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APPLICATION OF MANTRAS IN YOGIC S¡DHAN¡

K.S.Balasubramanian,
Dy.Director,
The
K.S.R.Institute,
Chennai-4.

The word mantra denotes ‘prayer, ‘hymn’, ‘spell’,
mystic syllable’, ‘counsel’ and so on. According to Kul¢r´ava
Tantra a mantra is so called because it saves one from all
fear through ‘reflection (manana) of the deity who is of the
form of Reality.
¨ÉxÉxÉÉiÉ iÉk´É°ü{ɺªÉ näù
´ÉºªÉÉʨÉiÉiÉäVɺÉ: *
jÉɪÉiÉä ºÉ´ÉǦɪÉiÉ: iɺ¨ÉÉx¨ÉxjÉ
<iÉÒÊ®úiÉ: **
A mantra consists of a single sound or syllable or many
sounds or syllables that may appear to have no meaning.
Y¢ska refers to the view of Kautsa in this regard who opines
that mantras are only sound and only the sound and
sequence of the words are important and not the sense; and
that they do not have any meaning at all :
+xÉlÉÇEòÉ Ê½þ ¨ÉxjÉÉ: ÊxɪÉiÉ´ÉÉSÉÉä
ªÉÖHòªÉÉä ÊxɪÉiÉÉxÉÖ{ÉÚ´ªÉÉÇ ¦É´ÉÎxiÉ * 1
Y¢ska refutes this argument by saying that ‘a person who
has memorized the Vedas but does not know their meaning
is just like a pillar bearing the burden’.
1
Nirukta. I.5 (ed.Mukund Jha Bakshi, Meharchand Lachmandas, New Delhi.1982)
ºlÉÉhÉÖ®úªÉÆ ¦ÉÉ®ú½þÉ®ú: ÊEò™ôɦÉÚiÉÂ
+vÉÒiªÉ ´ÉänÆù xÉ Ê´ÉVÉÉxÉÉÊiÉ ªÉÉä%lÉǨÉ * 2

He goes on to establish that mantras do have inner
meanings.
Mantras need not merely be a syllable. It can also
consist of a whole meaningful sentence as in the case of
3
G¢yatri mantra (24 syllables), Pa®c¢k¾ari of ¹aivites or
4
A¾°¢k¾ari and Dv¢daº¢k¾ari of Vaishnavites.
Every mantra is associated with a particular deity or
principle or in-visible power. However, it is one single
syllable Aum (om) or Pra´ava, which has been held in high
esteem in India by all the saints, to represent the Absolute.
In the Upani¾ads and the Bhagavadg¤t¢ meditation on Pra
´ava has been recommended as highly efficacious in one’s
spiritual evolution. For example, lord K¨¾´a says:
+ÉäʨÉiªÉäEòÉIÉ®Æú ¥ÉÀ ´ªÉɽþ®úxÉÂ
¨ÉɨÉxÉÖº¨É®úxÉ *
ªÉ:|ɪÉÉÊiÉ iªÉVÉxnäù½Æþ ºÉ ªÉÉÊiÉ {É®ú¨ÉÉÆ
5
MÉÊiɨÉ **
According to mantra Yoga, wherever there is activity
there is always some vibration and wherever there is
vibration there is the possibility of manifestation of sound,
either in manifest or unmanifest form. Thus when primary

2
ibid .
3
(Aum) Namaª ¹iv¢ya
4
(Aum) namo n¢r¢ya´¢ya and aum namo bhagavate V¢sudev¢ya
5
Bhagavadgit¢ (VIII.13)
creation took place, there was jerk, vibration, stir, or
K¾obha, whatever one many call it. This sound was Pra´ava
or Aumk¢ra, which therefore is divine and most sacred. Pra
´ava is the crest-jewel among the mantras and represents
the God. It connects oneself or the other mantras with God.
It is known as ¹abda Brahman.
According to Pata®jali, the founder of Yoga school of
philosophy, Pra´ava is the word of God. He says ; “ iɺªÉ
´ÉÉSÉEò: |ÉhÉ´É:” 6
As pointed out by Y¢ska, Pata®jali also says that one should
meditate over the meaning of this sacred syllable :
“ iÉWÉ{É: iÉnùlÉǦÉÉ´ÉxɨÉ ” 7. He also says that
siddhis or super-human powers can be obtained by birth,
8
drugs, mantras, tapas or sam¢dhi.
Yoga Y¢j®avalkya, (YY) an ancient text on R¢ja Yoga,
9
ascribed to the legendary saint Y¢j®avalkya gives some
interesting details on mantra. Japa is included as one of the
Yamas. The same is followed by many later texts on Yoga
including Darºana and other Upani¾ads. According to YY,
japa is that where one repeats properly the mantras
instructed by his guru (preceptor) and which is not
contradictory to the Vedas.

6
YS. I.27.
7
ibid. I.. 28.
8
Ibid . IV.I - . VÉx¨É-+Éè¹ÉÊvÉ-¨ÉxjÉ- iÉ{É-ºÉ¨ÉÉÊvÉVÉÉ:
ʺÉrùªÉ: *
9
The present author was awarded Ph.D, by the University of Madras in 2005 for the critical study on this
text.
MÉÖ¯ûhÉÉ SÉÉä{ÉÊnùŸõÉäÊ{É ´Éänù¤ÉÉÁÊ´É
´ÉÌVÉiÉ: *
Ê´ÉÊvÉxÉÉäHäòxÉ ¨ÉÉMÉæhÉ ¨ÉxjÉɦªÉɺÉÉä
VÉ{É: º¨ÉÞiÉ: ** 10

11
He divides the japa with mantra as follows:
Japa

v¢cika (oral) m¢nasika
(mental)
up¢mºu uccaih manana
dhy¢na
(whispering ) (aloud) (reflection)
(meditation)

He further adds that uttering the mantra through lips is
thousand times greater than uttering it orally; reflection on
the same is thousand-fold superior to whispering it; while
meditation on the mantra is the supreme and is thousand-
fold greater than the former.12
13
Similar views are expressed by Manu also.
Y¢j®avalkya further adds that for the mantra japa to yield
the fruits, one should meditate on the mantra, its seer and
presiding deity.

10
YY II.12.
11
ibid. II.14-15
12
ibid .II. 15-16.
13
Manusm¨ti 2.85.
@ñË¹É UôxnùÉä%ÊvÉnèù´ÉÆ SÉ vªÉɪÉxÉÂ
¨ÉxjÉÆ SÉ ºÉ´ÉÇnùÉ *
ªÉºiÉÖ¨ÉxjÉ VÉ{ÉÉä MÉÉÌMÉ ºÉ B´É ʽþ ¡ò™ô|
Énù: ** 14

YY also describes the process of Pr¢´ay¢ma with the
meditation of the sacred mantra Aum. One should inhale
(p¦raka) through the left nostril (i²¢) meditating on the
syllable A, hold the air (Kumbhaka) meditating on U and
exhale (recaka) the air through the right nostril (pi¬gal¢)
meditating on M, thus completing the cycle of Aum. Then he
can reverse the process by inhaling through the right nostril
and exhaling through the left after retention of the air, as
15
described above.
YY adds that one should meditate on Gayatr¤ Mantra
with Pra´ava and Vy¢h¨tis (i.e. Aum bh¦ª bhuvaª and Suvaª).
An important feature of this process described in YY is
that a Br¢hma´a should recite only Vedic mantras and never
a laukika mantra.
¥ÉÉÀhÉ: ¸ÉÖiɺɨ{ÉzÉ: º´ÉvɨÉÇÊxÉ®úiÉ: ºÉnùÉ
*
ºÉ ´ÉèÊnùEÆò VÉ{ÉäxÉ ¨ÉxjÉÆ ™ôÉèÊEòEÆò
xÉ EònùÉSÉxÉ ** 16

While K¾atriyas are eligible to observe the same codes
as prescribed for Br¢hma´a, YY says that Vaiºyas, ¹¦dras and
14
YY. II.18.
15
ibid . VI.4-10.
16
YY. VI.14-15.
women are not eligible to utter Pra´ava during Pr¢´¢yama.
They can, instead, utter the mantra “¹iv¢ya namaª” or
“Namo N¢r¢ya´¢ya”

´É趪ÉÉxÉÉÆ vɨÉǪÉÖHòÉxÉÉÆ
ÛÉÒ¶ÉÚpùÉhÉÉÆ iÉ{Éκ´ÉxÉɨÉ *
|ÉÉhɺÉƪɨÉäxÉ MÉÉÌMÉ ¨ÉxjÉÆ |ÉhÉ´É
´ÉÌVÉiɨÉ *
xɨÉÉäxiÉÆ Ê¶É´É¨ÉxjÉÆ ´ÉÉ ´Éè¹hÉ´ÉÆ
´É乪ÉiÉä ¤ÉÖvÉè: ** 17
¹¦dras and women should not also utter Vedic mantras.

xÉ ´ÉèÊnùEÆò VÉ{ÉäiÉ ¶ÉÚpù: ÊÛÉªÉ ン É xÉ
EònùÉSÉxÉ *18

However, later texts like ¹iva Samhit¢ do not accept this
view.

While dealing elaborately with five types of Dh¢ra´¢, YY
describes the process of concentrating on the five elements
viz., P¨thvi (earth), Ap (water), Tejas (fire), V¢yu (air) and
Ak¢ºa (space) with their respective b¤ja mantras, Lam, Vam,
19
Ram, Yam and Ham. The same sequence is given in texts
like Mantramohodadhi and also ¹aiva ¡gamas, with few
modifications with regard to deities and the regions in the
human body. There are other texts on R¢ja Yoga where
mantras have been used for spiritual purposes.

17
YY.VI.16-17.
18
YY. VI-19.
19
Ibid. VIII. 15-22
Ha°ha Yoga

Some ‘Yoga Upani¾ads’ and texts on Ha°hayoga like
Ha°haratn¢vali of ¹r¤niv¢sa, ¹ivasamihit¢,
20
Hathasa¬ketacandrik¢ of Sundaradeva enumerate four
varieties of Yoga viz., Ha°ha Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga
21
and R¢ja Yoga. For example ¹iva Samhita says:

¨ÉxjɪÉÉäMÉ: ½þ`öÉ´É
™ôªÉªÉÉäMɺiÉÞiÉÒªÉEò: *
SÉiÉÖlÉÉæ ®úÉVɪÉÉäMÉ: ºªÉÉiÉ ......
Various mantras have been prescribed for various practices
in the texts on Ha°ha Yoga, especially during the awakening
of Ku´²alin¤. Among these texts, Sundaradeva’s
Ha°hasa¬ketacandrika (HSC) (17-18 cent.A.D) is a unique
22
encyclopedic text which gives some interesting practices
involving specific mantras.

While all the texts on Yoga and other schools of
philosophy and also Vedas and Pur¢´as extol Pra´ava (Aum)
as the highest and most sacred mantra, some later
Upani¾ads, dealing exclusively on Yoga describe three
methods of practising japa on Aum and the results thereof
thus:
20
Un published text; Mss, are available in Chennai, Mysore, Kolkota, Jodhpur and
Benares.
22
¹iva Samhita V.9
21

The present author was awarded Ph.D. (Vidya Varidhi) in 1999 by the Rashtriya
2223

Saskrit Samsthan, New Delhi, for a critical sudy on this text.
¿º´ÉÉä nù½þÊiÉ {ÉÉ{ÉÉÊxÉ nùÒPÉÉæ ¨ÉÉäIÉ |
ÉnùɪÉEò: *
+É{ªÉɪÉxÉ: —ŸiÉÉä ´ÉÉÊ{É ÊjÉÊ
´ÉvÉÉäcÉÉ®úhÉäxÉ iÉÖ ** 23
“There are three different ways of pronouncing the Pra
´ava. The pronunciation in hrasva (short) burns all the sins,
d¤rgha (long) yields liberation and pluta (longer) gives the
desired result.”

Var¢ha Upanisad further adds that hrasva, d¤rgha and
pluta recitation should reach the heart, crown of the head
and dv¢daº¢nta, so that the mantra would yield the results.

½þº´ÉÆ Ê¤ÉxnÖùMÉiÉÆ nèùPªÉÈ
¥ÉÀ®úxwÉMÉiÉÆ —ŸiɨÉ *
uùÉnù¶ÉÉxiÉMÉÇiÉÆ ¨ÉxjÉÆ |ɺÉÉnÆù
¨ÉxjÉʺÉrùªÉä ** 24
Among the texts on Ha°ha Yoga, HSC gives more importance
to mantra while practising many Yogic techniques. Even
during the N¢²i-ºuddhi and Pr¢´¢yama, this text prescribes
many processes of using mantras, such of Pra´ava. But the
Bh¦taºuddhi Pr¢´¢y¢ma described in this text consists of
b¤ja mantras of the principal elements and appropriate
mantras which determine the duration, of p¦raka, kumbhaka
and recaka, It reads :

23
Var¢ha Upanisad V.68; cf. Dhy¢nabindu up. 17
24
Var¢ha up. V.70
´ÉɨÉxÉɺÉÉ{ÉÖ]äõxÉ ´ÉɪÉÖ¤ÉÒVÉÆ vÉÚ©É
´ÉhÉÈ PªÉÉi´ÉÉ ªÉÆ ¤ÉÒVÉä ´ÉɪÉÖxÉÉ
ºÉ¨ÉºiÉÆ ¶É®úÒ®Æú ªÉÆ ¤ÉÒVɺªÉè´É
¹ÉÉäb÷¶É (16) ´ÉÉ®ú VÉ{ÉäxÉÉ{ÉÚªÉÇ, iÉäxÉè
´É ´ÉɪÉÖxÉÉ ºÉ¨ÉºiÉÆ ¶É®úÒ®Æú
ºÉƶÉÉ乪É, nùÊIÉhÉäxÉ xÉɺÉÉ{ÉÖ]äõxÉ
ªÉÆ ¤ÉÒVɺªÉè´É uùÉËjɶÉiÉ (32) ´ÉÉ®Æú
VÉ{ÉäxÉ ´ÉɪÉÖÆ: ¤Éʽþ ®äúSɪÉäiÉ * .... 25

HSC adds that while other Pr¢´¢y¢ma techniques give
one mastery over fire and air, this practice purifies all the
n¢²is and also removes all the internal enemies like K¢ma,
Krodha and so on. HSC also describes a process called
Hamsakarm¢sana, where the syllables Ham and Saª are to
be meditated upon during p¦raka and recaka . This is also
known as Ajap¢mantra. 26

Khecar¤mudr¢

Among all the mudr¢s Khecar¤ is the best, according to
texts on Hatha Yoga. For example, Ha°hayogaprad¤pik¢
(HYP) of Sv¢tm¢r¢ma says:

2526
HSC. p.88 (R.3239,GOML, Chennai)
27
ibid. p.165
2628
HYP.I.43.
xÉ JÉäSÉ®úÒ ºÉ¨ÉÉ ¨ÉÖpùÉ 27

While many texts on Ha°ha Yoga describes only one
process of Khecar¤ mudra elaborately, it is interesting to
note that Sureºvar¢c¢rya, the direct disciple of
¹a¨karabhagavadp¢da also defines and discusses this
process in his M¢nasoll¢sa, commentary on Dak¾i
´am¦rtistotra.

+ÉEÖòˆÉxɨÉ{ÉÉxɺªÉ |ÉÉhɺªÉ SÉ
ÊxÉ®úÉävÉxɨÉ *
™ôΨ¤ÉEòÉä{ÉÊ®ú ÊVÉâþɪÉÉ: ºlÉÉ{ÉxÉÆ
ªÉÉäMɺÉÉvÉxɨÉ ** 28
The other Yogic texts describe this process in great
detail. However, another practice of Khecar¤ mudr¢, called
¢bhyantara Khecar¤ (inner Khecar¤) , involving mantras and
Yantras has been described only in HSC, which quotes a rare
text Khecar¤pa°ala in this regard. 30 This process, it is said,
should be learnt only from a competent Guru. This was
originally imparted by lord ¹iva himself to goddess P¢rvat¤
and reads thus:

ªÉÊnù ¨ÉÉÆ {ɈəôIÉÉÊxÉ VÉ{ÉänùÊ{É
ºÉÖªÉÎxjÉiÉ: *
27

M¢nasoll¢sa p.324. v.32.
2829

Nothing is known about this text Khecaripatala , though there is a section of
30

Mah¢k¢la Samhita.by the same name.
iɺªÉ ¸ÉÒ JÉäSÉ®úÒ ÊºÉÊrù: º´ÉªÉ¨Éä´É |É
´ÉiÉÇiÉä **

+ºªÉ ¸ÉÒ JÉäSÉ®úÒ ¨É½þɨÉxjɺªÉ * ¦ÉMÉ
´ÉÉxÉÉÊnùxÉÉlÉÉä @ñʹÉ: * MÉɪÉjÉÒ Uôxnù: * ¸ÉÒ
JÉäSÉ®úÒ ÊºÉÊrù |ÉnùÉ JÉäSÉ®úÒ näù´ÉiÉÉ * +ÉÂ
¿” ¤ÉÒVɨÉ * xɨÉ: ¶ÉÊHò: * ¨É¨É
ªÉÉäMÉʺÉrùªÉlÉæ Ê´ÉÊxɪÉÉäMÉ: * +É ¿ÉÆ
+ƒŸÛŸõɦªÉÉÆÆ xɨÉ: * +É ¿” iÉVÉÇxÉÒ¦ªÉÉÆ
xɨÉ: * +Éä ¿ÚÆ ¨ÉvªÉ¨ÉɦªÉÉÆ xɨÉ: * +É ¿é
+xÉÉʨÉEòɦªÉÉÆ xɨÉ: * +É ¿Éé
EòÊxÉÊŸõEòɦªÉÉÆ xɨÉ: * +É ¿:
Eò®úiÉ™ôEò®ú{ÉÞŸõɦªÉÉÆ xɨÉ: * +É ¿ÉÆ
¾þnùªÉÉªÉ xɨÉ: * +É ¿” ʶɮúºÉä º´ÉɽþÉ *
+É ½ÚÆþ ʶÉJÉɪÉè ´É¹É]Âõ * +É ¿Â Eò´ÉSÉɪÉ
½ÚÆþ * +É ¿É xÉäjÉjɪÉÉªÉ ´ÉÉè¹É]Âõ * +É ¿:
+ÛÉÉªÉ ¡ò]Âõ * ''

Then the text describes the process of meditation.

Texts like YY and ¹S describe meditation on specific
mantras during Praty¢h¢ra, Dh¢ra´¢. The texts on Ha°ha
Yoga have given importance to mantra in various practices.
Mantra Yoga:

¹S describes mantra yoga briefly, which involves meditation
on specific mystic syllables in Cakras. It says that one gains
happiness in this and the other worlds. By knowing this, the
Yogi attains siddhi. The process involves syllables like Aum ,
Aim, Kl¤m and Strim,31 and Cakras deities, specific deities,
and number of times each mantra to be repeated.

It is to be noted that the text Mantrayogasamhit¢
exclusively deals on Mantra Yoga. It classifies mantras as (i)
masculine, feminine and neuter; (ii) siddha, s¢dhya,
susiddha (iii) Pi´²a, kartari, b¤ja and m¦l¢mantra; (iv) sattva,
rajas and tamas.

¹¢rad¢tilaka and its commentary by R¢ghavabha°°a describe
each one of them (these are not given here).

Mantra yoga consists of sixteen a¬gas (limbs) which
are (1) Bhakti (2) ¹uddhi (3) ¡sana (4) Pa®c¢¬gasevana (5)
¡c¢ra (6) Dh¢ra´¢
(7) Divyadeºasevana (8) Pr¢´akriy¢ (9) Mudr¢ (10) Tarpa´a
(11) Havana (12) Bali (13) Y¢ga (14) Japa (15) Dhy¢na and
(16) Sam¢dhi.

(The description of each one of them is not given in this
paper, for want of time and space.)

Conclusion
Thus one can see that the texts on Ha°ha, Mantra, and
R¢ja Yoga opine that all these practices culminate in
Sam¢dhi, which Pata®jali also prescribes in his Yoga S¦tras.

The utility of mantras in all these types of Yogas and
also in Tantric and Vedantic texts brings out the fact that
mantras are highly efficacious in one’s spiritual pursuit.
Serious efforts have to be taken to find how these mantras
are helpful in raising one’s consciousness. The use of modem
gadgets and the assistance of psychologists may also be
sought in this endeavor.

I thank the organizers for giving me this opportunity to
present few of my thoughts on this occasion. I thank you all
for your patient listening.

**********