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Number 108 ~ Significance in Eastern Culture

ANANDA HALDAR

Number 108 ~ Significance in Eastern Culture

 108 ~ Mystery and Significance of the number  108 There are a lot of people trying to understand the significance of the number 108. Often people will give a list of items that come in 108, but this doesn’t explain why 108 is sacred. A list gives no deeper understanding of why 108 is sacred, it only proves that people consider it sacred. As yogis and jyotishis, we need to understand the ‘why’ behind the principles of the ancient Rishis. This article is published and copyrighted by the Jyotish Digest, Volume 4 Issue 2, New Delhi, 2005. The unquoted information...

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Bangles / Bracelet ~ Science Behind Indian Culture

ANANDA HALDAR

Bangles / Bracelet ~ Science Behind Indian Culture

Bangles - Why do Indian Women Wear Bangles - Science Behind Indian Culture    Why Do Indian Women Wear Bangles? When we think of the word bangle, the mind conjures up an image of beautiful colourful circlets, the hand ornament used from time immemorial till date by Indian women. It is believed that the tinkle of bangles in a house keeps negative energy at bay.As per Ayurveda, the bones of women are weaker than those of men. In ancient times, gold and silver dust was used to provide energy, and the metallic properties of these metals were absorbed by the...

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The Benefits of Chanting OM MANI PADME HUM

ANANDA HALDAR

The Benefits of Chanting OM MANI PADME HUM

The Benefits of Chanting OM MANI PADME HUM ~by Lama Zopa Rinpoche The benefits of reciting the Compassion Buddha mantra are infinite, like the limitless sky. Even if you don’t have much intellectual understanding of Dharma, even if the only thing you know is om mani padme hum, still the happiest life is one lived with an attitude free of the eight worldly concerns. If you live your life with the pure attitude free of attachment clinging to this life and simply spend your life chanting om mani padme hum—this six-syllable mantra that is the essence of all Dharma—that’s the...

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OM or AUM ~ Benefits Of Chanting The Mantra - How To Chant Om

ANANDA HALDAR

OM or AUM ~ Benefits Of Chanting The Mantra - How To Chant Om

If you attend a yoga class, it is very likely that the teacher starts the class by reciting the sound of OM three times. Most teachers like to chant OM at the end of the class as wll. That’s how I start and end the classes tha I teach. So, the natural question that comes up is, "why chant OM and what is the significance of this sound?". Here is a brief explanation of the meaning and significance of OM.

OM is considered to be the ‘primordial sound’. Even before the material creation came into existence there was only the natural humming energy which resembled the sound of OM. Today, we know that one form of energy can be converted to another form – electricity to sound, electricity to heat, heat to electricity etc. According to the famous equation by Einstein – E=mc2, all matter is nothing but waves of energy. So, when the ‘powers that be’ decided to create this material universe, they were able to use the ever-present humming sound vibration of OM to manifest this creation. This same vibration continues to exist all around us and even inside us. The inner sound is given the name "antar-naada" (the inner sound) which can be heard when we can tune in to our pure inner self.

 The OM mantra has been mentioned in many of the ancient texts related to yoga. In many of the Upanishads, it is revered as representing everything that is manifest and yet has its roots in the unmanifest. The Mandukya Upanishad (MU), in particular, is fully devoted to the discussion of OM. In the Upanishads, OM is mentioned as being the same as Brahman (the supreme consciousness).

Meaning of OM

The Sanskrit word OM (also written as AUM) is a composite of three letters "A" (? – like the first sound in ‘aware’ , "U" (? -as in ‘foot’ and "M" (?? – as the last sound in ‘mum’). According to MU, the three letters A, U and M represent the waking, dream and deep sleep states. The silence between successive repetitions of the mantra represents the fourth state called ‘turiya’ (literally the ‘fourth’ in Sanskrit), a state that transcends these three states. These three states correspond to the conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious states of the mind. A few other commonly mentioned interpretations of the letters A, U and M are given below:

  • According to yoga, Samkhya and many other scriptures, the whole material creation, including human mind and body are a manifestation of the ‘mula prakriti’ (primordial nature) which is composed of the three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas. The three letters of OM thus correspond to the three gunas as follows:
  • A = tamas (darkness, inertia, ignorance)
  • U = rajas (passion, activity, dynamism)
  • M = Sattva (purity, truth, light)

The silence between the two AUM sounds represents the pure consciousness, a state which transcends the three gunas (called ‘trigunaatit’ – beyond gunas)

  • A = Brahma (the creator), U = Vishnu (the sustainer) and M = Shiva (the destroyer); the silence between two OM sounds = the substratum or the reality that lies beyond the trinity
  • A = Present, U = Past, M = future; silence between sounds = the reality beyond time and space
  •  

    Other names for OM

    • In some of the Upanishads, OM is referred to as ‘udgita’ (the uplifting chant) or ‘Omkara’. In Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and in some Upanishads it is mentioned as ‘Pranava’. Patanjali mentions it as a ‘vachaka’ or the representative symbol for Ishvara (the Lord). Other words used for OM include ‘taraka’ (the one that helps us cross the ocean of this perishable life), ‘akshara’ (indestructible or imperishable), and the Brahman (supreme consciousness) in sound form called ‘Shabda Brahman.

    OM in Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

    In chapter 1 (Samadhi Pada) of the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali gives us the concept of Ishvara as "Ishvara is the supreme Purusha, unaffected by any afflictions, actions, fruits of actions or by any inner impressions of desires." (translation by Sw. Satchidananda) (sutra 1.24). The following sutras provide us an insight into the sacred symbol OM:

    • sutra 1.27: "The word expressive of Ishvara is the mystic sound OM (pranava)"
    • sutra 1.28: "To repeat it with reflection upon its meaning is an aid."
    • sutra 1.29: "From this practice all the obstacles disappear and simultaneously dawns knowledge of the inner Self."
    • sutra 1.30: "Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from ground gained – these distractions of the mind-stuff are the obstacles."
    • sutra 1.31: "Accompaniments to the mental distractions include distress, despair, trembling of the body, and disturbed breathing."

    As we can see from these sutras by Patanjali, chanting of OM can make us free from obstacles (defined in sutra 1.30) and provide us a glimpse of the inner self.

    Even though chanting of OM as a mantra by itself is advocated in the above sutras, it is common to use OM in conjunction with other mantras. In some cases, it is added at the beginning of a shloka ; for example – "OM namo shivaya, OM bhur, bhuvah, svaha" etc. In other cases it is also added at the end of a phrase – e.g., Hari OM. Most of the mantras in the vedas also start with OM. In the spiritual tradition, those who wish to meditate on a regular basis get a personal mantra from their spiritual teacher. This personal mantra may or may not include OM as a part of the mantra.

    How to chant OM

    As Patanjali states in sutra 1.28, OM should be chanted keeping its meaning and significance in mind. Since OM is the representative sound and symbol for Ishvara, it is important to keep the essence of Ishvara (sutra 1.24) in mind while chanting OM. The technique for chanting OM is given below:

    Sit in a comfortable cross-legged seated posture with the spine upright, head, neck and spine in a vertical (if comfortable) alignment. Close the eyes and take a deep inhalation. While exhaling start uttering the OM sound. Begin by feeling the vibration of the "O" sound building up in the navel area and traveling upward. As you continue the chant, feel the vibration moving upward toward the base of the throat. When the vibration reaches the throat area, convert the sound to a deep humming sound of "M". Continue to feel the vibration moving upward until it reaches the crown of the head (called Sahasrara Chakra). You may repeat this process two or more times. At the end of the final chant, continue to sit still and feel the vibration of the OM sound permeating the whole body – every single cell of the body.

    Benefits of chanting OM

    The continued recitation of OM (called Udgita Pranayama) fills one with peace, calmness, tranquility and serenity. When we recite it with the understanding that OM is nothing but a representation of Ishvara, it brings us closer to our true nature, our own pure self. As mentioned above, OM is the primordial sound and this entire creation is a manifestation of this mystic sound. It represents the cosmic prana (the vital energy) and the air we breathe. Meditating on these thoughts can bring us closer to other human beings and lift the veil of separateness.

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    Namaste ~ The Real Meaning of " Namaskar"

    ANANDA HALDAR

    Namaste ~ The Real Meaning of " Namaskar"

    Namaste ~ The Real Meaning of " Namaskar" - Reasons Behind Hindu Traditions ~ Indian Greeting                          What Does Namaste Mean? The Real Meaning and Significance of "Namaste!" ‘Namaste’ or ‘namaskar’ is the Indian way of greeting each other. Wherever they are – on the street, in the house, in public transport, on vacation or on the phone – when Hindus meet people they know or strangers with whom they want to initiate a conversation, namaste is the customary courtesy greeting to begin with and often to end with....

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