The Power of Tantric Mantras

  • By Dr. Subhasis Chattopadhyay
  • February 29, 2024
  • How should Tantric Mantra chanting be done? What happens if it is not done well? Second half of article is in a Q&A format.

Tantric mantras are handed down by the Guru to the disciple. There are no written records kept since these mantras are extraordinarily powerful. They can affect the life of the practitioner in various ways. Before we discuss how they can change the life of the practitioner, it is useful to understand the aim of mantra recitation in Hindu Tantra.

Within Tantric practices, a devotee has to make the mantra come alive --- as strange as that sounds. The process is beyond what has been written down so far in learned articles on Tantra. Unlike reciting, say, the holy Gayatri Mantra, one has to ensure that the received Tantric mantra is alive --- then alone will the power of the mantra manifest itself.

Strangely, to prepare oneself for the results of the Tantric mantra, one needs to continuously recite mantras like the holy Gayatri mantra and the Mahamrityunjaya mantra. If possible one should keep saying Harih Om continually in the mind. This chanting should be done even while speaking to someone or doing something. It is an unceasing practice.

If this is not done then the results of bringing to life the Guru given Tantric mantra may be disastrous. Why?

The preconditions for Tantric practice are strength of body and mind. It follows that if the body is weak then the mind too might be weak initially. Therefore, if one is not sufficiently prepared, the Devi Mata (the Tantric Deity) will not find a fit dwelling place in the body of the practitioner. In Tantra, deity possession is the first step towards attaining the aims of Tantra --- that is, the Tantric siddhis or powers. 

The first siddhi is to win over the mind and the senses which are the most difficult to control. One can win wars but not win the battle against every single sense organ. When the craving for food goes; there might arise the craving for human company. When those go, there might arise the subtle fourfold eshnas: vitteshna, putreshna, jiveshna and lokeshna.

Vitteshna indicates the desire for hoarding; that is, consumerism. In other words, it prevents one from being selfless. As far as Tantra goes, vitteshna might make a practitioner selfish and use Tantra for one’s own family and, in exchange for large sums of money. Putreshna might force a devotee to continually think of ways to help one’s children, relatives and students and slyly put one’s own legacy ahead of Dharma or, the common good. Jiveshna means the clinging to a long misery free life and an excessive desire to take care of the body, which according to our Shastras or scriptures, are like unto mere clothes. Finally, lokeshna might propel one to put forward oneself rather than Tantra and its message for humanity. Lokeshna drives a person to seek name and fame for him or herself --- the messenger becomes more important than the message. Sacred mantras like repeating Om, Harih Om and Namah Shivaya helps one to slowly get rid of these eshnas.

The Tantric mantra is a direct connection to Shakti. If Shakti finds no fit residence or abode in the practitioner’s body, then it might be the cause of the death of the practitioner in much the same way as an electric shock might kill a human being. It is not dependent on who is receiving the shock --- unless one is insulated against the shock, one will die. These other mantras and the eight-limbed Yoga of Sage Patanjali act as insulation in the case of Tantric practitioners. If any of the eshnas are strong then too the Tantric practitioner will be harmed.

Here are questions to, and answers from a Tantric practitioner:

What happens if the mind and the body are not strong enough to chant the Guru given Tantric mantra? 

One has the feeling of choking and dying on the spot.

What else happens?

Supernatural evil entities come and try to prevent the practitioner from uttering even Om. It is a feeling like it is the end of everything.

What is the remedy?

To invoke all the will power one has and connect, if possible, to the Guru who gave the mantra to the disciple. And then keep chanting the name of Sri Harih, or Bhagavan Mahadev or just repeating Om continually. And before the next round of chanting the Tantric mantra, it is best to visit one of the Shakti centres. If one cannot do that, then one must meditate on the lotus feet of one’s Guru first and then on one’s Guru decided Mahavidya and ask Her for help. Without Guru Kripa nothing can happen.

No point in approaching the Mahavidya without first worshipping one’s Guru first. Tantra is a Guru-centred discipline more than any other paths or margas within our Dharma. All other existing paths can be first learnt from the Guru and then practiced by oneself. This is not the case with Tantra. Each and every step from palm gestures (mudras) to the invoking of lesser deities need to be learnt step by step otherwise it will result in the death of the Tantric devotee or the devotee going insane.

What are the first steps of beginning Tantra sadhana?

The first steps are to repeat the sacred syllable Om continually; to chant the Gayatri mantra over and over again and to obey one’s Tantric Guru. 

If one has not yet met one’s Tantric Guru, then how is one to proceed? 

Then the path of Tantra is shut to you. You have to pay your karmic debts first and be ready for Tantra.

According to the Tantras, and this discipline, a person who tries to practice Tantra without a true Tantrik Guru will certainly be destroyed in this life and many lives to come. The Guru has to be one whom the Tantric scriptures like the Rudrayamala Tantra and other Tantras declare to be a fit Guru. Anyone who is not self-controlled, selfless and who has not subdued the senses cannot be a Tantric Guru. Generally, not always, a Tantric Guru is married since this tradition is based on married lineages.

Tantrics do not consider the world to be false or mithya in the sense that pure monists or Advaita Vedantins or even Vaishnavs consider the world to be transitory. Tantra shastra holds that this world is very real and following the Vedas, we have to be gods to worship God or Shakti. This world, though passing and ephemeral, matters. Our pain is real and Tantra does not agree with some of the tenets of either Advaita Vedanta, Vaishnavism and even Shaivism.

It is another matter that finally all paths lead to Brahman who is power or, Shakti. It considers the station of the householder as the highest that a woman or man can attain. Monasticism is actively discouraged, and so also is the single life discouraged. It is another issue that Tantra, unlike what is taught by many, and unfortunately by the late Osho, stresses chastity and monogamy.

This author will not answer any question privately on Tantra. Nor will he appear for any public events online or offline. What has been written here is to fulfill the wishes of his Guru.

To read all articles by author  

Author Dr Subhasis is a Hindu theologian focusing on comparative religions. 

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