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The Vedas form the sound manifestation of Ishvara. That sound has four divisions – Para which finds manifestation only in Prana, Pasyanti which finds manifestation in the mind, Madhyama which finds manifestation only in the Indriyas and Vaikhari which finds manifestation in articulate expression.

Articulation is the last and grossest expression of divine sound-energy. The highest manifestation of sound energy, the primal voice, the divine voice is Para. The Para voice becomes the root-idea or germ –thoughts. It is the first manifestation of voice. In Para the sound remains in an undifferentiated form. Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikhari are the various gradations of the sound. Madhyama is the intermediate unexpressed state of sound. Its seat is the heart.

The seat of Pasyantiis the navel or the Manipura Chakra. Yogins who have subtle inner vision can experience the Pasyanti state of the word which has color and form, which is common for all languages and which has the vibrating homogeneity of  sound. Indians, Europeans, Americans, Africans, Japanese, birds, beasts – all experience the same Bhavana of a thing in the Pasyanti state of voice or sound. Gesture is a sort of mute subtle language. It is one and same for all persons, Any individual of any country will make the same gesture by holding his hand to her mouth in a particular manner when she is thirsty. As one and the same power of Shakti working through the ears becomes hearing, through the eyes becomes seeing and so forth, the same Pasyanti assumes different forms of sound when materialized. The Lord manifests himself through his Mayaic power first as Para Vani in Muladhara Chakra, then as Madhyama in the Heart and then eventually as Vaikhari in the throat and mouth. This is the divine descent of His voice. All the Vaikhari is His voice only. It is the voice of Virat Purusha.


Swami Satyananda Saraswati
given at the Dublin Convention on Sept. 22nd 1979

For thousands of years, you and your ancestors have been working on mind control, and most have either failed or slipped into a state of hypnosis. The mental process is an involuntary process and you cannot cut through it at any point you like. Even if you can stop the thoughts, you can’t stop the process. Mind, thought and consciousness maintain their level. You only have the satisfaction of knowing that you have created a vacuum in your mind- shoonya, void, a thought free mental area. But that’s all delusion; man can never be free from the thought process.

You not only think on the conscious plane – you think even though you are unconscious. When you are extrovert and preoccupied, an unseen, eternal, unbroken and protracted process of thought movement continues behind the mental curtain. You don’t see anything but there is constant movement.

Mind is not a homogeneous substance- mind is a replica of proto-matter, universal mind. You talk about controlling the mind, but what are you talking about? You can definitely streamline and channelize your emotions, the pattern of your thinking and the structure of your ambition- the social mind. But the real mind is invincible and is completely indomitable. Therefore, intelligent people must realise that in order to understand and control the thought process you have to go into the deeper spheres of your mind. That is the science of mantra.

The process

Mantra is not the name of a god or goddess or of a person. It is not a holy word or part of a hymn.

Mantra is not sacred, nor is it a tool for concentration. It is a vehicle for expansion of mind and liberation of energy.

The sounds which you receive and the sounds you make, create resonant waves in the depths and surface of the mind. These sound waves have various forms known as mandalas which go deep and hit the depths of the mind. If you take a pebble and throw it into a pool- circles, waves or ripples are generated. Deep freeze the whole pool immediately and then look at it- follow the ripples and find the point where the pebble hit the water.

The process of mantra is very similar. First of all fix your mind on the nose tip or one of the centres. This is very important, because when the eyeballs move, the rhythms of the brain are affected and shadows move- the level of consciousness does not become steady. For that reason the eyes have to be absolutely steady. In order to create steadiness, you have to find one centre, the nose tip, close the eyes, and fix your mind there. That is point one. Secondly, the nose is directly connected with the perineum, which is the seat of the most important centre in the body- mooladhara chakra. When you concentrate on the nose tip the impulses keep moving from the nose tip right down to the perineum.

After you have been concentrating on the nose tip, become aware of the breath, the natural breath which moves at the speed of fifteen rounds per minute. The breath has to be felt at the nose tip, flowing through both the nasal orifices. Then synchronise your mantra with the natural stream of the breath, either one mantra with inspiration and one with expiration, or more than one mantra with inspiration. That all depends upon the length of your mantra and on your personal choice.

Unlocking Pandora’s Box

What happens when you are practising mantra? More and more thoughts express themselves. Mind becomes wild. As long as you are occupied, you are quiet; your mind is peaceful. But when you begin to concentrate on the mantra, everything comes out from the depths. Does this mean that you are not progressing? Is it a negative symptom? No- during the period when you practise mantra, the wilder the mind becomes, the better it is for you. It is not clarity, tranquility or passivity of mind that is required. The most important thing is to face the mind- to see the entire process.

Thinking is not a process- it is a panorama. Mind does not move, mind does not walk, mind does not run. It is just a thing. But you see the mind in parts, therefore you think it is moving, just as you see the sun moving but the earth not. This is one of the most important things that all of us must understand. This idea is very important in yoga. It influences the whole mental condition, the state of being. You feel thoughts moving, emotions running wild, passions assailing you. But that’s your experience, your feeling- that’s not a fact. You see the whole thing, part by part, and therefore you feel that the mind is moving from past into present and from present into future, from future into past and from past into future. But it is not like that. Universal mind is a homogeneity; it cannot be separated by time and space. Time and space are in its womb.

Therefore, when you are practising mantra, you should be happy when your mind is developing the areas concerning the past, present and future. When evil and criminal thoughts are awakened in your mind, or when you have thoughts of God and compassion-it is all the same. If you want to crush the evil idea, you must crush the good idea as well. This is a very important point, and it is here that the whole process of life, of evolution, is stuck. Those people who have been able to transcend the barriers of life, have done it only after realising this.

You expect the mind to be calm like a moonlit night, free from clouds and thunder. That’s not expecting something which is possible. When you practise your mantra, please remember that you are not practising it to stop this eternal process; to crush the basis of your faculties, your knowledge, your enlightenment. To crush the mind is to kill life. To suppress an emotion is to destroy the very base of your ambition and desire. Man cannot be anything unless he has the whole mind to work from. The greatest discoveries in history, the greatest victories, the greatest paintings, compositions, and realizations-what are they, but products of the mind.

Therefore, when you practise mantra, please be aware of whatever comes to your mind. Do not put things into categories and compartments: ‘Very nice thoughts I had today, thank God.’ Or, ‘Today my meditation was very bad; throughout the practice I have been having horrible thoughts.’ No, this is where we are making a great mistake. When you fix your mind on the nose tip, on the breath, and on the mantra – the deeper you go the greater will be the manifestation of the whole mind.

Forget about control

The mind has infinite experiences, pictures, realisations and ideas. Therefore, I cannot agree with those people who say: ‘Close your eyes, control your mind and practise mantra. You will come to the light.’ I have practised not for one or two years, but for a whole lifetime, and I know this is not the way.

By trying to control the mind, you are creating a split in your personality. Who are you and whom are you trying to control? As you practise mantra, every time a bad thought comes, you set it aside. Who is doing this, and with whom? Who is the controller, who is controlled and who controls the controlling process? It’s all you – one mind, myself, and two perceptions. You are creating a conflict between the two perceptions that have arisen in you. That’s why the whole civilisation has become schizophrenic and neurotic. For that, you are responsible; your religion, your system of spiritual life, is responsible.

Man does not live by faith or belief. Man lives by an absolutely cruel sense of discovery, and great things have come out of it. Faith and belief have their limitations, but discovery has no limitations. You can explore into eternity, into infinity and keep on going as far as you will. That’s discovery, that’s adventure. But once you stop and say, ‘I have found it’, that is faith or belief, and that is setting limitations to your capacity, to your potentialities.

So when you practise mantra, the deeper you go, the greater areas of the mind you explore. You will not only see the passions, ambitions, dreams, and compassions; you will see horrible fears, thoughts which you could never think on the mental, psychic or para-psychological planes. There is not one moment in the life of a practitioner when the mind is totally vacant.

People come to me every day saying, ‘Swamiji, my mind is very restless and I am not able to concentrate. Kindly give me a mantra.’ I have to tell them, ‘This is not possible. I don’t teach mantra for this purpose. But if you want your unconscious to be exploded, if you want the great treasure to reveal itself, then, I can give you a mantra.’

The science of mantra is not a branch of hatha yoga; it is a part of tantra. In tantra it is said that mantras can influence the totality of human consciousness and destiny. Therefore, when we set out to practise mantra, we should forget one point, control of mind.

Mantra can be practised at any part of the body, not only the nose tip. You can practise mantra awareness at the navel, the centre of the heart, the eyebrow centre, or even sahasrara chakra – the crown lotus on top of the head.

There are four ways in which mantra can be practised: (i) baikhari – aloud, with the mouth; (ii) upanshu – whispering, with movement of the lips; (iii) manasik – silently in the mind, with no movement of the lips or tongue, no stir in the throat; (iv) ajapa japa – spontaneously with the breath.

When the sound is produced in these four different forms, it has different types of waves. When you chant Om aloud or in a whisper, it creates a standing wave. When you repeat it silently in the mind, it produces a resonant wave. Spontaneous mantra synchronised with the breath creates a continuous, rhythmic wave which has a long range of vibration. When you chant the mantra with your mouth or lips, it has a short range of vibration, a very quick rest period.

This doesn’t mean to say that you should not chant aloud, but this is the lower form. Feeling the mantra spontaneously is the higher form. For the best results, mantra should be practised in the following sequence: First chant aloud, producing the sound with your mouth. After a few months, just whisper it on the lips, without producing any vibration. Then later, after a year or so, fix a point at the eyebrow centre, nose tip, or in the heart, and repeat your mantra silently there, synchronising it with the pulse beat. Finally, practise spontaneous awareness of the mantra with the rhythm of the breath. This is the most important form. If the mantra is to penetrate the inner consciousness, to reach the point where thoughts originate, where consciousness emanates and evolution begins, then this last form of spontaneous mantra awareness, ajapa japa, must be practised.

Acceptance of the mind is a very important attitude, especially during the practice of mantra. To live with our own thoughts and feelings is very difficult. People suffer from inferiority and guilt due to their own mind, their own mental behaviour. If you can come out of this by understanding and accepting the mind, many people will want to receive guidance from you. It doesn’t matter how long you can sit in the lotus position. You can hold your mala for fifteen years and still be wrestling with the mind. What matters is that you learn to live with the mind, to understand the mind, and to utilise the perceptions that it is projecting before you. Whenever the mind is disturbed, you must find out what is the cause of the disturbance – the sound, the individual, the situation. Try to become a witness of all that is happening- this is the attitude that must be developed in the practice of mantra. Finally, when you have finished the practice, put your mala down and stop the mantra. Fix your mind on one point, for example, the nose tip or eyebrow centre, for five minutes and visualise the symbol of your mantra there.

If you continue this practice regularly you will treat your own mental problems, and correct your abnormal mental behaviour. You will be your own mental doctor. As well as this, you will develop an intimate friendship with the mind, and all of its fantastic faculties will open up to you. This mind is telepathic, clairvoyant, psycho-telekinetic This mind has infinite qualities- it can create a poem and make you a Milton. It can decide your future and make you a warrior, a soldier, a statesman or a saint. But we must know how to make use of this mind.

Tranquility is not necessary when you practise mantra, nor is it the aim. If you want to get rid of hypertension, blood pressure or coronary stress, and you are trying to make the mind tranquil, you can expect another heart attack. Tranquility is an ideal. Man has to learn to live with reality. Nature is living with stress. The universe is living with stress. How long do you want to be like soft butter? Learn to live with stress. That is the ultimate aim. Stress is struggle; struggle is life, and life is progress.

The tantric approach

Why did the tantric tradition give us mantra? In the tantric texts it says that even a person who can’t walk, talk, see, or hear, who is absolutely destitute, with everybody against him, can practise mantra and become enlightened.

Mantra eliminates sickness and madness, not by controlling the mind but by letting the mind open itself. The more you practise mantra, the more you see on the beautiful television before you. You will have endless thoughts, dreams and visions. The practice of mantra lets all the wild animals out of the cage. You may think this is not at all necessary, but I have found that before you can get peace of mind, before you can transcend the mind, you must be able to face all the disturbances of the mind.

If I have a problem and am unable to sleep for three days, I don’t care that my mind is agitated. I believe that the mind must face truth honestly. If I am up against the agony of death, I must face it and experience it. If I am feeling the turbulence of passion, I must face it and experience it.

The purpose of mantra is not to make the brain inactive to these things, but to increase its sensitivity and awareness. This is the tantric system and it teaches you to face facts, with your eyes open. We don’t want people to be like ostriches. Are you ready to unlock the mind and face its manifestations, or do you still want to put a cover over them? If you want to put a cover over them, then you have the hypnotic aspect of mantra meditation. But if you are willing to face them and work them out, then you have the tantric aspect, and mantra is the way.

Well, the question could be put in a different way, 'I have married so many times and nothing has succeeded.' You see, the first thing is to stay with one mantra and continue it. Don't go on changing the mantra. Don't go on jumping from guru to guru. There is only one secret of success- stick to something. Even if you are stuck to a very ineffective system it does not matter. Maybe you will reach the goal a little later, but you will reach it. Don't get fed up with the practice. If you are practising my system stick to it, and if you are practising some other system stick to that. One guru, one mantra - that is called spiritual chastity.
Remember the words 'spiritual chastity'. Don't go on with your old habits of flirting, or at least don't project them into your spiritual life. In material life you may go from this husband to that husband, from this wife to that wife, from this job to that job, from this flat to that flat, from this country to another, and it may all work out all right. But in spiritual life only one thing will work- one-pointed chastity of spiritual purpose.
Up to the point of initiation, you can practise any general mantra, but once you have been initiated into a mantra, this becomes your personal mantra and it should not be changed.
There are also special mantras which can be utilised for specific purposes such as influencing your destiny, or to overcome a specific problem. These mantras are discontinued as soon as they have fulfilled their purpose, and are then classified along with the general mantras.
According to my understanding, the guru has to be properly defined. If you have learned yoga from someone, he is your yoga guru. If you have learned the Gita or the Bible, he is your Gita or Bible guru. If you have been going to him for a long time and learning about spiritual life, then he is your spiritual guru. If he is a spiritually illumined person and you have great respect for him, he is also your guru. Accordingly, one can have many gurus, and the person who gives you a mantra is your mantra guru. So if you have a spiritual master, a Gita or Bible master, a raja yoga or tantra yoga master, you can also have a mantra master. Guru has two aspects :(i) he teaches you; (ii) he can help you to illumine your consciousness. So you can have these two aspects in one person or in many persons.
When the mantra is heard from the guru, it is registered by your atman. Then it becomes the seed which grows as you practise your sadhana.
Tantric mantras are those which influence the deeper nature of the universe. They are also intended to fulfil certain desires of man. Tantric mantras are very powerful and when you practise them, they create a great force in the atmosphere.
Vedic mantras are intended for worship of the divine and for self-realization. They change the nature of a person and make him more devotional.
If you make a mistake in pronouncing the vedic mantras there is no harm. For example, if you are repeating the mantra Om Namah Shivaya and you say Om Namah Shivaya, it won't make much difference. But the tantric mantras must be pronounced absolutely precisely and correctly.
I have found that anyone who listens with awareness can produce the correct sound of the mantra. At first you may not be able to repeat the correct sound aloud, but you can perceive it. After hearing a melody several times, you can think it in your mind, even though you may not be able to sing it. In the same way, if you listen to the pronunciation of the mantra, even if you do not repeat it aloud, you will conceive the correct sound in your mind, and this is enough.
The mantra is a combination or assembly of powerful sound waves. As such, the intellectual understanding of the mantra is not at all necessary. It is not the meaning, but the sound waves created by the mantra which influence the cosmos in the brain and outside. There are some mantras which don't even have a meaning.
The mantra has two basic aspects: sound and form. For example, when you chant Om, it is a sound; when you write Om in script, it is a form. So every mantra has a sound and a form, but the most powerful aspect is the sound. All educated people have a concept of script in their mind. If you are not educated and have no concept of script in your mind, then you will conceive Om as sound only. The problem is- you are not able to separate the sound from the script. If you repeat the sound Om, it is not only the sound, but also the script which follows it. When you are practising a mantra, gradually try to leave the idea of script and follow the sound.
Practise for ten minutes early in the morning before everyone gets up, and again at night just before you go to bed. Also try to remember the mantra and repeat it mentally throughout the day, when you are at work or just sitting.
Mantra is so powerful that it can change your destiny, economic situation, physical structure, etc. If you want the mantra to change the whole structure of your life, you must practise it regularly, every morning and evening.
Unless your mind is steady and one-pointed, mental repetition of mantra can bring more dissipation.
Om chanting is done in groups to raise everyone at the same time. There are two types of Om chanting used for this purpose. One practice is where everybody chants aloud together O-o-m-m-m-m- The other is where everybody chants silently Om, Om, Om. The latter is a relaxed way of chanting used for chakra work. It allows you to be independent. When the group is chanting Om aloud together, they have to keep their minds on each other, but when you are practising silently, you can chant freely in your own rhythm. Om is a combination of three sounds 'A', 'U' and 'M'. These three can be pronounced in different ways according to grammatical rules. Generally, however, the combination of 'A' and 'U' becomes 'O'. Thus the pronunciation is really O-o-m-m-m-m'
Every sound and form has a different archetype inside the brain. The process of knowledge takes place through these archetypes. As I am talking to you, knowledge simultaneously takes place inside you, but this process is not based on the actual sounds I am pronouncing. As soon as the sound goes into the brain, it changes its waves and assumes various geometrical patterns. These patterns are the archetypes. Now, in science, the principle is that perception and cognition take place inside through the intermediary archetypes, and what we perceive is not exactly as it was outside.
There are infinite archetypal patterns. In yoga they are known as mandalas and yantras. Scientists have found that by producing certain sounds, certain flower-like shapes were formed. When certain mantras were chanted, they found that they created the archetype of a lotus flower. That is why the lotus is so common in spiritual literature. In the same way, different forms can be created by different mantras.
Sound is a force, and this force affects a certain part of the universe and creates ripples in the vast ocean of the cosmos, just as the electromagnetic or radio waves can't be heard even though they pass through the atmosphere. In the same way, a mantra has its own field by which it travels. In this universe which we see around us, there are thousands of channels of waves. We call them layers or zones. In one layer radioactivity travels, in another layer electromagnetic waves, in the third layer thought waves.
When you produce a sound it attains a certain frequency. If your mind is dissipated then the frequency is low. If your mind is one-pointed, then the frequency is high. Your mind is a part of the cosmic mind. When you are in concentration, you are a part of the cosmic mind, but when your mind is not concentrated, then you are not in communication with the cosmic mind.
Yes, in fact the gods and goddesses that we hear about in religion are only archetypes. Gods and goddesses like Shiva and Parvati are divine archetypes. In Sanskrit, these vedic deities are known as deva, meaning illumination. When your mind is illumined, you can see so many things inside. Within this cosmos there are infinite forms. The human brain is a miniature universe, and whatever you see in the whole cosmos is contained inside. If you can illumine the inside then you can know all about the outside.
Anusthana is a traditional practice in which a particular mantra is chanted. There are many kinds of anusthana but the two most important are sadharana anusthana and purashcharana anusthana. Sadharana anusthana is done on all nine days of Navaratri. During this time, simple, bland food is taken and no work is done. Purascharana is a long anusthana in which the mantra is repeated as many hundreds of thousands of times as the number of matras or letters it contains. For example, if the mantra is Om Namah Shivaya, it must be repeated 500,000 times - this means 5000 malas. This can be completed in a short period of time or over a long period at your convenience. If you do not want to undertake the full number, then you can do only half or one quarter. Anusthana is initiated on an auspicious day, for example, the day of an eclipse, when the number of mantras, and perhaps the duration of time, is fixed and a sankalpa or vow is made to complete them. After many years of practice, the sound waves awaken the causal body. We call this mantra siddhi, the perfection of the power of mantra.


By means of mantra the tattwas or elements in Nature are influenced. A different class of mantra which is not written down but handed down from guru to chela are known as abhichara mantras. They are used to cause disease or kill someone. There is also another class of mantra through which a thought, a message can be transmitted to another person living anywhere, or through which one is able to read another’s thoughts. Then there are minor mantras for curing scorpion bites, snakebites, jaundice, etc. They are known to people even to this day. In different parts of India people have perfected different classes of mantra. Mithila in Northern Bihar was, and still is, famous for abhichara mantras which form a part of the kaula tradition.

In tantra there are many traditions – vedachara, vamachara, kaulachara – and according to the system the mantras have to be applied. For instance, if you follow vedachara, then you cannot learn or be taught the abhichara tantras. They will be handed down to you only if you belong to the kaulachara tradition. And perhaps you know that a prayog, an experiment on abhichara mantras was done on Adi Shankaracharya by a great tantric of Mithila. In order to avert the effect of this, Adi Shankara had to propitiate Devi. The mantras composed by him are known today as “Ananda Lahari” beginning with the mantras:

“Shivah shaktya yukto yadi bhavati shakta prabhavitoom Nache devam devo na khalu kushalah spanditumapi”

In addition to the sixty-four traditional tantras this became the sixty-fifth tantric text. By this he was able to avert the abhichara which was aimed at him to kill him.

It is true that through mantra one can do many great things, but as time has gone by, man has changed his nature. He has become very selfish. He has become very emotional and sentimental. For a bit of property or due to a little jealousy, he is prepared to kill and destroy anyone! If these mantras were revealed to him now in this Kali Yuga, you can just imagine the state of affairs there would be. So the wise men have withdrawn these mantras from the public. Only a few are now revealed – the bhakti mantras which help you to correct yourself, which help you to transform your nature, to overcome some sort of difficulties in lift-worries, anxieties, passions, etc., like ‘Om Namah Shivaya’, ‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya’ and others. A few more powerful systems are also known to us like Bhagala Mukti, Tara Yantra, Shri Yantra, but these mantras are benign in nature. With them you can only create positive effects, not malefic effects, because the munis and rishis, have become very careful now in announcing the classes of mantra. Although some people are still in possession of what we call the ‘malefic’ mantras, when they use them for a selfish purpose they rebound on them.

Mantras are a combination of akshara and varna. Akshara is not a syllable; akshara means ‘imperishable vibration’. Varna means ‘colour’. These mantras have a deity and also a yantra. For example ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is the mantra. Its mandala is the shivalinga. The devas and devatas, according to the tantric tradition, are the mandala and at the same time they have a yantra which you see in the form of geometrical formations.

They are not just lines and circles, and they have a very powerful effect on the deeper unconscious of man.

“Manana trayata iti mantraha”. This is the etymology of mantra. Each and every akshara in the mantra is the seed of vibration. lt is chanted one thousand, ten thousand times etc., in the mind or verbally, or with pranayama. And there are many other ways of practising mantra, not merely the way we teach. Each and every akshara is so powerful that in tantra there is matrika, nyasa, varna nyasa, where these akshara are projected throughout the body. Their vibrations are injected into each and every part of the body. You may have seen panditjis doing these things but they themselves generally do not understand them. They do matrika and vama nyasa but they do not know exactly what they are doing.

Each and every akshara is sound, every sound has vibrations, and every vibration can be enlarged and made very powerful. You have heard some of the stories about Tansen. He used to sing deepak raga and megha mala. Lights used to burn and clouds showered rain, because when they produced deepak raga or megha mala, the sound vibration reached such a high pitch that the elements of Nature came under their influence-mind was connected with matter. And when the mind is connected with matter, if the man is strong enough, then matter is influenced. If he is weak then the mind is influenced, not matter.

For all of us now music is enjoyment, recreation, pleasure and jumping. The very philosophy of music has been destroyed by us because it exists today only on the level of the senses. It cannot influence matter because there is no science in it. However, when you produce a raga you are actually producing vibrations and these vibrations are the connecting link between your mind and the elements of Nature. There has to be a medium between my mind and that part of Nature which I want to influence. So, in order to link myself with that particular item of Nature, I create vibration at such a high frequency, like laser beams, that Nature is affected: there is rain and lamps are set alight. But this tradition has been lost, even though the mantras do exist.

Many times girls find it difficult to get married and to them the katyayani mantra is given. What for?

Not only to support their faith and belief and give them some sort of hope and optimism. No, it is not just for psychological consolation that I give you the katyayani mantra and you believe that you are going to get married – certainly not! There is some destiny which is coming in between on account of which the marriage proposals are being dismissed shortly after they come. Destiny is interfering with that. How are you going to disperse this destiny? The mantra is given for that purpose.

Usually people think that mantra is a kind of psychological consolation. It is a psychological consolation – it gives you hope to live on; it gives you hope to work; it gives you some sort of sympathy, some sort of optimism, some basis to live and not commit suicide, but that is not all. That is not the only role of mantra. Mantra has a definite effect on the objective field. I used to say, and still do, that ‘mind can move matter’, but it can only move matter when it is mounted on a mantra, yantra or mandala.


Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Three mantras are beneficial for all aspects of life: the Mahamrityunjaya mantra for health and well-being, the Gayatri mantra for mental tranquillity and wisdom, and the pranava mantra, Om, for peace and spiritual awakening.

Three mantras are beneficial for all aspects of life: the Mahamrityunjaya mantra for health and well-being, the Gayatri mantra for mental tranquillity and wisdom, and the pranava mantra, Om, for peace and spiritual awakening.

Mahamrityunjaya mantra

During the 1998 Sita Kalyanam function, Paramahamsaji recommended the Mahamrityunjaya mantra and the Gayatri mantra to everyone. Paramahamsaji said that those who wish for health and healing must chant the Mahamrityunjaya mantra at least twenty-four times every day. He said, “I am giving you a guarantee that if you do it with intensity of focus, willpower, purity of heart and feeling, then there is no question that health and healing will be provided, whether for oneself or for others.”

If you ask about the meaning of the Mahamrityunjaya mantra, most people will say it is a mantra dedicated to Lord Shiva and give a definition according to the literal meaning of each word. But more important is the vibration you create. The combination of sounds in any mantra creates a specific vibration in the body. Our body also has a vibratory dimension. All the cells and atoms are vibrating in harmony with each other. The moment this harmony is broken at the vibratory level, destruction of the body takes place and we start to die. In death the pulsations of the body stop, the animation of the cells ceases and the life force leaves the body. The vibrations are the manifest symptoms of the life force.

Symbolically, these vibrations are represented in the various chakras or psychic centres. So when we use a combination of mantras or sound syllables, we are activating and bringing forth the potential of these vibrations that are inherent in the body. Some vibrations, like Om, are used to go into a deep meditative state. The effect of Om internalizes the awareness. From a scientific viewpoint, Om increases the alpha waves and decreases the beta waves. Subjectively, internalization of awareness takes place; we become more focused, tranquil and peaceful. When we use a string of vibrations, as in the Mahamrityunjaya mantra, these vibrations realign the disturbances in the vibratory system. Disease and illness can be managed effectively with this mantra.

In our ashrams we practise the Mahamrityunjaya mantra every Saturday night with a sankalpa, a feeling, to let the healing powers of this mantra heal our body and the bodies of those who are suffering or in pain. If we want to incorporate the practice of mantra into our routine in order to help others, we should also make the effort to chant the Mahamrityunjaya mantra. Every Saturday do at least one mala; it only takes about thirty-five minutes. This is for your personal well-being and for the well-being of everyone around you.

Gayatri mantra

The other mantra that Paramahamsaji recommended everyone to practise daily is the Gayatri mantra. Traditionally, the Gayatri mantra is used to develop intelligence, knowledge and wisdom, and to expand the consciousness. Gayatri is taught to children at the age of eight, when they enter the period of academic education. Perception and attention are sharpened, retention and memory power are enhanced, and there is growth in intelligence. In order to develop awareness, wisdom and understanding, practise the Gayatri mantra twenty-four times every day.

Paramahamsaji also said not to underestimate the power of mantras. It is not necessary to understand the meaning of the mantra, but to connect with the vibration that is being created by the mantra chanting. If you are able to connect with the vibration, then in the course of time you can also learn about the points you need to concentrate on during the chanting of different mantras. Then it will become a very valuable tool for your spiritual growth and development.

Mantra repetition

The third important mantra is Om. Om is the synthesis of all mantras, leading to an enlightened state of consciousness. The tradition describes three methods of mantra repetition. The first is verbal, the second is whispering and the third is mental. Mental repetition is the most potent, provided we are able to steady our minds and there are no distractions to divert our attention from the mantra repetition, and provided we do not doze off as the mind becomes internalized, which is very common when practising the mantra mentally.

Although emphasis is given to mental repetition, the tradition also says that if you find the mind is drifting off and losing consciousness of the mantra, and if you find yourself dozing off, then in order to maintain awareness start to whisper the mantra. The whisper is a simple movement of the lips and should be audible only to yourself and nobody else. If you are still unable to control the introversion of the mind, and sleep comes, then begin to chant the mantra verbally. Even with verbal repetition some people cannot hold their mind steady or at one point. So in order to focus the attention a visual symbol is used.

Psychic symbol

Paramahamsaji used to give us the example of a bird flying over the ocean looking for somewhere to rest. It finds a piece of wood floating on the water and lands there. After resting, the bird flies off again, but remembers the location of the piece of wood for next time. This example relates to the use of mantra and yantra in the form of a psychic symbol. The psychic symbol can be anything. It is a point, a figure, an image on which we are able to concentrate and hold our attention, because generally mantra is practised mentally.

A symbol can be our ishta devata, which has the quality of God or divinity. It can be an image which has a feeling of closeness and affinity, or a symbol which does not denote either a negative or a positive state of mind, but is neutral. At the same time it can also unconsciously inspire the psyche, the mind, to realize the potential of consciousness. Powerful symbols are the sun or the figure of the mantra Om, or even a yantra, whether it be a triangle, interlaced triangles, a circle, a point or a complex geometrical figure. It can be the image of the guru who represents the source of inspiration. It can be the image of Jesus, a saint, or the image of different incarnations of God in the form of Rama, Krishna, Buddha and so on. It can be anything, but it should not have a personal emotional content.

Some people may imagine a family member, but then there is a selfish emotional association which should not be present. Therefore, it is recommended that one uses the image of saints, gurus and avatars, or the image of yantras or simple images like the sun, moon and stars. Each person has a specific symbol to concentrate on along with the mantra.

The mantra becomes the mind and the mind is represented as a bird flying over the ocean. The ocean becomes the consciousness, and in the vast expanse of the ocean or consciousness a point of support is needed, a basis which is away from sensorial interactions. The yantra becomes like a piece of wood floating on the ocean. When the mind becomes tired of going off in unknown directions, it can alight on the piece of floating wood, rest there for a while, then fly off again. This is the concept of mantra and yantra.

Just mental repetition or even verbal repetition of mantra is not enough. The mantra should be given a task, a purpose. The power of the mantra has to be channelled towards a goal, not straight into the environment because it will dissipate. When light is focused, it transforms itself into a laser beam. It is the same with mantra. There has to be one aim when practising mantra sadhana. Traditionally, different purposes have been assigned to different mantras, such as health and well-being to Mahamrityunjaya mantra, and intelligence and wisdom to Gayatri mantra.

Peace – the basis of spiritual growth

The chanting of Om is the easiest and simplest of the mantras because it only has one sound, Om. The purpose of pranava sadhana is to transcend body consciousness, to connect with cosmic consciousness and to realize our spiritual potential. While the chanting is going on, we should have the feeling and awareness of spiritual advancement.

In order to understand the process of spiritual advancement we start with peace, shanti. The state of peace is the foundation of spiritual experience. In the absence of personal peace there can be no spiritual growth or development. That is the reality. The purpose of Om is to awaken the state of inner peace. This awakening of peace has to happen at various levels of our nature, personality and mind.

It will be impossible to identify the different aspects of mind, but it becomes possible to identify symbols that represent various states of mind. These symbols are the chakras or psychic centres. Whenever we chant Om, we need to focus our attention on the different psychic centres. When we chant Om three times at the beginning of any activity, generally the instruction is to concentrate at the eyebrow centre. However, for those aspirants who wish to go deeper into the practice of sadhana, there are three places where one needs to concentrate with each chanting of Om. These three places are the three granthis that exist in our body.

Om sadhana

Students often ask why we chant Om three times at the beginning and end of a class and I have heard teachers give different answers. Some say for peace in the physical dimension, the mental dimension and the spiritual dimension. Others say something else, but the real reason is concentration on the granthis. The word granthi means ‘knot’. The yogic system recognizes three granthis or knots in our bodies.

The first is Brahma granthi, the knot of Brahma, the creator, at mooladhara chakra. When you chant Om the first time, always have your awareness at mooladhara. Mooladhara is responsible for creation. Our consciousness is stuck in mooladhara, in the world of matter. The second knot is Vishnu granthi at manipura chakra. When you chant Om the second time, bring your attention from mooladhara to manipura. The third is Rudra granthi, the knot of Rudra, the transformer, the destroyer, the re-emergence of consciousness, rising of the phoenix from the ashes to ajna chakra, rebirth. When you chant Om the third time, bring your attention to ajna chakra, the eyebrow centre.

This is one addition to our practice of three Oms, and teachers should also remember it. Stop for at least five seconds at each of the three chakras and become aware of light there. In time the quality of your experience will change. It may take a week or a month, but you will notice a great difference.

When we chant Om seven times, the general instruction for novices is to focus at ajna. But for mantra sadhakas each chanting of Om can be visualized in all the seven chakras, with a five second pause in between each one. There are different ways to chant Om. Normally people just use the word Om, the sounds ‘o’ and ‘m’. It gives one effect. Some people practise with ‘A-u-m’. When we practise three times in mooladhara, manipura and ajna, it is ‘O-m’. When we practise seven times, it is ‘A-u-m’. In kriya yoga, there is another version of Om chanting, which is an explosive ‘O’ followed by a long ‘m-m-m’. These little things make a big difference to our practice and the quality of our experience.

So these are the three mantras: Mahamrityunjaya for healing, Gayatri for wisdom, and Om for peace. They are important practices and very beneficial for all aspects of life.


  1. Om Mantra

Om is the eternal sound of the universe, the sound of deep meditation.

OM (AUM) is made of 3 sub-sounds A, U and M.


for the state of wakefulness, where our sense organs are active.


for the dream state, in which inward experiences are available.


for deep sleep, when the mind is without desire.

OM is considered to have great healing powers. Regular Om chanting can help you overcome depression, loneliness, insomnia (sleep disorders) and stress. It could also help you quit bad habits like smoking, drugs or alcoholism by strengthening your mind.

Om harmonizes the physical forces with the emotional forces and with the intellectual forces and you begin to feel like a complete being – mentally and physically.

  1. Mrityunjaya Mantra


This Great Death-conquering Mantra, also called the Trayambakam Mantra, is a verse of the Rigveda. It is addressed to Trayambaka, “the three-eyed one”, Lord Shiva. It is also called the Rudra mantra, referring to the furious aspect of Lord Shiva. It is sometimes known as the Mrita-Sanjivini mantra because of its “life-restoring” powers.


three-eyed God, Shiva




sweet smelling






like the cucumber


tied down (under captivity)


from death


liberate, free


give me immortality

Meaning: We worship the Three-eyed Lord who is fragrant and who nourishes and nurtures all beings. As is the ripened cucumber freed from its bondage (to the creeper), may He liberate us from death for the sake of immortality.

Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is the great mantra for conquering death for it protects against all threats with its divine vibrations. It purifies the karmas of the soul at a deep level. It is beneficial for mental, emotional and physical health. It is also a moksha mantra which bestows longevity and immortality.

  1. Shree Yantra Mantra
  3. This Mantra, known as the Shree Yantra Mantra, is a tribute ot Mahalakshmi (Shree), the Hindu Goddess of wealth, prosperity (both material and spiritual), fortune, and the embodiment of beauty. She is the wife of Vishnu. It is said that if you recite this mantra daily 108 times financial worries and troubles will go away.Meaning:
    cosmic vibration sounds
    one who resides on the lotus flower
    be pleased
    Goddess Mahalaxmi, I bow to you.Mahalakshmi is also known to preside over 16 forms of worldly wealth: Fame; Knowledge; Courage and Strength; Victory; Good Children; Valor; Gold, Gems and Other Valuables; Grains in abundance; Happiness; Bliss; Intelligence; Beauty; Higher Aim, High Thinking and Higher Meditation; Morality and Ethics; Good Health; Long Life.This mantra is usually chanted when worshipping using the powerful Shree Yantra. Shree Yantra is a yantra (device) dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi. It gives relief from all sufferings and provide wealth and good fortune. Shri Yantra is composed of nine independent triangles (trikons), mystically drawn one within the other. The four triangles that point upwards and five pointing downwards are interlaced in such a way as to form 43 smaller triangles.

4. Shanti Mantra


The Shanti Mantras or “Peace Mantras” are prayers for Peace (Shanti) from the Vedas. Generally they are recited at the beginning and end of religious rituals and discourses.

POORNAM in Sanskrit refers to Fullness, Completeness or Infinity. The verse talks about Brahman, a Hindu conception of the Absolute, the highest state of conciousness and reality. It says the Brahman will always remain unchanged.

Om! That is infinite (Brahman), and this (universe) is infinite.
The infinite proceeds from the infinite.
(Then) taking the infinitude of the infinite (universe),
It remains as the infinite (Brahman) alone.
Om! Peace! Peace! Peace!

This mantra is supposed to calm the mind of the reciter or the listener and the environment around him/her. Listening/Reciting them is also believed to removing any obstacles for the task being started.

According to the scriptures of Hinduism, sources of obstacles and troubles are in these three realms:

Physical or Adhi-Bhautika realm can be source of troubles/obstacles coming from external world, such as from wild animals, people, natural calamities etc.

Divine or Adhi-Daivika realm can be source of troubles/obstacles coming from extra-sensory world of spirits, ghosts, deities, demigods/angels etc.

Internal or Adhyaatmika realm is source of troubles/obstacles arising out of one’s own body and mind, such as pain, diseases, laziness, absent-mindedness etc.

These are called “Tapa-Traya” or three classes of troubles. When Shanti mantras are recited, obstacles from these realms are believed to be pacified.

4. Guru Mantra


This mantra is a tribute to all your Gurus (teachers). It equates Guru to the God. The meaning of the mantra is thus:

Guru is Brahma, Guru is Vishnu,
Guru is Maheshwara (Shiva),
Guru is the Supreme Brahman
Salutations to that Guru

GU means ‘darkness of ignorance’ and RU means ‘one who removes’. So GURU is one who dispels the darkness of ignorance.

Another meaning of the word Guru is ‘one who is beyond attributes and forms’. GU stands for Gunaatheetha – one who transcends the three Gunas (Satva, Rajas and Thamas). RU stands for Rupavarjitha – one who is formless. The One who is beyond all attributes and forms is none other than the Supreme Self (the Brahmam) who is resident within each of us. Only God can be regarded as One who is beyond attributes and forms.

The mantra gives three forms to the Guru – that of Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the sustainer) and Shiva (the destroyer). Similar to Brahma the creator, Guru creates or inculcates knowledge in the minds of the students. Just as Lord Vishnu maintains the creation, the Guru helps in keeping up the knowledge. Guru is like Shiva, the destroyer, in that he/she helps to get rid of the ignorance from the students’ minds.

5. Enlightenment Mantra


Asatoma Sadgamaya is a Shanti Mantra (Mantra of peace), that originated in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Similar to other Shanti Mantras, it is believed that the recitation of these verses bring peace.


Falsehood (the unreal)




Truth (reality)


To move (to lead towards)


Darkness (ignorance)


Light/flame (purity)







The full meaning is as below:

From ignorance, lead me to truth;
From darkness, lead me to light;
From death, lead me to immortality
Om peace, peace, peace

It is a mantra which is implying that the seeker understands finally that there is no peace or happiness in anything material. That anything material will forever be transient and will forever bring suffering. The realization of this Truth is what would lead the seeker towards the light of Self Realization.

The ultimate TRUTH, according to Advaita Vedanta (Vedic Hindu philosophy), must always be true. It should be true in the past, in the present as well as in the future. If something does not exist in all these three periods of time, it does not truly exist. So it is not ultimately real. Thus, truth, existence and reality are one and the same. That reality, Vedanta says, is what we call God.

The universe and its things are in a constant state of change. So, according to Vedanta, we cannot call this world ultimately real. It is not ultimately true. Ultimately, it does not exist. It may seem real, but it is not. Such a thing is called ASAT (un-real).

Through this mantra the seeker says he/she understands the finite nature of all the objects of the world, and he wants the Guru (teacher) to guide him/her from the ASAT (un-real/ignorance) to the SAT (reality).

The seeker is asking to be awakened to his Infinite, Timeless, and Eternal nature.

Oneness Mantra


The Oneness Mantra is an all-encompassing mantra that seeks the blessings of that Supreme Being who created everything, sustains everything and protects us. It is a universal mantra for anyone who believes in the existence of a supreme force that created and controls everything in this universe. The Oneness Mantra is also referred to as Moola Mantra, not to be confused with Mul Mantar of the Sikhs.

The literal meaning of the mantra is as follows:


Oh Supreme Consciousness and Bliss


Oh Supreme Creator


Oh Supreme Being


Oh Supreme Soul


Oh Divine Mother along with


The Divine Father, I bow to you.

The Oneness Mantra is believed to have the power to transport one’s mind to the state of ultimate calmness and bliss. Chanting or listening to the mantra is thought to cause the supreme energy that manifests everywhere in this universe to get stronger around you.

This mantra evokes the Supreme God, asking protection and freedom from all sorrow and suffering. It is a prayer that adores the great creator and liberator, who out of love and compassion manifests, to protect us, in an earthly form.

Universal Mantra


The Sarveshaam Mantra (Universal Mantra) is a shanti (peace) mantra which may be used to invoke harmony and tranquility in the environment in which prayers are performed.

The lines translate roughly as below:

For everyone, let there be Health & Well-being

For everyone, let there be Peace & Calmness

For everyone, let there be Completeness & Fulfillment

For everyone, let there be Prosperity & Goodness

Om Peace, Peace, Peace

This mantra from the upanishads (ancient vedic texts) goes on to wish that everyone receives happiness. It wishes them to become saint-like and without diseases. Let their minds be filled with good thoughts and be blessed with good fortune.

The mantra is often used as a closing prayer for pujas (hindu religious ceremonies), to bless all those in attendance.


1.Ganesha Mantra

Tribute to Lord Ganesha (Ganapathy), an embodiment of wisdom and bliss.

Ganesha is Vighneshvara, the Lord of Obstacles, both of a material and spiritual order. He is regarded as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked.

Lord Ganesha represents OM or the Pranava. That is why all mantras start with OM,a tribute to the Lord of new beginnings. Chant this when starting a new task to ensure that it is free of any hindrances.

Vishnu Mantra


Tribute to Lord Vishnu (Narayana), the Supreme God, in his infinite all pervading form.

Bhagavata Purana declares Narayana as Para Brahman (Supreme Lord) who creates unlimited universes and enters each one of them as Lord of Universe.

This mantra of Visnu (also known as Narayana) is chanted to invoke His all pervading power of mercy and goodness. It is through His grace that righteousness is able to prevail.

Repetition of this mantra confers infinite love, prosperity, power, glory, wisdom, and total liberation. It gives the ability to dissolve obstacles resulting from egoism and ignorance. It is a mantra of peace, bringing balance to an off-centered world.


3 Shiva Mantra

Tribute to Shiva/Mahadeva, the Supreme Destroyer. This mantra is one of the most popular Hindu mantra and the most important mantra in Shaivism.


the three-eyed one


is the world


stands for Siva


is His revealing grace


is the soul

The five elements, too, are embodied in this ancient formula for invocation. NA is earth, MA is water, SI is fire, VA is air, and YA is ether, or Akasa.

Namah Sivaya has such power that the mere intonation of these syllables reaps its own reward in salvaging the soul from bondage of the treacherous instinctive mind and the steel bands of a perfected externalized intellect.

Namah Sivaya quells the instinct, cuts through the steel bands and turns this intellect within and on itself, to face itself and see its ignorance.

Sages declare that mantra is life, that mantra is action, that mantra is love and that the repetition of mantra, japa, bursts forth wisdom from within.

4. Gayatri Mantra


Gayatri Mantra is addressed to God as the divine life-giver, symbolized by Savitr (the sun), and is most often recited at sunrise and sunset.

The mantra bestows wisdom and enlightenment, through the vehicle of the Sun (Savitr), who represents the source and inspiration of the universe. Recitation at sunrise every morning is part of the daily ritual.

The meaning of this mantra is thus:

We meditate on the glory of that Being who created Earth, Air and Heaven. May He enlighten our minds.

Krishna Mantra


Tribute to Lord Krishna. This is the principal mantra of the Vedic scripture Srimad Bhagavatam. This twelve syllable mantra is known as a Mukti (liberation) mantra and a spiritual formula for attaining freedom.

Krishna proclaims his devotees to recite this mantra daily whenever possible so that He will stand by them. He is committed to those who are committed to their duties.


refers to the Supreme Infinite Spirit or Person


refers to salutation and worship


is one who is becoming divine


refers to Krishna (son of Vasudeva)


Hanuman Mantra


This mantra is a tribute to Lord Hanuman, a devotee of Rama (an avatar of Lord Vishnu). Hanuman is a vanara (a monkey-like humanoid deity), and one of the central characters in the Sanskrit epic Ramayana. There are more temples devoted to Hanuman than any other deity in India.

The character of Hanuman teaches us of the unlimited power that lies unused within each one of us. Hanuman directed all his energies towards the worship of Lord Rama, and his undying devotion made him such that he became free from all physical fatigue.

Hanuman mantras invoke the qualities most lacking in difficult times: courage, physical strength, perseverance. Chanting this mantra brings instant relief from suffering and provides an instant burst of energy and strength.

It is hard to find a mythical character who is at once so powerful, learned, philosophic, humble and amusing! Hanuman features prominently in the great epics of Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Devotees praying Hanuman whole heartedly and continuously will get all knowledge. Their confidence will improve, they will be relieved of all fear and diseases and they will speak fluently.

It is said that a devotee praying Lord Hanuman is equal to praying all the Gods.


7. Saraswati Mantra


The Saraswati Mantra (Wisdom Mantra) is a tribute to Goddess Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and nature. In Hinduism, Saraswati represents intelligence, consciousness, cosmic knowledge, creativity, education, enlightenment, music, the arts, eloquence and power.

It is believed that goddess Saraswati endows human beings with the powers of speech, wisdom and learning. She has four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness and ego. She has sacred scriptures in one hand and a lotus flower (the symbol of true knowledge) in the second. With her other two hands she plays the music of love and life on a string instrument called the veena. She is dressed in white (the symbol of purity), and rides on a white swan (symbolizing Sattwa Guna or purity and discrimination).

She is considered the mother of the Vedas, and chants to her, called the ‘Saraswati Vandana’ often begin and end Vedic lessons. The four arms also represent the four Vedas, the primary sacred books for Hindus. The Vedas, in turn, represent the three forms of literature:

Poetry – the Rigveda contains hymns, representing poetry.
Prose – Yajur Veda contains prose.
Music – Sama Veda represents music.
Philosophy – Atharvaveda

Saraswati is also a prominent figure in Buddhist iconography as the consort of Manjushri. The learned and the erudite attach greater importance to the worship of Goddess Saraswati and believe that only she can grant them ‘moksha’, the final liberation of the soul.

Saraswati mantras are for the benefit of all, to increase their knowledge, as increase in knowledge is the gateway to happiness. It is said that Goddess Saraswati comes to reside in the tip of a devotee allows you to speak and write clearly. Saraswati chants help students to clear exams by increasing their concentration and memory retention power. Poets, advocates, singers, artists, orators, teachers etc. can benefit from the grace of Goddess Saraswati.

Durga Mantra


The Durga Mantra (Power Mantra) is a tribute to the Hindu Goddess Durga. Durga meaning “the inaccessible” or “the invincible”, is the most popular incarnation of the Supreme Soul also referred to as Shakti (power).

Devi Durga or Adi Parashakti (first power) is a Hindu concept of the Ultimate Shakti or Mahashakti, the ultimate power inherent in all Creation. Goddess Durga is equated to Goddess Lakshmi and Goddess Saraswati in her mild form; Goddess Kali and Goddess Chandi in her wrathful form.

Durga Shakti or Mahashakti, the Supreme power, is considered to generates all forms of knowledge of the world and it is accepted as vital cause of creation, existence and destruction. Mahamaya i.e. the power of Mahashakti (The Supreme Power) along with Adi Purusha (The Supreme Soul) manifest as the three Supreme Forces: Brahma Shakti (creation), Vishnu Shakti (sustenance), and Shiva Shakti (destruction). This also manifests as three Supreme Forms: Maha Saraswati, Maha Laxmi and Maha Kali. In Puranas (ancient Hindu texts), the three Supreme Forms are represented as consorts of the three Supreme Forces.

Durga Shakti is regarded to be the original cause of all the present or past worldly occurrences. By the blessings of Durga Shakti, the mother of the Universe, man is able to get his emancipation or salvation and indulge in enjoyments in performance of his daily activities. Chanting Durga Mantras leads one to be strong and powerful. It gives you the power to win over competition, the courage to face stiff challenges and presents you with the drive to fight injustice.


9. Maha Mantra


The Maha Mantra (Great Mantra), also referred to as the Hare Krishna mantra, is a 16 word Vaishnava mantra which is mentioned in the Kali-Santarana Upanishad associated with the Krishna Yajurveda. It rose to importance in the Bhakti (devotion) movement of the 15th century following the teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Since the 1960s, the mantra has been made well known outside of India by Swami Prabhupada and his International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).


refers to Hari, another name of Lord Vishnu. Hare also refers to He who removes illusion. Hare can also refer to the energy of God.


refers to Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.


refers to Ramachandra (Lord Rama), the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

According to Gaudiya Vaishnava theology, one’s original consciousness and goal of life is pure love of God (Krishna). The sixteen syllables of the Maha Mantra are destructive of the evil effects of Kali (the angry form of Siva, the destroyer). As per the Padma Purana, all the grievous sins are removed for one who worships Lord Sri Hari, the Lord of all lords, and chants the holy name, the Maha-mantra. It is said that when the sixteen names and thirty-two syllables of the Hare Krishna mantra are loudly vibrated, Krishna dances on one’s tongue.

The mantra is repeated, either out loud (kirtan), softly to oneself (japa), or internally within the mind. The Maha Mantra is directly enacted from the spiritual platform, and thus this sound vibration surpasses all lower strata of consciousness – namely sensual, mental, and intellectual.

10. Surya Mantra


Surya, the Supreme Light, also known as Aditya, Surya, Bhanu or Ravi is the chief solar deity in Hinduism and refers to the Sun.The mantra meaning is ‘Oh Surya (Sun), I bow to thee’.

Surya is the chief of the Navagraha, the nine Indian Classical planets and important elements of Hindu astrology. He is often depicted riding a chariot harnessed by seven horses which might represent the seven colors of the rainbow or the seven chakras in the body. He is also the presiding deity of Sunday. Surya is regarded as the Supreme Deity by Saura sect and Smartas worship him as one of the five primary forms of God.

Surya is also known for his life nourishing properties. Surya represents soul, will-power, fame, the eyes, general vitality, courage, kingship, father, highly placed persons and authority.

Surya’s two sons, Shani and Yama, are responsible for the judgment of human life. Shani provides the results of one’s deeds during one’s life through appropriate punishments and rewards while Yama grants the results of one’s deeds after death.

A well-known Hindu mode of worship of the devotional movements of Surya is done at the rising of the Sun, known as Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation). Ten yogic postures are assumed in successive flowing movements to complete one namaskar. Twelve sacred Hindu mantras are uttered and for each mantra one complete namaskar is done. Ancient practice is to do 108 namaskaras a day. It is considered most auspicious by Hindus to do this.

The Gayatri Mantra and Aditya Hridayam hymn are associated with Surya as well.

11. Shani Mantra


Shani is one of the Navagrahas (the nine primary celestial beings in Hindu astrology) of Jyotisha (Hindu Astrology). Shani is embodied in the planet Saturn and is the Lord of Saturday. The mantra meaning is ‘Oh Shani, I bow to thee’.

In Hindu Mythology, Shani is a Deva (male god) and son of Surya. He is the elder brother of Yama, the Hindu god of death, who in some scriptures corresponds to the deliverance of justice.

Shani is believed to gives us the results of our deeds during our lifetime through appropriate punishments and rewards whereas Yama delivers the results of one’s deeds after death.

It is said that when Shani opened his eyes as a baby for the very first time, the sun went into an eclipse, which clearly denotes the impact of Shani on astrological charts.

He is known as the greatest teacher and well wisher for the righteous as well the greatest punisher for those who follow the path of evil, betrayal, backstabbing and unjust revenge.

Shani is also known as the lord of masses and his blessings are thus considered very important in an individual’s horoscope for bestowing him with mass following and popularity.

Shani is depicted dark in colour, clothed in black; holding a sword, arrows and two daggers and mounted on a crow, his vahana (vehicle). As protector of property, Shani is able to repress the thieving tendencies of birds.

The period of Shani’s punishments is referred to as Shani Dasha. The term is used to describe periods in our life when nothing seems to go right. It is said that worship of Shani will save one from some or all of these miseries.


1.            Lotus Mantra

Buddhist mantra about the lotus jewel with the 6 syllables signifying the 6 Paramitas (perfections).


for Generosity improves Pride/Ego and provides Wisdom


for Ethics improves Jealousy/Lust and provides Compassion


for Patience improves Passion/Desire and provides Body/Speech/Mind Quality


for Diligence improves Ignorance/Prejudice and provides Equanimity


for Renunciation improves Greed/Possessiveness and provides Bliss


for Wisdom improves Aggression/Hatred and provides Quality of Compassion


  1. Daimoku Mantra
  3. Chanting this mantra, also known as ‘Daimoku’ or the Lotus Sutra, is the primary practice of millions of Buddhists throughout the world. The “Mystic Law governing all life” was uncovered from the Life Span Chapter of the Lotus Sutra and given to the world by the Japanese Buddhist Monk, Nichiren. It is thought to help the practitioners in their quest for enlightenment, similar to what Buddha achieved.
  4. NAM(U)
    is derived from the Sanskrit ‘namas’ meaning ‘devotion to’ or ‘to devote oneself’. It refers to the correct actions and attitude required to attain Buddhahood.
  5. MYOHO
    is made up of two words MYO meaning mystery or miracle and HO meaning principle or doctrine. Together, it refers to the Mystic Law – the supreme law of Buddha. MYO refers to the very essence of life that manifests in a tangible form, HO, that can be percieved by the senses.
  6. RENGE
    means lotus flower, derived from REN (lotus) and GE (flower). The lotus blooms and produces seeds at the same time, and thus represents the simultaneity of cause and effect. The circumstances and quality of our individual lives are determined by the causes and effects, both good and bad. In essence, through our karma (deeds), we are responsible for our own destiny.
  7. KYO
    literally means sutra, the voice or teaching of a Buddha. In a broad sense, KYO conveys the concept that all things in the universe are a manifestation of the Mystic Law.The literal meaning of ‘Nam Myoho Renge Kyo’ is that I am one with the Mystic Law of cause and effect of my life. You achieve real happiness when you recognize that it is your good (or bad) deeds that bring you good (or bad) and amend your ways for the better.The practice of chanting Daimoku is a means to enable all people to put their lives in harmony or rhythm with the law of life, or Dharma. The purpose of chanting daimoku is to attain perfect and complete awakening.

    The Daimoku is the Japanese translation of the Sanskrit Lotus Sutra – Saddharma Pundarika Sutra – which translates to “Scripture of the Lotus Blossom of the Fine Dharma”.

    The seven characters na-mu-myo-ho-ren-ge-kyo are written down the centre of the gohonzon, the mandala venerated by most Nichiren Buddhists. People beginning to practice Nichiren Buddhism generally start by chanting this mantra for a few minutes, morning and evening.

3. Green Tara Mantra

In Tibetan Buddhism, Tara is the “Mother of all Buddhas”. Also referred to as Dolma, she has 21 forms, each represented by a different color and spiritual qualities. Among these, the Green Tara and White Tara are the most popular.

Usually this mantra is attributed to Green Tara, the Goddess of enlightenment and prosperity. She is considered to be the female counterpart of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

The literal meaning of the mantra is:

I prostrate to the Liberator, Mother of all the victorious ones.


stands for liberation from all worldly sufferings.


represents liberation from our material and spiritual fears.


is for attaining liberation from diseases.


is derived from the Sanskrit word Svaha, meaning homage or offering to God to seek blessings.

Green Tara protects beings and help them to eliminate dangers and obstacles in mundane and spiritual life. By reciting the Green Tara Mantra, one will be able to invoke the blessings of Tara and request for her protection.

Green Tara is pictured many-armed, symbolizing the powers and attributes she has cultivated to save everyone. She is often depicted with one leg out of the lotus position, extended down for a quick and decisive response when needed.

Tara mantra is often used to overcome physical, mental or emotional blockages and also blockages in relationships. Green Tara is very active and steps down to help all the beings. When chanting the Tara mantra, one needs to let go and bring the energy back into ourselves. This will result in inner peace and clarity.



Bhaisajyaguru, commonly referred to as the “Medicine Buddha”, is the buddha of healing and medicine in Mahayana Buddhism. He is described as a doctor who cures suffering using the medicine of his teachings. Bhaisajyaguru is the head Buddha of the group of 8 healing Buddhas.The above mantra is the Tibetan version of the Sanskrit Dharani (sacred utterances) of Medicine Buddha:TADYATHA: OM

It translates as:
Thus: OM,
O Healer, O Healer,
O Great Healer,
My highest offerings

The optional “Thus” is prefixed to provide continuity to a longer version of the mantra.

The mantra is part of the Bhaisajya-guru-vaidurya-prabha-raja (the healer, teacher & king with a blue lapis lazuli glow) Sutra. The Twelve Vows of the Medicine Buddha upon attaining Enlightenment, according to the Medicine Buddha Sutra are:

1. To illuminate the world with his radiance

2. To awaken our minds through his glowing blue lapis lazuli light

3. To provide us with material things we may require

4. To inspire us toward the path of the Bodhisattva (enlightenment)

5. To help beings follow the moral codes

6. To heal beings born with illness or handicap

7. To help relieve the poor and the sick

8. To help women be reborn as men if they desire so

9. To help heal mental sufferings

10. To alleviate sufferings of the oppressed

11. To relieve the world of hunger and thirst

12. To help clothe the poor and needy

Bhaisajyaguru is mostly depicted as a monk with Lapis Lazuli blue color skin. In his left hand he holds a bowl of Amrit (the nectar of immortality) and in his right hand he holds a branch of the healing myrobalan plant.

The Medicine Buddha implores his followers to understand that the right way to achieve enlightenment is to alleviate the sufferings of other fellow beings around him/her.



Mul Mantar


Mul Mantar (Fundamental Sacred Utterance) is the first verse of Guru Granth (Sikh Holy Scripture). All Sikh values and knowledge of God are based on the Mul Mantar (Mool Mantra).

Sikhism believes that God does not belong to any one religion. He reveals Himself to all people (indiscriminate of religion) who show pure love from their hearts and recognize God’s beautiful presence in all of His creations. The mantra was gifted by Guru Nanak for everyone who wishes to find the root of their existence.

The meaning of the verse is as follows:


There is only one God


Truth is His Name


He is the Doer of everything


He is without fear


He is without enemies


He is without Death (immortal)


He is without Birth (always existed)


He reveals His Grace through the Guru


Repeat His Name


God was the Truth before time began


God was the Truth when time commenced


God is the Truth in the present time


God will remain the Truth when time ends

In short it means:

One Universal creator God, The supreme Unchangeable Truth, The Creator of the Universe, Beyond Fear, Beyond Hatred, Beyond Death, Beyond Birth, Self-Existent, by the Guru’s Grace.

“Ik Onkar” is a symbol that represents the One Supreme Reality and is a central tenet of Sikh religious philosophy. The symbol communicates the idea of one creative being, or one God, manifesting in all of existence.


Namokar Mantra


The Namokar mantra, also variously referred to as the Navakar Mantra, Namaskar Mantra or the Pancha Parameshti Namaskar, is the most significant mantra in Jainism.

This is the first prayer recited by the Jains while doing Samayik. While reciting this mantra, the devotee bows with respect to the humans who have cleared their gati karmas (arihants), the fully liberated souls (siddhas), the spiritual leaders (acharyas), the teachers (upajjhayas) and the monks.

There is no mention of any particular names of the gods. The prayer is done towards the guna, or the good qualities of the gods, teachers and the saints. Jains do not ask for any favors or material benefits from the Tirthankaras or from sadhus and sadhvis.

This mantra simply serves as a gesture of deep respect towards beings they believe are spiritually ahead and to remind the people of their ultimate goal of nirvana or moksha.

The Jain sects, Digambaras and Sthanakvasis, regard the first five lines as the main mantra, the following two lines are explanatory.


I bow to the arihants (jains pursuing salvation).


I bow to the Siddhas (liberated souls).


I bow to the Acharyas (spiritual leaders).


I bow to the Upadhyay (teachers).


I bow to all the Sadhus & Sadhvis (sages).


This five-fold bow (mantra)..


destroys all sins and obstacles


And of all auspicious mantras,


This is the first and foremost one.


Nirvana Shatakam – in sanskrit with meaning – Mano Buddhi Ahamkara – Composed by: Sri Adi Shankaracharya

Nirvana Shatakam

मनोबुद्ध्यहङ्कार चित्तानि नाहं
न च श्रोत्रजिह्वे न च घ्राणनेत्रे ।
न च व्योम भूमिर्न तेजो न वायुः
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥१॥
Mano-Buddhy-Ahangkaara Cittaani Naaham
Na Ca Shrotra-Jihve Na Ca Ghraanna-Netre |
Na Ca Vyoma Bhuumir-Na Tejo Na Vaayuh
Cid-Aananda-Ruupah Shivo[a-A]ham Shivo[a-A]ham ||1||

1.1: Neither am I the Mind nor Intelligence or Ego,
1.2: Neither am I the organs of Hearing (Ears), nor that of Tasting (Tongue), Smelling (Nose) or Seeing (Eyes),
1.3: Neither am I the Sky, nor the Earth, Neither the Fire nor the Air,
1.4: I am the Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva, I am Shiva,
The Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness.

न च प्राणसंज्ञो न वै पञ्चवायुः
न वा सप्तधातुः न वा पञ्चकोशः ।
न वाक्पाणिपादं न चोपस्थपायु
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥२॥
Na Ca Praanna-Samjnyo Na Vai Pan.ca-Vaayuh
Na Vaa Sapta-Dhaatuh Na Vaa Pan.ca-Koshah |
Na Vaak-Paanni-Paadam Na Copastha-Paayu
Cid-Aananda-Ruupah Shivo[a-A]ham Shivo[a-A]ham ||2||

2.1: Neither am I the Vital Breath, nor the Five Vital Air,
2.2: Neither am I the Seven Ingredients (of the Body), nor the Five Sheaths (of the Body),
2.3: Neither am I the organ of Speech, nor the organs for Holding ( Hand ), Movement ( Feet ) or Excretion,
2.4: I am the Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva, I am Shiva,
The Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness.

न मे द्वेषरागौ न मे लोभमोहौ
मदो नैव मे नैव मात्सर्यभावः ।
न धर्मो न चार्थो न कामो न मोक्षः
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥३॥
Na Me Dvessa-Raagau Na Me Lobha-Mohau
Mado Naiva Me Naiva Maatsarya-Bhaavah |
Na Dharmo Na Ca-Artho Na Kaamo Na Mokssah
Cid-Aananda-Ruupah Shivo[a-A]ham Shivo[a-A]ham ||3||

3.1: Neither do I have Hatred, nor Attachment, Neither Greed nor Infatuation,

3.2: Neither do I have Passion, nor Feelings of Envy and Jealousy,
3.3 I am Not within the bounds of Dharma (Righteousness), Artha (Wealth), Kama (Desire) and Moksha (Liberation) (the four Purusarthas of life),
3.4: I am the Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva, I am Shiva,
The Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness.

न पुण्यं न पापं न सौख्यं न दुःखं
न मन्त्रो न तीर्थं न वेदा न यज्ञाः ।
अहं भोजनं नैव भोज्यं न भोक्ता
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥४॥
Na Punnyam Na Paapam Na Saukhyam Na Duhkham
Na Mantro Na Tiirtham Na Vedaa Na Yajnyaah |
Aham Bhojanam Naiva Bhojyam Na Bhoktaa
Cid-Aananda-Ruupah Shivo[a-A]ham Shivo[a-A]ham ||4||

4.1: Neither am I bound by Merits nor Sins, neither by Worldly Joys nor by Sorrows,
4.2: Neither am I bound by Sacred Hymns nor by Sacred Places, neither by Sacred Scriptures nor by Sacrifies,
4.3: I am Neither Enjoyment (Experience), nor an object to be Enjoyed (Experienced), nor the Enjoyer (Experiencer),
4.4: I am the Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva, I am Shiva,
The Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness.

न मृत्युर्न शङ्का न मे जातिभेदः
पिता नैव मे नैव माता न जन्मः ।
न बन्धुर्न मित्रं गुरुर्नैव शिष्यं
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥५॥
Na Mrtyur-Na Shangkaa Na Me Jaati-Bhedah
Pitaa Naiva Me Naiva Maataa Na Janmah |
Na Bandhurna Mitram Gurur-Na-Iva Shissyam
Cid-Aananda-Ruupah Shivo[a-A]ham Shivo[a-A]ham ||5||

5.1: Neither am I bound by Death and its Fear, nor by the rules of Caste and its Distinctions,
5.2: Neither do I have Father and Mother, nor do I have Birth,
5.3: Neither do I have Relations nor Friends, neither Spiritual Teacher nor Disciple,
5.4: I am the Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva, I am Shiva,
The Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness.

अहं निर्विकल्पो निराकाररूपो
विभुत्वाच्च सर्वत्र सर्वेन्द्रियाणाम् ।
न चासङ्गतं नैव मुक्तिर्न मेयः
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥६॥
Aham Nirvikalpo Niraakaara-Ruupo
Vibhu-Tvaacca Sarvatra Sarve[a-I]ndriyaannaam |
Na Caa-Sanggatam Naiva Muktirna Meyah
Cid-aananda-ruupah Shivo[a-A]ham Shivo[a-A]ham ||6||

6.1: I am Without any Variation, and Without any Form,
6.2: I am Present Everywhere as the underlying Substratum of everything, and behind all Sense Organs,
6.3: Neither do I get Attached to anything, nor get Freed from anything,
6.4: I am the Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness; I am Shiva, I am Shiva,
The Ever Pure Blissful Consciousness.











Swami Muktananda Saraswati (Australia)

Throughout time, fire has been venerated as a symbol of spirit. The first sloka in the Rig Veda is to Agni, to fire:

Agni mide purohitam yajnasya devam ritvijam; hotaram ratna dhatamam

“I offer my humble prayer to Agni, who is the Absolute Divine, the awakener of the inner energy and the giver of prosperity.”

In the ancient vedic scriptures, Agni is the messenger between the people and God. Agni is equally the fire of the sun, of lightning and of the flame that humanity lights for purposes of worship. As the divine personification of the fire of sacrifice, Agni is the mouth of the gods, the carrier of the oblation and the messenger between the human and the divine. Sacred fire acts as a link between man’s consciousness and the cosmic consciousness. Sacred fire has the ability to convert the material offerings into psychic components, as offerings to the deities presiding over the yajnas.

Beginnings of yajna

Yajnas are sacred rituals to invoke and propitiate various deities (energies) using fire as a revered medium for the attainment of various boons and general well-being. The sun (Surya) was the great luminary in the sky who gave light and warmth to the world and was the source of life on earth and its sustenance (Pushan). So people began to offer prayers to Surya in the morning and evening. At night they had to depend on fire (Agni) for heat and light. Gradually the link between Surya, the friend of all beings in the sky, and Agni, who lives among men on earth was established, conceived as different aspects of the one supreme self-luminous deity who also resides in all beings as the warmth of life and assimilates all food offerings poured into the jatharagni (fire in the stomach), which digests all food.

It was observed that the sun drew up the waters with its heat and the vapours rose to the sky to form clouds, returning as rain, and the earth produced vegetation – a circulation between the sky and the earth. It was also observed that when fire burned, the smoke rose to the sky, leaving only ashes, and water heated in vessels also rose to the sky as vapour. So the idea arose that material offerings to the deities in the sky could be made through fire. Fire also had its devata in Agni, and all these devatas were interconnected. If offerings are made to Agni, he would carry it to Surya and other deities in the sky.

With the performance of yajna changes are induced in the atmosphere, which evoke effects in the whole biosphere. Yajnas have been performed from ancient times to purify the natural environment and to secure timely rains so that the crops may be good and there may be prosperity, general well-being and happiness all around.

The ritual of yajna

The Vedas are the original source of information about yajna. Vedic worship of fire is extremely detailed and complicated with many layers of symbol and meaning. Through rituals of purification, consecration and invocation, the entire yajnashala becomes the symbolic representation of the universe, with even the pillars worshipped as the energy that supports the universe. The demons, the negative aspects, also have a place in the divine creation, so they too are worshipped and offered food to their liking.

In these sacred rituals Agni, as fire, is created in the kunda, the sacrificial fireplace, and various deities (energies) are invoked through chanting mantras from the Vedas and performing various hand gestures called mudras and nyasa. These actions have a subtle effect on the energy vibration, both internally and externally, enhancing the effect of the mantras. Mudras are performed at various stages, at the time of invocation and with specific offerings. There are different mudras relevant to each deity. The word mudra has several meanings: seal, imprint, mystery, code and gesture. The term nyasa is derived from the root nyas, which means ‘to place’. It refers to the placing of the fingers and palm of the hand on various parts of the body while chanting certain mantras. The purpose is to prepare the physical body for the reception, or awakening, of the divine presence of the deity.

The beginning of the ceremony is an invocation of surrender and light is offered to the divine. The lamp is waved in a series of Om patterns, balancing all aspects of nature and symbolizing the knowledge of God. A bell is rung, representing the inner sound, and the water offered represents the divine nectar of immortality. The sounding of the conch is Om, the primordial sound. Agni is invoked with the lighting of the physical fire. The wood (samidha or samit) is fed to the fire, representing qualities that are not necessary or appropriate. The fire is nourished by the ghee, which symbolizes mental clarity, abundance and spiritual wealth. The herbs offered represent the bliss released in all actions. The fire is made conscious with mantra and the offerings are made to the ishta devata in the fire. Each of the mantras chanted is a name of God. The different aspects of God are called upon with reverence and offerings are made. Those attending a yajna will receive most benefit by keeping a silent, prayerful and respectful attitude, observing each thought, each picture, each emotion that comes to mind and offering that into the fire.

The offerings

The act of offering is called ahuti or oblation. With each offering ‘Swaha’ (I offer) is said. Swaha is also the name of the wife of Agni. To honour his wife is to honour him in the highest way. All ritual offerings into the sacred fire are offered with this mantra; sva means ‘oneself’ and ha means ‘to offer’. The implication is the offering of oneself for the sake of others; the oblations are meant as substitutes for oneself. One is reborn through the act of sacrifice, the old being is burnt up and a new, divine being emerges, consecrated to altruism. Thus yajna is truly a transforming rite of passage ritual.

The worship of fire purifies the fire element in the body and also purifies the consciousness by amplifying the mantras. Our many senses and their objects are collectively offered in the fires of self-control (tapas, austerity) and purification. The senses are offered in the yoga of self-control, the higher meaning of yajna. The fire of yajna purifies negativity; thus ego, jealously, hatred, vices, ignorance, superstition and other ignoble aspects of the self are offered.

With the closing of the yajna, thanks are given for all of the many things that were sacrificed in order to make the sankalpa of the ritual. Mantras are chanted to ask forgiveness for any errors made. All are given blessings for their part in this most ancient ritual of worshipping the divine. At the end of the ceremony the light is presented to all and may be taken to fill the heart and mind. This is followed by silent prayer to guru and mother earth and the arati is joyfully sung to the lord of the universe.

There are many aspects to a yajna fire ritual. For example, the timing is important astrologically and the geometry is very important and exact. There are hundreds of little details in the preparations, the offerings, the decorations, and the performance, as well as the proper clean-up and handling of everything involved, including the ashes. As one surrenders to the beauty and holiness of yajna, the ‘ancientness’ and all-pervading quality of the element of fire becomes deeply moving.

The first yajna

The initial sacrifice was that of the divine being sacrificing himself to become the universe. The ancient vedic hymn Purusha Sukta tells of the transformation of the eternal, infinite being into the finite cognizable material world, initiating the eternal cycle of creation. So the spirit of sacrifice came to be recognized as the source of creation, the heart of all creative forces.

This yajna was called sarvahut, the offering of all. The Purusha was the object of worship. Brahma, the creative aspect of the Purusha, performed it. The priests were the devas, the Purusha’s senses. Brahma was the beast of the sacrifice. The altar was all of nature. The fire was the Purusha’s heart. The Purusha himself was sacrificed to bring forth all of creation. This is a message of love, that the Purusha would consume himself in the fire of sacrifice, to create all the worlds. From his mind emerged the moon, the sun from his eyes, Indra and Agni from his mouth, and the cosmic breath, Vayu emerged from his breath (prana). Atmosphere emerged from his navel, the sphere of light (divyaloka) from his head, the earth from his feet, the directions from his ears. The devas created all the spheres (lokas) from his cosmic body. Thus the gods worshipped the god of gods through sacrifice. The original sacrifice, the original yajna, became the law of life.

Perpetual yajna

The world is God’s offering to all beings; it is his self-sacrifice to us. Therefore, our duty is to reciprocate by offering sacrifice to him in thanksgiving. The essential dynamic of the universe is that of a perpetual ritual of sacrifice. Every living entity is compelled to devour other forms of life in order to survive. The devoured is the sacrificial victim and the devourer is the sacrificer. This transformation of life into life is the very nature of existence. All creation’s beings perform yajna: the sun, moon and stars; the animals, fish, insects and birds; the trees, grasses and flowers, all are in a continual process of service and sacrifice. All existence can be reduced to a dichotomy of two factors; food (annam) and the eater (annada). Every being is the eater of another and in turn becomes the food for some other being. This symbiotic relationship is particularly apparent in the fire, which grows immediately when fed with fuel and dies as soon as the fuel is consumed. All aspects of combustion or digestion are subtle forms of fire (vaishvanara agni). We make our offerings to the fire-pit in our bellies; these offerings are transformed into the nutrients that fuel the organs, enabling them to serve the body so that it may carry on with the activities of life and honour the soul within. So life is a process of yajna – service and sacrifice, to achieve the ultimate yoga – union with the supreme consciousness.

Symbology in yajna

Various symbols and actions are used to redirect our senses and heighten our sattwic emotions. The fire represents God or truth. The sacrificial food, the samagri (mixture of seeds, plants, resins, grains, etc.) is offered into the fire. The mixture represents our worldly samskaras such as attachment, greed, violence, etc. that bind us to our lower nature and trap us in egocentric thoughts and desires. We offer the seeds of all future actions into this fire of self-knowledge to be completely consumed. Symbolically we are offering our very lives into the fire of purification and sacrifice. While a specific number of people will actually offer the samagri, each of us can participate equally in the ritual by the degree of our sankalpa, awareness and surrender.

The offerings are substances that sustain life and always the best quality available is offered. Many of the items are natural antiseptics and aromatics. As they burn, the subsequent vapours pervade the atmosphere, destroying pollutants and purifying the environment for many kilometres around. The vibrations of the mantras enhance the beneficial effect of these vapours. This ritual not only benefits the external environment, the participants of yajna also benefit as purification takes place in each individual’s internal environment as the vapours and mantras permeate the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual entity.

The outer form of any ritual has an inner corresponding ritual. In yajna, Agni is the divine spark within the human being, the spirit or soul. The ghee or the clarified butter that is offered to Agni is symbolic of the mind. The annam, the sacrificial food, symbolizes the physical body which is the transformed state of annam. Once the divine spark of Agni is invoked, the latent energies or divine powers hidden within man awake to share the fruits of the sacrifice and assist the individual’s purification, transformation and spiritual awakening.

Yajna and devatas

Yajnas link us with the devatas, the hidden cosmic forces. According to the Rig Vedic mystics, a human being performs an action only through assistance from the devas. The contribution of the human to each action is minimal. The great vedic rishis obtained inspiration from superior planes and their main contribution is in transcribing the revealed verses in appropriate metres or rhythms. Yajna is not a mere rule or ritual, it is any activity that recognizes the collaboration between the deva and the human. A rishi is conscious of the divine’s hand in the performance of all activities and conscious of the role of the deva, especially of Agni, so that they request him to perform the yajna on their behalf.

The deities are not only forces of nature, but also forces or energies that exist in the physical body and help the individual’s spiritual development. Through yajna we contact the deities within. We prepare for this worship by bathing and wearing clean clothes. The mantras induce waves of energy in the subtle body that purify the subtle elements of the body, mind and environment, there by awakening the latent divine energies. With the help of sounds, forms, rhythms, gestures, flowers, light, incense and offerings, the mind is carried away from its material preoccupations toward a world of divine beauty.

The ritual priests

Every rite has four main priests: hotri, adhvaryu, udgatri and brahman. The hotri chants the hymns of the Rig Veda, calling the devas to come and participate. The adhvaryu chants the hymns of the Yajur Veda, laying down the various steps of performance. The udgatri chants the Sama Veda hymns in the appropriate metres at specific times. The brahman is the supervisor of the ceremony and chants the hymns of the Atharva Veda. The adhvaryu priest is the one who measures the sacrificial ground; builds all that is necessary; prepares the materials and kindles the fire. The success of the yajna is dependent on having the right set-up before the chanting and offering begins.

Types of yajna

It is said that there are 1008 different yajnas with many kinds of offerings. Dravya yajna relates to the offering of physical, material objects. Tapo yajna is the offering of psychological processes. And yoga itself is turned into sacrifice. The principle of yoga is to sublimate the lower activities to the higher aims. The Bhagavad Gita points out that sacrifice of knowledge is the highest offering. One does not rest in knowledge; one offers the knowledge to the source of knowledge, which is why Lord Krishna says: “All action culminates in the highest knowledge.” The idea is to convert every output of the energy of life on every level, physical, vital, mental and spiritual, into offerings to the divine. So one who performs yajna with awareness undergoes a process of purification.

Yajnas which are offered by those who expect no reward and believe firmly that it is their duty to offer the sacrifice are considered sattwic. Those offered in expectation of reward or for the sake of ego are classed as rajasic. Those in which food is not distributed, mantras are not properly chanted, gifts are not given and which lack faith are tamasic. According to the Bhagavad Gita the word yajna is not confined to the lighting of the sacrificial fire and making offerings of samagri. Many other forms of yajna are mentioned in the Gita:

Some yogis, who are devoted to karma yoga, offer their actions to the gods; while others, who are devoted to jnana yoga, and who have realized the Self, offer the Self in the fire of Brahman, just as one offers samagri to the sacred fire. (4:25)

Some again offer their ears and other sense organs into the fire of restraint, thus bringing their senses under control; others offer sound and other objects of perception into the fires of the senses. (4:26)

Others offer the functions of the senses and those of the breath (vital energy) in the fire of the yoga of self-restraint kindled by knowledge. (4:27)

Some offer their wealth for the welfare of the needy; some offer their austerities as sacrifice; some practise the eight limbs of raja yoga and offer this yoga (equanimity) as sacrifice; while others observe austere vows and offer study of the scriptures and knowledge as sacrifice. Thus sacrificial duties take many forms. (4:28)

The spirit of yajna is love, sacrifice and service. Yajna is a gift from the creator and a way to honour the creator. It is a symbol of life and all the processes of life. It is a symbol of creation and a method to honour creation. It is the esoteric science of life. The true meaning, value and spirit of yajna is the unity of God and humanity. This is what our life is all about – unity with the divine.