond it.
“The Upanishadic vision is that the universe is a totality, indivisible; it is an organic whole. The parts are not separate; we are all existing in a togetherness: the trees, the mountains, the people, the birds, the stars, howsoever far away they may appear – don’t be deceived by the appearance – they are all interlinked, all bridged. Even the smallest blade of grass connects to the farthest star, and it is as significant as the most incredible sun.
Nothing is insignificant; nothing is smaller than anything else. The part represents the whole just as the seed contains the whole”.
ॐ भूर्भुवस्व: | तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यम् | भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि | धियो यो न: प्रचोदयात्
Aum bhur bhuvah swah, tat savitur varenvam.
Bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prochodayay.
This Gayatri Mantra from the Rig Veda, attributed to goddess Gayatri, is one of the most recited and highly revered mantras.
In its unique composition, the Gayatri mantra has three approaches.
First, the mantra evokes the nature of God and praises His attributions.
Second, it is a mantra for meditation and contemplation.
And third, it expresses sentiments of divine prayer seeking an illuminated path of goodness and ethics guided by His energetic light.
The mantra is a submission to God (Om).
The translation goes like this: Oh God; You are the giver of life, You can free us from all the pains, You are present all over, You give happiness, You are the creator of this universe and beyond. We humbly submit to You, and concentrate on your pious, sin-quelling, and pervading Energy.
That very Energy produced and released by You illuminates our mental faculties. We seek from You that this Energy dwells in all our thinking processes. As of result, our thoughts always are inspired to undertake only those actions that can lead us to be on the path of righteousness.
SHANTI (PEACE) MANTRA
There is a profusion of peace mantras in the Hindu scriptures. From seeking harmony and tranquility in an individual’s life, peace mantras’ appeal is universal in all aspects of His vast creation. Recitation of peace mantra is a meditation to experience the serenity and seeking its residency in mind.
ॐ द्यौ: शान्ति रन्तरिक्षँ शान्ति: पृथिवी शान्ति राप: शान्तिरोषधय: शान्ति:। वनस्पतय: शान्ति र्विश्वे देवा: शान्ति र्ब्रह्म शान्ति: सर्वँशान्ति: शान्तिरेव शान्ति: सा मा शान्तिरेधि॥ ॐ शान्ति: शान्ति: शान्ति:॥
Aum dyauḥ śāntirantarikṣaṁ śāntiḥ pṛthivī śāntirāpaḥ śāntiroṣadhayaḥ śāntiḥ vanaspatayaḥ śāntirviśvedevāḥ śāntirbrahma śāntiḥ sarvaṁ śāntiḥ śāntireva śāntiḥ sā mā śāntiredhi Aum śāntiḥ, śāntiḥ, śāntiḥ.
Following is a translated version of the peace mantra:
“May peace radiate there in the whole sky as well as in the vast ethereal space everywhere.
May peace reigns all over this earth, in water and all herbs, trees, and creepers.
May peace flows over the whole universe.
May peace be in the Supreme Being Brahman.
And may there always exist in all peace and peace alone.
Aum peace, peace, and peace to us and all beings!”
(Translation by Swami Abhedananda, Ramakrishna Vedanta Math, India).
The absolute mantra reinforces our affiliation with everything of His creation in this universe. Peace in all the cosmic environments influences peacefulness in humankind as well. A notable element in this known mantra is that it seeks peace for the Supreme Being, Brahman, as well.
MANTRA IN ANY LANGUAGE
Mantra, as a meditative tool, has attained significant importance in contemporary society worldwide. And for that reason, it has adapted itself to change. No longer, Sanskrit is the base in its composition. It can be in any language.
Meditation practitioners are discovering mantras in their languages instead of the classic versions. A recitation of a mantra, after all, is a repetitive, prolonged verbal utterance.
The most famous “modern mantra,” perhaps introduced by a Buddhist monk, is in English. The repetitive wordings are: “Right now, it’s like this.” The phrase just resonates, acknowledging the present, and the contemplation leads into the situation of calmness.
In a recent study, the word “Echad,” meaning one in Hebrew, is catching attention for repetitive utterance as a mantra. The result showed that the one-word non-Sanskrit mantra had the same calming effect in a meditative stage.
Simplicity, adaptability, and pragmaticism are the features in a mantra that appeal the contemporary society. For these reasons, the familiar and habitual Sikh chanting, “Satnam Waheguru,” is a mantra too that carries all these elements while creating a warming and alleviating relationship with the Lord in its recitation.
“Satnam Waheguru,” are the two simple words that have profound spiritual significance.
Accepted with utmost reverence, Satnam Waheguru is the universal Truth of His wonders. And that adoration becomes a prayer, Satnam Waheguru, Satnam Waheguru….
‘Sat’ stands for Truth, ‘Nam’ identifies that Truth.
‘Wahe’ is a feel of ‘wow’ moment, an exclamation of the divine Wonder.
Guru is interpreted here as the path that leads us from darkness to light. It is the journey towards Truth and enlightenment.
Satnam Waheguru is a pragmatic or logical approach towards the understanding of God, rather than worshipping Him as a divine image.
Satnam Waheguru is meditative in its spirit, installing harmony in our conscious mind.
For that reason, Satnam Waheguru is a repetitive mantra that flows well with our inhaling and exhaling breathing. Here the mantra breaks down into four steps: Sat-Nam-Wahe-Guru; repeat: Sat-Nam-Wahe-Guru….
Again there is no healing, a therapeutic or miracle value in the mantra, but it does initiate a conscientious mind of spiritual significance.
Satnam Waheguru, in all its elements, is a mantra, a prayer, and a divine companion in solitary moments.