|Chanting | Correct method of chanting | Origin of mantras | Effects of mantras | Ten Karmas of Mantra | Varieties of mantras | Kamasutra - Teachings on art of Love|
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT CHANTING
"In the beginning was the logos" -- the word or sound scriptures worldwide express the idea that the first cosmic manifestation was vibration, whether sound, light, or breath, and that this primal vibration, differentiating into sounds, colors, or rhythmic breathing, formed the basis for all that has followed.
In today's renaissance of the healing arts many new-old ideas are emerging, some dealing with the physical and psychological effects of music and vibration. Several current streams of research and thought are brought together in Music.
Music therapy is still in its infancy. Soothing music can help relieve pain and stress and to promote healing and relaxation which affect the autonomic, immune, endocrine, and neuropeptide systems as well as encouraging positive emotional states. Music is employed to encourage creativity, improve learning, enhance auto and subliminal suggestion, and help evoke imagery for self-exploration and healing. Music and movement are combined to bring about mind-body balance and release blocked energies.
Appreciation of the profound potency of music exists in almost all cultures. For instance, ancient Greeks such as Orpheus, Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle recognized that the healing power of music was grounded in its relation to the mathematical structure of the cosmos and humanity. The forms of snowflakes and faces of flowers may take on their shape because they are responding to some sounds in nature. Likewise, it is possible that crystals, plants, and human beings may be, in some way, music that has taken on visible form."
In working with Gregorian chant among the Benedictines, chanting which is centered on the middle to higher frequencies of the human voice, combined with active, attentive, disciplined listening, energizes the body and promotes mental and spiritual activity. Tibetan chanting has similar aims and effects. A Tibetan medical doctor remarked that "the ear collects the spiraling energy from the cosmos, this energy gives life to man and we see this vitality in the light which shines forth from our eyes"
The continuous recitation of mantras is used in meditation and religious or ritual ceremonies. Some call chanting a primitive way of altering the consciousness and raising psychic power or energy. Others claim it connects them with the Divine. The derived psychical powers may be used for purposes of healing.
Chanting, which is an ancient and universal practice, is usually done in accompaniment of drumming, hand-clapping, rattles and sometimes the use of other musical instruments. Such activity provide the emotional excitation to increase psychic power to a very intense level. This is especially true when chanting is done within a group. Sometimes the excitement builds so high that frenzied states of consciousness occur.
The practice is recorded to have occurred in Greece. Female sorcerers are said to have howled their chants. Like others they believed strong vibrations enhanced the power of their chants. This beliefs was continued by early and medieval sorcerers and magicians who sang their chants in very forceful voices. The belief was continued into the 20th century by men like Aleister Crowley who believed the chanting sound can profoundly affect both man and the universe.
When chanting is used in meditation is frequently accompanied by the use of rosary beads which are employed in Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity.
Chants are composed of names, words and syllables, including nonsensical ones. The name of God, and the gods, are almost universally considered to make the strongest chants. This was true among the Hebrew mystics and magicians who used the secret names of God such as Yahweh, Adonai and Elohim.
According to the Vedic scriptures the chanting of the name of the Lord is the one way to increase spiritual progress in the Kali Yuga age of quarrel and hypocrisy that begun five thousand years ago and is suppose to continue for 432,000 years.
Various chants in Hinduism and Buddhism use Om, which represent the Brahman.
Followers of Islam chant the ninety-nine names of Allah called "the Beautiful Names."
Diadochus of Photice recommended the chanting of the name of Jesus in prayer for Christians during the fifth century. John Climacus followed this in the seventh century. Their contributions became the "Jesus Prayer," or "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me."
Included in Christian chants are four Western forms, the Gregorian, Gallican, Mozarabic, and Ambrosian; three Eastern forms, the Byzantine, Syrian, and Armenian; and the Coptic and Ethiopian chants of northern Africa. Jewish chants are composed of Biblical texts.
The objective of these chants is to achieved an altered state of consciousness and create psychic energy. Chants also are done for magical purposes.
Native Americans also observe chanting in preparation for activities and ceremonies such as healing, hunting, battles, controlling weather, rites of initiations and funerals.
The Navajos put great emphasis on curative chants which are interwoven with myths telling how the deities or supernatural beings first performed the chants which exemplify how the chants still should be performed. The chanters must chant the prescribed texts correctly, else they will be stricken will the disease which the chant was to nullify. Chants can continue for many days. A chanter is assisted by helpers who are paid for their work. If a chanter of reputation makes no mistakes, but fails to cure the diseased person or persons, then witchcraft is usually blamed. The disease is said to have been caused be a witch's spell, and only the Evil Way chants can eliminate it. Also the Navajo chanter are careful not to use any chant more than three times a year, or they might get the illness which they cure.
HARE KRSNA MANTRA
India's timeless Vedas tell us that meditation on the Hare Krsna Mantra , is the most powerful. The initial result of chanting the Hare Krsna mantra is summarized by Srila Prabhupada in his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita: 'We have practical experience that any person who is chanting the holy names of Krsna (Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna , Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare) in course of time feels some transcendental pleasure, and very quickly becomes purified of all material contamination," In the preliminary stages of chanting, the practitioner experiences a clearing of consciousness, peace of mind , and relief from unwanted drives and habits. As one develops more realization by chanting, he perceives the original, spiritual existence of the self. According to the Bhagavad-gita, , this enlightened state "is characterized by ones ability to see the self by the pure mind and to relish and rejoice in the self."And in the Caitanya-cartitamrta, a seventeen -volume commentary on the life and teaching of Sri Caitanya, founder of the modern-day Krsna consciousness movement, the ultimate benefit of chanting is described." The result of chanting is that one awakens his love for Krsna and tastes transcendental bliss. Ultimately, one attains the association of Krsna and engages in His devotional service, as if immersing himself in a great ocean of love". So by chanting Hare Krsna, one reaps innumerable benefits, culminating in Krsna consciousness and love of God. We can realize the fruits of chanting by adopting the process of mantra meditation and applying it systematically.
Peace of Mind Initially meditation focuses on controlling the mind, for in our normal condition, we are slaves to any whimsical thoughts, desires, and appetites the mind may generate. We think of something and immediately we want to do it. But the Bhagavad-gita tells us that the meditator must learn to control the mind: "For one who has conquered the mind, then his mind is the best of friends; but for one who has failed to do so, his mind will be the greatest enemy." The materialistic mind attempts to enjoy by employing the senses to experience matter and material relationships. It is full of unlimited ideas for sense gratification, and being perpetually restless, it constantly flickers from one sense object to another.
In doing so, the mind vacillates between hankering for some material gain and lamenting some loss or frustration. In the Bhagavad-gita Krsna explains, "One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?" By chanting the Hare Krsna mantra ,we can control mind,instead of letting it control us. Mantra is a Sanskrit word. Man means "mind," and Tra means "to deliver." Thus, a mantra is a transcendental sound vibration with potency to liberate the mind from material conditioning. In his commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada explains" Our entanglement in material affairs is begun from material sound."Each day we hear material sounds from radio and television, from friends and relatives, and based on what we hear, we act. But as Srila Prabhupuda points out," There is sound in the spiritual world also. If we approach that sound, then our spiritual life begins." When we control the mind by focusing it on the purely spiritual sound vibration of the Hare Krsna mantra , the mind becomes calm. As "music has charms to soothe a savage breast," so the spiritual sound of the mantra soothes the restless mind. The Hare Krsna mantra, being imbued with God's own supreme energies, has the power to subdue all kinds of mental disturbance. Just as a reservoir of water is transparent when unagitated, our mental perceptions become clear and pure when the mind is no longer agitated by the waves of material desires. The mind in its pure state, like a mirror cleansed of dust, will then reflect undistorted images of reality, allowing us to go beneath the surface and perceive the essential spiritual quality of all life's experiences. Knowledge of the Self The Vedas state that consciousness is a symptom of the soul. In its pure condition, the soul exists in the spiritual world; but when it falls down into contact with matter, the living being is covered by an illusion called false egoism. False ego bewilders the consciousness, causing us to identify with our material bodies. But we are not our material body. When we look at our hand or leg, we say,"This is my hand" or "This is my leg." The conscious self, the "I", is therefore the owner and observer of the body. Intellectually, this fact is easily understandable, and by the spiritual realization that results from chanting, this truth can be directly and continuously experienced. When the living being identifies with the material body and loses awareness of his real, spiritual self, he inevitably fears death, old age, and disease. He fears loss of beauty, intelligence, and strength and experiences countless other anxieties and false emotions relating to the temporary body. But by chanting, even in the early stages, we realize ourselves to be pure and changeless spirit souls,completely distinct from the material body. Because the mantra is a completely pure spiritual sound vibration, it has the power to restore our consciousness to its original, uncontaminated condition. At this point, we cease to be controlled by jealousy, bigotry, pride, envy, and hatred. As Lord Krsna tells us in Bhagavad-gita, the soul is "unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying, and primeval."As our false bodily identification dissolves and we perceive our true transcendental existence, we automatically transcend all the fears and anxieties of material existence. We no longer think "I am American. I am Russian, I am black. I am white." Attaining real self-awareness also gives us the ability to see the spiritual nature of all living beings. When our natural, spiritual feelings are awakened, we experience the ultimate unity of all life. This is what it means to become a liberated person; by spiritual realization we become free of all animosity and envy toward other living things. This higher vision is explained by Srila Prabbupada in the Transcendental Teachings of Prahlada Maharaja. "When a man becomes fully Krsna conscious he does not see, 'Here is an animal, here is a cat, here is a dog, and here is a worm.' He sees everything as part and parcel of Krsna. This is nicely explained in the Bhagavad-gita. 'One who is actually learned in Krsna consciousness becomes a lover of the universe." Unless one is situated on the Krsna conscious platform, there is no question of universal brotherhood." Brings Real Happiness Everyone is thirsting for true and lasting happiness. But because material pleasure is limited and temporary, it is compared to a tiny drop of moisture in the desert. It gives us no permanent relief, because material sensations and relationships lack the potency to satisfy the spiritual desires of the soul. But the chanting of Hare Krsna provides complete satisfaction because it places us in direct contact with God and His spiritual pleasure Potency. God is full of all bliss, and when we enter His association, we can also experience the same transcendental happiness.
In the Vedic literature there is an interesting account of how the pleasure of chanting far exceeds any material benefit. Once a poor brahmana priest worshiped the demi-god Lord Siva for a material benediction. Lord Siva, however, advised him to go to the sage Sanatana Gosvami to obtain his heart's desire. Upon learning that Sanatana Gosvami had a mystical stone capable of producing gold, the poor brahmana asked if he could have it. Sanatana consented and told the brahmana he could take the stone from its resting place in his garbage pile. The brahmana departed in great joy, for he could now get as much gold as he desired simply by touching the stone to iron. But afterward he thought, "If a touchstone is the best benediction, why did Sanatana Gosvami keep it with the garbage?" He returned to Sanatana Gosvami to satisfy his curiosity. The sage then informed him, 'Actually, this is not the best benediction. But are you prepared to take the best benediction from me?" "Yes," the poor brahmana replied. "I have come to you for the best benediction." Sanatana Gosvami then told him to throw the touchstone in the water nearby and then return. The poor brahmana did so, and when he came back, the saintly Sanatana initiated him into the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra, the sublime method for experiencing the highest spiritual pleasure. Liberation from Karma The law of karma means that for every material action performed, nature forces an equivalent reaction upon the performer, or, as the Bible states, "As ye sow, so shall ye reap." Material activities can be compared to seeds. Initially they are performed, or planted, and over the course of time they gradually fructify, releasing their resultant reactions. Enmeshed in this web of actions and reactions, we are forced to accept one material body after another to experience our karmic destiny. But freedom from karma is possible by sincere chanting of Krsna's transcendental names. Since God's names are filled with transcendental energy, when the living being associates with the divine sound vibration, he is freed from the endless cycle of karma. Just as seeds fried in a pan lose their potency to sprout, so karmic reactions are rendered impotent by the power of the holy names of God. Krsna is like the sun. The sun is so powerful that it can purify whatever comes into contact with it. If any object enters the sun globe, it is immediately transformed into fire. Similarly, when our consciousness is absorbed in the transcendental sound of Krsna, His internal energies act to purify us of all karmic reactions. In his commentary on Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada stresses, "The holy name is so spiritually potent that simply by chanting the holy name one can be freed from the reactions to all sinful activity." Freedom from Reincarnation The Vedas teach that the living entity, the soul, is eternal, but due to past activities and material desires, it perpetually accepts different material bodies. As long as we have material desires, nature, acting under God's direction, will award us one material body after another. This is called transmigration of the soul, or reincarnation. Actually, this changing of bodies is not surprising, because even in this life we go through many bodies. First we have the body of an infant, then a child, later an adult, and finally the form of an old man or woman. Similarly, after the passing of our old body, we get a new one. Liberation from this cycle, known as samsara, or the endless wheel of birth and death, is possible by freeing our consciousness from material desires. By chanting Hare Krsna, we revive the natural spiritual desires of the soul. Just as the nature of the body is to be attracted to sense gratification, the nature of the soul is to be attracted to God. Chanting awakens our original God consciousness and our desire to serve and associate with Him. By this simple change in consciousness, we can transcend the cycle of reincarnation. Srila Prabhupada discusses this in his commentary on the Bhagavad-gita. "The cumulative effect of the thoughts and actions of one's life influences one's thoughts at death; therefore the actions of this life determine one's future state of being. If one is transcendentally absorbed in Krsna's service, then his next body will be transcendental [spiritual], not physical. Therefore the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra is the best process for successfully changing one's state of being to transcendental life?' The Ultimate Benefit-Love of God The final goal and the highest fruit of chanting is complete God realization and pure love of God. As our consciousness becomes increasingly purified, our steady spiritual advancement is reflected in our character and behavior. As the sun approaches the horizon, it is preceded by increasing warmth and illumination. Similarly, as realization of Krsna's holy name is revived within the heart, this increasing spiritual awareness manifests in all aspects of our personality. Ultimately, the eternal, loving relationship between God and the living being is revived. Before entering the material world, each soul had a unique spiritual relationship with God. This loving relationship is thousands of times greater and more intense than any love experienced in the material world. This is described in the Caitanya-caritamrta: "Pure love for Krsna is eternally established in the heart of living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, the living entity is awakened." In our eternal, constitutional position in the spiritual world, we are able to associate with God directly, serving Him in a spiritual form just suitable for our mood of love and devotion. In this relationship of spiritual love, the pure devotee is absorbed in transcendental ecstasy. This state of ecstasy is described in The Nectar of Devotion. "At that time one's heart becomes illuminated like the sun. The sun is far above the planetary systems, and there is no possibility of its being covered by any kind of cloud. Similarly, when a devotee is purified like the sun, from his heart there is a diffusion of ecstatic love more glorious than the sunshine."
Chanting is a profound way to shift your consciousness because the vibration in sound directly effects the nervous system. A profound sense of peace and a deepening of the meditation state is obtained when one merges the mind with the sound. The words Om (Cosmic sound of creation) Mani (Lotus) Padme (Jewel) strongly impact your consciousness.
Krishna Consciousness simply means God-Consciousness. It is being aware of a Supreme Being and using all of one self (atma), one's soul, to attain him (moksha). The path by which to attain such an ultimate goal is a liberation, for it is a freeing of oneself from worldly objects and it is a merging of the self (atma) with the Supreme (Atman). This path must be one that is governed by discipline (yoga), devotion (bhakti), and action; it in an addition requires ridding oneself of desires, fruitive actions, and sense driven pleasures. Such a path is outlined in detail in the Bhagavad-gita.
Krishna is simply one name in many that names God. These names are meaningless and endless: in Hinduism God may be Bhagavan, Ram, Hari, Govinda, etc; in other religions, there is Allah, Yahweh, etc. As one may chant Hail Mary's on a rosary the same is done in chanting Hare Krishna or calling the name "Ram" on a ring of beads (Ram japna). This is simply invoking the name of the Lord in different fashions and proclaiming his presence with us. In addition, the word Krishna was actually once Krista, which was derived from the Greek christos, from which also the word Christ is derived. So in essence, the words name the same and that is God. Praise the man who calls upon God; do not castigate him because his prayer and devotion to Him rests on a name that seems foreign.
How does Krishna Consciousness fit into the Hindu Trinity - Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva? Does this mean Hindus are polytheistic?
Hindus are not polytheistic. They believe in one God - the Absolute Self (Brahman) - indivisible and transcending time and space. God governs the cosmos and has three fundamental roles - the Creator (Brahma), the Sustainer (Vishnu), and the Destroyer (Shiva or Mahesh). These functions are a neverending truth of reality - matter is constantly being created, sustained through a life, and then finally destroyed. Matter is manifest to us through Maya or cosmic illusion. The world that we experience is the way that we see it because of our mind and our senses. If our senses were altered, for example if we had the eyes of a bee or ears or a dog, our perception of reality would be altered. Only if we cultivate our spiritual sense can we see the Truth of reality which is God.
Krishna can be perceived from many viewpoints. Krishna is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu for his main goal on earth was to sustain dharma in mankind. Vishnu as the Creator is part and parcel of God. Hence, we can also view and adore Krishna as God - one and immutable. God's attributes are not one but many; thus, his forms and poses are many too. If we place Krishna at this level, then all other Gods and Goddesses are lower singing the praises of Krishna. However, if we view Shiva as the only God then Vishnu and all the other Gods and Goddesses are lower. To give an analogy the Sun to humans is the most important for it is closest to us and is the source of our light and life, while all other stars are seemingly unimportant. However, it is the same fire that burns in all stars. Hence different people need to see God in different ways - one that satisfies their spiritual needs and brings them the inner peace so they can reach the sanctuary of God. Hence, Hinduism allows people to worship God in many forms and ways. Krishna Consciousness is not in opposition to Hinduism, but rather it is in harmony with it. There is no difference in God's many forms and roles - for it is the image of the same essential Truth.
God is universal: there is one God for all of mankind. He is omnipresent and omnipotent. He knows the past, present, and future. He is the essence of Truth (Dharm) and the purveyor of the good and the evil. He transcends but is also the feelings of love and hate, jealousy and avarice, happiness and sadness; he knows all of our transient feelings and he knows his love for us. God is male and female; he is animal and human. He is the utmost and the pinnacle. He is the lowest and he is the deepest abyss. He is all. He is embodied in us, and we, together, are part of him.
The Meaning of OM
The most sacred syllable, the first sound of the Almighty - the sound from which emerges each and every other sound, whether of music or of language.
In the Upanishads this sacred syllable appears as a mystic sound, regarded by scriptures as the very basis of every other sacred mantra (hymn). It is the sound not only of origination but also of dissolution. The past, present and future are all included in this one sound and even all that transcends this configuration of time is also implied in OM.
According to Taitreya Upanishad the origin of language is assigned to Prajapati, from whose meditation on the three words arose the three Vedas and from his meditation arose the three syllables, bhoor, bhuva and suah, which represent earth, atmosphere and sky. From his meditation on these three originated the divine syllable of OM, which coordinated all speech and represented the totality of the world. The syllable OM also represents the trimurti (triad) of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Shiva’s drum produced this sound and through it came the notes of the octave, i.e., Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni. Thus by this sound Shiv creates and recreates the universe. OM is also the sound form of Atman.
The Upanishads state that everything, existent and nonexistent, can be grasped by uttering the sacred syllable of OM. The psycho-therapic efficacy of OM is deemed limitless and its utterance redeems all errors in the performance of a sacrifice. Meditation on OM satisfies every need and ultimately leads to liberation. Nearly all the prayers and recitals of sacred passages are prefixed by the utterance of OM. Its equivalent is Omkar, venerated in the same manner and is thought to be the representation of God Himself.
Musically it is also held that the term OM or AUM is made up by three base notes ‘A’ ‘U’ ‘M’ or the basic ‘Sa’ ‘Pa’ of the fundamental scale and again Sa (the base note) of the immediately higher scale. When one pronounces these notes in continuity, all the basic notes from SA to Ni also sound. Similarly when one pronounces AUM correctly, all the basic sounds also echo. It is believed to be the traditional way of clearing all the impediments in the vocal chord to make one chant the hymns correctly. Their unison makes one not only sound sonorous but also acts as the necessary preparation to chant a Mantra (Incantation) correctly. It is for this reason that all Vedic Mantras have ‘OM’ or ‘AUM’ as the first term.
Chanting, or Mantra Yoga, is more than just the Spiritual act of singing or praying. It is also mental and physical discipline.
Besides being devotional, chanting exercises both the Nervous System and the Body.
Articulation of the words, Control of the breath, and perfection of the posture, are all essential parts of the practice.
The beneficial effects of various specific kinds of self-vibration, cannot be underestimated.
Nor can the oxygenation that occurs, be overlooked or under-valued.
Chant with your heart open, and mind alert! Chant with gleeful Spirit. Feel the vibration throughout your body. Notice how it transforms your state of being.
How may the Gayatri Mantra be translated?
OM - Para Brahman
BHUR - Bhu loka (Physical plane). It also refers to the body made up of the 5 Pancha Bhutas (5 elements). These 5 elements constitute Prakriti (Nature).
BHUVA - Bhuva loka - The middle world. Bhuva is also Prana Sakthi. However, it is the presence of Prajnana that enables the Prana Sakthi to animate the body. It is on this account that the Vedas have declared "Prajnanam Brahma" (Constant Integrated Awareness is Brahmam).
SVAHA - Swarga loka (Heaven - the land of the Gods)
TAT - Paramatma, God or Brahman
SAVITUR - That from which all this is born
VARENYAM - Fit to be worshipped
BHARGO - The Radiance, the Spiritual Effulgence, the Light that bestows Wisdom
DEVASYA - Divine Reality
DHEEMAHI - We meditate
DHIYO - Buddhi, Intellect
YO - Which
NAH - Our
PRACHODAYAT - Enlighten.
Who discovered the Gayatri Mantra?
The Gayatri Mantra was discovered by Sage Viswamitra. It was the same Sage Viswamitra who initiated Sri Rama into the mysteries of Sun worship, through the Mantra Aaditiya Hrdayam. (Sathya Sai Vahini - 183, 184)
Aaditiya Hrdayam is chanted by many people as part of their Sadhana. Booklets on the Aaditiya Hrdayam have been published by the Sri Ramakrishna Math, Madras 4 and by the Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Bombay 72.
What did the Gayatri Mantra enable Sage Viswamitra to do?
The Gayatri Mantra enabled Sage Viswamitra to use rare weapons which bowed to his will when the Mantra was repeated with faith. Through the powers he attained in this way, Viswamitra was able to create a counterpart of this Cosmos. (Sathya Sai Vahini - 184)
To whom is the Gayatri Mantra addressed?
The Gavatri Mantra is addressed to the energy of the Sun, Surya. (Sathya Sai Vahini - 183)
(Bhagavan is Surya Narayana)
What is the potency of the Gayatri Mantra?
This Mantra has infinite potentiality.
It is a vibrant formula.
It has immense powers, powers that are truly amazing, for the Sun is its presiding Deity. (Sathya Sai Vahini - 184)
|Chanting | Correct method of chanting | Origin of mantras | Effects of mantras | Ten Karmas of Mantra | Varieties of mantras | Kamasutra - Teachings on art of Love|