Mantra: Hearing the Sacred

1.    Mantra and Darshan

a.    Darshan: vast array of visual forms, endless manifestations of the divine.

b.    Sound: A cacophony of sound.

c.    Mantra as the divine sound of the cosmos, sometimes a single sound, sometimes a phrase.

d.    All sound has but one sacred source.  Sound bears the power of the sacred.

e.    Darshan = seeing and being seen by the deity.  Mantra: hearing and chanting the sound of creation.

2.    Mantra as a beginning-less sound, uncreated, eternal

a.    One doesnÕt produce it so much as tap into it

b.    Purifying, linking, efficacious

3.    Mantra in the Rigveda

a.    Sacrifice and chanting the Vedas – A part of Sruti, that which is heard, The divine word, emanates from the eternal source of all thing

b.    Brahmanas from the mouth of Purusha [Purusha Sukta]

c.    Mantra as the power of divine truth and order (rta)

                                     i.     Has an effect on the cosmos – an order with which the mantra is in tune.

d.    Mantras spoken to gods, when gods thought of as personal beings

4.    The Gayatri Mantra

a.    Gayatri Mata (all gods combined, the mother of the vedas)

b.    One of the most important mantras in Hindu traditions.  Its meaning is that "May the Almighty God illuminate our intellect to lead us along the righteous path". The mantra is also a prayer to the "giver of light and life" - the sun (savitur).


भूर्भुव: स्व: तत्सवितुर्वरेन्यं भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि, धीयो यो : प्रचोदयात्

c.     Translation:
Oh God! Thou art the Giver of Life,
Remover of pain and sorrow,
The Bestower of happiness,
Oh! Creator of the Universe,
May we receive thy supreme sin-destroying light,
May Thou guide our intellect in the right direction.

5.    Mantra in the  Upanishads

a.     A means of final release.

                                      i.     Illumination and purification of consciousness – yoking the self to the infinite

6.    Mahamantra

a.     Om (aum): sound of the universe identified with brahman.

b.    Three sounds, A-U-M, and culminates in a fading nasal resonance that symbolizes communion with Brahman (the Absolute).

c.     Metaphor of ascent:

                                      i.       Abdomen – procreation – Brahma (creator god) – AAAAAAAAAAAAAA

                                    ii.     Chest – preservation (breath) – Visnu ) preserver) – UUUUUUUUUUUUU

                                   iii.     Head – destruction (i.e., of ignorance) – Siva (destroyer) – MMMMMMM

d.    Metaphor of descent – leels of consciousness:

                                      i.     Waking – AAAAAAAAAAAAA

                                    ii.     Dreaming – UUUUUUUUUUUU

                                   iii.     Dreamless sleep – MMMMMMM

                                  iv.      Atman -

7.    Mantra in Yoga - The Yoga of Inner Sound (mostly 14th-15th centuries

a.     In Hatha-yoga: yoga of inner or ŌunstruckÕ sound

b.    Repetition of mantras (mantra-yoga) as means of accessing the inner sound which is their source

c.     Concentrating on sound (which resounds in the central channel and can be heard by plugging the ears, nose, and eyes, and controlling the breath): become absorbed in the supreme reality which is ultimately his true self.  Mind is controlled and becomes absorbed, like a serpent hearing a flute doesnÕt move

d.    The unstruck sound.  Absolute manifest in the form of sound – from formlessness to form, subtle to gross.