We have all experienced the power of the right music at the right moment in our lives, at least at some point or the other. Maybe you were feeling a little down, and then you heard some music that suddenly changed your mood for the better.
Certain sounds can be so soothing, like the flowing water in a mountain stream, or the waves slowly washing against the shore, while other sounds make us feel uncomfortable, even physically, like when someone pulls their nails across a blackboard.
Thousands of years ago, the Rishis or sages of the Vedic Tradition developed an entire science based on this principle. Going deep into meditation, they were able to perceive and realize which sounds and vibrations had which specific and definite effects on our body, mind and the surroundings. The ancient knowledge of how to use different sounds effectively for a wide range of purposes is known as Mantra Shaastra or the Science of Mantras.
The Rishis were called ‘mantra drashta’, which means ‘the ones who perceived the mantras’. They did not create the mantras. With their refined consciousness and entering into deep meditation, they were able to perceive these vibrations in Creation, the sounds connected to them, and their specific effects. It was in a way similar to Newton ‘perceiving’ the law of gravity and how it works. He did not create gravity, or its law, as it had always been there. Yet at that moment his consciousness was so clear, that he was able to not just perceive the apple falling from the tree, but also the principle of Creation that caused the apple to fall. Over time, many Rishis thus downloaded the knowledge of mantras and vibrations that pervade the subtler dimensions of our world.
And it was using this principle, of using powerful vibrations, that the ancient Rishis were not only able to influence, alter and balance the world around them, but even the world inside of them. For mantras also have a profound effect on our mind, emotions, and the more subtle layers of our existence. This is why ‘mantra’ is defined in the scriptures as ‘mananaat traayate iti mantra’, which means ‘mantra is that which allows us to transcend the mind’. Mantras chanted in the proper manner allow us to use the power of consciousness to invoke and enhance certain vibrations or energies in our body, mind and day-to-day life.
It is said that every mantra is connected to a specific Devata or cosmic energy. The Sanskrit word Devata is often translated as god, but this is not to be confused with The God. The ancient scriptures describe a range of gods and goddesses, so using a less confusing translation for Devatas we could call them cosmic energies. These energies are all considered manifestations or representations of the various aspects of and powers inherent in Consciousness and Creation, just like how the different colours of light are inherent in the spectrum of sunlight. This is also why the statement that the Vedic tradition recognizes or worships millions of gods is not entirely correct. It rather recognizes the One Consciousness or Divinity in all its different manifestations or qualities.
The Devata associated with a mantra is, therefore, the quality or power of Consciousness that is invoked or enhanced by that mantra. This is why Devatas are said to have a ‘mantra sharira’, which means ‘a body made of mantra’. The concept of describing and depicting different Devatas in a humanlike form, and making statues, like the elephant-headed Ganesha for example, started only in later times. The statues or images are symbolic, visually depicting the various aspects or qualities of that energy or vibration, to make it easier for people to relate to something as abstract as unseen energy.
Learning more about mantras is an experiential journey, and when undertaken under the guidance of a master, it can provide you with practical tools to heal and energize your body, balance your emotions, and transcend the mind, to experience higher states of consciousness.
Take part in Swami Purnachaitanya's workshop 'Power of Mantra Yoga & Alchemy of Consciousness' on Monday 25th May at 10:30 - 12:30 - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/100543698910