The power of Mantras and Yantras

By: The Magic of Gayatri, Chandra-Shekar.

The word ‘mantra’ is Sanskrit and it means sacred syllable(s) or sacred word(s). Across the literature, mantras are described as vibrational formulas that are recited silently within, spoken, or sung outwardly. There are mantras in Sanskrit as well as in many other Asian languages.  The word OM is a mantra unto itself and perhaps the most well-known of them all.

Indigenous tribes around the globe have been known to formulate sacred syllables and words. Shamans and holy men have used these for centuries in Native American cultures as did the Polynesian people, the Australian aborigines and the Mayans and Incas.

A mantra is a precise sound, a frequency that conveys a directive into our sub-consciousness.  Mantras are invoked towards the delivery of very specific results and are repeated a certain number of times. These specific results could include healing, fertility, the creation of abundance, etc.  Mantras are used to open the heart and the mind and to aid in accessing and entering into a state of greater awareness.  They are perfect tools for reaching a meditative state.

Some mantras may be prayer while others can be powerful and invoke commands or demands.

Because mantras are precise sound vibrations that produce geometric patterns, it is imperative that they be recited correctly with the appropriate intonation and pronunciation.

The geometry or visual pattern of a sound vibration containing a particular information code is called a ‘yantra’. A yantra is a sacred diagram that transmits subtle information of mystical significance to the one who looks at it. Like a mantra, each yantra embodies a very particular meaning, opening inner awareness and receptivity to the information that the yantra expresses.  Very often, Buddhist monks and other spiritual practitioners focus on a yantra or mandala while meditating.

The Gayatri Yantra is specific to the Gayatri Mantra and transmits a subtle language encoded in the Gayatri’s potential. Every curve, every line and even the number of lines convey meaning. While meditating and chanting the Gayatri Mantra, it can be useful to the practitioner to have the Gayatri Yantra in front as a point of focus.

Mantras and their impact on our mind

The human mind has often been defined as our “brains in action”.

For thousands of years, yogis have stressed the value of chanting mantra in stabilizing and clearing the mind, leading one to deeper spiritual awakening and awareness. Modern neuroscience is now beginning to discover the relationship between the way words are used and the impact on the functioning of the mind.

When we hear, speak, chant or even think a mantra, the frontal lobes of our brain “light up” and the nerve endings fire up. There is increased flow of oxygen and blood. These frontal lobes are responsible for thought, learning, perception, and emotion.

Mantra, meditation, and contemplation are all tools that facilitate this higher functioning of the frontal lobes. Spiritual teachers often recommend focusing one’s attention while chanting or meditating on this frontal part of the brain as well, placing attention on the “ajna chakra, the meridian accessed through the space between the eyebrows, also called the “third eye”.  I have found that my own efforts at reaching a true meditative state become easier when applying this approach.  As you meditate, remember to let the tip of your tongue touch the upper part of your mouth just behind your upper teeth in order to connect the meridians.

The power of 108

Traditionally, the Gayatri mantra is recited or chanted 108 times on three occasions daily – at sunrise, at midday and at dusk, when the sun is setting.

It can be repeated in totals of 108, 1,008, 10,008, etc.

When we repeat the Gayatri mantra three times over the day, we are basically affirming the concept of the trinity of life – birth, growth, death.

A japa mala (prayer beads), having 108 beads, is often used during the chanting of the mantra.

For centuries, the number 108 has had relevance in Hinduism, Buddhism and in yoga and dharma related spiritual practices.  Countless explanations have been given to provide significance to the number 108.  Here are a few:

The ancient Indians were excellent mathematicians and 108 may be the product of a precise mathematical operation (e.g. 1 power 1 x 2 power 2 x 3 power 3 = 108) which was thought to have special numerological significance.

There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, Shiva and Shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.

On the Sri Yantra, there are marmas (intersections) where three lines intersect, and there are 54 such intersections. Each intersections has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti qualities. 54 x 2 equals 108. Thus, there are 108 points that define the Sri Yantra as well as the human body.

9 times 12 is 108. Both of these numbers have been said to have spiritual significance in many ancient traditions.

The chakras, our energy centers, are the intersections of energy lines, and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra. One of them, Sushumna, leads to the crown chakra, and is said to be the path to Self-realization.

In vedic astrology there are 12 constellations, and 9 arc segments called namshas or chandrakalas. 9 times 12 equals 108. Chandra is moon, and kalas are the divisions within a whole.

In 108, 1 stands for God or higher Truth, 0 stands for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and 8 stands for infinity or eternity.

It is said that Atman, the human soul or center goes through 108 stages on its journey.

There are 108 forms of dance in the Indian tradition of Bharatanatyam.

There are 108 Upanishads according to the Muktikopanishad.

Thanks to: The Magic Of Gayatri

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Ganesha Chaturthi

Ganesha Chaturthi

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Ganesha Chaturthi, the great Ganesha festival, also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’ is celebrated by Hindus around the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is observed during the Hindu month of Bhadra (mid-August to mid-September) and the grandest and most elaborate of them, especially in the western India state of Maharashtra, lasts for 10 days, ending on the day of ‘Ananta Chaturdashi’.

The Grand Celebration

A life-like clay model of Lord Ganesha is made 2-3 months prior to the day of Ganesh Chaturthi. The size of this idol may vary from 3/4th of an inch to over 25 feet.

On the day of the festival, it is placed on raised platforms in homes or in elaborately decorated outdoor tents for people to view and pay their homage. The priest, usually clad in red silk dhoti and shawl, then invokes life into the idol amidst the chanting of mantras. This ritual is called ‘pranapratishhtha’. After this the ‘shhodashopachara’ (16 ways of paying tribute) follows. Coconut, jaggery, 21 ‘modakas’ (rice flour preparation), 21 ‘durva’ (trefoil) blades and red flowers are offered. The idol is anointed with red unguent or sandal paste (rakta chandan). Throughout the ceremony, Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda and Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.

For 10 days, from Bhadrapad Shudh Chaturthi to the Ananta Chaturdashi, Ganesha is worshipped. On the 11th day, the image is taken through the streets in a procession accompanied with dancing, singing, to be immersed in a river or the sea symbolizing a ritual see-off of the Lord in his journey towards his abode in Kailash while taking away with him the misfortunes of all man. All join in this final procession shouting “Ganapathi Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya” (O father Ganesha, come again early next year). After the final offering of coconuts, flowers and camphor is made, people carry the idol to the river to immerse it.

The whole community comes to worship Ganesha in beautifully done tents. These also serve as the venue for free medical checkup, blood donation camps, charity for the poor, dramatic performances, films, devotional songs, etc. during the days of the festival.

Swami Sivananda Recommends
On the Ganesh Chaturthi day, meditate on the stories connected with Lord Ganesha early in the morning, during the Brahmamuhurta period. Then, after taking a bath, go to the temple and do the prayers of Lord Ganesha. Offer Him some coconut and sweet pudding. Pray with faith and devotion that He may remove all the obstacles that you experience on the spiritual path. Worship Him at home, too. You can get the assistance of a pundit. Have an image of Lord Ganesha in your house. Feel His Presence in it.

Don’t forget not to look at the moon on that day; remember that it behaved unbecomingly towards the Lord. This really means avoid the company of all those who have no faith in God, and who deride God, your Guru and religion, from this very day.

Take fresh spiritual resolves and pray to Lord Ganesha for inner spiritual strength to attain success in all your undertakings.

May the blessings of Sri Ganesha be upon you all! May He remove all the obstacles that stand in your spiritual path! May He bestow on you all material prosperity as well as liberation!

With thanks to: Mr. Subhamoy Das,  About.com – Hinduism

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