Guiding Light: The Sound of Silence

Ritesh AswaneyUpdated: Friday, January 20, 2023, 07:34 PM IST
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Representative Image | Pixabay

Modern life has meant replacing the sweet dulcet tones of birds with a cacophony of traffic and industrial mishmash. Our auditory senses are constantly bombarded with a barrage of sounds as we go about our day, so much so that we have numbed to that screech of the trusty local train as it swerves around a bend, or the jumbo jet that soars overhead. There is a lot to be said when our smart watches are more sensitive than our ears, and start pulsing furiously to alert us to the danger of exposure to a loud noise!

Our sense of hearing is often underappreciated, because of the overload of visual stimuli that we face in everyday life. However, it is one that runs really deep as is evidenced by the intimate connection we make with music. Not just that, research has also proven that it is the last human sense to wane, with those slipping away most likely still being able to hear even after losing consciousness. Small wonder then that when you take that vacation to a remote hill station, then the peace and quiet that surrounds you, it transforms your state of mind.

Sound is incredibly potent in bringing a sense of relaxation and even inducing higher states of consciousness. This is the science behind mantras, which are believed to have been received from the cosmos by our ancient rishis, and pack an incredible amount of shakti. Special mantras have beej syllables, which resonate very strongly with an energy form or a deity, which is why they must be treated with a special reverence.

The enunciation is of paramount importance in terms of the impact they have, which is why it is prescribed that one has to be initiated into mantras by a Guru. A qualified Guru has chanted the mantra for a minimum number of times to build up the shakti that initiation needs, in addition to having a deep understanding of the deity, the rishi and other factors such as when, where and how many repetitions one must chant.

Recognising that not every one may have access to a diksha Guru, our tradition also has prasiddha, or popular mantras, which are suitable for anyone to chant. A good example is the 5-syllable Om Namah Shivay, which invokes Lord Shiva. The number of syllables a mantra has is also taken into consideration before a Guru would prescribe a certain mantra, as it has a resonance with a certain energy or even planetary vibration.

So on this Mauni Amavasya, before you crank up the volume on that metal track, spare a thought for the turbulence it creates within and attempt to practise as much discretion with your auditory diet as you would with nutrition. For whilst what you eat has a bearing on your physical body, sound seeps straight into your soul.

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