Even today, the word mantra evokes a wave of secrecy within us. And this has been a word which we have been hearing from time immemorial. In it is embedded a highly secretive and mysterious divinity. A mantra is highly secretive. From the Vedas, it can be seen that mantra chanting is highly secretive. We need to explore the hidden cellars of the practice of mantra chanting. It can only be decided after comparison between all the shastras of India with the Vedas. Duly, it can be understood that the Vedas are the right source for deciphering the purport and import of the mantras.
Today, we are marooned in a sea of doubts. Doubts arise from ignorance. And all doubts vanish with the dawn of knowledge. It certainly does not mean that questions should not be asked. As far as Vedas and the the mantras in the Vedas are concerned, they are not a set of decked up words arranged in a certain manner but compositions which have eternal secrets embedded within them of which we are not aware. There is a story from the Taittiriya Brahmanam which would be very appropriate in this context, I feel. There is no need to be wary of when we hear the word ‘Brahmanam’. Brahmanams are explanations of the Vedas. This story revolves around the character of Rishi Bharadwaj. Rishi Bharadwaj had undertaken severe penance over three lifetimes and studied the Vedas. Naturally, he was very exhausted because of the effort. Lord Indra once reached out to him and asked as to what he would do if he were given a fourth life. To this, he replied that he would continue with his study of the Vedas and meditation.
Just as he finished saying this, three mountains were visible on the horizon which were unseen till then. Lord Indra took a handful of mud each from each of the here mountains and said,” Bhardwaja, The Vedas are like these mountains. They are immeasurable in extent and the knowledge that you could gather in your three lives is like the handful of mud in my hands. Still, there is plenty to learn. Also, be aware that the Vedas are the epitome of knowledge. (Taittiriya Brahmanam 3.10.11-3-4)
There would be many amongst us who would have seen the four Vedas. Some may not have seen. Still, all the four Vedas would not add up to the Mahabharata. Then, how is it as immeasurable as it is claimed to be by Lord Indra? Is it a lie that the Vedas are the repository of knowledge? Obtaining the eternal and vast knowledge enshrined in the Vedas is the result of intense effort and penance. They are a fountain of knowledge. A mantra from the Rigveda goes thus.
Ahameva Swayam Idam Vadami
Jushtam devebhiruta maanushebhih
Yam Kaamaye Tantamugram krinomi
Tam Brahmanam tamrishimtam Sumedhaam
This is a very famous mantra. What is its meaning? Who has uttered this mantra? This mantra has been uttered by none other than the real Vagdevi. “I am myself bequeathing this pleasant reality to the gods and humans. Listen,” Those whom I bless shall be ever resplendent, effulgent and energetic. They shall be given the opportunity to learn the four Vedas, become rishis and be full of intelligence, fame and splendor. The Rigveda states that the realization of the mantras is the route to gaining fame and splendor, effulgence and resplendence. We can see the concept of the words and the associated splendor. Another mantra from the Rigveda goes thus:
Yaavadyava prithvi Taavadittat
Sahasradha Mahimaanah sahasram Yaavad
Brahma Vishtitam tavatee Vaak
There are a thousand ways in which words are spread across. It means that the ambit of the words is as large as the extent between the earth and the other worlds, literally meaning that the power of the word permeates the entire universe.
This is exactly what Bhartrihari conveyed in his treatise, the Vakyapadeeyam, that the word is expansive as the Brahmam or the universe. Maybe, this is the genesis of the word, Sabdabrahmam. The Sabdabrahmam is eternal; without a second; one which never disintegrates.
According to Bhartrihari, ‘much as the way in which the material world has crystallized out of the infinite conscious energy, the words are the manifestation of the meanings arising out of intelligence.’ His concept on this goes thus.
Anaadi Nidhanam Brahma
Sabda Tattwam Yadaksharam
Vivartta Ter Bhavena
Prakriyo Jaagato Yatah
The foremost requirement is the blessings of the god of words, Vagdevi. All of us can reap immense benefits if we are blessed by her. Therefore, it is absolutely essential. To gain her blessing, what is required to be done is the secretive process of mantra chanting and contemplation of the supreme. From this process does intelligence emerge.
From the verse as enunciated in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and mentioned below, it is understood that those who involve themselves in understanding the essence of the words and contemplate and meditate upon them regularly, such people can experience, enjoy and bring into reality all the things, the meanings of which are encapsulated within the mantras.
Sa Yo Vaacham Brahmeti Upasate
Yaavad Vaacho Gatam Tatrasya
Yatha Kaamacharo Bhavati
(Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 7.2.2)
In fact, the secrets of mantra chanting and contemplation is encapsulated in the above verse. The practitioners of mantra chanting and contemplation break down the barriers of sound and enter within. This process of mantra chanting with awareness leads to the dawn of intelligence which is the basic stratum of all materials as is mentioned in the Rigveda according to the canto mentioned in the Vakyapadeeyam of Bhartrihari.
The above clearly illustrates the exact purport of the process of chanting mantras as well as that of the science of words. The Rigveda states that intelligence surrenders itself before people who regularly meditate upon mantras with full awareness. A mantra from the Rigveda which encapsulates the concept of the secretive process of mantra chanting goes thus:
Mutatvashrunvanna Utotvah Smaitannuvam
Visasre Jaayevapatya Ushati
Though a person always is in contact with words, he never fully comprehends their embedded meaning. But, the ones who are fully aware of the meanings that words carry, are indeed blessed. For such a person, Vagdevi herself would reveal herself in the form of intelligence just as a lovelorn wife waits upon her husband impatiently in the season of spring.
So, what is the route to creativity?
Meditating on mantras is the highway to creativity. This land of Bharat once flourished with creativity leading to immense prosperity. These people who did penance excelled in developing the fields of mathematics, weaponry, astrology etc. Many branches of knowledge like Ayurveda and economics developed out of such flourishing of creativity developed from intense sadhana (an effort exercised to achieve a purpose). That is how the people of Bharat became sadhvis and tapasvis. There is ample evidence to show that even the times of the Mahabharata were highly creative. They had explained the process of generating creativity from the use of words.
Sushrusha Shravanam Chaiva
Grahanam Dharanam Tatha
Tattvagnanam Cha Dhi Gunah
(Mahabharata Vanaparvam 2.29)
Creativity is light. The Halayudha mentions that when a person hears a sound from another person, it is the creativity which shines as the form of intelligence within him. It is a characteristic of intelligence and not intelligence itself. One can grasp subtle concepts with its help. Dedicated spiritual practice results in the dawn of creative intelligence. This is what is described in the Mahabharata. The desire to hear, the act of hearing, understanding, contemplation, logical determination, objective knowledge, conceptual knowledge etc., if obtained by intelligence through practice alone will lead to the flowering of creativity.
The practitioner of mantras should develop the insight in to the origin of shabda. Because, only with the appreciation of the genesis of the mantras can we fully understand the effects mantras have over us. Sound or mantra, in fact, is a thought. And a thought is not executed by either hand or leg. The desires of the soul are brought into form by the mind. This steady stream of thoughts from the mind finally turns into sound. This concept has been explained in detail by that master of grammar, Panini. The soul, in conjunction with intelligence, tries to make sense of its meaning. This task of deciphering the meaning has been left to the entity called the mind. The mind generates heat within the body which in turn causes expansion in the prana or the life force. The movement of the expanded prana causes friction resulting in sound.
According to Panini, this sound rises to the top of the head and directs the air to reach the mouth where it comes in contact with the organs designed for production of audible sound belonging to various frequencies and intonations. The various intonations come together to form a pattern of words fit for hearing. But, these words have to abide by certain rules. Otherwise, they do not become language. In that form of language, they become impregnated with knowledge.
This is of prime importance. The implied inner meaning is the condition in which the mind, intelligence, soul and body itself indulges in the world of mantra chanting. With proper involvement in the process of mantra chanting, by churning action, hidden worlds of creativity are opened up to us. Panini reminds us of the process of generation of heat in the act of chanting mantras which then becomes the seed of the chanting process. According to the Mimamsa, the sound and its meaning is eternal. In the Mahabhashyam, Sage Patanjali describes the relation between a sound and its meaning as very natural and eternal. Thus, the sound produced scientifically surfaces in the form of mantras. This process has been revealed in the Rigveda.
Saktumiva Tita Una Punanto
Yatradheera Manasa Vachamakrata
Atra Sakhayah Sakhyani Jaanate
Bhadraisham Lakshmeer Nihitadhi Vaachi
Just as wet dough is filtered and purified, the ancient rishis imparted purity to words with the help of their minds. And they enjoyed great camaraderie amongst themselves. This camaraderie and friendship had the seal of great yogic powers. People experienced love through the use of words emanating from the mind. And society was born for the betterment of humankind.
In fact, within this statement is inscribed all that had been achieved by the practice of mantra sadhana. We are often astounded by the hordes of people who have eulogized the lofty concepts enshrined in the Vedas and the Upanishads. However, we tend to explain that the mantras and the sooktas as the expressions of the human soul in rapture. In reality, they are the resultant vibrations arising out of the process of mantra chanting. These are the expressions of the eternal sound.