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Learning Sanskrit - Sacred Mantra-s: Hrīm̐ (Hrim)

Bhuvaneśvarī's Bījamantra (Śākta-Praṇava)


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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) hriim
ITRANS (commonly used online) hrI.N 
HARVARD-KYOTO (also commonly used online) hrI.m

The celebrated Varadātantra explains the meanings of each of the letters forming this Bījamantra in its sixth chapter:

हकाराः शिववाची स्याद्रेफः प्रकृतिरुच्यते।
महामायार्थ इशब्दो नादो विश्वप्रसूः स्मृतः।
दुःखहरार्थको बिन्दुर्भुवनां तेन पूजयेत्॥

Hakārāḥ śivavācī syādrephaḥ prakṛtirucyate|
Mahāmāyārtha iśabdo nādo viśvaprasūḥ smṛtaḥ|
Duḥkhaharārthako bindurbhuvanāṁ tena pūjayet||

The letter (kāraḥ) "ha" (ha) is expressive (vācī) of Śiva (śiva), (while) repha or (the letter) "ra" (rephaḥ) is said (ucyate) to be (syāt) Prakṛti (prakṛtiḥ). The sound (śabdaḥ) "i" (i) means (arthaḥ) Mahāmāyā (mahāmāyā) (and) nāda or half-moon (nādaḥ) is declared (smṛtaḥ) (to be) the Mother (prasūḥ) of the universe (viśvam).
Bindu or dot (tena) means (arthakaḥ) destroyer (hara) of pain (duḥkha). One should worship (pūjayet) Bhuvanā (bhuvanām) by means of that (seed-mantra) (tena)||


  1. The Tantra-s (revealed scriptures, see Tantricism for more information) 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.
  2. Śiva is the Supreme Lord, obviously, as this is a Tantric scripture and not a Vedic one.
  3. "Repha" is the name of the letter "ra". Some others letters also have a name, e.g. Visarga (ḥ), Anusvāra (ṁ), etc., but not all the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet have one like in the Greek language.
  4. Prakṛti is the source of matter. The entire material universe shines forth from her. See Tattvic Chart for more information.
  5. 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.
  6. Mahāmāyā or great Māyā (the veiling power) is according to Trika (Non-dual Shaivism of Kashmir) a special kind of Māyā which is operating in the tattva-s 3 to 5. She is called like that because subject ("I") and object ("this") exist as two realities, but the subject experiences unity with the object though. In turn, under the influence of the common "Māyā", the subject experiences no unity with the object, but he feels different and separated from it. See the documents in "Trika/Trika (overview)" section for more information.
  7. In this seed-mantra, "nāda" (the half-moon in Anunāsika) is the Mother of the universe, i.e. the Supreme Śakti or Power from which the entire cosmos has been manifested.
  8. Even though you can see that the letters forming the seed-mantra are: "h", "r", "ī" and Anunāsika (half-moon and dot), the consonants in the Sanskrit alphabet have an appended "a". What is the reason? Because "a" is Śiva, the Supreme Self, and without Him all consonants are barren, as it were, that is, they have no power at all. Thus, Śiva describes the original consonants including "a" in the stanza, i.e. "ha" and "ra" despite they appear without "a" in the seed-mantra itself.
  9. "Bhuvanā" is another way to call "Bhuvaneśvarī", the Mistress (īśvarī) of the worlds (bhuvana). In other terms, She is the Sublime Śakti or Power of Lord Śiva.
  10. This seed-mantra is Śāktapraṇava, i.e. the main one out of those whose deity is Śakti.
  11. Bīja-s or seed-mantra-s are always monosyllabic.

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