The significance of Sanskrit Mantras AUM or OM and other important Mantras
Mantras came into existence during the Vedic period between 6000 and 10000 BC through great Rishis who had reached the highest levels of spiritual awareness. The most powerful and common Mantra is ॐ transliterated as ‘Aum’ also written as ‘Om’.
Aum is a primordial Mantra and is the sound which originated during the time of creation of the Universe. Western astronomy calls this creation of the Universe ‘The Big Bang’.
The Sanaatana Dharma is based on Nature and on Peace.
Below are two Shanti (Peace) Mantras from The Krishna Yajurveda Taittiriya Upanishad
ॐ सह नाववतु ।
सह नौ भुनक्तु ।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै ।
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om saha nau-avatu |
Saha nau bhunaktu |
Saha veeryam karavaavahai |
Tejasvi naavadheetamastu maa vidvishaavahai |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
Om, may we all be protected
May we all be nourished/ energised
May we all work together with energy
May we all be enlightened and rise to a higher degree of intellect and may there be no hostility (or animosity)
Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.
ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु
मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om sarve bhavantu sukhinah
Sarve santu niraamayaah |
Sarve bhadraanni pashyantu
Maa kashcidduhkha-bhaag-bhavet |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
May all be prosperous and be happy
May all be free from illness.
May all experience upliftment
May no one Suffer.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
‘Ahimsa paramo Dharma’ अहिंसा परमो धर्मः, धर्म हिंसा तथैव च । Non-violence is the highest way of life. Sanaatana Dharma is based on vibrating or rather being in tune with Nature. There is no place for violence, killing, war or anything destructive as per the principles of the Dharma, except for the purpose of upholding Dharma. अहिंसा परमो धर्मः Non-violence is the highest way of life. Sanaatana Dharma is based on vibrating or rather being in tune with Nature.
Indian classical music is based on the tenets of the Sanaatana Dharma or the ‘Eternal way of life’. The Vedas are composed on the ‘Saptasvara’ or seven musical notes.
Aum or Om is the universal Mantra and the original sound of the universe. ‘Aum’ is set to 136.1 Hz (Hz = Hertz is the number of oscillations per second) based on the A432 scale. Modern Western Music is set to A440. This means that the ‘A’ note after Middle ‘C’ has a frequency of 440 Hz.
The early 1930s was a time when the science of Psychology was being used to inject narcissism, aggression, mass hysteria, hatred, etc. into the common man’s mind. Sigmund Freud’s theories were being experimented and practised by the Nazis with the aim of developing new mind control techniques.
In the year 1939, under the instructions of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propoganda Minister, the A1 was changed from 432 Hz to 440 Hz.
The natural pitch 432 Hz is the tone frequency that resonates with people, nature and the universe in harmony. Music in 432 Hz has a highly relaxing and healing effect on humans which is easily noticeable. As it resonates with the sound of the earth’s frequency, it awakens our ‘Heart Chakra’ or the ‘Anahata Chakra’ and connects the heart with the universe.
The time taken by the earth to travel once around the sun is 365.25243600 days. Therefore 365.25243600 days x 86400 seconds per day = 31,557,810 seconds per year. The frequency of the year measured in cycles per second would be 1 year/ 31,557,810 which is an extremely low frequency. We double that extremely low frequency 32 times or rather increase 32 octaves and we arrive at 136.10 Hz. This is the frequency of the ‘Aum’ tuning fork and is the same as Shadjama, Shadja or Sa in Indian classical music. Shadjama is the first key of the octave.
The earth vibrates in one Earth Year in the 32nd octave to C # (C sharp of modern Western Music based on A440) at 136.1 Hz.The frequency of the Earth Year results from the Earth’s vibration caused by the time the Earth takes to go once aroud the Sun. Indian classical music structured on the belief that the ‘Aum’ is the everlasting sound. The C# (C sharp) corresponds to the natural pitch in India and it is to this frequency that a Sitar for example, is tuned. Indian classical music is based on 136.1 Hz as Shadjama or the first key of the octave. Following this basic tone in its natural tone sequence, we arrive at the note A1 which equals 432 Hz.
“मननात् त्रायते इति मन्त्रः॥ “Mananaat trayate iti mantraḥ”. This means “A Mantra is something which protects us from thinking”. Sounds strange? Protects us from thinking?
Here is the explanation:
मनन ‘Manan’ means ‘thinking’. The suffix ‘aat’ means indicates ’from’. दूरात् ‘dooraat’ means ‘from a distance’.
Well, a Mantra does ‘protect’ us from thinking because, while reciting it, we have total focus and we do NOT think about anything else! So there is nothing strange about it. A Mantra does protect us from thinking unnecessary things while trying to concentrate.
त्रायते ‘traayate’ – save, protect or defend.
Here is an example of another usage of the word ‘iti’ – इति आदित्यहृदयम् मन्त्रस्य॥ ‘Iti Aaditya Hrudayam Mantrasya’ ‘This IS Aditya Hrudayam Mantra’
We can deduce from the above explanation that a Mantra is something that helps us focus.
A Mantra can be a syllable, a word, a phrase, a quatrain, etc. Mantras are recited, sung, repeated aloud or even said in the mind. The Sanskrit term ‘Mantra’ can also be interpreted as ‘what the mind does’ or also ‘a method of regulating the mind’. When we utter words they cause physical vibrations. Each and every word we say, carries energy. While reciting Mantras, the frequency of our mental vibration increases to such an extent that it coincides with that of Mother Nature’s. Different aspects added to the recitation of Mantras such as rhythm and music add more depth and multiply the effects of reciting them. Even thoughts vibrate at a very high frequency. Since thousands of years, great sages who had mastered Mantras, chanted them in order to enter higher mental and spiritual planes.
The sounds made by sea waves or the ripple sounds created by the water in a stream or in a rivulet, have a soothing effect even on the most depressed and sad person’s mind. It takes the person to a different state of mind. Listening to the chirping of birds or the cooing of cuckoos makes people happy. The sound of a roaring thunder or that of the wind in very stormy weather can scare people. Sounds have a great effect on the way people think and on their mental state. Reciting Mantras in Sanskrit and repeating them takes people into a trancelike state and to a much higher level of spiritual awareness.
Understanding what Mantras mean and pronouncing them correctly are very important. They have a direct effect on the mind and on the central nervous system. This causes either a soothing feeling or a powerful one, depending on the Mantra, tone and the speed at which it is recited. There are Mantras that can relieve people of physical pain almost instantaneously. The faith in Mantras add to the power that we can derive out of them.
Sanskrit Mantras are not just random or whimsically written verses but they are stunningly amazing. Mantras are composed of different types of Chandas or metres and metrical units.
Gayatri : 3 paadas of 8 syllables containing 24 syllables in each stanza.
Ushnuk : 4 paadas of 7 syllables containing 28 syllables in each stanza.
Anustup : 4 paadas of 8 syllables containing 32 syllables in each stanza.
Brihati : 4 paadas (8 + 8 + 12 + 8) containing 36 syllables in each stanza.
Pankti : 4 paadas (sometimes 5 padas) containing 40 syllables in each stanza.
Tristubh : 4 paadas of 11 syllables containing 44 syllabes in each stanza
Jagati : 4 paadas of 12 syllables containing 48 syllables in each stanza
The Gayatri Mantra is composed in the Gayatri metre which has three verses with 8 syllables each. The first line actually has 7 syllables but in order to achieve metrical balance, the word ‘varenyam’ which has three syllables is pronounced as ‘varen-I-yam’ which has four syllables thus giving the line 8 syllables.
ॐ भूर्भुवः॒ स्वः ।
ॐ तत्स॑वितुर्वरे॑णियं(तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं) ।
भ॒र्गो॑ दे॒वस्य॑ धीमहि ।
धियो॒ यो नः॑ प्रचो॒दया॑त्
Oṃ bhoor bhuvaḥ svaḥ
Om tat savitur vareṇ(I)yaṃ
bhargo devasya dheemahi
dhiyo yo naḥ prachodayaat
The Gayatri Mantra finds a mention even in the Vibhuti Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 10:35
बृहत्साम तथा साम्नां गायत्री छन्दसामहम् ।
मासानां मार्गशीर्षोऽहमृतूनां कुसुमाकरः॥35॥
brhat-saama tathaa saamnaam
maasaanaam maarga sheershoh ‘ham
Of the Vedic hymns I am the Brihat Saama, of the metres I am the Gaayatri, of months I am Maargashirsha (The 9th lunar month corresponding to November and December), of seasons I am spring.
The most common metre is the ‘Anushtup Chanda’ अनुष्टुप्छन्दः . Verses composed in the Anushtup Chanda are quatrains. Each stanza has four lines consisting of 8 syllables each. Every quatrain in Anushtup Chanda has 32 syllables. The entire Valmiki Ramayana and the Mahabharata are composed in Anusthup Chanda.
The birth of the Anushtup Chanda is said to have occured as follows:
Krauncha was one of the five birds featuring in Ramayana. The five birds were Kakabhushundi (the sage-crow), Sampati (the vulture – brother of Jatayu), Krauncha (the crane), Garuda (the eagle) and Jataayu (the vulture)
A hunter shot dead Krauncha the male crane who was courting his female. The Sage Valmiki seeing the female crane crying and going around her dead mate, was enraged and he screamed out at the hunter a curse in verse. Just after he uttered it, Sage Valmiki realised that the curse that he had uttered had an organised metre. It was the sad death of Krauncha the crane that inspired Sage Valmiki to compose the over 24000 verses of Valmiki Ramayana in Anushtup Chanda.
Examples of verses in Anushtup Chanda:
Shreemad Bhagavad Gita 1:1
समवेता युयुत्सवः |
किमकुर्वत सञ्जय ||१-१||
maamakah paandavas chaiva
kim akurvata sanjayaa
Aditya Hridayam (Valmiki Ramayana – Yuddha Kaanda, Chapter 106)
आदित्यहृदयं पुण्यं सर्वशत्रुविनाशनम्।
जयावहं जपेन्नित्यम् अक्षय्यं परमं शिवम्॥ ४॥
aadityahrudayam punnyam sarvashatruvinaashanam
jayaavaham japennityam akshayyam paramam shivam .. 4 ..
Chanting of Mantras regularly brings about great clarity in the mind. It makes us feel stronger and confident and gives us the feeling of being in tune with Nature. Our subconscious mind controls all involuntary actions in our body such as our heart beat, breathing rate, digestive system, etc. The chanting of powerful Mantras energises our subconscious mind. This ensures that all systems function well and good health is maintained. It also systematically realises one by one, the dreams and aspirations of the person chanting them with devotion and total faith. Regular chanting of Mantras ensures peace of mind and the unexplainably amazing feeling of being one with Nature.
The easiest way to learn Mantras are by studying the metre of the Mantra, by first learning to pronounce each syllable separately and then connecting them in groups of three, four or even six syllables. These groups of three to six syllables can be treated as individual long words and memorised. However, it is important to learn Mantras under the guidance of a knowledgeable teacher. When beginning the Mantra course, it would be advisable to begin with the following Guru Mantra:
गुरुर ब्रह्मा गुरुर विष्णु गुरु देवो महेश्वरः
गुरु साक्षात परब्रह्म तस्मै श्री गुरवे नमः
Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnuhu
Guru Devo Maheswaraha
Guru Saakshaat Parabhrahma
Tasmai Sri Gurave Namaha
Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu,
Guru is Maheshwara (Shiva),
Guru is the Supreme Self Itself
Prostration unto the Guru
The Sanaatana Dharma is the only philosophy where the Guru is accorded the status of the Supreme Self Itself. This is because all that we ‘know’ comes from a Guru. The Guru could be be the Atma Guru or the Guru within or anyone like a school teacher, a college professor, a neighbour, the spouse, a child that tells us something we didn’t know or even someone whom we meet on the street who guides us to our destination. All that we claim to know did come from some external source and that external source is Guru. Some ask, how one could treat a human being as God. Why not? This problem arises when people consider God to be a separate entity or individual. God is the entire system and our knowledge is Consciousness. Even a Nobel Laurate’s mind is of no use when he or she is asleep! He or she is ‘intelligent’ only when awake or rather, conscious. Is there a difference in the ways an intelligent and unintelligent person sleeps? While asleep, both of them are the same as far as being useless to others is concerned! No difference! Therefore, it is the consciousness or knowledge and this knowledge comes from a Guru and not from some voice we hear from the skies. But for my wonderful primary school teachers, I wouldn’t have been able to write this article at all. I humbly bow before my Teachers or Gurus and express my deepest gratitude to them.
I sincerely thank Bhagawan Krishna for His Divine Grace.
वसुदेव-सुतं देवं कंस-चाणूर-मर्दनम् |
देवकी-परमानन्दं कृष्णं वन्दे जगद्गुरुम् ||
vasudeva-sutam devam kamsa-chaanNoora-mardanam |
devakee-paramaanandam krshnam vande jagad-gurum ||
To the son of Vasudeva, to the God, to the destroyer of Kamsa and ChaaNoora (representing evil) |
To the utter bliss of DevakI, to Krshna, praise, to the Universal Guru ||
One of the simplest yet most powerful Mantra which also has other uses such as that of a form of greeting, taking leave, expressing gratitude or a sigh of relief is Jai Shri Krishna जय श्री कृष्ण or जय श्री कृष्णा | However, some people are lazy to utter these four syllables contained in three words and simply say ‘JSK’! It’s like saying ‘ADHM’ ‘ADHM’ ‘ADHM’ when asked to chant the Aditya Hridayam Mantra three times! How senseless it is to shorten one of the the most amazing Mantras!
Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavanthu
May the world (Lokah also means people) be happy
Jai Shree Krishna