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Mantras written by Sri Aurobindo:
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(Mother to Satprem, 1958:) “I wondered: “If we were to repeat the mantra we heard the other day [‘Om Namo Bhagavateh’, in an Indian film on Dhruva] during the half-hour meditation, what would happen?”
What would happen?
And these things act upon my body. It is strange, but it coagulates something: all the cellular life becomes one solid, compact mass, in a tremendous concentration – with a single vibration. Instead of all the usual vibrations of the body, there is now only one single vibration. It becomes as hard as a diamond, a single massive concentration, as if all the cells of the body had ...
I became stiff from it. When the forest scene was over, I was so stiff that I was like that (gesture): one single mass.”
(Mother:) I have a whole stock of mantras; they have all come spontaneously, never from the head. They sprang forth spontaneously, as the Veda is said to have sprung forth.
I don't know when it began – a very long time ago, before I came here, although some of them came while I was here. But in my case, they were always very short. For example, when Sri Aurobindo was here in his body, at any moment, in any difficulty, for anything, it always came like this: ‘My Lord!’ – simply and spontaneously – ‘My Lord!’ And instantly, the contact was established. But since He left, it has stopped. I can no longer say it, for it would be like saying ‘My Lord, My Lord!’ to myself.
I had a mantra in French before coming to Pondicherry. It was Dieu de bonté et de miséricorde ... [God of kindness and mercy], but what it means is usually not understood – it is an entire program, a universal program. I have been repeating this mantra since the beginning of the century; it was the mantra of ascension, of realization. At present, it no longer comes in the same way, it comes rather as a memory. But it was deliberate, you see; I always said ‘Dieu de bonté et de miséricorde’, because even then I understood that everything is the Divine and the Divine is in all things and that it is only we who make a distinction between what is or what is not the Divine.
My experience is that, individually, we are in relationship with that aspect of the Divine which is not necessarily the most in conformity with our natures, but which is the most essential for our development or the most necessary for our action. For me, it was always a question of action because, personally, individually, each aspiration for personal development had its own form, its own spontaneous expression, so I did not use any formula. But as soon as there was the least little difficulty in action, it sprang forth. Only long afterwards did I notice that it was formulated in a certain way – I would utter it without even knowing what the words were. But it came like this: ‘Dieu de bonté et de miséricorde’. It was as if I wanted to eliminate from action all aspects that were not this one. And it lasted for ... I don't know, more than twenty or twenty-five years of my life. It came spontaneously.”
(Mother to Satprem, 1958:) “So each one must find something that acts on himself, individually. I am only speaking of the action on the physical plane, because mentally, vitally, in all the inner parts of the being, the aspiration is always, always spontaneous. I am referring only to the physical plane.
The physical seems to be more open to something that is repetitious – for example, the music we play on Sundays, which has three series of combined mantras. The first is that of Chandi, addressed to the universal Mother:
- “Ya devi sarvabhuteshu matrirupena sansthita
- Ya devi sarvabhuteshu shaktirupena sansthita
- Ya devi sarvabhuteshu shantirupena sansthita
- Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namo namah.”
The second is addressed to Sri Aurobindo (and I believe they have put my name at the end). It incorporates the mantra I was speaking of:
- “Om namo namah shrimirambikayai
- Om namo bhagavateh shriaravindaya
- Om namo namah shrimirambikayai.”
And the third is addressed to Sri Aurobindo: “Thou art my refuge.”
- “Shriaravindah sharanam mama.”
Each time this music is played, it produces exactly the same effect upon the body. It is strange, as if all the cells were dilating, with a feeling that the body is growing larger ... It becomes all dilated, as if swollen with light – with force, a lot of force. And this music seems to form spirals, like luminous ribbons of incense smoke, white (not transparent, literally white) and they rise up and up. I always see the same thing; it begins in the form of a vase, then swells like an amphora and converges higher up to blossom forth like a flower.
So for these mantras, everything depends upon what you want to do with them. 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.”
(Mother to Satprem, 1959:) “I have 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. So I had to find the method all alone, to find my mantra by myself. But now that things are ready, I have done ten years of work in a few months. That is the difficulty, it requires time ...
And I repeat my mantra constantly – when I am awake and even when I sleep. I say it even when I am getting dressed, when I eat, when I work, when I speak with others; it is there, just behind in the background, all the time, all the time.
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.”
- (Satprem, 1963:) “But how is it, if the mantra automatically contains the power of the experience, that it is always said that unless you have been ‘given’ the mantra by your guru, it has no power?
(Mother:) That's when you have no power of your own, naturally! If, for example, just anybody comes to me and asks me for a mantra, I won't tell him he should find his own mantra inside....
What I said there applies to those who are in contact with their soul. But those who have no conscious contact with their soul cannot find their mantra – their head will search for words, but that's nothing. I said the mantra must well up from within – but for them, nothing will well up! They won't find it. They won't find it, not a chance! So in that case, the guru passes on his own power.
- Yes, but when you read a mantra in a book, for instance, it is said there's no force in it – how is that, since the vibration is there?
But if you have the power within yourself and read the book, you will get the force! (Mother laughs) What's required is the capacity to feel and make contact.
Ultimately, what does the guru do? He connects (gesture of junction), he is nothing but a link. It's not ‘his’ power he gives you (that's what he thinks, but it's not true): he is the link. He brings you into contact with the Power – a contact you don't have without him. But those who don't need a guru will make contact WITHOUT a guru.
It's not at all like something he pulls out of his pocket and offers you! That's not it at all: it's the power to make contact.”
(Mother, “The Four Austerities”:) “In conclusion, I would say this: if you want your speech to express the truth and thus acquire the power of the Word, never think out beforehand what you want to say, do not decide what is a good or bad thing to say, do not calculate the effect of what you are going to say. Be silent in mind and remain unwavering in the true attitude of constant aspiration towards the All-Wisdom, the All-Knowledge, the All-Consciousness. Then, if your aspiration is sincere, if it is not a veil for your ambition to do well and to succeed, if it is pure, spontaneous and integral, you will then be able to speak very simply, to say the words that ought to be said, neither more nor less, and they will have a creative power.”
- (Student, 1954:) “What does ‘the Word’ mean?
(Mother:) That’s something else. The Word — it is not pronounced speech and words. There are old traditions which speak of “Let there be light and there was light.” 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 vibration of the sound — to act directly upon matter itself, in matter. It is the opposite movement. 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 vibration 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.
What I have said there is that one must keep the right attitude and be mentally silent: an attitude not expressed through words or through formulated thoughts, but through a living state of consciousness. An attitude of aspiration, you understand. I am obliged to put it in words because it must be printed on paper (this is why all this loses three-fourths of its force), but still otherwise it would not be acceptable at all; if I gave you a blank sheet, you would not know exactly what I have put there! I am obliged to put it into words.
An aspiration for all that is essentially true, real, perfect. And this aspiration must be free from words, simply a silent attitude, but extremely intense and unvacillating. Not a word must be allowed the right to enter there and disturb it. It must be like a column of vibrations of aspiration which nothing can touch — and in total silence — and therein, if something comes down, what descends (and will be clothed in words in your mind and in sounds in your mouth) will be the Word. But nothing less than this will do.”
(Amal Kiran:) “I was sick – in a way that seemed incurable. What could I do? Should I call a doctor? The doctor would come and thump my chest and hear the sounds in my lungs and feel my spine and find it absolutely intact. Then I remembered that when you cannot have the privilege of seeing the face of the Mother or Sri Aurobindo, which can make whole every broken spirit, you can turn to the poetry of Sri Aurobindo, that poetry which is called the Mantra. The Mantra is the highest spiritual poetry, as you know: it is the Divine, as it were, expressing Himself directly, not through any other medium of consciousness. The Divine Being, getting embodied in words on the very plane of the Divine Himself: that is the Mantra. It is the word from the Overmind, the Supermind's delegate that has been the governing Power of the universe so far.
I remember also that I had asked Sri Aurobindo what plane a certain passage in Savitri – the description of Savitri herself in Canto Two of Book One – had come from. Very reluctantly he had admitted it to have come from the Overmind or rather the Overmind Intution, as he very cautiously used to label the source of the highest poetry in his own works. The passage begins:
- “Near to earth’s wideness, intimate with heaven,
- Exalted and swift her young large-visioned spirit
- Voyaging through worlds of splendour and of calm
- Overflew the ways of Thought to unborn things.” (p.14)
It goes on to reach somewhere in its middle what I consider the Mantra of Mantras:
- “As in a mystic and dynamic dance
- A priestess of immaculate ecstasies
- Inspired and ruled from Truth’s revealing vault
- Moves in some prophet cavern of the gods,
- A heart of silence in the hands of joy
- Inhabited with rich creative beats
- A body like a parable of dawn
- That seemed a niche for veiled divinity
- Or golden temple-door to things beyond.”
Onward from glory to glory the passage moves. I recited the whole of it, and when, on the way to the close, I came to the line:
- “For even her gulfs were secrecies of light”
I suddenly felt cured, made whole.
So I said to my friend, “If you can read Savitri all your inner troubles will tend to disappear. But you have to read it aloud to yourself.” My friend was surprised. “I have read Savitri several times,” he said, “but I have never thought of reading it loudly.” I explained: “That is the way to read it because the sound-significance is tremendous. It must go into you through your ears. You cannot just read it with your eyes, you have it read in a slow controlled voice bringing out the vowel-values, the consonant-combinations and the sound of the line as a whole. It is then that the language sweeps beyond thought to stir awake deeper tracts in you: it is then that the Mantra will wing home to you. And I can assure you that if you let it do so your undiagnosable damage will disappear.”
- ↑ Mother's Agenda 1951-1960, 11 May 1958
- ↑ Ibid., 16 September 1958
- ↑ Ibid.
- ↑ Mother's Agenda 1951-1960, 19 May 1959
- ↑ Mother's Agenda 1963, 10 July 1963
- ↑ On Education, “The Four Austerities”, p.64:
- ↑ Questions and Answers 1954, p.98
- ↑ Amal Kiran & Nirodbaran, Light and Laughter: Some Talks at Pondicherry, p.40