Mantra – Introduction

Mantra – a mystical sloka composed of the names of Sri Bhagavan which addresses any individual deity.

Mantras are given to a disciple by a guru at the time of diksa. The question may be raised that since bhagavan-nama is independent, how can mantras, which are composed of the names of the Lord (bhagavan-nama) , be dependent upon diksa?

Srila Jiva Gosvami has discussed this question in Bhakti-sandarbha (Anuccheda 284). He says that mantras are bhagavannamatmika. This means that mantras are composed of the names of Bhagavan. The difference is that mantras also contain some special words like nama, svaha, and klim. Sri Bhagavan and the rsis have invested mantras with special power by which those mantras reveal one’s own specific relationship with Krsna. Therefore it may seem that mantras are endowed with some special potencies that are not invested in nama.

A contradiction arises because if bhagavan-nama (which is lacking these special attributes) is able to bestow the supreme object of attainment (parama-purusartha) without any need for diksa, how is it that mantras are dependent on diksa when they are even more powerful than nama?

Srila Jiva Gosvami analyzes that by the constitutional nature of mantras, they are not dependent on diksa. Nonetheless, people in general are influenced by the bodily conception and their hearts are polluted with abominable desires. In order to curb these tendencies, the rsis have established regulations to be followed in the arcana-marga. Otherwise, by constitutional nature, there is no difference between nama and mantra in the matter of their independence of any formalities.

Nama, being non-different from nami, or Bhagavan Himself, is already invested with all potencies. Therefore in actuality, the glory of nama is superior to that of mantras. Yet Jiva Gosvami says that the diksa-mantras are invested with the power to reveal the sadhakas’ specific relationship with the Lord – sri bhagavata samam atmasambandha- visesa-pratipadakas ca (Bhakti-sandarbha, Anuccheda 284). The same thing is stated in Anuccheda 283: divyam-jnanam hy atra srimati mantre bhagavat-svarupa-jnanam tena bhagavata sambandha-visesa-jnanam ca (see diksa). This means that when a guru who is situated on the platform of bhava gives diksa, the mantras are invested with the knowledge of Bhagavan’s svarupa and knowledge of one’s specific relationship with Him. Therefore, those who are desiring to attain the prema-seva of Sri Krsna in Vraja in one of the four relationships of dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, or madhura should accept diksa-mantras from a guru who is established in one of these moods.

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