Mother's Mantra Wisdom
In the West, there is much misunderstanding about the science of mantra. A mantra is not a "nonsense syllable." Nor is it simply a "prayer word," self-selected by the devotee because it means something nice. A prayer word may be a perfectly fine prayer, but it is not a mantra. Mantra literally means "vehicle" (tra) to carry the "mind" (manas). To what goal does a mantra carry the mind? To the divine source. And on the way, it cleanses and energizes every nerve in your body.
Mantras are bestowed under the auspices of a Guru and charged with divine Grace. Only then is the mantra alive (chaitanya). Otherwise, its just a word. The most ancient and powerful mantras are in the Sanskrit language, and there is a reason for this. At the sub-nuclear level of quantum intelligence, Sanskrit is the sound of creation. At this level, thought and matter arise as waves of the same abstract energy. Mantric syllables each have a precise and known effect on body and mind. Vedic Rishis and Gurus, in a lineage far older than Western civilization, transmit the precise pronunciation of the mantras, and the knowledge of their effects.
True mantras do not operate on the level of intellectual meaning. That is why their translations are not very important and have multiple versions. A mantra actually operates as subtle sound-vibration. Its seed-syllables (bijas) emanate from the unified field of Om, which is indivisible and absolute silence. Karunamayi teaches, "The language of God is silence." The emanation of mantras from silence corresponds to the view of creation propounded by quantum physics, which teaches us that all material particles vibrate from a silent and unmanifest vacuum.
Here is what makes Sanskrit unique. In Sanskrit, there is a direct correlation between these two paradigms: language and physics. The Upanishads of ancient India declare: "In the beginning was the sacred syllable Om. All that ever was, all that is, and all that ever will be, is created through Om." Centuries later, the Christian Gospel of John echoed the same theme: "In the beginning was the Word... all things were created through the Word." The primordial sound of mantra is the finest level of physical creation. When Sanskrit mantras vibrate through our nervous systems, they restore the harmonious design intended by the creator. In fact, divine creative intelligence pervades the cosmos as mantra, the Word of God, or what Greek philosopher's called the Logos. This original Word is Om, the very energy of silence.
When we meditate upon the sound of a Sanskrit mantra, we attune to the primordial Word of creation on a molecular and atomic level. We participate in the incarnation of the Logos. In our own bodies, "the Word is made flesh." Thus the grace of mantra fulfills the promise of Christian theology every bit as much as Vedic wisdom.
Mantra Is Not Repetition
Mantra is not repetition, but vibration. What is crucial is that the mantra vibrates through our nerves, not the number of times we count it. In the longer Vedic mantras there are bijas, "seed syllables" for meditation. When we meditate, these syllables effortlessly dissolve into transcendental consciousness, leaving us in the bliss of living silence at creation's source.
Even when mantras are chanted aloud, as are the longer ones, counting the repetitions should never become a rigid formality. One pronunciation of a true mantra, with joy and devotion, is worth a thousand mechanical repetitions!
Mantras Charged with Amma's Grace
At darshan in Seattle WA on March 22, 2009, Shri Amma Karunamayi expounded these ancient mantras.
1. To Saraswati, who blesses artists, students, and homes with wisdom and love... This mantra is comprehensive, containing the bijas for all three aspects of the divine Mother: Ayim for the creative power of Saraswati, Shrim for the abundance and beauty of Lakshmi, Hrim for the Shakti of Mother Kali.
Om Ayim Shrim Hrim Saraswati Devyai Namaha
2. To Lakshmi, who nourishes and sustains creation with abundance, light and beauty.
Om Shrim Hrim Shrim
Kamale Kamala Layam
Shrim Hrim Shrim
Om Shri Mahalakshmi
3. Amma also gives the great redeeming Shiva mantra, Om Namah Shivaya. But this version is more whole. It includes Hrim, mother Shakti's bija, to balance the divine feminine and masculine in our health, relationships, and spiritual awareness. Shiva is the purifying power of consciousness at rest in its own self as boundless silence. Shakti is the creative power that flows from that silence to dance in, through, and as the manifest universe.
Om Hrim Namah Shivaya
4. The mantra of Ganesh removes blocks - physical, emotional and spiritual - from our nervous system and aura. This in turn removes obstacles from our path in the manifest world, since the world is a projection of consciousness.
Om Gam Ganapatayeh Namaha
5. We can chant the great healing mantra, known as Shri Mrutyunjaya, to root out physical, mental and spiritual sickness. Emanating directly from Om, these syllables are charged with the purifying silence of Shiva and the nourishing energy of Mother Divine.
Om trayambakam yajamahe
Sugandhim pushti vardhanam
Urdvaruka miva bandhanat
Mrutyur mukshiya mamrutat
This mantra could be translated in countless ways, for it contains layer upon layer of meaning. In the first line, the mantra attunes our awareness to the Triune God (Trayambakam): Creator, Sustainer, and Purifyer. Westerners often assume that these powers are different gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. But this is a false view. They are really three aspects, three faces of one God, precisely like the Christian Trinity.
"Green" power fills the second line of this mantra! It speaks of sweet healing nectar, the continuous outpouring of nutrients to sustain us in perfect health. We can penetrate this biological image to discover a spiritual level underlying the physical. The Mother's energy, Kundalini Shakti, pours through these syllables into in our nadis, or subtle nerve currents. Just as we have a physical nervous system, we also have a spiritual body in which subtle channels of Shakti flow to sustain consciousness. This mantra heals both systems: stimulating the flow of healing nutrients in the physical body, and Shakti in the spiritual body.
The third line of the mantra sustains the organic nature imagery, describing a cucumber or gourd so fully ripe that it drops from the vine without being picked. The mantra evokes fullness, completion of life's purpose, and perfect health. On a more spiritual level, the mantra implores the grace of God to liberate us from the vine of Samsara, the endless tangle of desire, birth and death. Through this prayer, our consciousness becomes pure, untarnished by worldly desire, free of illusions and fears.
The final line of the mantra explicitly requests moksha: liberation. As the ripe fruit drops from a vine, so may God's grace finally free us from every attachment to this transient death-ridden world. May we be rooted in the true ground of Eternal Life.
Shi Karunamayi pronounces and expounds such chants on CD's available from her website. Link here. But first, go see her and receive her grace!
If you are fortunate enough to practice such an exquisitely powerful mantra technique as Transcendental Meditation or Sahaj Samadhi, then Shi Karunamayi's wisdom will multiply your understanding of the path you already follow a thousandfold. You will feel the love and grace of Mother Divine vibrating through your mantra into mind and body. If you don't feel that, what is your path for? Amma says, "My little babies, I love you millions and gillions of times more than anything!"
A Bija Mantra
The most direct way to dissolve the "I" is to return to silence through the grace of a bija mantra. A bija is a "seed" sound. It is like a tiny little doorway at the center of awareness: but it leads to infinity.
Bijas of the Great Mother are seeds of meditation. We can chant them in slokas like those above. But for the deepest meditation, we use the bija in silence as a one-word prayer, a prayer of surrender. The fruit of this meditation does not come from repetition of the bija, but from the effortless dissolving of the bija in the space of the heart. Repetition (japa) is superficial compared to dissolving (laya).
Names of the divine Mother end in "i": the sound of eee. Lakshmi, Saraswati, Kali, Mary. This eee is the sound of Shakti: an energizing, empowering and cleansing stream that flows into our nerves, emotions, and chakras through the Mother's grace. The Mother has three forms: Saraswati, Lakshmi and Kali. These forms personify creativity, sustenance and purification. Here I discuss the bija of Saraswati, the first of all bijas, the Mother's creative power.
The entire cosmos cries Amma, Mamma, before it takes form as the universe. The sound of aaa begins every alphabet, the vibration of primordial beginning. Mmm is the sound of silence - "Om" - the absolute silence whence the aaa of creation arises. Aaa emerging from Mmm is "Mah". This sound becomes a pulsating wave, Mammaamaaammaa. And this energy-wave is Prakriti arisng from Purusha, creation from creator. The wave vibrates out in Aaa, and returns to stillness as Mmm.
Yet these pulsations of Amma are only "virtual particles," to use the term from quantum physics. Their bubbling energy "fluctuates in the vacuum." Such waves of mother-love abide in the unmanifest, echoing in the void of Shiva's pure consciousness. To create an actual universe, an additional force must whip these Amma-waves into manifestation. Otherwise, Prakriti remains embedded as a flickering dream in the stillness of the Purusha.
The necessary awakening occurs through Shakti. Shiva cannot remain quiescent forever. Periodically his cosmic silence, which is the blissful yet conscious sleep of Pralaya, is aroused by his own feminine power, Kundalini Shakti. In Eastern theology, she is Shiva's yearning to dance. In Western theology, she is the Holy Spirit of the Father, yearning to express his Word in creation.
Shakti springs up through the heart of Amma as "i" between "Ah" and "Om." Hence the bija of creative motherhood is aaa-eee-mmm: "Ayim."
When we receive such a bija from the Guru, we receive the very creativity of God into our heart. And as we surrender our heart to the stream of Amma's love, her wisdom, abundance, and purity sustain us. The inner life of the Divine Mother vibrates through every atom of our being.