M.D.Muthukumaraswamy began his lecture by stating that he was going to talk on the relation of the Chakras (different energy points in the body) and the Beejakshara Mantra (the mantra which is chanted to awaken these charkas) composed and chanted in Vedas through various practitioners. The interpretation of the relationships would be his, but the information would be from practitioners who collected it through field work, and learning the facts. “Though the interpretation is mine it would be based on the existence of indigenous linguistic systems.”
These practices are shrouded in high secrecy and are practiced as rituals without interpreting what it means or its results. There are sources by way of Vedic Yoga chanting texts and several indigenous books in Tamil used by the Yoga practitioners. The Sree Vidya tradition of which he was going to talk has manuscripts and is maintained through oral chanting in houses and temples.
Sanskrit language has 16 vowels and 33 consonants according to Tantric tradition. The texts are based on the metaphor of light. The metaphor used in all tantric traditions including the indigenous traditions to discuss sound is that of light. In the tantric tradition of the Vedas and in all indigenous tantric traditions sound is supposed to create the equivalent of light. Sound is associated with the luminosity of the light and also with a basic colour. Sound is not related to a corresponding colour but luminosity. It is an interesting process where metaphor is not used as a means to describe one natural phenomenon through another. In Vedic tradition in North Kerala, Southern Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu the metaphor of light is used to describe sound and sound to describe light. According to tantric practices the connection is that of the metaphor of light used to describe sound and sound used to describe the natural quality of light. Sound is supposed to be yellow in colour. This colour is placed in the petal of the lotus, but it has other colours. Tradition is described and interpreted according to modern terms.
There is a dispute that linguistically in Sanskrit there are only 13 vowels and in total there are only 49 swaras or alphabets. However, the number 16 describes Shodasa, the Mother Goddess, Adi Parashakti. This is considered to be the most complete form of Shakti. So the number 16 is most sacred in tantric tradition. In indigenous languages such as Malayalam vowels are considered to be 16 in number with the addition of “Am” and “Aha”. So indigenous knowledge is described in the indigenous pattern of vowels and consonants which contain 51 sounds. There are several inconsistencies between tantric and linguistic tradition. In the history of Shakta religion, there are 4 major centers. At the height of Buddhism, it tried to imitate Shakta religion and that spelt the end of Buddhism. So the expansion of numbers in sounds also was according to the expansion of Shakta centers from 4 to 16 and 16 to 51. There were at that time 51 centres of Shakti worship. Mythical sounds are a composite part of Shakti tradition. There are several histories and several traditions. So these inconsistencies prop up every now and then.
Part of Southern Tamil Nadu, or even the entire Tamil Nadu, especially in Kumbakonam, the Saktha tradition is one of the oldest. In Northern Tamil Nadu, some parts of Kerala, and Karnataka, they observe the Shakta Tradition, but call it Brahminical tradition and not tantric tradition. Practices are tantric, but they do not openly acknowledge that. Inconsistencies happen because of intermingling of traditions.
“I am talking of Sree Vidya tradition practiced in Tamil Nadu; it may be differing from other versions.”
According to Sree Vidya tradition there could be 49 sounds or 51 sounds. There are three types of Sri Chakras. They are with open forks or closed forks. The one which is open believe that there are 51 sounds and the one which is closed believe that there are 49 sounds. One basic sound where the light is most luminous and other sounds which are lesser in shade. Each sound is described through a metaphor of light. The lines of Vedas are composed in light or shade. Each line of the Vedas is composed of 40 syllables.
Secondly it is related to charkas found in the body. Tantra practitioners found three facets in the tradition, Tantra, Mantra and Yantra. Body and the diagram of the body and its response to the parts of the body. Chakras are the Yantra representation of the body. Body is not a living organ or entity on its own. It is interconnected with the rest of the cosmos. Bodily charkas diagramatically represent bodily sounds. Interacts at particular points of intersections of body. Intersections are described in triangles and to describe luminosity they use petals. Petals which are the representation of the state of luminosity of sound to the intersecting points. Intersections of the body where energy lies is connected to the energy of cosmos. Indigenous vedic knowledge uses the interplay of five basic elements in relating intersecting points to body. Body is consciously or unconsciously related to cosmos.
Mooladhara Chakra : First sound is “Vam”(Lam). During the poojas in temples ritual called Samarpanam (submission), the chant(line) recited with sounds associated with basic elements. There is a contradiction in the very way in which the ritual is performed. To get to the term “Lam” associated with Mooladhara Chakra there is a process. Prithvi (Earth) and Ganesha are the deities associated with Mooladhara Chakra. Here the metaphor is not the one to connect to the one at play, work, sound to colour, but to the element and to the deity. Vam is the basic sound connected with the Mooladhara Chakra. But Lam is the one used for rituals. No documented interpretation for this. Varied schools on basic details. One can only speculate. Vam. Mooladhara Chakra describes it as placed in backbone or spine, at the end of the spinal cord. Chanting the syllable Vam Mooladhara Chakra is awakened. But there are other secondary sounds related to the main sound. These are Sanskrit alphabets
Va – main sound
La, Sa, Sa, Sha are the related sounds. Why? Two kinds of correspondences. How you breathe when you make a sound and how it affects the charkas and relate them to sounds. This does not follow a linguistic system. These are related sounds that affect the chakra. This is the primordial chakra. These set of sounds compose the Beejakshara Mantra and deity associated with that chakra. Sounds that make similar awakening in charkas. Composition based on that of the Beejakshara Mantra. Beejakshara Manta gives a clue to put all the sounds and other elements together. Draw a chant where these sounds that are located may have correspondence not outside practitioners.
Om – is supposed to be breathing out located at the spine. But there is breathing in slowly, then breathing out completely involved in the process of chanting Om.
The breathing in and out are known as involutions in linguistics. Peculiar to Sanskrit language. Sound incorporation in breathing in/out. Movement of sound can be diagrammatic representation of charkas. When the sounds above mentioned are chanted four times in succession, they awaken Mooladhara Chakra. Practice the basic sound, then the series of associated sounds four times as a preparation before Lam is sounded. The outside world is not aware of how you arrive at Lam. These are arrived at for ritualistic submission. Internal practices are different.
Different Vedas interpret different swaras differently.
Breathing in/Breathing out
Aum : Au: Breathing in; Am: Breathing out
Simultaneously occurring. Primordial sound contains both inhaling and exhaling. All the three elements – breathing in, retaining, breathing out.
When it is chanted there is inhalation/exhalation and it automatically starts. Breathing out is a most sacred moment; it signfies a moment of release. Should be celebrated. Common for all Vedas. Colour trains your ear for different notes- You get the perfect pitch doing it by colour. Colour of a flat sound is muddy; a full note has full colours. Ethno-musicologist – Tibetan nun at the height of her chanting she was producing harmonies more that an octave and a half. Colour might contain everything. It could also have last consonant placement of sound backwards. Intake of energy is further placed back in the mouth than your Om. In Om, O is Brahma, Ya is Vishnu and Am is Siva.
Association of a set of sounds with chakra, the progression of sound can be clockwise or anti-clockwise. Composition of Beejakshara Mantra different for different deities in a certain progression of energy in that sound.
Each sound is given a measure; how many measures it takes to reach Lam. 4,4,8,5,5,40 to reach the eligibility to go into the stage to say Lam involving the entire Beejakshara Mantra. One cannot straight away go to the Mantra. It is a preciously guarded secret. Before arriving at the Mantra all the steps taken to get Mooladhara Chakra awakened.
Swadhishtana Chakra: Bum is the syllable. Located below navel above genitals. Primordial element is the Earth. Sounds are represented anti-clockwise. Deities are Anjaneya and Brahma. Matter of dispute associated with element and deity. Some say it is Vayu or air.
Soundarya Lahari 10.15 a.m; each chakra is associated with goddess. Bum is the primordial sound.
Related sounds are ba, ma, ya, ra, la, and va. Each sound is chanted four times and Vam is chanted forty times. Evoke Swadhishtana Chakra.
Manipura Chakra : located over navel; primordial sound Dum; Element is water; deity is Vishnu, clockwise chanting.
Related sounds : da, da, na, ta, da, da, na, pa, ja.
4 times each sound and Vam 40 times.
Ultimate Goddess Lalitha Tripurasundari; Recite Lalithasahranamam, Lalitha Thirisali 9300 names) equally important. First letter. 16 lettered Mantra. How each of the beginning of the names taken as Beejakshara Mantra.
Anahata Chakra : situated in the chest; primordial element : Agni (fire); Deity : Siva. Primordial sound Anya, ruled by Siva.
In the practice of Vedic chanting, each of the charkas is blocked by a Granthi(a knot) preventing free flow in every human body and cosmos in consonance of balancing energies within the body with cosmological harmony. Body steeped in Ajana chant pieces which act across the knot and releases the energy flow. Achieve awareness which is the highest form of alert consciousness.
Ramayana : The name of Rama considered most sacred. It is the easiest and most practiced way sound can be evoked to approach to Vedic chanting. Sacred sounds produced with harmony between body and cosmos. Don't attach much importance to the meaning of the term. Meaning not signifying a profound truth. Meaning does not matter, but sound matters. Through sound approach the body and the cosmos; sacred sound harmonizes cosmos and body. Pronounce the word exactly as it should sound. Sounds in themselves have sacredness. Constructed sounds have meaning and significance.
Mahamrityunjaya Mantra of Sree Rudram compared to a ripe cucumber. It is the most revered Mantra and it will awaken even a dead person. Significance is in sound alone. Rhythm also. Sama Veda musical; Atharva : musical beat not effective; Yajur Veda : Rhythm : Rig Veda ; the Riks. How you approach the sacred sound is not through sacred meaning. It grants you liberation, ripeness of a cucumber achieved. Greatest release and immense benefits drawn from it and illnesses cured, mental peace achieved, overcomes death. Speculations prevail. Sanskrit artificial language not spoken language. Constructed according to these principles. Composition of sounds. Create words along with sounds composed other Vedic compositions, remains artificially constructed for practices of Tantra or Yoga.
Rig Veda hymns different; certain sookthas performed as after Shanti Mantras in praise of Nature and harmony in nature. Case of poems, not sounds, not part of a ritual tradition. Rig Vedic hymns incorporated into temple rituals.
Second Component: evoke charkas. After creating awakened energies it should also be kept in peace, not let go. Have energy contained in body. Vedic composition evocation of energy, another chanting to quieten it so that the body can handle it. Phalasruti sounds that quieten down the flow of energy. Krishna Yajur Veda. In Sri Rudram Kamakam chanting awaken Anahata chakra. Anahata set on fire. Then chant Kshamaka to quieten. Sound of Rha signifies Agni. Body can't handle it. Composition of Vedic chanting and order of chanting. Main chanting : Pancha Sooktha, Shanti Mantram, Mantra Pushpam Harmony of nature and the end desired by you. It is auspicious.
Initiates have several acts then blood activated, sweat pours. To become an adept, it takes a long time. Frustrating, because each level will take one year or two years. Altogether it would take 16 to 20 years.
Tantric knowledge esoteric knowledge. It is gained through field research and interpretations. Approach done through well known Sree Viday tradition. Aksharas approach. This tradition has been set by Bhaskara Raja and is prevalent in a Kumbakonam village. Sree Vidya tradition has at the center Sree Chakra and Lalitha as the ultimate deity. It is based on approach to sound, mantras and Vedas..
Tantric tradition continued through control imminent in rituals. Nyasa. Locating sound/verse in bodily parts. Two kinds of Nyasas according to folk lore. Adi Sankara interpreted 72 religious practices as the core of Hindu religion. 6 major religions under Hinduism – Shakta, Saivaite, Vaishnavaite, Kaumara, Ganapathy integrated all these into one religion. Also integrated several processes of Tantric practices into temple/house rituals. Main contribution is Nyasa, not found in practices other than tantric.
Karanyasam : locate it in finger.
Anga Nyasam : locate in body. Begin chanting saying what it is. “Asya Sri Mahamantrasya Aho Rishi Anushtup Chhanda” Draw triangle on your body right hand shoulder, left hand on naval, locate sound. Inverted triangle. draw invisible inverted triangle, a contribution of Tantric tradition. This is the Yantra, diagrammatic representation of both body and cosmos.
Understand integration of Karanyasa through “Angushtabhyam Nama”. Follow the bodily tune “ Anganyasa Hridaya Nama Sirasa Geeyayai Oshade, Netratraya, Astraya”. Many important things. Beejakshara Mantra located in body chanting and chanting. How you see as a ritual. Ritual mode of reality. Create a fiction. Participate or experience living it. Sanctity of ritual creates a perspective, mode, appreciate/participate do it as preparation towards locating sound in body, purifying parts of the body. Create a “Bandha”. Gayatri/Pranayama . Next stage is Dhyana, brief meditation. This is the entire process before chanting begins. Creating a ritual mode, understanding, creating a perspective, appreciate empty structure. If done mechanically the efficacy may not take place. Locate, create relationship, Believe in mode of reality. Carry on the ritual of sound location. Sound is seen as body's ability to create luminosity, sound described in terms of light. Body carrier that produces light and sound. Sound described in terms of light. Relates body to cosmos. Cosmos is the vast infinity.
Sanskrit Akshara . There is a certain relationship between body and cosmos and this relationship is located in Chakras.
Mooladhara Chakra : Yat: colour of Chakra; Ganpathy deity, earth element. Swadishtana : Element Vayu or water. Minor tradition locate charkas in brain. Siddha tradition described by Kamapusundar as Tirunool. Big book. Tradition followed by Griha (home) practitioners. Chakras not referred to as body parts, but as different parts of brain. Awaken brain, not body.
Body decides on Yoga practices; Vachi Yoga; breathing is the only thing which matters. Hatha Yoga: train body through bodily exercises. Masra Yoga ; Only chanting and praying. Several minor traditions following different Guru Paramparas. Medical system practices, way of understanding body; 100's of systems.
Sree Vidya tradition most comprehensive. Most interpretations in Sundara Kandam. Reading embedded from the tradition. Other traditions borrowed into contact/travel.
Anhata chakra Till Manipura, body in the world, awareness of body being in the world, worldly aspirations. Tantric practices Rudra Granthi, most difficult to break and awaken. Seat of Ahamkara, winning the Ahamkara difficult They reach Vinyasa Anyam.
Love and compassion best practice to abandon yourself , man with God, Submission, Yoganidra. Let yourself completely go. Complete absence of ego. Heart position. Shoulders, lungs, location of fire. Life breath Narayanasudham location of soul/Atman. Graffic anatomic description of location of Narayana. Part of a package after Nyasa has been taken improvised Yajur Veda. Elaborate. Allowed Laghu Nyasa quietly twice Mahanyasa, each position of body locating sounds. Nearly two and a half hours to do Nyasam. Mahanyasa if done properly see redness all over your body vibrating with sounds.
How different Vedas interpret sounds. Sanskrit sounds practiced by non Sanskrit speakers. Do not know meaning. Approach of interpreting sound, there are differences of opinion. Malayalam/Tamil inflections of language transgress Sanskrit pronunciation. Multiple linguistic accidents.
The way you pronounce makes the difference.
Who decides the purity of Sanskrit pronunciation?
Between Vedas writing the Veda approach to sound; multiple ways in other languages.
Gayatri chanted for purification of mind and body. Pre-ritual preparation before a ritual and awakening of charkas to awareness of body. Evocation of “Am” an important vowel. Purity of the Mantra, cutting of the word follows different patterns in Rig and Yajur Veda. In Rig Veda, Namonama is taken as one word. (because the word is the important indicator); In Yajur Veda Namo is separated from Nama (Rhythm is the important indicator). Sama Veda entirely musical. Gayatri Mantra, past. Present and future better related vehicles. Sabdavyakriti directly dealing with pure energies all pervasive cuts across Vedas/practices. Sounds related.
Visuddha Chakra : complicated. Beejaksharamantra something that cannot be grasped in small quantities. It cannot be captured easily as it deals with infinity.
Overcoming hatred – pure love. Anahata chakra – Nothing is hated. Drinking urine, cleaning toilets etc; bodily impurities would make no difference. “Ham” related sounds each sound chanted before arriving at “Ham” Anahata – two petals, meditate on Anahata. Sarpadrishti. Staccato voice seat of two petals, Siva and Shakti united transcend sexuality/hatred for bodily impurities/have orgies. Reach a place where there is no difference only the same bliss.
Sahasrahara located on top of the skull/little above forehead seat of Guru. Intersects through head attain Sidhi. Related sounds. Different petals. Located. No other.