…. The Name of the Divine is in itself a power, if it is taken with the right faith and in the right attitude.
Namajapa has a great power in it.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – II: CWSA, Vol. 29, p327
The word is a sound expressive of the idea. In the supra-physical plane when an idea has to be realised, one can by repeating the word-expression of it, produce vibrations which prepare the mind for the realisation of the idea. That is the principle of the Mantra and of japa. One repeats the name of the Divine and the vibrations created in the consciousness prepare the realisation of the Divine…
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – II: CWSA, Vol. 29, p322
As a rule the only mantra used in this sadhana is that of the Mother or of my name and the Mother. The concentration in the heart and the concentration in the head can both be used—each has its own result. The first opens up the psychic being and brings bhakti, love and union with the Mother, her presence within the heart and the action of her Force in the nature. The other opens the mind to self-realisation, to the consciousness of what is above mind, to the ascent of the consciousness out of the body and the descent of the higher consciousness into the body.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Himself and the Ashram: CWSA, Vol. 35, p825
…. sound always has a power; it has much more power than men think. It may be a good power and it may be a bad power. It creates vibrations which have an undeniable effect. It is not so much the idea as the sound; the idea too has its own power, but in its own domain—whereas the sound has a power in the material world.
The Mother – Questions and Answers: CWM, Vol. 7, p343
…. I didn’t even know what a mantra was. I had gone to a lecture given by some fellow who was supposed to have practiced “yoga” for a year in the Himalayas and recounted his experience (none too interesting, either). All at once, in the course of his lecture, he uttered the sound OM. And I saw the entire room suddenly fill with light, a golden, vibrating light…. I was probably the only one to notice it. I said to myself, “Well!” Then I didn’t give it any more thought, I forgot about the story. But as it happened, the experience recurred in two or three different countries, with different people, and every time there was the sound OM, I would suddenly see the place fill with that same light. So I understood. That sound contains the vibration of thousands and thousands of years of spiritual aspiration—there is in it the entire aspiration of men towards the Supreme. And the power is automatically there, because the experience is there.
The Mother – Agenda: Vol. 4, p131
In this regard, we can say that the active power of words comes from three different causes.
The first two lie in the word itself, which has become a battery of forces. The third lies in the fact of living integrally the deep thought expressed by the word when we pronounce it.
Naturally, if these three causes of effectiveness are combined, the power of the word is considerably enhanced.
1) There are certain words whose resonance in the physical world is the perfect vibratory materialisation of the more subtle vibration produced by the thought in its own domain.
2) There are other words which have been repeated in certain circumstances for hundreds of years and which are instinct with the mental forces of all those who have pronounced them. They are true batteries of energy.
3) Finally, there are words which assume an immediate value when they are pronounced, as a result of the living thought of the one who pronounces them.
To illustrate what I have just said with an example, here is a very powerful word, for it can combine the qualities of all three categories: it is the Sanskrit word “AUM”.
It is used in India to express the divine Immanence. There, it is associated with every meditation, every contemplation, every yogic practice.
More than any other sound, this sound “AUM” gives rise to a feeling of peace, of serenity, of eternity.
Moreover, this word is instinct with the mental forces which for centuries all those who have used it have accumulated around the idea that it expresses; and, for Hindus especially, it has the true power of bringing one into contact with the divine Essence it evokes.
The Mother – Words of Long Ago: CWM, Vol. 2, pp66-67
…. The function of a mantra is to create vibrations in the inner consciousness that will prepare it for the realisation of what the mantra symbolises and is supposed indeed to carry within itself. The mantra OM should therefore lead towards the opening of the consciousness to the sight and feeling of the One Consciousness in all material things, in the inner being and in the supraphysical worlds, in the causal plane above now superconscient to us and, finally, the supreme liberated transcendence above all cosmic existence.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – II: CWSA, Vol. 29, p323-34
OM is this imperishable Word, OM is the Universe, and this is the exposition of OM. The past, the present and the future, all that was, all that is, all that will be, is OM. Likewise all else that may exist beyond the bounds of Time, that too is OM.
Sri Aurobindo – Kena and other Upanishads: CWSA, Vol. 18, p193
As when the mantra sinks in Yoga’s ear,
Its message enters stirring the blind brain
And keeps in the dim ignorant cells its sound;
The hearer understands a form of words
And, musing on the index thought it holds,
He strives to read it with the labouring mind,
But finds bright hints, not the embodied truth:
Then, falling silent in himself to know
He meets the deeper listening of his soul:
The Word repeats itself in rhythmic strains:
Thought, vision, feeling, sense, the body’s self
Are seized unutterably and he endures
An ecstasy and an immortal change;
He feels a Wideness and becomes a Power,
All knowledge rushes on him like a sea:
Transmuted by the white spiritual ray
He walks in naked heavens of joy and calm,
Sees the God-face and hears transcendent speech:
An equal greatness in her life was sown.
Sri Aurobindo – Savitri: CWSA, Vol. 34, Book Four, p375
OM NAMO BHAGAVATE
These three words. For me they meant:
OM—I implore the Supreme Lord.
NAMO—Obeisance to Him.
BHAGAVATE—Make me divine.
The Mother – On Education: CWM, Vol. 12, p447
Nobody can give you the true mantra. It’s not something that is given: it’s something that wells up from within. It must spring from within all of a sudden, spontaneously, like a profound, intense need of your being—then it has power, because it’s not something that comes from outside, it’s your very own cry.
I saw, in my case, that my mantra has the power of immortality; whatever happens, if it is uttered, it’s the Supreme that has the upper hand, it’s no longer the lower law. And the words are irrelevant, they may not have any meaning—to someone else, my mantra is meaningless, but to me it’s full, packed with meaning. And effective, because it’s my cry, the intense aspiration of my whole being.
The Mother – Agenda: Vol. 4, pp130-31
In this Yoga there is no fixed mantra, no stress is laid on mantras, although sadhaks can use one if they find it helpful or so long as they find it helpful. The stress is rather on an aspiration in the consciousness and a concentration of the mind, heart, will, all the being. If a mantra is found helpful for that, one uses it. OM if rightly used (not mechanically) might very well help the opening upwards and outwards (cosmic consciousness) as well as the descent.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – II: CWSA, Vol. 29, p324
When one repeats a mantra regularly, very often it begins to repeat itself within, which means that it is taken up by the inner being. In that way it is more effective.
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Yoga – II: CWSA, Vol. 29, p323
The experience you had of the power of the Name and the protection is that of everyone who has used it with the same faith and reliance. To those who call from the heart for the protection, it cannot fail. Do not allow any outward circumstance to shake the faith in you; for nothing gives greater strength than this faith to go through and arrive at the goal. Knowledge and tapasya, whatever their force, have a less sustaining power—faith is the strongest staff for the journey.
The protection is there over you and the watchful love of the Mother. Rely upon it and let your being open more and more to it—then it will repel attacks and always uphold you.
Sri Aurobindo – The Mother with Letters on The Mother: CWSA, Vol. 32, p308
So each one must find something that acts on himself, individually. I am only speaking of the action on the physical plane, because mentally, vitally, in all the inner parts of the being, the aspiration is always, always spontaneous. I am referring only to the physical plane.
The physical seems to be more open to something that is repetitious—for example, the music we play on Sundays, which has three series of combined mantras. The first is that of Chandi, addressed to the universal Mother:
Ya devi sarvabhuteshu matrirupena sansthita
Ya devi sarvabhuteshu shaktirupena sansthita
Ya devi sarvabhuteshu shantirupena sansthita
Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namo namah
The second is addressed to Sri Aurobindo (and I believe they have put my name at the end). It incorporates the mantra I was speaking of:
Om namo namah shrimirambikayai
Om namo bhagavateh shriaravindaya
Om namo namah shrimirambikayai.
And the third is addressed to Sri Aurobindo: ‘Thou art my refuge.’
Shriaravindah sharanam mama.
So for these mantras, everything depends upon what you want to do with them. I am in favor of a short mantra, especially if you want to make both numerous and spontaneous repetitions—one or two words, three at most. Because you must be able to use them in all cases, when an accident is about to happen, for example. It has to spring up without thinking, without calling: it should issue forth from the being spontaneously, like a reflex, exactly like a reflex. Then the mantra has its full force.
For me, on the days when I have no special preoccupations or difficulties (days I could call normal, when I am normal), everything I do, all the movements of this body, all, all the words I utter, all the gestures I make, are accompanied and upheld by or lined, as it were, with this mantra:
OM NAMO BHAGAVATEH … OM NAMO BHAGAVATEH …
all, all the time, all the time, all the time.
That is the normal state. It creates an atmosphere of an intensity almost more material than the subtle physical; it’s like … almost like the phosphorescent radiations from a medium. And it has a great action, a very great action: it can prevent an accident. And it accompanies you all the time, all the time.
This one, this mantra, OM NAMO BHAGAVATEH, came to me after some time, for I felt … well, I saw that I needed to have a mantra of my own, that is, a mantra consonant with what this body has to do in the world. And it was just then that it came. It was truly an answer to a need that had made itself felt. So if you feel the need—not there, not in your head, but here (Mother points to the center of her heart), it will come. One day, either you will hear the words, or they will spring forth from your heart … And when that happens, you must hold onto it.
The Mother – Agenda: Vol. 1, pp195-97
…. It is not so much the words in themselves as what they will represent and bring with them in their vibration…. I mean it would be quite inaccurate to say, “Only these Words are helpful,” no, not that. But they provide an accompaniment, an accompaniment of subtle, physical vibrations, which has built up a certain state or experience, a sort of association between the presence of those words and this movement of eternal Life, that undulating vibration.
In ordinary language, the vibration of the mantra is what helps the body to enter a certain state—but it is not particularly THIS mantra: it is the particular relationship established between a mantra (it has to be a true one, a mantra endowed with power) and the body. It surges up spontaneously: as soon as the body starts walking, it walks to the rhythm of those Words. And the rhythm of the Words quite naturally brings about a certain vibration, which in turn brings about the state.
But to say it’s these particular Words exclusively would be ridiculous. What counts is the sincerity of the aspiration, the exactness of the expression and the power; that is, the power that comes from the mantra being accepted. This is something very interesting: the mantra has been ACCEPTED by the supreme Power as an effective tool, and so it automatically contains a certain force and power. But it is a purely personal phenomenon (the expression is the same, but the vibrations are personal). A mantra leading one person straight to divine realization will leave another person cold and flat.
The Mother – Agenda: Vol. 3, pp181-82
…. When you are playing and suddenly become aware that something is going wrong—you are making mistakes, are inattentive, sometimes opposing currents come across what you are doing—if you develop the habit, automatically at this moment, of calling as by a mantra, of repeating a word, that has an extraordinary effect. You choose your mantra; or rather, one day it comes to you spontaneously in a moment of difficulty. At a time when things are very difficult, when you have a sort of anguish, anxiety, when you don’t know what is going to happen, suddenly this springs up in you, the word springs up in you. For each one it may be different. But if you mark this and each time you face a difficulty you repeat it, it becomes irresistible. For instance, if you feel you are about to fall ill, if you feel you are doing badly what you are doing, if you feel something evil is going to attack you, then…. But it must be a spontaneity in the being, it must spring up from you without your needing to think about it: you choose your mantra because it is a spontaneous expression of your aspiration; it may be one word, two or three words, a sentence, that depends on each one, but it must be a sound which awakens in you a certain condition. Then, when you have that, I assure you that you can pass through everything without difficulty. Even in the face of a real, veritable danger, an attack, for instance, by someone who wants to kill you, if, without getting excited, without being perturbed, you quietly repeat your mantra, one can do nothing to you. Naturally, you must truly be master of yourself; one part of the being must not be trembling there like a leaf; no, you must do it entirely, sincerely, then it is all-powerful. The best is when the word comes to you spontaneously: you call in a moment of great difficulty (mental, vital, physical, emotional, whatever it may be) and suddenly that springs up in you, two or three words, like magical words. You must remember these and form the habit of repeating them in moments when difficulties come. If you form the habit, one day it will come to you spontaneously: when the difficulty comes, at the same time the mantra will come. Then you will see that the results are wonderful. But it must not be an artificial thing or something you arbitrarily decide: “I shall use those words”; nor should somebody else tell you, “Oh! You know, this is very good”—it is perhaps very good for him but not for everyone.
The Mother – Questions and Answers: CWM, Vol. 4, pp 338-39
…. you make a self-giving as total as possible, of everything, from top to bottom, from outside to inside, and an eradication, as total as possible, of all the resistance of the ego. And you begin repeating your mantra—your mantra, if you have one, or any word which has a power for you, a word leaping forth from the heart spontaneously, like a prayer, a word which sums up your aspiration. After repeating it a certain number of times, if you are accustomed to do so, you enter into trance. And from that trance you pass into sleep. The trance lasts as long as it should and quite naturally, spontaneously, you pass into sleep. But when you come back from this sleep, you remember everything; the sleep was like a continuation of the trance.
Fundamentally, the sole purpose of sleep is to enable the body to assimilate the effect of the trance so that the effect may be received everywhere, and to enable the body to do its natural nocturnal function of eliminating toxins. And when you wake up, there is not that trace of heaviness which comes from sleep: the effect of the trance continues.
Even for those who have never been in trance, it is good to repeat a mantra, a word, a prayer before going into sleep. But there must be a life in the words; I do not mean an intellectual significance, nothing of that kind, but a vibration. And its effect on the body is extraordinary: it begins to vibrate, vibrate, vibrate… and quietly you let yourself go, as though you wanted to go to sleep. The body vibrates more and more, more and more, more and more, and away you go. That is the cure for tamas.
The Mother – Words of the Mother: CWM, Vol. 15, pp379-80
This is the main reason for my japa. There’s a power in the sound itself, and by forcing the body to repeat the sound, you force it to receive the vibration at the same time. But I’ve noticed that if something in the body’s working gets disturbed (a pain or disorder, the onset of some illness) and I repeat my mantra in a certain way—still the same words, the same mantra, but said with a certain purpose and above all in a movement of surrender, surrender of the pain, the disorder, and a call, like an opening—it has a marvelous effect. The mantra acts in just the right way, in this way and in no other. And after a while everything is put back in order. And simultaneously, of course, the precise knowledge of what lies behind the disorder and what I must do to set it right comes to me. But quite apart from this, the mantra acts directly upon the pain itself.
The Mother – Agenda: Vol.1, p379-80
I have written for you a brief prayer with the names in the form of a mantra. I hope it will help you to overcome your difficulty and get an inner foundation.
OM Sri Aurobindo Mira
Open my mind, my heart, my life
to your Light, your Love, your Power
In all things may I see the Divine
Sri Aurobindo – Letters on Himself and the Ashram: CWSA, Vol. 35, p832