The term mantra is commonly used today in the media for key phrases, terms or words of power and influence. Each group has its particular mantras that represent its special view, orientation or goal, whether it is a corporation, a political party or religious organization. We are coming to value clear and concise statements or summary views over longer explanations and discussion. Our communication through computers, power point and text messaging is getting progressively condensed or, we could say, mantric in nature.
Mantra in the Yoga tradition consists of the use of sacred sounds and intentions to transform the energy of the mind in a positive direction. Mantra is probably the most powerful and commonly used of all yogic meditation methods. All the main paths of Yoga – whether of knowledge, devotion or action, or whether Hatha, Raja or Kundalini Yoga – have their key mantras. Mantras can also be performed to help us with concentration, with our work, dealing with emotions, for health, prosperity or overall well-being.
Mantras are of many types. Some are longer prayers and intentions, like the famous Vedic Gayatri mantra to the solar Godhead. Others consist of the repetition of Divine names like the well-known mantra Om Nama Shivaya for Lord Shiva. Yet probably the most important and simplest of all mantras are the single syllable mantras called “bija” or seed mantras starting with OM. They can be used for meditation, worship of deities, energizing prana or for healing purposes – for all aspects of mantra practice. These main bija mantras are also called “Shakti mantras,” as they are commonly used in the worship of the Goddess, who Herself, is the power of sound and mantra.
Shakti bija mantras carry the great forces of Nature such as the energies of the Sun and Moon, electricity and magnetism, not simply as outer factors but as inner potentials of Divine light, love and wisdom. Shakti mantras hold, resonate, and propel the Kundalini force, the higher evolutionary power of consciousness, to flow within us. In this article, we will focus on the eight prime Shakti bija mantras, their energies and usage for Yoga, for health, and for improving our karmas in life.
Shakti mantras relate to the primary forms of the Goddess or Divine Mother. There are special Shakti mantras for each of the great Goddesses, through which we can commune with them and gain their grace. Shakti mantras are the primary mantras used in Tantric Yoga, in which they are combined in various ways to bring about different results. They have a great capacity for transformation that can extend to the deepest layers of our consciousness and prana. They should be approached with reverence and respect as the very life blood of the Goddess.
Most Shakti mantras contain the vowel–Ã, the vibratory ee-sound, which is the main primal sound of Shakti. Most contain the consonant-R, which is the seed of fire, heaven, light, order and dharma and has a stimulating and energizing effect. Some contain the consonant-L, which is the seed of earth, water, joy and bliss and has a calming and stabilizing effect. Many begin with either the letter-H, which indicates prana, light and the Sun, or the letters S or Sh, which indicate the Moon, the mind and water. Some like Auæ or Aim consist of vowels only.
:: Application of Shakti Mantras ::
Shakti mantras can be used to create, sustain or dissolve the various forms, patterns and forces within us. They have particular affinities with certain locations in the body and with specific chakras – like Hrim and the heart – but also have a broader effect to promote certain types of forces, like Hrim as solar energy that can be used on many different levels.
The application of Shakti mantras, like that of other mantras, depends upon the goals of life that we are using them to achieve (dharma, artha, kama, and moksha or career, wealth, enjoyment, or liberation), which gunas we are energizing them with (sattva, rajas, tamas, or the qualities of clarity, action or inertia), or their application through Yoga, Ayurveda, Vedic astrology or other disciplines. In this regard, the same Shakti mantra can be used in many different ways. Yet at the deepest level, Shakti mantras are meant to arouse and support the Yoga Shakti or inner power of Yoga within us.
For example, the mantra Srim at an outer level connects us to the abundance of our dharma and artha, our career and financial gains, and the fulfillment of our kama or desires. For Yoga practice, it grants devotion to the guru and the deity. In Ayurveda, it promotes healing, growth, and nourishment. In Vedic astrology, it is the mantra of the Moon and can be used for strengthening benefic Venus and Jupiter as well. In Vaastu, it promotes well-being, prosperity and happiness in the dwelling.
Used with a sattvic intention, Írãm has a nourishing and harmonizing force; with a rajasic intention, it has a power to promote outer development and achievement; and with a tamasic intention, it can gain a destructive or crushing capacity. At an outer Lakshmi (Goddess of Prosperity) level, Srim can grant us the abundance of the material world; while at an inner Lakshmi level, it can grant us the abundance of the spiritual life, which is devotion, bliss and the beauty of perception.
:: How to Use these Mantras ::
Please use these mantras with respect and a sense of their sacred power, along with your meditation, honoring the deity within. Generally, seed mantras are repeated numerous times in a series of continuous meditation sittings to reach the number of 100,000, which is the amount usually required to awaken their energy and draw it deep into our psyche. Then they can be repeated regularly as needed, even off and on during the day, to help us maintain calm and focus of the mind, or to direct us towards the particular goal that we are seeking through repeating the mantra.
Many people use seed mantras as their main mantra for meditation (TM mantras are usually based upon Shakti mantras, for example), also referred to as “primal sound” or “mantra meditation.” They repeat their special mantra before meditation to take the mind more quickly into the meditative state. Shakti mantras have a powerful effect by their sound alone, which is pranic in nature and helps de- condition the mind, even if one does not understand their meaning. They are easy to pronounce as they consist of one syllable only! You can choose one of these mantras as your meditation mantra, repeating it silently for at least fifteen minutes or around a thousand times before meditation.
Another method is to let the mantra reverberate along with the breath. You can draw in the Shakti of the mantra on inhalation like Hrim as the solar energy or pure light of awareness, and spread its energy throughout your being or into your environment upon exhalation. When mantra and prana become one, both are brought to a higher level of power and function. One can direct the mantra along with the breath to whatever part of the body one wishes to be healed or strengthened, or send it as a healing force for the benefit of others.
Bija mantras can be used along with Divine names, like OM Hrim Sur yaya Namah! for honoring the solar deity Surya. They can be used in combinations for different deities or aspects of the Divine, like Krim Hum Hrim for Ma Kali. There are many such mantric formulas in Sanskrit literature and Hindu devotional worship. However, deeper applications and complex combinations of Shakti mantras may require direct instruction from a teacher who knows how to adapt these mantras on an individual basis. This is the same as for any other Yoga practice.
:: The Language of Shakti Mantras ::
A single Shakti mantra can be used as a meditation mantra in order to draw the mind into deep awareness. One repeats the mantra prior to meditation to bring the mind into a meditative state. Then one keeps the mantra going in the back of the mind as long as the meditation proceeds, to help sustain the process. Several Shakti bija mantras can also be used together as meditation mantras, often in groups of three to seven bijas.
Shakti mantras can function as names of deities to invoke them, like OM and Shiva, or Aim and Sarasvati. But they are more commonly used in conjunction with Divine names, like OM Aim Sarasvatyai Namah!
Shakti mantras reflect various types of invocation. For example,
OM Aim Hrim Srim, means OM; I invoke (Aim); open my heart to (Hrim); and take refuge in (Srim). Or OM Krim Hum Hrim means OM; I energize (Krim); enkindle (Hum); and open my heart (Hrim). In conclusion, Shakti mantras allow us to energize our thoughts and feelings at a deeper level with the force of higher awareness.
by Pandit Vamadeva