Scientific Basis of Gayatri Mantra Japa

Mar - Apr 2003

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The entire Vedic Literature and the sages and savants of the shastric scriptures have given paramount importance to the Gayatri Mantra and have discussed in detail the methods of the japa and sadhana of this great mantra. There is no scripture, which does not sing paeans of the preeminent benefits and supramental effects of this mantra that encompass the personal, global and the cosmic realms of existence. It is said that even if one performs the japa and dhyan (meditation) of this mantra with fervent faith without going through all the prescribed ascetic disciplines of higher-level sadhanas, he attains all the blessings and boons of this mantra.

Not only the immanent inspirations and the marvellous configuration of specific syllables and sonic patterns, the psychological and spiritual core of this Vedic Mantra is also so sound that it appears to be founded on profound scientific basis. Let us look at some of these aspects to understand the impact of its japa. The amazing structure, functions and complexity of the human body has been the center of deep attention for thousands of scientists, biologists, anatomists and physiologists since long.

Still a lot remains unknown, especially the body is fine network of nerves, molecular functions, endocrine system and the brain. In comparison, what has been experienced and known about the human body and brain by rigorous yoga-sadhanas seems to be more thorough and significant. In the deep state of trance through devout yoga sadhanas, the Rishis, the yogis of the Vedic times, had found this body a miniature reflection of the entire cosmos, as mentioned in the quote - "Yat Brahmande Tat Pinde".

The extrasensory components like the sat cakras, upatyikas and the marvellous nerve network hidden in it are found to be like nuclei and canals of cosmic energy. Having the model of the limitless cosmos in its small structure makes the human body the supreme creation in the physical manifestation of Nature. Japa-sadhana is a scientific method devised by the Rishis to activate the extrasensory energy centers within to facilitate the sublime flow of vital spiritual currents in this majestic living system. The japa of Divine Name or Mantras has been an integral part of all modes of worship or prayer in every religion be it Hindu, Sikh, Islam, Buddhist, Christian, Tao, Bahai, etc. As the specific pattern of controlled wind-flow through the holes of a flute produces specific sonorous tune, likewise, the vibrations induced by the repeated rhythmic chanting of a specific mantra generate specific pulsation of prana and stimulate the extrasensory energy nuclei in the body accordingly.

The japa- sadhana of mantras is therefore practiced to educe supernatural talents and potentials. The preeminence of the japa of Gayatri Mantra lies in its unique intellectual, emotional and spiritual effects in addition to other soul-elevating effects of mantra-japa. This mantra contains the essence of divine knowledge and wisdom. Even its literal translation implies a prayer for the refinement and illumination of our mind and intellect and for well-being of the world. This is why the Vedic Rishis revered Gayatri as  Vedmata, Devamata and Vishwamata (the origin of the Vedas, the Mother of godly-beings and the Mother of the whole world respectively). Not only the Hindu religion, but also the follower of other religions and paths of spiritual seeking revere this sacred mantra.

Mahatma Gandhi referred to it as the basis of the world religion of the future. The structure of Gayatri Mantra is in perfect tune with the science of cosmic sound. It will not be possible for us to analyse its sonic pattern and the resonance of its subtle vibrations in this small article. We shall mainly elucidate the major steps of psychological elevation and evolution of a sadhaka as consciousness by the japa of this mantra. Japa is a scientific process of inward orientation of mind. The japa of the Gayatri Mantra enables a harmonious linkage and flow of the individual consciousness (of the sadhaka) with the cosmic consciousness. If a beginner understands the psychological impact of mantra-japa or has intrinsic faith in it then meditating as per the requirement of the japa-sadhana will not be difficult for him. With prior conditioning of the mind, the rhythmic process of japa also helps in controlling its waywardness.

Once this stage of training of the mind is over, the progress of meditation and hence the japa-sadhana moves quite smoothly and at an uninterrupted pace. In terms of mental and emotional enlightenment, japa (japa- sadhana) involves the following:
(i) Training of repeating the same mantra;
(ii) Recognition of imbibing the inspirations of what has been repeated;
(iii) Recollection and Contemplation of recalling the mental connection during meditation and reestablishing the broken links with the inner self;
(iv) Retention of Deepening the faith (in the mantra) and sincerity to the level of inner experience and intrinsic emotions.

In terms of spiritual elevation these correspond to
(i) Self-Analysis;
(ii) Self-Refinement;
(iii) Self-Development;
(iv) Self-Realization.

These are gradual steps of the realization through japa- sadhana. Although we don't find the multiple activities and exercises like yoga practices in it, the sadhana process of japa is so effective that just with the sincere performance of this single practice, starting with self-analysis, we can reach the supreme goal of self-realization. The great significance of japa is not due to chance, or without any firm basis. Had it been so, such a large number of devotees and yogis of the Gayatri Sadhana would not have been advised to waste time in practicing more and more japa for longer and longer durations.

The aforesaid principles of psychology and spirituality work towards success of japa. These can elevate the devotee’s personality out of the darkness of ignorance into the light of divine wisdom. The four principles mentioned above work in the subliminal domains of the consciousness to remove the layers of ignorance from the subconscious and thus help in the emergence of light of spirit within the individual soul. Training is an integral part of education. It is indeed the first samskara to be cultivated for personality development. We may never find an educated person who has not undergone training in one form or the other. From nursery rhymes and tables to revision and continuous practice of problem solving in higher classes the process of training by cramming and repetition is very common; this is also necessary for the inculcation of any desired tendency.

The same is true about the impact of japa too; the effects of the mantra-vibrations cannot be felt without rhythmic repetition. The "dhi" element of the Gayatri Mantra refers to prayer for the awakening of intellect. Just uttering it once or twice cannot have the desired effect. Our mind is like a barren, uneven, hard landscape, which frustrates all attempts at its calming and refinement. In order to make the seed of sadhana germinate and sprout, the field of mind needs to be cleared, ploughed and irrigated with the help of japa; one has to peep inside and identify, mercilessly uproot and throw out the debris of accumulated evil tendencies. Sowing the seeds of virtues is not possible without this cleaning of deep rooted negativities. Japa can also be likened to cleaning, sharpening and glazing. Its repeated friction and subtle pressure calms down and cleanses the mind so that it could clearly reflect glow of the spirit.

Every devotee of Gayatri should therefore perform japa everyday for a fixed number of times at a fixed place, during fixed intervals of time. The arbitrary mode of excessive watering on some days and keeping the land dry on the others does not serve the purpose of proper irrigation of field. The same is true of the training of mind by japa. Regularity, sincerity, patience and consistency should be observed in this practice, as far as possible. This should also be continued over a long duration depending upon the sadhaka's inherent tendencies and mentality- till the dawn of the rays of success in the sadhana.

The second step in the sadhana is to assimilate in practice what has been learnt. Observation and analysis of the lower self cluttered with impurities is of no avail unless it is coupled with simultaneous attempts at cleansing out and refinement. Japa-sadhana helps in developing the inner strength and determination towards self-cleansing and self-refinement. The advanced spiritual masters affirm that the japa of Gayatri Mantra brings about rapid removal of ingrained vices and evil tendencies. Progress in this direction further accelerates inner purification, as it deepens the sadhaka's meditation and thus reinforces the linkage of the sadhaka's higher inner self with the indwelling divinity which the mantra invokes. During this process one experiences ups and downs in the mental and emotional domains.

The baser instincts and tendencies accumulated during innumerable births of the fallen soul in different forms before the present life are not easy to be uprooted and thrown out. These kusamskaras, coupled with the ignorance-driven ego, struggle hard to obstruct the process of inner purification in the initial phases. However, with the continuity of the japa- sadhana the devotee realizes that he is not the body but the eternal soul and therefore gains the light and courage to fight and eliminate all the hurdles in the path of self-realization. He consciously and gladly undergoes the prescribed austerities to loosen the hold of internal evils and passions. He understands that only the path of selfless service leads to true happiness, and that spiritual life is far more superior to life wasted in the pursuit of materialistic success and power.

Nothing can then stop his march towards self-awakening. Human ego-centered false self and its gross appearance is only a vehicle for the manifestation of his soul. This world of mirage is not his true home. He is guided by divine grace on his journey back to his real home- the realm of eternal light. Just, as the puppet show would be absurdly haphazard if even a few threads that control its movements are broken or loosened, as the young kid is orphaned and becomes helpless due to the sudden demise of his parents, as the house becomes dark in the night if its electrical power supply is cut, similarly the soul, the individual self, suffers an illusory, ignorant, and evanescent existence if its subliminal linkage with divinity is broken.

We are way-lost children in the wilderness of this illusory phenomenon; groping for the sunlit path leading us back home. Finding this sunlit path and reestablishment of this lost connection with the source by awakening of the true inner consciousness is the third factor of japa-sadhana. In the powers of japa, the inner self awakens and recognizes its soul-identity; the soul too recalls its divine nature. As this retrieval of lost memory progresses, it ponders upon its origin more deeply and gets anxious to unite with the source. This intensifies the reactivation of its sublime connection with the divine self. It calls upon the divine Mother (Gayatri) to save and protect it from illusions, diversions and pitfalls of the worldly cycle. This stage purifies the sadhaka's gross and subtle bodies; his mind now gets educed and illuminated by positive and righteous aspirations. His personality is gradually suffused with nobility.

The fourth stage signifies a still higher state of spiritual maturity. With deeper and purer engagement in the japa of Gayatri Mantra, the sadhaka sees the light of his soul in the radiance of the subtle body of the sun  the cosmic center of this mantra. As this realization intensifies, he begins to experience, in deep trance, the unity of his soul with the cosmic soul (God). He then sees the identity of his soul as a reflection of the Brahm conveyed in the Vedant Philosophy as "Ayamatma Brahm", "Tatvamasi","Soahm", "Cidanandoaham", etc. This state is referred to in the Shastras as samadhi, turiavastha or para siddhi - the state of ultimate beatitude, absolute bliss and supreme accomplishment. Japa-sadhana alone, if performed with sincerity, purity and intrinsic faith, leads to this state of eternal bliss and light. It is therefore referred to as the key to the deeper science of spirituality and also revered as a yajya.

Japa yajya alone is a complete source of ultimate self-realization. By the divine energy immanent in the Vedic Mantras, we can attain supramental knowledge and actualize the potentials that are otherwise unbelievable, unimaginable and unreachable. Understanding and attainment of such extrasensory faculties are yet beyond the scope of the modern scientific advancement. Japa is therefore not well recognized or practiced by many of the so-called scientifically progressive people. We do see many of the erudite scholars, great scientists and elites engulfed in the sorrows, delusions and sufferings of the world despite their talents and resources; whereas there are some illiterate but spiritually elevated souls endowed with divine bliss and wisdom attained through sincere japa-sadhana of the Gayatri Mantra.

The energy locked up in the mantras is essentially spiritual in nature. The specific configurations of the Vedic Mantras are said to be derived from the subtle science of syllables and sound. The rishis, who had realized the cosmic and spiritual dimensions of the omnipresent eternal sound, had compiled these mantras. The consistency of the rhythm and amplitude of the mantras are therefore of vital importance. The prescribed modes and number of japas every day for specific sadhana are also enjoined accordingly. The sadhaka should follow these with due sincerity and punctuality. Sometime slow sometime fast speed or pitch of japa or performing the japa in a half-asleep or inconsistent way does not serve any purpose.

Sitting with erect spine and in a state of mental peace, regularity of timings for japa are essential prerequisites for steady and sure progress. Purity of the body and mind is another prerequisite for concentration of mind and proper meditation. It is advised to do the japa with the help of a rosary so that counting will also be automatic with the mechanical move of the hand on its beads with each complete chanting of the mantra, without disturbing the mental concentration. The upanshu type japa is said to be the best for the beginners. Here, one chants the mantra so that his tongue and lips may move but the voice is inaudible. Once one has perfected the rhythmic chanting of the mantra he may check the timings of specified number of japas according to his natural frequency and may use a clock (alarm) instead of a rosary, as per his convenience.

Any one who sincerely and rightly performs the japa-sadhana of the Gayatri Mantra begins to gradually progress through the aforesaid four stages of psychological and spiritual refinement and attains the ultimate goal. His mind and intellect are transformed and illuminated with divine love, light and wisdom and he awakens to the supreme reality of truth, consciousness, bliss (sat-chita-anand) beyond the limits of time and space.

Material well-being and elimination of worldly problems accrue to the sadhak, but these are mere byproducts of the spiritual illumination. Nothing remains to be gained or aspired for thereafter. Everyone, without any constraint of caste, creed, gender or social status, is entitled to undertake this scientific experiment of japa-sadhana of Gayatri Mantra and be the recipient of divine grace. Notes:

1. Japa: Repeated rhythmic enunciation or chanting (of a mantra).
2. Sadhana: Devout spiritual endeavor aimed at self-realization.
3. Japa-sadhana: Japa accompanied by meditation and specific religious practices.

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