[Advaita-l] chanting knowing the meaning whether necessary

Dr. Yadu Moharir ymoharir at yahoo.com
Wed May 28 09:05:47 CDT 2008

Namaste R.Krishnamoorthy-Ji:
  It does not matter whether you agree with me or not you should take up the issue with Sage paata~njali or and our niruktakaara who provided understanding for various "dhaatu".  This subject has been discussed extensively by all grammarians.  There were more than 64 Grammarians before PaNini.
  Let us see the definition of word "mantra" - matraaH mananaata.
  Sage paata~njali gives his understanding of the term "japa" - "tatjjapastadrthabhaavanam || samaadhipaada1.28 ||"
  Therefore japa is certainly not reciting something without knowing the meaning.  It needs to be understood first.
  there is famous shloka that establishes the procedure for mantra japa:
  mantraartha mantra caitanya yo na jaanaati saadhakaH |
  shatalakhsa prajaptopi tasya mantro na sidhyati ||
  Meaning - A mantra does not become siddha (comes to fruition) even after it's repetition for 10 Lacks of times.
  Similar thoughts where expressed by Acharya Shankara as well -
  arthasya nishcayo draShTo | vicaareNa hitotitaH ||
  nasnaanena na daanena na praaNaayama shatena vaa
  yasya naasti svaya.m pradnyaa shaas{}tra.m tasya karoti kim .
  locanaabhyaa.m vihiinasya darpaNaH ki.m kariShyati .. caaNaakyaniitii ..
  ChaNakyaa tell us if there is no understanding there cannot be pradnya just like what is the use of a mirror to a blind person.

  Now tell me, how can any one perform "manana" without understanding ?
  We have lost our culture because we do not understand it.  That is we, the Indians cannot adequately defend when Western scholars take poke at it through their narrow academic perspectives and try to apply psychoanalysis and then try to hide behind the "Academic Freedom" in the West.
  I have come across many vedanti's who prove the statement by their actions "kalau vedaantino bhanti phallgune baalakaa iva"
  Often vedaanti are compared to the ladle that stirs the "baasundi" (a sweet preparation from evaporated milk) where the ladle in incapable of enjoying the the flavor of the preparation.
  adhiitya caturo vedaandharmashaastraaNyanekashaH ||
  beahmatattvaM na jaanaati darvii paakarasaM yathaa ||

  After all above thoughts if you still feel that one should do recitations without understanding then let that be your personal choice at least do not preach it to others.
  Finally, If you do not know what you say then what you say has no meaning.
  Kind regards,
  Dr. Yadu

srirudra at vsnl.com wrote:
I donot agree that that oneshould recite/chant mantras and slokas only after understanding their meaning or knowing syntax etc.What is required is concentration and devotion.Knowing the meaning does help in appreciating the context of the slokas and how beautiful are the thoughts /imagery of the composer etc.Thisway your thoughts are focussed and you feel that you have spent some time without straying out of the subject.Many of the beejaksharas have no meaning and the very chanting of them definitely helps in fixing the thoughts on Brahman or the Self.Ofcourse mechanical unrhythmic chantings just for commercial purposes has to be discouraged.


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