This paper is based on research and theories of Dr. Gopalakrishnan (M.Sc. (Pharm); M.Sc. (Chem.); M.A. (Soc.); PhD (Bio); D.Lit (Scientist, CSIR)) and Dr. Sambasivan (M.S. (Gen); M.S. (Neuro); F. R. C. S (Neurosurgeon, President, World Federation of Neurosurgical Society)). I’m thankful to God Almighty for opening the doors for me, and blessing me to know Him more and understand the rich heritage of Haindava Samskaar. In this paper we are going to talk about Mantras.
Definition of Mantra
Mananena thraayathe iti mantra =
Mananena thraayathe =“a transforming thought”; literally, “that which, when thought, carries one across [the worldly ocean of sorrow]” (Wikipedia).
iti mantra = that is mantra
The power of a mantra lies in its ability to produce an objective, perceptible change in the yogi who repeats it correctly. When a mantra is chanted in rhythmic tone/sound with its highs and lows, create a melodious musical effect in the human brain and the rest of the body. This effect is defined as the neurolinguistic effect. The vibrations emitted through chanting triggers bio-chemical changes in the human body and also activate the energy molecules in the environment. This can be achieved by not knowing the true meaning of the mantra, but continues replicated listening or chanting alone. This theory can be backed by the science of neurolinguisitic effect. Thus said, if one knows the meaning of a mantra, it has got an additional effect/advantage which is known as Neurolinguistic (NLE)+ Psycholinguistic effect (PLE). Researchers are still trying to understand the intensity of the above energies on human bodies and the environment. Remember the NLE and PLE effects are due to the production and spreading of curative chemicals in the brain which enhances calming and curing effect ih human body and mind.
Benefits of Listening to Mantras
Manthras help us attract positive energy and also assist in clarifying problems beyond direct human control. According to Dr. Gopalakrishnan, the ideal effect of mantra chanting can be maintained, at radius 7 meters from the person who chants it.
Listening to mantras directly lowers blood pressure (also cholesterol level), normalizes heartbeat, regulates brain wave pattern, and also controls adrenalin level in the blood due to the formation of curative hormones/chemicals in the brain. Modern medicine is currently making extensive use of music therapy, yoga and pranayaama to heal human mind and body. Chanting the keerthans, melodious bhajans, songs, etc activates positive energy flows and create both NLE and PLE. However there should be a melodious pattern for that. Dr. Gopalakrishnan advices the music/song/mantra should not be practiced in harsh and rough tones. The delivery speed should possess a soothing affect, for example, Gayatri mantra chanting should be done at the range of 4 - 8 numbers per minute, Om Namo Narayanaaya at 38 -62 and Om Namassivaaya at 42 – 68 range per minute.
Types of Mantras
There are four types of Mantras :
- The Vedic mantras,
- The Puranic mantras,
- The Itihaasic mantras and
- The Karma mantras.
Generally the Veda mantras are chanted in each and every step of the Yaagaas. But in poojas/ archanas and prayers only few lines/sookthas of vedas are chanted. But all the mantras chanted in poojas and in temple rituals are not Veda mantras. Majority of them are puraan and karma mantras.
When chanting Veda mantras, only when the meaning and the sruthi are understood, can the benefit from Neurolinguistic and Psycholinguistic effects be attained for mental/ physical and spiritual merits.
Veda mantras have ten types of sruthees/swaras/tones:
- Deergha kampa,
Few examples of Veda Mantra are:
- Purusha sookatha,
- Bhaagya sooktha,
- Navagraha sooktha,
- Gayatri manthra,
- Mruthyunjaya manthra.
Purana mantras are those mantras which are present in one or more of the eighteen mahapuranaas or upapuraanaas. They can generally be chanted by anyone including ladies independent of caste and religion with sareera sudhi, aahara sudhi, manasuddhi, vaak suddhi and karma suddhi. In these mantras generally there are no rigid sruthies and rules for chanting the puraana mantras. One can opt for their own ragas. The rules for learning the purana mantras are not rigid, but one should have clear voice/sound and devotion and sincerity. Purana mantras can be chanted for poojas or as evening and morning prayers.
Few Examples of Purana Mantras are:
- Lalitha sahasra naama,
- Devi maahathmya,
- Siva sahasranaama,
- Ganesa sthothras.
Ideal ways to chant a Mantra
Mantras chanted at specific times of the day are proven to have more influence on human body. . The ideal timings are the prabhata (Morning) sandhya (Evening) and saayam sandhya (late evening). In physics the time, space and observer are the three important factors. In Vedas, the time, space and the person connected with chanting/listening mantras are three important factors for deriving benefit of mantras.
Group chanting is excellent form of energy generation. Vedic chanting should be done with absolute care. Hence sareera suddhi (Clean body), ahaara suddhi (appropriate food), mana suddhi (purified mind), vaak suddhi (clean speech) and karma suddhi (morally excepted way of performing one’s duty or work) are essential for deriving the full benefit of chanting the mantra. A clean, comfortable and peaceful environment is also necessary for reaping the true effects of mantra.
Who can chant Vedic Mantras?
One need not be a Brahmin for learning Vedas. There are many scholars in Kerala, who are not Brahmins by birth but have attained even a higher level than Brahmins, who are chanting the Veda mantras. There are thousands of ladies in Karnataka who chant Veda mantras perfectly and also some of them perform Yaagas by themselves. It takes years of training for anyone to learn the Vedas and rigorous customs and rituals (rules) are to be followed during the learning period.
Those who are interested in learning Vedas should learn all the vedic swaras listed above. Veda mantras SHOULD be chanted with sruthi. Even the meaning of the mantra might change if not properly chanted. Hence it is generally advised that anyone should not chant Veda mantra carelessly, but can listen (sruthi) for getting the positive effects. Like in physics three parameters are important the place (space) of chanting the mantra, the time (physics also time) and the person who chants mantra (in physics it is the observer).