[Advaita-l] Sakti as Mantra in Mantra Sastra -2

Venkatesh Murthy वेङ्कटेशः vmurthy36 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 22 06:39:56 CDT 2012

The subject is of such importance in the Tantras that
their other name is Mantra Śāstra. But what is a Mantra?
Commonly Orientalists and others describe Mantra as
“Prayer,” “Formulæ of worship,” “Mystic syllables” and
so forth. These are but the superficialities of those who do
not know their subject. Wherever we find the word
“Mystic,” we may be on our guard: for it is a word which
covers much ignorance. Thus Mantra is said to be a
“mystic” word; Yantra a “mystic” diagram, and Mudrā
a “mystic” gesture. But have these definitions taught
anything? No, nothing. Those who framed these definitions
knew nothing of their subject. And yet, whilst I
am aware of no work in any European language which
shows a knowledge of what mantra is or of its science (Mantravidya),
there is nevertheless perhaps no subject which
has been so ridiculed; a not unusual attitide of ignorance.
There is a widely diffused lower mind which says, “what I
do not understand is absurd.” But this science, whether
well-founded or not, is not that. Those who so think might
expect Mantras which are prayers and the meaning of which
they understand; for with prayer the whole world is familiar.
But such appreciation itself displays a lack of understanding.
For there is nothing necessarily holy or prayerful alone in
Mantras as some think. Some combinations of letters
constitute prayers and are called Mantras, as for instance
the most celebrated Gāyātrī Mantra.
A Mantra is not the same thing as prayer or selfdedication
(Ātmā-nivedana). Prayer is conveyed in the
words the Sādhaka chooses. Any set of words or letters is
not a Mantra. Only that Mantra in which the Devatā
has revealed His or Her particular aspects can reveal that
aspect, and is therefore the Mantra of that one of His or
Her particular aspects. The relations of the letters (Varṇa),
whether vowel or consonant, Nāda and Bindu, in a Mantra
indicate the appearance of Devatā in different forms. Certain
Vibhūti or aspects of the Devatā are inherent in certain
Varṇa, but perfect Śakti does not appear in any but a whole
Mantra. All letters are foms of the Śabda-Brahman, but
only particular combinations of letters are a particular form,
just as the name of a particular being is made up of certain
letters and not of any indiscriminately. The whole ubiverse
is Śakti and is pervaded by Śakti. Nāda, Bindu, Varṇa
are all forms of Śakti and combinations of these, and these
combinations only are the Śabda oorresponding to the Artha
or forms of any particular Devatā. The gross lettered sound
is, as explained later, the manifestation of sound in a more
subtle form, and this again is the production of causal “sound”
in its supreme (Para) form. Mantras are manifestations of
Kulakuṇḍalinī (see Chapter on the same) which is a name
for the Śabda-Brahman or Saguṇa-Brahman in individual
bodies, Produced Śabda is an aspect of the Jīva’s vital
Śakti. Kuṇḍalī is the Shakti who gives life to the Jīva.
She it is who in the Mūlādhāra Cakra (or basal bodily
centre) is the cause of the sweet, indistinct and murmuring
Dhvani which is compared to the humming of a black bee.
Thence Śabda originates and, being first Parā, gradually
manifeats upwards as Pashyantī, Madhyamā, Vaikharī (see
post). Jut as in outer space, waves of sound are produced
by movements of air (Vāyu), so in the space within the
Jīva’s body, waves of sound are mid to be produced according
to the movements of the vital air (Prāṇa-vāyu) and
the process of in and out breathing. As the Svarūpa of
Kuṇḍalī, in whom are all sounds, is Paramātmā, so the
substance of all Mantra, Her manifestation, is Consciousness
(Cit) manifesting as Ietters and words. In fact the letters
of the Alphabet which are called Akṣara are nothing but
the Yantra of the Akṣara or Imperishable Brahman. This
is however only realized by the Sādhaka, when his Śakti
generated by Sādhanā is united with Mantra-Śakti.
Kuṇḍalinī, who is extremely subtle, manifests in gross
(Sthūla) form in differing aspects as different Devaths. It
is this gross form which is the Presiding Deity (Adīṣṭhātrī
Devatā) of a Mantra, though it is the subtle (Sūkṣma) form
at which all Sādhakas aim. Mantra and Devatā are thus one
and particular forms of Brahman as Śiva-Śakti. Therefore
the Śāstra says that they go to Hell who think that the
Image (or “Idol” as it is oommonly called) is but a stone and
the Mantra merely letters of the alphabet. It is therefore
also ignorance of Śāstric principle which supposes that
Mantra is merely the name for the words in which one expresses
what one has to say to the Divinity. If it were,
the Sādhaka might choose his own language without recourse
to the eternal and determined sounds of Śāstra. (See generally
as to the above the Chapter on Mantra-tattva in second
volume of “Principles of Tantra,” Ed. A. Avalon.) The
particular Mantra of a Devatā is that Devatā. A Mantra,
on the contrary, consists of certain letters arranged in definite
sequence of sounds of which the letters are the representative
signs. To produce the designed effect, the Mantra must be
intoned in the proper way, according to both sound (Varṇa)
and rhythm (Svara). For these reasons, a Mantra when
translated ceases to be such, and becomes a mere word or
By Mantra, the sought-for (Sādhya) Devatb appears,
and by Siddhi therein is had vision of the three worlds. As
the Mantra is in fact Devatā, by practice thereof this is
known. Not merely do the rhythmical vibrations of its
sounds regulate the unsteady vibrations of the sheaths of
the worshipper, but therefrom the image of the Devatā,
appears. As the Bṛhad-Gandharva Tantra says (Ch. V):—
Śrinu devi pravakṣyāmi bījānām deva-rūpatām
Mantroccāranamātrena deva-rūpam prajāyate.
Mantrasiddhi is the ability to make a Mantra efficacious
and to gather its fruit in which case the Sādhaka is Mantrasiddha.
As the Prāṇatoṣiṇī (619) says, “Whatever the
Sādhaka desires that he surely obtains.” Whilst therefore
prayer may end in merely physical sound, Mantra is ever,
when rightly said, a potent compelling force, a word of
power effective both to produce material gain and accomplish
worldly desires, as also to promote the fourth aim of
sentient being (Caturvarga), Advaitic knowledge, and
liberation. And thus it is said that Siddhi (success) is the
certain result of Japa or recitation of Mantra.
Some Mantras constitute also what the European would
call “prayers,” as for instance the celebrated Gāyatrī. But
neither this nor any other Mantra is simply a prayer. The
Gāyatrī runs Om
(The thought is directed to the three-fold
Energy of the One as represented by the three letters of which
is composed, namely, A or Brahmā, the Śakti which
creates; U or Viṣṇu, the Śakti which maintains; and M or
Rudra, the Śakti which “destroys,” that is, withdraws the
world): Nāda and Bindu, Earth, Middle region, Heaven (of
which as the transmigrating worlds of Saṃ sāra, God, as Om
as also in the form of the Sun, is the Creator). Let us contemplate
upon the Adorable Spirit of the Divine Creator who
is in the form of the Sun (Āditya-Devatā). May He direct
our minds, towards attainment of the four-fold aims (Dharma,
Artha, Kāma, Mokṣa) of all being. Om



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