by Radha Kanta Dasa
Sound is one of the most important aspects of life. Imagine a world without sound. One cannot chit-chat with friends; no melodious music; no great conversations. One would be bored to death without sound. It is an integral part of life itself. According to Vedic creation, sound is one of the fundamental elements created along with taste, form, touch, and smell. We deal with varieties of sounds in our day-to-day life. They are vocal language sounds, instrumental sounds, songs of various genres etc. Sound can generate emotions influencing our subtle conscious body. Music therapy is prevalent in many cultures of the world where diseases related to depression are cured using vocal and instrumental sounds. Speeches from leaders like Martin Luther King, Hitler, and Gandhi have triggered contrasting revolutions, moving millions of hearts to action. Why does sound only from some people propel their followers to action? What is the extra flavour in the sound that emanates from these powerful personalities? Is there something beyond sound which impacts the consciousness? Molecular vibrations which are sound in its gross sense carry invisible layers of functionality which can impact the heart of the listener. Some of the layers which we can discern are- emotional layer, logical-intellectual layer, belief layer etc. Of course, the preliminary criterion is that access has to be given by the receiver of the sound to his inner regions. This access is provided when the listener has faith and trusts the person speaking as an authority. The Bhagavad Gita describes three characteristic attributes for the sound from a speaker to make an impact on the inner regions of the consciousness of the listener; they are ‘Pranipatena’(enormous trust) ‘Pariprasnena’(humble enquiry) and ‘sevaya’(service relationship).
For any change in action, free will has to be influenced. Free will is dependent on belief systems. Belief systems create values which determine what actions a person approves and what actions he will not. What is belief system? Is it in the mind or the intellect? When a belief system has programmed your subconsciousness, then your actions become involuntary and they will be naturally aligned with the belief system. Repeated actions create subconscious programming. Hence all the spiritual traditions have the process of ‘repetition’ as a core spiritual practice. Through constant repetition of sounds and physical actions related to the spirit, spiritual traditions bring about a transformation in the subconsciousness. Sound repetition is very important for subconscious transformation. These are not ordinary sounds but spiritual sounds called mantras. There are sound vibrations in nature detected by our ancient sages which can liberate the mind of unwanted things. The Hare Krishna maha mantra can liberate the mind from selfish sense-gratification-oriented thoughts.
Yoga means to connect with the supreme and this connection happens through the medium of devotional service. Mantras kill individual aspirations and ambitions and make the person entirely embrace the Supreme Lord’s ambition; and purpose. When one drops ambitions, plans and aspirations he moves to the brahma-bhuta stage. The brahma-bhuta stage is existence in a higher band of energy that is superior to the material band of energy in which we usually dwell. A person who has dropped all selfishness and embraced satisfying the Lord as the only goal is promoted to the brahma-bhuta stage. The primary symptom of this stage is that one does not feel hankering anymore for anything nor lament for anything in this world. The name of Krishna, even though composed of molecular vibrations, can act as a container for the supreme to manifest in the vibration based on the level of service attitude of the chanter. Likewise, the deity form of the Lord, though made up of material elements, is not matter after installation by a bonafide acarya. The sacred mantra has to be received from an acarya. ‘Nama cintamaniyasya, caitanya rasas vigraha, Purna suddho, nitya mukto, abhinnatvam naama naamino’. Nama is a conscious entity, but is based on the service spirit of the chanter. Nama, being non-different from the Lord, is supremely pure: ‘purna suddha’, and is never under the influence of the three modes of material nature: ‘nitya mukto’.
The tattva or philosophical conception and the emotional state of the chanter are very important for the Lord to manifest in Nama sound. A proper conception of sanatana dharma is important. Sanatana dharma is the servant-master relationship that exists between the atma(soul) and Paramatma(Supersoul). The attitude of pure servant desiring only the pleasure of the supreme master is the primary criteria for Nami(the Lord) to manifest in Nama. One more important word used by Rupa Goswami is being ‘aanukulyena’, which is becoming favourable to Krishna’s happiness; to stop being a competitor to Krishna as the enjoyer.‘Ekalai iswara Krishna, aar sab Bhrtya’: Krsna is the only enjoyer; all others are servants meant to give pleasure to the Supreme. If there is sincerity in the seeker and if he aspires to give up being an enjoyer, then Nami can manifest and accelerate the killing of purusha bhava in the heart. Dhana(wealth), Jana(popularity, position, fame), Sundarim(association with women), Kavitam(to be known as greatly learned) – trying to advance in these four things means wanting to compete with Sri Krishna as enjoyer. Reducing the need for these and increasing the need for always being in Divine service in the association of devotees is being anukula to his pleasure; honouring him as the only enjoyer.
What is the architecture of sound? According to physics, sound is produced by vibration of air molecules. The vibrating air molecules impact the ear drum and the experience of sound is created. The vibration travels through the nervous system into the mind where the sound is converted to information, and sense made of it. Based on the seriousness of the mind, the information can lead to storage and retrieval in the future. Beliefs and values are like ROM(read only memory) in the computer. Sound has the capability to change beliefs through the process of surrender and repetition. How to decipher the power of sound? The power of sound depends on the depth of the impact on the living being. According to the Vedas, human beings is not just the physical body but are made of layers of existence. The physical layer is the outer-most layer. Inside it are the Mind, Intelligence, Ego and the original existence particle- the Soul. There are four bodies in a single being according to the Vedas; they are
-Spiritual transcendental soul body
-Subtle body composed of mind, intelligence and false ego
We do not have vision beyond the gross body. So the power of sound is decided based on the depth of impact it can make. If a sound can reach the Soul, then it is most powerful. The closest layer to the real self is the ‘citta’ or consciousness. The various thoughts in the mind have their source in the tendencies in the ‘citta’ or consciousness. Only mantras vibrated by pure devotees of Sri Krishna can impact the ‘citta’ layer. The normal chant by conditioned soul of Hare Krishna maha mantra can impact only the gross layer and up to the mental layer. But the mantra received from a pure devotee has the power to influence the ‘citta’. The vibration of the maha mantra, kills selfish tendencies and inspire the service tendency. The mantra is like a farmer andthe field is the ‘citta’. The goal is to cultivate only the devotional creeper in the ‘citta’ and uproot all unwantedweeds. The sadhana Bhakti process is nothing but ‘Citta vyavasaya’, the farming or culturing of the consciousness. When the creeper of devotional service starts to flower, it is the Bhava Bhakti stage and when there are fruits in the creeper, it is the final Prema Bhakti stage. Citta bala or ‘conscious strength’ is the resource which is the conscious energy embedded with iccha shakti or the power of desire. There is competition for citt bala among various tendencies in the ‘citta’. Redirecting the citta bala to the creeper of devotional service and cutting the supply to other unwanted tendencies is the work of iccha Shakti, which is strengthened by sadhu sanga. Bhagavan wants to taste the fruit of the devotional creeper. For this we have to approach the spiritual master who will provide us with the entire infrastructure and personally enter our hearts as an expert gardener.