"Unflinching devotion to the Teacher is paramount in the life of a true seeker. To begin with, an external God can be the object of faith. But once the devotee grows to be a seeker, only a Wise Teacher can fulfil his quest.  It is then for the seeker to get purified and enlightened by the words of wisdom from his Guru.  Their bond and attunement put the Teacher on the pedestal of God.  Such an impeccable Guru-sishya bond alone bestows wisdom, strength and fulfillment to the seeker."

The Guiding force of Narayanashrama Tapovanam & Center for Inner Resources Development

Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha

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The devotees who have taken mantra-deeksha should reflect how Ratnakara and Dhruva got transformed. Each of you has what Dhruva and Ratnakara had- a body and senses, a mind, intelligence and heart. Can you not then achieve what Dhruva and Ratnakara could? The laws of the mind have not changed. The will and wish are equally effective even today. Where lies the difference then? In your perception, interest, assessment and resolve.

 

Mantra-japa has an extremely great place in religious or spiritual life of a saadhaka. The sublime effects mantra and mantrajapa produce are equally supreme, nay ineffable. But, in actual practice, many of those who take to mantrajapa, do so without knowing adequately what it verily means and how effective and wholesome the practice is. Is it just a religious or spiritual fashion to take to a mantra? Or is it merely a custom or tradition? Can it be that because of abundant use, mantra and mantrajapa have become quite a commonplace affair?

 

For those seekers and religious saadhakas, who wish to know about the practice either before taking it up or while pursuing it, it is essential to know what a mantra truly represents, when and for what purpose is mantrajapa resorted to at all.

 

Mantra literally means a mental formula, expressing a thought or idea. It can also mean a hymn or sookta in Vedic parlance. Normally mantra must be representing a spiritual proposition, which necessarily carries with it a specific purpose and relationship. Being so, it must give effect to a process, which will naturally have a religious or spiritual connotation.

 

Mantra becomes paramount when you know that in the whole of your life, though the body is the visible base, the more important source is the mind itself. Body is, in truth, born of the mind. It exists and functions because of the mind. Body and its parts are constantly employed by the mind and for mind’s own purposes. It is the mind that senses the hunger, and only then we look for food. The mind alone uses the hands to take food and feed the stomach. Eating also stops when the mind again senses that hunger has been appeased and the stomach has become full.

 

Whatever goes by the name mind, or the mind-substance, is itself the creator and preserver of the body. This is a fact, which people do not recognize so readily.

 

Mind is thus the base and trunk of our being. Mantra is a pursuit which this substratum called the mind takes up and clings to. So its place also becomes very fundamental and consequential.

 

In religious life, there are many levels and kinds of activities and pursuits. But all of them, so far as the performer is concerned, are either physical or oral or mental. You may do a very big pooja. Apart from the materials you employ, your hands and mouth are the agents used in the worship. In activating the hands and the mouth, the mind also functions effectively. The pooja may itself be very involving. But it is all related to and proceeding from your own body, mouth and mind.

 

A physical act, compared with the mental act, has only lesser effect. The proportion is like one, ten and hundred for bodily, oral and mental acts. So when a mantra is chanted mentally, with exclusiveness, how potent and effective will the process be?

 

If a seeker takes to a mantra initiation, then from that time onwards he need not follow or continue whatever other things he had been doing in the way of practice. In fact, to do anything else will be a distraction. All his religious needs, efforts and rewards should be centred in his mantra. Mantra is so wholesome, supreme and final.

 

Any great person, or an ascetic or spiritual stalwart has great internal power. That power is born of his spirit. And to invoke or manifest that power, what he uses is his mind- the mind is exclusively applied to the pursuit. Such exclusive pursuit is what mantrajapa aims at.

 

There are many people who seek mantra-deeksha. But after taking the initiation, they do not preserve the pursuit with the integrity, wholesomeness and exclusiveness it calls for. Is it due to ignorance? Or is it carelessness? Or lack of deep qualities like devotion and fondness? Each initiate has to think about his or her own position.

 

One can have a Mantrajapa quite early in life. Or may be after some years of conventional routines, he may seek mantra-deeksha from a proper person or even a spiritual Guru. In either case, he should regard the mantra and mantrajapa as supreme and wholesome. In doing so alone lies its effects and its benefits.

 

Dhruva was denied his father’s lap. The father’s extra fondness for Dhruva’s stepmother, and the enslavement his heart suffered on that account, did not allow the father to let Dhruva sit on his lap. Suruchi frowned at the husband and Dhruva was spurned by his father. Suneeti, Dhruva’a mother, sensed the predicament. Dhruva rushed to his mother, crying and sobbing. She consoled him: “Dear son, what can be done? You happen to be the son of an accursed mother for whom your father has only a subdued place in is heart. His heart is sold out to your stepmother. The fondness your father denies cannot be redeemed from within the palace walls. Better go straight to the forest and do penance on Mahavishnu, the one Great Father of all creation. He will redress your heart…”

 

This is the timely advice any mother could fondly give even now to her son! When the visible world stands denied before anyone, the invisible Creator alone is to be sought after confidently. Dhruva was speeding to the forest. Narada intercepted the prince and said, “Do not proceed on this hazardous mission. Where reigns Lord Mahavishnu and where are you, a small boy of the palace?” Dhruva retorted, “O Sage, in me flows the kshatriya blood, which knows not to yield before fear or challenge. If Mahavishnu is hard to propitiate, that is all the more reason why I should strive and win him enviably…” Narada was greatly pleased by his determination. He gave the prince a mantra, asking him to recite it ceaselessly.

 

Dhruva held to the mantra and the mantra also held him. Within days, his being began to swell with an ecstatic vibration, generating a heavenly luster. In the course of months the small boy became a full-fledged ascetic. Vishnu came in front and after listening to him awarded a place for him, which even today shines and is sought by all earnest devotees!

 

How could the boy work such a divine miracle? It is the power of mantrajapa. A mantra is one, which protects, enriches and empowers when mentally resorted to, preserved and repeated. Like food to the body, the mantrajapa should provide mental nourishment. Let its nourishment make the mind healthy, vibrant and vigorous. For that you have to consider it as wholesome, and take to it with exclusiveness. Chant it lovingly, deeply, vigorously. Let the whole inner personality be shaken by it. Let the fire it generates burn off all your desires and distractions. Let it arouse deeper and longer breath. Like hammering a piece of hot iron with a hammer, hammer your inside with the mantra. It is not just memorization. It is not mere repetition. It is, on the other hand, arousing the current of a conscious process, by which the whole psychological and psychic personality begins to get purified and deepened, to become subtler and subtler.

 

Do not look to any other agency. Look only to the japa. Let it grow like burning fire in your mental furnace.

 

Dacoit Ratnakara was given just a two-letter mantra ‘Ra-ma’. The Rishi asked him to recite it continuously, fervently and exclusively. Ratnakara obeyed and got lost in the mantra’s flow, dissolved into its power and prevalence. His outer consciousness ceased. He knew not where he sat or what surrounded him. His mantra had engulfed his mind, heart and memory. And finally it got dissolved into the very source of chanting namely the mind substance itself! When he woke up from his long absorption, the trees around him had grown tall and huge, bringing him to a sense of time. His mind and buddhi had suddenly found a new vigour, inspiration and luster, making the notorious dacoit an enlightened sage.

 

The devotees who have taken mantra-deeksha should reflect how Ratnakara and Dhruva got transformed. Each of you has what Dhruva and Ratnakara had- a body and senses, a mind, intelligence and heart. Can you not then achieve what Dhruva and Ratnakara could? The laws of the mind have not changed. The will and wish are equally effective even today. Where lies the difference then? In your perception, interest, assessment and resolve.

 

Cast of all other practices. Mantra is a full pursuit. Do japa regarding it as a full pursuit, without maala, without any specific setting. And get steeped in the japa flow. A very simple but sensitive and powerful pursuit, no doubt.

 

If the mind gets distracted, strive again with depth and greater vigour, till the mind comes within control. For that, rely only on mantrajapa. Think and reflect. Regard mantra as the means, end, goal and everything. It is the greatest enrichment you can think of, which none can rob or interfere with.

 

Practice some restraints and controls. If you are married, keep spells of brahmacharya. If you are not married, be true to the brahmacharya and intensify it by all means. You will find your being radiating a pleasant vibration, an energy, luminosity. It is the most vital creation which spiritual dedication and religious fervour alone can bring about. The eyes will sparkle more. The lethargy will flee. Vigour and attention will grow and deepen.

 

Do not rely on anything else. Not even on any special God. At most you may have devotion to the mantra-daata. Our Shastras speak of five fathers, parents. Of them, Mantradaata is also one. To get initiated into a mantra is to derive a second birth. The one who brings this about is the father, no doubt.

 

It is not necessary to use any garland for japa. Counting with beeds will make the japa mechanical. The attention will remain external on the garland and fingers. Keep a check on time. Chant mentally. Watch the chanting process. That will make your attention inward.

 

If japa is well pursued and it brings absorption, spiritual symptoms are likely to manifest. Your mouth may go dry or some tasteful secretion may be felt. Sometimes you may begin to heave. Do not get frightened by any of these things. And do not be overwhelmed also. Pranayama, subtle sensory perceptions like light, sound or other spiritual experiences, can also appear. Do not get attracted to any of these. Avoid delusions. The goal lies far away. 

 

Suppose you talk fondly to any one dear to you, and the fondness grows, some symptoms characteristic of fondness will be felt; chocking of voice, eyes trickling, heart beating faster and the like. In mantrajapa also this is so. The japa should become a pleasant fire, which should blaze clearly and freely. In that heat and brilliance, all impurities and distractions must get burnt off. The heart should become nobler, and mind lighter and gentler. Humility should dawn, and strength and confidence should grow. If these sublime symptoms fail to appear, then understand that you lack aspiration and sincerity. Full reliance on the mantra is still lacking. It becomes self-deception. The hindrances are born from your own mind and heart. Look nowhere else for the cause.

 

I find that many devotees who had sought mantra and were given one as desired for the purpose they had in mind, are not using the mantra as a life-building, life-saving, strength giving, purifying means. This is solely due to the inattention on their part- laziness and lack of application. Caste these aside scrupulously, watchfully, persistently, relentlessly. Have an overwhelming love and urge for purity. Let your inner personality get heated and begin to shine with divine golden luster.

 

Like love, hatred, jealousy and competition, the mantra flair and fondness must fill you with a divine emotion, which should be allowed to revolutionize you wholesomely. Mantra is a spiritual current. If it does not become manifest, then the only conclusion is that you have not done the japa properly and well.

 

So reassess your position. Evaluate wherein have you erred or missed. Fill the gap well. Generate the needed intensity and vigour. Arouse your own dormant spirit. Dip in the flow of the mantra. Radiate the purity it brings. Realize the hidden worth of the mantra you have been graced with.

 

Know yourself first what it is to pursue purity and spiritual vigour by mantrajapa. Let others around also know the truth. Let the society too come to know the spiritual potential of devotion and austerity. Nothing else can become a substitute for higher practice.

 

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