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The Secret of Mantra Chanting

In Bhanu Didi, Knowledge digest, Navaratri on 03/10/2011 at 00:55

By Bhanumathi Narasimhan

Mantras – Sound vibrations that permeate every cell of your being and allow your mind to dissolve and repose.  But what are they?  What do they mean? Where did they come from?  There are so many questions surrounding these ancient syllables.

Speaking about Mantras is the revelation of ancient secrets that have been kept sacred from several ages, secrets that continue to benefit humanity irrespective of its circumstances.

What are Mantras?

Mantras are impulses or rhythms of the consciousness. They create vibrations in the spirit. Their effects, influence, method and mode of working are all a mystery.

In Sanskrit, it is said, Manana trayate iti mantra.Mantra is that which saves you from repetitiveness. A repetitive thought is a worry. Mantras help to free you from your worries. Often we wonder why we chant some sounds without understanding their meanings? Can something beyond our understanding help us?

The meaning of every mantra is infinity. It is a sound vibration beyond the cognition of the mind. When the mind is unable to cognize, it simply dissolves and moves into a meditative space.

How Mantras affect the mind?

The mantra is like a seed. Every seed has the potential to become a tree. Similarly, these sound vibrations contain all the possibilities of creation. Some mantras are in the seed form, called the bija mantras. Others are fully expressed, i.e, the fruit of the mantra is also expressed, such as the Gayatri mantra.

Mantras are a secret. That which is kept a secret alerts the sub-conscious mind. The mantras work at the level of the consciousness. When we want a seed to sprout, it needs to be sown into the soil, hidden, a secret. If it is simply thrown around, birds may eat them up. We can read and learn about mantras and their uses from books and the internet but that will only satisfy the intellect and not translate into experience.

Mantra and Meditation

When we chant the mantras, or listen to them, we get purity of mind and word. This prepares us for meditation. As a result of the sound vibrations, different patterns of the mind re-arrange themselves to become tranquil. Agitation is reduced, helping us to turn inward. For instance, when we laugh, our happiness increases. When we cry, the heaviness of our sorrow is released. Just the sounds of laughter and crying have helped. Mantras act in a similar manner. Repetition of the Mantras creates a psychological or mental response that is very deep and beyond the realm of words or expression. It can only be experienced. Speech falls short as it cannot go beyond the expression level into the experiential level.

When the mind is calm and centered, it can turn inward. Only a mind turned inward can experience the vastness and beauty of the Divine consciousness. When our focus is outward on the objects of the senses, our mind is scattered and racing behind one craving or another. Physical senses seek to know all about the external universe. Meditation is the tool for inner exploration.

Antarmukhi Sada Sukhi – one whose mind is turned inward is ever in bliss. Mantras are the tools which allow the mind to dissolve and repose in the Self.

Why should we repose in the Self? How is this going to help in our day-to-day life?

When the river is calm, the reflection is clearer. When the mind is calm, there is greater clarity in the field of expression. Our sense of observation, perception and expression improve. As a result we are able to communicate effectively and clearly.

Most of our problems or misunderstandings arise because of a lack of proper communication. When our mind is free from agitation, the way we interact and communicate is so much more pleasant and effective. Our efforts are not hindered by rifts caused due to communication gaps. This leads to a lot of positivity in our outlook and progress in life.

Mantras are as subtle as the air which creates ripples in the water as it gently moves over it. Air is all-pervading and at the same time affects specific regions. The field of the mantras is also such. It is all –pervading and also creates an impact on the one who is practicing.

(The writer is the sister of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and is the director of Women & Child Welfare Programs, The Art of Living.)

SOURCE

Devi – The various names and forms of Divine Mother

In Bhanu Didi, Navaratri on 28/09/2011 at 21:46

By Bhanumathi Narasimhan

We are all floating in the effulgence of one scintillating unseen cosmic energy called the ‘Devi’. The Devi or the Divine Mother is the womb of all creation. She is the seed of all dynamism, radiance, beauty, equanimity, peace and nourishment. She is the life force energy.

A mother has total love for her child. The Divine Mother has unconditional and unquantifiable love for Her children which includes every being in this entire creation.

Remembering names and forms of Devi

During the nine nights of Navratri, the Devi is worshiped in all Her names and forms. Names have a significance. We remember a sandalwood tree by the memory of its perfume. Each name and form of the Devi refers to a specific quality or attribute of the Divine. By remembering the form or by chanting the many names of Devi, we enliven those qualities in our consciousness and they manifest in us according to the need of the hour.

Navratri is a journey from the outer world of names and forms to the subtle world of energies, invoked through the various yagnas, to the innermost core of our being – the Self.

Warding off negativities and mental blocks

The first three days celebrate the Devi in the form of Durga. Durga also means hill. A very difficult task is often described as an uphill task. In the presence of Durga, negative forces fade away. Difficulties find it difficult to exist in Her presence! The goddess is depicted as riding a lion or tiger as her mount, alluding to the aspect of courage and valor which are the essence of Devi Durga.

TheNava Durga are the nine aspects of Durga energy which act like a shield to ward off all negativities. When you have obstacles and mental blocks, just remembering these qualities of the Devi, can cure the mental blocks. Especially in the case of people suffering from anxiety, doubting oneself, doubting one’s ability, ‘lack’ consciousness, feeling threatened by enmity and negativity – simply by chanting the names of the Devis, it is like mantras that elevate your consciousness and you can become more centered, courageous and composed. This is the significance of the aspect of the Divine as Devi Durga.

The Devi Durga, in Her form as Mahishasuramardhini, is the destroyer of Mahisha. The word Mahishameans buffalo which is a symbol of laziness, lethargy, and inertia. These are the qualities which impede the spiritual and material progress of an individual. The Devi is a storehouse of positive energy and any trace of laziness or inertia dissolves in Her very presence.

The second set of three days honor the Devi as Lakshmi. Lakshmi is goddess of wealth and prosperity. Wealth is a vital ingredient bestowed upon us for the maintenance and progress in our life. It is much more than just having money. It means abundance in knowledge, skills and talents. Lakshmi is the energy that manifests as the complete spiritual and material well-being of a person.

The final three days are dedicated to Saraswati. Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge- the one who gives the essence (sara) of the Self (swa). She is often depicted as being seated on a rock. Knowledge, like a rock, is a steadfast support. It stays with us at all times. She plays the veena, a musical instrument whose mellifluous notes bring harmony and peace to the mind. Similarly, spiritual knowledge brings relaxation and celebration into ones’ life.

Goddess Saraswati is the ocean of understanding and the consciousness which vibrates with different types of learning. She is the source of spiritual light, remover of all ignorance and the source of knowledge.

Attaining the Ultimate Offering to Divine Mother

While worshiping the Devi in her various names and forms, we offer flowers in a multitude of hues and fragrances like jasmine, hibiscus, lotus, lilies, rose, and so on. From the outer beauty, as we turn our focus inward and are soaked in the divine attributes, our consciousness flowers. We offer our blossomed consciousness too. Worshiping Her through the blossomed consciousness is the ultimate offering.

The Divine Mother is the unfathomable, infinite, supreme, pure consciousness. A child does not try to know the mother. The child simply has faith in her. In the same way, having faith in the Divine Mother is the source of the greatest strength. It is a great wealth and a blessing.

Navratri is a time for us to soak in this blessing, relax in the depth of our being and feel grateful for the abundance and beauty in our lives.

The writer is the sister of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, meditation teacher, and Director of Women and Child Welfare programs of The Art of Living.

SOURCE: http://www.artofliving.org/various-names-and-forms-divine-mother