Gods And Goddesses

aawhiteed

I am sure that Deva Premal and Mitten have been instrumental in bringing Sacred Indian Chants to the West. Her gorgeous rendition of the Gayathri Mantra has been heard all over the world, and those of us who listen to YouTubes, would be well acquainted with her haunting voice. Deva Premal brings both well-known and less well-known chants (Mantras)  from the Hindu Faith to audiences everywhere. She does not chant them in their original form, but turns each one into a Sacred Hymn that grabs our attention and holds us in a sacred place for a few minutes. But what’s the meaning behind the chants? Here’s a little about the Gods and Goddesses of the Hindu religion,  who represent the  very essence of the Mantras we hear in the West today.     

Hindu Gods and Goddesses

There is a remarkable religious tolerance embedded within the pantheon of countless Hindu gods and Goddesses, allowing everyone to experience the divine in the way that most suits them. For those that are strangers to India and Hinduism, this may appear strange, as most other religions are less obviously tolerant towards other points of view. The deeper meaning of the Hindu Gods is not well known in the West. The Gods and Goddesses are not actually the essence of Hindu prayers. Hindus pray to the aspects (visible features of the Divine) by giving those aspects name and form. The Hindu religion recognizes the absolute, the Divine, as formless – the highest God.

 

Agni - God of Fire
Agni – God of Fire

This demi-god rules fire, riding on a Ram. Latin ignis (the root of English ignite). The sacrifices made to Agni go to the deities because Agni is a messenger from and to the other gods. He is ever-young, because the fire is re-lit every day; but also he is immortal. Agni is represented as red and two-faced (sometimes covered with butter), suggesting both his destructive and beneficent qualities, and with black eyes and hair, three legs and seven arms. He rides a ram, or a chariot, pulled by goats or, more rarely, parrots. Seven rays of light emanate from his body. One of his names is “Sapta jihva”, ‘seven tongues’. He is worshipped under a threefold form: fire on earth and lightning and the sun.

Here are a few different translations of verses 17 and 18 of the Isha Upanishad

May my life merge in the Immortal

When my body is reduced to ashes.

O mind, meditate on the eternal Brahman.

Remember the deeds of the past.

Remember, O mind, remember.

O god of fire, lead us by the good path

To eternal joy. You know all our deeds.

Deliver us from evil, we who bow

And pray again and again.

Easwaran Translation

aawhiteed

Goddess of Dawn Usha
Goddess of Dawn Usha

Ushas “Dawn”, is a Vedic deity. She is the chief goddess ( sometimes imagined as several goddesses ) Dawn exalted in the Rig Veda. She is portrayed as a beautifully adorned, sexually attractive young woman riding in a chariot.

 

HYMN TO USHA -DAWN

O Usha! You are of a luminous movement, vast with the Truth, move according to the path of the Truth, in solar light manifest, true in her being with the gods as the impeller of happy truths.

Surya -God Of The Sun
Surya -God Of The Sun

Surya

Surya (Sun) is the chief solar deity. His chariot is pulled by seven horses, representing seven planets.

Because of this septenary nature, the Sun is spoken of by the ancients as one who is driven by seven horses equal to the metres of the Vedas; or he is identified with the seven Gana (Classes of Being) in his orb. He is distinct from them, having Seven Rays, as indeed he has The Seven Beings in the Sun are the Seven Holy Ones. He is self-born from the inherent power in the Matrix of Mother-Substance. It is they who send the seven principal Forces, call Rays, which, at the beginning of Pralaya, will centre into seven new Suns for the Next Manvantara. The energy from which they spring into conscious existence is every Sun in what some people call Vishnu, which is the Breath of the Absoluteness,

Savitr is the aspect of the sun before sunrise. He is golden all over. He establishes people in their respective places. He gives life and energy and guides people in the right path. The famous Savitr. Gayatri Mantra is dedicated to this Savitr. The nourishing and life-supporting aspect of the sun is personified and praised as Pusan. He is exceedingly beautiful. He destroys the evil ones with the discus he wears. He looks upon all with an equal eye. He is extremely generous and ever ready to protect.

Gayatri

There is a famous prayer in Sanskrit that first appears in the Rig Veda (iii /62/10) called the Gayatri Mantra that almost every Hindu knows. In roman letters it is as follows:

Om bhur bhuvah svah        – (Not swaha but soo-va-har)
tat-savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah pracodayat

 

A basic translation can be given as…

Oh God, the Protector, the basis of all life, Who is self-existent, Who is free from all pains and Whose contact frees the soul from all troubles, Who pervades the Universe and sustains all, the Creator and Energizer of the whole Universe, the Giver of happiness, Who is worthy of acceptance, the most excellent, Who is Pure and the Purifier of all, let us embrace that very God, so that He may direct our mental faculties in the right direction.

aawhiteed

Vedas

Hinduism in India traces its source to the Vedas, ancient hymns composed and recited in Punjab as early as 1500 B.C. Three main collections of the Vedas–the Rig, Sama, and Yajur–consist of chants that were originally recited by priests while offering plant and animal sacrifices in sacred fires. A fourth collection, the Atharva Veda, contains a number of formulas for requirements as varied as medical cures and love magic. The majority of modern Hindus revere these hymns as sacred sounds passed down to humanity from the greatest antiquity and as the source of Hindu tradition.

Source:   http://mysticinfoun.blogspot.fr/2009/04/light-of-vedas-hymn-to-usha.html

aawhiteed


Ganesha -Tibetan
Ganesha -Tibetan

I am saving Ganesha until next post together with Snippets on the Seven Rays

Shri Yantra – Sacred Geometry

A saying from the Vedas claims that “Speech is the essence of humanity.” All of what humanity thinks and ultimately becomes is determined by the expression of ideas and actions through speech and its derivative, writing. Everything, the Vedas maintain, comes into being through speech. Ideas remain idealised until they are created through the power of speech. Similarly, The New Testament, Gospel of John, starts “In the beginning was The Word. And the Word  was with God and the Word was God.” Different cultures use language differently. The Buddhist and Hindus have always looked for esoteric sounds that correlate with the universe. The Latin language, also ancient, led to  the Monks creating perfect mantras in the musical composition of the Gregorian chants.

Gregorian chant has been used around the world in the Roman Catholic liturgy for over a thousand years. The chants are most closely associated with the Benedictine order of monks, who would use the chants daily in services and in prayer. The Gregorian tradition superseded the Ambrosian, Gallican, and Mozarabic chants between the eighth and 11th centuries, except in Milan, where the Ambrosian chants are used to this day. The chants formed part of the day to day worship; the choir, clergy and congregation would sing prayers instead of saying them.

 

 

Shri Yantra

The most important of all Tantrik yantras –

The outer triangles are occupied by divinities which represent the subdivided energy-self of the Great Goddess.

A standard table providing complete information about the file, including description of what it shows and how it was made, copyright status and source.

  • Description – Sri Yantra 256bw.gif Sri-Yantra B/W picture
  • Date – 10 December 2006(2006-12-10)
  • Source – Own work
  • Author
  • N.Manytchkine

What is Yantra Art?


Yantras are of geometrical design and traditionally contain the energy of a particular deity as perceived or seen by ancient rishis or enlightened masters. They are visual forms of mantric energy and often contain a mantra associated with it. Yantras are also used for purposes such as to attract harmony, peace, enhance learning and the quality of one’s life, promote healing, and more.

Though drawn in two dimensions, a yantra may represent a three dimensional sacred object. Once such example is the  2D representation of a 3D Maha Meru as shown here in the yantra image. They are made out of metal plates like copper, created on silk fabric or paper, and used for worship and meditation. Even if the yantra art enthusiast is not a meditator, it’s ok. Viewing yantra art itself works through its symbolism subtly on you and your environment infusing it with an uplifting, healing and centering energy. It helps you to connect with the center of your Being to experience more inner peace, bliss and harmony in your life.

In ancient texts, Lord Shiva is supposed to have explained the mystical meaning of the yantra to his consort Goddess Parvati.

Yantras as Meditation and Centering Device

Keeping yantra art like a Sri Yantra is an expression of the Divine Mother Goddess, or a Maha Meru image, a three dimensional representation of the universe, in your home, or on an altar, is auspicious. These images can be used for worship or as meditation and centering devices.

The Meru Chakra or Sri Chakra is a three-dimensional Shri Yantra, the embodiment of Sri Lakshmi (abundance) and Tripura Sundari (beauty).  It is the yantra of Sri Vidya, sacred knowledge of the Goddess. It can also be seen as the unification of Masculine Divine and Feminine Divine:  Shiva and Shakti, Lakshmi and Narayana, Purusha and Prakriti. It can be effectively used for correcting defects of the north (direction of health, fortune, career, and money) and northeast (energetically, the most sacred and important area of any building). When placed in the northeast, it improves the spatial energies of the whole house. Defects in the northeast and north are the most serious, so the Meru Chakra is a valuable corrective tool of Vedic yantra technology. Even if your home or office has been built according to Vastu, the Gold Meru Chakra is a great energetic blessing that enhances
the flow of vibrant energy of health and abundance.

-Sadhana.tamilelibrary.org.

Yantra and Astrology

Yantra may be used to represent the astronomical position of the planets over a given date and time. It is considered auspicious in Hindu mythology. These yantras are made up on various objects i.e. paper, precious stones, metal plates and alloys. It is believed that constantly concentrating on the representation helps to build fortunes, as planets have their peculiar gravity which governs basic emotions and karma.  These yantras are often made on a particular date and time according to rules defined in the vedas.


A mandala  bought some years ago in Puttaparthi

(I  believe it is the Dalai Lama’s Yantra, although not sure.)

Mantra

Several aspects must be distinguished in the universal vogue of the sacred formula – a vogue that, on one hand, led to the highest speculations on ‘mystical sounds,’ and on the other, to the Lamaistic prayer wheel. First of all, we must take into consideration the inevitable ’popular success’ of such a method, of the apparent ease with which salvation, or at least merit, could be gained, simply at the cost of repeating magical words, or mantras or dharanis. We shall not dwell on this popularisation and degradation of the spiritual technique; it is a familiar phenomenon in the history of religions, and, in any case, it is not its popular success that will teach us the secret of the mantra-yana. The practical value and philosophic importance of mantras rest upon two orders of facts; first, the yogic function of the phonemes used as “supports” for concentration; second and this is the peculiarly trantric contribution of the elaboration of a Gnostic system and an interiorised liturgy, through revalorisation of the archaic traditions concerning mystical sound.

The dharani, literally, ’she who upholds or encloses,’ was already employed in Vedic times as a ’support’ and ’defence’ for concentration (dharana).

Phonemes discovered during meditation probably expressed states of consciousness ‘cosmic’ in structure and hence difficult to formulate in secular terminology. Experiences of this kind were already known in the Vedic period, although the few documents by which they have been transmitted to us seldom contain more than allusions, particularly in the form of images and symbols. It is a definitely  archaic spiritual technique that here confronts us; some cosmic ecstasies of the shamans are expressed by unintelligible phonetic inventions, which sometimes result in the creation of a secret language. These are experiences, then, that are in some measure bound up with the discovery of language and that, by this ecstatic return to a primordial situation, shatter diurnal consciousness. All of the tantric yogin’s effort is expended upon reawakening this primordial consciousness and rediscovering the state of completeness that preceded language and consciousness of time. In tantrism, the tendency toward a rediscovery of language to the end of a total revalorization of secular experience is shown especially by its employment of secret vocabularies.

The unlimited efficacy of mantras is owing to the fact that they are (or at least, it correctly recited can become) the objects they represent. Each god, for example, and each degree of sanctity have a bija-mantra, a ’mystical sound,’ which is their ’seed’ their ’support; – that is, their very being. By repeating this bija-mantra in accordance with the rules, the practitioner appropriates its ontological essence, concretely and directly assimilates the god, the sate of sanctity, etc. Sometimes an entire metaphysics is concentrated in a mantra.

The entire cosmos, with all its gods, planes, and modes of being, is manifested in a certain number of mantras; the universe is sonorous, just as it is chromatic, formal, substantial etc. A mantra is a ’symbol’ in the archaic sense of the term – it is simultaneously the symbolized ’reality; and the symbolizing ’sign.

There is an occult correspondence between the mantra’s mystical letters and syllables (the mairkas, ’mother’ and the bijas, ’seeds’) and the subtle organs of the human body on the one hand and on the other, between those organs and the divine forces asleep on manifested in the cosmos. By working on the ’symbol’ one awakens all the forces that correspond to it, on the levels of being.

Excerpted from Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom, Willard R. Trask tr. Bollingen Series.LV1.