Shakti and Shakta

by John Woodroffe | 1929 | 243,591 words

A collection of papers and essays addressing the Śakti aspect of the Śākta school of Hindu philosophy by John Woodroffe, also known as Arthur Avalon....

Chapter XXIV - Śakti as Mantra (Mantramayi Śakti)

THIS is in every way both a most important, as well as a most difficult, subject in the Tantra Śāstra; so difficult that it is not understood, and on this account has been ridiculed. Mantra, in the words of a distinguished Indian, has been called “meaningless jabber.” When we find Indians thus talking of their Śāstra, it is not surprising that Europeans should take it to be of no account. They naturally, though erroneously, suppose that the Indian always understands his own beliefs, and if he says they are absurd it is taken that they are so. Even, however, amongst Indians, who have not lost themselves through an English Education, the Science of Mantra is largely unknown. There are not many students of the Mīmānsa now-a-days. The English Educated have in this, as in other matters, generally taken the cue from their Western Gurus, and passed upon Mantravidyā a borrowed condemnation. There are those among them (particularly in this part of India), those who have in the past thought little of their old culture, and have been only too willing to sell their old lamps for new ones. Because they are new they will not always be found to give better light. Let us hope this will change, as indeed it will. Before the Indian condemns his cultural inheritance let him at least first study and understand it. It is true that Mantra is meaningless—to those who do not know its meaning: but to those who do, it is not “Jabber”though of course like everything else it may become, and indeed has become, the subject of ignorance and superstitious use. A telegram written in code in a merchant’s office will seem the merest gibberish to those who do not know that code. Those who do may spell thereout a transaction bringing lakhs of “real” Rupees for those who have sent it. Mantravidyā whether it be true or not, is a profoundly conceived science, and, as interpreted by the Śākta Āgama, is a practical application of Vedāntic doctrine.

The textual source of Mantras is to be found in the Vedas (see in particular the Mantra portion of the Artharvaveda so associated with the Tantra Śāstra), the Purāṇas and Tantras. The latter scripture is essentially the MantraŚāstra. In fact it is so called generally by Sādhakas and not Tantra Śāstra. And so it is said of all the Śāstras, symbolized as a body, that Tantra Śāstra which consists of Mantra is the Paramātmā, the Vedas are the Jīvātmā, Darśana or systems of philosophy are the senses, Purāṇas are the body and the Smṛtis are the limbs. Tantra Śāstra is thus the Śakti of Consciousness consisting of Mantra. For, as the Viśvasāra Tantra (Ch. 2) says, the Parabrahman in Its form as the Sound Brahman (Śabda-Brahman or Saguṇa-Brahman), whose substance is all Mantra, exists in the body of the Jīvātma. Kuṇḍalinī Śakti is a form of the Śabda-Brahman in individual bodies (Śāradā-Tilaka, Ch. 1). It is from this Śabda-Brahman that the whole universe proceeds in the form of sound (Śabda) and the objects (Artha) which sound or words denote. And this is the meaning of the statement that the Devī and the Universe are composed of letters, that is, the signs for the sounds which denote all that is. At any point in the flow of phenomena, we can enter the stream, and realize therein the changeless Real. The latter is everywhere and in all things, and is hidden in, and manifested by, sound as by all else. Any form (and all which is not the Formless is that) can be pierced by the mind, and union may be had therein with the Devatā who is at its core. It matters not what that form may be. And why? What I have said concerning Śakti gives the answer. All is Śakti. All is Consciousness. We desire to think and apeak. This is Icchā Śakti. We make an effort towards realization. This is Kriyā Śakti. We think and know. This is Jñāna Śakti. Through Prāṇavāyu, another form of Śakti, we speak; and the word we utter is Śakti Mantramayī. For what is a letter (Varṇa) which is made into syllable (Pada) and sentenoes (Vākya)? It may be heard in speech, thus affecting the sense of hearing. It may be seen as a form in writing. It may be tactually sensed by the blind through the perforated dots of Braille type. The same thing thus affecting the various senses. But what is the thing which does so? The senses are Śakti, and so is the objective form which evokes the sensation. Both are in themselves Śakti as Cit, Śakti and Māyā Śakti, and the Svarūpa of these is Cit, or Feeling-Consciousness. When, therefore, a Mantra is realized; when there is what is called in the Śāstra MantraCaitanya, what happens is the union of the consciousness of the Sādhaka with that Consciousness which manifests in the form of the Mantra. It is this union which makes the Mantra “work.”

The subject is of such importance in the Tantras that their other name is Mantra Śāstra. But what is a Mantra? Commonly Orientalists and others describe Mantra as “Prayer,” “Formulæ of worship,” “Mystic syllables” and so forth. These are but the superficialities of those who do not know their subject. Wherever we find the word “Mystic,” we may be on our guard: for it is a word which covers much ignorance. Thus Mantra is said to be a “mystic” word; Yantra a “mystic” diagram, and Mudrā a “mystic” gesture. But have these definitions taught anything? No, nothing. Those who framed these definitions knew nothing of their subject. And yet, whilst I am aware of no work in any European language which shows a knowledge of what mantra is or of its science (Mantravidya), there is nevertheless perhaps no subject which has been so ridiculed; a not unusual attitide of ignorance. There is a widely diffused lower mind which says, “what I do not understand is absurd.” But this science, whether well-founded or not, is not that. Those who so think might expect Mantras which are prayers and the meaning of which they understand; for with prayer the whole world is familiar. But such appreciation itself displays a lack of understanding. For there is nothing necessarily holy or prayerful alone in Mantras as some think. Some combinations of letters constitute prayers and are called Mantras, as for instance the most celebrated Gāyātrī Mantra.

A Mantra is not the same thing as prayer or selfdedication (Ātmā-nivedana). Prayer is conveyed in the words the Sādhaka chooses. Any set of words or letters is not a Mantra. Only that Mantra in which the Devatā has revealed His or Her particular aspects can reveal that aspect, and is therefore the Mantra of that one of His or Her particular aspects. The relations of the letters (Varṇa), whether vowel or consonant, Nāda and Bindu, in a Mantra indicate the appearance of Devatāin different forms. Certain Vibhūti or aspects of the Devatā are inherent in certain Varṇa, but perfect Śakti does not appear in any but a whole Mantra. All letters are foms of the Śabda-Brahman, but only particular combinations of letters are a particular form, just as the name of a particular being is made up of certain letters and not of any indiscriminately. The whole ubiverse is Śakti and is pervaded by Śakti. Nāda, Bindu, Varṇa are all forms of Śakti and combinations of these, and these combinations only are the Śabda oorresponding to the Artha or forms of any particular Devatā. The gross lettered sound is, as explained later, the manifestation of sound in a more subtle form, and this again is the production of causal “sound” in its supreme (Para) form. Mantras are manifestations of Kulakuṇḍalinī (see Chapter on the same) which is a name for the Śabda-Brahman or Saguṇa-Brahman in individual bodies, Produced Śabda is an aspect of the Jīva’s vital Śakti. Kuṇḍalīis the Shakti who gives life to the Jīva. She it is who in the Mūlādhāra Cakra (or basal bodily centre) is the cause of the sweet, indistinct and murmuring Dhvani which is compared to the humming of a black bee. Thence Śabda originates and, being first Parā, gradually manifeats upwards as Pashyantī, Madhyamā, Vaikharī (see post). Jut as in outer space, waves of sound are produced by movements of air (Vāyu), so in the space within the Jīva’s body, waves of sound are mid to be produced according to the movements of the vital air (Prāṇa-vāyu) and the process of in and out breathing. As the Svarūpa of Kuṇḍalī, in whom are all sounds, is Paramātmā, so the substance of all Mantra, Her manifestation, is Consciousness (Cit) manifesting as Ietters and words. In fact the letters of the Alphabet which are called Akṣara are nothing but the Yantra of the Akṣara or Imperishable Brahman. This is however only realized by the Sādhaka, when his Śakti generated by Sādhanā is united with Mantra-Śakti. Kuṇḍalinī, who is extremely subtle, manifests in gross (Sthūla) form in differing aspects as different Devaths. It is this gross form which is the Presiding Deity (AdīṣṭhātrīDevatā) of a Mantra, though it is the subtle (Sūkṣma) form at which all Sādhakas aim. Mantra and Devatā are thus one and particular forms of Brahman as Śiva-Śakti. Therefore the Śāstra says that they go to Hell who think that the Image (or “Idol” as it is oommonly called) is but a stone and the Mantra merely letters of the alphabet. It is therefore also ignorance of Śāstric principle which supposes that Mantra is merely the name for the words in which one expresses what one has to say to the Divinity. If it were, the Sādhaka might choose his own language without recourse to the eternal and determined sounds of Śāstra. (See generally as to the above the Chapter on Mantra-tattva in second volume of “Principles of Tantra,” Ed. A. Avalon.) The particular Mantra of a Devatāis that Devatā. A Mantra, on the contrary, consists of certain letters arranged in definite sequence of sounds of which the letters are the representative signs. To produce the designed effect, the Mantra must be intoned in the proper way, according to both sound (Varṇa) and rhythm (Svara). For these reasons, a Mantra when translated ceases to be such, and becomes a mere word or sentence.

By Mantra, the sought-for (Sādhya) Devatb appears, and by Siddhi therein is had vision of the three worlds. As the Mantra is in fact Devatā, by practice thereof this is known. Not merely do the rhythmical vibrations of its sounds regulate the unsteady vibrations of the sheaths of the worshipper, but therefrom the image of the Devatā, appears.

As the Bṛhad-Gandharva Tantra says (Ch. V):—

Śrinu devi pravakṣyāmi bījānām deva-rūpatām
Mantroccāranamātrena deva-rūpam prajāyate

Mantrasiddhi is the ability to make a Mantra efficacious and to gather its fruit in which case the Sādhaka is Mantrasiddha. As the Prāṇatoṣiṇī (619) says, “Whatever the Sādhaka desires that he surely obtains.” Whilst therefore prayer may end in merely physical sound, Mantra is ever, when rightly said, a potent compelling force, a word of power effective both to produce material gain and accomplish worldly desires, as also to promote the fourth aim of sentient being (Caturvarga), Advaitic knowledge, and liberation. And thus it is said that Siddhi (success) is the certain result of Japa or recitation of Mantra.

Some Mantras constitute also what the European would call “prayers,” as for instance the celebrated Gāyatrī. But neither this nor any other Mantra is simply a prayer. The Gāyatrī runs Oṃ (The thought is directed to the three-fold Energy of the One as represented by the three letters of which Oṃ is composed, namely, A or Brahmā, the Śakti which creates; U or Viṣṇu, the Śakti which maintains; and M or Rudra, the Śakti which “destroys,” that is, withdraws the world): Nāda and Bindu, Earth, Middle region, Heaven (of which as the transmigrating worlds of Saṃsāra, God, as Om, as also in the form of the Sun, is the Creator). Let us contemplate upon the Adorable Spirit of the Divine Creator who is in the form of the Sun (Āditya-Devatā). May He direct our minds, towards attainment of the four-fold aims (Dharma, Artha, Kāma, Mokṣa) of all being. Oṃ. This great Mantra bears a mecaning on its face, though the Commentaries explain and amplify it. The Self of all which exists in the three regions appears in the form of the Sun-god with His body of fire. The Brahman is the cause of all, and as the visible Devatā is the Eye of the World and the Maker of the day who vivifies, ripens and reveals all beings and things. The Sun-god is to the sun what the Spirit (Ātmā) is to the body. He is the Supreme in the form of the great Luminary. His body is the Light of the world, and He Himself is the Light of the lives of all beings. He is everywhere. He is in the outer ether as the sun, and in the inner ethereal region of the heart. He is the Wondrous Light which is the smokeless Fire. He it is who is in constant play with creation (Sṛṣṭi), maintenance (Sthiti) and “destruction” (Pralaya); and by His radiance pleases both eye and mind. Let us adore Him that we may escape the misery of birth and death. May He ever direct our minds (Buddhivṛtti) upon the path of the world (Trivarga) and liberation (Mokṣa). Only the twice-born castes and men may utter this Gāyatrī. To the Śūdra, whether man or woman, and to women of all castes, it is forbidden. But the Tantra Shbtra has not the exclusiveness of the Vaidik system. Thus the Mahānirvāṇa provides (IV. 109-111) a Brahmagāyatri for all: “May we know the Supreme Lord. Let us contemplate the Supreme Essence. And may the Brahman direct us.” All will readily understand such Mantras as the Gāyātrī, though some comment, which is thought amusing, has been made on the “meaningless” Oṃ. I have already stated what it means, namely, (shortly speaking) the Energy (Nāda) in Sadākhya Tattva which, springing from Śiva-Śakti Tattva, “solidifies” itself (Ghanībhūta) as the creative Power of the Lord (Bindu or Īśvara Tattva) manifesting in the Trinity or Creative Energies. (For further details see my “Garland of Letters.”) “Oṃ” then stands for the most general aspect of That as the Source of all. As it is recited, the idea arises in the mind corresponding with the sound which has been said to be the expression on the gross plane of that subtle “sound” which accompanied the first creative vibration. When rightly uttered this great syllable has an awe-inspiring effect. As I heard this Mantra chanted by some hundred Buddhist monks (one after the other) in a northern monastery it seemed to be the distant murmuring roll of some vast cosmic ocean. “Oṃ” is the most prominent example of a “meaningless” Mantra, that is, one which does not bear its meaning on its face, and of what is called a seed or Bīja Mantra, because they are the very quintessence of Nantra, and the seed (Bīja) of the fruit which is Siddhi (spiritual achievement). These are properly monosyllabic. Oṃ is a Vaidik Bīja, but it is the source of all the other Tāntrik Bījas which represent particular Devatā aspects of that which is presented as a whole in Oṃ. As a Mantra-Śāstra, the Tantras have greatly elaborated the Bījas, and thus incurred the charge of “gibberish,” for such the Bījas sound to those who do not know what they mean. Though a Mantra such as a Bīja-mantra may not convey its meaning on its face, the initiate knows that its meaning is the own form (Svarūpa) of the particular Devatā whose Mantra it is, and that the essence of the Bīja is that which makes letters sound, and exists in all which we say or hear. Every Mantra is thus a particular sound form (Rūpa) of the Brahman. There are a very large number of these short unetymological vocables or Bījas such as Hrīṃ, Śrīṃ, Krīṃ, Hūṃ, Huṃ, Phat called by various names. Thus the first is called the Māyā Bīja, the second Lakṣmī Bīja, the third Kālī Bījā, the fourth Kūrca Bīja, the fifth Varma Bīja, the sixth Astra Bīja. Raṃ is Agni Bīja, Eṃ is Yoni Bīja, Klīṃ is Kāma Bīja, Ṣrīṃ is Badhū Bīja, Aiṃ Sarasvatī Bīja and so forth. Each Devatā has His or Her Bīja. Thus Hrīṃ is the Māyā Bīja, Krīṃ the Kālī Bīja. The Bīja is used in the worship of the Devatā whose Mantra it is. All these Bījas mentioned are in common use. There are a large number of others, some of which are formed with the first letters of the name of the Devatā for whom they stand, such as for Gaṃ (Ganeśa), Dūṃ for Durgā.

Let us then shortly see by examples what the meaning of such a Bīja is. (For a fuller acoount see my “'Garland of Letters.”) In the first place, the reader will observe the common ending “ṃ” which represents the Sanskrit breathings known as Nāda and Bindu or Candra-bindu. These have the aame meaning in all. They are the Śaktis of that name appearing in the table of the 36 Tattvas given ante. They are states of Divine Power immediately preceding the manifestation of the objective universe. The other letters denote subsequent developments of Śakti, and various aspects of the manifested Devatā mentioned below. There are sometimes variant interpretations given. Take the great Bhubaneśvari or Māyā Bīja, Hrīṃ. I have given one interpretation in my Studies above cited. From the Tāntrik compendium the Prāṇatoṣiṇi quoting the Baraḍā Tantra we get the following: Hrīṃ = H + R + I + M. H = Śiva, R = Śakti Prakṛti. Ī= Mahāmāyā. “M” is as above explained, but is here stated in the form that Nāda is the Progenitrix of the Universe, and Bindu which is Brahman as Īśvara and Īśvarī (Īśvaratattva) is described for the Sādhaka as the “Dispeller of Sorrow.” The meaning therefore of this Bīja Mantra which is used in the worship of Mahāmāyāor Bhubaneśvarī is, thet that Devī in Her Turīya or transcendent state is Nāda and Bindu, and is the causal body manifesting as Śiva-Śakti in the form of the manifested universe. The same idea is expressed in varying form but with the same substance by the Devīgītā(Ch. IV) which says that H = gross body, R = subtle body, I = causal body and M = the Turīya or transcendent fourth state. In other words, the Sādhaka worshipping the Devī with Hriṃ, by that Bīja calls to mind the transcendent Śakti who is the causal body of the subtle and gross bodies of all existing things. Śrīṃ (see Baradā Tantra) is used in the worship of Lakṣmi Devī. Ś = Mahalakṣmī, R = Wealth (Dhanārtham) which as well as Ī = (satisfaction or Tuṣṭyartham) She gives. Krīṃ is used in the worship of Kālī. Ka = Kālī(Śakti worshipped for relief from the world and its sorrows). R = Brahma (Śiva with whom She is ever associated). I = Mahāmāyā (Her aspect in which She overcomes for the Sādhaka the Māyā in which as Creatrix She has involved him). “Aiṃ” is used in the worship of Sarasvatī and is Vāghhava Bīja. Dūṃ is used in the worship of Durgā. D = Durgā. U = protection. Nāda = Her aspect as Mother of the Universe, and Bindu is its Lord. The Sādhaka asks Durga as Mother-Lord to protect. him, and looks on Her in Her protecting aspect as upholder of the universe (Jagaddhātri). In “Strīm,” S = saving from difficulty. T = deliverer. R = (here) liberation (Muktyartho repha ukto’tra). I=Mahāmāyā. Bindu = Dispeller of grief. Nāda = Mother of the Universe. She as the Lord is the dispeller of Māyā and the sorrows it produces, the Saviour and deliverer from all difficulties by grant of liberation. I have dealt elsewhere (“Serpent Power”) with Huṃ and Hūṃ the former of which is called Varma (armour) Bīja and the latter Kūrca, H denoting Śiva in “ū,” His Bhairava or formidable aspect (aee generally Vol. I, Tāntrik Texts. Tantrābhidhāna). He is an armour to the Sādhaka by His destruction of evil. Phat is the weapon or guarding Mantra used with Hūm, just as Svāhā (the Śakti of Fire), is used with Vaśat, in making offerings. The primary Mantra of a Devatā is called Mūla-mantra. Mantras are solar (Saura) and masculine, and lunar (Saumya) and feminine, as also neuter. If it be asked why things of mind are given sex, the answer is for the sake of the requirements of the worshipper. The masculine and neuter forms are called specifically Mantra and the feminine Vidyā, though the first term may be used for both. Neuter Mantras end with Namaḥ. Huṃ, Phat are masculine terminations, and “Thaṃ” or Svāhā, feminine (see Śāradsātilaka II. Nāradapañcartra VII, Prayogasāra, Prāṇatoṣiṇi 70).

The Nityā Tantra gives various names to Mantra according to the number of the syllables such as Pinda, Kartarī, Bīja, Mantra, Mālā. Commonly however the term Bīja is applied to monosyllabic Mantras.

The word “Mantra” comes from the root “man”to think. “Man” is the first syllable of manana or thinking. It is also the root of the word “Man” who alone of all creation is properly a Thinker. “Tra” comes from the root “trā,” for the effect of a Mantra when used with that end, is to save him who utters and realizes it. Tra is the first syllable of Trāna or liberation from the Saṃsāra. By combination of man and tra, that is called Mantra which, from the religious stand-point, calls forth (Āmantrana) the four aims (Caturvarga) of sentient being as happiness in the world and eternal bliss in Liberation. Mantra is thus Thought-movement vehicled by, and expressed in, speech. Its Svarūpa is, like all else, consciousness (Cit) which is the Śabda-Brahman. A Mantra is not merely sound or letters. This is a form in which Śakti manifests Herself. The mere utterance of a Mantra without knowing its meaning, without realization of the consciousness which Mantra manifests is a mere movement of the lips and nothing else. We are then in the outer husk of consciousness; just as we are when we identify ourselves with any other form of gross matter which is, as it were, the “crust” (as a friend of mine has aptly called it) of those subtler forces which emerge from the Yoni or Cause of all, who is, in Herself Consciousness (Cidrūpinī). When the Sādhaka knows the meaning of the Mantra he makes an advance. But this is not enough. He must, through his consciousness, realize that Consciousness which appears in the form of the Mantra, and thus attain Mantra-Caitanya. At this point, thought is vitalized by contact with the centre of all thinking. At this point again thought becomes truly vital and creative. Then an effect is created by the realization thus induced.

The creative power of thought is now receiving increasing acceptance in the West, which is in some cases taking over, and in others, discovering anew, for itself, what was thought by the ancients in India. Because they have discovered it anew they call it “New Thought”; but its fundamental principle is as old as the Upaniṣads which said, “what you think that you become.” All recognize this principle in the limited form that a man who thinks good becomes good, and he who is ever harbouring bad thoughts becomes bad. But the Indian and “New Thought” doctrine is more profound than this. In Vedāntic India, thought has been ever held creative. The world is a creation of the thought (Cit Śakti associated with Māyā Śakti) of the Lord (Īśvara and Īśvarī). Her and His thought is the aggregate, with almighty powers of all thought. But each man is Śiva and can attain His powers to the degree of his ability to consciously realize himself as such. Thought now works in man’s small magic just as it first worked in the grand magical display of the World-Creator. Each man is in various degrees a creator. Thought is as real as any form of gross matter. Indeed it is more real in the sense that the world is itself a projection of the World-thought, which again is nothing but the aggregate in the form of the Saṃskāras or impressions of past experience, which give rise to the world. The universe exists for each Jīva because he consciously or unconsciously wills it. It exists for the totality of beings because of the totality of Saṃskāras which are held in the Great Womb of the manifesting Cit Itself. There is theoretically nothing that man cannot accomplish, for he is at base the Accomplisher of all. But, in practice, he can only accomplish to the degree that he identifies himself with the Supreme Consciousness and Its forces, which underlie, are at work in, and manifest as, the universe. This is the basal doctrhe of all magic, of all powers (Siddhi) including the greatest Siddhi which is Liberation itself. He who knows Brahman, becomes Brahman to the extent of his “knowing.” Thought-reading, thought-transference, hypnotic suggestion, magical projections (Mokṣana) and shields (Grahana) are becoming known and practised in the West, not always with good results. For this reason some doctrines and practices are kept concealed. Projection (Mokṣana) the occultist will understand. But Grahana, I may here explain, is not so much a “fence” in the Western sense, to which use a Kavaca is put, but the knowledge of how to “catch” a Mantra thus projected. A stone thrown at one may be warded off or caught and, if the person so wishes, thrown back at him who threw it. So may a Mantra. It is not necessary, however, to do so. Those who are sheltered by their own pure strength, automatically throw back all evil influences which, coming back to the ill-wisher, harm or destroy him. Those familiar with the Western presentment of similar matters will more readily understand than others who, like the Orientalist and Missionary, as a rule know nothing of occultism and regard it as superstition. For this reason their presentment of Indian teaching is so often ignorant and absurd. The occultist, however, will understand the Indian doctrine which regards thought like mind, of which it is the operation, as a Power or Śakti; something therefore, very real and creative by which man can accomplish things for himself and others. Kind thoughts, without a word, will do good to all who surround us, and may travel round the world to distant friends. So we may suffer from the illwishes of those who surround us, even if such wishes do not materialize into deeds. Telepathy is the transference of thought from a distance without the use of the ordinary sense organs. So, in initiation, the thought of a true Guru may pass to his disciple all his powers. Mantra is thus a Śakti (Mantra Śakti) which lends itself inipartinlly to any use. Man can identify himself with any of nature’s forces and for any end. Thus, to deal with the physical effects of Mantra, it may be used to injure, kill or do good; by Mantra again a kind of union with the physical Śakti is, by some, said to be effected. So the Viṣṇu-Purāṇa speaks of generation by will power, as some Westerners believe will be the case when man passes beyond the domination of his gross sheath and its physical instruments. Children will then again be “mind-born.” By Mantra, the Homa fire may, it is said, be lit. By Mantra, again, in the Tāntrik initiation called Vedha-dikṣā there is, it is said, such a transference of power from the Guru to his disciple that the latter swoons under the impulse of the thought-power which pierces him. But Mantra is also that by which man identifies himself with That which is the Ground of all. In short, Mantra is a power (Śakti) in the form of idea clothed with sound. What, however, is not yet understood in the West is the particular Thought-science which is Mantravidy, or its basis. Much of the “New Thought” lacks this philosophical basis which is supplied by Mantravidyā, resting itself on the Vedāntik doctrine. Mantravidyā is thus that form of Sādhanā by which union is had with the Mother Śakti in the Mantra form (Mantramayī), in Her Sthūla and Sukṣma aspects respectively. The Sādhaka passes from the first to the second. This Sādhanā works through the letters, as other forms of Sādhanāwork through form in the shape of the Yantra, Ghata or Pratimā. All such Sādhanā belongs to Śāktopāya Yoga as distinguished from the introspective meditative processes of Śāmbhavopāya which seeks more directly the realization of Śakti, which is the end common to both. The Tāntrik doctrine as regards Śabda, is that of the Mīmāṃsa with this exception that it is modified to meet its main doctrine of Śakti.

In order to understand what a Mantra is, we must know itm cosmic history. The mouth speaks a word. What is it and whence has it come? As regards the evolution of consciousness as the world, I refer my reader to the Chapters on ‘Cit-Śakti’ and ‘Māyā-Śakti’ dealing with the 36 Tattvas. Ultimately, there is Consciousness which in its aspect as the great “I” sees the object as part of itself, and then as other than itself, and thus has experience of the universe. This is achieved through Śakti who, in the words of the Kāmakalāvil sa, is the pure mirror in which Śiva experiences Himself (Śivarūpa-vimarśa-nirmalādarśah). Neither Śiva nor Śakti alone suffices for creation. Śivarūpa here = Svarūpa. Ahaṃ ityevamākāram, that is, the form (or experience) which consists in the notion of “I.” Śakti is the pure mirror for the manifestation of Śiva’s experience as “I” (Ahaṃ). Ahaṃ ityevam rūpam jñānam tasya prakāśane nirmalādarśah: as the commentator Natanānanda (V-2) says. The notion is, of course, similar to that of the reflection of Puruṣa on Prakṛti as Sattva-mayī Buddhi and of Brahman on Māyā. From the Mantra aspect starting from Śakti (Śakti-Tattva) associated with Śiva (Śivah-Tattva), there was produced Nāda, and from Nāda, came Bindu which, to distinguish it from other Bindus, is known as the causal, supreme or Great Bindu (Kārana, Para, Mahābindu). This is very clearly set forth in the Śāradā Tilaka, a Tāntrik work by an author of the Kashmirian School which was formerly of great authority among the Bengal Śāktas. I have dealt with this subject in detail in my “Garland of Letters.” Here I only summarize conclusions.

Śabda literally means and is uuually translated “sound,” the word coming from the root Śabd “to sound.” It must not, however, be wholly identified with sound in the sense of that which is heard by the ear, or sound as effect of cosmic stress. Sound in this sense is the effect produced through excitation of the ear and brain, by vibrations of the atmosphere between certain limits. Sound so understood exists only with the sense organs of hearing. And even then it may be perceived by some and not by others, due to keenness or otherwise of natural hearing. Further the best ears will miss what the microphone gives. Considering Śabda from its primary or causal aspect, independent of the effect which it may or may not produce on the sense organs, it is vibration (Spandana) of any kind or motion, which is not merely physical motion, which may become sound for human ears, given the existence of ear and brain and the fulfilment of other physical conditions. Thus, Śabda is the possibility of sound, and may not be actual sound for this individual or that. There is thus Śabda wherever there is motion or vibration of any kind. It is now said that the electrons revolve in a sphere of positive electrification at an enormous rate of motion. If the arrangement be stable, we have an atom of matter. If some of the electrons are pitched off from the atomic system, what is called radio-activity is observed. Both these rotating and shooting electrons are forms of vibration as Śabda, though it is no sound for mortal ears. To a Divine Ear all such movementis would constitute the “music of the spheres.” Were the human ear subtle enough, a living tree would present itself to it in the form of a particular sound which is the natural word for that tree. It is said of ether (Ākāśa) that its Guṇa or quality is sound (Śabda); that is, ether is the possibility of Spandana or vibration of any kind. It is that state of the primordial “material” substance (Prakṛti) which makes motion or vibration of any kind possible (Śabdaguṇa Ākāśah). The Brahman Svarūpa or Cit is motionless. It is also known as Cidākāśa. But this Ākāśa is not created. Cidākāśa is the Brahman in which stress of any kind manifests itself, a condition from which the whole creation proceeds. This Cidākāśa is known as the Śabda-Brahman through its Māyāśakti, which is the cause of all vibrations manifesting themselves as sound to the ear, as touch to the tactile sense, as colour and form to the eye, as taste to the tongue and as odour to the nose. All mental functioning again is a form of vibration (Spandana). Thought is a vibration of mental substance just as the expression of thought in the form of the spoken word is a vibration affecting the ear. All Spandana presupposes heterogeneity (Vaiśamya). Movement of any kind implies inequality of tensions. Electric current flows between two points because there is a difference of potential between them. Fluid flows from one point to another because there is difference of pressure. Heat travels because there is difference of temperature. In creation (Sṛṣṭi) this condition of heterogeneity appears and renders motion possible. Ākāśa is the possibility of Spandana of any kind. Hence its precedence in the order of creation. Ākāśa means Brahman with Māyā, which Māyāśakti or (to use the words of Professor P. N. Mukhyopādhyāya) Stress is rendered actual from a previous state of possibility of stress which is the Śakti’s natural condition of equilibrium (Prakṛti = Sāmyāvasthā). In dissolution, the Māyā-śakti of Brahman (according to the periodic law which is a fundamental postulate of Indian cosmogony) returns to homogeneity when in consequence Ākāśa disappears. This disappearance means that Śakti is equilibrated, and that therefore there is no further possibility of motion of any kind. As the Tantras say, the Divine Mother becomes one with Paramaśiva.

The Śāradā says—From the Sakala Parameśvara who is Saccidānanda issued Śakti; from Śakti came Nāda; and from Nāda issued Bindu.

Saccidānandavibhavāt sakalāt parameśvarāt
Āsīcchaktistato nādo nādād bindusamudbhavah.

Here the Sakala Parameśvara is Śiva Tattva. Śakti is Śakti Tattva wherein are Samanī, Vyāpinī, and Anjanī Śaktis. Nāda is the first produced source of Mantra, and the subtlest form of Śabda of which Mantra is a manifestation. Nāda is threefold, as Mahānāda or Nādānta and Nirodhinīrepresenting the first moving forth of the Śabda-Brahman as Nāda, the filling up of the whole universe with Nādānta and the specific tendency towards the next state of unmanifested Śabda respectively. Nāda in its three forms is in the Sadākhya Tattva. Nāda becoming slightly operative towards the “speakable” (Vācya), [the former operation being in regard to the thinkable (Mantavya)] is called Arddhacandra which develops into Bindu. Both of them are in Īśvara Tattva. This Mahābindu is threefold as the Kāmakalā. The undifferentiated Śabda-Brahman or Brahman as the immediate cause of the manifested Śabda and Artha is an unity of consciousness (Caitanyra) which then expresses itself in three-fold function as the three Śaktis, Icchā, Jñāna, Kriyā; the three Guṇas, Sattva, Rajas, Tamas; the three Bindus (Kārya) which are Sun, Moon and Fire; the three Devatās, Rudra, Viṣṇu, Brahmā and so forth. These are the product of the union of Prakāśa and Vimarśa Śakti. This Triangle of Divine Desire is the Kāmakalā, or Creative Will and its first subtle manifestation, the cause of the universe which is personified as the Great Devī Tripurasundarī, the Kāmeśvara and Kāmeśvarī, the object of worship in the Āgamas. Kāmakalāvilāsa, as explained in the work of that name, is the manifestation of the union of Śiva and Śakti, the great “I” (Ahaṃ) which develops through the inherent power of its thought-activity (Vimarśa-Śakti) into the universe, unknowing as Jīva its true nature and the secret of its growth through Avidyā Śakti. Here then there appears the duality of subject and object; of mind and matter, of the word (Śabda) and its meaning (Artha). The one is not the cause of the other, but each is inseparable from, and concomitant with, the other as a bifurcation of the undifferentiated unity of Śabda-Brahman whence they proceed. The one cosmic movement produces at the same time the mind and the object which it cognizes; names (Nāma) and language (Śabda) on the one hand; and forms (Rūpa) or ohject (Artha) on the other. These are all parts of one co-ordinated contemporaneous movement, and, therefore, each aspect of the process is related the one to the other. The genesis of Śabda is only one adpect of the creative process, namely, that in which the Brahman is regarded as the Author of Śabda and Artha into which the undifferentiated Śabda-Brahman divides Itself. Śakti is Śabda-Brahman ready to create both Śabda and Artha on the differentiation of the Parabindu into the Kāmakalā, which is the root (Mūla) of all Mantras. Śabda-Brahman is Supreme “Speech” (Parā-Vāk) or Supreme Śabda (Para-Śabda). From this fourth state of Śabda, there are three others—Paśyantī, Madhyamā and Vaikharī, which are the Śabda aspect of the stages whereby the seed of formless consciousness explicates into the multitudinous concrete ideas (expressed in language of the mental world) the counterpart of the objective universe. But for the last three states of sound the body is required and, therefore, they only exist in the Jīva. In the latter, the Śabda-Brahman is in the form of Kuṇḍalinī Śakti in the Mūlādhāra Cakra. In Kuṇḍalinīis Paraśabda. This develops into the “Mātṛkās” or “Little Mothers” which are the subtle forms of the gross manifested letters (Varṇa). The letters make up syllables (Pada) and syllables make sentences (Vākya), of which elements the Mantra is composed. Para Śabda in the body develops in PaśyantīŚabda or Śakti of general movement (Sāmānya Spanda) located in the tract from the Mūlādhāra to the Maṇipura associated with Manas. It then in the tract upwards to the Anāhata becomes Madhyamāor Hiranyagarbha sound with particularized movement (Viśeṣa Spanda) associated with Buddhi-Tattva. Vāyu proceeding upwards to the throat expresses itself in spoken speech which is Vaikharī or Virāt Śabda. Now it is that the Mantra issues from the mouth and is heard by the ear. Because the one conmic movement produces the ideating mind and its accompanying Śabda and the objects cognized or Artha, the creative force of the universe is identified with the Mātṛkās and Varṇas, and Devī is said to be in the forms of the letters from A to Ha, which are the gross expressions of the forces called Mātṛkā; which again are not different from, but are the same forces that evolve into the universe of mind and matter. These Varṇas are, for the same reason, associated with certain vital and physiological centres which are produced by the same power that gives birth to the letters. It is by virtue of these centres and their controlled area in the body that all the phenomena of human psychosis run on, and keep man in bondage. The creative force is the union of Śiva and Śakti, and each of the letters (Varṇa) produced therefrom and thereby are part and parcel of that Force, and are, therefore, Śiva and Śakti in those particular forms. For this reason, the Tantra Śāstra says that Devatā and Mantra composed of letters, are one. In short, Mantras are made of letters (Varṇa). Letters are Mātṛkā. Mātṛkā is Śakti and Śakti is Śiva. Through Śakti (one with Śiva) Nāda-Śakti, Bindu-Śakti, the ŚabdaBrahman or Para Śabda, arise the Mātṛkā, Varṇa, Pada, Vākya of the lettered Mantra or manifested Śabda.

But what is Śabda or “Sound”? Here the Śākta Tantra Śāstra follows the Mīmāṃsādoctrine of Śabda, with such modifications as are necessary to adapt it to its doctrine of Śakti. Sound (Śabda) which is quality (Guṇa) of ether (Ākāśa) and is sensed by hearing is twofold, namely, lettered (Varṇātmaka Śabda) and unlettered or Dhvani (Dhvanyātmaka Śabda). The latter is caused by the striking of two things together, and is apparently meaningless. Śabda, on the contrary, which is Anāhata (a term applied to the Heart-lotus) is that Brahman sound which is not caused by the striking of two things together. Lettered sound is composed of sentences (Vākya), words (Pada) and letters (Varṇa). Such sound has a meaning. Śabda manifesting as speech is said to be eternal. This the Naiyāyikas deny saying that it is transitory. A word is uttered and it is gone. This opinion the Mīmāṃsā denies saying that the perception of lettered sound must be distinguished from lettered sound itself. Perception is due to Dhvani caused by the striking of the air in contact with the vocal organs, namely, the throat, palate and tongue and so forth. Before there is Dhvani there must be the striking of one thing against another. It is not the mere striking which is the lettered Śabda. This manifests it. The lettered sound is produced by the formation of the vocal organs in contact with air; which formation is in response to the mental movement or idea which by the will thus seeks outward expression in audible sound. It is this perception which is transitory, for the Dhvani which manifests ideas in language is such. But lettered sound as it is in itself, that is, as the Consciousness manifesting Idea expressed in speech is eternal. It was not produced at the moment it was perceived. It was only manifested by the Dhvani. It existed before, as it exists after, such manifestation, just as a jar in a dark room which is revealed by a flash of lightning is not then produced, nor does it cease to exist on its ceasing to be perceived through the disappearance of its manifester, the lightning. The air in contact with the voice organs reveals sound in the form of the letters of the alphabet, and their combinations in words and sentences. The letters are produced for hearing by the person desiring to speak, and become audible to the ear of others through the operation of unlettered sound or Dhvani. The latter being a manifester only, lettered Śabda is something other than its manifester.

Before describing the nature of Śabda in its different form of development, it is necessary to understand the Indian psychology of perception. At each moment, the Jīva is subject to innumerable influences which from all quarters of the Universe pour upon him. Only those reach his Consciousness which attract his attention and are thus selected by his Manas. The latter attends to one or other of these sense-impressions and conveys it to the Buddhi, When an object (Artha) is presented to the mind, and perceived, the latter is formed into the shape of the object perceived. This is called a mental Vṛtti (modification) which it is the object of Yoga to suppress. The mind as a Vṛtti is thus a representation of the outer subject. But, in so far as it is such representation, the mind is as much an object as the outer one. The latter, that is, the physical object, is called the gross object (Sthūla artha), and the former or mental impression is called the subtle object (Sūkṣma artha). But, besides the object, there is the mind which perceives it. It follows that the mind has two aspects, in one of which it is the perceiver, and in the other the perceived in the form of the mental formation (V ṛtti), which in creation precedes its outer projection, and after the creation follows as the impression produced in the mind by the sensing of a gross physical object. The mental impression and the physical object exactly correspond, for the physical object is in fact but a projection of the cosmic imagination, though it has the same reality as the mind has; no more and no less. The mind is then both cognizer (Grāhaka) and cognized (Grāhya), revealer (Prakāśaka) and revealed (Prakbhya), denoter (Vācaka) and denoted (Vācya). When the mind perceives an object, it is transformed into the shape of that object. So the mind which thinks of the Divinity which it worships (Iṣṭadevatā) is, at, length, through continued devotion, transformed into the likeness of that Devatā. By allowing the Devatā thus to occupy the mind for long, it becomes as pure as the Devatā. This is a fundamenbal principle of Tāntrik Sādhanā or religious practice. The object perceived is called Artha, a term which comes from the root “Ri,” which means to get, to know, to enjoy. Artha is that which is known and which, therefore, is an object of enjoyment. The mind as Artha, that is in the form of the mental impression, is an exact reflection of the outer object or gross Artha. As the outer object is Artha, so is the interior subtle mental form which corresponds to it. That aspect of the mind which cognizes is called Śabda or Nāma (name), and that aspect in which it is its own object or cognized is called Artha or Rūpa (form). The outer physical object, of which the latter is in the individual an impression, is also Artha or Rūpa, and spoken speech is the outer Śabda. The mind is thus, from the Mantra aspect, Śabda and Artha, tern corresponding to the Vedāntic Nāma and Rūpa or concepts and concepts objectified. The Māyāvāda Vedānta says that the whole creation is Nāma and Rūpa. Mind as Śabda is the Power (Śakti) the function of which is to distinguish and identify (Bhedasamsarga vṛtti-Śakti).

Just as the body is causal, subtle and gross, so is Śabda, of which there are four states (Bhāva) called ParāPaśyantī, Madhyamā and Vaikharī. Parā sound is that which exists on the differentiation of the Mahābindu before actual manifestation. This is motionless, causal Śabda in Kundalinī, in the Mūlādhāra centre of the body. That aspect of it in which it commences to move with a general, that is, nonparticularized, motion (Sāmānya Spanda) is Paśyantī whose place is from the Mūlādhāra to the Maṇipūra Cakra, the next centre. It is here associated with Manas. These represent the motionless and first moving Īśvara aspect of Śabda. MadhyamāŚabda is associated with Buddhi. It is Hiranyagarbha sound (Hiranyagarbharūpa) extending from Paśyantī to the heart. Both Madhyamā sound which is the inner “naming” by the cognitive aspect of mental movement, as also its Artha or subtle (Sūkṣma) object (Artha) belong to the mental or subtle body (Sūkṣma or Liṅga Śarīra). Perception is dependent on distinguishing and identification. In the perception of an object that part of the mind which identifies and distinguishes and thus “names” or the cognizing part is, from the Śabda aspect, subtle Śabda: and that part of it which takes the shape of, and thus constitutes, the object (a shape which corresponds with the outer thing) is subtle Artha. The perception of an object is thus consequent on the simultaneous functioning of the mind in its two-fold aspect as Śabda and Artha, which are in indissoluble relation with one another as cogniser (Grāhaka) and cognized (Grāhya). Both belong to the subtle body. In creation Madhyamā sound first appeared. At that moment there was no outer Artha. Then the Cosmic Mind projected this inner Madhyamā Artha into the world of sensual experience and named it in spoken speech (Vaikharī Śabda). The last or Vaikharī Śabda is uttered speech, developed in the throat, issuing from the mouth. This is Virāt Śabda. Vaikharī Śabda is therefore language or gross lettered sound. Its corresponding Artha is the physical or gross object which language denotes. This belongs to the gross body (Sthūla, Śarīra). Madhyamā Śabda is mental movement or ideation in its cognitive aspect, and Madhyamā Artha is the mental impression of the gross object. The inner thought-movement in its aspect as Śabdārtha, and considered both in its knowing aspect (Śabda) and as the subtle known object (Artha) belongs to the subtle body (Sūkṣma Śarīra). The cause of these two is the first general movement towards particular ideation (Paśyantī) from the motionless cause Para Śabda or Supreme Speech. Two forms of inner or hidden-speech, causal, subtle, accompanying mind movement thus precede and lead up to spoken language. The inner forms of ideating movement constitute the subtle, and the uttered sound the gross aspect of Mantra which is the manifested Shabda-Brahman.

The gross Śabda called Vaikharīor uttered speech, and the gross Artha or the physical object denoted by that speech are the projection of the subtle Śabda and Artha, through the initial activity of the Śabda-Brahman into the world of gross sensual perception. Therefore, in the gross physical world, Śabda means language, that is, sentences, words and letters which are the expression of ideas and are Mantra. In the subtle or mental world, Madhyamā sound is the Śabda aspect of the mind which “names” in its aspect as cognizer, and Artha is the same mind in its aspect as the mental object of its cognition. It is defined to be the outer in the form of the mind. It is thus similar to the state of dreams (Svapna), as Paraśabda is the causal dreamless (Suṣupti), and Vaikhaṛī the waking (Jāgrat) state. Mental Artha is a Saṃskāra, an impression left on the subtle body by previous experience, which is recalled when the Jīva reavakes to world experience, and recollects the experience temporarily lost in the cosmic dreamless state (Suṣupti) which is destruction (Pralaya). What is it which arouses this Saṃskāra? As an effect (Kriyā) it must have a cause (Kārana). This Kārana is the Śabda or Name (Nāma) subtle or gross corresponding to that particular Artha. When the word “Ghata” is uttered, this evokes in the mind the image of an object, namely, a jar; just as the presentation of that object does. In the Hiranyagarbha state, Śabda as Saṃskāra worked to evoke mental images. The whole world is thus Śabaa and Artha, that is Name and Form (Nāma, Rūpa). These two are inseparably associated. There is no Śabda without Artha or Artha without Śabda. The Greek word “Logos” also means thought and word combined. There is thus a double line of creation, Śabda and Artha; ideas and language together with their objects. Speech as that which is heard, or the outer manifestation of Śabda, stands for the Śabda creation. The Artha creation are the inner and outer objects seen by the mental or physical vision. From the cosmic creative standpoint, the mind comes first, and from it is evolved the physical world according to the ripened Saṃskāras which led to the existence of the particular existing universe. Therefore, the mental Artha precedes the physical Artha which is an evolution in gross matter of the former. This mental state corresponds to that of dreams (Svapna), when man lives in the mental world only. After creation which is the waking (Jāgrat) state, there is for the individual an already existing parallelism of names and objects.

Uttered speech is a manifestation of the inner naming or thought. This thought-movement is similar in men of all races. When an Englishman or an Indian thinks of an object, the image is to both the same, whether evoked by the object itself or by the utterance of its name. For this reason possibly if thought-reading be accepted, a thoughtreader whose cerebral centre is en rapport with that of another, may read the hidden “speech,” that is thought, of one whose spoken speech he cannot understand. Thus, whilst the thought-movement is similar in all men, the expression of it as Vaikharī Śabda differs. According to tradition there was onoe an universal language. According to the Biblical account, this was so before the confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel. Similarly there is, (a friend tells me though he has forgotten to send me the reference), in the Ṛgveda, a mysterious passage which speaks of the “Three Fathers and three Mothers,” by whose action like that of the Elohim “all-comprehending speech” was made into that which was not so. Nor is this unlikely, when we consider that difference in gross speech is due to difference of races evolved in the course of time. If the instruments by which, and conditions under which thought is revealed in speech, were the same for all men then there would be but one language. But now this is not so. Racial characteristics and physical conditions, such as the nature of the vocal organs, climate, inherited impressions and so forth differ. So also does language. But for each particular man speaking any particular language, the uttered name of any object is the gross expression of his inner thougbt-movement. It evokes the idea and the idea is consciousness as mental operation. That operation can be so intensified as to be itself creative. This is MantraCaitanya.

It is said in the Tantra Śāstras that the fifty letters of the alphabet are in the six bodily Cakras called Mūlādhāra, Svādhiṣṭhāna, Maṇipūra, Anāhata, Viśuddha and Ājñā. These 50 letters multiplied by 20 are, in the thousand-petalled Lotus or Sahasrāra.

From the above account, it will be understood that, when it is said that the “Letters” are in the six bodily Cakras, it is not to be supposed that it is intended to absurdly affirm that the letters as written shapes, or as the uttered sounds which are heard by the ear are there. The letters in this sense, that is, as gross things, are manifested only in speech and writing. This much is clear. But the precise significance of this statement is a matter of some difficulty. There is in fact no subject which presents more difficulties than Mantravidyā, whether considered generally or in relation to the particular matters in hand. I do not pretend to have elucidated all its difficulties.

What proceeds from the body is in it in subtle or causal form. Why, however, it may be asked are particular letters assigned to particular Cakras. I have heard several explanations given which do not, in my opinion, bear the test of examination.

If the arrangement be not artificial for the purpose of Sādhanā, the simplest explanation is that which follows:— From the Brahman are produced the five Bhūtas, Ether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth, in the order stated; and from them issued the six Cakras from Ājñāto Mūladhāra. The letters are (with the exception next stated) placed in the Cakras in their alphabetical order; that is, the vowels as being the first letters or Śaktis of the consonants (which cannot be pronounced without them) are placed in Viśuddha Cakra: the fisrt consonants Ka to Tha in Anāhata and so forth until the Mūlādhāra wherein are set the last four letters from Va to Sa. Thus in Ājñā there are Ha and Kṣa as being Brahmabījas. In the next or Viśuddha Cakra are the 16 vowels which originated first. Therefore, they are placed in Viśuddha the ethereal Cakra; ether also having originated first. The same principle applies to the other letters in the Cakras, namely, Ka to Tha (12 letters and petals) in Anāhata; Da to Pha (10) in Maṇipūra; Ba to La (6) in Svādhiṣṭhānaand Va to Sa (4) in Mūlādhāra. The connection between particular letters and the Cakras in which they are placed is further said to be due to the fact that in uttering any particular letter, the Cakra in which it is placed and its surroundings are brought into play. The sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet are classified according to the organs used in their articulation, and are guttural (Kantha), palatals (Tālu), cerebrals (Mūrddhā), dentals (Danta) and labials (Oṣṭha). When so articulated, each letter, it is said, “touches” the Cakra in which it is, and in which on this account it has been placed. In uttering them certain Cakras are affected; that is, brought into play. This, it is alleged, will be found to be so, if the letter is carefully pronounced and attention is paid to the accompanying bodily movement. Thus, in uttering Ha, the head (Ājñā) is touched, and in uttering the deep-seated Va, the basal Cakra or Mūlādhāra. In making the first sound the forehead is felt to be affected, and in making the last the lower part of the body around the root-lotus. This is the theory put forth as accounting for the position of the letters in the Cakras.

A Mantra is, like everything else, Śakti. But the mere utterance of a Mantra without more is a mere movement of the lips. The Mantra must be awakened (Prabuddha) just like any other Śakti if effect is to be had therefrom. This is the union of sound and idea through a knowledge of the Mantra and its meaning. The recitation of a Mantra without knowing its meaning is practically fruitless. I say “practically” because devotion, even though it be ignorant, is never wholly void of fruit. But a knowledge of the meaning is not enough; for it is possible by reading a book or receiving oral instructions to get to know the meaning of a Mantra, without anything further following. Each Mantra is the embodiment of a particular form of Consciousness or Śakti. This is the Mantra-Śakti. Consciousness or Śakti also exists in the form of the Sādhaka. The object then is to unite these two, when thought is not only in the outer husk, but is vitalized by will, knowledge, and action through its conscious centre in union with that of the Mantra. The latter is Devatā or a particular manifestation of Śakti: and the Sādhaka who identifies himself therewith, identifies himself with that Śakti. According to Yoga when the mind is concentrated on any object it is unified with it. When man is so identified with a Varṇa or Tattva, then the power of objects to bind ceases, and he becomes the controller. Thus, in Kuṇḍalinī-Yoga, the static bodily Śakti pierces the Cakras, to meet Śiva-Śakti in the Sahasrāra. As the Sādhaka is, through the power of the rising Śakti, identified with each of the Centres, Tattvas and Mātṛkā Śaktis, they cease to bind, until passing through all he attains Samādhi. As the Varṇas are Śiva-Śakti, concentration on them draws the mind towards, and then unifies it with, the Devatā which is one with the Mantra. The Devatā of the Mantra is only the creative Śakti assuming that particular form. As already stated, Devatā may be realized in any object, not merely in Mantras, Yantras, Ghatas, Pratimās or other ritual objects of worship.

The same power which manifests to the ear in the Mantra is represented in the lines and curves of the Yantra which, the Kaulavalī Tantra says, is the body of the Devatā:—

Yantram mantramayam proktam mantrātmā devataiva hi
Dehātmanor yathā bhedo yantra-devatayosthathā

The Yantra is thus the graphic symbol of the Śakti, indicated by the Mantra with which identification takes place. The Pratimā or image is a grosser visual form of the Devatā. But the Mantras are particular forms of Divine Śakti, the realization of which is efficacious to produce particular results. As in Kuṇḍalinī-Yoga, so also here the identification of the Sādhaka with different Mmtras gives rise to various Vibhūtis or powers: for each grouping of the letters represents a new combination of the Mātṛkā Śaktis. It is the eternal Shakti who is the life of the Mantra. Therefore, Siddhi in Mantra Sādhanā is the union of the Sādhaka’s Śakti with the Mantra Śakti; the identification of the Sādhaka with the Mantra is the identification of the knower (Vedaka), knowing (Vidyā) and known (Vedya) or the Sādhaka, Mantra and Devatā. Then the Mantra works. The mind mus feed, and is alwaya feeding, on something. It seizes the Mantra and works its way to its heart. When there, it is the Citta or mind of the Sādhaka unified with the Śakti of the Mantra which works. Then subject and object, in its Mantra form, meet as one. By meditation the Sādhaka gains unity with the Devatā behind, as it were, the Mantra and Whose form the Mantra is. The union of the Sādhaka of the Mantra and the Devatā of the Mantra is the result of the effort to realize permanently the incipient desire for such union. The will towards Divinity is a dynamic force which pierces everything and finds there Divinity itself. It is because Westernem and some Westernized Hindus do not understand the principles of Mantra; principles which lie at the centre of Indian religious theory and practice, that they see nothing in it where they do not regard it as gross superstition. It must be admitted that Mantra Sādhanā is often done ignorantly. Faith is placed in cxternals and the inner meaning is often lost. But even such ignorant worship is better than none at all. “It is better to bow to Nārāyana with one’s shoes on than never to bow at all.” Much also is said of “vain repetitions.” What Christ condemned was not repetition but “vain” repetition. That man is a poor psychologist who does not know the effect of repetition, when done with faith and devotion. It is a fact that the inner kingdom yields to violence and can be taken by assault. Indeed, it yields to nothing but the strong will of the Sādhaka, for it is that will in its purest and fullest strength. By practice with the Mantra, the Devatā is invoked. This means that the mind itself is Devatā when unified with Devatā. This is attained through repetition of the Mantra (Japa).

Japa is compared to the action of a man shaking a sleeper to wake him up. The Sādhaka’s own consciousness is awakened. The two lips are Śiva and Śakti. The movement in utterance is the “coition” (Maithuna) of the two. Śabda which issues therefrom is in the nature of Bindu. The Devatā then appearing is, as it were, the son of the Sādhaka. It is not the supreme Devatā who appears (for It is actionless), but in all cases an emanation produced by the Sādhaka’s worship for his benefit only. In the case of worshippers of the Śiva-Mantra, a Boy-Śiva (Bāla-Śiva) appears who is then made strong by the nurture which the Sādhaka gives him. The occultist will understand all such symbolism to mean that the Devatā is a form of the Consciousness which becomes the Boy-Śiva, and which, when strengthened is the full-grown Divine Power Itself. All Mantras are forms of consciousness (Vijnānarūpa), and when the Mantra is fully practised it enlivens the Saṃskāra, and the Artha appears to the mind. Mantras used in worship are thus a form of the Saṃskāras of Jīvasthe Artha of which manifests to the consciousness which is pure. The essence of all this is—concentrate and vitalize thought and will power, that is Śakti.

The Mantra method is Śāktopāya Yoga working with concepts and form, whilst Śāmbhavopāya Yoga has been well said to, be a more direct attempt at intuition of Śakti, apart from all passing concepts, which, as they cannot show the Reality, only serve to hide it the more from one’s view and thus maintain bondage. These Yoga methods are but examples of the universal principle of Sādhanā, that the Sādhaka should first work with and through form, and then, so far as may be, by a meditation which dispenses with. it.

It has been pointed out to me by Professor Surendra Nath Das Gupta that this Varṇa-Sādhanā, so important a content of the Tantra Śāstra, is not altogether its creation, but, as I have often in other matters observed, a development of ancient Vaidik teaching. For it was, he says, first attempted in the Āranyaka Epoch upon the Pratīkopāsanā on which the Tāntrik Sādhanā is, he suggests, based; though, of couree, that Śāstra has elaborated the notion into a highly complicated system which is so peculiar a feature of its religious discipline. There is thus a synthesis of this Pratīkopāsanā with Yoga method, resting as all else upon a Vedāntic basis.


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