[Advaita-l] Sakti as Mantra in Mantra Sastra -1

Venkatesh Murthy वेङ्कटेशः vmurthy36 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 22 06:38:07 CDT 2012

Sakti and Sakta - Arthur Avalon -  Sakti as Mantra Page 452


THIS is in every way both a most important, as well
as a most difficult, subject in the Tantra Śāstra; so
difficult that it is not understood, and on this account has
been ridiculed. Mantra, in the words of a distinguished
Indian, has been called “meaningless jabber.” When we
find Indians thus talking of their Śāstra, it is not surprising
that Europeans should take it to be of no account. They
naturally, though erroneously, suppose that the Indian
always understands his own beliefs, and if he says they are
absurd it is taken that they are so. Even, however, amongst
Indians, who have not lost themselves through an English
Education, the Science of Mantra is largely unknown.
There are not many students of the Mīmānsa now-a-days.
The English Educated have in this, as in other matters,
generally taken the cue from their Western Gurus, and
passed upon Mantravidyā a borrowed condemnation. There
are those among them (particularly in this part of India),
those who have in the past thought little of their old culture,
and have been only too willing to sell their old lamps for new
ones. Because they are new they will not always be found
to give better light. Let us hope this will change, as indeed
it will. Before the Indian condemns his cultural inheritance
let him at least first study and understand it. It is true
that Mantra is meaningless—to those who do not know its
meaning: but to those who do, it is not “Jabber”; though
of course like everything else it may become, and indeed
has become, the subject of ignorance and superstitious use.
A telegram written in code in a merchant’s office will seem
the merest gibberish to those who do not know that code.
Those who do may spell thereout a transaction bringing
lakhs of “real” Rupees for those who have sent it. Mantravidyā
whether it be true or not, is a profoundly conceived
science, and, as interpreted by the Śākta Āgama, is a
practical application of Vedāntic doctrine.
The textual source of Mantras is to be found in the
Vedas (see in particular the Mantra portion of the Artharvaveda
so associated with the Tantra Śāstra), the Purāṇas
and Tantras. The latter scripture is essentially the MantraŚāstra.
In fact it is so called generally by Sādhakas and
not Tantra Śāstra. And so it is said of all the Śāstras,
symbolized as a body, that Tantra Śāstra which consists of
Mantra is the Paramātmā, the Vedas are the Jīvātmā,
Darśana or systems of philosophy are the senses, Purāṇas
are the body and the Smṛtis are the limbs. Tantra Śāstra
is thus the Śakti of Consciousness consisting of Mantra.
For, as the Viśvasāra Tantra (Ch. 2) says, the Parabrahman
in Its form as the Sound Brahman (Śabda-Brahman or
Saguṇa-Brahman), whose substance is all Mantra, exists
in the body of the Jīvātma. Kuṇḍalinī Śakti is a form of
the Śabda-Brahman in individual bodies (Śāradā-Tilaka,
Ch. 1). It is from this Śabda-Brahman that the whole
universe proceeds in the form of sound (Śabda) and the
objects (Artha) which sound or words denote. And this is
the meaning of the statement that the Devī and the Universe
are composed of letters, that is, the signs for the sounds
which denote all that is.

At any point in the flow of phenomena, we can enter
the stream, and realize therein the changeless Real. The
latter is everywhere and in all things, and is hidden in, and
manifested by, sound as by all else. Any form (and all
which is not the Formless is that) can be pierced by the
mind, and union may be had therein with the Devatā who
is at its core. It matters not what that form may be. And
why? What I have said concerning Śakti gives the
answer. All is Śakti. All is Consciousness. We desire to
think and apeak. This is Icchā Śakti. We make an
effort towards realization. This is Kriyā Śakti. We
think and know. This is Jñāna Śakti. Through Prāṇavāyu,
another form of Śakti, we speak; and the word we
utter is Śakti Mantramayī. For what is a letter (Varṇa)
which is made into syllable (Pada) and sentenoes (Vākya)?
It may be heard in speech, thus affecting the sense of hearing.
It may be seen as a form in writing. It may be tactually
sensed by the blind through the perforated dots of
Braille type. The same thing thus affecting the various
senses. But what is the thing which does so? The senses
are Śakti, and so is the objective form which evokes the
sensation. Both are in themselves Śakti as Cit, Śakti
and Māyā Śakti, and the Svarūpa of these is Cit, or
Feeling-Consciousness. When, therefore, a Mantra is realized;
when there is what is called in the Śāstra Mantra-
Caitanya, what happens is the union of the consciousness
of the Sādhaka with that Consciousness which manifests
in the form of the Mantra. It is this union which makes
the Mantra “work.”



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