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Ayurveda & Mantra Therapy




Ayurveda is a Philosophy of life and living beings. It is beyond the science of herbs and minerals. It has been passed down the ages with knowledge flowing through different specialized fields of medicine. Primitive humans believed that illness was due to the vagaries of supernatural forces like Gods or Demons. To overcome these, people practiced Mantras and Homas (sacrificial fires) that are mentioned in the Vedas. Ayurveda is a sub-Veda (Upaveda) of Atharvaveda.

 

According to Ayurveda, there are three kinds of treatment modalities:


  1. Spiritual Treatments- (Daiva Vyapashraya Chikitsa) - These are treatments based on believing in divine power.

  2. Rational Treatments (Yukti Vyapashraya Chikitsa) - Yukti means intelligence, hence these treatments are based on rationality. Examples include diet modification, lifestyle changes, herbal remedies, and detoxification therapies, which are skillfully applied.

  3. Psychotherapy (Sattvavajaya Chikitsa) - Sattva means mind, so these treatments are based on gaining control over the mind, and this can be correlated to modern-day Psychiatry.


In modern science and today’s life, we come across many diseases/conditions labeled as ‘idiopathic’. In other words, the onset and severity of these diseases remain unexplained and undefined. Even the line of treatment remains uncertain. There is no logic that a human mind can apply to such illnesses.

In Ayurveda, such entities are grouped under the following categories:

 

Divine Power (Daivi Shakti)

Past lives Karma (Purva Janma Kruta)

Unfavorable Planetary Positions (Graha dosha)

 

Ayurveda has explained these in detail as follows:

 

Spiritual Treatments (Daiva Vyapashraya Chikitsa), this is for Karmaja diseases (diseases that occur due to bad actions done in the past). According to the law of karma, diseases are divine justice to restore harmony most compassionately.

Daiva is divine or unknown things or circumstances, and Vyapashraya means to take refuge. 

To take refuge in the divine power with the sense of confidence, that it will take care of the circumstances in a positive way by building optimism within the individual. So, one can maintain calmness and peace within the mind and body.

 

In Daiva Vyapashraya Chikitsa these are the things considered:

  • Hymns (Mantra Chikitsa)

  • Wearing sacred herbs (Aushadhi)

  • Wearing gems (mani dharana)

  • Performing auspicious ceremonies and rituals (Mangala)

  • Offering to God / Sacrificial rituals (Bali)

  • Gifting (Upahara)

  • Fire sacrifices (Homa)

  • Observance of spiritual practices (Niyamana)

  • Atonement (Prayaschitta

  • Fasting (Upavasa)

  • Chanting of auspicious Hymns (Swastyayana)

  • Obeisance to God (Pranipata)

  • Going to pilgrimage (Yatra gamana

 

In this article, we are going to discuss the first one, the Mantra Chikitsa or Mantra Therapy. 

Mantra therapy, a vast and profound subject, is the focus of my humble endeavor to provide a concise introduction for beginners.

 


The word Mantra is derived from two words Man+ Tra, ‘Mannat trayate iti Mantra’. 

Man (mind) and tra (tool) means a tool for thinking. 

Shabdakalpadruma (encyclopedic dictionary of Sanskrit words) defines Mantra as the one whose repeated incantation helps protect us (from bondage or troubles).

The meaning of the word mantra is literally “the sound, the word that liberates the mind.” 

Mantra therapy is based on chanting the Mantra that taps the body’s natural healing mechanism. Just by chanting we can protect ourselves from disturbances.

 

Mantras affect us because of their inherent sounds, which are energy-based. These sounds are woven together to help you strengthen your intent. By chanting it the correct way, they match with the frequency in our body which establishes a connection between the human soul and cosmic energy. This provides a positive and healing atmosphere which in turn balances the body's energies.

We cannot casually pick any mantra and expect wonders from it. The sound of a mantra will show results if applied with the right intention and right pronunciation. Just like any tool to be used, it needs proper training and skills.


Use of Mantra with Right Intention:


These intentions are based on the three gunas- The Sattva (Harmony, intellect), Rajas (aggression, activity), and Tamas (inertia, darkness). The three gunas (qualities) are attributes of the mind. Sattva is the prime guna and it always benefits the mind. Rajas and Tamas gunas when in harmony keeps the mind in a balanced state. However, they can get aggravated very quickly and can cause disturbance to the mind and body creating diseases, hence they are called doshas (faults)of the mind.

Sattvic mantras are those that benefit the self and others. Rajasic mantras are for achieving outer goals in our life like wealth, career, power, and relationship, etc., Tamasic mantras are destructive and harmful and to control others. 

Words carry tremendous power not only for humans but for things around us. Many studies show that talking or singing to plants helps them grow, this is the power of the Sattvic mantra.it is said that, In the Solomon Islands, when people want to clear the forest for planting or development, they gather around the tree that needs to be removed, stand around it holding hands, and hurl abuses at the tree – they curse it. Slowly and surely the tree begins to wither, and it dies on its own. This can be categorized as the Tamasic mantra. 

It is best not to practice mantras for Rajasic and Tamasic goals. We must cultivate the habit of the Sattvic mantra to set up a good intention and to increase the force of good and harmony within ourselves. To perform these types of rituals, one needs to follow a sattvic lifestyle that includes a vegetarian diet, purification practices, and following daily and seasonal Ayurvedic regimens.

In Ayurveda, apart from herbal remedies for diseases, Mantra recitation is emphasized to enhance healing. Ayurveda has recommended Mantra therapy in several specific illnesses/situations which include certain types of fever, toxicology, obstructive labor, before and after surgical procedures, epilepsy, insanity, during Panchakarma, displacement of the umbilical cord during birth, and many more. 

 

How Mantra Affects Our Physical and Subtle Body:


Ayurveda emphasizes on Prakruti- the combination of tridoshas, that makes a person unique. Prakruti or Nature consists of vibrations that are sounds. So, each person has his or her vibrational sound pattern. They reflect our pattern of breathing, heartbeat, and the way we move or speak. By changing the vibrations in our mind, we can change the energies of our entire being, and balance the constitutional energies of doshas within us. Sanskrit vowels and consonants have an impact on doshas. For example, La and Va are Kapha sounds, Ra is the Pitta sound, and Ya is the airy sound. 


Have you ever wondered why our moods, energy, and our complete being change when we listen to a certain music or artist? How does that sound connect with our emotions?

The subtle body of sound and vibrations relates to our mental being. There is a whole sense of how vowels, consonants, and sibilants relate to and affect the regions and organs of the body.  By focusing on bringing the Prana, we should repeat their respective Mantras. This application is used in Yoga and Ayurvedic Medicine.


Kundalini energy (a divine form of energy located at the base of the spine) lies dormant and asleep in the ordinary human state. Mantra practice is best to rouse the Kundalini and energize the Chakras (The six spiritual energy centers in our body as per the yogic philosophy). However, it is important to note that life force energy (Prana)needs to enter the central energy-carrying channel (Sushmna), which requires first to balance the Solar (Pingala) and Lunar (Ida) energies within us. By bringing sound energy downwards towards the root chakra by the power of Mantra, one can aid this process. The petals of chakras represent primal sounds through the Sanskrit alphabet. E.g., the root chakra which governs the earth element, relates to the last semivowels – Va, and the first three sibilants – vaṁ, śaṁ, ṣaṁ.  These govern the tissues of fat, bone, marrow, and reproductive organs which are connected to the root and earth energy within us. 

 

How to Choose a Mantra: 


Mantras are of two types, those that can be chanted by everyone and certain mantras that need to be learned from a Guru. 

If you intend to practice mantras for healing purposes, an Ayurvedic practitioner who is well-trained in Ayurveda and Yoga should be able to recommend a suitable healing mantra for you. However, the practitioner needs to practice these mantras to pass them on to others as the mantras become more effective. If one is seeking a mantra for Astrological purposes, to remove the negative effects of the planetary energies, then consulting an experienced Astrologer who is trained in astrological mantras is advisable. A Hindu priest can recommend a ritualistic mantra to you as the priests are trained to perform mantras for the benefit of others.

There are certain universal mantras that everyone can chant, such as “Om '' or “Peace Mantras” (Shanti Mantras). We can choose certain personal mantras according to the form of the divine we worship (Ishta Devata Mantra) and can be practiced by anyone. However, it is best to seek a Self-realized Guru to initiate you with the Higher Mantra meant for liberation.

All mantras are words, but not all words are mantras.

There are subtler realms of Sound. Mantras teach us the additional level that corresponds with the deep meaning behind the words, and this is the basis of ‘Bija Mantra’. Bija means ‘seed’. The seed syllables like ‘Om’ carry the divinity in manifested and unmanifested form. To give an example, when we say ‘divine’ we know the meaning, but we have not experienced the divine within our hearts and minds. Bija mantras connect us to a deeper level of understanding of our true nature. Bija mantras are used in Ayurvedic mantra therapy to promote health or to treat specific diseases. There are certain mantras for cancer, arthritis, fever, wound healing, Epilepsy, and so on. It is important to look at the energies of the elements, the doshas, tissues, and other factors of Ayurvedic medicine. 


Tantra and Mantra:


Tantra is a traditional path of spiritual practice to experience a state of communion with the universal forces of nature, personified as God or Goddess, awakening consciousness in the practitioner. The mantra is the vehicle that connects the mind with the deeper conscious. Hence Tantra teaches us this art of cosmic communication through the language of Mantra. Tantric science contains extensive teachings of mantras, and special importance is given to Shakti mantras for the worship of different Goddesses.


 Follow these simple steps to proceed with your Mantra (Japa) Practice:


Before one starts practicing the Mantra Meditation, it is important to use a proper mantra given by a legitimate Guru and to know the exact inner meaning of the mantra with correct pronunciation.


Mantra chanting can be performed in three ways:

  1. Slowly, with just lip movement, like whispering - Upamsu Japa

  2. Chanting in mind, mental recitation- Manasic Japa

  3. Chanting in different tones, verbal recitation- low, medium & high- Vachik Japa


  • Have a personal Bead mala that has 108 beads and keep it in a clean place preferably near your altar or in a mala bag.

  • Chant the mantra with a sattvic mind and practice daily rituals of bathing every morning or washing your hands, feet, and face, brushing your teeth, wearing clean clothing, and then starting your japa meditation. 

  • The most favorable time for Japa meditation is one and a half hours before sunrise. This is when the Sattva Guna is predominant. Nevertheless, Japa can be done any time of the day.

  • Touch the guru bead on your bowed forehead (at your third eye center) before chanting.

  • Preferably face in the direction of East or North when practicing Japa. 

  • Sit on a rug or meditation cushion and in the same place every day.

  • Maintain a steady pose such as Padmasana, Siddhasana, or Sukhasana during the Chant

  • Hold your bead mala at the heart center during Japa.

  • Use the middle finger and thumb of the right hand to touch and move the beads.

  • Repeat the Mantra for 108 or 1080 times daily (one to ten rounds of full mala)

  • It is best to receive your mantra from your Guru or teacher. If this is not possible, carefully choose a mantra based on your goals and intentions. 

  • Be slow, mindful, clear, and devoted while practicing Japa.

  • Avoid distractions and don’t be in a hurry to chant. 

  • Engage in a tempo that improves your focus and rhythm of breath.

  • Japa can be practiced with eyes closed or partially closed. 

  • Knowing the meaning of a mantra opens a completely different layer and depth to your practice. It helps in removing negative emotions, reducing unnecessary desires and cravings, and helping your mind to become more stable and stronger. It is meant to reduce or destroy the Shadripus (Lust/Desire, Anger, Greed, Attachment, Pride, and Jealousy) within us.

  • Before ending your practice, take some quiet time to feel and notice the calmness within you. One can continue with Japa mentally throughout the day while indulging in routine daily activities.

 

Mantra therapy benefits:


I chant many stotras and mantras daily. I feel it is one of the best ways of developing devotion and healing powers within. Stotras are Sttutis (praise of God/ Goddess); they are longer mantras e.g., Mahishasura Mardini Stotram - a beautiful composition by Adi Shankaracharya. Once we get into the practice of chanting mantras, we receive the tools that are needed to maintain positivity and harmony in mind and body.

 

Chanting mantras daily improves focus, faith, and spiritual connection. It reduces stress and negative thoughts, soothes the nervous system, and calms the mind.  One gains inner stability and strength, and it helps for deeper introspection and self-reflection. Lastly and most importantly, it calms down the breathing that balances the inner physiology to stay in harmony.

 

Some examples of Mantras:

Universal Mantras: OM, OM Shanti Shanti Shanti (Peace), SO-HUM

Vedic Mantras- Aham Brahmhasmi (I am Bramhan), Tat tvam asi (Thou art that)

Deity Mantras: Om Namah Shivay (Lord Shiva), Om Namo Narayana (Lord Vishnu)

Mantras for Chakras: LAM, VAM, RAM, YAM, HAM, OM

Tantric Bija Mantras: Aim, Hrim, Shrim, Halim, Krim, Klim, etc.

 

Namaste,

Beena Vesikar

(M.D. Ayu- India)

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