Sanskrit (Devbhasha Samskrutam) has the following sounds. These are called Akshar, which means that they are fixed, unchangeable, cannot be ‘interpreted’, their meanings and powers are perfectly fixed. This is the list of the 54 sounds. (I don’t know how to write them with the diacritical marks).
- 14 vowels – a, aa, e, ee, u, uu, rhu, rhuu, lhru, lhruu, ae, ai, o, au
- अ आ इ ई उ ऊ ऋ ॠ ऌ ॡ ए ऐ ओ औ
- 2 support vowels – am, aha
- अं अः
- Gutturals – ka, kha, ga, gha, nga
- क ख ग घ ङ
- Palatals – cha, chha, ja, jha, nja
- च छ ज झ ञ
- Cerebrals – ta, tha, da, dha, na
- ट ठ ड ढ ण
- Dentals – ta, tha, da, dha, na
- त थ द ध न
- Labials – pa, pha, ba, bha, ma
- प फ ब भ म
- Semi-vowels – ya, ra, la, va,
- य र ल व
- Sibilants – Sha, Ssha, sa
- श ष स
- Consonants – Ha, LLa, Ksha
- ह ळ क्ष
- Conjunct Consonants – Tra, Jnya
- त्र ज्ञ
- The sound of the Bindu or dot. (it is somewhat like ‘ang’, very very nasal)
There was a question on what these sounds mean on the spiritual or energy front. You should read the Akshamala upanishad (its text is available on sanskritdocuments.org Or you can also refer to the Sharada Tilak for more information). Each sound /Akshar has a meaning and this small but important Akshamala Upanishad gives the meanings. Every Sanskrit Akshar links with your chakras and you will eventually experience their true power in your spiritual progress. When we speak, we cannot utter the consonants on their own. They have to be linked with a vowel to be uttered out loud. When you utter these sounds, Akshar, you are manipulating your body and mind energies using their targeted energies. If you consciously do this you can bless, curse or progress faster spiritually.
These Akshar are in Devbhasha Samskrutam, the perfectly arranged definition of illumination. Only Sanskrit Mantras are the effective, these have been ‘seen’ by Rishi/Seers and every mantra has the name of the Rishi who first saw it. There are some ‘modern gurus’ who propagate some ‘modern mantras’ of their own devising. Do not use these as you might hurt yourself on the energy levels.
Mantras work on several levels. When you utter them you are manipulating your physical body, it is a vocal exercise first. The mouth and the vocal apparatus directly affects your own ajnya chakra so first of all your own the Ida, Pingala and Sushumna are subtly affected. The vibrations move upwards through your nasal apparatus and are almost fully absorbed your your third eye, thus your entire body. Try this with the sound of ‘Ang’. Close your eyes, wear a eye-mask, and recite just ‘ang’ aloud, very nasal sound, drag the ‘nnnggg’, your lips remain open, and tongue presses against the palate. See the colors and patterns which you will see at your third eye. This ‘ang’ is used as the ending sound of every beej mantra, so that the energy of this seed sound is directly linked into your Ajnya chakra.
Then you are also fixing your mind on the meanings of the Mantras, so it a mental exercise. This lets your mind be absorbed in the beauty of the experience. This is the basis of “Laya yog’. When you hear the sound or rather experience its vibrations, it affects your internal energy structure. Words have inherent beauty, wonder if you have noticed? All this happens to you first, then to the listener. Our parents taught us to speak only auspicious things, speak the truth etc from our childhood onwards just for this reason. We modify our own energies by the simple act of speaking. Try this, choose one mantra, eg the Gayatri mantra or Soham, and whenever you are mentally or physically uncomfortable, just recite this mantra a few times in your mind, try to focus on your third eye as you do so. In less than a minute you will feel differently on both the mental and physical levels.
Mantras make things move, they are fire, embodiment of the Raja Gun, of Devi Sarasvati. She is depicted as playing the Veena, a musical instrument, this is nothing but the Sushumna. The Sushumna with all its chakras and its powers! Devi Sarasvati plays the Sushumna as one would play a musical instrument.
First all the vowels, as per the effects they create, are considered to be basically linked to the Ida. However they are also connected to the Pingala and Sushumna as follows.
- All the short vowels अ इ उ ऋ ऌ are also linked to the Pingala. These are considered to be masculine, of potential energy and steady. When we utter a short vowel it gets linked to the Pingala. All consonants when linked to a short vowel are link more strongly to the Pingala.
- The long vowels आ ई ऊ ॠ ॡ link only to Ida. These are considered feminine or active or varying in nature. And when we utter a consonant with a long vowel it gets linked to the Ida.
- The vowels ए ऐ ओ औ are also linked to the Sushumna. These are considered to be genderless, they can neither be considered to be active nor inactive. A consonant with the vowels ए ऐ ओ औ gets linked to the sushumna.
- There are the two support vowels.
- Am अं is linked to the Purush, the constant unchanging masculine witness. A consonant uttered with the ‘am’ or ‘ang’ ending gets linked to Purush. ‘ang’ makes it very intense.
- Aha अः also called the ‘Visarga’ is linked to Prakruti or the feminine active principle of creation. A consonant uttered with the ‘aha’ vowel ending is linked to Prakruti.
All the consonants are basically linked more to the Pingala.
- All the 25, gutturals, palatals, cerebrals, dentals and labials are considered to link to the Pingala.
- However the semi-vowels – ya, ra, la, va, the sibilants – श ष स and the last three consonants – ह ळ क्ष are linked to the Sushumna. ह and क्ष are very important Akshar are they are linked to the two petals of the Ajnya chakra lotus. And the ळ is linked in the Sahasrar.
Even if you recite this Askarmalika ie the sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet once a day they are the easiest mantra possible!
In fact during the Yadnopavit, it is the Sanskar, the energy ritual where boys are taught the Gayatri mantra, they are first taught the Shiv sutrani, these are simply the Akshar in a very specific sequence,
- अ इ उ ण्
- ऋ ऌ क्
- ए ओ ङ्
- ऐ औ च्
- ह य व र ट्
- ल ण्
- ञ म ङ ण न म्
- झ भ ञ्
- घ ढ ध ष्
- ज ब ग ड द श्
- ख फ छ ठ थ च ट त व्
- क प य्
- श ष स र्
- ह ल्
This sequence is highly mathematical stuff, if you search there are numerous research papers on the beauty of this maths. This is the basis of the grammar of Sanskrit. Reciting this sequence generates very beautiful energies. Say them aloud and see for yourself.
Now a spiritual aspirant is interested in those sounds, Akshar which are connected to the Sushumna, so we have our list, the vowels ए ऐ ओ औ अं अः and the consonants य र ल व श ष स ह. If you observe our Mantras they are more composed of these Akshar. These mantras drive the energy directly into the Sushumna.
Today is Diwali, the festival of Light. This is the Amavasya, the no-moon night of the Ashwin month. The Ashwin month is bursting with the energies of illumination, ie the energy of the Devi are extraordinary throughout this month. It starts with the bright fortnight, with the Navratri. Continues with the most intense full-moon, Kojagiri Purnima, the Moon is closest to the earth during this full-moon. Then the power again starts building from the 11th day of the dark fortnight till the Amavasya, today. On this night, twilight onwards, pujas for the Devi in her Satvic – Laxmi, Rajasic – Sarasvati and Tamasic – Shakti forms will give immense benefits. So do not waste this night, use its energies for Devi pujas. Practice and experience for yourself. The really serious practitioners will have prepared in advance for this night, there is so much you can do tonight if you know how.
Wishing everyone a very happy, prosperous and auspicious Diwali.
May the Devi bless every one of us!