Ganesha Siddhi Mantra Japa Meditation Practise
As you might have picked up from our posting: Shibumi Yoga Centre – Yoga Explorers Day (241113), Ros and I (yogini rosalind widdowson & swami tantramurti saraswati) are concentrating on the meditational practise of mantra japa (repetition) of a Ganesha siddhi (power) mantra (mind-liberator) to the point of mantra siddhi (empowerment) at 125,000 repetitions.
We have committed to daily practise (usually the same time of day) of at least two malas-worth (set of meditational prayer beads) of chanting and are carefully monitoring our consciousness for signs of its effectiveness. A small number of sincere practitioners have received personal instruction and initiation and have similarly committed to regular personal practise and observation. The aspiration is that we encourage each other and build a satsang (fellowship with truth) of vibrational energies.
Mantra Initiation, Authority & Lineage
I first received initiation into this form of the powerful siddhi (power) mantra from my gurubai (spiritual brother) Swami Nischalananda Saraswati of Mandala Yoga Ashram, Wales, and by lineal extension from our guru (bringer of light) Paramahansa Satyananda.
A group of us learnt this mantra as long ago as 1986 in order to aid the ashram’s request for ‘change of use’ planning permission, as I recall. Perhaps as a young swami I had the idea that divine forces might be whispering into the ears of the planners an exhortation to grant permission (along the lines of Paramahansa Yogananda’s extraordinary mystical interventions). Now, possibly with a more matured view, I would turn the telescope around and see it as removing obstacles from my own consciousness that form blocks to being a fit recipient of grace, to being a clear channel of receptivity.
Through the intervening years I have often utilised this mantra in my meditations and, I am pleased to report, with some success. At the moment Ros and I are making the commitment, over as long a time as it takes, to attain mantra siddhi (reaping the rewards of concerted regular mantra japa practise). This does not all come in a rush at the end of a process but, as experience and testimony demonstrates, through a series of progressive illuminations and wisdoms that establish themselves in consciousness. Some of these realisations we will attempt to share, by way of encouragement to fellow practitioners, through our on-line spiritual diary practise reports. We hope to demonstrate the efficacy of one of yoga’s spiritual technologies – mantra japa meditational practise.
What is Siddhi?
Siddhi(s), from the Sanskrit word for perfection, accomplishment, attainment or success, are powers generated, granted, earned or acquired through a sadhana (spiritual practice) such as meditation. The term ‘magical’ or ‘supernatural’ are often applied to these unusual skills, faculties or capabilities. Yogis and tantrics who have attained this state are known as siddhas (accomplished ones).
What is the Ganesha ‘siddhi’ mantra?
Utilised in Hinduism and Buddhism particularly, and our ‘condensed’ version with its particular cadences and inflections, is a particularly powerful and effective mantra because of its multiple use of bīja (semi-vowel ‘seed’ sounds): Aum, Shreem, Hreem, Kleem, Glaum, Gam, and Swaha (arguably). Ganapataye is a name of Ganesha from the word Ganapati (door warden). Bijas carry connections to spiritual principles. They are not mere symbols of something else but are the actual vehicles for changing and expanding one’s consciousness.
(above) One mala’s Ganesha Siddhi Mantra Japa practise (15 mins approx). Repeat as required.
Recorded at the Shibumi Yoga Centre (240114) by swami tantramurti saraswati, yogini rosalind widdowson & yogini ‘salad’.
The Ganapati Mool (root) Mantra is:
Aum Shreem Hreem Kleem Glaum Gam Ganapataye Vara Varada Sarva Janamme Vashamanaya Swaha.
Tuning In – The Cosmic Radio
The analogy I find most helpful (from our experiences in the modern age) is that of a radio station. The radio station is not the writing or printing of its broadcasting frequency any more than the energy of a mantra is its written form. We know that a multitude of radio stations are broadcasting radio waves containing information, music, talk, news, etc. However, if we do not possess the requisite receiving equipment (a radio, tv, computer, phone, etc.) we will remain entirely unaware of it. If we tune into it we have access to a wealth of riches that primitive man would have found entirely magical.
Mantra is the equivalent to being given the exact frequency of a radio station. Through appropriate self-preparation such as authentic source information, skilled tuition, utilising our physical and energetic bodies as resonant platforms, and the perseverance of regular and diligent practise, we can gain access to a storehouse of information, knowledge and understanding that is positively awesome in its potential.
Pranava – the Great Aum
The mantra aum (first found in the Hindu scriptures, the Upanishads) contains the three most basic sounds the human body and voice box can utter – aaah, oooooo, mmmmm – and a concluding silence (bindu). Traditionally all mantras start with the sounding or repetition of aum and often conclude with it. The repetition of the mantra aum (variously amen and amin), whether physically, mentally or ultimately with spiritual resonance is a complete practise and a safe method of meditation. Beginning with aum and dissolving in aum, the mantra comes full cycle.
I offer this analogy. The mantra aum (also Om) is like the milk the mother cow gives to her calf. The milk contains a rich and varied source of all the nutrients and protective substances that a calf needs to grow. It is a complete and sustaining food.
The Differentiated Bija or Seed Mantras
From the complete sound of Aum comes a series of bija or seed mantras that are secondary, differentiated elements, in much the same way as whole milk may be processed into its constituent parts to produce products such as yoghurt, cream, butter, cheese and ice cream. These more specific seed sounds (although they do not have precise meanings), carry connections to spiritual principles and personalities (such as Ganesha) and are specifically utilised for targeted effects such as dispelling fear, anxiety and depression.
How important is it to pronounce the Ganesha Siddhi Mantra correctly?
Well, it won’t kill you if you get it wrong, that’s the good news. It’s not unsafe if you don’t get the pronunciation absolutely correct, it just decrease its effectiveness. However, an English speaker not trained in the subtle pronunciations of Sanskrit would likely sound coarse and clumsy to a proficient speaker of an Indic language. For instance, although we have transliterated the mantra on the card above into an approximation of the Sanskrit, the ‘eem’ sound is closer to ‘ing’, sounded nasally. Sanskrit is an ancient language with many more subtle pronunciations than are required in the English tongue. If you are unused to the chanting of Sanskrit, then personal transmission from an authoritative source is essential.
But that needn’t be a deal-breaker for a sincere student. Options for refining pronunciation include: listening to and imitating a recording of a competent and knowledgeable practitioner, learning at least the basic intonations of Sanskrit (very useful for the aspiring yogi), taking one-to-one instruction from your guru or yoga teacher (best), or trusting that attunement to the sublime sounds will naturally come about through refined practise that reveals and releases both knowledge and a spiritual energy (ultimately inevitable).
How do I chant the mantra?
There are three recognised methods of reciting mantra:
ucchahi (vocally) – effective, very useful in establishing pronunciation and for initial group practise and as a form of pranayama (breathing),
upamshu (sub-vocal, soft recitation) – this is more effective and will probably be the secondary stage of practise. Just be careful it does not become ‘mumbling’.
manasikam (within the mind) – this is the most effective.
When sitting for formal practise a posture that ensures the spine is in a relaxed and in an upright position to allow for the free-flow of breath and circulation of subtle energies is essential. Classical meditational asanas (comfortable seats) such as sukhasana (easy posture) or padmasana (lotus or half lotus) with the buttocks raised slightly to take the weight off the groin and knees is prefered. Alternatively, sit comfortably on a straight-backed chair with your spine leaning two centimetres forward and free from the back of the chair, if possible. Remember it’s the practise that’s the most important, not the sitting posture.
It’s very helpful to use a japa mālā (prayer beads – literally ‘garland’) that is practised in sets of 108 repetitions. One round of a mala will take approximately 13 minutes. Eyes may be open (sometimes distracting), half-open (defocussed) or closed.
What is a Japa Mala and how do I use it?
A mala traditionally consists of 108 beads strung together with knots with a sumeru, bindu, stupa or guru bead (the 109th) outside the garland, marking the counting/turning point. Some traditions specify use of the right hand only (the left being associate with the ‘toilet’ hand) with the thumb flicking from one bead to the next with each repetition. The mala is draped over the middle finger, the index finger representing ego and thus avoided. Use of a mala bag prevents the mala being dropped or sullied by contact with the floor. There are smaller malas of 54 (more manageable with the larger beads such as rudraksha – medicinal seeds) or wrist malas of 27. The set I use (pictured above) is a tulsi mala I bought many years ago from the Hare Krishna devotees in London. By tradition, eight repetitions or beads are discounted and offered to God or guru. That makes it easier to record each mala’s practise as 100 repetitions.
Malas are made of a variety of woods, seeds, stones, bone, ceramics and crystals and are favoured by various practitioners for their efficacy. Ros uses a rosewood mala, purchased at the Satyananda Yoga Centre, London, which is recommended for use with a Ganesha mantra. If you intend to practise for mantra siddhi (mantra empowerment) of one particular mantra then I suggest you purchase a new mala for that purpose. It will become spiritualised by your practise and can even be passed on as an act of grace or kindness to a fellow practitioner to give them a head start. Some gurus gift empowerment by such means. The following site in the USA offers a wonderful selection of malas. http://www.yogabasics.com/japamalabeads/
Just remember, keep it simple. It’s not what you buy, but how you use it. Please don’t get hung up on mere counting and repetition, it’s establishing the mantra in your heart and transcending the mind to reside in turiya (the experience of pure consciousness) that brings the benefits.
Daily mindfulness or dedicated mala practise sessions?
Our friends at ISKON (the ‘Hare Krishna’ devotees), if I understand it correctly, have set 16 malas as the minimum daily practise requirement. That’s 1,728 daily repetitions of the Maha Mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare,
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.
With their discrete use of a japa mala bag and counting beads their practise extends day-long and is, in effect, a continuous rolling meditation. Constantly revisiting a mantra is like keeping a top spinning by means of regularly revisiting it before its energy decays into inactivity. Whilst specific times of day can be set aside for formal practise, this continuous revitalisation and reconnecting with a continuous vibrational energy is the true goal of mantra japa. If the accent is merely placed on those sessions of mantra japa practise with the aim of ‘knocking off’ a few more prescribed malas in a ‘countdown to enlightenment’, one is clearly missing the point.
Can the Ganesha Siddhi Mantra be practised by a beginner?
I would not recommend this mantra to a beginner in mantra practise, or one who had not practised the basic techniques of meditation. It will bring up for examination, observation and processing a range of emotional and mental issues you may be unprepared to deal with. Regular practise with the mantra, ‘aum’, or the mantra of the breath ‘so-ham’ is advised before undertaking more complex and powerful mantras. However I would never dissuade a sincere aspiration to practise, and for seasoned practitioners this is a very effective sadhana (disciplined and dedicated practice or learning).
The presence of this depiction of Shri Ganesha does not imply worship of a Hindu deity, but rather offers us an iconic representation of a particular energy form utilised by yogis and tantrics.
It is not strictly necessary to have a statue or painting of Ganesha present at all, it’s merely an aid if you are interested to learn key features relating to the mantra. Its use is a visual ‘mnemonic’ device that aids information retention and transfers information to long-term memory. It seems the human mind more easily remembers ‘relatable’ information than abstract or impersonal ones. If you break down the various elements of the image it offers a veritable storehouse of information. For instance; does Ganesha’s trunk bend firstly to the left or right and why is that important? Why four arms, and what is he holding in them? (postings to follow)
How may I join the Shibumi Yoga Centre’s Ganesha siddhi mantra japa meditation satsang?
A number of hi-ki/shibumi students are now regularly chanting this mantra and reporting beneficial results in their daily lives (comments and posts to follow). Should you wish to join our group’s endeavour and establish yourself in a powerful personal practise, we are offering personal visits to the Shibumi Yoga Centre, Kidderminster, to coincide with practise times or by a Skype connection (to account contact: tantro) for instruction and initiation. In the near future we hope to be able to offer Skype conferencing facilities or Google+ hangouts. You may email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to follow our endeavours on-line or on Facebook (coming soon), look for these headed posts:
Please accept that I do not put myself forward as an ‘authority’ on any of the subjects outlined above, I’m merely a practitioner with some experience formed through years of practise. It is always a difficult task, as a person of two cultures, Occidental (Western) and Oriental (Eastern), to balance understandings and attempt to be a bridge between them. As ever, I invite comment and participation from my gurubai and other yoga & tantric practitioners. May your Ganesha siddhi mantra japa meditations be rewarded with illumination and success.
Hari Om Tat Sat, Swami Tantramurti Saraswati.