Monday, February 20, 2012

SOME VEDIC MANTRAS USED IN HINDU RITUALS AND WORSHIPS


SOME VEDIC MANTRAS USED IN HINDU RITUALS AND WORSHIPS

(MAHANARAAYANA UPANISHAD

 

Some of us are engaged in our Nitya Karmas (daily duties) and Naimittika Karmas (duties for special occasions) in our Hindu way of Life. We also perform several rituals periodically with the help of learned priests. In all previous discourses Vedic Mantras have been included with their meanings and explanations in a limited way in order to create interest in the readers to study our scriptures. Many of them are in the category of Mantra Pushpas (Flowers of Mantra) and are ideal to chant with proper intonation. When chanted properly one will feel a sort of divine experience within oneself. Lord Krishna recommends in his Bhagavadgeeta a leaf, a flower, a fruit or little water (patram pushpam phalam toyam) as offerings to him which would please him very much when offered with devotion. These Vedic Mantra Pushpas are the most sacred flowers and are ideal when you visit a temple empty handed to concentrate on the Supreme. Amongst these stands "Yopam Pushpam Veda" foremost as a unique Manntrapushpa which is usually chanted at the conclusion of 16-steps pooja (Shoedasopachaara Pooja) to deities at home or temples with which we are all familiar. Its meaning has been explained in Poojavidhaanam, posted on the BLOG.

 
Maha Naraayana Upanishad is from Krishna Yajurveda. This Upanishad contains a collection of mantras used in various rituals and worships in temples and at home. Based on various references from great commentators of this Upanishad like Sankara, Ramanuja etc., this Upanishad emerges out to be an authoritative scriptural text describing the nature of Supreme Reality. This Upanishad is also called Yagniki Upanishad as it deals at length with passages from Vedas and other Upanishads in parts or full used in religious acts of worship. Yajnaatma Narayana is considered to be the seer of this part of Veda. According to Sage Sayana this Upanishad contains whatever mantras left over to be chanted in respect of Karma, Upaasana and Jnaana after the recital of Samhitha and Braahmana which are brought together in this rare compilation. This Upanishad is misunderstood as a Vaishanva Text by many because of its overemphasis on Saranaagati. This can be aptly be  called a Smarta Text instead for it gives equal importance  to mantras used by Vaishnavites, Saivites as well as Sakta followers in rituals and worships. Sankara is believed to be the founder of this tradition which believes in five-in-one worship (Panchayatana Pooja) and Shanmatas. This tradition is very popular in South India. Sankara composed  several hymns on Vishnu, Siva ans Devi  later which are popularly chanted by religious followers,  besides being the founder of Advaita philosophy in his earlier days.  Sankara was  born as Namboodari Brahmin who are devotees of Lord Aiyappan who is a son born to Siva and Vishnu in his incarnation of voluptuous Mohini, giving equal importance to Siva Vishnu and Sakta ]followings and Aiyappan is a compromising deity to suit all traditions.

 
It seems that there were no hard and fast rules on Smskaaras during Vedic period. Hymns now used in the rituals of Upanayana, marriage, conception etc. are found in Rigveda and other Upanishads and also Vedic mantras generally recited during all rituals. Taittareeya Aaranyaka contains Mantras used during cremation. Gayatree Mantras are found in Brihadaaranyaka Upanishad. We also find in it Mantras for begetting learned son and also Mantras chanted during funeral cremation.

 
It is reasonable to conclude rituals and ceremonies were developed, amplified and codified and given an institutional bias in later years with the development of civilization or needs of the time for giving stability to the community. The rituals performed by the Brahmana Community received systematic treatment in Kalpa Sutras which are exegetical texts of Vedas. The need for them arose because short manuals were required by the priests as an aid for their daily performance. Among these texts, those that deal with Vedic sacrifices are called Srauta Sutras and those that deal with domestic rituals are called Grihya Sutras.

 
Yajna is conducted through sacrificial fire in which form it is worshiped with appropriate rituals for the fructification of different objectives. Where there is fire, there is always water or Varuna. Often water is sanctified by the gods being invoked in the Mantras and the sanctified water is sprinkled or sipped to wash away impurities and Sins.

 
Maha Narayana Upanishad contains several such Mantras used in Hindu rituals and ceremonies suitably extracted by this Upanishad from various sources which are being reproduced with meanings and explanations in this and other discourses on this concise Upanishad.

 

 

 
GAAYATREE-MANTRAAH

 
Mahanarayana Upanishad contains many Gayatri Mantras that are repeatedly recited by the devotees of the respective deities. They are named after such deities such as "Rudra Gayatri", "Ganesha Gayatri etc. We are familiar with the famous Gayatri Mantra of Viswamitra chanted during our daily prayers in the morning (Praatah Sandhyavandanam), Mid-day prayer (Maadhyaanneekam) and evening prayer (Saayam Sandhyavandanam). We call this as The Gayatri Mantra being the most repeated in Yoga Saastra for Breath control (Praanaayaama) and almost in all rituals. This has also been explained in detail in Upanayana and Upaakarma discourses. The Meditation Mantras mentioned below get their name from the Gayatri Chandas (meter in which these mantras are chanted). In all these Gayatri Mantras the meditation is directed to the Purusha (Paramaatman) as well as the primordial energy.

 
Rudra Gaayatri—"Purushasya vidma sahasraakshasya mahadevasya dheemahi | tannoe rudrah prachoedayaat || — we meditate upon the Purusha. We meditate upon Mahadeva the omniscient for that purpose. May that God Rudra, prompt us that meditation upon the Purusha!

 
"Tatpurushasya vidmahe mahaadevaaya dheemahi | Tannoe rudrah prachoedayaat"—we meditate upon that Purusha (Paramaatman). We meditate on Mahadeva for that purpose. May that Rudra invigorate us in our action of meditating on Purusha!

 
Ganesha Gaayatri—"Tatpurushaaya vidmahe vakratundaaya dheemahi | Tannoe dantih prachoedayaat ||"— we meditate upon that Purusha. We meditate on the Lord with curved trunk for that purpose. May the Lord with the elephant face (Lord Ganesha) invigorate us!

 
Garuda Gayatri—"Tatpurushaaya vidmahe suvarnapakshaaya dheemahi | Tannoe garudah prachoedayaat ||"– we meditate upon that Purusha.
We meditate upon the one who has beautiful colored wings for that purpose. May the Garuda invigorate us in our meditation to Purusha.

 
Durga Gaayatri—"Kaatyaayanaaya vidmahe kanyakumaari dheemahi | Tannoe durgeeh pra-choedayaat ||" – We meditate upon Durga who belongs to Kaatyaayana gotra (lineage), who is the resplendent maiden. May Durga invigorate us in our act of meditation! [Here Durga is the primordial Energy. Kanya signifies she is virgin. Katyaayana relates to lineage].

 
Vishnu Gaayatri—"Narayanaya Vidmahe vaasudevaaya dheemahi | Tannoe vishnuh prachoedayaat"–we meditate upon Naaraayana. For that we meditate upon Vaasudeva. May that Lord Vishnu invigorate us! [In Srivaishnava concept Narayana is Parabrahman].

 
This Upanishad contains several other Gayatri Mantras which are self explanatory and as follows:

 
Nandi Gaayatri—Tatpurushaaya vidmahe chakratundaaya dheemahi | Tannoe nandih prachoedayaat ||

 
Subhramanya Gaayatri—Tatpurushaaya vidmahe mahaasenaaya dheemahi | Tannas shanmukhah prachoedayaat ||

 
Brahma Gaayatri—Vedaatmanaaya vidmahe hiranyagabhaaya dheemahi | Tannoe brahma prachoedayaat ||

 
Narasimha Gaayatri—Vajranakhaaya vidmahe teekshnadamshtraaya dheemah \ Tannoe narasingh prachoedayaat ||

 
Sooryadeva Gaayaatri—Bhaaskaraaya vidmahe mahaadyutikaaraaya dheemahi | Tannoe aadityah prachoedayaat ||

 
Agnideva Gayatri—Vaisvaanaraaya vidmahe laaleelaaya dheemahi | Tannoe agnih prachoedayaat ||
    
There are very many Gayatree-mantras scattered all over Hindu Scriptures and contained in Stotras (divine songs).

 
Bhudevi Gaayatri – Dhanurdharaayai vidmahe sarvasiddhyai cha dheemahi | Tannoe dharaa prachoedayaat ||[Bhoosooktam]
'

 
Lakshmi Gaayatri—Mahaadevyai cha vidmahe vishnupatnyai cha dheemahi | Tannoe lakshmeeh prachoedayaat || (Sree sooktam)

 
Hamsa GaayatriHamsa hamsaaya vidmahe paramahamsaaya dheemahi | Tannoe hamsah prachoedayaat || [Medhaasooktam; Hamsa is an avatar of Vishnu. Here Hamsa means Brahman]

 
Soorya Gaayatri—Aadityaaya vidmahe sahasra-kiranaaya dheemahi | Tannoe sooryah prachoedayaat ||

 
Sudarsana Gaayatri—Sudarsanaaya vidmahe jwaalaa-chakraaya dheemahi | Tannoe chakrah prachoedayaat ||

 

 

 
BHUDEVI MANTRAAH (MANTRAS OF MOTHER EARTH)

 
The following popular hymn in praise of Mother Earth, consort of Lord Vishnu is chanted regularly:
Samudra vasane devi | parvata sthana mandale ||
Vishnupatnee namstubhyam | paadasparsam kshamasva me |
Oh Mother Earth! Vast ocean is your abode. Mountains are your breasts. Thou art consort of lord Vishnu. Please forgive us for trampling on you all the time. Obeisance to you!

 
This hymn has been based on the following three Vedic Mantras mentioned in Mahaa Narayana Upanishad.

 
Asvakraante rathakraante vishnukraante vasundharaa | sirasaa dhaaritaa devi rakshasva maam pade pade ||
Oh! Earth Goddess, you bear the trampling of horses, chariots and strides of Lord Vishnu. I adore you with reverence by bearing you on my head. Please protect me always.

 
[Rituals like Yagna are done on the Earth. During this act we trample on the floor constantly. Our scriptures mandate the worship of Mother Earth before the commencement of the ritual and also take her permission to start the ritual. Symbolically mud from the ground is worn with reverence on the head at the time of ablution].

 
Uddhritaasi varaahena krishnena satabaahunaa || Bhoomir-dhenur-dharanee loka-dhaarinee ||

 
You were lifted up by Lord Krishna with hundred arms (meaning many arms), in the form of Varaaha. Your reputation as Bhoomi, Dhenu, Dharanee and the Sustainer of the Worlds is well known.

 
[When Earth was drowned in waters Lord assumed the form of Divine Boar and lifted the Earth and positioned it in its place with the help its tusks. The Lord did not take only strides on it here but also lifted it up with great strain to save her. Krishna here refers to Narayana, Paramaatman. Krishna means one who delights the Earth. She is also his consort. Probably this mantra inspired Jayadeva to exclude Krishna avataara from Dasaavataaras, who thinks that all avataaras emanated from Lord Krishna, in his form of Jagannaatha]

 
Mrittike hana me paapam yanmayaa dushkritam kritam | Tvayaa hatena paapena jeevaami saradah satam || mrittike dehi may pushtim tvayi sarvam pratishtitam ||

 
Oh Goddess Earth! Destroy my sin; destroy whatever misdeed I have done. May I live hundred years after my sins have been destroyed by you! Oh Mother! Bestow on me all nourishment! Everything is sustained by you.

 
[All things are produced on Earth, and so she is called Bhoomi; she is called Dhenu, cow because she is fondled like a cow which was inseparable companion of our sages; As she is stable and stationed without movement which is not felt in daily life she is called Dharanee (stable without movement). Our sages were simple folks who lived in villages with cattle wealth. Their thoughts therefore focus on cow.]

 
Gandhadvaaraam duraadharshaam nityapushtaam kareeshineem | Easvareegam sarva- bhootaanam taamihopahvaye sriyam ||

 
I pray to you to come near us, Oh Goddess! Thou art the ruler of all entities; thou art known by your odor; thou art invincible by sins; thou art ever full; and thou art associated with cow-dung and others.

 
[This Mantra is chanted while applying sandal paste to the deity during bathing ceremony. Lord is brought in close association with his consort Bhoodevi (Earth). Gandha (odor) is symbolic of mother Earth as soil is always associated with odor. Sriyam also means Earth in this context. This Mantra is from Sreesooktam].

 
Aditirdevaa gandharvaa manushyaah pitaroesuraa-stesha(ga)m sarvabhootaanaam maataa medinee | mahatee mahee saavitree gaayatree jagatyurvee prithvee bahulaa visvaa bhootaa katamaa ka yaa saa satyeti amriteti vasishthah ||

 
Aditi is the mother of all living beings such as divines, gandharvas, human beings, manes, demons; she is known by names such as Medini, Mahati, Saavitree, Gaayatree, Jagatee, Urvee, Prithvee, Bahulaa, Visvaa, Bhootaa, Katamaa, Kaa, Yaa, Saa, Sathyaa and Amritaa. Sage Vasishtha praised Mother Earth thus. Her greatness is very vast and it is not easy to describe her (Kaa means Avyakta-roopaa).

 


Aaditya is Parabrahman


MNU prescribes meditation upon the Sun as Brahamn and Narayana  as in Rigveda. The Golden Person described in the Mantras is the Supreme Lord who has favored man with three Vedas shining in the Sun. Therefore we have the first set of Mantras to meditate upon Brahman as the Orb of the Sun. Aditya can be explained  as Aadau Bhavah—the Lord who was in the beginning. Supreme Person not only has revealed the three   Vedas through the Sun, but also has given all that is necessary for the well-being and liberation of all creatures. So we have the second set of Mantras glorifying Sun as Sarvaatmaka, abiding in all Beings. We have the last set of Mantras to be employed for Japa by those who are incapable of performing meditation given in the other two sets of Mantra. This is like Sandhyavandana mantra.

Solar energy is recognized as a vital alternate renewable power source for addressing the global energy crisis – in case fossil fuels are depleted in the coming few decades. Moral values are on the decline daily with falsehood and deception practiced casually these days. Lord Surya is the very embodiment of Truth. He is the most visible form of Saguna Brahman. Moreover Upanishds and Gita sa  the Sun, Moon,  Fire and Stars all shine because of Brahman—“tasya bhaasaa sarvamidam  vibhaati”. Praying to these luminaries is praying to Brahman alone.  Praying to Him can strengthen the power of truth within us and in practicing truth and fairness in dealing with the outside world.

Aadityamandala Prabrahma Upaasana Mantras
(Meditation Mantras for Parabrahman as the Orb  of Aaditya)

Aadityo vaa esha etanmandalam tapati tatrataa richastadrichaa mandala(ga)m sa richaam loko atha ya esha etasmin mandale archir-deepyate taani saamaani sa saamnaam loko atha ya esha etasminmandalorchishi  purushastaani yajoo(ga)mshi sa yajushaa mandala(ga)m sa yajushaam lokah saisha trayyeva vidyaa tapati ya  esho antaraaditye hiranmayah purushah ||
Aadityapurushasya Sarvaatmaatmaka Pradarsana Mantras
(Mantras on Aadityapurusha  Depicting  as One who is  Abiding in All Beings)

Aadityo vai teja ojo balam yasaschakshuh srotraatmaa mano  manyur- manur-mrityuh satyo  mitro vaayur-aakaasah praano lokapaalah kah kim kam tatsatyamannmamrito jeevo viswah katamah svayambhu brahmaitadamrita esha purusha esha bhootaanaamadhipatirbrahmanah saayujya(ga)m salokataam aapnot-yetaasaameva devataanaa(ga)m saayujya(ga)m saarshtitaa(ga)m samaanalokotaamaapnoti ya  evam veddatyupanishat ||
Aadityadevata Mantras

Ghrinihi surya aadityom archayanti tapah satyam madhu ksharanti tad  brahma  tad aapah jyotee raso  amritam  brahma bhoorbhuvah suvarom ||

Verily Aaditya is He; This Orb of   his gives light and heat; The well-known Rik values are there; Therefore the orb is the collection of Rik   verses. He is the abode of Rik. Now this flame which is shining in the orb of the Sun is the collection of Saaman chants; That is the abode of Saaman chants.   Now He who is the Person in the flame within the orb of the Sun (is to be meditated upon as) the collection of the Yajus; that part of the orb is the collection Yajus; that is the abode of Yajus. Thus by these three the threefold knowledge alone shines. He who is within the Sun is the Golden Person.
The Sun alone is verily all these—energy, splendor, strength, renowned, slight, hearing, body, mind, anger, seer, the Deities of Death, Satya, Mitra, Wind, ether and Breath, the Rulers of the world, Prajaapati, the Indeterminable One, happiness, that which transcends the senses, truth, food, span of life, liberation or Immortality, individual Soul, the Universe, the acme of bliss and the self-born Brahman.  This Person in the sun is eternal. He is the Lord of all creatures. He who meditates thus upon Him attains union with Brahman and lives in the same region of enjoyment with Him; he attains union, co-residence and like-enjoyment with these gods in their worlds. The secret knowledge is thus imparted.

Aaaditya, the Supreme Cause of the Universe, is the giver of light and water and is the source of all energy. He is denoted by the syllable Om.  Gods worship Him as Tapas and Truth. (Being worshiped thus) He grants bliss to the worshipers. (Or worshipers offer honey and sweet offerings to Him)That form of the Sun is Brahman. That is the pervading cause of all. That is water, fire, flavor, and ambrosia. The three Vyaahritis (emanations) representing the three worlds and the Pranava representing the cause of the Universe denote that Brahman.
 

SANDHYAAVANDANA MANTRAAH (DAILY PRAYER MANTRAS)

 
Prayer for Forgiveness of Sins

 
Aapah punantu prithiveem prithivee pootaa punaatu maam | punantu brahmanaspatir-brahma pootaa punaatu maam || Yad-ucchishtam-bhojyam yadvaa duscharitam mama | Sarvam punantu maam-aapoe-asataancha pratigraha(g)am svaahaa ||

 
May waters purify the earth! May the earth purify me after having been purified! May the Paramaatman, the Lord of the four-faced (Brahma) purify the earth! May the earth purified by Paramaatman purify me!
May the act of eating left-over food and food not fit for consumption, whatsoever sinful acts done by me, and the gifts received from wicked persons, be purified by waters and I too.

 
Agnischa maa manyuscha manyu-patayascha-manyukritebhyah paapebhyoe rakshantaam | Yadahna paapamakaarsham | manasaa vaachaa hastaabhyaam | padbhyaam-udarena sisnjaa | ahastad-avalumpatu | yat kincha duritam mayi | idamaham maam-amrityoenau | satye jyotishi juhoemi svaahaa ||

 
May Agni, God of Fire protect me from sins committed on account of anger and those elements that promote anger! May the day itself destroy whatever sins I accumulated during day time with my mind, speech, hands, feet, stomach and the genetic organ! May the day purify me of all the sins abiding in me! I offer myself unto that effulgent Supreme Being in the abode of the liberated souls.
[This prayer for forgiveness is for the sins committed during daytime while doing the evening prayer. This mantra is chanted while taking Aachamana (sipping water) for purification of sins in the evening prayer. Manyupatayah means organs. Satya is Paramaatman]

 
Sooryascha maa manyuscha manyukritebhyah | paapebhyoe rakshantaam | yad-raatryaa paaam–akaarsham | manasaa vaachaa hastaabhyaam padbhyaam-udarena sisnjaa | raatris-tad-avalumpatu | yat kincha–duritam mayi | idamaham maam-amrityoenau | soorye jyoetishi juhoemi svaahaa ||

 
May the Sun God protect me from sins caused by anger and those elements that promote anger! May the night itself destroy whatever sins I committed during the night with my mind, speech, hands, feet, stomach and the genetic organ! I offer myself unto the effulgent Paramaatman in the abode of the liberated souls.

 
[This prayer for forgiveness is for the sins committed during the night while doing daytime prayers. This mantra is used for Aaachamana (sipping of water) for purification of sins during morning prayers. Paraamaatman is signified as Soorya in this mantra as Sun is the immediate cause of the birth of the universe.]

 
Invocation of Gaayatri
Aayaatu varadaa devee aksharam brahma-samhitam | Gaayatreem cchandasaam maatedam brahma jushasva nah || oejoe-aci sahoe-aci balamaci bhraajoeci | devaanaam dhaamanaamaaci visvamaci visvaayuh | sarvamaci sarvaayur-abhibhooroem gayatreem-aavaha yaami ||

 
Oh Goddess Gayatri, who bestows all boons, please favor by arriving here! Oh the Mother of all Vedic Mantras, having arrived here please accept this great mantra in the Gayatri meter which is the most celebrated mantra. You are the most resplendent and most accomplished. Thou art the strength. Thou art brilliant. Thou art the abode of all the popular Gods. Thou art celebrity. Thou art everything, and the life of all. You overpower all. You are the Pranava (OM). I invoke Goddess Gayatri.

 
[Gayatri meter is the mother of all meters. She is addressed as primordial energy or Brahmaatmika or Self.]

Ojoci Sahosi balamaci bhrajoci devaanaam dhaamanaamaci viswamaci visvaayuh sarvamaci  sarvaayuh abhibhoorom gaayatrrem aavaahayaami saavitreem aavaahayaami sarsvateem aavaahayaami  chchandarsheen aavaahayaami gaayatriyaa gaayatree chchndo viswaamitra rishih savitaa devataagnirmukham brahmaa  siroe vishnur hridayah rudrah sikhaa prithavee yonih praana-apaana-vyaana-udaana-samaana sapraanaa svetavarnaa sankhyaayana gotraa gayatree chaturvimsatyaksharaa shatkukshih panchaseersha upanayane viniyogah ||

Oh Gayatree! Thou art the essence of strength. Thou art patience or the subduing power. Thou art physical capacity. Thou art splendor. Thou art abode of Gods and their name. Thou art the insentient Universe.  Thou art the full span of life or the lord of all.  Thou art every living thing.  Thou art the life span of all. Thou art the vanquisher of all that is hostile to us.   Thou art the Truth denoted by the Pranava OM. I invoke Gayatree into my heart. I invoke Savitri. I invoke Sarasvati. I invoke the meters, the r Rishi and the Gods. I invoke the splendor of all the Gods. Gaayatree is the meter of Gayatree; the Rishi is Viswamitra; The deity is Savitar. Fire represents the mouth; the four-faced Brahma, the head; Vishnu, the heart; Rudra, the crown of hairs. Earth, the source; the in-breath, the out breath, the diffused breath; the up-breath and the middle breath, and the breath.   Gaayatree is fair in hue and is of the same family as Paramaatman attained by the Sakhyaas—the illumined sages. The deity Gaayaatree has twenty four syllables, comprised in three feet, six sheaths or cavities and five heads. It is employed in Upanayana ceremony or the initiation into Vedic studentship.

[Vajasaneyins use this section for the invocation of Gaayatree instead of the verses beginning with Aayaatu varadaa devee]

Traditionally Gaayatree is the name given to that Deity in the forenoon, Savitri in the midday and Sarasvati in the evening. Gaayatree is explained as that which protects the person who chants it from the various sins. The epithet Savitri is given because it represents Savitar who illumines the Creation.  Sarasvati epithet denotes the world in the shape of speech. These three are represented as Brahma, Rudra and Vishnu as well as Red, White and Black. Whatever it is Supreme is worshiped through the Gaayatree.

Being the essence of all the mantras Gaayatree embodies in it  mystically all the meters, all the Rishis, all the Gods and all the splendor. So by the invocation of Gayatree all these are invoked within oneself.  No mantra is fit for employment in religious acts unless the meter, the Rishi and the deity are also remembered. So, Gaayatree, Viswamitra and Savitar are   mentioned.   Then the formula of Gaayatree is personified for meditation: Agni the first of Gods is the Mouth; Brahma the first born is the Head; Vishnu is the Heart; and Rudra is the Sikha or flame causing the final dissolution or what is placed at the top of all. The Earth is the Yoni i.e. the source and the winds (pancha pranas), the breath, fairness in hue is indicative of the highest purity. The knowledge of the family is necessary to assess he greatness of an individual and so it is stated that Gaayatree  is of the same Gotra as Brahman   —Sankhyaayana.

 
Sending off Gayatri

 
Uttame sikhare devee bhoomyaam parvata-moordhani | Braahmanebhyoe hyanujnaanam gaccha devi yathaa-sukham ||

 
O Goddess Gayatri! Proceed at your pleasure to Mount Meru, your celebrated place of enjoyment. Your ardent devotees have consented for the same (after completing their prayers).

 

 
Gaayatree Mantrah

 
Om bhooh | Om bhuvah | Ogam suvah | Om mahah | Om janah | Om tapah | O(ga)m satyam | Om tat saviturvarinyam bhargoe devasya dheemahi | dhiyoe yoenah | prachoedayaat | Om-aapoe jyotee rasoe-amritam brahma bhoor-bhuvas-suvaroem ||

 
The Bhooloka is having Brahman as its inner self. The worlds Bhuvah, Suvah, Mahah, Janah, Tapah and Satyam are having Brahman as their inner-self. We meditate upon the worshipful prowess of the Lord Savitr, the cause of this universe, who prompts our intellect. Water and light, the taste, the liberated self are all Brahman. The three worlds Bhooh, Bhuvah and Suvah are also Om or Brahman.

 
[This is the famous Gayatree Mantra used in Praanaayaama (Breath-control exercise) in Yoga- saastra. Brahman prompts our Jnaanedriyas, vital senses (organs of perception). This is the Mantra which is administered to the youngster during Upanayana Samskaara, known as Brahmopadesa. Aapah and Jyotih stand for the five elements. Savitr here means Brahman]

 
Om bhoor-bhuvas-suvar-mahar-janas-tapas-satyam tad brahma tad-aapa aapoe jyoetee-rasoe-amritam brahma bhoor-bhuvas-suvaroem ||

 
The seven worlds Bhooh, Bhuvah, Suvah, Mahah, Janah, Tapah and Satyam are contained in Brahman or Brahmaatmaka. They are having Brahman as their Antaryami or inner-self. That is Brahman. That is water. Water, fire, the taste characteristic, and the liberated souls are all due to Brahman. The three worlds Bhooh, Bhuvah, and Suvah are Om meaning Brahman.

 
Om tad Brahma | Om tad Vaayuh | Om tadaatmaa | Om tat satyam | Om tat sarvam | Om tat puroer-namah ||

 
Om is that Brahman. Om is that Air (Vaayu). Om is that Aatman (Self). Om is all that. Om is that primeval cause that existed before creation; so obeisance unto that Pranava (Om).

 
[Sankalpa, Aachamana and Gaytri Japa are three essential ingredients in all Hindu rituals and Samskaaras. Sankalpa Mantra and Aachamana Mantra can be found in the earlier discourse of Pooja vidhaanam with detailed explanation. Even though the priest conducts the rituals and Samskaaras on behalf of the Karta (one who performs), it is the onerous task of the individual who performs it. It is he who is performing and not the priest who is just guiding you. It would be therefore beneficial to get acquainted with these mantras and also understand their meaning and significance. There is a wrong notion that these are meant for Brahmins only and the Gayatree Mantra is meant for those who have gone through the Upanayana ceremony. The importance of these Mantras in rituals needs no special emphasis].

 

 

 

 
PRAANAAHUTI-MANTRAAH: BHUKTAANNA-ABHIMANTRANA-MANTRAAH (MEALTIME PRAYERS, CONCLUDING PRAYERS/PRAYERS FOR OFFERING FOOD TO DEITIES)

 
It is customary to administer these Mantras at the time of Upanayanam (thread ceremony). The twice born, dwija (one gets the title of Dwija after the Upanayana Samskaara) is expected to do his Nityakarmas (daily duties) as per the injunctions of the Saastras. Praana-Ahuti Mantra is an essential Nityakarma. Every religion has its own code of religious conduct to pray to God before starting the meal and receive Lord's blessings for getting the proper nourishment. It is therefore necessary that every Hindu should chant at least a portion of these mantras thanking the Supreme before and after meals.

 
The following Mantra is chanted while sipping water before taking food. Vishnupurana says liquid substance should be taken at the beginning and at the end of taking food and solid food should be taken in between.

 
Amritoepastaranamaci | (He amrita! Tvam upastaranamaci!)

 
Thou art the sheet spread out (upastarana) for the food (amrita) to be consumed.

 
[This mantra is addressed to the food. One who consumes the food addresses to food as Nectar (amrita), that is the water taken in his hand and then sips the water after chanting the mantra. This mantra is also called aaposana mantra since water is consumed first. At least this mantra should be chanted before taking food by all. Anna is identified with Brahman symbolically]

 
Praanoe-nivishtoe-amritam juhomi | Praanaaya svaahaa |
Apaane nivishtoe-amritam juhomi | apaanaaya svaahaa |
Vyaane nivishtoe-amritam juhomi | Vyaanaaya svaahaa |
Udaane nivishtoe-amritam juhomi | Udaanaaya svaahaa |
Samaane nivishtoe-amritam juhomi | Samaanaaya svaahaa |
Brahmani ma aatma-amritatvaaya |

 
In order to satisfy the Praana, I offer this food to the fire which is nectar. This is my offering to Praana. In order to satisfy the Apaana, I offer this food to the fire which is nectar. This is my offering to Apaana. In order to satisfy the Vyaana, I offer this food to the fire which is nectar. This is my offering to Vyaana. In order to satisfy the Udaana, I offer this food to the Udaana which is nectar. This is my offering to Udaana. In order to satisfy Samaana, I offer this food to the fire which is nectar. This is my offering to Samaana. May I oblate my Self (Aaatman) to Brahman, to be fit for immortality!

 
[Every human being is blessed with five vital forces called Pancha Praanas about which we have learnt in detail in the past. Praanas are physiological functions without which the body cannot remain alive. They supply energy to the gross and subtle bodies. Vedanta as well as Ayurveda has identified them as Praana, Apaana, Vyaana, Udaana and Samaana. Symbolically they represent Self. Sacrificial fire here is identified as Jatharaagni or stomach fire. If we plug both of our ears with our fingers and carefully listen we hear the sound of burning flames. This is called stomach fire. Before actually starting eating, offering of food is made to the five vital forces through the medium of the stomach fire symbolic of fire sacrifice. For this a tiny bit of food particle is swallowed each time without biting after each "svaaha" in the mantra. In modern terms this is called combustion or digestion even though no fire is involved. Symbolically this is also done while offering food to the deity. Every religious Hindu offers the food to deity first and then consumes it with the notion that it is the prasad or the blessed food from God. For more details about the five vital forces please go through the discourse on Ayurveda and Life's Vitality and Reincarnation.]

 
Praane nivishtoe-amritam juhomi | sivoe maa visaapradaahaaya | Praanaaya svaahaa ||
Apaane nivishtoe-amritam juhomi | sivoe maa visaapradaahaaya | Apaanaaya svaahaa ||
Vyaane nivishtoe-amritam juhomi | sivoe maa visaapradaahaaya | Vyaanaaya svaahaa ||
Udaane nivishtoe-amritam juhomi | sivoe maa visaapradaahaaya | Udaanaaya svaahaa ||
Samaane nivishtoe-amritam juhomi sivoe maa visaapradaahaaya | Samaanaaya svaahaa ||
Brahmani ma aatmaa-amritatvaaya ||

 
I offer this food which is nectar as sacrifice (oblate) for satisfying the vital force Praana. Oh Food! You are auspicious. Please enter into me and subside the burning (daaha) caused by the gastric fire (Jatharaagni). This is my offering to the vital force Praana. I offer this food which is nectar as sacrifice for satisfying the vital force Apaana. Oh Food!You are auspicious. Please enter into me and subside the pain caused by the gastric fire. This offering is to my Apaana. I offer this food as sacrifice which is nectar for satisfying the vital force Vyaana. Oh Food! You are auspicious. Please enter into me and subside the pain caused by the gastric fire. This is my oblation to my Vyaana. I offer this food as sacrifice which is nectar to for satisfying the vital force Udaana. Oh Food! You are auspicious. Please enter into me and subside my pain caused by the gastric fire. This is my oblation to Udaana. I offer this food which is nectar as sacrifice for satisfying the vital force Samaana. Oh Food! You are auspicious. Please enter into me and subside the burning caused by the gastric fire. This oblation is for my Samaana. May my Self (Aatman) being offered as the sacrifice (oblation) become fit for immortality.

 
Amritoe-pidhaanamsi |--You are the cover of the form of nectar. (Please wrap around the food consumed with nectar.)

 
[This mantra is chanted holding the water in the cup shaped palm and then sipped. This is called Uttaraaposana or the sipping of water at the end of the meal.]

 
It is worth recalling here the following Sloka from Bhagavadgeetaa:

 
"Yajnasishtaasinah santo muchyantay sarvakilbishaih |
Bhunjate tay tv-agham paapaa ye pachanty-aatmakaaranaat ||

 
The righteous, who eat the remnants of selfless service like, Sevaa (dedication), Sacrifice (yajna) are freed from all sins, but the impious who cook food only for themselves verily eat sinful things. [Food should be offered first to the Lord with love before consuming. Children should be taught to pray before taking food and it should be a daily routine to pray and thank the Lord before taking food].

 
It is also customary to chant the following sloka from Geetaa before taking Food:

 
"Brahmaarpanam Brahma havir Brahmaagnau Braahmanaa hutam |
Brahnmaiva tena gantavyam Brahma-karma-samaadhinaa ||

 
Brahman is the oblation; Brahman is the clarified butter (ghee) etc. Constituting the offerings, by Brahman is the oblation poured into the fire of Brahman; Brahman verily shall be reached by him who always sees Brahman in all actions.

 
[Please make it a routine to thank the Supreme Being before and after the main meals. Start with key-line mantras symbolically—Sip water before meal chanting "Amritoepastaranamaci". Sip water chanting "Amritoe-pidhaanamci" after the meal.
At the end of the meal
say Krishnaarpanamastu. Slowly learn the full mantras. These are not difficult as they are repetitive in nature for each praana (vital force) replacing the name only.]

 

 

 
AATMAANUSANDHAANA MANTRAAH
(Self-purifcation Mantras)

 
Then the following two mantras are addressed to gastric fire (Jatharaagni). Scriptures prescribe this for chanting after Uttaraapoesana (after sipping water to conclude the meal). Partaking of food is not for just nourishing the physical body but for supporting Self to surrender itself to the Paramaatman. The Self is offered or surrendered to Parmaatman or Brahman and therefore this mantra is called Praanaahuti or symbolic sacrifices of five Praanas.

 
Sraddhaayaam Praane nivisya-amritagam hutam | Praanamannena-aapyaayasva ||
Apaane nivisya-amritagam hutam | Apaanamannena-aapyaayasva |
Vyaane nivisya-amritagam hutam | Vyaanamannena –aapyaayasva ||
Udaane nivisya-amritagam hutam | Udaanamannena-aapyaayasva ||
Samaane nivisya-amritagam hutam | Samaanamannena-aapyaayasva ||
Brahmani ma aatmaa-amritatvaaya ||

 
I, the believer in faith, oblate this food in the form of nectar for the sake of the vital force Praana. Nourish Praana with that. This food of the form of nectar is offered as oblation for the sake of Apaana with faith. Nourish Apaana with that food. This food of the form of nectar is offered as oblation for the sake of Vyaana with faith. Nourish Vyaana with that food. This food is of the form of nectar is offered as oblation for the sake of Udaana with faith. Nourish Udaana with that food. This food is of the form of nectar is offered as oblation for the sake of Samaana with faith. Nourish Samaana with that food. May my Aaatman (Self), offered as oblation become fit for immortality.

 
Praanaa-naam granthi-rasoe rudroe maa-aavisaantakah | tena-annena-apyaayasva (sadaasivom) ||

 
You are the knot by which the Vital Forces (Praanas) are tied. You make one cry. You are the destroyer of food that is eaten. Enter into me. Please bring satisfaction to the Praanas through that food. (Anthakah means fire). [This mantra is also found at the end of Rudraprsnah with the added word Sadasivom. The praanas depend upon combustion or gastric fire and therefore this fire is called the knot (granthi) which binds them. Here Rudra is taken in the sense that which makes cry. In Rudraprasnah Sadaasiva refers to Lord Siva. Siva is the one who bestows good and is signified the syllable OM or Pranava. (Sadaasiva==always auspicious)]

 
Angushtamaatrah purushoe-angushthascha samaasritah | Easah sarvasya jagatah prabuh preenaati visva-bhuk ||

 
Paramaatman (Supreme Being) who is designated as Purusha, who is of the size of a thumb and who is residing in the spiritual heart which is also of the size of a thumb (not of any perceivable size), who is the controller and master of this entire universe, who is the ruler of everything other than Himself, who is the very consumer (destroyer) of this entire universe, may that Lord be pleased!

 
The main concentration of our Rishis was on the Aatman as you see above. Food was of secondary consideration. Probably early Rishis needed no food at all being divine and having the amrita. The urge to spiritual evolution sparked agriculture which was the source of food on earth for they needed grains, cow and ghee for their fire sacrifices. We can therefore safely conclude the urge to spiritual evolution on earth sparked civilization. It may not be out of place to mention here that in the National Geographical Magazine of June 2011, Charles Mann writes: "We used to think agriculture gave rise to cities and later to writing, art, and religion. Now the world's oldest temple Globeki Tepe (11600 years old) suggests that the urge to worship sparked civilization". These recent findings have a strong support in Vedas which are even older as they started before houses and writings started.

 
[These three mantras can be chanted after meals regularly though it is customary to chant them on special occasions when rituals are conducted and festivals are celebrated feeding the learned called Vedaghoshti].

 

 
DEEPAARAADHANA MANTRAAH (MANTRAS FOR WAVING LIGHT FOR DEITY)

 
We are all familiar with the famous Vedic Mantra repeated in different Upanishads (Sveta, Mundaka and Katha) which is recited while waving lamps of burning camphor (Karpoora) or oil wick before the Lord called Deepaaraadhana at the time of worship, which is as follows:

 
Na tatra sooryoe bhaati na chandrataarakam nemaa vidyutoe bhati kutoeyam-agnih |
Tameva bhaantam-anubhaati sarvam tasya bhaasa sarvam-idam vibhaati ||

 
There the Sun does not shine; neither the moon and the stars, nor do the flashes of the lightening shine. How can then the ordinary fire? All these shine after the Supreme Being (Paramaatman), who is ever shining. (He is the cause of all other lights).

 
Mahanarayana Upanishad also contains the following two mantras similar to the above which are employed during the worship of the Lord.

 
Uddeepyasva jaatavedoe-apaghnan nirritim mama | Pasoo(ga)mscha mahyam-aavaha jeevanamscha disoe dasaa ||

 
Oh Jaataveda (Omniscient Lord)! Shine brilliantly, destroying my sin. Bring to me animals that are useful for your worship. Bring to me from all the ten directions food and others essentials for my livelihood. (This refers to the dawn that brings morning light and with it life.)

 
Maanoe hi(ga)mseej-jaatavedo gaamasvam purusham jagat | abibhradagna aagahi sriyaa maa paripaataya ||

 
Jaataveda, the Omniscient, we pray to you not to slay the world of cattle, horses and men that belong to us. Oh Lord of Fire, come to us without your terrible form. Bring us wealth and prosperity.

 
[The Lord is prayed here to come to the devotees without assuming terrific form. Since God of Fire is referred here these Mantras are prescribed for waving of lamps (aarati or deepa- samarpana) during worship. This also shows how deeply the sages were concerned with their cattle wealth. The host of animals and men that are mentioned here are those that are useful for the worship of the Lord]

 

 
PANCHA-BRAHMA—PANCHAANANA MANTRA

 
[Many of the Mantras of this Upanishad are chanted by Vaishanvites, Saivites and Sakta followers while worshipping their favorite deities. It looks as though later some of these Mantras have been adopted by Saivites and glorified as being exclusive to Lord Siva or Paarvati even though they are found in this Upanishad which is devoted to Lord Narayana, who is Paramatman as per Ramanuja. Some of these are Sivoepaasana Mantras, Tvarita Rudram Panchaanana Upaasanam and Durgasooktam].

 
The following five Mantras are interpreted by commentators as belonging to Lord Rudra. The five names of Sadyojata, Vaamadeva, Aghora, Tatpurusha and Easaana signify the five faces (Panchaanana) of Lord Siva. These prayers are introduced after Medhasookta in Mahanarayana Upanishad, as Medha (Jnaana or Intellect) is to be obtained from Rudra. Important Sooktas from this Upanishad will be dealt separately. Compartmentalization of these Mantras is a later development when fight started between Vaishnavites and Saivites.

 
These five mantras are called by the name Panchabrahma and so it is appropriate to relate them with Brahman. Sadyoejaata (instant born) is also appropriate to Lord Narasimha who came out of the pillar when Prahlaada prayed. We all know the birth of Lingodbhava Moorti. It is also interesting to note Lord Narasimha is also worshipped in five forms of elements (Pancha Mahaabhootas) as Siva in five famous temples in South India about which we have talked about many a times. These are: Prithvee Narasimha (Earth); Vaayu Narasimha (Air); Aaakaasa Narasimha(Sky), Jwaalaa Narasimha(Agni); and Amrita Narasimha ( Amrita symbolizes liquid Water). Like Isvara is glorified as Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, Narasimha is also glorified as Brhama Narasimha, Vishnu Narasimha and Rudra Narasimha. He is also worshipped as Ghora Narasimha (Siva is also meditated upon as Ghora, Aghora and Ghoraa-ghora. In Bhuvanesvar in Orissa in India there are sanctums for Siva and Narasimha side by side and worship is carried out for Salagrama and Linga together. In Puri worship is carried out to Soorya and Narasimha along with Jagannath. There is sanctum for Narasimha there also. It is believed that Vaishnavites replaced Siva with Narasimha later. Thus one school of thought believes Narasimha and Siva are the same both being Vyaahritis of Parabrahman)

 
Sadyoejaatam prapadyaami sadyoejaataaya vai namah |
Bhavebhave naatibhave bhajasva maam bhavoed-bhavaaya namah ||

 
I surrender unto the Lord who was born at the very moment of His will. Obeisance to that lord who was born at his will instantaneously. May I not have repeated births, Please bless me! My obeisance are to him, from whom all effects emerge (for He is the cause).

 
Vaamadevaaya namoe jyeshthaaya namoe rudraaya namah |
Kaalaaya namah kala-vikaranaaya namoe bala-vikaranaaya namoe
bala-pramathanaaya namas-sarvabhoota-damanaaya namoe manoenmanaaya namah ||

 
Obeisance to Vaamadeva, the auspicious One; obeisance to the eldest; obeisance to Rudra, who drives away the disease of Samsaara (worldly miseries); obeisance to the destroyer; obeisance to One who is the cause of Time (divisions of moment, good and bad times); obeisance to the One who subdues all living beings; obeisance to One who is the agitator of the mind.

 
[All the attributes here refer to the Supreme Brahman. They equally apply to Siva and Narasimha the manifested forms of Brahman. Supreme Brahman is the overlord of this universe and is the ruler of all. He punishes the wicked ruthlessly. He saves his devotees from repeated births. None is equal to Him. Both Vishnu and Siva were instantly born in terrific forms as man-lion and column of fire. Rudra means one who protects you from crying (rudraat traayate)]

 
Aghoerebhyoe-atha ghoerebhyoe ghoera-ghoeratarebhyas-sarvatas-sarva sarvebhyoe namaste astu rudra-roopebhyah ||

 
Oh Paramaatman! Obeisance unto the auspicious forms of yours, that are not terrible, or terrible or terribly terrible. Obeisance to you who has numerous forms that bestows good. (The Lord embodies all characteristics—good and terrible.)

 
Tatpurushaaya vidmahe Mahaadevaaya dheemahi tannoe rudrah prachoedayaat ||

 
We meditate upon that Purusha who is Naraayana. For that we meditate on Mahadeva. May the Lord Rudra fulfill by invigorating us! [In Mahaanaarayana Upanishad Purusha is referred to as Naaraayana or Supreme Brahman or Paramaatman]

 
Easaanas-sarva-vidyaanaam-eesvaras-sarva-bhootaanam-brahma-adhipatir-brahmanoe-adhipati-brahmaa sivoe may astu sadaasivom ||

 
The Lord of all branches of knowledge, the Lord of all animate beings, the Supreme master of the Vedas, the Lord of Brahma the four-faced, the one who has Brahma as his body, the one who is ever free from anything defiling, the one whose name is Pranava, OM, may that Lord be one who bestows all good things on me! [Sadaasiva means ever auspicious]

 
SIVOEPAASANA-MANTRAAH (MANTRAS FOR MEDITATION ON SIVA)
    
Nidhanaaya namah | Nidhana-pataantikaaya namah | Oordhvaaya namah | Oordhva-lingaaya namah | Hiranyaaya namah | Hiranya-lingaaya namah | Suvarnaaya namah | Suvarna-lingaaya namah | Divyaaya namah | Divya-lingaaya namah | Bhavaaya namah | Bhava-lingaaya namah |
Sarvaaya namah | Sarva-lingaaya namah | Sivaaya namah | Siva-lingaaya namah | Jwaalaaya namah | Jwaala-lingaaya namah | Aatmaaya namah | Aatma-lingaaya namah | Paramaaya namah | Parama-lingaaya namah | Etat-soemasya sooryasya sarva-lingam sthaapayati paanimantram pavitram ||

 
Nidhanaaya namah=Obeisance to the Lord of dissolution of the Universe! Nidhana pataye
namah=Obeisance to Yama (God of Death) who is responsible for the death of all creatures in the world! Oordhwaaya namah=Obeisance to the Lord who is the most out-standing at the head of all categories which evolved into the Universe! Oordhwa lingaaya namah= Obeisance to the Principle of Sadasiva in the form of Linga embodying the power of Intelligence! Hiranyaaya
namah=Obeisance to the Lord who is beneficial and charming to all creatures! Hiranya Lingaaya
namah=Obeisance to the Lord who is visualized as the Linga made of Gold! Suvarnaaya namah=Obeisance to the Lord who is endowed with attractive splendor! Suvarna
Lingaaya namah=Obeisance to the Lord who reveals to us in the form of Linga made out of Silver (suvarna)! Divyaaya Namah=Obeisance to the Lord who is the source of all Bliss! Divya Lingaaya namah=Obeisance
to the Lord who is worshipped as Linga, the divine symbol! Bhavyaaya namah=Obeisance to the Lord who is the source of cycle of birth and death! Bhava Lingaaya namah=Obeisance to the Lord who is worshipped as endless spherical Linga by all human beings! Sarvyaaya namah=Obeisance to the Lord who is the suppresser of the Universe at the time of dissolution! Sarvya Lingaaya namah=Obeisance to the Lord who in the shape of Linga as the emblem of Sarva, who gives Bliss! Sivaaya namah=Obeisance to the most auspicious Lord! Siva Lingaaya namah=Obeisance to the Lord who is in the shape of auspicious Linga! Jwaalaaya namah=Obeisance to the Lord who is in the form of blazing fire! Jwaala Lingaaya namah=Obeisance to that form of Linga which is in the form of blazing fire in which form he is worshipped as Jyotirlinga! Aatmaaya namah=Oblation to the Lord who is the Antaryamin (inner-self) in all living beings! Aatma Lingaaya namah=Obeisance to the Lord who is concealed in all creatures as the Antaryamin (inner-self), the Linga within all of us! Paramaaya namah=Obeisance to the transcendent unsurpassed Lord! Param Lingaaya
namah=Obeisance to the Lord who is symbolized in Linga as the Supreme Lord of Bliss and Liberation! Etat-soemasya sooryasya sarva-lingam sthaapayati paanimantram pavitram=This is the sacred mantra of Moon , Sun and all deities who are nothing but the Vyaahriti (glory) of Rudra who is the healer of all our sorrows!

 
[this is similar to chanting Namakam in Rudram]

 
Sarvo vai rudras-tasmai rudraaya namoe astu |Purushoe vai rudrassan maho namo namah |
Viswam bhootam bhuvanam chitram bahudhaa jaatam | Jaayamaanancha-yat |
Sarvo hyesha rudras-tasmai namo astu ||

 
Rudra is verily every-thing; our obeisance to that Rudra. Rudra is verily great with all his valor; obeisance to him again and again. All these universe, all these entities, and all the wonderful worlds that were born differently and are being born are all due to Rudra alone. We offer our obeisance to that Rudra.

 
Kadrudraaya prachetase meedhushta-maaya tavyase | Vochema santama(ga)m hride |
Sarvoe hyesha rudras-tasmai rudraaya namo astu ||

 
He is the creator because he functions as Creator. May we offer our pleasant praise to Lord Rudra who is acutely intelligent, who keeps the world fertile with rain and other things and who is an ascetic and who is very pleasing to the heart! (Kan means he acts like four faced Brahma)

 
Namo hiranya-baahave hiranya-pataye ambikaapataye Umaapatataye Namo namah ||
Our Obeisance to Lord Rudra, who is the consort of Ambika or Uma, whose handsome arms are bedecked with gold ornaments, and who is the master of all riches!

 
[These three mantras are called Twarita–Rudra mantras. These are to be repeatedly chanted by those who seek quick fulfillment of their desires.]

 

 

 

 
SHAANTI MANTRAAH ( MANTRAS PRAYING FOR PEACE)

 
Vidhartaara(ga)m havaamahe vasoeh kuvidwaanaati nah | Savitaaram nri-chakshasam ||
We invoke the Lord, the creator of the Universe. He is the unique supporter of the Universe. He is the one who endows us with knowledge. May that Lord grant us prosperity!

 
Adyaa noe deva savitah prajaavat saavees-saubhagam | Paraa dush-vapinya(ga)m suva ||
Oh resplendent Lord Savitar! You have blessed us with prosperity in the form of off-springs. Please help us discard the fear caused by bad dreams.

 
Madhu vaataa ritaayate madhu ksharanti sindhavah | maadhveer-nassantva-oeshadeeh || May the winds blow and rain shower bliss on me who is anxious to reach Paramaatman! May the oceans likewise be kind to me! May plants and herbs also be kind to me!

 
Madhu naktam-utoshaci madhumat paarthiva(ga)m rajah | madhu dyaur-astu nah pitaa ||
May all things bring pleasantness to me both during day and night! May all elements on earth be sweet to me! May the heavens, the abode of my ancestors (Pitrus) bring always joy to me!

 
Madhumaannoe vanspatir madhumaa(ga)m astu sooryah | Maadhveer gaavoe bhavantu nah ||
May plants and trees be sweet to us! May the Lord Soorya (Sun God) be always pleasant to us! May the cows be sweet to us!

 
Viswaani deva savitar duritaani paraasuva | Yad bhadram tanma aasuva ||

 
Oh Resplendent Lord Savitar! You are the cause of the Universe; please destroy all our sins. Please grant us that which is good (for we even do not know what is good to us)!
[These mantras are chanted seeking peace from external and atmospheric and natural disturbances that uproot our lives while conducting fire sacrifices (yajnas) for peace. This is a famous mantra chanted often]

 

 

 
SATRUNIVAARANA MANTRAAH (MANTRAS FOR DESTRUCTION OF HOSTILE INFLUENCES)

 


 

Krinushvapaaja iti pancha | Five mantras for destruction called Krinushvapaaja.

 

The following five mantras are to be meditated upon for the destruction of hostile influences found in Taittareeya Samhita and repeated in this Upanishad.

 

Krinushava-paajah prasitim na prithveem yaahi raajevam-avaagam ibhena |
Trishvirna-manu prasitim droonanoe-astaasi vidhya rakshasas-tapishthaih ||

 

Put forth your valor like a spread out net. Go like a mighty king accompanied by with his attendants on an elephant. Shoot with arrows following your swift net. Eliminate the Demons with your most fierce-full fiery arrows.

 

Tava brhamaasa aasuyaa patanty-anu sprisa dhrishataa sosuchaanah |
Tapoo(goo)mshy-agne juhvaa patangaana-sandito visrija vishwa-gulkaah ||

 

Go forward in rapid flight whirling fiery torches. Burning with fury, follow them closely. Spread
The flying flames with your tongue. Cast around them your fireballs.

 

Pratispaso visrija toorni-taamo bhavaa paayur-viso asyaa adabdhah |
Yo no doore adhasa(ga)m so yo anty-agne maakishte vyathir-aada-dharsheet ||

 

You, who are swiftest in motion, spend your spies around. Be the protector of these people. Oh! Lord Agni! Send your spies against the enemy, who is bent on doing evil whether near or far. Let no trouble sent from you, overcome us.

 
Udagne tishtha pratyaa-tanushva nya-mitraa(ga)m oshataat-ttigma-hete |
Yo no araati(ga)m samidhaana chakre neechaa-tam dhakshya-tasam na sushkam ||

 
Oh Lord Agni! Rise up with your blazing flames. Spread out before us. Burn down our enemies as you have sharpened arrows. Consume the enemy like a heap of dried wood, who has played mischief on us.

 

 
Oordhvo bhava prati-vidhyaa-dhyasmada-avish-krinushva daivyaany-agne |
Avasthiraa tanu-hi yaatu joonaam jaam-imam-ajaamim pra-mrineehi satroon ||

 
May Agni be our overall Lord! Please arise and drive away those who fight us. Manifest your celestial divine powers. Slacken the bow-strings of the demon who are running away. Destroy our enemies, no matter whether they are our kith and kin or strangers.

 

 

 
MRITYUNJAYA MANTRA

 
The Vedic and Upanishadic seers and poets alike pictured a state of affairs where the Light was hidden and Darkness prevailed, where Death swept across and Immortality was covered over and where the Unreal held the Real in captivity.

 

The famous Upanishadic prayer illustrates the above: "--Asatoe maa sadgamaya tamsoe maa jyotirgamaya, mrityoermaa amritum gamaya"—Lead me from Unreal to the Real, from Darkness to Light and from Death to Immortality.

 
Our sages were plagued by the fear of death also realized death is inescapable but disease could be prevented and well cured. The outcome was elaborate research on Yoga and Ayurveda. However their spiritual endeavor was deathlessness or continuity of existence.

 
Though we all are familiar with the famous mantra as appealing to Lord Siva and its meaning it carries another set of meaning in the above context: "Trayambakam yajaamahe sugandhim pushtivardhanam | Urvaarukamiva mrityoer moeksheeya maamrutaat || We conduct Yajnas (sacrifices) to Trayambaka, the fragrant one and Promoter of Prosperity. Like the gourd frees from its vine, may I be free from death, but not from immortality.

 
[Trayambakam= three eyes or sources of enlightenment are the Trimurtis, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. It could also mean Three mothers, Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Gowri; Yajaamahe= we sing the praise: sugandhim=fragrance of knowledge, and strength; Pushtivardhanam=Poosham refers to Him as the sustainer of this world—he is the father of all; Urvaarukamiva (Urva=vishaal, big and powerful, deadly; arukam=disease)==deadly and overpowering diseases, ignorance, falsehood and weakness; Together with Bandhanaa it would mean, I am bound down by deadly and overpowering diseases; mrityoer moksheeya=deliver from death in this physical world and the never ending cycle of birth for the sake of Moksheeya meaning emancipation from rebirth; Maamritaat=please give me some nectar. (We are praying for some nectar to get out of death inflecting diseases as well as the cycle of rebirth)]

 
The complete meaning then could be: We sing Thy praise as responsible for Creation, Preservation and Destruction (Brahma, Vishnu and Siva) and as Primordial Energies in the form of Knowledge, Wealth and Happiness (Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Gowri). We are praying for the life rejuvenating nectar to get out of death inflicting diseases as well as the cycle of rebirth and death.

 
The above meaning is more universal and in-keeping with the anxiety of our Seers. It may not be out of place to mention here the specific meaning with which we are all familiar with this Mantra is from Sri Rudram. This Mantra however is dedicated to Rudra Trayambaka (literally having three mothers), also known as Mrityunjaya "defeating death". It is appended to a hymn otherwise addressed to the Maruts. This Mantra recurs at many places and is very popular: Vaajasaneyi Samhita, Taittareeya Samhita, Satapata Braahmana, Taittareeya Braahmana and other Krishna Yajurveda Samhitaas. Sri Rudram has been made specific to Siva by the followers of Siva.

 

 
"Trayambakam" means on who has three eyes. Surya, Chandra and Agni are visualized as the eyes of the Supreme Being. Supreme Being is the eye of the eyes. He is the one who knew about the past, knows about the present and will know about the future—Trikaala Jnyaani-one who has the sight of three-fold knowledge. Ambaka also means father. He is the one responsible for the creation of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva and so can be called as their father. Trayambaka may also mean three Devis (ambas)—Mahaalaksmi, Mahaakaali and Mahaasarasvati.

 
"Pushtivardhanam" means one who sustains everything. Pushti means nourishment. Mother earth is also called Poosan as she is the one who provides the nourishment inspired by the Supreme Being. We salute such a great Lord.

 
[All Vedic mantras cannot be used in Homa or Yajna (Fire Sacrifice). But this Mantra is used In Mrityunjaya Homa. This famous Mantra appears in the Andhra version of Mahhaa Naaraayana Upanishad and is contained in Mantrapushpam published by Ramakrihana Math, Khar, Mumbai]

 


MRITYUNIVAARANA MANTRAAH (MANTRAS FOR AVOIDING  DEATH)

Apaitu mrityur-amritam na aagan-vaivasvato noe abhayam  krinotu | parnam vanaspate rivaabhinas-seeyataa(Ga)m rayi s-sachataannas-sacheepatih ||

May Death turn away from us!   May Immortality   come to us! May Vaivasvata divinity Yama grant us safety! May   our sins be destroyed like leaves that are separated from trees! May the    imparting wealth come to us!  

Param mrityo anuparehi panthaam yaste sva itaro devayaanaat | chakshushmate srinvate te braveemi maaa nah prajaa(ga)m reerisho mota veeraan  ||

OH Death! Go back by your own path which is different from that of Gods. I entreat you as one who is capable of seeing me and listening to me. Do not destroy our progeny. Do not strike down our Heroes.

Vaatam praanam manasaa anvaa-rabhaamahe prajaapatim  yo bhuvanasya gopaah | Sa no mrityos-traayataam paatva(ga)mhaso jyogjeevaa jaraam-aseemahi ||

We heartily supplicate to the Lord of Beings who is the protector of the Universe and who is active within us Vital-breath and outside us as the blowing Wind. May he guard us from death and protect us from sin. May we live gloriously in our oldage.
Amutra bhooyaa dadha yadyamasya  brihaspate abhisasteramunchah |  pratyauhataam-asvinaa mrityu –masmaa-ddevaanaa-magne bhishajaa sacheebhih ||
  
Oh Supreme Lord! Release me from the fear of Yama and accusation of people and the necessity of being in the yonder world. Oh Agni! May the two divine physicians, The Asvins, chase away from us death by virtue of the merits of religious dedication.

Hari haranta-manuyanti devaa visvasyesaanam vrishabham  mateenaam | Brahma saroopa-manumeda-maagaa-dayanam maa vivadheer-vikramasva ||

Like attendants all gods (divine) follow Hari who is the Lord of the Universe, who leads  all thoughts as the foremost leader and who absorbs into  the Universe at the time of dissolution. May this path to liberation taught in Vedas having the same form as Brahman open nitself unto me! Do not deprive me of that! Strive to secure it for me!

Salkair-agni-mindhaana ubahau lokau sanemaham | Ubhayor-lokayor ridhvaa-ati mrityu taraamyaham ||

Kindling the consecrated fire with fagots of wood in order to perform fire sacrifice may I attain both the worlds.  Having attained this world and the next (Bhooloka and pitruloka) I shall cross over death.

Maa cchido  Mrityo maa vadhhermaa mae balam vivriho  maa pramosheeh | Prajaam maa mae  reerisha aayurugra nrichakshasam tvaa havishaa vidhema ||

Oh Fierce Death! Do not cut off my life! Do not harm my interests. Do not cripple my strength> Do not subject me to deprivation. Do not hurt   my progeny and life. I shall serve you with oblations; for, you are ever vigilant over deeds of men.

Maa noe mahaantamuta maa noe arbhakam maa na ukshantamuta   maa  na ukshitam Maa noe vdheeeh pitaram moeta maataram priyaa maa nastanuvo rudra reerishah ||

Maa nastoke tanaye maa na aayushi maa noe goshu maa noe asveshu reerishah | Veeraanmaa noe rudra bhaamito vadheer-havishmanto namasaa  vidhema tae ||

Oh Rudra! Injure not our elders, our children, our adults capable of procreation, the fetus we have laid in mother’s womb and our father and mother. Do not hurt our dearselves!
[ The repetition of the same them in these mantras makes the passge a vivid record  of deep feeling and reminds us of the most r famous Rigveda Mantra Mrityor maa Amritam Gamaya leads us from Death to Immortality]



TRISUPARNA-MANTRAAH

 
The three Mantras given below are called Trisuparna Mantras. Suparna is the King of Birds or Garuda normally. Lord Krishna says in Bhagavadgeetaa, Vainateyah paksheenaam—amongst birds I am Garuda. Brahmam mentioned at the beginning of these sets of mantras may mean Trisuparna.
These mantras begin with reference to Brahman and end with Pranava or Om at the end. Brahmam in these mantras uses the Vedic usage of the word Brahman like Madhum which means Madhu. Brahma and Soma in these mantras are intended to mean Supreme Principle or Paramaatman. Those who teach these three mantras without charging anything (Gurudakshina) to the deserving will attain Parammaatman, designated by the word Soma. The first Mantra destroys all sins committed by killing a learned Vedic scholar (Brahma-hatya). The second Mantra destroys the sin of killing the fetus (Broona-hatya). The third Mantra destroys all sins of annihilation of a valorous being (Veera-hatya). These three sins are capital offense condemned strongly in scriptures.

 
Brahmametu maam | madhu-metu maam | brahma-meva madhumetu maam |
Yaaste soma prajaavathso-abbhiso aham | duh-svapn-ahan durusshvahaa |
Yaaste soma praanaa(ga)m stan-juhomi |
trisuparnam-ayaachitam brahmanaaya dadyaat |
Brahmahatyaam vaa ete ghnanti | ye braahmanaas-trisuparnam pathanti |
te somam praapnuvanti | aa sahasraat panktim punanti OM ||

 
May Brahman possess me! May the Blissful Brahman possess me! May He alone who is blissful possess me! Oh Lord Brahman (here referred to as Soma), all those who are here are subservient to you. I am also of that category. I need protection like a child. You remove all bad effects of the dream. You destroy the wealth of the wicked people. I offer unto to you my Lord, with my body, speech and mind through my sense organs! One should teach these three parts of the Mantras called Trisuparna without demanding any fees or any-thing. These mantras have the power to destroy the heinous crime of killing a learned scholar. Those Brahmins (learned scholars who attain the status of Brahmin) who recite these Trisuparna mantras attain Brahman (Soma). They purify in thousands in rows all those that chant together). Om!

 
Brahma medhayaa / madhu medhayaa / brahmam-eva medhayaa /
Adyaa noe deva savitah prajaavat- saavees-saubhagam /
Paraa dushvapniya(ga)m suva / viswaani deva savita-duritaani paraasuva /
Yad bhadram tanma aasuva / madhu vaataa ritaayate madhu ksharanti sindhavah /
Maadhveer-nassantv-oshadheeh / madhu naktam-utoshaci madhumat paarthiva(ga)m rajah /
Madhu dyaur-astu nah pitaa / madhmaanno vanspatir-madhumaa(ga)m astu sooryah /
Madhveer-gaavo bhavantu nah / ya imam trisuparnam-ayaachitam braahmanaaya dadyaat /
Bhroona-hatyaam vaa ete ghnanti / ye braahmanaas-trisuparnam pathanti /
Te somam praapnuvanti / aa sahasraat pankti punanti / OM //

 
Oh! Resplendent Lord Savitar! You have blessed us with off-springs. Please eliminate the fears caused by bad dreams. Oh resplendent Lord Savitar! You are the cause of this Universe. Please destroy all our sins! Grant us ultimately what is good for us (for we do not know what is good for us). May the winds blow and showers come up on me as I am desirous of seeking Paramaatman. May the oceans also be blissful to me likewise! May herbs and plants also be blissful to me! May all things shower day and night sweet things on me in pleasant manner! May all produce of the earth, like grains and vegetables be sweet towards me! May the heavens of my ancestors give joy to me! May plants and trees be sweet to me! May Lord Soorya be pleasant to me! May those that teach these mantras to desiring scholars without any fee (dakshina) be able to get rid of the sins committed by the killing of the fetus! May those Brahmin (enlightened)scholars who receive these Mantras reach the Supreme Principle (Soma)! May they purify those thousands of rows along with them! Om!

 
Brahma medhavaa | Madhu medhavaa |
Brahmameva madhu medhavaa | brahmaa devaanaam padaveeh |
Kaveenaam-rishi-vipraanaam mahisho mrigaanaam |
Syeno gridhraana(ga)m svadhitir-vanaanaa(ga)m somah pavitram-atyeti rebhan ||
Ha(ga)msas-suchishad vasur-antariksha-sad-dhotaa vedashad-atithir-duronasat |
Nrishd-vara-sadrita-sad vyomasad-abjaa gojaa ritajaa adrijaa ritam brihat |
Ya imam trisuparnam-ayaachitam braahmanaaya dadyaat |
Veerahtyaam vaa ete ghnanti | ye brahmanaas-trisuparnam pathanti |
Te somam praapnuvanti | aa sahasraat pankti punanti | OM ||

 
Yajna is the cause for Brahma-vidya. Brahman makes the people perform Yajna. He is blissful. May that blissful Brahman alone cause the performance of Yajna for reaping the benefit of Brahma-vidya. (medhavaa means one who makes people perform Yajna)

 
He is Brahma amidst Gods. Amongst poets he is the leader who guides. He is a rishi (sage) amongst the intelligent people. He is the mighty bison amongst animals. He is the vulture amongst hawks. He is the Axe amongst the hunters, the killers. He delights like the Moon. He is effulgent and amongst all purifiers he is the most glorified. (Such descriptions are also found in Geeta)

 
The brilliant Sun, powerful atmospheric wind (wind is the purifier), the fires in the Vedic altar, the guests in the house, the antaryamin (inner-self) in all people, the in-dweller of the Gods of heavens, the residents of Satyaloka (World of Truth), the dwellers of the celestial sky (antariksha), all water-born, earth-born and mountain-born—all these are but the natures of that Brahman, the great Truth.

 
Those who teach these mantras called Trisuparana without demanding any fee, terminate the sin of killing a being of valor (for e.g. Arjuna killing Bhishma). Those who recite these Trisuparna mantras after learning will attain Brahman (here referred as Soma). They also relieve thousand in the row from these sins. OM

 
SNAANA MANTRAS (MANTRAS FOR  HOLY DIP)

Charanam  Pavitram vitatam puraanam yena pootas-tarati dushkritaani |
Tena pavitrena suddhena pootaa ati paapmaanam-araatim tarema ||

He who is rendered holy by the ancient, widespread, sanctifying feet crosses over evil deeds and their effects. Having been rendered holy by that naturally purifying feet of the Lord, may we overcome our enemies, the sins, by virtuous conduct!

[This Mantra in MNU is from Taittareeya Brahmana.  While taking bath in standing in waist-deep waters this mantra is chanted before taking a plunge. This is also chanted while a holy person’s feet are   ceremoniously washed.  Charanam in singular, meaning foot stands for Charana Devata Vishnu, implying feet of Lord Narayana.     That is why you find a pair of Vishnu’s feet being worshiped in all Vishnu temples,  popularly known as Vishnupaada. Here in this worship  also this mantra is chanted.  Vishnupaada poojaa is  very popular and these are invariably brought from Badrinath after being blessed by Lord Badrinath and kept at home as treasure for daily worship or on special occasions.]


PROKSHANA (HOLY  ASPERSION  BY WATER SPRINKLE) MANTRAS

Sumitraa na aapa oshadhayah santu |
Durmitras-tasmai bhooyaasur-yoe asmaan dveshti yam cha vayam dvishmah  ||

May the regents of water and herbs be friendly to us; May them be unfriendly to those   whom we dislike!

Drupada-divenmumuchaanah svinnah snaatvee malaadiva | pootam pavitrenaa-vaajyam | aapah sundhantu mainasah ||

May I be cleaned from sins by the waters just as a culprit is released from the wooden  clog for his legs (drupada); May I be cleansed  just as a man who perspires is purified by bath, and just as a clarified butter is strained by a filter!

Aaapo hishtaa mayoe-bhuvas-ta na oorjae  dadhaatana | Maheranaaya chakshase | Yoe vah 
sivatamoe rasah tasya bhaajayate(a)ha nah | usateeriva maatarah | tasmaa aram gamaama voe yasya kshayaaya jinvatha | aapo janayathaa cha nah ||

O waters! Verily you are bliss-conferring!  Being such, grant us food, and great and beautiful insight of the Supreme Principle! Further make us in these very life participators of that joy of yours which is most auspicious, just like fond mothers who nurse their dark lings with nourishment. May we attain to that satisfactory abode of yours which you are pleased to grant us! Generate for us also the waters of life and pleasures on earth during our sojourn here!


[These three mantras from Taittareeya Samhita figure most among the important prayers addressed to the Supreme Being in connection with the twilight devotion and other acts of worship. These are chanted also for the ceremonious regeneration of oneself by Prokshana or holy aspersion. The deity invocated in these mantras is water which is not merely the essential liquid element that sustains life but the Vyahriti (emanation) of Supreme Being. The word mayah in the Vedic sense is Bliss; and unlimited   Bliss is Brahman. To the pious Hindu the universal liquid element is not merely an essential of life but also the visible and tangible divinity available at hand for worship and self-purification. Taittareeya Aranyaka in its mantras prohibits all from abusing water sources: let not a person a spit, urinate or defecate in water; nor bathe unclad. Let him not eat any part of the tortoise or fish. Then no aquatic creature will hurt him and water will be auspicious towards him (naapsu mootrapureesham kuryaat | na nishtheevet | na   vivasanah sraayaat |..... na koorma-matsya-asneeyaat nodakasya aghatukaan-yena-modakasya bhavanti | aghaatukaah aaapah)

 
This discourse has been prepared by N.R.Srinivasn taking considerable help from the following literary sources and other discourses by him for the Vedanta Class at Sri Ganesha Temple, Nashville, TN:
  
APPENDIX

WHAT ARE  MANTRAS?


Posted by M. Krishnakumar | Dec 09, 2013 | IndiaDivine.Org

What is a mantra and how does it work?
Mantras are powerful sounds. Mantras are the sounds that when chanted produce great effects. These are chanted repeatedly and that is called japa. Japa is a key part of Hindu prayer.
Mantras are very rich in their meaning. While doing japa one can meditate on the mantra and its meaning. As the mind dwells more and more into that meaning, the mantra conditions the mind and takes it up to higher states and forms the path to the great liberation – eternal bliss.
What makes mantras so special as compared to the normal words? Mantras are not composed by humans. One may wonder how can that be possible. Especially given that there are sages associated with the mantras. The point to be noted is that these sages are not composers of these mantras, as we would normally compose sentences. They are not the inventors, but they are the discoverers of the mantra. They get to know the mantras in a state in which these words do not emanate from their thoughts, but they are just passive audience to it. Those who go deep in meditation and realize God may be able to get a feel of this situation.
To be such a discoverer, even though they are just passive hearers, needs great amount of qualification. Only the perfect one can unchangingly reproduce the mantra he has heard. The only one that is absolutely perfect is God. All other discoverers reproduce that mantra only as pure as their closeness to perfection.
Veda samhitas are full of mantras and hence have been preserved for ages in their pure form by utilizing the various techniques like patha, krama, jaTa, gaNa pATas, that ensure that the chanter clearly gets the correct letters and even the correct level of sound for each letter (svara). The chanters are advised to chant the mantras only after getting the right pronunciation of it, so that the mantras are preserved against deterioration over time. There would be gurus who initiate the disciple in a mantra. The guru ensures that the disciple got the mantra right, so that the person can chant independently as well as initiate others in that mantra. Ensuring this preservation, the vedas were passed on only through the tradition of guru and disciples and was never written down till the very recent past. (It is really amazing to note that without being written down the vedas have been preserved in pure form across the land by these techniques. Though the texts are freely available now for anybody to read, it would be important to ensure that these mantras are properly learnt and then chanted. This way the treasure that has been preserved so carefully over multiple millenniums does not deteriorate due to indifference.)
It is to be noted that many of the hymns of ThirumuRai are known to have the great powers of mantras that are practiced even today.
While there are plenty of mantras available, there are a few that are chanted with high esteem by the shaivas. Definitely those are highly powerful ones that can lead the chanter on the great path to mukti (liberation). pranava, paNJchAkashra, gAyatri to name a few. For shaivites the Holy Five Syllables (paNJchAkshara) with or without combination of the praNava is the ultimate mantra.
Definition #1: Mantras are energy-based sounds.
Saying any word produces an actual physical vibration. Over time, if we know what the effect of that vibration is, then the word may come to have meaning associated with the effect of saying that vibration or word. This is one level of energy basis for words.
Another level is intent. If the actual physical vibration is coupled with a mental intention, the vibration then contains an additional mental component which influences the result of saying it. The sound is the carrier wave and the intent is overlaid upon the wave form, just as a colored gel influences the appearance and effect of a white light.
In either instance, the word is based upon energy. Nowhere is this idea more true than for Sanskrit mantra. For although there is a general meaning which comes to be associated with mantras, the only lasting definition is the result or effect of saying the mantra.
Definition #2: Mantras create thought-energy waves.
The human consciousness is really a collection of states of consciousness which distributively exist throughout the physical and subtle bodies. Each organ has a primitive consciousness of its own. That primitive consciousness allows it to perform functions specific to it. Then come the various systems. The cardio-vascular system, the reproductive system and other systems have various organs or body parts working at slightly different stages of a single process. Like the organs, there is a primitive consciousness also associated with each system. And these are just within the physical body. Similar functions and states of consciousness exist within the subtle body as well. So individual organ consciousness is overlaid by system consciousness, overlaid again by subtle body counterparts and consciousness, and so ad infinitum.
The ego with its self-defined “I” ness assumes a pre-eminent state among the subtle din of random, semi-conscious thoughts which pulse through our organism. And of course, our organism can “pick up” the vibration of other organisms nearby. The result is that there are myriad vibrations riding in and through the subconscious mind at any given time.
Mantras start a powerful vibration which corresponds to both a specific spiritual energy frequency and a state of consciousness in seed form. Over time, the mantra process begins to override all of the other smaller vibrations, which eventually become absorbed by the mantra. After a length of time which varies from individual to individual, the great wave of the mantra stills all other vibrations. Ultimately, the mantra produces a state where the organism vibrates at the rate completely in tune with the energy and spiritual state represented by and contained within the mantra.
At this point, a change of state occurs in the organism. The organism becomes subtly different. Just as a laser is light which is coherent in a new way, the person who becomes one with the state produced by the mantra is also coherent in a way which did not exist prior to the conscious undertaking of repetition of the mantra.
Definition #3: Mantras are tools of power and tools for power.
They are formidable. They are ancient. They work. The word “mantra” is derived from two Sanskrit words. The first is “manas” or “mind,” which provides the “man” syllable. The second syllable is drawn from the Sanskrit word “trai” meaning to “protect” or to “free from.” Therefore, the word mantra in its most literal sense means “to free from the mind.” Mantra is, at its core, a tool used by the mind which eventually frees one from the vagaries of the mind.
But the journey from mantra to freedom is a wondrous one. The mind expands, deepens and widens and eventually dips into the essence of cosmic existence. On its journey, the mind comes to understand much about the essence of the vibration of things. And knowledge, as we all know, is power. In the case of mantra, this power is tangible and wieldable.
Statements About Mantra:
Mantras have close, approximate one-to-one direct language-based translation.
If we warn a young child that it should not touch a hot stove, we try to explain that it will burn the child. However, language is insufficient to convey the experience. Only the act of touching the stove and being burned will adequately define the words “hot” and “burn” in the context of “stove.” Essentially, there is no real direct translation of the experience of being burned.
Similarly, there is no word which is the exact equivalent of the experience of sticking one’s finger into an electrical socket. When we stick our hand into the socket, only then do we have a context for the word “shock.” But shock is really a definition of the result of the action of sticking our hand into the socket.
It is the same with mantras. The only true definition is the experience which it ultimately creates in the sayer. Over thousands of years, many sayers have had common experiences and passed them on to the next generation. Through this tradition, a context of experiential definition has been created.
Definitions of mantras are oriented toward either the results of repeating the mantra or of the intentions of the original framers and testers of the mantra.
In Sanskrit, sounds which have no direct translation but which contain great power which can be “grown” from it are called “seed mantras.” Seed in Sanskrit is called “Bijam” in the singular and “Bija” in the plural form.
Let’s take an example. The mantra “Shrim” or Shreem is the seed sound for the principle of abundance (Lakshmi, in the Hindu Pantheon.) If one says “shrim” a hundred times, a certain increase in the potentiality of the sayer to accumulate abundance is achieved. If one says “shrim” a thousand times or a million, the result is correspondingly greater.
But abundance can take many forms. There is prosperity, to be sure, but there is also peace as abundance, health as wealth, friends as wealth, enough food to eat as wealth, and a host of other kinds and types of abundance which may vary from individual to individual and culture to culture. It is at this point that the intention of the sayer begins to influence the degree of the kind of capacity for accumulating wealth which may accrue.
Mantras have been tested and/or verified by their original framers or users.
Each mantra is associated with an actual sage or historical person who once lived. Although the oral tradition predates written speech by centuries, those earliest oral records annotated on palm leaves discussed earlier clearly designate a specific sage as the “seer” of the mantra. This means that the mantra was probably arrived at through some form of meditation or intuition and subsequently tested by the person who first encountered it.
Sanskrit mantras are composed of letters which correspond to certain petals or spokes of chakras in the subtle body.
As discussed earlier, there is a direct relationship between the mantra sound, either vocalized or subvocalized, and the chakras located throughout the body.
Mantras are energy which can be likened to fire.
You can use fire either to cook your lunch or to burn down the forest. It is the same fire. Similarly, mantra can bring a positive and beneficial result, or it can produce an energy meltdown when misused or practiced without some guidance. There are certain mantra formulas which are so exact, so specific and so powerful that they must be learned and practiced under careful supervision by a qualified guru.
Fortunately, most of the mantras widely used in our portal and certainly those contained in this chapter are perfectly safe to use on a daily basis, even with some intensity.
Mantra energizes prana.
“Prana” is a Sanskrit term for a form of life energy which can be transferred from individual to individual. Prana may or may not produce an instant dramatic effect upon transfer. There can be heat or coolness as a result of the transfer.
Some healers operate through transfer of prana. A massage therapist can transfer prana with beneficial effect. Even self-healing can be accomplished by concentrating prana in certain organs, the result of which can be a clearing of the difficulty or condition. For instance, by saying a certain mantra while visualizing an internal organ bathed in light, the specific power of the mantra can become concentrated there with great beneficial effect.
Mantras eventually quiet the mind.
At a deep level, subconscious mind is a collective consciousness of all the forms of primitive consciousnesses which exist throughout the physical and subtle bodies. The dedicated use of mantra can dig into subconscious crystallized thoughts stored in the organs and glands and transform these bodily parts into repositories of peace.
Some of you may be interested or even fascinated by the discipline of mantra, but feel somewhat overwhelmed by the array of mantras and disciplines, astotaras and pujas you find in here. If so, then this chapter will be of use to you. It contains some simple mantras and their common application. They have been compiled from vedas and upanishads, drawn from the various headings of the deities or principles involved. These mantras address various life issues which we all face from time to time.
  1. Swami Devaroopananda, Mantrapushpam, Ramakrishna Math, Khar, Mumbai, India.
  2. Dr. N.S. Anantha Rangacharya, Mahanarayanopanishat (MNU), Bangalore, India.
  3.  Swami Vimalanada, MNU, Ramakrishan Math, Chennai, India
  4.  Srinivasan N.R., Discourses for Vedanta Class—Upanayanam, Sandhyavandanam, Upaakarmam, Pooja Vidhaanam, Purusha Sooktam, Life's Vitality and Reincarnation and Narayana Sooktam, Sri Ganesha Temple, Nashville, TN, USA.<nrsrini.blogspot.com>