Updated: April 25, 2018 6:30:32 am
As soon as we find ourselves amidst any trouble, it is natural for us to remember and pray to the supreme lord, either directly or in the form of his servitors. The remembrance of the supreme lord is one of the 64 items of devotional service offered to him. He is always attracted by the humble prayers and hence, he is always ready to save his devotee.
In his prayers (Srimad Bhagwatam Gajendra Moksha 8.3.28), Gajendra addressed the supreme lord as prapanna-palaya, which means ‘unto the Supreme who gives shelter to the surrendered’. Prayers offered to him from the heart are answered immediately and hence, Lord Vishnu severed the crocodile’s mouth from its body with his disc. In this way, he saved Gajendra, the king of the elephants.
Prayers offered to the lord are of two forms:
* Composed by the devotee in his natural language
* Prayers of the great devotees as mentioned in the scriptures as mantras
There is no difference between them and one can use them as per his/her convenience since the lord is bhava grahi, in other words, responds to the feelings of the devotees in the prayers, not the words. The prayers found in the scriptures are in the form of mantras, which have been composed by great devotees, rishis and munis, in their spiritual enlightenment.
Types of mantras
There are various types of mantras, but they have been broadly classified into two categories, based on their origin.
Vedic mantras: They originate from the Supreme Lord in the form of Vedic literature. They are sattvic in nature and are a part of the Vedic puja vidhi. They are in Sanskrit language and are associated with various meanings.
Tantric mantras: They have come from the tantric literature written by tantrics or have been developed by them. They are tamasic in nature and are available in various languages like Marathi, Arabic and others. While, the Vedic mantras are primordial and are the sole way to worship the Lord and are always sung in order to please him, the tantric mantras are written to suit the desires and demands of the tantrics. They are primarily based on fulfilling their material motives and desires.
Sanskrit prayers and mantras
If we look at the prayers offered by the devotees or great rishis, we would land upon the Vedic scriptures like Srimad Bhagwatam, Vedas, Upanishads, Samhitas, Puranas and other literatures. Since all the scriptures have come from the breathing of the supreme person, all of them have their own importance and are all powerful. The choice of the prayers or mantras is the reflection of the modes of nature which influence the person’s mind. Sattvic people use prayers of the Sattvic spiritual literature, Rajasi from Rajasic literature and so on.
Definition of Mantra
A great Vedic exponent, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami commented on the definition of mantra. He said:
“The Sanskrit word mantra, man means mind, and tra means deliverance. Mantra means that which delivers you from the mental concoction or hovering on the mental plane. Every one of us is hovering on the mental plane. By mind we are creating so many things: “I shall be happy in this way. I shall be happy in this way. I shall be happy in that way.” But mantra means when you are delivered from that concoction, speculative way of your mind, and you come to the transcendental platform. That is the effect of mantra.”
Components of a mantra
A mantra is not alone, it has six primary components of its own. They are as follows:
* Rishi: The sage who first chanted it or who discovered it or to whom it was revealed first
* Chhanda: The rhythm in which the mantra has to be chanted
* Dev: The god or goddess of the mantra
* Beeja: The seed of the mantra or its basic character
* Keelaka: The key, which opens the deep meaning and powers of that mantra
* Shakti: The power of that mantra.
Authentic process for mantra chanting
Mantras are very powerful in themselves and hence, need to be chanted as prescribed. Then only, one can derive real happiness from them. Therefore, any person who seriously desires real happiness must seek a bona fide spiritual master and take shelter under him by initiation.
The qualification of the bona fide guru is that he has realised the conclusions of the scriptures by deliberation and is able to convince others of these conclusions. Such great personalities, who have taken shelter of the Supreme Godhead, leaving aside all material considerations, should be understood to be bonafide spiritual masters.
After being initiated, one must follow his strict guidance and chant the mantra as prescribed by him. Since he has undergone all the stages and has achieved perfection, he is the right person who can guide the person throughout the process.
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