Friday, June 23, 2006

Shabda and mantra

> Dear Narasimha,
> I have a basic doubt. We say that the effet of mantras
> is caused by the vibration they generate (or due to
> the sound energy). And yet we say that the mantras are
> less effective when chanted lound.
> Why is this?
> Please clarify.
> Regards,
> Krishna

From: Narasimha P.V.R. Rao
Date: Jun 23, 2006 12:40 AM
Subject: [sohamsa] Shabda and mantra (Re: Kavachas...Mental Chanting)

Dear Krishna,
Fantastic question and I am glad you asked!
The Sanskrit word for sound is "shabda". However, the concept of shabda is far more subtle than the modern definition of sound. The modern definition of sound is a vibration of the gross matter that is meant to be "heard" by the ears. We put too much emphasis on the external senses, which can only perceive the gross matter of this universe. In the Hindu philosophy, the gross matter is just a small part of the universe and there is something subtle behind everything gross and it cannot be perceived by the external senses.
In Hindu philosophy, any shabda manifests at 4 different levels - para, pashyanti, madhyama and vaikhari. Of these, para is the subtlest level and vaikhari is the grossest level. The vaikhari level of a shabda manifests grossly (through vibration of gross matter) and one can hear it with normal sense organs (ears). The subtler levels of a shabda manifest as vibration of subtler levels of matter and they cannot be heard by ears.
The vaikhari level of shabda is audible only for small distances. The para level of a shabda I make when I say a mantra can be perceived by an advanced yogi who may be thousands of miles away! Thus, grosser levels are easier to hear but have space and time limitations, whereas subtler levels are more difficult to hear but have no space and time limitations.
If you say a mantra, it is true that the result of the mantra is through the shabda brahma or sound/vibration energy. But don't be under the false impression that we are talking about vibration of gross matter near you. That is far less significant to have any considerable impact. On the other hand, at the subtlest level, the entire universe is within you and you can cause vibrations on the super-subtle matter of the mahakarana sareera and THAT can have tremendous impact on the entire universe.
The goal of a sadhaka is to create more energy at the subtler levels of the shabda when saying mantras. It is not easy. But, limiting the energy *wasted* on creating the vaikhari level of shabda is a good starting point!
I hope it is a little clearer now...
Sarvam SreeKrishnaarpanamastu,
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Brihaspati Gayatri, Vishwamitra/Gaathina Rishi Rig Veda 6.62.6