Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation
For the next stage of our investigation on meditation, we are going to study - and practice! - japa as a means to tame the mind and we shall investigate the Gayatri Mantra.
The term 'gaayatrii' (although generally written without the double letters - remember that these are used here to show correct pronunciation emphasis), actually refers to a 'chchandas', a metric rhythm. Each deity will have a gayatri mantra associated with them. The mantra which has come to be known only as 'The' Gayatri, is actually more properly referred to as Savitri gayatri; the mantra of the Sun Lord.
The concept that The Gayatri was the first mantra declared by the creator Himself might, in modern terms, seem a tad romantic. There is no question, however, that the antiquity of this mantra is far beyond most divine hymns. [NB; there is much debate about the age of Sanskrit culture and teachings and most datings are based upon the physical writings, which actually came much later, it being known that the culture was based entirely upon spoken repetition - hence the metric nature of all the early texts. There are suggestions that the origins of these scriptures may go back some 6000+ years… but in the end it really matters not. What does matter is that the teachings, the benefit to be gained, the joy received from all of them, is as fresh as the day they were composed. Our purpose here at saadhana central is to put these teachings into practice and to keep them living!]
There is a trend in our modern communcations services to present mantras as 'sound waves' and there is quite a lot of pseudo-science about hitting the brain at certain frequencies. Of course, there is basis for the science or it wouldn't exist, but those who are cashing in are forgetting that no one wavelength will necessarily suit everyone. We each must find the frequency/tone which gives us the most positive relief or lift that we seek.
These offerings also do a disservice to the mantras - even OM. Truth is, whatever pitch you find, is the correct pitch for you. In the longer mantras, it is not so much the pitch but the rhythm which creates the 'magic' within it. OM, being a single syllable, offers so much because even the ignorant don't have to worry about metre at all, just the breath to maximise the vibration. In full mantras, learning the chchandas is the challenge, then learning the meaning, then applying the mantra to saadhana in a manner such that fullest benefit can be gained. What benefit? Spiritual, emotional, mental… and these being in order, to some degree, physical well-being. Within the society which has known it and observed it longest, it has been found that repetition of The Gayatri, with correct understanding and practice, removes negative tendencies in the human mind and can assist in self-improvement greatly.
This mantra is never chanted for the purposes of material gains - nor indeed for the physical, although this may be a side-benefit. Its invocation at its conclusion is purely about the illumination of the being; it is a prayer unto the Self to unveil Itself to us that we may manifest something of Its wisdom within our lives. The Gayatri is recited on a daily basis and may be likened to the Lord's Prayer in its importance and applicability.
Any mantra we undertake ought to be first learned in full metre, its meaning fully inculcated, and then practiced with purity of heart. The Western equivalent to this form of spiritual focus is the early chanting of nuns and monks; simple, tonal (rather than strictly musical) chanting of scriptural or scripture-like words. Anyone who has listened to such works is likely to experience a sense of wanting to look up, to look within, to rise from the sorrows of life and experience, for a short while, relief from the onslaught of daily existence. Sublime is the best description most can give to such an experience. With mantra chanting, in all correct conditions, this same lift and relief can be gained.
It is to be remembered also, that mantras are a form of prayer, not just a glorification as might be found in hymns. (This was discussed in this post, so do please re-read to reaffirm this understanding.)
Therefore do not get caught up in binaural this or that, neither the more surreal claims of outcomes bordering on sorcery. Mantra chanting is about discipline of the ego, strengthening the mind and developing a focus beyond the 'small'. In doing this, one can operate more clearly and cleanly in daily life and this, itself, can seem like magic!