Mantra Magic

Summary
My favorite mantras, and why they are so good for you.

Eric Armstrong
TreeLight.com/essays

My Experience with Mantras

My first experience with mantra came in my martial arts practice of Jung SuWon. We called it "channeling" (as in channeling energy). I loved it. For a while, we were doing it every week. I looked forward to that. I could sing them by myself, of course, and I even had recordings of several, but somehow it was never quite the same as getting together in a group.

My next experience came from listening to a Krishna Das CD. A couple of the mantras really spoke to me, and I loved singing them in the car. (In particular, his ecstatic rendition of Om Namah Shivayah).

But I really learned about the power of mantras after my first Ipsalu Tantra course with Jan Robinson, in Berkeley. That's when mantra became part of my life.

Nothing was said about mantra as part of the practice, but we heard and sang several over the course of the weekend, and as we were cleaning up, we heard the Gayatri Mantra over and over.

I was inspired, opened, and uplifted by that weekend that I didn't watch TV for days. I turned off the radio in the car and at work--because I had the mantras in my head (one at a time, of course!), and I didn't want to lose them. They reminded of the incredible experiences I had, and I wanted to stay connected as long as possible. So I kept everything turned off, and kept the mantras going in my head as much as I could, singing them whenever I could.

After a few days, I noticed that I wasn't hearing them when working on the computer at my job, because I was thinking so intensely about my work. But as soon as I stopped, I heard the mantras. I found that when I went into a store, the Musac playing over the speakers would drive them out for a while, but when I left, they came back easily.

I found that I could keep them going when playing sports, and could even watch TV for 2 or 3 hours, and they would still be there. (After 5 or 6 hours, though, they would be gone, and I would have to work pretty hard to get them back.)

At times, I even had mantra in my head while watching TV. (I think that's the best.) And someday, maybe I'll find it's possible to have a mantra going while carrying on a conversation. I'm not sure if it's possible. But if it is, I'll be connecting with another person by listening and talking, and at the same connecting with God/Shiva/Shakti/Universal Love Consciousness. Won't that be grand?!

Why Mantras are So Great

Mantras are incredible, for a variety of reasons:

  1. They're musical.
    We love music! There is something about it that entrains our brains. Our heart beat falls into a rhythm, and everything in our mind and body synchronizes. When the pace is right, It seems to make every part of the body work together in a complementary unison, like the different sections of an orchestra, combining to make a wonderful symphony. (A metaphor I stole from The Awakened Mind: BioFeedback the Development of Higher States of Awareness, by C. Maxwell Cade and Nona Coxhead.) And with mantra, the pace is always just right.

  2. They're devotional.
    They put you in mind of the God/Shiva/Shakti/Universe connection we all long for. That's a great space to be in. Joyful. Blissful, even.

  3. They're magical.
    When something comes along that upsets you, you naturally get upset. But as you return to the mantra, your attention moves away from the cause, and back to the present moment. So instead of going over and over the stressful event in your head, making it bigger and bigger, you release it and let it go. Result: Less stress. More calm. More relaxation. More happiness.

The end result is that you quite literally have a "song in your heart" all day--a song that makes you happy!

Gayatri Mantra

Videos that are accompanied by Deva Premal's rendition:

This version by Peter Keogh and Serge Fiori is the I heard at the end of my blissful weekend training seminar in Ipsalu Tantra It has lingered for days, and is still going strong. It brings back so many wonderful memories:

The words:

OM  BHUR  BHUVA  SVAHA
TAT  SAVITUR  VARENYAM
BHARGO  DEVASYA  DHEEMAHI
DHI  YO  YONAH  PRACHODAYAT

As sung (bold=accent, underline=hold):

OM  BHUR  BHUVA-(h)A  S(v)WA-HA
TAT  SAV-I-TUR  VARE-(h)INY-AM
BHAR-GO...  DEV-AS-YA  DHEE-MA-HI
DHI  YO  YO...nah - PRACH-O-DAY-A(t)

Meaning (courtesy of Shakti Jan Robinson):

Translation:

Namah Shivaya

This version by Robert Gass is subtle. It sneaks into your heart. (This is the version I heard during my my first weekend training session in Ipsalu Tantra. It helps to bring back the Magical Moments I experienced there.)

This version by Krisha Das has a varied colleciton of verses in a beautiful, soul-stirring expression of love and devotion that builds to an ecstatic climax. The CD comes with a warning: "Not responsible for traffic tickets if you listen while you drive."

Meaning (courtesy of Shakti Jan):

Shambho Shankara

I've only ever heard this one time, sung by Gerald Trimble. Here's a descrption of the experience, along with a downloadable MP3 of Shambho Shankara. it was so beautiful, I was in floating rapture for 8 glorious minutes.

I found some of the words on the web. He sings the first three lines as written, but does something different on the last line. (I'm trying to find out what it is!)

Here is another version I found on the web. It's not quite as "magical", but the recording is a lot better than the one I made of Gerald Trimble:

Lyrics

I found these lyrics at http://prasanthi-mandir-bhajan.net:

Shambho Shankara Shiva Shambho Shankara
Shambho Shankara Samba Sada Shiva Shambho Shankara
Parti Nayaka Paramesha Pahimaam
(2)
Shambho Shankara Samba Sada Shiva Shambho Shankara

And this version at the Sai Baba site (similar wording, different spelling, with a variation in the first word of the next-to-last line):

Shambho Shankara Shiva Shambho Shankara
Shambho Shankara Samba Sadashiva Shambho Shankara
Parti Nayaka Paramesha Pahi Mam
(3)
Shambho Shankara Samba Sadashiva Shambho Shankara
Parvati Nayaka Paramesha Pahi Mam
(3)
Shambho Shankara Samba Sadashiva Shambho Shankara

Meaning:
Please protect me O Lord Shiva, the Lord of Parvati.
Please protect me O Lord of Parthi.

Gate Mantra (gah-tay)

This one is moving up the charts. It was nice when I heard it, but not as rapturous as some I've heard, so I mentally set it aside. But the other day, I woke with it in my head, and sang it to myself all morning until I got to work. A nice pleasant way to start the day!

The words:

Gate gate
Paragate
Parasamgate
Bodhi swaha!

Phoentically, as sung :

GAH-tay GAH-tay ...
Pah-reh-GAH-tay ...
Pah-reh-SAHM-gah-tay
Bo-dee S(v)WAH-ha!

Meaning (courtesy of Shakti Jan):

Om Kriya Babaji Namah Aum

I first heard this in an Ipsalu Tantra workshop, but then forgot all about it until I found it mentioned in the Ipsalu Formula: A Method for Tantra Bliss. It rose quickly to number one on my list, mostly because it benefits the body, mind, emotions, and spirit, all at the same time:

I found several versions on the Web, but so far I haven't come across one I really like. So I recorded one that's fairly close to the version we chanted during the workshop. It will do until we get the band together! (Jan on the harmonium, me on the drum, and a few other wonderful singers!)

The words:

Tips for chanting:

Variations

After being engaged in something, I'll listen to what's in my head and find that some variation or another is going on. Here's a couple of them:

A couple of weeks later, I found another verse at the end of a Kriya Yoga book, __xxx__. It was from the last pose, where you chant words that mean "peace" in different languages. It became the 3rd line in this version, done in 4 descending tones (one tone per line):

Om Kriya Babaji Namah Aum
Om Shiva Babaji Namah Aum
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Sat Nam Sadhu
Om Kriya Babaji Namah Aum

That's my favorite version of all!

Shivoham

Version by Manish Vyas

Sachara Chara Para Purna Shivoham Shivoham (x2)
Nityananda Swarupa Shivoham Shivoham (x2)
Sachara Chara Para Purna Shivoham Shivoham (x2)
Nityananda Swarupa Shivoham Shivoham (x2)

Anandoham (x16)

Namah (x2), Hiatuu
Shivoham(x32)

Om Namah Shivaya (x32)
Sachara Chara Para Purna Shivoham Shivoham (x2)
Nityananda Swarupa Shivoham Shivoham (x2)
Anandoham (x16)

Meaning of the Lyrics

Found the lyrics here:
http://www.spiritvoyage.com/mantra/Shivohum,-Shivohum/MAN-000451.aspx

Sachara chara para purna...Shivoham, Shivoham
I am that which prevails everywhere...complete in itself.

Nityananda Swarupa...Shivoham, Shivoham
I am Shiva; the deity of eternal bliss.

Anandoham, Anandoham, Anandoham, Anandoham
I am Joy itself…I am Bliss itself.

Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambo

Links:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejV6JtyZxpE&feature=related

Words:

Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambo-o-o (descending "o's"),
Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambo.
Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambo-o-o (descending "o's"),
Jaya Jaya Shiva Shambo.

(Repeat a fifth higher, then return to original tone)

Meaning:

...

{Kriya} Jaya Shiva Omkara

This mantra does not originally have a "kriya" in it. But it felt like a good thing to add it in the space between lines...

 

Shiva Shankara, Hara Mahadeva

Words:

Shiva Shiva Shiva Shiva Sha-nkara,
Hara Hara Hara Hara Ma-hadeva

Variations:

Shi...-va Shiva Shiva Shanka...-ra
Ha..-ra Hara Hara Mahade...-va

Shiva Shakara, Shiva Shankara
Shiva Shankara, Mahadeva

I Am One

I went to a "heart conference" over the weekend, and heard __??__ singing a song she wrote. I could only make out a few of the words, at the time. But a couple of days later I woke with the tune in my head. Different words kept occuring to fill in the blanks, until at least these arrived:

I AM ONE with the HEART of an-OTH-er.
I AM ONE with a HEART of LOVE.
I AM ONE with the HEART of a LOVE-er
I AM ONE with LOVE.

It was a beautiful tune.

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