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Mantra - An introduction

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Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
Mantra for Beginners

I am posting a message I had written in 2002. This was posted in a religious forum. Now that we are talking about Mantras this may be of interest to some of the members.

I am calling this message Mantra for Beginners as my messages are all meant for beginners. Today I was reading a book on advanced techniques in Kundalini Yoga. When my son took that book I warned him that it is not for him now. Then I made a remark that even books on spirituality and religion should be marked for beginners, for Intermediate level and advanced level. This is done in all books on computer programming languages because an advanced level book will not make any sense to beginners and a book for beginners will sound silly for advanced programmers.

He replied that it couldn't be done in spirituality and religion, as noone will accept that he is a beginner in religion or spirituality. Most of the books on religion and spirituality are written mainly for advanced level people. Namely renunciates and adepts. So adepts, renunciates and spiritually advanced people may find my messages silly.

Now that the statutory warning is given, here I go.

I was going through the messages on Mantra, gurus, Japa, Nama Japa over the last six months. I started wondering how come we all read the same books, but understand differently. Again how come great people like Swami Sivananda and others emphasize the role of the Guru and also say you can choose your mantra without a Guru? Om is a mantra, which every Hindu recites almost daily in one form or the other. My son when he was 3 years old used to call the priest in his Grandfather's house OM mama. (Om uncle) because most of the time he was reciting OM..... We have so many messages about its effect and whether you need a Guru.

Then suddenly eureka! It struck me. The term Mantra means different things to different people. I will take an example. There is a question about the difference between Nama Japa and Mantra Japa. Mantra Yoga is sometimes seen as part of Nada Yoga. The effect of the Mantra is due to the effect of the sound produced. I do not think there is any difference of opinion about this. If this is so how does Nama japa work? Again the effect of sound. So where is the difference between Nama and Mantra. We talk about the effect of hymns and prayers. Again the effect of sound. There are many Hymns and prayers, which are considered Mantras. The entire Devi Mahatmyam is considered to be a single mantra or a garland of 700 mantras. The four Sthudhis (prayers) are considered to be mantras. In Soundharya Lahari every stanza is considered to be a mantra. In the Vishnu Sahashranama some of the verses used as mantras give certain effects like improving memory, .... etc. We used to recite these verses when we were young for improving our performance in examinations. Rama Nama is considered to be the greatest mantra. (Phalasthudhi of Vishnu Sahasranama ) Maharshi Valmikhi became a Maharshi by reciting Mara, Mara.

The entire Vedic recitation was considered mantra. We have marriage mantras, Upanayana mantras and mantras for all samskaras.

So all hymns, prayers, and Namas are also mantras. The common perception that only exoteric, Tantrik and Vedantic mantras are mantras is wrong.

I was the one who had talked a lot about Mantra Sasthra. Where does Mantra Sasthra fit in here? Mantra Sasthra also talks about mantras for getting powers other than spiritual. We are talking now only about mantras for spiritual advancement

Once we accept that all these are mantras then we begin to understand Swami Sivananda.

It has always been difficult to get good Gurus. If everyone waited to get a Guru before taking the first steps towards spirituality, there will be very few spiritual people in the world. Since it is never too early to begin, we are taught hymns, prayers, Namas. It is not that you cannot achieve the Ultimate with these mantras. Swami Ramdass (sage of Kananghad) had only one mantra "Sri Ram jai Ram Om". He spent years searching for a Guru. In the end his father initiated him into this mantra. Saint Chaithanya Maha Prabhu was an embodiment of the Krishna nama. Even in Vedanta philosophical truths like Tatwamasi and Aham Brahma Asmi are used as mantras.

How come we differentiate between Mantras, hymns, prayers, and Namas? Of course hymns and prayers are poetry. May be it is because Mantras other than Vedic mantras have come to be associated with Black Magic in the minds of the general public. In most of the Indian languages mantra means magic. In Tamil Tantra means trick. So may be people avoided using the term Mantra.

Hymns in Soundharya Lahari have their own separate Yantras and rituals which being purely Tantrik are difficult to learn without a proper guru. Vedic recitation is almost impossible without proper training under a Guru. But Rama Nama does not need a guru. So whether you need a Guru or not depends on the Mantra.

(To be continued)
 
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happyhindu

Well-known member
Shri Nacchinarkiniyan Ji,

Happy to see you back.

This is a nice topic (on mantras) you have chosen to start with. Looking forward to your informative posts.

Best wishes and regards.
 

Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
Mantra for Beginners --II

The different kinds of japa are

1. Vaikhari Japa (audible)
2. Upamsu Japa (whispering)
3. Manasika Japa (mental)
4. Likhita Japa (written)

In Tantra a lot of emphasis is laid on Japa. For attaining Mantra Siddhi you have to do Japa of the mantra a particular number of times. But it is not that you stop with that. You are expected to do constant Mantra Japa so that the Mantra becomes part of you. The Mantra is always running in your mind. In Tantra the rituals are necessary for only the main Japa when you count. But otherwise you are free to do Mantra Japa without any restrictions.

The same attitude is taken in Nama Japa also where the Nama becomes part of you. Here here is no emphasis on the count. Still many traditions insist that you should do minimum number of times per day. This is to ensure that you do it regularly. It is good if you decide the minimum number that you will recite per day.

In Japa you progress from Audible Japa to Mental Japa over a period of time.

There is very little difference between Mental japa and Meditation

Most of the Hindus know about prayers, and Nama japa well, as these are part of the daily ritual. Though the term Dhyana (Meditation) is known, wherever it is mentioned Dhyanam we just said Dhyanam or recited what is called Dhyana Sloka of the Deity.

Meditation as is now known was only for the very few. I have not heard of anyone doing meditation in my village full of Brahmins. Meditation was associated with Tapas, which meant that it was beyond the reach of the common man. Because meditation was equated almost with Tapas, only those Hindus who were deeply spiritual took to meditation. Mostly these were Sanskrit scholars and students of Philosophy.

Meditation became popular in India mainly due to Bagavan Sri Ramakrishna, Bagavan Ramana Maharshi and Swami Sivananda. However it is still largely confined to the English knowing population. In India Bhakthi and rituals are considered superstition by the English educated intellectual class. Many of these people took to meditation.

When my father was a student of Swami Sivananda in the early 50s what he learnt was mainly Hatha Yoga, Japa and Hindu Philosophy. Swami Sivanananda's books give a lot of emphasis on Japa. Even In Hatha Yoga though we were taught all the Asanas, we were asked to do only Sirasasana , Sarvanghasana and other simple asanas daily. Even Sirasasana was to be done only if it suited you. Again Pranayama was learnt only through an experienced teacher. Sri. Kali Ghosh who was my teacher was very particular that I follow all the rules and also checked my progress regularly.

Though the development was like this in India, in the west it was the other way around. Meditation became almost synonymous with Hinduism. I saw someone writing that Meditation is Hinduism.

When we attend a course in Mountaineering, you are first taught rock climbing and then taught how to climb small mountain peaks. You do not expect to climb Mount Everest just by attending one Mountaineering course. You become proficient in rock climbing, climb a couple of peaks in the Alps, and then try the minor peaks in the Himalayas before attempting Mount Everest. Even in that I can never progress as fast as a man from Ghatwal because he is from the mountains and his heart is already accustomed to heights.

The reason why I am writing all this is that I find that, though in India we progressed slowly from prayer to Meditation over a period of years, most people in the west are directly initiated into meditation. It is my view that for most people it is like trying to climb Mount Everest without ever having done even rock climbing. Many of the instructions given for spiritual aspirants by Swami Sivanananda have been part and parcel of our daily life for generations.

Am I saying that all the courses in Meditation are fake? Definitely not. But if you are in New York and you attend a course in Rishikesh India you may have problems. If you stay in Rishikesh for six months then you have a better chance of success. Even then when you come back to New York you may have problems and you would not have anyone to discuss your problems. During my last visit to Dharamshala I found that for there are many people from outside India who come there regularly. These are people who are very serious students and practioners of Buddhism.

Similarly we find many people visiting India regularly. Even Swamijis who have reached great heights visit India regularly for spiritual regeneration.

(To be continued)

Note: This was originally written for a Western (mainly U.S) audience.
 

Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
Mantra for Beginners --III

When we conduct training programmes in the corporate sector the first step is to identify the section of the employees to whom the programme is addressed. Once that is done you design the programme to suit their needs. Then you call only those employees who satisfy the basic requirements. In courses on Spirituality this is not always done. There is no pre requisite qualification for attending a course. Some people like Maharshi Mahesh Yogi have understood the problem and have designed courses. But generally it is not done.

When I met my Guruji for the first time, he almost threw me out. I was looking for a particular mantra for initiation and he flatly said it is not possible. After a number of visits over a period of two years one fine morning, he said, " Here is your Mantra. Take it ". His evaluation took nearly two years. During this period he taught me the rituals of Tantra and also advised me time and again about what the mantra can do to my day-to-day life.

My Guruji blesses everyone with words like Sarva sowbagyam etc. But he has always blesses myself and my wife with only "May you get Siddhi of your Mantra."

At the end of all this verbiage what should be the plan of action for beginners. In my opinion

1. If it is convenient for you to attend one of the various courses please do. But check up whether the course meets with your requirements and your attitude towards religion, God, and spirituality.

If you are a Bhakta at heart and you go to an Ashram and get initiation into a Vedantic Mantra you will have problems. If you are a devotee of Vishnu and are initiated with Om Namah Sivaya there will be problems. It will take a long time for the Guru/Teacher to understand you and give the appropriate mantra. This is done for renunciates. But for an ordinary person it is a time consuming process and even if you are prepared to wait, your Guru/Teacher may not have the time.

2. If you have problems will you get after sales service? Many problems are solved by discussion with Guru Bhais. That is people who have the same Guru/Teacher and practice the same kind of meditation. If you have a community then you can discuss and get help. People who belong to other traditions will not understand your problem even if they are adepts in their path.

3. If you do not find a course of your choice or liking then follow the Sadhana laid down by Swami Sivananda. In the words of Swamiji

Easy method of Sadhana in worldly environment

Here I, present a very easy method of Sadhana by which, he can attain consciousness even while he is living in the world amidst multifarious activities. You need not have a separate room and time for meditation. Close your eyes for a minute or two once in every two or three hours and think of God and His Divine Qualities such as Mercy, Love, Peace, Joy, Knowledge, Purity, Perfection and so forth during work and repeat mentally Hari Om or Sri Ram, or Rama Rama or Krishna Krishna or any Mantra according to your taste. You should do this even during night time, whenever you happen to get up from bed to pass urine or on any other account. Though you are unable to get up during sleep specially for this purpose, you should do this practice at least occasionally when you slightly change your posture of sleep. This sort of habit will come only by practice. Feel that the body is a moving temple of God, your office or business house is a moving temple or Brindavan, and every activity, walking, talking, writing, eating, breathing, seeing, hearing etc., are offerings unto the Lord. Work is worship. Work is meditation.
Here the mantra is not any esoteric mantra. It should only be a simple mantra used in Nama Japa or prayer.

For Bhakthas of MAA I would advise the following prayer as Mantra

" Sarvamangala Mangalye , Shive, Sarvartha sadhake,

Saranye Thrayambake Gowri Narayani Namosdhudhe"

You do not need a Guru and no side effects.

You do this simple Sadhnaa and Japa/meditation with simple mantras. You will get a Guru if a Guru is necessary for your spiritual advancement.

(To be continued)

Note: This was originally written for a Western (mainly U.S) audience.
 

gopaindu

Active member
my experience

Dear Nachinarkiniyar,
It is quite interesting and informative. In my case a Guru volunteered himself of giving matropadesha to me. I got mantropadesha when I was 24 years old and I did not start the repetition of mantras with any serousness and after sometime I did not have the inclination to do japa for a long time. My Guru used to say that laying the seeds is his job and did not know when the seeds will sprout or whether they may sprout at all when I was in close touch with him. After about 20 years, it suddenly occurred to me that I should do the japa. Of course, to make the japa interesting I myself set a large number and also the period by which I should finish the same. He gave about 9 mantras during his life time in two instalments. There was a break in doing the japa for a period of about 5-7 years and I started again and completed the number fixed by me within the period as per my plan. The japa has changed the entire outlook of my life and presently, again there is a gap. Still, the effect of the past japa persists. I took to a different mantra on the recommendation of my friend, philosopher and guide and I refer him as Guru only to others. Of course, I learnt astrology from that friend. The friendship still continues. In the absence of my Guru, I used to consult him for guidance in regard to my personal problems. The strange thing is that he is senior to me by nearly four years. This is only by way of sharing my experience regarding mantrajapa and how and when it started working. N.Rajagopalan, [email protected]
 

sangom

Well-known member
mantras



मननात् त्रायते यत् ( that by the "manana" of which protects) is the explanation of this word mantra. manana means thinking, reflection, meditation, understanding. Thus mantra is essentially one to be privately reflected upon and understood, whatever that may mean. mantras can be very broadly classified under a) vedic mantras and, b) tantric mantras. Vedic mantras had their "role" and "meaning" only within the vedic ritual activity. But tantric mantras have an independent existence of their own. In fact within the Tantric system mantra and tantra are inseparably intertwined, IMO.

Though mantras are composed of syllables and are capable of being written down, they do not strictly fall within the ambit of "language" in a strict sense. Mantras in many instances do not have definite meanings, nor can they be used for communicating ideas. It is also quite possible that mantras have a ceratin magical element attached to them. One view of tantric mantras I came across long ago is that the lips are like the "yoni" or vulvae, the tongue is like the phallus and mantra is thus the intercourse which generates the desired results ;)

Whatever we may discuss about "mantras" will have to be done within the confines of Hinduism and the idiom of the believers because, outside those limits, the mantras may become nothing more than pure gibberish. I have observed mentally handicapped children (sometimes normal kids also) getting addicted to some gibberish and repeating those short audio clips endlessly in blissful unawareness. Jaggi Vasudev has also developed a new class of mantras called "jibbers" which are pure gibberish coined by him. This makes me think that the endless repetition of a mantra, which by itself has no definite meaning, creates some 'looping' of the neuron circuits in the brains of the chanter as well as of the hearers. (If anyone has remained awake in any "akhanada ramanama yajna" thorughout the night, he/she will be able to feel the brain exhaustion and a certain refreshing feeling when coming out of the premises and the noise of the chanting recedes.)While the conscious mind, which is mostly rational, fails in finding any meaning in this repetition, the subconscious perhaps meets some sort of cul de sac situation and gets into a state of exhilaration. This exhilarated state of the sub-conscious mind gives the chanter the feeling of having realized the object of his chanting in the very manner in which he/she perceives it beforehand. Thus, for a person who thinks that Lord Rama will appear in front of him if he chants ramanama certain number of times, it will seem that Rama came in front of him and this is what happened most probably with Thyagaraja.

To an average outsider, mantra in any of its multitude of manifestations will be best explained in Humpty Dumpty's words, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less." (Through the looking glass, Lewis Carroll)

Shri Gopaindu,

Usually the established "guru"s and even aspiring gurus, are rather stingy in giving mantropadesas. When you talk about a very generous guru who "volunteered himself for giving matropadesha to you" and gave 9 mantras during his life time in two instalments, etc., I am reminded of a small-time pseudo ascetic who had only his saffron-coloured single dhoti and one rudraksha in a black cord as a short necklace, who used to visit my distant cousin's house once in two or three years, because he (the swamiyar) claimed some distant relationship with my cousin's aged father. He used to bring one or, at times two, large jute bags, the contents of which he tried not to reveal to any one. My cousin who had atheist and communist leanings even then (16 or 17 years) tried all the tricks but could not make the swamiyar to open the bag/s and reveal their contents. So, reportedly one day he lost his cool and forcibly grabbed the bag and emptied it on the floor. They contained a number of sets of pooja items, darbha mats, and a good stock of very small icons/idols, rudrakshas, saalagramams and different "murthis". When my cousin threatened the swamiyar, he admitted that he used to sell the pooja items - sent from North India, mainly Kasi - at good profit, the miniature murthis etc., were utilised by him (the swamiyar) to "materialize" them from thin air and impress some of his gullible customers into becoming ardent devotees of his greatness. :) My cousin now swears on his honour that this small-time swamiyar later became a very well-known swamiji whose not-so-capable son was also enthroned by the father as a virtual godman. Since I have no independent proof, I am not revealing the identities.

Coming to the topic, this small-time swamiyar was very eager to give mantropadesams. So, I am curious to know what sort of a person your guru was and whether you could trace his life.
 
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saidevo

Well-known member
namaste everyone.

I have some points to make about shrI Sangom's post no.9. Text in blue below is quoted from his post and that in black is my point.

Whatever we may discuss about "mantras" will have to be done within the confines of Hinduism and the idiom of the believers because, outside those limits, the mantras may become nothing more than pure gibberish.

• If (some) mantras are/may be considered as gibberish, then there arises the possibility that the sorts of gibberish that we listen to in Tamizh film songs could be considered mantras! For example, this popular hit 'Poonthamalliyilae' from the film 'Karunthel Kannayiram', being utter gibberish, could qualify to be a mantra for some!

uNda pakkara maara pakkkara hei hei hei
ahh barumaa yakka singaLa machchaan hei hei hei


• Compare the above filmy gibberish with the GaNapati bIja mantra that sounds gibberish, until one knows that there are definite inner meanings to the syllables:

OM OM svAhA |
108. OM OM shrIM svAhA |
109. OM OM shrIM hrIM svAhA |
110. OM OM shrIM hrIM ka.hlIM svAhA |
111. OM OM shrIM hrIM ka.hlIM ga.hlauM svAhA |
112. OM OM shrIM hrIM ka.hlIM ga.hlauM gaM gaNapataye svAhA |
113. OM OM shrIM hrIM ka.hlIM ga.hlauM gaM gaNapataye varavarada svAhA |
114. OM OM shrIM hrIM ka.hlIM ga.hlauM gaM gaNapataye varavarada sarvajanaM me svAhA |

For the meanings of the gibberish terms like 'shrIM, hrIM', check:
http://www.religiousworlds.com/mandalam/mantra.htm
Mantra-Sahastra

• Is it true that "the mantras may become nothing more than pure gibberish" "outside" the "limits" of "Hinduism" and "the idiom of the believers"?

‣ Such statements are belied by the efficacy of the yajnas involving such mantras. For example, yajnas conducted for the advent of rains are bound/found to accomplish their results even in these days of much non-belief in them.

‣ If mantras have their efficacy only for the believers, how come shrI MuraLIdhara svAmigaL could cause a heavy downpour in Australia by a collective prayer through a webcast that involved chanting a simple mantra?
YouTube - Prayers are Powerful

‣ As the Tamizh saying goes:
நல்லார் ஒருவர் உளரேல் அவர்பொருட்டு
எல்லார்க்கும் பெய்யும் மழை.

~nallAr oruvar uLarEl avarporuTTu
ellArkkum peyyum mazhai.

"If there is one single good person, for his sake, it will rain for everyone."

If, for the sake of this subject about mantras being gibberish--uLaRal, we change the Tamizh proverb as follows, to link it to a yajna for rains:

நல்லார் ஒருவர் உளறேல் அவர்பொருட்டு
எல்லார்க்கும் பெய்யும் மழை.

~nallAr oruvar uLaREl avarporuTTu
ellArkkum peyyum mazhai.

"If there is one good person whose sincere mantra-chanting seems gibberish to a causual thinker, it would still rain for everyone."

• The concept of mantra as a magical phrase has always existed in human consciousness, finding expressions in legends of Hinduism and other religions. In the classical 'Arabian Nights' legend, Alibaba uses the 'mantra' "open sesame" (or its Urdu equivalent) to gain access to the cave of treasure. And a modern legend of the adventures of Harry Potter, is full of magical spells evoked by uttering weird 'mantras'.

• When "our own pioneer from Mumbai, Shivkar Bapuji Talpade, made an aircraft and had flown it eight years" before the Wright brothers did, and it was reported that Talpade's plane was built using the techniques described in the book vimAnika shAstra where mantras are used to run the plane, this news was met with disbelief at first and then dismissed as legend in due course of time:
A flight over Chowpatty that made history - Times Of India

Today, we have voice-mediated systems in the Infotech sector that can launch a missile; and speech synthesis is becoming more and more common method of input in the electronics industry. We might even say that a computer code that looks gibberish to laypersons are similar to mantras that bring in action.

This makes me think that the endless repetition of a mantra, which by itself has no definite meaning, creates some 'looping' of the neuron circuits in the brains of the chanter as well as of the hearers.

• This purely physical and personal explanation might suit shrI Sangom's thoughts, but then there are stories of Europeans getting curious about our mantras and trying it out using physical devices. Although I can't trace the source now, I remember to have read a story during my college days, wherein the Germans tried to 'test the efficacy' of a DevI mantra whose legend was that if it was chanted for a certain number of times (one lakh times or so), one can have darshan of DevI. They used a spool tape recorder to play out the mantra. It ran for days together, and finally, when the task was completed, the tape fell into smithereens, its bits and pieces falling neatly into the shape of DevI!

• Suppose the experiment is tried today, and the rain-causing Veda yajna mantras are played out on a audio/video tape or disk, for days together, will the rains come? I doubt, because the experiment does not involve human participation. If the sentient human brains can connect to the Devas where the insentient electronic devices fail, can it be purely a physical phenomenon? Or should it happen only through the pancha-kOshas of trained human minds?

While the conscious mind, which is mostly rational, fails in finding any meaning in this repetition, the subconscious perhaps meets some sort of cul de sac situation and gets into a state of exhilaration. This exhilarated state of the sub-conscious mind gives the chanter the feeling of having realized the object of his chanting in the very manner in which he/she perceives it beforehand.

This could hardly be the logical explanation of physical science, IMO, unless physical science can map with exactitude 'the mind' in its 'conscious and subconscious' states into the physical brain and explain how thoughts and feelings arise therefrom and why a 'looping' involving a 'cul de sac situation' takes place with such an efficacious organ as the human brain, which has the capacity to get past any limiting situation?

It is strange that scientists try to explain their experiments done with a physical organ like the brain, with all sorts of trans-physical concepts to fill the gaps in their findings. Stranger still is how public opinion gives credence to these reports with no second thoughts. On the one hand we dismiss all concepts of mantra, japa and dhyAna as frivolity of the mind without ever trying them out personally; and on the other, we blindly belief all that science says, since we don't have the knowledge or capability of its experimental verification.

Thus, for a person who thinks that Lord Rama will appear in front of him if he chants ramanama certain number of times, it will seem that Rama came in front of him and this is what happened most probably with Thyagaraja.

For those of us who believe in the anecdotes relating to the life of saint TyAgarAja which shaped up his RAma-bhakti, here are some links:

Saint Thyagaraja
THYAGARAJA
http://www.carnaticcorner.com/articles/thyagaraja-svk.html
CARNATIC MUSIC GUIDE: Biography Of Sri Thyagaraja Swami
Biography, compositions of Thyagaraja - Hari's Carnatic
 

sangom

Well-known member
I have some points to make about shrI Sangom's post no.9. Text in blue below is quoted from his post and that in black is my point.

My reference to Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev himself developing a new set of so-called mantras and naming them as "jibbers" is sufficient IMO to show that some adepts also think like me.
 

zebra16

Well-known member
Namaste,

I was given to understand that vedic mantras are sound vibrations cognized by vedic rishis and passed on to the posterity. And that we are supposed to be reproduce the same exactly so that the sound vibrations match the original. So far so good. Now on further reading of vedic mantras, I gather that the rk-mantras are to be chanted out aloud and the yajus mantras are to be just muttered (Upamsu).

If I take the case of the most revered gayatri mantra, the mantra is in rk format and the vyahritis are in yajur veda. So should the mantra be chanted out loud or should be muttered? But the usual practice is that this mantra is used for japa, mentally recited and neither spoken out loud nor muttered. Why so? Secondly, if the mantra is chanted mentally, how would it cause in the vibrations in atmosphere etc. as we normally understand?

Now taking the case of rudra prasna, as it is a yajus (notwithstanding some riks) should it not be muttered? But when one goes to any rudra-yajna (usually ekadashini rudra yajna) one finds the priests are normally chanting the mantra at the top of their voice. So are the injunctions like "upamsu" not valid?

Regards,

narayan
 

Nara

Well-known member
Hello saidevo,

... If (some) mantras are/may be considered as gibberish, then there arises the possibility that the sorts of gibberish that we listen to in Tamizh film songs could be considered mantras!
First, saying mantras may sound gibberish outside the limits of "Hinduism" does not automatically mean that all gibberish could be considered mantras. Yea, could be, anything can be "could be", but it is not logical.

Secondly, "uNda pakkara maara pakkkara hei hei hei" and "OM OM shrIM hrIM ka.hlIM ga.hlauM gaM gaNapataye varavarada sarvajanaM me svAhA" if recited in similar fashion to one who is completely unfamiliar, both will sound equally gibberish, no more, no less. So, once again, outside the realm of believers, the mantras might as well be gibberish.


If mantras have their efficacy only for the believers, how come shrI MuraLIdhara svAmigaL could cause a heavy downpour in Australia by a collective prayer through a webcast that involved chanting a simple mantra?
Mercifully, this video is a joke -- obviously not meant as a joke by those who posted it -- otherwise it raises many uncomfortable questions. The so called Mahamantra of the Hare Krishna group, is not even a Vedic Mantra. It is only a prayer directed at Lord Sri Krishna.

Some of the uncomfortable questions if the claim made in the video, i.e. chanting this prayer to Krishna brought rain, is true:

  • Did Krishna not know that Australia was in the grip of a drought, does he need reminding?
  • Why in the name of all that is decent does Krishna wait for some crass முகஸ்துதி to bring relief to millions of people?
  • Why did he allow such a drought in the first place if he can instantly produce such a downpour
  • Does it not seam cruel for him to wait for someone to pray to him before bringing relief?
The poster of this video has done some cut-and-paste job to give it an appearance of news reports. Other than the word of the ISKCON people who posted this video, there is no reason to even believe this chanting even occurred before the deluge, this could have been done after the rains arrived.

Finally, even if the message that this video is trying to assert is 100% verifiably true, no firm conclusion can be derived unless it is repeated and verified. In a recent interview of Stephen Hawing by NY Times, he was asked about Fermilab scientists finding a new elementary particle or even a new force of nature. Here is what he said:
"It is too early to be sure. If it helps us to understand the universe, that will surely be a good thing. But first, the result needs to be confirmed by other particle accelerators."
Here in lies the difference between scientists and religionists.

The concept of mantra as a magical phrase has always existed in human consciousness, finding expressions in legends of Hinduism and other religions. In the classical 'Arabian Nights' legend, Alibaba uses the 'mantra' "open sesame" (or its Urdu equivalent) to gain access to the cave of treasure. And a modern legend of the adventures of Harry Potter, is full of magical spells evoked by uttering weird 'mantras'.
saidevo, are you serious, are you saying the Vedic mantras are powerful stuff because magical words were invoked in fictional stories like Arabian Nights and Harry Potter? Don't you think you are undermining your case with this kind of reasoning?

it was reported that Talpade's plane was built using the techniques described in the book vimAnika shAstra where mantras are used to run the plane,
This Times of India article is about an unmanned plane that flew for a few minutes. Here is the enigmatic sentence on which saidevo has based this claim:
"According to aviation historians Mr Talpade used his knowledge of the Rig Vedas to build a plane."
Who might these "aviation historians" be, the article doesn't say. Not very many claims can be as flimsy as this one.


It is strange that scientists try to explain their experiments done with a physical organ like the
saidevo, we have limitations, nobody can deny that. We need to be humble enough to accept this fact, but not give up, instead try and do the best we can within those limitations. To imagine a special conduit to perfect knowledge and insist on its validity is not reasonable.

Cheers!
 
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saidevo

Well-known member
namaste Nara.

First, saying mantras may sound gibberish outside the limits of "Hinduism" does not automatically mean that all gibberish could be considered mantras. Yea, could be, anything can be "could be", but it is not logical.

Secondly, "uNda pakkara maara pakkkara hei hei hei" and "OM OM shrIM hrIM ka.hlIM ga.hlauM gaM gaNapataye varavarada sarvajanaM me svAhA" if recited in similar fashion to one who is completely unfamiliar, both will sound equally gibberish, no more, no less. So, once again, outside the realm of believers, the mantras might as well be gibberish


I agree, but Sangom's post gave me the impression that mantras, since they "may become nothing more than pure gibberish", their efficacy may also become such, outside the limits of Hinduism, which is the reason I quoted examples to indicate how the power of mantras benefit the whole world, although only believers chant them.

• The point is, Nara, even a language seems gibberish to one who is totally unfamilar with it. However, unlike the sounds of the filmy gibberish I quoted, the sounds of a mantra do have rhythm, regularity and inner meanings.

• Curiosly, the sounds made by birds and animals are not gibberish, and every language tries to imitate them in words to a reasonable accuracy. The cow, for example, cries 'moo' or 'mA', which is both outside and inside the language, and readily connects the human mind to the source.

• The sound of the mantras, in a similar fashion, IMO, are beyond the language (although originally reduced in writing in Sanskrit), and has the same efficacy as a cow's cry to connect the human mind to their source (let us say, even for a non-believer, if the person is sincere about chanting it). Therfore, it is utterly wrong, IMO, to describe them as gibberish, whether inside or outside the limits of Hinduism.

Mercifully, this video is a joke -- obviously not meant as a joke by those who posted it -- otherwise it raises many uncomfortable questions. The so called Mahamantra of the Hare Krishna group, is not even a Vedic Mantra. It is only a prayer directed at Lord Sri Krishna.

• I did not restrict my post to the efficacy of only the Veda mantras. It is of no concern to me whether the video is a doctored one or not. The point is that in that video, MuraLidhara svAmigaL makes an explicit commitment to invoke rains by prayers and it seems that they were answered, whether in Australia or anywhere else.

• In my translations of the book guru kripA vilAsam, I have posted incidents of how HH Chandrashekharendra BhAratI svAmigaL accomplished the task of invoking rains in a parched village by sending a scholar there to reside the virATTa parvam of the mahAbhArata for 21 days.

• In another incident, he asked his devotees to perfom gAyatrI yajnam for a certain number of counts, which brought rains to the entire state of Mysore and parts of the Madras Presidency too.

• Well documented incidents such as the above, involve Veda mantras as well as verses from an itihAsa, so it does not have to be a veda mantra, accompanied by a yajna to invoke rains or have some other desired effect.

• I won't comment here on your "uncomfortable questions" because, being a VaiShNava scholar yourself, you are free to find your own answers to them or decide as an atheist that the entire thing is nonsense.

saidevo, are you serious, are you saying the Vedic mantras are powerful stuff because magical words were invoked in fictional stories like Arabian Nights and Harry Potter? Don't you think you are undermining your case with this kind of reasoning?

• This is a typical Nara-like interpretation: pinch the child and rock the cradle too. You know very well what I meant when I said "the concept of mantra as a magical phrase has always existed in human consciousness," etc.

To be more explicit, what I meant was that the concept of connecting to the source using a key phrase is universal in human mind; and because the human mind is at different levels of existence and progress at all times, some minds have been complacent with just legends and stories, the modern mind of the novelist tries to sell it by spinning fiction, whereas the Vedic minds of the RShis and the minds of other Hindu sages at elevated levels have found more powerful uses for the mantra, both for worldly and spiritual needs.

This Times of India article is about an unmanned plane that flew for a few minutes. Here is the enigmatic sentence on which saidevo has based this claim:

"According to aviation historians Mr Talpade used his knowledge of the Rig Vedas to build a plane."

Who might these "aviation historians" be, the article doesn't say. Not very many claims can be as flimsy as this one.


I have read about Talpade's unmanned flight in other websites, but couldn't readily find a reference, so gave the TOI article reference. Here is a link from a GOI organization:
THE VIMANAS - the Ancient Flying Machines


To my statement in post no.10, "It is strange that scientists try to explain their experiments done with a physical organ like the brain, with all sorts of trans-physical concepts to fill the gaps in their findings", Nara replied:

saidevo, we have limitations, nobody can deny that. We need to be humble enough to accept this fact, but not give up, instead try and do the best we can within those limitations. To imagine a special conduit to perfect knowledge and insist on its validity is not reasonable.

• What scientists conveniently forget is that after all it is the human mind which is making all the scientific study, research and findings. So, unless there is sufficient scientific paradigm of the human mind, especially when it does not fit readily into the physical brain, and such paradigm explains the mind without any trans-physical concepts, all the claims of science about the brain and the mind are not final truths.

• Even other such claims as the discovery of a new elementary particle or a new force of nature in a bid to explain the physical universe in purely physical concepts and paradigms, are after all, products of the human mind, so, not the final truths again.

• It is a convention in science to accept the existing/conventional explanation until a more convincing one is found. So, why not accept the metaphysical explanations of the universe, human mind, soul and existence until science can effectively disprove them?

Instead, science is only satisfied in giving jingoistic names, terms and concepts that are trans-physical, vis-a-vis the existing metaphysical, philosophical holistic view of the universe and creation. This would be alright so long as scientists in the name of rationalism do not seek to belittle the metaphysical and philosophical holistic view of a religion like Hinduism, because when everything is derived only by mental reasoning, one view cannot be more rational than the other.

Thanks, Nara, for helping me find my voice.
 

sangom

Well-known member
namaste Nara.

I agree, but Sangom's post gave me the impression that mantras, since they "may become nothing more than pure gibberish", their efficacy may also become such, outside the limits of Hinduism, which is the reason I quoted examples to indicate how the power of mantras benefit the whole world, although only believers chant them.

Dear Shri Nara, Saidevo,

What I intended to convey was that "mantras" (and not the equivalents in Arabian Nights or the abracadabra) will look like pure gibberish for people looking at them from outside the hindu system of beliefs.

One more point to be stated here is that during the 1980's there was a very prolonged summer in Mumbai. The tabra bigwigs there (probably with the blessings of Kanchi Acharya or some other religious head) arranged for varuna japam, in order to bring rains. Industrial drums of the size of the usual coal-tar drums we find during metalling and macadamising were made ready for the innumerable pundits (vadhyars) coming from the four southern states, to stand in and do the japam in neck-deep water. The elaborate rite spanned many days with no rains for many weeks even after the rite got over. Fiascos like this are not obviously kept on record.

(The fiasco was attributed, in hush-hush talks, to some chanters getting arrested late one night by the Police in the red-light district - Foras Road - of Mumbai for disorderly behaviour and the lack of ஆசாரம் & சுத்தம், etc., :) )

Muraleedharaswami follows not even ISKCON but the Radhe-Krishna cult (is that the nimbarka sampradaaya?) prevalent in Brindavan and parts of Bengal.

The crux of any value to any mantra is the reproducibility of its/their efficacy. May be we ought to concentrate on this aspect and discuss further.
 
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Nara

Well-known member
.....This is a typical Nara-like interpretation: pinch the child and rock the cradle too. You know very well what I meant when I said "the concept of mantra as a magical phrase has always existed in human consciousness," etc.
Saidevo, please do not ascribe ulterior motives, I am not trying to be deceptive in anyway.

Your explanations now do not throw any more light. Arabian Nights and Harry Potter show that an imaginative human mind can make up fantastic stuff, but not that everything that humans can think of are facts in reality. I don't understand how this is equal to pinching a child and rocking the cradle. This phrase reminds me of a particularly nasty comment somebody made against me that involved you.

It is a convention in science to accept the existing/conventional explanation until a more convincing one is found. So, why not accept the metaphysical explanations of the universe, human mind, soul and existence until science can effectively disprove them?
So your stand is, science sometimes gets stuff wrong, so your metaphysical explanation made out of plain cloth for which there is no evidence at all must be accepted?

Which metaphysical explanation one must accept? Abrahamic tradition says their god created everything in six days and rested on the seventh day. They say we all must accept this until science can definitively disprove it. They also make all the arguments you make. But you don't accept everything they say. You don't accept that Jesus died for your sins, do you? Why not, science cannot disprove this. But, without loss of irony, you insist that science can't disprove your position, therefore your view is right.

Scientific knowledge is not a well defined domain, at the boundary there is much speculation, theories are floated, believed to be very likely to be true until proved otherwise. Proving something wrong also adds to scientific knowledge. For religion, there is nothing called proving something wrong.

I don't understand why you even care about science. In your view, science is flawed, so just let it go. You know I also feel science is not flawless, there is lot of bad science that goes on. But the process of science is such that over time the bad science gets exposed or disproved and there is always a forward march.


Thanks, Nara, for helping me find my voice.
I don't understand, how so?

Cheers!
 

saidevo

Well-known member
namaste Nara and Sangom.

Nara, I cited the cradle and child example about your interpretation in a jovial manner. Sorry if it has offended you. Please rest assured that since these days we know each other better and mutually respect our stand, I shall not intentionally ascribe any ulterior motives to you.

• About different metaphysical explanations, as you know, there are levels. I wouldn't hesitate to say that if the Abrahamic explanation of creation and universe is at the first step of the ladder, the Hindu explanations are at the apex, but you might differ in your opinion.

• In science too, different theories about the same phenomenon exist at various levels of acceptance. One example is Newton's theory of gravity and the various alternatives suggested to it (wiki). Physics or metaphysics, hierarchies prevail in all areas of knowledge, and are accepted by human minds at appropriate levels.

• Physics or metaphysics, all explanations are "made out of plain cloth" of the human mind. The yogi, trained in the aShTAnga yoga of body and mind, contemplates, meditates, knows and experiences the different levels of the same Absolute Truth and teaches them. His methods are open to every human being who is willing to exercise the body and mind in the discipline of yoga.

‣ The scientist too finds his answers only with his mind. He knows that all the readings related to color-shifts, energy levels and light points/streaks representing atomic and sub-atomic particles and their movements, are only kaleidoscopic patterns of energy, aggregated at different levels, and yet depends on the accuracy of these aggregations for his answer, rather than realize that it is only the human mind which makes these interpretations--not the instruments themselves.

‣ The difference between the yogi and the scientist lies in the fact that the yogi knows that everything happens only in the substratum of his consciousness and so he fits all his answers within the framework of that universal consciousness which is immanent in all physical, mental and intellectual phenomena.

‣ Just like the fact there is nothing intrinsically good or bad in the universe, there is no good or bad science or metaphysics--only different levels of findings--so there is actually no need for these two disciplines of knowledge to take hostile stands, since they are complementary to each other in the holistic picture. This is perhaps the reason that spiritually inclined minds care about science, although there is not much reciprocation from the other side.

About your helping me to find my voice, when I made my post no.10, I was not much clear as to what to reply to Sangom, but your post made things clearer for me that my reply was actually on the lines I wanted.

shrI Sangom, there are also fiascos with deadly consequences in science. As for your observation, "The crux of any value to any mantra is the reproducibility of its/their efficacy", I would add that it is subject to the disciplines of the human body and mind involved in the process. Where spiritual experiments fail as in the case you have indicated, it is probably more due to the deficiency of the discipline required of the body and mind rather than want of efficacy for the mantras, IMO.
 

Nara

Well-known member
Dear Saidevo,

When too many things are raised, a situation I liken to a dust storm, obscures what we are talking about. So, I am taking the liberty of refocusing on the four major points. BTW, these are nothing new, we have talked about these issues often, as often as some people vote in elections :).

1. outside the realm of believers, the mantras might as well be gibberish
You agreed with this, with the caveat that the efficacy will not be lost -- this is the second point

2. the sound of the mantras will have effect even for a non-believer, so it is utterly wrong to describe them as gibberish
This is just your assertion with no evidence at all. The YouTube video is a joke. This is where Shri Sangom's point about the reproducibility of efficacy is crucial. Just making claims is unacceptable.

3. which version of metaphysics
Like you are asserting that your version of creation is the apex, a follower of the Abrahamic tradition will certainly assert his version is the apex. Further, he may assert that your view is completely false and only his metaphysics is true metaphysics. So, my question about which version of the called metaphysics to choose remains unanswered.

BTW, the Hindu (Brahmnical I suppose) version of creation of the universe involves substances like mahat, ahankara, tanmathrai, etc. None of this is based on any observation or analysis, but simply asserted based on some religious text. Why should anyone believe these religious texts, whatever may be the religion?

4. science and metaphysics
You want to draw an equivalency between a scientist and a yogi. This is a false equivalency for reasons we have already discussed often. So, I will spare the readers, and you also, with repeating them again.

Cheers!
 
I like this, More over sound is something great. The same words in different modulations of voice make a lot of difference right from a new born child to an aged person.

Another thing is sound fills up the atmosphere where we are and especially within walls. Therefore, the sound of Mantras, if recited properly, has a very good effect.
 

gopaindu

Active member
The world is full of uncertainties and inconsistencies. Why a sick person goes to the Doctor? The reason is that he believes that he will be cured of sickness. If the sickness is not cured, he goes to another doctor. So also the views of the people are based on beliefs/ experiences. Some believe that God is there and he is all powerful. Some believe that by praying to god, their suffering may be removed. Some do not believe in the existance of God. Some call the nature is supreme. In the above case, can it be concluded anything with certainty and the answer will obviously be no. Therefore, there is no point in questioning one's beliefs. If one does not have the same belief or has a different belief, then, one should not say that only his belief is real and the other beliefs are false or untrue or gibberish. Kindly contemplate over this view. raja48
 

gopaindu

Active member
I appreciate the line of argument. Among such a vast population, there may be different beliefs and that too one contradictory with other in some cases. So, it is better to respect the beliefs of others which are not similar to the one held by an individual or a group of people. raja48
 
Going to Doctor is our Duty which is the part of our karma. The doctor should be able to diagonise properly which is in the Hands of God. The buddhi that works in his mind at the particular depends upon our luck, which is the papa-punya, Runanubandhan. etc. So ultimately, it is the Ultimate. Secondly, if a person gets dejected or worried over something, then he says that he has left everything to the Lord of Feet. That should not be the case. Always we should think of Him and then leave everything at His Feet.
 

gopaindu

Active member
When a person says that he has left everything to the feet of the lord with reference to a problem, it need not mean that he does not think of God at othertimes. It is only evident that the particular problem is beyond his capacity to solve. Normally people take credit for their successes but believe that sufferings/problems are given by God. Only this type of attitude is wrong.raja48
 

Nacchinarkiniyan

Well-known member
I see a number of posts about Mantras and Hinduism. Mantras exist outside Hinduism. In all religions and in all legends.

Humanity has always believed that certain sounds can produce supernatural results or specific effects.

This belief is the basis of Open Sesame in Alibaba and Forty Thieves.

Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and every religion believes in the power of the words. The recitation from a Mosque in the morning does remind one of Vedic chanting.

Incantations are done to rouse supernatural spirits. Some call it Devil worship. But then it is a part of Paganism and Wicca both of which are popular religions. The famous Black Mass depends on incantations.

About Yantras, magical diagrams are known everywhere. I remember throwing a Pentagram around me for protection while going to sleep, when I was young.

Look around you and you will find that belief in the power of sounds/words and also magical diagrams are very widely prevalent.

It may come as a surprise to some of you that some of the most famous magicians performing black magic in Tamil Nadu are Muslims. People get protection from Muslim priests who recite some Mantras and touch you with the peacock feathers.

A number of studies have done on the effect of Mantras. I will post a list of good books in my next post.

Mantras are generally considered Meta words and thus have no specific meaning.

Mantras have been evolved in all Indian languages. There are a number of Mantras in Hindi and Tamil.

Mantras are believed to evoke certain supernatural forces. It need not be always benign.

Thus Hinduism does not have a monopoly on Mantras. Neither are the mantras always benign. When you recite 'Sthambaya jihva" or "mama sathrun Seegram maraya ,maraya" it is not spiritual.
 
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