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Read Summary of Mantra

This word was seed of all the thing to be:

A hand from some Greatness opened her heart’s locked doors

And showed the work for which her strength was born.

As when the mantra sinks in Yoga’s ear,

Its message enters stirring the blind brain

And keeps in the dim ignorant cells its sound;

The hearer understands a form of words

And, musing on the index thought it holds,

He strives to read it with the labouring mind,

But finds bright hints, not the embodied truth:

Then, falling silent in himself to know

He meets the deeper listening of his soul:

The Word repeats itself in rhythmic strains:

Thought, vision, feeling, sense, the body’s self

Are seized unutterably and he endures

An ecstasy and an immortal change;

He feels a Wideness and becomes a Power,

All knowledge rushes on him like a sea:

Transmuted by the white spiritual ray

He walks in naked heavens of joy and calm,

Sees the God-face and hears transcendent speech: [1]

What Is Mantra?

The mantra is the spoken word which has a creative power. An invocation is made and there is an answer to the invocation; or one makes a prayer and the prayer is granted. This is the Word, the Word which, in its sound… it is not only the idea, it is in the sound that there’s a power of creation. It is the origin, you see, of the mantra. [2]


The Word—it is not pronounced speech and words. ...The Word is the Mantra. But it is something quite exceptional, it is when the will formulated in the spirit wants to come down into matter and act directly upon matter that it makes use of the sound—not only of the word but of the sound, the vibrations of the sound—to act directly upon matter itself, in matter. [3]


It is vibration of pure Existence, instinct with the perceptive and originative power of infinite and omnipotent consciousness, shaped by the Mind behind mind into the inevitable word of the Truth of things; out of whatever substance on whatever plane, the form or physical expression emerges by its creative agency. … The Word has its seed-sounds—suggesting the eternal syllable of the Veda, A U M, and the seed-sounds of the Tantriks—which carry in them the principles of things; it has its forms which stand behind the revelatory and inspired speech that comes to man’s supreme faculties, and these compel the forms of things in the universe; it has its rhythms,—for it is no disordered vibration, but moves out into great cosmic measures,—and according to the rhythm is the law, arrangement, harmony, processes of the world it builds. Life itself is a rhythm of God. [4]


Human speech is only a secondary expression and at its highest a shadow of the divine Word, of the seed-sounds, the satisfying rhythms, the revealing forms of sound that are the omniscient and omnipotent speech of the eternal Thinker, Harmonist, Creator. The highest inspired speech to which the human mind can attain, the word most unanalysably expressive of supreme truth... [5]

What Is Japa?

Japa: the continuous repetition of a mantra. [6]


Japa, like meditation, is a procedure—apparently the most active and effective procedure—for joining, as much as possible, the Divine Presence to the bodily substance. It is the magic of sound, you see. [7] The word is a sound expressive of the idea. In the supra-physical plane when an idea has to be realised, one can by repeating the word-expression of it, produce vibrations which prepare the mind for the realisation of the idea. That is the principle of the Mantra and of japa. One repeats the name of the Divine and the vibrations created in the consciousness prepare the realisation of the Divine. It is the same idea that is expressed in the Bible, "God said, Let there be Light, and there was Light." It is creation by the Word. [8]

How does Mantra take Form?

You are in the region of thought formulated in words, then from there you may rise higher and get an expression of the silent idea; again from there you may rise yet higher and have the Force: the Force is the Consciousness which is the very source of that thought. And so it becomes a total consciousness instead of something formulated—expressed and formulated. That is, you climb right back to the source. From there, once you possess this light in itself, this consciousness in itself and want to act upon matter to produce a result, this will comes down from plane to plane, and as it becomes more and more material, it defines itself clearly in words or even in a single word, and when it touches matter, instead of its being a silent word, it becomes a word articulated with sounds: a vibrations that will act directly upon matter. But one must first have gone high up above in order to be able to come down again. One must have reached the silent consciousness to be able to descend and do this. It must come from above, the source of this word must be up there, not in any intermediary domain. That then is the Word. And one must do what I have said—it is not an easy thing. [9]

Vedic Mantras

…in fact, speech is creative. It creates forms of emotion, mental images and impulses of action. The ancient Vedic theory and practice extended this creative action of speech by the use of the Mantra. The theory of the Mantra is that it is a word of power born out of the secret depths of our being where it has been brooded upon by a deeper consciousness than the mental, framed in the heart and not constructed by the intellect, held in the mind, again concentrated on by the waking mental consciousness and then thrown out silently or vocally—the silent word is perhaps held to be more potent than the spoken—precisely for the work of creation. The Mantra can not only create new subjective states in ourselves, alter our psychical being, reveal knowledge and faculties we did not before possess, can not only produce similar results in other minds than that of the user, but can produce vibrations in the mental and vital atmosphere which result in effects, in actions and even in the production of material forms on the physical plane.[10]


The Vedic use of the Mantra is only a conscious utilisation of this secret power of the word. And if we take the theory that underlies it together with our previous hypothesis of a creative vibration of sound behind every formation, we shall begin to understand the idea of the original creative Word. Let us suppose a conscious use of the vibrations of sound which will produce corresponding forms or changes of form. But Matter is only, in the ancient view, the lowest of the planes of existence. Let us realise then that a vibration of sound on the material plane presupposes a corresponding vibration on the vital without which it could not have come into play; that, again, presupposes a corresponding originative vibration on the mental; the mental presupposes a corresponding originative vibration on the supramental at the very root of things. But a mental vibration implies thought and perception and a supramental vibration implies a supreme vision and discernment. All vibration of sound on that higher plane is, then, instinct with and expressive of this supreme discernment of a truth in things and is at the same time creative, instinct with a supreme power which casts into forms the truth discerned and eventually, descending from plane to plane, reproduces it in the physical form or object created in Matter by etheric sound. Thus we see that the theory of creation by the Word which is the absolute expression of the Truth, and the theory of the material creation by sound-vibration in the ether correspond and are two logical poles of the same idea. They both belong to the same ancient Vedic system. [11]


The mantra, though it expresses thought in mind, is not in its essential part a creation of the intellect. To be the sacred and effective word, it must have come as an inspiration from the supra-mental plane, termed in Veda, Ritam, the Truth, and have been received into the superficial consciousness either through the heart or by the luminous intelligence, manīṣā. The heart in Vedic psychology is not restricted to the seat of the emotions; it includes all that large tract of spontaneous mentality, nearest to the subconscient in us, out of which rise the sensations, emotions, instincts, impulses and all those intuitions and inspirations that travel through these agencies before they arrive at form in the intelligence. This is the "heart" of Veda and Vedanta, hṛdaya, hṛd, or brahman. There in the present state of mankind the Purusha is supposed to be seated centrally. Nearer to the vastness of the subconscient, it is there that, in ordinary mankind,—man not yet exalted to a higher plane where the contact with the Infinite is luminous, intimate and direct,—the inspirations of the Universal Soul can most easily enter in and most swiftly take possession of the individual soul. It is therefore by the power of the heart that the mantra takes form. But it has to be received and held in the thought of the intelligence as well as in the perceptions of the heart; for not till the intelligence has accepted and even brooded upon it, can that truth of thought which the truth of the Word expresses be firmly possessed or normally effective. Fashioned by the heart, it is confirmed by the mind. [12]

Sruti And Smriti

This free & great movement of illumination descending from above to us below and not like our thought here which climbs painfully up the mountain peaks of thought only to find at the summit that it is yet far removed from the skies to which it aspires, this winged & mighty descent of Truth is what we call Sruti or revelation. There are three words which are used of illumined thought, drishti, sruti & smriti, sight, hearing and remembrance. The direct vision or experience of a truth or the thought-substance of a truth is called drishti, and because they had that direct vision or experience, that pratyaksha not of the senses, but of the liberated soul, the Rishis are called drashtas. But besides the truth and its artha or thought-substance in which it is represented to the mind, there is the vak or sound symbol, the inevitable word in which the truth is naturally enshrined & revealed & not as in ordinary speech half concealed or only suggested. The revelation of the vak is sruti. The revealed word is also revelatory and whoever has taken it into his soul, though the mind may not understand it, has the Truth ready prepared in the higher or sushupta reaches of his being from whence it must inevitably descend at a future date or in another life to his lower & darkened consciousness in order to liberate & illumine. It is this psychological truth which is the foundation of the Hindu's trust in the Name of God, the vibrations of the mantra and the sound of the Veda. For the vak carries, in the right state of the soul, an illumination with it of the truth which it holds, an inspiration of its force of satyam which is less than drishti but must in the end lead to drishti. A still more indirect action of the vijnana is smriti; when the truth is presented to the soul and its truth immediately & directly recognised by a movement resembling memory—a perception that this was always true and already known to the higher consciousness. It is smriti that is nearest to intellect action and forms the link between vijnanam & prajnanam, ideal thought & intellectual thought, by leading to the higher forms of intellectual activity, such as intuitive reason, inspiration, insight & prophetic revelation, the equipment of the man of genius. [13]


The symbol of the Sun is constantly associated with the higher Light and the Truth: it is in the Truth concealed by an inferior Truth that are unyoked the horses of the Sun, it is the Sun in its highest light that is called upon in the great Gayatri Mantra to impel our thoughts.[14]


Many of the lines, many whole hymns even of the Veda bear on their face a mystic meaning; they are evidently an occult form of speech, have an inner meaning. When the seer speaks of Agni as "the luminous guardian of the Truth shining out in his own home", or of Mitra and Varuna or other gods as "in touch with the Truth and making the Truth grow" or as "born in the Truth", these are words of a mystic poet, who is thinking of that inner Truth behind things of which the early sages were the seekers. He is not thinking of the Nature-Power presiding over the outer element of fire or of the fire of the ceremonial sacrifice. Or he speaks of Saraswati as one who impels the words of Truth and awakes to right thinkings or as one opulent with the thought: Saraswati awakes to consciousness or makes us conscious of the "Great Ocean and illumines all our thoughts." It is surely not the River Goddess whom he is thus hymning but the Power, the River if you will, of inspiration, the word of the Truth, bringing its light into our thoughts, building up in us that Truth, an inner knowledge. The Gods constantly stand out in their psychological functions; the sacrifice is the outer symbol of an inner work, an inner interchange between the gods and men,—man giving what he has, the gods giving in return the horses of power, the herds of light, the heroes of Strength to be his retinue, winning for him victory in his battle with the hosts of Darkness, Vritras, Dasyus, Panis. [15]


In the visible world they are the male and female powers and energies of the universe and it is this external aspect of them as gods of the Sun, Fire, Air, Waters, Earth, Ether, the conscious-forces ever present in material being which gives us the external or psycho-physical side of the Aryan worship. The antique view of the world as a psycho-physical and not merely a material reality is at the root of the ancient ideas about the efficacy of the mantra and the relation of the gods to the external life of man; hence the force of prayer, worship, sacrifice for material ends; hence the use of them for worldly life and in so-called magic rites which comes out prominently in the Atharva Veda and is behind much of the symbolism of the Brahmanas. But in man himself the gods are conscious psychological powers. "Will-powers, they do the works of will; they are the thinkings in our hearts; they are the lords of delight who take delight; they travel in all the directions of the thought." Without them the soul of man cannot distinguish its right nor its left, what is in front of it nor what is behind, the things of foolishness or the things of wisdom; only if led by them can it reach and enjoy "the fearless Light". [16]

Sanskrit Language

The Sanscrit language is the devabhasha or original language spoken by men in Uttara Meru at the beginning of the Manwantara; but in its purity it is not the Sanscrit of the Dwapara or the Kali, it is the language of the Satyayuga based on the true and perfect relation of vak and artha. Every one of its vowels and consonants has a particular and inalienable force which exists by the nature of things and not by development or human choice; these are the fundamental sounds which lie at the basis of the Tantric bijamantras and constitute the efficacy of the mantra itself. Every vowel and every consonant in the original language had certain primary meanings which arose out of this essential shakti or force and were the basis of other derivative meanings. By combination with the vowels, the consonants, and, without any combination, the vowels themselves formed a number of primary roots, out of which secondary roots were developed by the addition of other consonants. All words were formed from these roots, simple words by the addition again of pure or mixed vowel and consonant terminations with or without modification of the root and more complex words by the principle of composition. [17]

Origin of Chants

The Angirases are at once the divine seers who assist in the cosmic and human workings of the gods and their earthly representatives, the ancient fathers who first found the wisdom of which the Vedic hymns are a chant and memory and renewal in experience. [18]


They [sages in Vedic times]have given the activities of their being to the divine & infinite Force of God as its fuel, they have submitted themselves devoutly to that Force not interfering by the lower egoistic personal effort, then has it worked in them & done its miracles; then they have taught to mankind those realisations of the ideal planes which have been revealed in or from the pure heaven of mind to the Vedic sages and have had power to express them in divine song for the soul which hungers after the Vedic knowledge and has the force to receive and assimilate it. [19]


The name of God, the mantra, is still the keystone of all Indian yoga. We shall not realise the full bearing & rationale of this great Vedic conception unless we first impress on our minds the Vedic idea of existence & creation, for Vak, the Word, is in that idea the effective agent of creation. All created existence is in the Vedic philosophy a formation by force of consciousness, Chit-shakti, not, as modern thought supposes it to be, a formation by Force of unconscious inanimate Being. Creation itself is only a manifestation, phenomenon or appearing in form, vayas, vayunam, víti, [of] that which is already existent as consciousness, but latent as form in universal Being. [20]

Different Mantras



… all sounds heard together make the supreme invocation to the Divine: OM. [ Based on Aphorism - 177 - The perfect cosmic vision and cosmic sentiment is the cure of all error and suffering; but most men succeed only in enlarging the range of their ego.] [21]


OM is the mantra, the expressive sound-symbol of the Brahman Consciousness in its four domains from the Turiya to the external or material plane. The function of a mantra is to create vibrations in the inner consciousness that will prepare it for the realisation of what the mantra symbolises and is supposed indeed to carry within itself. The mantra OM should therefore lead towards the opening of the consciousness to the sight and feeling of the One Consciousness in all material things, in the inner being and in the supraphysical worlds, in the causal plane above now superconscient to us and, finally, the supreme liberated transcendence above all cosmic existence. The last is usually the main preoccupation with those who use the mantra. … OM if rightly used (not mechanically) might very well help the opening upwards and outwards (cosmic consciousness) as well as the descent. [22]


There is ONE sound which, to me, has an extraordinary power—extraordinary and UNIVERSAL (that's the important point): it doesn't depend on the language you speak, it doesn't depend on the education you were given, it doesn't depend on the atmosphere you breathe. And that sound, without knowing anything, I used to say it when I was a child (you know how in French we say, "Oh!"; well, I used to say "OM," without knowing anything!). And indeed, I made all kinds of experiments with that sound—it's fantastic, even, fantastic! It's unbelievable. [23]


This then is the meaning of the Upanishad that OM, the syllable, technically called the Udgitha, is to be meditated on as a symbol of the fourfold Brahman with two objects, the "singing to" of one's desires & aspirations in the triple manifestation and the spiritual ascension into the Brahman Itself so as to meet and enter into heaven after heaven & even into Its transcendent felicity. For, it says, with the syllable OM one begins the chant of the Samaveda, or, in the esoteric sense, by means of the meditation on OM one makes this soul-ascension and becomes master of all the soul desires. It is in this aspect & to this end that the Upanishad will expound OM. To explain Brahman in Its nature & workings, to teach the right worship and meditation on Brahman, to establish what are the different means of attainment of different results and the formulae of the meditation and worship, is its purpose. All this work of explanation has to be done in reference to Veda & Vedic sacrifice and ritual of which OM is the substance. [24]


A mantra given by a guru is only the power to realize the experience of the discoverer of the mantra. The power is automatically there, because the sound contains the experience. I saw that once in Paris, at a time when I knew nothing of India, absolutely nothing... I didn't even know what a mantra was. I had gone to a lecture given by some fellow who was supposed to have practiced "yoga" for a year in the Himalayas and recounted his experience (none too interesting, either). All at once, in the course of his lecture, he uttered the sound OM. And I saw the entire room suddenly fill with light, a golden, vibrating light.... I was probably the only one to notice it. I said to myself, "Well!" Then I didn't give it any more thought, I forgot about the story. But as it happened, the experience recurred in two or three different countries, with different people, and every time there was the sound OM, I would suddenly see the place fill with that same light. So I understood. That sound contains the vibration of thousands and thousands of years of spiritual aspiration—there is in it the entire aspiration of men towards the Supreme. And the power is automatically there, because the experience is there. [25]

The Gayatri Mantra


Chanting of Gayatri Mantra

The power of the Gayatri is the Light of the divine Truth. It is a mantra of Knowledge. [26]


And in the Gayatri, the chosen formula of the ancient Vedic religion, the supreme light of the godhead Surya Savitri is invoked as the object of our desire, the deity who shall give his luminous impulsion to all our thoughts. Surya Savitri, the Creator; for the seer and the creator meet again in this apotheosis of the divine vision in man. The victory of that vision, the arising of this Light to “its own home of the truth”, the outflooding of this great ocean of vision of Surya which is the eye of the infinite Wideness and the infinite Harmony, is in fact nothing else than the second or divine creation. For then Surya in us beholds with a comprehensive vision all the worlds, all the births as herds of the divine Light, bodies of the infinite Aditi; and this new-seeing of all things, this new-moulding of thought, act, feeling, will, consciousness in the terms of the Truth, the Bliss, the Right, the Infinity is a new creation. It is the coming into us of “that greater existence which is beyond on the other side of this smaller and which, even if it be also a dream of the Infinite, puts away from it the falsehood.” [27]

Om Namo Bhagavateh

Om Namo Bhagvaate Sriarvindaya.jpg

OM NAMO BHAGAVATE. These three words. For me they meant: OM—I implore the Supreme Lord. NAMO—Obeisance to Him. BHAGAVATE—Make me divine. [28]


It's interesting. When I am quiet, I hear a kind of great chant—almost a collective chant, I could say: OM Namo Bhagavateh .... As if all of Nature went (rising gesture): OM Namo Bhagavateh… [29]


For the moment, of all the formulas or mantras, the one that acts most directly on this body, that seizes all the cells and immediately does this (vibrating motion) is the Sanskrit mantra: OM NAMO BHAGAVATEH. [30]


This one, this mantra, OM NAMO BHAGAVATEH, came to me after some time, for I felt ... well, I saw that I needed to have a mantra of my own, that is, a mantra consonant with what this body has to do in the world. And it was just then that it came. It was truly an answer to a need that had made itself felt. So if you feel the need—not there, not in your head, but here (Mother points to the center of her heart), it will come. One day, either you will hear the words, or they will spring forth from your heart ... And when that happens, you must hold onto it. [31]

Other Mantras in Sri Aurobindo's Yoga

ॐ आनन्दमयि चैतन्यमयि सत्यमयि परमे

OM anandamayi chaitanyamayi


OM Tat Sat Jyotir Aravinda

ॐ तत् सत् ज्योतिरराविन्द


OM Satyam Jnânam Jyotir Aravinda

ॐ सत्यं ज्ञानं ज्योतिरराविन्द

Verses Of The Gita

Verses of the Gita can be used as japa, if the object is to realise the Truth that the verses contain in them. …Everything depends on the selection of the verses. A coherent summary of the Gita's teaching cannot easily be put together by putting together some verses, but that is not necessary for a purpose of this kind which could only be to put the key truths together—not for intellectual exposition but for grasping in realisation which is the object of japa. [32]


The experience to which the So'ham mantra leads is the realisation of one Being everywhere, all as the Divine, oneself and all as essentially one with that Divine. It is an experience in which one's separate personal existence shut up in the body ceases to be the normal thing; one feels the body as a point or small thing in a vast existence, consciousness or Ananda that is the Divine and oneself as spread out in that vast consciousness—as if the world were within us and not we inside the world or as if the world were one with us and one with the Divine. It is the "cosmic consciousness" that comes by this mantra. For our Yoga this is a beginning only, not the end as it is in the ordinary Yoga,—a liberation, not the Siddhi. [33]

Importance of Mantra

If rightly done, the mantra is a means of opening to the light and knowledge etc. from above and it ceases as soon as that is done. [34]


When one repeats a mantra regularly, very often it begins to repeat itself within, which means that it is taken up by the inner being. In that way it is more effective. [35]

~ can do its natural function of creating the right consciousness—for that is what the japa is intended to do. It first changes the vibrations of the consciousness, brings into it the right state and the right responses and then brings in the power or the presence of the Deity. [36]


In fact, you can immediately see the difference between those who have a mantra and those who don't. With those who have no mantra, even if they have a strong habit of meditation or concentration, something around them remains hazy and vague. Whereas the japa imparts to those who practice it a kind of precision, a kind of solidity: an armature. They become galvanized, as it were. [37]


...what we affirm strongly gets power to persist in the consciousness and experience and calls circumstances to its support, what we deny and reject and refuse to support by the power of the Word, tends, after a time and some resistance, to lose force in the consciousness and the circumstances and movements that support it tend also to recur less often and finally disappear. It is fundamentally the principle of the mantra. A constant affirmation from within on the other side—of that which is to be realised—brings always in the end a response from above. [38]


The knowledge of our inner subliminal and psychic nature, of the powers and presences and influences there and the capacity of communication with other planes and their powers and beings can also be used for a higher than any mental or mundane object, for the possession and mastering of our whole nature and the overpassing of the intermediate planes on the way to the supreme spiritual heights of being. But the most direct spiritual use of the psychic consciousness is to make it an instrument of contact, communication and union with the Divine. A world of psycho-spiritual symbols is readily opened up, illuminating and potent and living forms and instruments, which can be made a revelation of spiritual significances, a support for our spiritual growth and the evolution of spiritual capacity and experience, a means towards spiritual power, knowledge or Ananda. The mantra is one of these psycho-spiritual means, at once a symbol, an instrument and a sound body for the divine manifestation, and of the same kind are the images of the Godhead and of its personalities or powers used in meditation or for adoration in Yoga. [39]

For Silencing the Mind

… the mind, accustomed to run about from object to object, shall fix on one alone, and that one must be something which represents the idea of the Divine. It is usually a name or a form or a mantra by which the thought can be fixed in the sole knowledge or adoration of the Lord. By this concentration on the idea the mind enters from the idea into its reality, into which it sinks silent, absorbed, unified. [40]


The japa is made precisely to control the physical mind. [41]

For Dealing with Difficulties

But that's why I say it has to be YOUR mantra, not something you received from whomever—the mantra that arose spontaneously from your deeper being (gesture to the heart), from your inner guide. That's what holds out. When you don't know, when you don't understand, when you don't want to let the mind intervene and you are... THAT is there; the mantra is there; and it helps you to get through. It helps to get through. It saves the situation at critical moments, it's a considerable support, considerable. [42]

For Making the Body Conscious

I have also come to realize that for this sadhana of the body, the mantra is essential. Sri Aurobindo gave none; he said that one should be able to do all the work without having to resort to external means. Had he reached the point where we are now, he would have seen that the purely psychological method is inadequate and that a japa is necessary, because only japa has a direct action on the body. [43]


It's an almost physical discipline. Moreover, I have seen that the japa has an organizing effect on the subconscient, on the inconscient, on matter, on the body's cells—it takes time, but by persistently repeating it, in the long run it has an effect. It is the same principle as doing daily exercises on the piano, for example. You keep mechanically repeating them, and in the end your hands are filled with consciousness—it fills the body with consciousness. [44]

~ is good to repeat a mantra, a word, a prayer before going into sleep. But there must be a life in the words; I do not mean an intellectual significance, nothing of that kind, but a vibration. And its effect on the body is extraordinary: it begins to vibrate, vibrate, vibrate... and quietly you let yourself go, as though you wanted to go to sleep. The body vibrates more and more, more and more, more and more, and away you go. That is the cure for tamas. [45]


Naturally, if there’s also an awareness of the idea behind it, if one does japa as a very active CONSCIOUS invocation, then its effects are greatly multiplied. But the basis is the magic of sound. This is a fact of experience, and it’s absolutely true. The sound OM, for instance, awakens very special vibrations (there are other such sounds as well, but of course that one is the most powerful of all). It is an attempt to divinize material substance. From another, almost identical point of view, it fills the physical atmosphere with the Divine Presence. So time spent in japa is time consecrated to helping the material substance enter into more intimate rapport with the Divine. And if one adds to this, as I do, a mantric program, that is, a sort of prayer or invocation, a program for both personal development and helping the collective, then it becomes a truly active work. [46]


On the material level, japa is very good for that. When your head is tired and you are a little weary of forever contradicting that pessimism, you just have to repeat your japa, and automatically you make contact. To make contact. That's something the cells value a lot. A lot. It's a very good way, because it's a way that isn't mental, it's a mechanical way, it's a question of vibration. [47]


I do not believe a mantra can change the physical consciousness. What it does, if it is effective, is to open the consciousness and to bring into it the power of that which the mantra represents.[48]

Mother’s Experience with Mantra

You know, it isn't a perception, it isn't a sensation, it is... a LIVED FAITH in the existence of the Supreme alone—you know, a faith that it's the only Reality and the only Existence. Just that, and everything seems to swell up, as if all these cells were swelling up with such joy!... Only, it doesn't take the form of a feeling, not even of a sensation, even less of a thought; so if you aren't very attentive, you don't notice it. But, for instance, when I repeat the mantra, it's repeated by that famous physical mind, which is so stupid (the mantra is the only thing that can keep a rein on it), and now it has become so identified that the mantra is its whole life, it is like a pulsation of its being; but then when I come to the invocation (there is a series of invocations: each one has its own effect on the body), when I come to "Manifest Your Love," I see a sort of twinkling of a golden light, which represents an intense joy in all the cells. [49]


To begin with, the japa, the mantra, for instance, was taken as a discipline; then from the state of discipline it changed into a state of satisfaction (but still with the sense of a duty to be done); then from that it changed into a sort of state of constant satisfaction, with the desire (not "desire," but a will or an aspiration) for it to be more frequent, more constant, more exclusive. Then there was a sort of repugnance to and rejection of all that comes and disturbs, mixed with a sense of duty towards work, people and so on, and all that made a muddle and a great confusion. And it always ended in the transfer to the Supreme along with the aspiration for things to change. A long process of development. [50]


And in the beginning, during the first months that I was doing the japa, I felt them ... I had an almost detailed awareness of these myriads of cells opening to this vibration; the vibration of the first sound is an absolutely special vibration (you see, above, there is the light and all that, but beyond this light there is the original vibration), and this vibration was entering into all the cells and was reproduced in them. It went on for months in this way.[51]


It is this mind of the cells which seizes upon a mantra or a japa and eventually repeats it automatically, and with what persistence! That is to say, CONTINUALLY. That's what Sri Aurobindo means when he says it can be a help: it keeps at things indefinitely (Mother clenches her fist in an unwavering gesture)... I heard it—I heard THE CELLS repeating the mantra. Automatically, in the difficulty (there was a difficulty), they were repeating the mantra. Like a choir, an immense choir in a church, it was very odd. As if there were lots of little voices, innumerable little voices repeating and repeating the same sound. It gave me the impression of a church choir, but with lots and lots and lots of choirboys—tiny little voices. Yet the sound was very clear, I was dumbfounded: very clear. [52]


But this body feels so strongly that it exists ONLY because the divine Power is in it. And constantly, for the least thing, it has only one remedy (it doesn't think of resting, of not doing this or that, of taking medicine), its sole remedy is to call and call the Supreme—it goes on repeating its mantra. And as soon as it quietly repeats its mantra, it is perfectly content. Perfectly content. [53] It is similar with this japa: an imperceptible little change, and one c


an pass from a more or less mechanical, more or less efficient and real japa, to the true japa full of power and light. I even wondered if this difference is what the tantrics call the 'power' of the japa. For example, the other day I was down with a cold. Each time I opened my mouth, there was a spasm in the throat and I coughed and coughed. Then a fever came. So I looked, I saw where it was coming from, and I decided that it had to stop. I got up to do my japa as usual, and I started walking back and forth in my room. I had to apply a certain will. Of course, I could do my japa in trance, I could walk in trance while repeating the japa, because then you feel nothing, none of all the body's drawbacks. But the work has to be done in the body! So I got up and started doing my japa. Then, with each word pronounced—the Light, the full Power. A power that heals everything. I began the japa tired, ill, and I came out of it refreshed, rested, cured. So those who tell me they come out of it exhausted, contracted, emptied, it means that they are not doing it in the true way. [54]


This is the main reason for my japa. There's a power in the sound itself, and by forcing the body to repeat the sound, you force it to receive the vibration at the same time. But I've noticed that if something in the body's working gets disturbed (a pain or disorder, the onset of some illness) and I repeat my mantra in a certain way—still the same words, the same mantra, but said with a certain purpose and above all in a movement of surrender, surrender of the pain, the disorder, and a call, like an opening—it has a marvelous effect. The mantra acts in just the right way, in this way and in no other. And after a while everything is put back in order. And simultaneously, of course, the precise knowledge of what lies behind the disorder and what I must do to set it right comes to me. But quite apart from this, the mantra acts directly upon the pain itself. [55]

How to do Japa?

For me, you know, japa means a moment when all physical life is EXCLUSIVELY for the Divine. A moment when nothing but the Divine exists—every single cell of the body, each second, is EXCLUSIVELY for the Divine, there is nothing but the Divine. [56]


There is also the consecration of the thoughts to the Divine. In its inception this is the attempt to fix the mind on the object of adoration,—for naturally the restless human mind is occupied with other objects and, even when it is directed upwards, constantly drawn away by the world,—so that in the end it habitually thinks of him and all else is only secondary and thought of only in relation to him. This is done often with the aid of a physical image or, more intimately and characteristically, of a mantra or a divine name through which the divine being is realised. [57]


Perhaps for the japa to become true, a kind of joy, an elation, a warmth of enthusiasm has to be added—but especially joy. Then everything changes. [58]


I understand why certain tantrics advise saying the japa in the heart center. When one applies a certain enthusiasm, when each word is said with a warmth of aspiration, then everything changes. I could feel this difference in myself, in my own japa. [59]


...the prayer must well up from the heart on a crest of emotion or aspiration, the Japa or meditation come in a live push carrying the joy or the light of the thing in it. If done mechanically and merely as a thing that ought to be done (stern grim duty!), it must tend towards want of interest and dryness and so be ineffective. ….. [60]


…But to say it's these particular Words exclusively would be ridiculous. What counts is the sincerity of the aspiration, the exactness of the expression and the power; that is, the power that comes from the mantra being accepted. This is something very interesting: the mantra has been ACCEPTED by the supreme Power as an effective tool, and so it automatically contains a certain force and power. But it is a purely personal phenomenon (the expression is the same, but the vibrations are personal). A mantra leading one person straight to divine realization will leave another person cold and flat. [61]


Japa, thinking of the Divine is all right, but it must be on this basis and in company with work and mental activity, for then the instrument is in a healthy condition. But if you become restlessly eager to do nothing but japa and think of nothing but the Divine and of the "progress" you have or have not made (Ramana Maharshi says you should never think of "progress", it is according to him a movement of the ego), then all the fat is in the fire—because the system is not yet ready for a Herculean effort and it begins to get upset and think it is unfit and will never be fit. So be a good cheerful worker and offer your bhakti to the Divine in all ways you can but rely on him to work out things in you.[62]

The Qualities Needed


A means of contact that you make more and more effective, first through the sincerity of the concentration, of the aspiration, then through habit, through use, while taking care when you use the mantra always to remain in contact with That which is beyond it. And it makes a kind of concentration, as if the word were being charged with force, increasingly charged like a battery, but a battery that can take an indefinite charge. [63]

Quietness Of Mind, Bhakti

… the mind is doing it too much as a means for a result. The japa is usually successful only on one of two conditions,—if it is repeated with a sense of its significance, a dwelling of something in the mind on the nature, power, beauty, attraction of the Godhead it signifies and is to bring into the consciousness, that is the mental way,—or if it comes up from the heart or rings in it with a certain sense or feeling of bhakti making it alive, that is the emotional way. Either the mind or the vital has to give it support or sustenance. But if it makes the mind dry and the vital restless, it must be missing that support and sustenance. There is of course a third way, the reliance on the power of the mantra or name in itself, but then one has to go on till that power has sufficiently impressed its vibrations on the inner being to make it at a given moment suddenly open to the Presence or the Touch. But if there is a struggling or insistence for the result, then this effect which needs a quiet receptivity in the mind is impeded. That is why I insisted so much on mental quietude and on not too much straining or effort—to give time to allow the psychic and the mind to develop the necessary condition of receptivity—a receptivity as natural as when one receives an inspiration for poetry and music. It is also why I do not want you to discontinue your poetry—it helps and does not hinder the preparation because it is a means of developing the right position of receptivity and bringing out the bhakti which is there in the inner being. To spend all the energy on japa or meditation is a strain which even those who are accustomed to successful meditation find it difficult to do—unless in periods when there is an uninterrupted flow of experiences from above. [64]


Perfect surrender in all the states of being. That comes progressively, it comes through years of repetition, but that's what the word must represent when it is said: total self-giving to... this Supreme, who naturally is beyond all conception. Perfect surrender, that is, spontaneous surrender, which requires neither effort nor anything—a surrender that must be perfectly spontaneous. This, too, is something that is attained little by little; that's why I said that the mantra is progressive, in the sense that it grows more and more perfect. [65]

Surrender of the Cells (Mother’s Experience)

Most of the time, it's a sort of laziness, something unwilling to make an effort, to make a resolve: it prefers to leave the responsibility to others. In English I would call it the remnant, the residue of the Inconscient. It's a sort of spinelessness (gesture of groveling) which accepts a general, impersonal law: you paddle about in illness. And in response to that, there is inside, every minute, the sense of the true attitude, which in the cells is expressed with great simplicity: "There is the Lord, who is the all-powerful Master." Something like that. "It depends entirely on Him. If a surrender is to be made, it's to Him." I make sentences, but for the cells it's not sentences. It's a tiny little movement that expresses itself by repeating the mantra; then the mantra is full—full of force—and there is instantly the surrender: "May Your Will be done," and a tranquillity—a luminous tranquillity. And one sees that there was absolutely no imperative need to be ill or for the disequilibrium to occur. [66] The constant call which might find a material expression in saying the mantra, but it's not even that: it's the SENSE, the sense of the call, of the aspiration—it's above all a call. A call. You know, when the mind wants to make sentences, it says, "Lord, take possession of Your kingdom." For certain things, I remember, when there are certain disorders, something wrong (and with the perception of a consciousness that has become very sharp, you can see when that disorder is the natural origin of an illness, for example, or of something very serious), with the call, the concentration and the response ... [the disorder is dissolved]. It's almost a surrender, because it's an uncalculating self-giving: the damaged spot opens to the Influence, not with an idea of getting cured, but like this (gesture like a flower opening out), simply like this, unconditionally—that is the most potent gesture. [67]

Persistence receive your japa along with the power to do it—but you have to learn how to do it, right? For a long while you don't fully succeed; all sorts of things happen—you forget it right in the middle or fall asleep or grow tired, get a headache, all sorts of things; or even outer circumstances interfere and disturb you. Well, here it's the same: you tell yourself, "I'll do it," and you will do it, even if.... You have to go at it just like a mule: everything blocks the way but you keep going. You said you'd do it and you will do it. There are no results—I don't care. Everything is against me—I don't care. I said I'd do it and I will... I said I'd do it and I will. And you keep on going like that. [68] Any method sincerely and persistently followed can end by bringing the opening...the method of prayer and japa ...does prepare something in the consciousness and, if done with persistent faith and bhakti, it can open all the doors. … But whatever method is used will not bring its effect at once; it must be done persistently, simply, directly till it succeeds. If it is done with a mind of doubt or watching it as an experiment to see if it succeeds or if it is continually crossed by a spirit of hasty despondency saying constantly, "You see it is all useless," then it ought to be obvious that the opening will be very difficult, because there is that clogging it every time there is a pressure or a push to open.[69]

Helpful Methods

Japa shouldn't become so exclusive that it's done twenty-four hours out of twenty-four, because then it's equivalent to asceticism—but there should be a good dose of it. [70] ...everything depends upon what you want to do with them [mantras]. I am in favor of a short mantra, especially if you want to make both numerous and spontaneous repetitions—one or two words, three at most. Because you must be able to use them in all cases, when an accident is about to happen, for example. It has to spring up without thinking, without calling: it should issue forth from the being spontaneously, like a reflex, exactly like a reflex. Then the mantra has its full force. [71]

Pranayama in Conjunction with Mantra

…Put less symbolically, in more philosophical though perhaps less profound language, this means that the real energy of our being is lying asleep and inconscient in the depths of our vital system, and is awakened by the practice of Pranayama. In its expansion it opens up all the centres of our psychological being in which reside the powers and the consciousness of what would now be called perhaps our subliminal self; therefore as each centre of power and consciousness is opened up, we get access to successive psychological planes and are able to put ourselves in communication with the worlds or cosmic states of being which correspond to them; all the psychic powers abnormal to physical man, but natural to the soul develop in us. Finally, at the summit of the ascension, this arising and expanding energy meets with the superconscient self which sits concealed behind and above our physical and mental existence; this meeting leads to a profound samadhi of union in which our waking consciousness loses itself in the superconscient. Thus by the thorough and unremitting practice of Pranayama the Hathayogin attains in his own way the psychic and spiritual results which are pursued through more directly psychical and spiritual methods in other Yogas. The one mental aid which he conjoins with it, is the use of the mantra, sacred syllable, name or mystic formula which is of so much importance in the Indian systems of Yoga and common to them all. This secret of the power of the mantra, the six chakras and the Kundalini Shakti is one of the central truths of all that complex psycho-physical science and practice of which the Tantric philosophy claims to give us a rationale and the most complete compendium of methods. All religions and disciplines in India which use largely the psycho-physical method, depend more or less upon it for their practices. [72] Any Yogi who knows something about pranayama or japa can tell you that the running of the name in the breath is not a small phenomenon but of great importance in these practices and, if it comes naturally, a sign that something in the inner being has done that kind of sadhana in the past. [73]

Consecration Of Thoughts

...three stages of the seeking through the devotion of the mind, first, the constant hearing of the divine name, qualities and all that has been attached to them, secondly, the constant thinking on them or on the divine being or personality, thirdly, the settling and fixing of the mind on the object; and by this comes the full realisation. And by these, too, there comes when the accompanying feeling or the concentration is very intense, the Samadhi, the ecstatic trance in which the consciousness passes away from outer objects. But all this is really incidental; the one thing essential is the intense devotion of the thought in the mind to the object of adoration. Although it seems akin to the contemplation of the way of knowledge, it differs from that in its spirit. It is in its real nature not a still, but an ecstatic contemplation; it seeks not to pass into the being of the Divine, but to bring the Divine into ourselves and to lose ourselves in the deep ecstasy of his presence or of his possession; and its bliss is not the peace of unity, but the ecstasy of union. Here, too, there may be the separative self-consecration which ends in the giving up of all other thought of life for the possession of this ecstasy, eternal afterwards in planes beyond, or the comprehensive consecration in which all the thoughts are full of the Divine and even in the occupations of life every thought remembers him. [74]

Spontaneous Repetition

.. it [mantra]must become a conscious but spontaneous thing repeating itself in the very substance of the consciousness itself, no longer needing any effort of the mind. [75]


When I wanted to translate the end of my mantra, “Glory to You, O Lord,” into Sanskrit, I asked for Nolini’s help. He brought his Sanskrit translation, and when he read it to me, I immediately saw that the power was there… . But the power was there because my experience was there. We made a few adjustments and modifications, and that’s the japa I do now—I do it all the time, while sleeping, while walking, while eating, while working, all the time. And that’s how a mantra has life: when it wells up all the time, spontaneously, like the cry of your being—there is no need of effort or concentration: it’s your natural cry. Then it has full power, it is alive. It must well up from within…. No guru can give you that. [76]


Nobody can give you the true mantra. It's not something that is given: it's something that wells up from within. It must spring from within all of a sudden, spontaneously, like a profound, intense need of your being—then it has power, because it's not something that comes from outside, it's your very own cry. [77]


You choose your mantra; or rather, one day it comes to you spontaneously in a moment of difficulty. At a time when things are very difficult, when you have a sort of anguish, anxiety, when you don't know what is going to happen, suddenly this springs up in you, the word springs up in you. For each one it may be different. But if you mark this and each time you face a difficulty you repeat it, it becomes irresistible. For instance, if you feel you are about to fall ill, if you feel you are doing badly what you are doing, if you feel something evil is going to attack you, then.... But it must be a spontaneity in the being, it must spring up from you without your needing to think about it: you choose your mantra because it is a spontaneous expression of your aspiration; it may be one word, two or three words, a sentence, that depends on each one, but it must be a sound which awakens in you a certain condition. Then, when you have that, I assure you that you can pass through everything without difficulty. Even in the face of a real, veritable danger, an attack, for instance, by someone who wants to kill you, if, without getting excited, without being perturbed, you quietly repeat your mantra, one can do nothing to you. Naturally, you must truly be master of yourself; one part of the being must not be trembling there like a leaf; no, you must do it entirely, sincerely, then it is all-powerful. The best is when the word comes to you spontaneously: you call in a moment of great difficulty (mental, vital, physical, emotional, whatever it may be) and suddenly that springs up in you, two or three words, like magical words. You must remember these and form the habit of repeating them in moments when difficulties come. If you form the habit, one day it will come to you spontaneously: when the difficulty comes, at the same time the mantra will come. Then you will see that the results are wonderful. But it must not be an artificial thing or something you arbitrarily decide: "I shall use those words"; nor should somebody else tell you, "Oh! You know, this is very good"—it is perhaps very good for him but not for everyone. [78]

Dealing With Obstacles In Japa

The fear, anger, depression etc. which used to rise when making the japa of the names came from a vital resistance in the nature (this resistance exists in everyone) which threw up these things because of the pressure on the vital part to change which is implied in sadhana. These resistances rise and then, if one takes the right attitude, slowly or quickly clear away. One has to observe them and separate oneself from them, persisting in the concentration and sadhana till the vital becomes quiet and clear.[79] Now, I think that doing japa with the will and the idea of getting something out of it spoils it a little. You spoil it. I don't much like it when somebody says, "Do this and you will get that." It's true—it's true, but it's a bit like baiting a fish. I don't much like it. [80]

Mantra In Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga

Om tat sat.jpg

As a rule the only mantra used in this sadhana is that of the Mother or of my name and the Mother. The concentration in the heart and the concentration in the head can both be used—each has its own result. The first opens up the psychic being and brings bhakti, love and union with the Mother, her presence within the heart and the action of her Force in the nature. The other opens the mind to self-realisation, to the consciousness of what is above mind, to the ascent of the consciousness out of the body and the descent of the higher consciousness into the body. [81]


There is the famous rule of concentrating between the eyebrows—the centre of the inner mind, of occult vision, of the will is there. What you do is to think firmly from there on whatever you make the object of your concentration or else try to see the image of it from there. If you succeed in this, then after a time you feel that your whole consciousness is centred there in that place—of course for the time being. After doing it for some time and often, it becomes easy and normal. ...Well, in this Yoga, you do the same, not necessarily at that particular spot between the eyebrows, but anywhere in the head or at the centre of the chest where the physiologists have fixed the cardiac centre. Instead of concentrating on an object, you concentrate in the head in a will, a call for the descent of the peace from above or, as some do, an opening of the unseen lid and an ascent of the consciousness above. In the heart-centre one concentrates in an aspiration, for an opening, for the presence or living image of the Divine there or whatever else is the object. There may be japa of a name but, if so, there must also be a concentration on it and the name must repeat itself there in the heart-centre. [82]


In this Yoga there is no fixed mantra, no stress is laid on mantras, although sadhaks can use one if they find it helpful or so long as they find it helpful. The stress is rather on an aspiration in the consciousness and a concentration of the mind, heart, will, all the being. If a mantra is found helpful for that, one uses it. OM if rightly used (not mechanically) might very well help the opening upwards and outwards (cosmic consciousness) as well as the descent. [83]

More on Mantra

The Divine's voice is heard as a melodious chant in the stillness of the night. [84]


In truth, I believe only in the Grace. My mantra and all the rest seem to me only little tricks to try to win over your Grace. [85]


You see, in science you have chemical formulas for combining certain elements and producing others from them; even if you do not have any mental or vital or even physical power, if you just follow to the letter the formula you have, you obtain the required result—it is enough simply to have a memory. Well, the same thing has been tried in occultism, making combinations of sounds, letters, numbers, words, which, by their inherent qualities, have the power to obtain a certain result. In this way, any fool, if he learns this and does exactly what he is told, obtains—or believes he will obtain—the result he wants. While… let us take the mantra, for instance, which is a form of occultism; unless the mantra is given by a guru and the guru transmits his occult or spiritual power to you with the mantra, you may repeat your mantra thousands of times, it will have no effect. [86]


... the Upanishads speak of jyotir brahma, the Light that is Brahman. Very often the sadhak feels a flow of Light upon him or around him or a flow of Light invading his centres or even his whole being and body, penetrating and illumining every cell and in that Light there grows the spiritual consciousness and one becomes open to all or many of its workings and realisations. Appositely I have a review of a book of Ramdas (of the Vision) before me in which is described such an experience got by the repetition of the Rama mantra, but, if I understand rightly, after a long and rigorous self-discipline. "The mantra having stopped automatically, he beheld a small circular light before his mental vision. This yielded him thrills of delight. This experience having continued for some days, he felt a dazzling light like lightning, flashing before his eyes, which ultimately permeated and absorbed him. Now an inexpressible transport of bliss filled every pore of his physical frame." It does not always come like that—very often it comes by stages or at long intervals, at first, working on the consciousness till it is ready. [87]

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