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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Vishnu

 Who is Vishnu?

Vishnu is the second god in the Hindu triumvirate (orTrimurti). The triumvirate consists of three gods who are responsible for the creation, upkeep and destruction of the world. The other two gods are Brahma and Shiva.

Brahma is the creator of the universe and Shiva is the destroyer. Vishnu is the preserver and protector of the universe.

His role is to return to the earth in troubled times and restore the balance of good and evil. So far, he has been incarnated nine times, but Hindus believe that he will be reincarnated one last time close to the end of this world.

Vishnu’s worshippers, usually called Vaishnava, consider him the greatest god. They regard the other gods as lesser or demi gods. Vaishnava worship only Vishnu. Vishnu monotheism is called Vaishnavism.

 What do the ancient texts say about Vishnu?

In the Rig Veda, which is the holiest of the four Vedas, Vishnu is mentioned numerous times alongside other gods, such as Indra.

He is particularly associated with light and especially with the Sun. In early texts, Vishnu is not included as one of the original seven solar gods (Adityas), but in later texts he is mentioned as leading them.

From this time, Vishnu appears to have gained more prominence, and by the time of the Brahmanas (commentaries of the Vedas), he is regarded as the most important of all gods.

Two of Vishnu’s incarnations, Rama and Krishna, are also the subject of the epic stories Ramayana and Mahabharata, respectively.

 What does Vishnu look like?

Vishnu is represented with a human body, often with blue coloured skin and with four arms. His hands always carry four objects in them, representing the things he is responsible for. The objects symbolise many more meanings than are presented here:

  •     The conch: the sound this produces ‘Om’, represents the primeval sound of creation
  •    The chakra, or discus: symbolises the mind
  •    The lotus flower: an example of glorious existence and liberation
  •     The mace: represents mental and physical strength

 Vishnu is usually represented in two positions.

  •    Standing upright on a lotus flower with Lakshmi, his consort, close by him.  Reclining on the coils of a serpent, with Lakshmi massaging his feet. They are surrounded by the Milky Ocean.
  •      Vishnu rides on the King of Birds, Garuda, who is an eagle.

 What are Vishnu’s incarnations?

Vishnu has appeared in various incarnations nine times on this earth, with the tenth predicted.  

 

  • Matsya (fish):  Some Hindus believe that this is the similar to the biblical representation of Noah
  • Kurma (turtle):    Churning of the Ocean
  • Varaha (pig/boar):  in this avatar, Vishnu recovered the stolen Vedas
  • Narasimha (half lion, half man):   Vishnu managed to vanquish a demon who had gained immunity from attacks from man, beast or god
  • Vamana (dwarf sage with the ability to grow) In this story, the evil demon Bali had taken over the earth and had pushed all of the gods from the heavens as well. Vishnu took the form of a dwarf, who tricked Bali into giving him as much of Bali’s empire as he could cover in three steps. Vishnu as Vamana grew so large that with one step he had covered the earth, with the second the heavens, thus returning the ownership to the gods.
  • Parasurama (fierce man/hunter):  Vishnu rids the earth of irreligious and sinful monarchs
  • Rama (greatest warrior/ideal man); As Rama, he kills the demon King Ravana, who abducted his wife Sita
  • Krishna (mentally advanced man): Krishnais the hero of the Mahabharata, an epic poem. He also delivered his famous message, known as the Baghavad Gita.  
  • Buddha (the all knowing one):   who appeared in the 5th century BCE. In some traditions, Balarama replaces Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu.
  • Kalki: expected towards the end of this present age of decline, as a person on earth, seated on a white horse.

Vishnu in Hindu mythology

The churning of the Milky Ocean is the story that explains how the gods finally defeated the demons and became immortal.

In the story, Vishnu advised the other gods to churn the Milky Ocean in order to recover a number of lost treasures, including the elixir of immortality and Lakshmi, the goddess of success and wealth. Both of these items would enable the gods to defeat the demons who had taken taken over the universe.

Knowing the gods would be unable to churn the great ocean themselves, Vishnu struck a deal with the demons. He told them they would get a share of the treasures, including the elixir of immortality, if they helped to churn. They agreed.

Vishnu told the gods and demons they should use Mount Madura as a churning stick, and the giant serpent, Vasuki, as a rope.

Vishnu managed to persuade the demons to hold the head of the snake, which was spitting furiously, while the gods held the tail end. The serpent was then coiled around the mountain. Each side alternately pulled the rope then allowed it to relax, causing the mountain to rotate in the water.

Before they could regain the treasures, however, there were many problems they had to face.

As the gods and demons churned, the mountain began to sink into the soft sand bed of the sea.

At the request of the gods, Vishnu incarnated as a turtle. He placed the mountain on his back to act as a foundation stone, thus allowing the churning to continue. Some reports say it was churned for a thousand years before anything came up.

When the elixir of immortality finally rose to the surface, the demons rushed to grab it.

But Vishnu assumed the form of Mohini, a beautiful woman who captivated all the demons. By sleight of hand she changed the elixir for alcohol and returned the precious liquid to the gods.

The churning also brought Lakshmi forth from the ocean. She came as a beautiful woman standing on a lotus flower. Seeing all the gods before her, she chose the god she felt was most worthy of her. Vishnu and she have been inseparable since.

Thanks to:  BBC, Hinduism  

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