There are often complaints which come in from time to time to the Masters.
They include: ‘I have seen very little benefit from this mantra,’ or ‘I have been chanting for a long time and yet I still have these problems,’ etc.
There are two cardinal rules when it comes to mantras:
- Benefits are proportional to effort.
- Karma is the greatest influence on your success.
Benefits vs. effort
The idea has been put forward a number of times on this blog.
If you are not feeling that you are advancing, then redouble your efforts – literally! Start afresh from an auspicious day and double the amount of times you are chanting.
If time is really a constraint, then redouble your concentration over the allocated time for meditation. A greater level of intensity of your prayer will deliver benefits more quickly than japa for the sake of it.
That’s not to say japa without the emotion behind it will not help – the mantra itself will help you either by directing someone to teach you how to chant it or to explain where you are going wrong in your efforts. Either way, stick with it for a proper period before considering another route!
Once the benefits start to flow, you should steadily increase your japa to see a steep improvement in your life.
The Law of Karma
Karma is called a Law of the Universe for a reason: it is immutable. One must understand that the effects of past actions will inevitably catch up with you in one form or another.
However, God has given us a powerful method to cope with this: free will. Current and future actions also accrue positive Karma, which can be used to offset the negative and create beneficial future events for ourselves.
The offset of bad karma is key. One can steadily erode (but not completing diminish) the negative effects of karma through mantras. The most general prayers (often also the simplest) offering prostrations to the highest deities in the Hindu pantheon will have the greatest effect.
If you find you are making little progress in your sadhanas, then undertake some karma dissolving sadhana immediately before starting a new anusthan or puruscharan.
If all else fails, there is no harm or shame in considering other options. Some souls are not due to take the path of mantra japa and it is more appropriate for them to follow other paths of Yoga.
It is extremely difficult for anyone to be able to judge who should move on and when. That is for you with the help of your Guru to make such a decision. However, I would expect an aspirant to try any one method for a number of years before taking such a step.
The Most Famous 5-syllables you know
The Panchakshari mantra means the five syllable mantra. It is well known to all as Nama Shivaya. The Om is added to the beginning of most mantras for chanting.
It translates to I prostrate before Auspiciousness. It occurs in the very heart of the Rudraprasna sloka, in the middle of the Krishna Yajur Veda. Symbolically, it is therefore the essence of the entire Veda.
The deeper meanings
Whilst apparently conveying a simple concept, the tiny mantra is actually the product of thousands of years of meditation by the ancient Rishis (holy seers). The syllables are packed with power and the mantra in entirety is known as a bija (or primordial sound) itself.
An offering of the meanings from Shivaya Subramanya Swami are below:
- Na – corresponds to the Lord’s maya (or concealing power)
- Ma – the entire universe
- Shi – short for Shiva
- Va – the Lord’s ability to reveal the workings of the universe
- Ya – the supreme soul
- Na – Earth
- Ma – Water
- Shi – Fire
- Va – Air
- Ya – Ether or space
The mantra can:
- Dissolve your bad karma
- Enlighten you
- Invites auspiciousness into your life
- Generate immense spiritual power
No particular initiation is needed of this mantra, but some explanation from a Guru is always beneficial in providing food for contemplation – as touched upon above.
“Om Tatpurusaya vidmahe,
Tanno Rudrah pracodayaat”
We know that being,
We meditate on the Supreme God,
May Lord Rudra enlighten us.
- Removes your bad karma
- Removes fear of death, humiliation, loss of reputation and other losses
- Helps protect and improve your health; Shiva is known as the great healer
- Curbs the malefic effects of the Sun (Surya) – Shiva is the Ruling Deity
This post continues from the introduction – click here to read it.
Below are the Vedic mantras for each of the Navagrahas (9 planets). Subsequent posts will go through each of the planets in turn and provide information on the attributes and specific Gayatri mantras of each.
A word of caution:
Generally, it is unwise to pray to specific planets to strengthen their influence in your horoscope without knowing the repercussions. In certain situations, it may even be beneficial that they remain weak.
I encourage any interested party to contact a reputable astrologer to get an idea of where you may need help.
Remember: The specific advice given to any one person is rarely appropriate for anyone else to follow and there are very few general conditions under which everyone should to pray directly to a planet.
However, there is a far safer method of gaining positive planetary influence on your life – pray to their controlling deity. We will cover these in the posts to come.
Surya – Sun
Japakusuma Samkaasham Kashyapeyam Mahadhyuthim
Tamorim Sarva Paapagnam Pranathosmi Divakaram
Chandra – Moon
Dadhishamkha tusharaabham ksheero daarnava sambhavam
Namami Shashinam Somam Shambor Mukuta Bhooshanam
Mangal/Bauma/Angaraka/Kuja – Mars
Dharaneegarbha Sambootham Vidhyadh Kaanthi Samaprabham
Kumaaram Shakthihastham Cha Mangalam Pranamaamyaham
Budha – Mercury
Priyam Gukaalikashyamam Rupenaam prathimam Budham
Saumyam Saumya gunor petham tham Budham pranamaamyaham
Brihaspathi/Guru – Jupiter
Devaanaam cha Hrisheenaam cha Gurum kaanchana Sannibham
Buddhibhootam trilokesham tham namaami Brihaspathim
Shukra – Venus
Himakundha Mrinaalabham Daithyaanam Paramam gurum
Sarvashaastra pravatkaaram Bhaargavam pranamaamyaham
Sani – Saturn
Neelaamjana Samaabhaasam Raviputram Yamagrajam
Chchaaya maarthanda samboothm tham namaami Shanishwaram
Rahu – Solar Node
Ardhakaayam mahaveeryam chandradithya vimardhanam
Sinhigaagarbha sambootham tham raahum pranamamyaham
Ketu – Lunar Node
Palashapushpa sankasham taaragagraha masthakam
Raudram raudrathmakamkhoram tham kethum pranamamhyaham
In the next post, we will look at the attributes and mantras to Surya.
Coming Soon: Part 3
The 9 powerful forces in astrology
If you believe in and follow Hindu astrology, the Navagrahas (9 ‘planets’ or celestial bodies) are the primary rulers of your pre-destiny. They are the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Rahu and Ketu).
As a quick word of explanation – the concept of Rahu and Ketu is the stuff of many textbooks in astrology, but in a nutshell, they are nodes of the Sun and Moons’ respective orbits. In mythology, they are respectively considered the head and body of a demon named Rahu, who by his guile ended up consuming the nectar of immortality along with the rest of the Devas.
The essence of Eastern astrology is that the celestial bodies’ positioning at the exact moment of your birth (as arranged on your birth chart) reflect your karma or pre-destiny for this lifetime.
There is Destiny but also free will!
You need not despair that our lives are purely at the mercy of destiny; there is also free will!
You may think this is a strange dichotomy, but once explained, the concept makes perfect sense: the actions of your past lives (karma) drives your pre-destiny – ie the big events and turning points in your life which will inevitably occur; but your RESPONSE to these events is entirely under your own control, and therein lies your free will. Of course events may be structured so they leave you little choice – but there always is one.
The Window when the Door has closed
There is a saying: “When God closes a door, he also opens a window”. This means that although some difficult events in your life must come to pass, there is usually a silver lining (eg character development through hardship) – or way out of it with some sacrifice (eg sacrifice your dignity, but save your life). This may sound very theoretical, but examples will be given going forward.
So how can mantra yoga help??
Cutting to the chase, there are two ways to try and bend the arrow of fate with mantra yoga.
- The first, is to dissolve your bad karma through good deeds and prayer.
- The second is to pray directly to the planets for their favour in future events.
This series will look at each of the planets in turn and highlight the benefits of prayer to them, powerful relevant mantras and auspicious timings.
Navaratri is over, what next?
Vijayadasami is related to both the victory of the Goddess Durga and the victory of Lord Rama – the incarnation of Vishnu – over Ravana, the 10 headed demon king of Ancient Lanka.
There is a wealth of literature and posts on Rama and the Ramayana out there so let’s skip over the explanation for now.
Ravana had how many heads…?!
- Kama vasana (Lust)
- Krodha (Anger)
- Moha (delusion)
- Lobha (Greed)
- Mada (Over Pride)
- Matsara (Jealousy)
- Manas (Mind)
- Buddhi (Intellect)
- Chitta (will)
- Ahankara (Ego).
Sounds too simple!
It sounds so simple its hard to believe. But the reality is the name “Rama” was the product of 1000s of years of meditation and intense tapas (spiritual penance) by the Rishis of yore before Ramachandra (the actual King and central protagonist of the Ramayana) came to have the name.
One reason why it holds such power is because it is composed of two primal sounds:
- “Ra” – from the Maha Mantra to Vishnu – Om Namo NaRAyanaya. Note that this is incidentally the name of the Egyptians’ Sun God.
- “Ma” – from the Maha Mantra to Shiva – Om NaMA Shivaya
Thus the compression of the mantras of two of the most powerful deities in the Hindu pantheon into one word gives it unbelievable power.
Why write the mantra?
Writing a mantra has been found to have more power than chanting for many people. There are a variety of reasons, such as: the mantra embeds itself in your subconscious mind; it prevents the beginner from fidgeting by concentrating thought and action on one purpose; it provides a finite number of repetitions and a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment at the end when one looks over their sadhana.
- Rids yourself of negative qualities by meditating on the perfection of Rama and the ruin of Ravana
- Builds a strong, courageous and righteous character
- Burns negative Karma given the mantra’s power is drawn from Shiva and Narayana themselves
- I have noted powerful benefits to writing Rama nama in conjunction with the Vishnu Sahasranama and the Hanuman Chalisa. Of course everyone is differently inclined and affected by mantras – you should try it and see if it works for you.
- Links to the audio for these mantras and stotras can be accessed by clicking here.
Action is true Power
What is power to you? Is it physical or political prowess? The ability of a musician to hold a concert hall full of people spell-bound? The authority of a nation’s leader?
The dictionary definition is beautifully succicnt:
“Power: The ability to act.”
This is the definition we will work with.
Power has two halves
If power is the ability to act, is it not sufficient to ‘act powerful’ to get your way? Of course, things are never so simple. The prospect (or threat) of action, must be backed by something tangible. For example, in war, this is an army or arsenal of weaponry, for politicians, this is making good on the promises from their election campaigns, for musicians, its that hit single that lingers in the charts.
How is this relevant to the ordinary person?
We have spoken in metaphors thus far, but getting to the point, the idea to be conveyed is that: action is critical to make sure our dreams become reality.
A person may think they know what to do to achieve their dreams, make detailed plans and talk about their ideas to everyone, but are poor in execution: they just dont do the things that are required to get them there!
A great example is the smoker. He wants to stop smoking. Has the support of his friends and family, feels he must, lest he fall victim to lung cancer, knows it is bad for him, has purchased nicotine patches, but refuses to try to stop smoking!
What is within the realms of possibility is simply theory until knowledge is applied.
How is this relevant to mantra and prayer?
There is theory and practice in both mantra and prayer, just like in the real life example described above.
For mental ability, will power, intelligence and foresight, all of us pray to the great Ganesha. And our prayers will undoubtedly be fruitful in enhancing our abilities in these regards. Click here for the Ganesha Gayatri Mantra.
But when it comes to execution and carrying out our thoughts with actions, one must pray to Lord Skanda, the brother of Ganesha and the God of War, General of Heaven’s Armies and Patron of Marriage and Child Birth. He is also called: Muruga, Kartikeya, Kumara, Saravanabhava and Shanmukha.
Don’t just be a person of theory
How many times have we caught our friends lying to themselves about what is realistic? How many people we know are ‘all talk’ and no action? Are we not guilty of procrastination?
Resolve to act. Here is a powerful mantra to help energise and enthuse you into action!
“Om Sarabhavaya Namaha”
“Prostrations to Saravanabhava”
The number 6 is very auspicious to Skanda. Try to chant the mantra in multiples of 6. Tuesday is the best day to pray to Skanda.
- Energy, enthusiasm and vigour
- Hastens marriage
- Increases your chances of being blessed with children
- Lessens enemies
- Nullifies the malefic effects of Mars
Mantra Detox! Part Trois.
In my prior posts on performing a spiritual detox with mantras, we established a theoretical framework as:
- Increase discipline and curb one’s desire for excess;
- Burn negative karma;
- Build character and Bhakti.
The first step was covered in the prior post as pursuing the blessings of Ganesha and Rama; the second was to pray to your chosen deity, or alternatively, use the Gayatri mantra to effect a karma burn.
Building character and Bhakti
What is Bhakti? Many have written excellent articles and deep theses on such a broad topic. For the purposes for simplicity, we can take it to mean spiritual devotion. How is this developed? One can say that Bhakti is the third step of spritual advancement; the prior two being intellectual introspection and study (Jnana), and physical preparation (the well known concept of Yoga).
One method I have previously highlighted is prayer to the ultimate Bhakta – Hanuman (click here). To flesh out the detail, however, a classical point of reference is the 11 point step-by-step method revealed by Sri Ramanuja, the well-known Rishi, outlined below:
- Abhyasa or practice of continuous thinking of God;
- Viveka or discrimination;
- Vimoka or freedom from everything else and longing for God;
- Satyam or truthfulness;
- Arjavam or straightforwardness;
- Kriya or doing good to others;
- Kalyana or wishing well-being to all;
- Daya or compassion;
- Ahimsa or non-injury;
- Dana or charity; and
- Anavasada or cheerfulness and optimism.
Each step is a vast ocean of explanation unto itself; for the purposes of brevity, I will leave the reader to pursue his/her own research.
Mantras for Effecting the Transformation of Character
Character is one again Hanuman’s strong point (click here for prior post). There are other options, however, for example through the grace of Lakshmi. Lakshmi is a goddess traditionally associated with material wealth. Yet wealth does not stop at materiality; it subtends far further into the wealth of knowledge, wisdom, ability and of course, wealth of character. For what is the worth of wealth without the wisdom to spend it?
With these broad strokes one should be able to establish a firm foundation for development along the spiritual path once the poison of prior negative karmas and old useless thought patterns are shed.
Future posts will aim to elaborate on these points in more detail.
Comments and feedback are welcome. Follow me on Twitter @MantraYogi.
This is the second part of a multi-post article; click here for the first part.
Mantra Detox! Part Deux.
In my prior post on performing a spiritual detox with mantras, we established a theoretical framework as:
- Increase discipline and curb one’s desire for excess;
- Burn negative karma;
- Build character and Bhakti.
The first step was covered in the prior post as pursuing the blessings of Ganesha and Rama.
Burning Karma – the root cause of pre-destiny
For the second step, we look into how to remove the burden of Karma. Karma is a well known concept in both the Eastern and Western schools of thought. In the east, its specified as the multi-birth repercussions of actions in your past lives. In the West, it can be simplified to: “what goes around, comes around”.
Why is this important? An enlightened master once told me that bad karma puts you on the downward slope toward difficulty and pain. Your positive actions and willpower can help you resist gravity and prevent yourself from rolling down the hill; but it takes twice as much effort to move up the hill. In essence, removing the burden of negative karma, puts you back on a level playing ground to allow you to freely move toward your personal goals.
So let’s deal with it! Broadly speaking, one may say any good deed helps you burn karma (this idea is loosely what is known as Karma Yoga). An equally effective technology is Japa Yoga – the practise of chanting mantra – which we will deal with here.
Mantras to burn Karma
The process in itself is simple: choose a mantra and burn that Karma! The grace of any deity will ultimately allow you to achieve this. But some mantras are more effective than others for the simple reason that some deities are more powerful than others and some mantras are more powerful than others.
In this context, why not aim for the best? The two most powerful mantras from the Veda are the Gayatri Maha Mantra and the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. Their workings and meanings are complex, but suffice to say, they are well known to be the most universal and power means of destroying negative karma.
Reams have been written on both – a quick internet search will yield the methods, pronunciation and some beautiful commentaries. I will be summarising these soon in later posts.
Next article: Stage 3 – (Re)-building Character and Instilling Bhakti !
Until then, comments and feedback are welcome. Follow me on Twitter @MantraYogi.
Material abundance is not a bad thing…but can easily be abused.
It is undoubted we live in a culture of excess. In the Western world, food, drink, drugs and material possessions are frequently consumed to the point of personal harm. Moreover, the exposure of youngsters and youth to such excess is increasing while role models are clearly lacking.
This is nothing new and I will save you the sermon! But the effect is clear. Consumption in excess causes our self-discipline to wane, selfishness to increase and ultimately causes us to wander from the spiritual path.
For those who want to step back, regain some control over their lives and reduce the excess, I first propose a detox!
What is detox? It is the process of lowering the toxicity of one’s blood through: (1) preventing yourself from introducing more toxins into your system; (2) removing the remaining toxins; (3) introducing positive agents to nourish and strengthen you.
The spiritual aspirant can follow a similar path: (1) increase discipline and curb one’s desire for excess; (2) burn negative karma; (3) build character and Bhakti.
Stage 1 will be addressed in this article; stage 2 and 3 will follow in later posts.
Discipline is freedom
Discipline has many negative connotations in the West, such as tying oneself down to a routine, lacking creativity, and perhaps harsh judgement or treatment for those who cannot conform. However, for those that practise it, (borrowing heavily from Tony Robbins at this point…!) discipline is freedom: it means that when you tell yourself to do something, you have the focus and drive to get it done!
How to we improve our discipline? After millennia of contemplation, the Rishis (Seers, or more broadly, spiritual teachers) have instructed us that stilling our minds is the key first step.
Let’s keep this simple. Ganesha, the Lord of beginnings and the Mind addresses both requirements neatly. Why? Simplistically, Ganesha’s vahana (mount or vehicle) is a rodent. A rodent is fast, unruly, mischievous and difficult to catch – this is a strong metaphor for the human mind. Worship of Ganesha, who has mounted the rodent, is mastery of the mind. See other articles on the symbolism behind the worship of Ganesha and a mantra here. Once the mind is under control, your willpower increases and discipline improves.
What would Jesus do? What would Rama do?
Have you ever seen anyone wearing a bracelet which has the letters: “WWJD?” inscribed on it? I found out a while back that this means: “What Would Jesus Do?”. The point being, whenever one is unsure, seeing the words on your wrist lead you to look to the life of inspirational spiritual teacher for guidance. I am sure that this incredible technology can be used by everyone – not just those of the Christian faith.
So how would one apply such a concept to the Hindu faith? Rama and Hanuman present excellent choices. Whilst Rama is widely recognised by most Hindus to be the Avatar of Vishnu, more generally, he can also be appreciated as the perfect man who followed the idea of Dharma (right conduct) to the letter and embodied its spirit, judging by the way he dealt with ever more difficult decisions throughout the epic Ramayana. Hanuman, in being the greatest bhakta (devotee) of Rama, symbolises the spiritual aspirant in all of us, striving for such perfection. Praying to Hanuman helps us to have the courage to do what we known deep inside is the right thing, and the perfect complement to the worship of Ganesha to this degree. I have just posted a mantra for Hanuman here.
Next article: Stage 2 – Burning Karma!
Until then, comments and feedback are welcome. Follow me on Twitter @MantraYogi.