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MANTRAS

 

Who really knows how long humans have been drawn to melody to focus the mind, to commune with one another, and to, perhaps, offer up their voices to something bigger than themselves?  We do know that sometime around 2000-1500 B.C.E., the lyrical, life-affirming hymns of the Vedas began to be composed. The Ṛg Veda is a compilation of hymns of praise and prayer to a group of deities personifying nature (wind, water, sun, fire, sky, earth, sound, etc…)  And the Sāma Veda contained chants or songs to be performed at Soma rituals.

 

These early writings and hymns held a reverence for nature and her rhythms and cycles that contains an inherent, soul-catching beauty that taps into something raw within us.  They speak of natural forces and elemental powers, and the beauty of the rain and the sun and fire and the wind and the dark of night, as well as the brightness of the day.

 

The Upaniṣads (most of which were composed between 800 and 200 B.C.E.) offered a path of turning inwards and a subsequent recognition that the true, eternal, pure self (ātman) is one with Brahman (Brahman—not to be confused with the Brahmin priests).  Brahman, itself, is an all-pervading reality, the substratum of existence.

The Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad (3.2.2), in beautiful imagery, tells us: “What is luminous, what is subtler than the subtle, in which are centered all the worlds and those that dwell in them, that is the imperishable Brahman.”

 

Perhaps the most well known mantra is the praṇava mantra, or Oṃ, which is mentioned repeatedly in the Upaniṣads.  The Muṇdaka Upaniṣad (2.4) describes “taking the syllable aum as the bow: one’s self is the arrow.  Brahman is spoken of as the target of that. It is to be hit without making a mistake. Thus one becomes united with it as the arrow (becomes one with the target).”  Oṃ, or Aum, also describes the states of consciousness: waking, dreaming, deep sleep, and the turiya state.  The turiya state is the transcendent background of consciousness, beyond all the others, where connection with the infinite might be possible.

 

 

Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad

V.14.3 The Sacred Gāyatrī Prayer “The earth, the sky, and heaven (make eight syllables.

Of eight syllables, verily, is one foot (line) of the Gāyatrī.  This one foot of it is that.

He who knows the foot of the Gāyatrī to be such wins as far as the three worlds extend.

 

Bhu is the earth. Bhuva is the atmosphere. Svar is the heavens.

 

Gāyatrī is a verse of the Ṛg Veda. “Tat savitur vareṇyam, bhargo devasya dhīmahi, dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt: We meditate on the adorable glory of the radiant sun; may he inspire our intelligence.”

 

Om bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ

Tat savitur vareṇyma

bhargo devasya dhīmahi

dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt

 

Om asatomā sad gamaya

Tamaso mā jyotir gamaya

Mṛtyor māmṛtaṃ (ma amṛtaṃ) gamaya

From the unreal lead me to the real.

From Darkness lead me to light.

From death lead me to immortality

 

Gamaya—lead me there

Tamas- heaviness, darkness

Jyotis—light

Mṛta—death

 

Saha nāv avatu

Saha nau bhunaktu

Saha vīryaṃ karavāvahai

Tejasvināv adhitam astu

Mā vidviṣāvahai

Aum śāntiḥ, śāntiḥ, śāntiḥ

 

May we be protected.

May we enjoy each other.

May we work together uniting our strength

for the good of humanity.

May our learning be luminous and purposeful.

May we never hate one another.

May there be peace, peace, and perfect peace.

 

Oṁ

pūrṇam adaḥ pūrṇam idam,

pūrnāt pūrṇam udacyate

pūrṇasya pūrṇam ādāya

pūrṇam evāvaśiṣyate

 

That is full (or whole, or perfect); This is full (or whole or perfect).  The fullness (or wholeness or perfection) comes out of the full (wholeness, perfection). Taking the fullness (or wholeness or perfection) from the fullness (or wholeness or perfection), the full (or whole or perfect) remains full (or whole or perfect).

 

Mahāmṛtyuṃjaya mantra

Om tryambakam yajāmahe sugandhim puṣṭi-vardhanam

urvārukam-iva bandhanān mṛtyormukṣīya māmṛitāt

 

From the Rig Veda, a chant for freedom from the attachments that bind us, also often chanted for healing.

 

 

 

Closing Chant (Mangala Mantra)

Om

svasti prajābhyaḥ pari pāla yaṇtāṃ

nyāyena mārgeṇa mahīṃ mahīśaḥ

gobrāmaṇebhyaḥ śubham astu nityaṃ

lokāḥ samastaḥ sukhino bhavaṇtu

Om śāntiḥ, śāntiḥ, śāntiḥ

Om

 

May we recognize the divine in our abundance

May our leaders rule the world with law and justice

May we always have the right to worship and study freely

May all beings be happy and free

Peace, peace and perfect peace

 

om

guru brahma, guru viṣnu

guru devo māheśvara

guru sakśat

param brahmā

taṣmai śri guravē namaḥ

om

 

An offering to our teachers—to the force of creation, to the force of destruction,

to the force of preservation, to the supreme guru who is everywhere and in everything.  I offer my salutations and efforts.

 

 

namaste