Mantra Yoga – Part 1: Power of Words!


Om Symbol: Origin of All Mantras, Represents the Absolute (Photo credit: layalk)

As we have seen in Raja Yoga, we use mind as a tool to achieve the real goal of yoga.

Can our words be helpful in yoga?

Very much. In fact, words themselves are means and the end! In Sanatana Dharma(Hinduism), our great masters have revealed many powerful phrases(mantras)  to attain the Absolute. The mantras used in many occasions such as daily worship, chanting, yoga, meditation, curing some diseases and almost all Hindu rituals.

Meaning of mantra

To understand the meaning, let us take a look at the etymology of the Sanskrit word mantra : “mananat trayate iti mantrah”  i.e. by contemplating it, protects.  By definition, mantra protects the practitioner.  Protects from what? According to esoteric meaning, mantra protects the person from infinite birth and death cycle and gives us liberation!

Many of us would have heard about mantra sometimes in our daily lives like somebody saying – “His mantra of success is pure hard work!”  This sentence suggests that mantra is some kind of secret formula!

Why are the mantras kept as a secret?

Simple answer:  they are extremely powerful!  They are like bursting crackers, if not handled properly, they can be very dangerous!  In the Indian traditions, mantra is passed on by the Guru(teacher) to a qualified disciple with proper initiation rituals. It was disciple’s responsibility to keep it as secret.

Usual warning applies: mantras must be practiced under the supervision of a Guru after proper initiation. They should never be practiced reading the benefits in some books. When used properly, mantras can be enormously useful in the practice of yoga.

Power of mantra

Now, let us have some story time! There is a popular story on the power of mantra. A master was giving a discourse on power of mantras to a big assembly of people.  A person got up and asked “Sir, you said words (mantras) are powerful. Can you prove it?”

There was silence for a moment. The master shouted at the person “You are a fool to ask such a question. Get lost from here!”  The person got very angry and was about to hit the master. Master just laughed said “I was just kidding! You saw the power of words now?” Needless to say person was completely convinced. The story demonstrates that words are packed with immense power!

How does mantra acquire its power?

Good question. In his commentary to Shiva Sutras, Shri Kshemarajacharya Padah quotes:

Mantranam jeevbhuta tu ya smrita shaktiravyaya | Taya heena vararohe nishphalah sharadbhravat || – Tantra Sadhbhava    

Shridevi(Parvati, Shiva’s consort), who is the imperishable power, is the life of the mantra. Without her, mantras are not fruitful, just like autumn clouds (which do not rain).

In other words, Shri Devi herself is the power of the mantra!  This is the secret.

Somebody is asking now – “Good, so much about the power of the mantra.  How do we achieve yoga using mantra by the way?” We will answer it in the next post.

Next post: Mantra Yoga – Part 2: Mantra is sound form of the Absolute. Stay with me!

Sarvesham shantirbhavatu |

May everybody be peaceful!

Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Kalidas

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