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S. Mohana Krishna
Magazine : Viswajanani
Language : English
Volume Number : 22
Month : March
Issue Number : 8
Year : 2022

The phrases in the first line in the above caption don’t sound like Mantras. But for a person who would like to know the mystery of existence and that of birth and

death, deep contemplation and constant enquiry into these words gradually open

up new dimensions.

These questions normally arise in sincere seekers. But they could also arise in the common person pursuing worldly ways when confronted with difficult situations. The seemingly chaotic happenings and inexplicable instances which shake a person’s life drive the person to contemplate on the meaning and purpose of existence. If one ponders sincerely on the existential questions ‘What is this?’ and ‘What actually is this?’ then, he is likely to reconcile himself to a state of peace and equanimity. (Although it sounds paradoxical, from this exalted state, he may refrain from seeking answers to such questions as the question is from the field of duality whereas the answer can be found experientially only in the realm of non-duality.)

Amma perhaps described these ordinarily used words as equivalent to the Mantras, greatly revered as Panchakshari meaning a word containing five letters (Om Namah Sivaaya) and Ashtakshari meaning a word containing eight letters (Om Namo Naraayanaaya) in the above context. (In Telugu language, the phrase — ‘What is this ‘Idi Emiti?’ — in Telugu, contains five letters and the phrase — — ‘What exactly is this — ‘Asalu idi emiti?– contains eight letters.)

This pointer perhaps is meant for those who attained a certain level of spiritual progress after having done some Sadhana. Here Sadhana is to be taken not merely as a spiritual practice like formal worship like Japa or meditation but adopting a sincere way of life. It may be adopting a vow of telling the truth, not coveting and the like.

In the fascinating biography of Amma, many persons, some with history of bad deeds, revolve around her. The police constable Mastan who approaches young Amma with an evil intent of snatching her gold ornaments was changed into a noble and righteous person in a very short time with the transforming touch and enlightening words of Amma. Mastan had a bleak background.

See one of the dialogues young Amma, who was all of five years at that time, had with Mastan:

“Did you ever wonder what keeping a word means..?

A word is a commitment. Such a word is a Mantra. For noble persons, their committed word itself is the Mantra. There is no problem in society for their unalterable words. Lots of others like you who claim to be undergoing difficulties do keep changing words.”

Thus, Amma stressed the need for integrity in word. If one strives to have oneness in thought, word and deed, that itself will be an effective spiritual Sadhana. 

Amma, when she was in early teenage years, takes an orphan boy lying on

the roadside to a Government doctor for treatment. The Doctor observes the compassionate attitude of Amma towards the boy.

Excerpts (related to mind and Mantra) from the conversation of Amma with the doctor when the doctor wants to understand mother :

“Amma: With which (instrument) do you understand?

Doctor: With mind.

Amma: Have you understood what mind is?

What is it? How is it?”

The doctor, perhaps unable to find a ready answer to such a perplexing question, refers to his Guru Sri Kalyanananda Bharati Swami who expounded about ‘mind’ for several days. He asks Amma whether she had heard of his Guru but Amma evades an answer by saying that there may not be an opportunity for persons like her.

(In fact, there is a background for her above response. While she was quite young, Amma happens to visit the Ashram of the Guru referred by the doctor for a number of days while he expounds the scriptures. The Guru was drawn to Amma’s divine effulgence and strikes a conversation with her even though it is against the usual Ashram norms. Amma, who is ‘Jnanam’ personified, with her pure wisdom couched in precocious words, tries to light the lamp of knowledge for the Guru to find a way through the maze of scriptural lanes and by lanes. Complete account of Amma’s interaction with the Guru is available in ‘Amma Jeevitha Mahodadhi’ Amma’s biography in Telugu.)

When Amma happened to meet the doctor, he was in a piquant situation and in a great turmoil as he was unable to follow the scrupulous injunctions stipulated by his Guru after he was initiated with a Mantra. Having sensed Amma’s exalted spiritual stature, he opens up and confides with Amma about his problem. The following narration throws light on ‘Mantra Diksha’ and helps all sincere Sadhakas.

“Doctor: I was initiated into ‘Bala’ Mantra. I was asked to view any and every woman as the divine mother Bala Tripura Sundari. I was also told that only when it is followed, the Upadesam can be considered fruitful and if not followed, will be dangerous. Being a married man, I am finding it difficult to comply with such injunctions. The Mantra keeps coming to the mind and the hospital atmosphere which is sometimes unpropitious is not conducive. With the severe inner conflict, I became weak mentally and physically. Added to this, I was prohibited to share anything with others except the Guru. I often become angry with my wife due to this helpless situation. This evening, I decided … Saying so, the doctor takes out from his pocket a letter and a packet of medicine.

Amma opens the packet and finds another small packet containing some pills and a note. It is a suicide note written by the doctor stating that no one is responsible for his death and that he is taking the extreme step to be one with his Guru.

Amma takes pity on the doctor. Cajoling him, Amma asks his opinion as to what Guru means. The doctor sheds silent tears and could not talk for some time and answers that a Guru is one who gives Mantra.

Amma holds his chin as an elderly mother holds the chin of a child affectionately, and while assuring that he has good times ahead, asks:

Amma: What is a Mantra?

Doctor: I think Mantra is uttering some words secretly in the ear.

For the question of Amma as to whether words secretly uttered by anyone becomes a Mantra, the doctor has no answer.

Amma says that she will be in the town for some more time and that she will meet him now and then. The doctor, feeling relieved, appeals to Amma to rescue him from drowning (referring to his situation arising out of Mantra Diksha).

Amma says that the doctor is very much on the shore and the question of rescuing arises only when one is drowning. The doctor, however, states that though it appears to Amma that he is on the shore, his mind was drowned. Amma, in reply states the home truth: “If it is the body, someone can drown it. In case of the mind, if you think you are drowned, you are and if you think you are afloat, you are afloat. It is all in your mind”.

For the affection showered on him and for the nectarine words coming from her, the doctor feels soothed and expresses his joy. In particular, her address ‘My dear child’ touches the doctor’s heart and he asks her why joy wells up within him when he was addressed so. Amma says that firstly she is happy in feeling that he and all others are her children and adds that only then; such endearing words naturally come out.

After some days, the doctor visits the house of Sri Venkata Subbarao, maternal grandfather of Amma in the same town. On finding Amma there, he feels extremely happy. The following further discussion takes place between Amma and the doctor on Mantra, ‘Upadesam’ and related subjects.

Amma: “Did the Guru ask you to recite Mantra or keep an insignia (Murthi)?”

Doctor: “I was asked to keep the image of ‘Bala Tripura Sundari’.”

On being asked whether he did so, the doctor says that he did not keep image but was given a Yantra drawn on a copper sheet.

Amma: “What is the purpose of the Yantra?”

Doctor: “Insignia of ‘form’.”

Amma: “Then, why at all a ‘form’?”

The doctor, saying that he is unable to understand all this, recalls his Guru’s remark that it (what he was initiated into) is Sri Vidya — a very great one (Sadhana) and at the same time risky. (According to the Guru, when Amma varu gives Darshan as doctor’s wife, his mind should not sway or it will be dangerous).

Amma: “Dear child!! The great Sri Vidya or Brahma Vidya is mistakenly understood as Stree Vidya (a woman oriented practice). Fear is arising out of this kind of thinking (Bhavana). There is nothing in the Mantra as such. Are they not the words we use daily? Certain letters are put together into a sentence — given a form, contemplated and that sentence is secretly uttered in the ear as Mantra.”

Doctor: “What is the reason for the Mantra to be uttered in the ear?”

Amma: “During that time, the mind (Jnanendriam) will be focused on (sounds that befall on) the ear. And, as Mantra is told only once in the ear, it is heard with rapt attention. Hence, it is considered secret.”

After a little more discussion, when the doctor said that his Guru is an aspect (Amsa) of God, Amma says that everyone is an aspect of God. She adds that when recognized as two (in duality), there is God and aspect of God and when it becomes One, Nature also is God!! The doctor, after deep thought concurs with Amma that what she stated is true. But a lingering doubt makes him ask

“Amma,… It is said that one should not remember the Mantra during periods of pollution! They say it is dangerous!!”

Amma: “When one is habituated to recite the Mantra, one cannot refrain

from doing it even during periods of pollution. Doing means remembering!!”

When the doctor once again expresses his apprehension of the danger of such remembrance, Amma clarifies

“Remembrance of Mantra at all times is a benchmark and is not dangerous. Breathing goes on incessantly and at all times. When breath is cognized as the form of Mantra, it is to recognize. Based on the ways, if it is controlled, it is Pranayama. While taking in the breath and when letting out, if letters are uttered, it is Mantra Dharana. If the mind watches the breath simply, that Japa is Gayathri… In other words, the run of breath is Gayathri. If no letters are uttered and if the mind becomes one with the air (breath), it is Ajapam.

When uttered with mouth, it is Japam. Penance (Tapas) is that which dissolves the mind.

Doctor: “Out of the above two, which one is greater?”

Amma: Both are great. The mind became one with letters while doing Japa whereas it became one with the Vayu in the other case. For both, the mind is important. This mind, in an instance, thinks that it can be done and in another instance thinks that it cannot be done. Do you remember what you asked and what I said?”

Doctor: “Is it remembrance at all times?”

Amma: Yes — my child! The mind which is wavering if it attains stillness and does Japa of the Mantra at all times and sees the same form in all forms, he himself is God. In a sense, he is greater than God. For God, though everything is the same, unless divided into two, creation does not go on. What I said above is the trait of Jnani.

For the question who is Jnani, Amma says that the one who cognizes everything as One is Jnani and the One who has become All is God.

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