by Swami Krishnananda
As space is not a solid object, it does not seem to be existing at all, for all practical purposes. Yet it is scientifically possible to convert hard matter into liquefied, gaseous and spatial forms. It is possible to conceive of the possibility of an inaudible soundless amatra state of sound that is made vocal and articulate when we chant the mantra. Like high potencies of homeopathic medicine, where it is said that the medicine is not at all there, there is something called vibration which is quite different from the mother tincture.
In a similar manner is the energy that we can invoke in our own selves by a mental cooperation with the actual reciting of the mantra through the vocal organs. It is not necessary for us to struggle hard to understand what kind of god may be there in front of the mantra; the god will manifest itself automatically. When a particular chemical combination is swallowed, its definite action will be palpable. Everybody will know what particular effect will be there through a particular given chemical combination, and he need not theoretically argue about it.
This is also the importance of diksha, or an initiation that is required in the case of the recitation of a mantra, because diksha initiation into the mantra is the actual introducing of the mind of a student into the technique of audition and also mentation, both of which are involved in the chanting of the mantra.
We should not take mantra japa as a light affair. People generally say, "Some japa I do when I walk. Some japa I do when I sit, some when I recline, some when I go to bed.” We should not be so very careless in our respect that is due to these mantras. Mantras are like persons. They will stand before us and speak. And, to repeat, a mantra is not a sound. It is a vibration that is created in terms of the shape that it will take and in terms of an action that we produce, which is actually the work of the god that we think of.
There are gradations of mantras, the lower and the higher; and we hear of the lower gods and the higher gods. It is said that it is easier to manifest a lesser god and more difficult it is to manifest a higher god because of the fact of there being a greater concentration necessary in the case of a higher god – a sattvic god, we may say, rather than a rajasic or a tamasic element – and greater purification of the mind is called for in the case of the actualisation of the mantra of a higher god.
Sheer will works in many cases. Purity or impurity, that is a different matter. A person who is full of gross desires may also manifest some power by the strength of will and concentration, but this is not what we speak of, in the spiritual field at least, when we refer to mantra siddhi. Mere willpower may bring some result; but at the back of it, there is an ardent asking for a lower contact with the desired objects and, therefore, that may bring about the fall, as they call it, of the seeker – draining oneself and also draining others connected with oneself.
It is, therefore, necessary to see that the mind is kept pure. And, especially in the case of a spiritual seeker, the mantra japa should be resorted to for the purpose of the pleasure of the god, to receive the blessing of the divinity and not to expect an ulterior materialisation of any kind in terms of that divinity. ‘Ulterior’ means something other than God Himself – expecting the divinity to do something for us other than being satisfied with the divinity itself. Therefore, to use a mantra as a tool for the implementation of a lower desire or any kind of externalised impulse would be uncalled for in actual spiritual practice.
The mantras in the Mantra Maharnava, to which I made reference, refer to well-known gods: Maha Ganapati, Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Siva or Rudra, Narayana or Vishnu, Surya, Skanda or Karthikeya, and even other gods like Hanuman, Ayyappan, and any other conceivable divinity. Thousands of them may be conceived in our minds. And as infinite permutations and combinations of a particular compound are possible, infinite mantras also are possible. We may concede that there are infinite gods.
But this infinitude of the gods is like the infinitude of the leaves of a tree, twigs of an inverted huge manifestation; and they, notwithstanding being manifold and infinite in number, are all one at the root, as the sea is one behind various ripples, eddies, gyrations of water. The spiritual seeker should take to japa sadhana, as it is mostly said that it is on the one hand a very easy method of practice; and secondly, the Bhagavad Gita, the great gospel, tells us yajnanam japa-yajno’smi (Gita 10.25): Of all the dedications, consecrations, sacrifices, worships and adorations that one can think of, japa is the best because japa is the calling of the name of a dear beloved one. And here the dear, beloved one is our god. Don't we feel happy when we call the name of a dear one? That happiness is the power that will see to the manifestation of the god. If the love for the divinity is absent, if it is done as a mechanical routine of ritual, the heart not being there, it will be a dreary journey through the days and days of spiritual practice. The love of God is the power that is behind the sadhana shakti. Sadhana shakti is the power that is generated by the intense concentration arising out of intense longing.
The fourteen worlds – Bhurloka, Bhuvarloka, Svarloka, Maharloka, Janarloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka – are the levels of the concentration of force, as there can be levels of concentration of force in water. There can be ice on the surface of the sea, and that very solidity of the tip of the ice may be seen gradually, imperceptibly, as it were, to melt down into a liquid form at the root; and water can even become gaseous and utterly invisible. The solidity, liquidity and the gaseous conditions of a single substance are not differentiated by physical distance, yet are measurable by the internal difference in the causation that they maintain. Thus we are perpetually guarded by the divinities, protected by them, superintended by the very divinities; and inasmuch as there is no geographical distance between the gods concerned and ourselves, they are able to act instantaneously upon ourselves.
Surya Narayana is supposed to be the superintending principle over the eye. We may wonder, “What kind of control can Surya exert on my eye? Ninety-three million miles away is the sun, and I am here.” This ninety-three million miles of distance is no distance for the sun. There is an electromagnetic relationship between objects even of immense distances; and these actions of invisible forces defying physical distance are not capable of description by purely mathematical formulae.
Our sense organs, which are five in number – eyes, ears, nose, palate and the tactile sense, which constitute practically our individuality and sensation, our very life itself – all these five are directly controlled by the cosmical counterparts, which are the gods. They are touching us. The divinity is touching the very skin and the very eye and the very nose and the ear and the palate, without whose actions we will not eat anything, will not taste anything, will not be visualising anything or hearing anything.
In a way, we may say that God Himself is working through us. And to the extent that God is beneficent, to the extent that we are able to allow the entry of the power of this God, in that proportion we are very vigorous in our sense organs, healthy in our body and mind. And to the extent we block the entry of these forces, we are debilitated both physically and mentally. When the body becomes old and is decaying, the energies of the gods get withdrawn gradually. A dying man starts blinking, and he will not be able to see. Afterwards, he cannot hear; then he cannot speak; then he cannot think. Then finally the prana withdraws itself into the cosmic prana, and he goes where he is destined to go.
The mantra sastra, therefore, is a great treasure house of wisdom that is bequeathed to us by the great masters; and all students, spiritual seekers, should take to japa. Abstract meditation, nirguna brahma sadhana, may be a great object of aspiration, but we are artharthi, caught by the worldly conditions and circumstances, distracted in many ways socially and personally.
We can be safely guarded and assured that some substantial thing is being done by us by taking to japa sadhana. A systematic routine of it is supposed to bring immediate results in the same way as a diet that we take in a systematic manner gives energy to the body, and if we go on eating in a slipshod manner, at any time we like, in any way, that will not be suitable for the maintenance of health. Discipline means the adherence to a particular method of practice of the japa, such as place, time and circumstance, if it is possible.
In the case of people living in the ashram, for instance, it is certainly possible. They can do japa at a particular place only – in their own rooms, in the temple, or in the Samadhi Shrine hall. Every day the japa will be done in the same place and at the same time. Space-time collocations being very important in an astronomical way, they act upon us. The cyclic way in which nature moves will see that the adherence to space and time will also add to the success of the spiritual practice; and the method which is the circumstance mentioned is also important. We can successfully adhere to the place and the time, no doubt, but it is necessary also to adhere to the method and the mode of operating the mind at that time, with the requisite sankalpa, which in the case of a spiritual seeker should only be blessing, and nothing more or nothing else.
The placement of oneself mentally and psychologically and the maintenance of a particular mood during the japa is the circumstance mentioned. And the same mood must be maintained. One purascharana of a particular mantra is supposed to bring practically a tangible result. A purascharana is the recitation of a mantra in a systematic manner for as many hundred thousand times (lakh of times) as there are letters in a mantra. And this is noted by a disciple when initiation is received. Other disciplines which are of the nature of an accessory such as taking a particular kind of diet, etc., taking bath, etc., may be there, but they are secondary in their nature.
The principle requirement here is the place, time and concentration method, and taking to the puruscharana method and not merely chanting for a few minutes, because the mind will not be able to cooperate with the reciting of the mantra if it is done only for a few minutes. The mind will be apart from the actual chant, and we will be somewhere else. This is the reason why more time is to be devoted to mantra japa, so that the mind may be given an opportunity to collaborate with the actual sound, and the consciousness also will be in back of it.
Thus, we have a vast field of knowledge before us, the mantra sastra, and the mantra japa sadhana, which to me appears as the most potent method of contacting the higher powers – the gods in the heaven, the Supreme Being Himself. Yajnanam japa-yajno’smi (Gita 10.25): “I am myself this great sacrifice called japa sadhana,” says the Almighty Lord.
Hari Om Tat Sat.
Om purnam adah purnam idam purnat purnam udachyate purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavashishyate.
OM shantih shantih shantih