Mantra is cosmic sound, which was discovered by yogis in higher states of meditation where they explored the different layers of the mind to discover the source of existence. Normally, it is difficult to go beyond the physical level in meditation. With some effort one can contain the agitation of the vrittis, waves of the mind, and go up to the mental and intellectual levels. However, very few are able to access the dimension of spirit. Yogis have gone to that level and experienced luminosity, the eternal quality of the spirit. In that state, vibrations are heard which the physical senses are incapable of hearing.
In the causal state of consciousness one becomes sensitized and begins to hear and see many things. What one hears is mantra and what one sees is yantra. If one simply makes up some syllables and repeats them - that is not mantra. The mantras that the yogis discovered were sounds vibrating at particular frequencies in each dimension of the personality. They also identified each sound with a particular psychic centre. In their altered state of observation, the yogis perceived that the chakras are stimulated by chanting a particular sound.
Every mantra has two important qualities, known in Sanskrit as varna and akshara. Varna means 'colour' and akshara means 'letter' or 'form'. The letters of the Sanskrit alphabet are akshara, which also means 'imperishable'.
Every mantra has six parts;
- First, it has a rishi, who had self-realization through the mantra and gave the mantra to others.
- Second, every mantra has a metre.
- Third, it has an ishta devata (presiding deity).
- Fourth, it has a bija (seed), which is its essence.
- Fifth, it has its own shakti, energy.
- Sixth, it has a kilaka (pin) which unplugs the chaitanya (consciousness) hidden in the mantra. When the plug is removed by constant and prolonged repetition, the chaitanya is revealed.
A mantra requires correct phonetic pronunciation, intonation, concentration and creation of the associated mental image or form.
There are also universal mantras such as Om or Gayatri, which can be used if one has not received a mantra through initiation.
The power of mantra and subtle sound frequencies has been known and used down through the ages by ancient civilizations in order to awaken the inner consciousness and exert an influence upon the external forces of nature. Mantras carry a high psychic charge and are able to penetrate deep into the psyche.
In scientific terms, mantra repetition regulates and balances the autonomic nervous system. It facilitates synchronous breathing, directly resulting in cardiopulmonary resonance, which is indicative of autonomic balance.
The repetition of mantra also arrests the unnecessary movements of prana, vital force so that energy is conserved and mental dissipation is contained. There is greater concentration and the mind can be utilized for higher flights. Therefore, when pranayama is performed with mantra, the practice is more effective.Keep chanting mantras!