White Notebook - Mantras

White Notebook - Mantras

Ryan Todd Garza
A creative based in Los Angeles, CA

The opening mantra is traditionally chanted before Sūrya Namaskār and the closing mantra before Śavāsana. Some of the mantras that follow do not pertain necessarily to the Ashtanga tradition but were given to me by a teacher at various times in my life when they seemed appropriate.

The format that follows scales from most unadulterated to most opinionated. First the Sanskrit mantra in Devanagari, the romanized transliteration, a generally accepted English translation, and finally a brief explanation. My own transliterations are at the end of the section to aid in discerning ambiguity one might find with the various translations one might find.

Although the chants we voice in Ashtanga are not by definition Vedic Mantra, in the Vedic chanting tradition of India exists a profound distillation of the feats of human language and mnemonic devices. Just as the Sanskrit language has stood the test of time because of its meticulous rules, so has Vedic mantra been passed down unchanged due to precise methods of instruction and recitation.

This type of mantra hinges on correctness of varṇaḥ (pronunciation), svaraḥ (notes), mātra (duration), balam (emphasis), sāma (continuity), santānaḥ (punctuation).1 It should be made clear that Vedic mantra is not music. In fact, even some mantra in this system that has a more musical character than the others is considered inferior.

Opening Mantra

वन्दे गुरूणां चरणारविन्दे संदर्शितस्वात्मसुखावबोधे ।
निःश्रेयसे जाङ्गलिकायमणे संसारहालाहलमोहशान्त्यै ॥

आबाहुपुरुषाकारं शङ्खचक्रासिधारिणम् ।
सहस्रशिरसं श्वेतं प्रणमामि पतञ्जलिम् ॥

vande gurūṇāṁ charaṇāravinde sandarśita svātma sukhāva bodhe
niḥśreyase jāṅgalikāyamāne saṁsāra hālāhala moha śāntyai

ābāhu puruṣākāraṁ śankha cakrāsi dhāriṇam
sahasra śirasaṁ śvetaṁ praṇamāmi patañjalim

I worship the Guru’s lotus feet
Awakening the happiness of the self revealed
Beyond comparison, acting like the jungle physician
To pacify delusion from the poison of existence2

Whose upper body has a human form,
Whose arms hold a conch, a disc and a sword,
Who is crowned by a thousand headed cobra (incarnation of Ādi Śeṣa)
I prostrate before Patañjali 3

This mantra originates from two separate sources: The Yoga Tārāval of Adi Shankaracharya and Hymn to Patañjali which is often chanted prior to chanting the Yoga Sūtras. The first half acknowledges those who have come before us and have cultivated the practices in which can be realized the illusory nature of manifest existence. The second half pays reverence to the mythological form of Patañjali, believed to have been an incarnation of Ādi Śeṣa (transliterated as ādi-, prefix meaning “beginning” or “the first” and śeṣa meaning “residue” or “remainder”), a thousand-headed serpent and a primal being of creation in Hindu mythology. This etymology alludes to the philosophical idea that action leaves behind a “karmic residue” which propagates the necessity for further action and is thus a primal mover in the creation of experiential reality.

Transliteration

  • vande वन्दे - I offer my respects, worship
  • gurūṇām गुरूणाम् - masculine genitive plural of guru
  • charaṇa चरण - foot
  • aravinda अरविन्द - lotus
  • saṃ सं - compound, together (completely)
  • darśita दर्शित - shown, perceived
  • svātma स्वात्म - ones true self (root: ātman)
  • sukha सुख - ease, comfort, happiness, pleasure
  • avabodha अवबोध - consciousness, knowledge
  • niḥśreyase निःश्रेयसे - for the greatest welfare, highest benefit
  • jāṅgala जाङ्गल - jungle
  • jāṅgalika जाङ्गलिक - snake charmer
  • kāyamāna कायमान - measurement of the body
  • saṁsāra संसार - the bonds or fetters of the world
  • hālāhala हालाहल - a deadly poison
  • moha मोह - darkness or delusion of mind
  • śāntyai शान्त्यै - for the stopping, alleviation of pain
  • ābā आबा - a term of respectful compellation or mention for a male
  • bāhu बाहु - the whole upper extremity of the body
  • puruṣa पुरुष - person, man
  • ākāra आकार - form, shape, figure
  • śaṅkha शङ्ख - the conch-shell
  • cakra चक्र - a wheel, disc
  • asi असि - a sword
  • dhara धर - holding, bearin>
  • sahasra सहस्र - thousan>
  • śirasa शिरस - on his head
  • śveta श्वेत - white, bright
  • pra प्र - in front, before
  • ṇam णम् - to bow down
  • patañjali पतञ्जलि - Patañjali

Closing Mantra

स्वस्तिप्रजाभ्यः परिपालयन्तां न्यायेन मार्गेण महीं महीशाः ।
गोब्राह्मणेभ्यः शुभमस्तु नित्यं लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु ॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः

svasti prajābhyaḥ paripālayantāṁ nyāyena mārgeṇa mahīṁ mahīśāḥ
gobrāhmaṇebhyaḥ śubhamastu nityaṁ lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantu
Oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ

May all be well with mankind. May the leaders of the earth protect in every way by keeping to the right path.
May there be goodness for those who know the earth to be sacred. May all the worlds be happy.
Om peace peace peace

This mantra is traditionally chanted at the end of a practice before Śavāsana. I have seen it referred to as Mangalya Prarthana – Universal Prayer to well being, however, the origin of the mantra has evaded my query for quite some time now. Many claim that is is from the Rig Veda but my search has proven this incorrect. Regardless, it is a beautiful sentiment.

Transliteration

  • svasti स्वस्ति - auspiciousness, well-being, blessings
  • prajā प्रजा - living beings, a creature, animal, mankind, subjects (of a king)
  • abhya अभ्य - to overcome (derivative: abhaya (अभय), “absence of fear”)
  • pari परि - further, towards, successively
  • pāla पाल - (a) that supports, protects (b) a protector, guardian, keeper
  • yantā यंता - that restrains, controls
  • pālayan पालयन् - protecting, ruling, maintaining
  • paripālayan परिपालयन् - accepting the request
  • nyāya न्याय - justice, principle, rule
  • yena येन - wherefore, so that
  • mārga मार्ग - path, by way of
  • mārge मार्गे - on the street, on the
  • mārgeṇa एण - by (following) the path
  • mahī मही - the Earth
  • śāḥ शाः - he, that person, the king

Bhadraṁ Śāntiḥ Mantra

भद्रं कर्णेभिः शर्णुयाम देवा भद्रं पश्येमाक्षभिर्यजत्राः ।
सथिरैरङगैस्तुष्टुवांसस्तनूभिर्व्यशेमदेवहितं यदायुः ॥
सवस्ति न इन्द्रो वर्द्धश्रवाः सवस्ति नः पुषा विश्ववेदाः ।
सवस्ति नस्तार्क्ष्यो अरिष्टनेमिः सवस्ति नो बर्हस्पतिर्दधातु ॥

bhadraṁ paśyemākṣabhir yajatrāḥ
sthirairaṅgais tuṣṭuvāguṁsas tanūbhiḥ
vyaśema devahitaṁ yadāyuḥ
svasti na indro vṛddhaśravāḥ
svasti naḥ pūṣā viśva vedah
svasti nas tārkṣyo ariṣṭanemiḥ
svasti no bṛhaspatir dadātu

Pattabhi Jois writes about this mantra in both the Yoga Mala (pp 37) and the Sūrya Namaskāra booklet (pp 39). It originates from the Rig Veda (1.89.8 & 6). Jois describes it as “a prayer to God asking for the attainment of a high degree of mental concentration.” – dhāraṇā.

Mahamrityunjaya Mantra

ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात् ॥

Oṃ tryambakaṁ yajāmahe sugandhiṁ puṣṭivardhanam
urvārukamiva bandhanān mṛtyormukṣīya māmṛtāt

Om We worship the three-eyed One, who is fragrant and who nourishes all.
Like the fruit falls off from the bondage of the stem, may we be liberated from death, from mortality.

Also referred to as Rudra Mantra or Tryambakam Mantra, it occurs in three of the ancient Vedic scriptures – Rig Veda (7.59.12), Yajur Veda (3.60), and Atharva Veda (14.17). Roughly translated, maha means “great,” mṛtyun means “death,” and jaya means “conquering.” It is a beckoning to Śiva. This mantra has many purposed benefits but was given to me in the context of removing negative emotion associated with death.

Transliteration

  • tri त्रि - three
  • ambaka अम्बक - eye
  • yaj यज् - to worship
  • yajāmahe यजामहे - we worship
  • sugandhi सुगन्धि - fragrant
  • puṣṭi पुष्टि - well nourished
  • vardhana वर्धन - increasing
  • urvāru उर्वारु - cucumber
  • iva इव - like, in the same manner
  • bandhana बन्धन - binding, tying, fettering
  • mṛtyu मृत्यु - death, dying
  • mṛtyoḥ मृत्योः - from death
  • muc मुच् - to let loose, release, liberate
  • mukṣīya मुक्षीय - may I be liberated
  • mā मा - not
  • amṛta अमृत - immortal
  • amṛtāt अमृतात् - from immortality

Yoga Yoga Yogeshwaraya Mantra

योग योग योगेश्वराय
भूत भूत भूतेश्वराय
काल काल कालेश्वराय
शिव शिव सर्वेश्वराय
शंभो शंभो महादेवाय

Yoga Yoga Yogeshwaraya
Bhuta Bhuta Bhuteshwaraya
Kala Kala Kaleshwaraya
Shiva Shiva Sarveshwaraya
Shambho Shambho Mahadevaya

This mantra pays homage to the five fundamental forms of Śiva.7 Yogeshwara: The process of Yoga is to reach beyond the restraints of physical manifestation and touch what boundless. Bhuteshwara: The pancha bhutas, literally “five elements”, account for all of creation. One who has mastered these five elements determines the destiny of his life in the physical realm. Kaleswaraya: Kala means “time” and “darkness”. The physical is bound to light and light to time. Therefore, time lies beyond the scope of the physical and must be mastered separately. Sarveshwara: Shiva means “that which is not.” It is the basis of everything. Even modern science is recognizing that the universe is about 68% dark energy and roughly 27% dark matter, meaning anything we can ever hope to see accounts for less than 5%.8 Shambho: The gentle form of Shiva. With Shiva’s grace may we be granted a key. Maha means great and deva means deity or god.

Resources

Used in translation


  1. Achari, Pandit Ub.Ve Sri Rama Ramanuja. (2013). Introduction to Vedic Chanting.

  2. Translation: Jois, Pattabhi. (2002). Yoga Mala. North Point Press. pp. 3.

  3. Translation: Iyengar, Geeta.

  4. isha.sadhguru.org/mahashivratri/shiva-adiyogi/forms-of-shiva/

  5. https://home.cern/science/physics/dark-matter