Learning Sanskrit - Sacred Mantra-s: Dum̐ (Dum)
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1) The sound Anunāsika (demilune plus dot in the original Sanskrit character above) is a nasal resonance which should be pronounced by keeping the mouth open always, feeling that the sound goes up from the palate up to the crown of the head. If you were to close your mouth at the end of its utterance, that ascension to the summit of the head would be impossible. It sounds like ng approximately.
2) Pronunciation 1 is a good document to start your pronunciation learning.
3) First of all, there is a measure unit called mātrā or the time gap needed to pronounce a short vowel (e.g. a). Short vowels (a, i, u, ṛ, ḷ) last 1 mātrā, while long vowels (ā, ī, ū, ṝ) and diphthongs (e, ai, o, au) last 2 mātrā-s. In turn, Anusvāra and Visarga last 1/2 mātrā. Anunāsika (final resonance indicated by demilune and dot in the above Sanskrit character) also lasts 1/2 mātrā and thus it should not be protracted. Granted, these measurements cannot be followed to the letter the whole time, but one should always attempt to follow them as closely as possible.
4) If you want the Mantra to have a more powerful effect on you, firstly repeat it with the physical tongue, and then with the mental tongue (i.e. repeat it in your mind). If you were to mentally repeat it once while inhaling and once while exhaling, the energy contained in that Mantra would spread much more quickly across your system.
5) Here you will find a complete explanation of the nature, characteristics, etc. of a Mantra.
6) Mental repetition of a Mantra is always more powerful that gross utterance performed by the physical tongue, as the mental tongue is subtler. However, it is usually good to start your practice with some gross utterance before entering the mental one.
7) To repeat a Mantra while one beholds its form, that is, the Sanskrit characters forming it, is extremely auspicious. Therefore, repeat the Mantra while beholding its form and then close your eyes and keep repeating it mentally.
|Transliteration||IAST (International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration)|
|ITRANS (commonly used online)||du.N|
|HARVARD-KYOTO (also commonly used online)||du.m|
The celebrated Varadātantra explains the meanings of each of the letters forming this Bījamantra in its sixth chapter:
द दुर्गावाचकं देवी उकारश्चापि रक्षणे।
विश्वमाता नादरूपा कुर्वर्थो बिन्दुरूपकः।
तेनैव कालिकादेवीं पूजयेद्दुःखशान्तये॥
Da durgāvācakaṁ devī ukāraścāpi rakṣaṇe|
Viśvamātā nādarūpā kurvartho bindurūpakaḥ|
Tenaiva kālikādevīṁ pūjayedduḥkhaśāntaye||
(The letter) "da" (da) is expressive (vācakam) of Durgā (durgā), and (ca) (this) goddess (devī) (is) also (api) the "u" letter (u-kāraḥ), oh Protector One (raksaṇe)! The mother (mātā) of the universe (viśva) has the appearance (rūpā) of nāda or half-moon (nāda) (while) that whose form (rūpakaḥ) (is) a dot or bindu (bindu) means (arthaḥ) "do!" (kuru). By means of that (seed-mantra) (tena eva), one should worship (pūjayet) goddess (devīm) Kālikā (kālikā) in order to alleviate (śāntaye) pain (duḥkha)||
- The Tantra-s are presented as a dialogue between Śiva and Śakti. Pretty generally, Śiva acts as the spiritual preceptor or guru, and Śakti as his disciple or śiṣyā. Varadātantra is no exception to the rule, which is proved by the word "rakṣaṇe" ("Oh Protector One!") occurring at the end of the first line. "Rakṣaṇe" is the Vocative case (singular) of "Rakṣaṇā" (Protector One), an epithet of Śakti. See Declension section for more information about cases (Vocative, Nominative, etc.).
- The word Durgā literally means "difficult to access". It is the name of a practically "inaccessible" goddess. She is very often identified with Kālikā (also known as Kālī), the terrifying black goddess. Of course, Durgā or Kālikā is a form in which the "only" Supreme Śakti or Power appears. This Supreme Śakti is called "Mother of the universe" in the second line.
- Anunāsika (half-moon and dot) is also known as Nādabindu, being "nāda" the half-moon and "bindu" the dot. Read Meditation 6 for more information about Nādabindu, please.
- In this stanza, the Mother of the universe (i.e. the Supreme Śakti or Power of Lord Śiva) appears in the form of "nāda" (the half-moon in Anunāsika).
- Bindu or dot above the half-moon (nāda) means "kuru" or "do!" (2nd Person sing., Imperative Mood, Parasmaipada, of the root "kṛ" (to do) - See Verbs section for more information). According to my viewpoint, the entire seed-mantra is a kind of request to the goddess Durgā so that She may remove one's own sorrow: "Do it!" (i.e. "Alleviate my pain!"), which is corroborated by the third line "Tenaiva kālikādevīṁ pūjayedduḥkhaśāntaye" - "By means of that (seed-mantra) (tena eva), one should worship (pūjayet) goddess (devīm) Kālikā (kālikā) in order to alleviate (śāntaye) pain (duḥkha)".
- Bīja-s or seed-mantra-s are always monosyllabic.
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