Exploration of Indian Yoga Psychology

A blog on the Transpersonal Psychology of Indian Yoga and the Spiritual Genius of India (another blog of the same author – http://integralmusings.aurosociety.org)

The Vedic Manthra-The Psychology of the Inspired Word-M.S. Srinivasan

mantrasWe have said that the Manthra plays a very crucial and important function of  the vedic yoga.  But what is exactly the vedic manthra?  We must  remember here  that  the  vedic conception of the manthra is very  different  from  the traditional  religious  conception of it as the repetition of a  sacred  word.  Manthra for the Vedic Rishis was an integral part of their mystic sacrifice to the  divine  powers.  It was used by vedic sages not merely for  invoking  the help of the gods but also for many other more important spiritual purposes.

The Creative Word

First  of  all  the manthra for the vedic sages is  a  potent  means  for creative  self-expression  of their realisations.  It is the  inevitable  word which  expresses  as faithfully and as perfectly as possible  the  vibration  or sound-from  of  the supramental truth or idea realised by the sages  in  their consciousness.  And, secondly, the Manthra is the means bywhich the truth seen is  established  and made an integral part of the consciousness of  the  seer.  The creation of the Vedic manthra is not a mental activity; it originates from the  superconscient part of the seer, received subconsciously in the depth  of his  heart,  brought forward by the contemplation of his  conscious  mind  and finally breathed-out in the form of the inevitable word.

What  is the basis of this great importance given by the vedic Rishis  to the creation of the Manthara?  To answer this question we must go back to  the Vedic  theory of creation.  In the Vedic thought, the word is considered as  a great  creative  force.   According to one of the Vedic schools  of  thought, universe  is created by the Vac, the goddess of speech.  Let us first  examine the psychological basis of this Vedic conception.

The Sound, Vibration and the Word

If we introspect a little, we can see that the origin of human speech  is an  inner sound forming into words or in other of words an inner  movement  or vibration  of  consciousness,  a movement of thought, feeling,  sensation  expressing  itself through a set of words.  Shall we say that human speech  is in  its essence the sound-form of a subjective movement of consciousness.   We need  not bother much here about the physiological process bywhich this  inner movement is translated into the gross speech and word.  We are here  concerned mainly with the psychological and spiritual origin of the speech and word.

According   to  ancient  Indian  grammarians  every  inner  movement   of consciousness  tends  towards self-expression in the form of an  inner  sound, word  and language even when it is not outwardly articulated in  gross  speech and  word.  The speech and the word are considered as creative because it  gives  a precise form to an inner movement of consciousness which would have otherwise remained  inchoate  and  humanist.  For in the Indian view  creation  is  not forming  something  out of nothing but Srushti which means  “loosing  forth”  into manifest  form  that which remains unmanifest.  It the Vedic  conception  the process of human speech is a diminished figure of the process of the  original creative  Act which gives birth to the World.  Now let us leap again from  the psychological to the metaphysical plane to examine the validity of this  vedic concept.

The Eternal Vibration

One  of  the  well-known  and common ideas  of  all  ancient  occult  and spiritual traditions of the world is the concept of creation proceeding from an eternal Vibration in the  supreme Reality or the original existence.  According to our  own  Indian spiritual tradition when the absolute willed to create the world, this  supreme will  manifests as the original Vibration Spanda in Its infinite being.   This primal  vibration is the Vedic Vac, the eternal Word which gives birth to  the world.

This creative Vibration is normally equated with OM, the original  sound.  But  the vibration is not only “Sound” but also “Light”; it is at once  “Light and Sound.”   For the essential nature of the creative power of the Reality  is consciousness which is at once the eternal Light of Awareness which knows  and reveals and an eternal Energy inherent in Light which creates.  So the supreme creative Word is a rhythmic vibration of energy in the light of the creative consciousness of the Supreme, rta-chit or rtm-jyothi of the Vedas.

But  creation  of what? Not illusions but truths, truths  of  the  divine reality  projected in its creative consciousness in the form of a  harmony  of creative  ideas, rta of the Vedas.   Each creative idea  is a luminous vibration of consciousness pregnant with a  self-realising truth which unfolds itself in the cosmic evolution according to its own unique and inherent self-law swadharma.  This harmony of creative vibration of  truth of things in the supreme consciousness of the Reality is the primal Word.  The entire  cosmic movement is nothing but rhythmic and progressive  unfolding  of this  eternal  creative vibration, the Vac, the word, Om in  Space  and  Time.  This is the vedic theory of creation.

The Inner Hearing and Vision

Now  what  is the relation of his vedic theory of creation to  the  vedic Manthra?   The highest truth of things of life and nature is an eternal vibration of light and sound in the consciousness of the creative Divine and can be seen and heard by the inner spiritual vision and hearing of the Seer and Poet.  The Vedic  singer is at once a Rishi, the seer who has seen and a kavi, the poet  who has heard the Truth.  The Manthra is the word-form of the  luminous-sound-body of truth.  An ideal manthra must be the inevitable and inspired word which can exactly reproduce the rhythm and music of the sound-body or vibration of truth seen and heard by the inner vision and hearing of the seer.  Thus creating the Manthra  is the combined work of two spiritual faculties of  revelation  which sees and the inspiration which hears the truth.  This is the reason why in  the Indian tradition, the veda is called as Sruthi, something “heard”.

For  the Rishi who fashions the Manthra, the function of Manthra is to establish the power of truth seen and heard by him in the weary substance of his consciousness and make it a part of his being.  For the  one  who chants or hears the manthra, it can reproduce the  vibration  of truth  in  his consciousness and thereby lead him to the same  experience  and vision of the seer of the manthra.

 Sanskrit: The Manthric Language

Sanskrit  language  in general and the vedic sanskrit  in  particular  is believed  to  have  such manthric power.  For the vedic  manthras  are  called as chandas  which means “metres” and these metres are considered in  the  ancient vedic  tradition as the reflection of the cosmic metres, the  Great  Universal Rhythm,  Rta,  which  governs the world.  Sanskrit alphabet is  based  on  certain fundamental root-sounds which can be made through the human vocal  instruments.  The  sanskrit grammar is based on the principle or intuition that there  is  a definite  relationship  between the sound, word and its meaning.   Apart  from this theoretical considerations, the manthric power of Sanskrit language is  a well-tested  fact  even in our modern age.  For some, both from the  east  and west  the  manthric power of sanskrit is a living spiritual  experience.   For example, Vyas Houston, an American sanskrit scholar, say in an interview:

“Sanskrit  seems to promote healing and generate inspiration whether  you understand it or not.  I spent many years chanting what I did not  understand.  But  as I became proficient enough on chanting, more and more of  the actual  meaning come through.  Now when I chant, I do understand the  meaning.  And  it has aligned me much, much more deeply with the teaching, because I  am getting  the  resonance  as the meanings conveyed in its awesome body  of sacred  teachings  with  your whole  heart  and being.  As you are pulled deeper and deeper into  the  mighty current  of  Sanskrit, the pure enjoyment of the sound, which  is  in  perfect harmony  with the truth being stated, makes it easy to relinquish any idea  `I am  doing this.  I am doing this well I am not doing this well…”  Sanskrit is really only for the sake of the Self” (1) (Yoga International, May/June, 1992)

This  personal  experience  of  a  western  sanskrit  scholar  shows  the tremendous spiritual-creative power inherent in this ancient Indian language.

One comment on “The Vedic Manthra-The Psychology of the Inspired Word-M.S. Srinivasan

  1. Yuki
    June 18, 2015

    A few years ago I’d have to pay someone for this inmiofatron.

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This entry was posted on May 29, 2013 by in Vedic Yoga.