'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

MenoSundays; Life Lived Lovingly

Warning! This post takes the form of a 'menoducational' as well - I make no apology. You're an intelligent lot... it is an adaptation of a post from Aatmaavrajanam blog.

Last week, there was a slightly different post, recommending a film worth the watching. There were references to the use and purpose of language; also that there had been a misleading usage of the Sanskrit word for war. It is something which did a bit of a social media circulation a couple of years back (no idea why); "gavishti" - the desire for more cows - is only one word used in reference to war and is really only applied in certain Vedic periods of time, when there was actually pastoral expansion of the type European explorers would have utilised when they sought to take over land from existing settlers. It may or may not have involved 'war', but certainly applies to 'conquest' as the whole thing was driven by the desire for more... whatever. A better word for war is actually "yuddha" -  literally meaning 'going to battle'.

Why bring this up on a MenoSunday? The fascination I had for the movie was that it picked up on the concept of sound being more than mere communication and that the underlying vibration was Universal Love. Delving further into linguistics for a brief moment, let us discuss the concept of S)aeq/sphota. The most succinct explanation of this idea is that it is the 'essence of meaning distinct from sound'. If we can grasp the sphota within a sound, we gather a meaning far beyond the utterance of that sound and entirely separate from any imagery (lettering) attached to it. Think about music which touches you in parts of your being which has nothing to do with the act of hearing itself - the effect generated is the vibration set up within you in response to the sound heard. This is sphota.

Many languages have this potential - we all know about the 'power of speech', but tend to think of it as being based upon the words and dictionary meanings. Yet, if we have sat before a speaker of worth, that speaker may actually be using the simplest of language, but be imbuing it with meaning which comes from within them - or beyond them. They are a conduit for the energy of meaning. The vibration has to be  'just so'. It is this very thing which can split an audience, because the receiver also has to be attuned and open to the possibilities being presented. Those who are, will find themselves thinking on wider implications than were presented in the speech - those who are not will wonder what all the fuss is about!

Every now and then, though, will come along a speaker who somehow reaches a greater number of listeners. More than the words, there will be the timbre of the voice, the feeling and emphasis used, the engagement with the audience. The same simple speech given by three different speakers will have three different effects.  This is the nature of sound and has little to do with the words themselves. The same words presented (pronounced) differently will have differing results.

Sphota, then, whilst a purely Sanskrit concept, is actually something with which we are all familiar! It is, in part, sphota within language which aids communication when we travel in foreign places and do not speak the local tongue. Essence of meaning can be conveyed in many ways.

Thus, coming back to what we mean when we talk about the sphota in relation to OM, it is, in the simplest of terms, the vibration. (Still not completely accurate, but sufficient for our purposes here.) Sanskrit is a language ripe in sphota - particularly important when it comes to mantras. When we say our prayers, in the Western tradition, we are relying on the words almost entirely - with perhaps some emotion behind them - because we have externalised communication so much and are engaged (through our ego) with a desire for outcome. In mantra prayers, though, there is an in-built vibration which helps us to let go of our ego and surrender to the process of prayer without emotion or expectation of any kind.

What is more, there is a mantra for almost every contingent in life. Western tradition does have some 'set prayers' (note that we are talking about the individual seeker here, not formal service in places of worship), a prime example being the Lord's Prayer and in the Catholic church there are set prayers to certain saints (mimicking the Sanskrit tradition); but for the person who has some angst about this or that, or who wishes to give thanks and praise in a particular way, it is mostly left up to them to use whatever words they have at their disposal.

For the Hindu, though, there will be a specific mantra for the occasion. In this way, mantras might almost be considered scientific formulae, or for the more romantically-minded, as 'spells'. They have been tried and tested over millennia and are still used today.

Of all the mantras available, the shortest and, potentially, the most powerful is the single-word OM. It's essence cannot be ignored, even by those who never grew up in the tradition. OM chanting has become popular the world over. As you saw last week, OM is 'the word' which is Brahman. The start of it all.

For those who are interested, every Monday over at AV-bloggy is "AUMday", wherein we research thoroughly OM and meditation. For those who are not, perhaps this at least explains a little of how important sound is to life.


  1. YaYa mom is gonna have to read this again.....
    Hugs madi

    1. hari OM
      ...that's good... no harm in tickling the little grey cells!!! &*> Yxx

  2. Well Mum had to biggefy this to read it and it took a bit of effort so Like Madi's Mom she is going to have to read it again but she found it very interesting.

  3. I'll need to also re-read.
    But it how we listen, and or we choose to hear.
    Coffee is on

    1. Hari OM
      ... ah there you touch upon a secondary -and important - aspect. Sound is nothing without being heard! Yxx

  4. I like the idea to use a mantra or a spell... and I like the power of the word om... there is nothing similar to om... and nothings sounds the same and means so much...

  5. Chanting of OM as a mantra has been established to have a potent calming effect on the mind.

  6. Yes, I'll have to read it again, too! You are very deep! xo

  7. This is such an informative piece. As with the singing bowls I'll have to try the OM mantra for moving into sleep. thanks for sharing this information, YAM. janice xx


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