Learning Sanskrit - Sacred Mantra-s: Gam̐ (Gam)
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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)||ga.N|
|HARVARD-KYOTO (also commonly used online)||ga.m|
The celebrated Varadātantra explains the meanings of each of the letters forming this Bījamantra in its sixth chapter:
गणेशार्थे ग उक्तस्ते बिन्दुर्दुःखहरार्थकः।
गँबीजार्थं तु कथितं तव स्नेहान्माहेश्वरि॥
Gaṇeśārthe ga uktaste bindurduḥkhaharārthakaḥ|
Gam̐bījārthaṁ tu kathitaṁ tava snehānmāheśvari||
Oh Great (mahā) Mistress (īśvarī)!, (the letter) "ga" (ga) (is) spoken (uktaḥ) to You (te) for the sake (arthe) of Gaṇeśa (gaṇeśa). Bindu or dot (binduḥ) means (arthakaḥ) destroyer (hara) of pain (duḥkha). However (tu), the meaning (artham) of the seed-mantra (bīja) Gam̐ (gam̐) (is) uttered (kathitam) out of love (snehāt) for You (tava)||
- 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.
- According to tradition, Gaṇeśa is one of the sons of Śiva. His name literally means "lord (īśa) of the troops (gaṇa)", as he is the commander of the troops of demigods serving as Śiva's attendants in the mythology. He is also a son of Pārvatī, the second wife of Śiva. Pārvatī is of course one of the forms assumed by Māheśvarī or Great Mistress. Since Gaṇeśa both creates and removes obstacles, this seed-mantra (Bījamantra) is often repeated at the beginning of any undertaking. Obviously, this seed-mantra is not the only one assigned to him. Anyway, it is the Bījamantra which is most commonly used to invoke Gaṇeśa according to my experience.
- 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 seed-mantra, "nāda" (the half-moon in Anunāsika) does not seem to have any special connotation, as only bindu (the dot above nāda) has been described.
- In the last line, Śiva makes clear that, despite this is a Gaṇeśa's seed-mantra, its meaning is uttered out of love for His own Śakti, i.e. the repetition of the seed-mantra is out of affection for Gaṇeśa, but the recitation of this stanza of Varadātantra, in which the meaning of Gam̐ is explained in detail, is out of love for the Supreme Śakti, got it now?
- Bīja-s or seed-mantra-s are always monosyllabic.
|Back to Eight Vowels||Continue to read Glaum̐|