Art and Culture Hinduism History and Culture Meditation

The Secret of Mantra Chanting

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Mantras – Sound vibrations that permeate every cell of your being and allow your mind to dissolve and repose. But what are they? What do they mean? Where did they come from? There are so many questions surrounding these ancient syllables.

Speaking about Mantras is the revelation of ancient secrets that have been kept sacred from several ages, secrets that continue to benefit humanity irrespective of its circumstances.

What are Mantras?

Mantras are impulses or rhythms of the consciousness. They create vibrations in the spirit. Their effects, influence, method and mode of working are all a mystery.

In Sanskrit, it is said, Manana trayate iti mantra.Mantra is that which saves you from repetitiveness. A repetitive thought is a worry. Mantras help to free you from your worries. Often we wonder why we chant some sounds without understanding their meanings? Can something beyond our understanding help us?

The meaning of every mantra is infinity. It is a sound vibration beyond the cognition of the mind. When the mind is unable to cognize, it simply dissolves and moves into a meditative space.

How Mantras Affect the Mind?

The mantra is like a seed. Every seed has the potential to become a tree. Similarly, these sound vibrations contain all the possibilities of creation. Some mantras are in the seed form, called the bija mantras. Others are fully expressed, i.e, the fruit of the mantra is also expressed, such as the Gayatri mantra.

Mantras are a secret. That which is kept a secret alerts the sub-conscious mind. The mantras work at the level of the consciousness. When we want a seed to sprout, it needs to be sown into the soil, hidden, a secret. If it is simply thrown around, birds may eat them up. We can read and learn about mantras and their uses from books and the internet but that will only satisfy the intellect and not translate into experience.

Mantra and Meditation

When we chant the mantras, or listen to them, we get purity of mind and word. This prepares us for meditation. As a result of the sound vibrations, different patterns of the mind re-arrange themselves to become tranquil. Agitation is reduced, helping us to turn inward. For instance, when we laugh, our happiness increases.

When we cry, the heaviness of our sorrow is released. Just the sounds of laughter and crying have helped. Mantras act in a similar manner. Repetition of the Mantras creates a psychological or mental response that is very deep and beyond the realm of words or expression. It can only be experienced. Speech falls short as it cannot go beyond the expression level into the experiential level.

When the mind is calm and centered, it can turn inward. Only a mind turned inward can experience the vastness and beauty of the Divine consciousness. When our focus is outward on the objects of the senses, our mind is scattered and racing behind one craving or another. Physical senses seek to know all about the external universe. Meditation is the tool for inner exploration.

Antarmukhi Sada Sukhi – one whose mind is turned inward is ever in bliss. Mantras are the tools which allow the mind to dissolve and repose in the Self.

Why should we repose in the Self? How is this going to help in our day-to-day life?

When the river is calm, the reflection is clearer. When the mind is calm, there is greater clarity in the field of expression. Our sense of observation, perception and expression improve. As a result we are able to communicate effectively and clearly.

Most of our problems or misunderstandings arise because of a lack of proper communication. When our mind is free from agitation, the way we interact and communicate is so much more pleasant and effective. Our efforts are not hindered by rifts caused due to communication gaps. This leads to a lot of positivity in our outlook and progress in life.

Mantras are as subtle as the air which creates ripples in the water as it gently moves over it. Air is all-pervading and at the same time affects specific regions. The field of the mantras is also such. It is all –pervading and also creates an impact on the one who is practicing.

Art and Culture Meditation Yoga

The Value of Offering Obeisances

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When my son went to India and met an elderly lady, he offered his obeisances and seeing this the lady started crying and blessed my son saying that nowadays none of the new generation children like the act of offering obeisances and said she was astonished seeing my son doing this even though brought up in a foreign country. The credit for teaching my son this should go to Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON, in which offering obeisances is an integral part of Vaishnava culture.

Offering obeisances to the Supreme Lord and to the devotees of the Lord is an important limb of Bhakti or devotional service. The first thing we are expected to do upon having darshan of the Lord or His pure devotees is to offer pranams. In our Vedic culture it has been a practise that whenever the younger ones in the family meet anyone elder than them, they immediately fall at their feet and offer their obeisances and seek the elders blessings. In Mahabharatha also we see that Krishna the Supreme Personality of Godhead follows this very nicely and whenever He meets Yudhishtira who is elder, the Lord gets up and offers respects. This culture is mostly forgotten now. Srimad Bhagavatam from the beginning to the end, glorifies the Lord by saying “namah namah” again and again. The first verse in Srimad Bhagavatam begins with “om namo bhagavate vasudevaya” and the last verse is 12.13.23

naama-sankirtanam yasya
sarva-paapa-pranaashanam
pranaamo duhkha-shamanas
tam namaami harim param

“I offer my respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Hari, the congregational chanting of whose holy names destroys all sinful reactions, and the offering of obeisances unto whom relieves all material suffering.”

We are unaware of the great value of this practice. Just by falling at the feet of the elders we attract the mercy and blessings of the elders and any misunderstanding or anger just melts away by this very act. In this regard there is a beautiful story of sage Markandeya in the Padma purana Srsti khanda chapter 33 and we shall see the same here.

This pastime of Markandeya is different from the one given in the Srimad Bhagavatam, as it is from a different kalpa. In the previous kalpa, there was a renowned sage by the name Mrikandu and a son was born to him. His name was Markandeya. That boy attained five years of age and developed exceedingly good qualities. Once, a sage full of knowledge saw the boy roaming around in the courtyard. The sage stood there for a long time and through his mystic vision came to know all about the future course of events that were to occur in the life of the boy. Seeing the sage, Mrikandu asked him, “What is the duration of life of my son? Kindly calculate the number of years remaining in his life, and whether they are less in quantity or great.” The sage said, “O Lord of the sages! The creator of this world [Brahma] has fixed the total remaining duration of life of your son to be six months. Please do not lament. I have told you the truth.” Mrikandu heard this and then performed the upanayana, sacred thread ceremony, of his son Mrikandu then said to his son, “Always offer obeisances to the sages.” The son, having heard this, took great pleasure in offering such obeisances.

Not caring for high or low caste, he paid respects to all humans. After five months and twenty-five days had passed, Markandeya saw a group of seven sages and offered his respects to them. Markandeya was wearing a mekhala, a belt-like girdle, and was carrying a staff. The sages said, “aayushmaan bhava,” “Live long!” However, after saying this, they noticed that the boy had only five days remaining in his life. Knowing this fact, the sages became frightened. They took the boy with them and went to see Lord Brahma. They paid their respects to Lord Brahma and introduced the boy. The boy offered obeisances to Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma said to the boy, “May you live long.” The sages heard these words and were visibly pleased. Lord Brahma saw the sages and was amazed. He said to the sages, “Who is this lad and why has he come here?” The sages then narrated everything as follows, “This is the son of Mrikandu. He is short-lived. We have brought him here so that you can kindly make him long-lived. Seeing that he was short lived, his father named Mrikandu performed the upanayana ceremony, tying the girdle around his waist and bestowing the staff. Mrikandu then advised him to pay respects to each and every saintly person he saw. O great grandsire! We were on a pilgrimage and happened to notice this lad paying respects to each and everyone. Thus we blessed him by saying, ‘Live long!’ How will the words spoken by us as well as yourself come true?” Thus addressed by them, Lord Brahma replied, “This is Satya-loka — the land where true words are spoken. This is the reason why it is fearless from all sides. This lad named Markandeya will now have a life-span equivalent to mine. This best among sages will be helpful to me and will be present along with me at the beginning as well as at the end of a kalpa.”

Thus we see the great value of offering obeisances and now under the blessings of Srila Prabhupada we should revive this wonderful culture and teach our younger generation the value of this.

Art and Culture Ayurveda Health and Lifestyle History and Culture Meditation Nature and Science Saints and Gurus Yoga

प्राचीन योग और आधुनिक विज्ञान

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आज योग को  विश्व में आत्मज्ञान व आत्मसाक्षात्कार का आधार माना जाता है। निसंदेह भारतीय दर्शन की इस विधा ने आत्मा के ज्ञान को विज्ञान के साथ जोड़ने का काम किया है।  योग हमे स्वस्थ और ख़ुशहाल जीवन जीने की कला सिखाता है। इस पर आप जितना भी कह ले, वो कम ही पड़ जायेगा क्योंकि इसके ज्ञान और लाभ की कोई सीमा नही है, जितना आप अभ्यास करेंगे उतना आप अंतरात्मा के करीब पहुँचते जाएंगे। जब पश्चिमी देश अपनीज़रूरतों को पूरा करने के लिए नए नए आविष्कारों में उलझे हुए थे तब प्रकृति के साथ मिलकर पूरब की हवा और हिमालय की गोद में बैठकर भारतीय ऋषि और मुनि आध्यात्म के ब्रह्मांड में अपनी उपस्थित दर्ज करा चुके थे।

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Gods and Goddesses Hindu Festival History and Culture Meditation

Mastering the Gunas: The Bhagvad Gita’s guide to self-transformation

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The Bhagavad Gita – which is a great wisdom scripture, and can be considered the Bible of Hinduism – speaks of the three gunas. These are the three basic characteristics or attributes that exist in all things, including your body and mind.

Although this topic can get very philosophical, in this post I’ll focusing only on the psychological aspects of the gunas, and how they relate to our moods, emotions, and behaviour. This is an integral part of the psychology of Yoga.

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Health and Lifestyle

Nadis: The Body’s Rivers of Energy

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A student of the great Indian poet Kabir once asked him, “Kabir, where is God?” His answer was simple: “He is the breath within the breath.

” To understand the profound implications of Kabir’s reply, we need to look beyond the physical components of breath—the oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other molecules that stream in and out with our every inhalation and exhalation. Beyond this breath—yet within it—is prana, the universal vital energy that is quite literally the stuff of life.

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Health and Lifestyle Meditation

Breathing the Proper Way

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When we are at peace and in harmony with our self and surroundings, our breath is deep and in sync with the nature. A tortoise takes very few breaths in a minute and is at calm and lives a long life.

In anger or while working at a frenetic pace or breath is shallow. We hardly realise that such raid breaths puts our nervous and circulatory system to strain. A batsman faces a barrage of bouncers and short pitched deliveries and immediately we hear Sunil Gavaskar commenting take a few deep breaths to calm down. Is this because of his association with Satya Sai Baba? There apparently is a spiritual solution to every problem.

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Meditation Yoga

Why is Yoga Called a Discipline?

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Atha yoganushasanam – The disciplines of Yoga mentioned in Patanjali Yoga Sutra are Shasana and Anushasana. Shasana means rules someone imposes on you. Anushasana is the rule you impose upon yourself. Now, why is yoga called a discipline? Where is the need for discipline? When does the need for discipline arise?

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