Your Personal Pranava or Primordial Sound
Om represents the primordial sound of the universe, the underlying vibratory power behind all existence, called pranava in Yoga and Vedanta. From it all the other sounds arise and diversify, and from these sounds all things are produced, with primordial sound generating time, space, and karma. Pranava itself means original or primordial (pra), sound or vibration (nava).
We can call one’s personal primordial mantra your own “personal pranava,” your own portion of Om,or the primordial sound vibration. What Om is to the universe as a whole, your personal mantra is to you at an individual level. Your personal mantra connects to your soul and your inner being, and its special journey in life. It serves to identify your unique nature within the greater cosmic reality.
Chanting your personal mantra along with Om allows the cosmic vibration to enter into and energize your own unique sound pattern that reverberates through your mind and prana. It helps you redefine your own personal time, space and karma with clarity and consciousness.
Namah allows the consecration of the sound pattern back into yourself, a surrender to the Divine presence within your own deepest heart, which is also the same Divine presence that dwells in the hearts of all beings and in the entire universe.
Shakti Mantras and Personalized Primordial Sound Mantras
Besides the primary seed mantras of the Sanskrit alphabet – which are the basis of primordial sound mantras – there are special “Shakti mantras,” or mantras of power and grace. Shakti mantras also consist of single syllables but may contain several letters like Shreem or Hreem. Shakti mantras possess an energetic quality that, once you understand it, you can use to enhance your personal mantra, to increase your prana, your concentration, or whatever other qualities within yourself that you wish to improve or develop.
You can use Shakti mantras along with your primordial sound mantra. Your primordial sound mantra connects you to your inner being, allowing the power of the Shakti mantra to enter into your individual prana and awareness. The Shakti mantra adds its special quality and force to your seed mantra, drawing in the aspects of the cosmic energy or Shakti that it connects to. We will examine a few practical ways of working with Shakti mantras.
Use of the Shakti Mantra Shreem
For example, if your personal mantra is Vaam, you can chant OM Vaam Shreem or Om Vaam Shreem Namah, as a modification of your primordial sound. This allows the power of the Shakti mantra Shreem to enter into your personal mantra and through it to reach your inner being and change the movement of your prana.
Shreem is a special seed sound indicating creativity, blessings, grace, surrender, and peace. It reflects the energy of the moon, the feminine nature, receptivity, and the power of Lakshmi, the force of Divine abundance and prosperity. Repeating this Shakti mantra along with your personal mantra allows the blessings and beneficence of Shreem, Lakshmi and all that the mantra represents to enter into the core of your being.
In this practice, you can just simply let your mind rest in the power of the sound Shreem, or you can consider the blessings of abundance, inwardly or outwardly, that you would like it to bring into your life, into your relationships or into the world around you. You can use your personal mantra to surrender into the energy of Shreem.
The use of Shreem is helpful when you are feeling stressed, over stimulated, or depleted. It is particularly good if Vata or Pitta dosha are elevated in your body or mind, with too much heat, movement, agitation, or hypersensitivity developing within you. The mantra Shreem also brings energy into the left side of the body, the feminine lunar side, and develops the corresponding nurturing qualities and creative powers within us. It is particularly good for women and has a softening affect upon the emotions.
The repetition of Shreem along with your personal mantra is a great practice for the evening or night hours, allowing your mantra to help you unwind, relax, let go, and turn within. It will aid you in a better and more restful sleep, as well as aiding you in conscious dreaming. It settles the heart and increases the power of devotion. It brings a gentle glow into all that we do.
Use of the Shakti Mantra Hreem
Complementary to the Shakti seed mantra Shreem as reflective or lunar energy is the seed mantra Hreem as illuminating or solar energy. Hreem is a special seed sound indicating prana, energy, light, warmth, illumination, the power of the sun and the power of Durga, the solar aspect of Shakti, as Divine energy, vitality, fearlessness, and transformation. As Shreem calms the heart and mind with a cooling moonlight, Hreem stimulates it in a powerful but gentle manner with an energy like the light of the dawn or the rising Sun. Hreem opens up the spiritual heart as the seat of the Self or pure consciousness within us.
Repeating this Shakti mantra along with your personal mantra allows the blessings and beneficence of Hreem or the inner sunlight and pranic force to enter into the core of your being. You can simply let your mind rest in the power of the sound Hreem or you can consider the light, energy, vitality, or motivation that it can bring to you inwardly or outwardly, that you would like it to draw into your life, into your relationships, and into the world around you.
The Shakti mantra Hreem is helpful when you are feeling cold, weak, lacking in will power, or without any strong purpose or intention in life. It is particularly good if Kapha or Vata doshas may be elevated in your body and mind, with stagnation, depression, and feelings of alienation, insecurity, or lack of love. It also brings energy into the right side of the body that is governed by the Sun, giving us the power to accomplish our dharma through mindful actions and illumined insight. It strengthens the eyes and increases the power of knowledge within us.
Repetition of Hreem is a great practice for the morning or daytime hours when you need to keep a positive attitude, warmth, friendless, and compassion in your dealing with others. It will help you gather and express your energies with clarity and purpose. It will give you more focus in your work while keeping you connected to your spiritual heart and inner Self, allowing the mind to remain in an enlightened and expanded state of awareness.
Use of Shakti Mantras
There are several Shakti seed mantras, starting with about ten most important. Each has its own qualities, energetics, and particular range of application that can be precisely defined and skillfully used. They are sometimes used separately and sometimes in various combinations.
I would suggest to begin working with Hreem and Shreem as the two basic complimentary solar and lunar forces. Try to experience the power and grace of these mantras for yourself. They are very beneficent and balancing. Add them into your practice for a period of at least one month in order to bring their vibrations deep into your mind, body and prana.
But while you are working with such mantras, always hold to a spiritual intent and a respect for all life as sacred. Mantra practice is a means of energizing our thoughts and we always want to make sure that these are positive, gentle, and kind.
Such mantras are not meant to replace your personal primordial sound mantra but to enhance it. They are used in a more general manner, but if repeated along with your personal mantra, can be attuned to it as well, and afford it another and more specific quality of application.
Once you are comfortable with these two mantras, then you can also share them with other people as part of the blessings of primordial sound in all of its many manifestations. You can use them to connect to the Divine energies and powers of the conscious universe that move through cosmic sound.
Along with other aspects of Mantra Yoga, Shakti mantras are discussed in detail in my book Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound (David Frawley, Lotus Press 2010). The book addresses their usage along with mantras for the chakras, and for different marma points and energy points in the body, including the Mantra Purusha or our body of sound. Note also the CD Yogini Bhava: Shakti Mantras Invoke the Divine Within (Yogini Shambhavi, Lotus Press 2010) for chanting based upon Shakti mantras.
About the Author
Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley)
Pandit Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley) is a Vedic teacher or acharya working internationally to promote Vedic knowledge. He is noted for his ability to integrate Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedic astrology into a single system for raising consciousness that can be easily understood and applied today. His work has been honored in India and in the West.
Vamadeva is the author of over thirty books published in twenty languages over the last thirty years. He has authored many articles and several sets of Vedic course materials. A student of the Sanskrit language, he has translated ancient Vedic texts, including the Rigveda and Upanishads. His recent book Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound is regarded as one of the best available texts on mantra, and includes the practice of mantra meditation. He also teaches Vedantic meditation based upon the teachings of Ramana Maharshi.
Vamadeva is an advisor for several Ayurvedic and Yoga groups and institutions. He has worked with many spiritual and healing organizations worldwide. He has taught at the Chopra center since its inception nearly twenty years ago. The nature of his work and teachings, and other Vedic connections, is explained on his website.