Question: Would you explain how repetition of mantra helps to control the mind?
Swami Jyortirmayananda, ‘Repetition of mantra is an effective method of controlling the mind. A mantra consists of mystic syllables or words. Sounds in a particular mantra are related to certain psychic centers in your body known as chakras. (This is a scientific fact.) Some sounds are jarring to the mind. Some sounds are melodious. Also, words have a very strong influence over the mind. Some words, when spoken in a bitter way, can hurt a person–such is the power of words, that a friendship of many years can be broken in a few seconds just by words. On that basis the science of mantra has been developed. Sages discovered special words and recorded them. For example, “Om, Om, Om,” “Om Sri Ramaya Namah,” “Om Namah Shivaya,” and “Om Namo Narayanaya.” “Om” is the root-source of all mantras, and when you chant the “Om” mantra, it creates a special vibration, which begins to promote harmony in your body and mind.
‘A mantra is repeated with two attitudes–firstly you repeat the mantra verbally, and secondly, you start developing a feeling that what you are repeating is the name of the Absolute Self, the name of God. So in this way, with each repetition you are invoking the presence of the Divine Self. A mantra becomes like a short prayer, or constant affirmation of Divine Presence, constantly reminding you that you are in touch with God. If you do not have a mantra and if you simply say to yourself with feeling, “I am in touch with God, I am in touch with God,” it will in itself give you a sense of relaxation. But this is not a mantra. If you adopt or are initiated into a mantra, it is a more scientifically planned approach to Divinity, and practicing your mantra has a definite influence on your unconscious. Mantra has a great part in Yoga.’
Question: I know scientists who can concentrate for hours, and yet they have never repeated a mantra.
Swami Jyortirmayananda: ‘Concentration can be achieved in many ways, and mantra is one of the important ones. Academic or scientific concentration is of a different type. Its project is not research into the nature of the spirit, but research into the nature of matter.
‘Entering into concentration is a kind of yoga, but in order to be perfect yoga, it must be directed towards the intuitional realization of the Self. Otherwise it becomes a lesser yoga. From a broad point of view, every concentrated state of mind is yoga and every achievement is a yogic achievement. What all great people have achieved in the fields of painting, music and science, has been due to concentration of mind–and that is yoga–but the highest yoga is directing mental concentration to Self-realization.”