"I learnt my first mantra when I was six. "Maa Kaali Kaali Mahakaali Kaalike Paapahaarini Dharmaarthemokshade Devi Narayani Namostute".
(Greatest of All, Kali, Great Goddess who is the revealer of Truth, Kali who is with us in every aspect of life, make our path one of peace and virtue, bring us your strength for liberation, for self-awareness, for the awakening of our spirit, our planet and all beings. Kali, you who are All, we bow to you).
My aunt, a devout Kali worshiper, chanted this mantra so many times in the course of her daily prayers in our ancestral home in Kolkata, that it would have been difficult to have not memorised it! And like all mantras do, this one stayed with me for life.
The word mantra is quite often translated as sound vibration. But the literal meaning of mantra is ‘the force that frees the mind from bondage’. What are these bondages? According to yoga, the gross mind or our mental nature has two attributes which hold it in bondage - impurities (mala) and dissipation (vikshepa). The impurities referred to here are the cause of our attraction to the ‘rajasic’ dynamic state of activity and creativity with full ego involvement) and ‘tamasic’ (state of inertia and ignorance) qualities of life. These limit the faculties of the mind making us run after selfish ambitions and desires, keeping the ego identity in the forefront all along.
Vikshepa is the feeling of dissatisfaction with our present life. The monkey mind is always seeking something more, something different or some form of amusement. This distraction of mind is vikshepa. If there were no desire for amusement, the mind would be absolutely quiet, still, tranquil and peaceful.
The purpose of mantra is to free the mind from this constant desire for amusement and turn the attraction from rajasic and tamasic activities to a pure sattvic (unadulterated state of luminosity and harmony) nature.
Mantras are tools of empowerment. Essential life tools that guide us in the path of righteous living. As you go through some of the mantras on this website or the MPower CD, you will notice that all mantras, at some level or the other, ring of gratitude. This attitude of gratitude is an essential ingredient of spiritual life. Acknowledging and thanking the Divine for all the numerous things we take for granted in the course of the day, humbles us. Through mantras we seek blessings before embarking on anything…a journey, a venture, an endeavour. Blessings even for the simplest of actions. Like taking a bath, or eating, or sleeping. There is a mantra for EVERYTHING!
But simply chanting a mantra mechanically will not do it! Whether we repeat a one-syllable mantra or a page long mantra, the effect of the practice will be null if it is not done with pure intention, intensity, concentration and total awareness. It would've been a delight to make this a giant compendium of mantras…but neither do I have the knowledge, nor the authority to write such an epic. What I have done instead is a small compilation of a handful of mantras that I personally chant in the course of the day. Some of these mantras might be familiar to you. Some of them might be new. But all these mantras have been my good friends for years, guiding and protecting me through good times and restless times. And nothing could give me more joy than an opportunity to share them with you. I have tried to ensure that the pronunciations and translations are as pure as possible. I humbly apologize to you and all the ancient seers and rishis...the original channels of these powerful mantras, for any mistakes on my part."
Hari Om Tat Sat.
Satyadev Barman has a website: www.satyadev.org