Prana and mantra
In Tantra, the best way to transfer prana shakti is through mantra. Each mantra is the conductor of a certain type of energy. For example, there is a special mantra for snake bite. When a person repeats this mantra thousands of times, it becomes charged with a particular type of energy. If someone has been bitten by a snake, a person who has perfected the mantra is called. As soon as he chants the mantra, the poison is dispersed without causing any further pain or harm.
Tantric mantras are carriers of pranic energy which must be used according to the rules for particular purposes. Many mantras are given in the tantra shastras, but it is necessary to study them very carefully in order to utilise them properly.
Most people do not understand the power of the mantra and they think they can utilize it in their own way. Others use any word or name for their mantra. For example, you may admire a great man and want to make a mantra out of his name, but that cannot be a mantra. If you think of that man as your guru or your god, then you have emotion for him, so you like the sound of his name. That is a mantra of emotion; it is not a mantra of prana shakti.
There are mantras of all lengths and descriptions. There are scriptural mantras; mantras for fever, for counteracting poison and disease; for removing obstructions, difficulties and doubt; for increasing health, wealth and sound sleep; for marriage, progeny and long life. Of course, you don’t have to practice all of these. If you practice pranayama, mudras, and bandhas, you increase the capacity of your prana shakti. Then you can help others by a mantra, flower, mala, thought or contact.
The three Shaktis
Yoga is a perfect practical system of physical, mental and spiritual health. According to the basic yoga philosophy, man is a composition of three basic constituents: life force (prana shakti), mental force (Chitta shakti), and spiritual force (Atma shakti).
Prana is the universal life force, and this body has a certain amount of it. Our existence is a miracle of prana shakti. It is on account of prana that we live, move and grow. This prana shakti is not the air we breathe, it is inherent in us; we are born with it. For up to four months the foetus lives on the mother’s prana, but from the fifth month on, it develops an independent pranic unit. Life is the manifestation of prana.
When prana is flowing in the correct voltage, you feel strong, energetic, enthusiastic, and all your sensory faculties are sharp. But when the voltage falls, you feel physically weak and exhausted.
Besides prana, there is another Shakti in the body called mind or consciousness through which we are able to think, remember, analyze and differentiate. There are so many mental faculties within us and they are all the play or manifestation of the mental shakti.
Prana shakti and mental shakti are represented in this physical body by two important flows known as Pingala Nadi and Ida Nadi respectively. The word ‘Nadi’ means flow. In every electric bulb, you have two wires, positive and negative. In the same way, in every organ and part of the body, there is a combination of both of these Shaktis. Prana shakti and mental shakti pervade the whole body of man.
Pranic force is positive and mental force is negative. When these two are connected, they create energy.
If there is any disconnection, what happens?
If you remove one of the wires from a switchboard, the light will not burn. It is the same in the lower and higher organs. If one of the energies flows and the other does not, then the organs do not function. Therefore, according to yoga, there should be a balanced distribution of energy to every part of the body from head to toe. If there is an imbalance, there is illness.
Prana shakti and Chitta Shakti are both physical energies. Atma Shakti, the third type of energy, is spiritual. It is non-physical, transcendental, formless energy. Muladhara chakra produces both the physical and spiritual energy, but the spiritual energy is produced by a larger generator. This energy cannot be conducted by either Ida or Pingala. For this, there is another line called Sushumna which conducts the spiritual energy from Muladhara straight up to Sahasrara in order to open the whole brain.
You know that only one part of the brain is functioning; nine parts are locked. These nine parts of the brain contain infinite knowledge, experience, and power, but we are not able to utilize it because there is no conscious force. When Sushumna conducts this spiritual energy to Sahasrara chakra, the dormant parts of the brain become active. Then they not only give you mental health, but also spiritual wealth. When the practitioner of yoga is able to awaken Kundalini and connect it with Sahasrara through Sushumna Nadi, he becomes the master of the body, mind, and spirit.
Therefore, the secret of human health is the proper distribution of the three Shaktis- prana, mind, and spirit. In yoga this is done through the practices of hatha yoga which purify the physical body; pranayama which purifies the channels or Nadi through which energy is distributed; and meditation which stops the flow of prana and mind and leads the spiritual energy directly to the brain, Sahasrara chakra.
The different branches of yoga such as Hatha, raja, kriya, etc. are very powerful systems for the health, not only of this external physical body but the health of the whole man in totality.
In order to gain total health, it is necessary for the spiritual life to become the base of our ordinary life. The people of this century have been thinking that spiritual life should be led for the sake of improving the physical life. We have put the cart before the horse. We consider the physical life as the base and the spiritual life as an adjunct, but it should be the other way around. Man’s life is essentially spiritual; the physical life is just one part of his existence. In the same way, we have been making many mistakes. We say, ‘Oh, the divine is within us’, as if we were the containers of the divine. When actually it is we who are in the divinity, not the divinity which is in us. This is a different way of thinking which must be developed in order to correct the errors of body, mind, and soul, and create harmony on all levels of our being.
There is no doubt that we have been making mistakes on the mental plane, that we have ignored the mind; and this is how we have become sick and unhappy. When we take to the path of yoga the most important thing for us is the spirit, then the mind, and then the body. In the materialistic philosophy, the body is alpha and omega, but in yogic philosophy, the body is not the first and last. This physical body is not everything; it is just a small portion of our infinite existence. We have to maintain this body correctly, but not through medicines, tranquilizers, and nutritious food alone. We have to supplement right-thinking, philosophy, principles and beliefs.
More than that, we have to develop the art of dhyana yoga, wherein the eyes are closed but the mind is expanding and becoming more and more brilliant, more aware. Where this little world of name and form alone is not there, but where the infinite existence is before us in an ever-expanding vision of universal life.