Yogi bhanu

Sanskrit: the healing language

The healing sounds of Sanskrit

In the Indian traditions of knowledge, the sounds of the Sanskrit language are believed to have a profound healing effect. The healing effect of the sequential flow of sounds in the Sanskrit language is said to not only balance the mind and the body, but even extend further to create harmony in the collective consciousness of society as a whole.

In a way, this is a natural extension of the idea that the Vedic hymns are considered to be the expressions of the immutable laws of creation that exist in the unmanifest field of cosmic consciousness. Language has the hidden truths inside about the reality which solves every query and its reason.
Since these expressions of cosmic harmony flow in the Vedic Sanskrit language, it is only natural that certain sequences of Sanskrit sounds would be utilized to heal and restore balance, and to elevate human consciousness to higher levels. The understanding about the language for communication has lower importance then signifying more absolute communication.

The language was directly passed on to those who meditate on it and it was received and given by the same. Constructed in infinite possibilities of understandings open the new neurons which might be sleeping. It opens the door to the light and clarity through listening, reciting, and contemplating on it, which relates to the states of consciousness.

Sound and meaning

An interesting point is that in order to experience the beneficial effect of the Sanskrit sounds, understanding the meaning is not necessary. This is because in Sanskrit there is a special connection between the sound and the meaning, between the name and the form it represents. In Sanskrit, the sound and the meaning are not considered as two different entities but as one and the same.

In other words, the sounds of Sanskrit carry the qualities of the meaning on the very level of their vibrational frequency.
This means that even without understanding the meaning, chanting or listening to Sanskrit verses (or repeating short mantras in meditative procedures, or even reciting the flow of the Sanskrit alphabet) could generate a very beautiful effect on the mind and the body.
In Sanskrit, alphabets are called

वर्णमाला (Varnamala). Literally speaking, वर्ण (Varna) represents letters and माला (Mala) means a garland. So Varnamala means garland of letters.

अक्षर-समाम्नाय (Aksarasamaamnaaya) – Yet another term in Sanskrit for alphabets. अक्षर (Akshara) refers to letters and समाम्नाय (Samaamnaaya) means tradition, instruction. So अक्षर-समाम्नाय may mean the tradition or instruction on the basic sounds of the language. Going to the root sounds आम्ना (Aamana) means to repeat, so समाम्नाय means well-repeated or mentioned together. So, composition leads to अक्षर-समाम्नाय meaning – where the basic sounds of the language are well repeated or mentioned together.
There are 48 basic sounds in Sanskrit alphabets. Like any other language, in Sanskrit these sounds are categorised into vowels and consonants.

Vowels are independent sounds.
Consonants are dependent sounds.
The terminology used for vowels is अस्पृष्ट (Asprushta) means Untouched. स्पृष्ट (Sprushta) means touched and prefixing अ before स्पृष्ट negates it – so अस्पृष्ट means untouched. So, it essentially refers to the sound that is produced without touching any part of the speech producing organ. So, sound without any contact is Vowel Sound. For example – अ (a). Whereas, consonants are called स्पृष्ट because they are produced by contact with some part of the mouth, either tongue or lips. For example – ब (Ba). Vowel sounds are free-flowing sounds and one can intone it, whereas consonants are mute sounds – they cannot be intoned. Using the Sanskrit definitions – अस्पृष्ट for Vowels and स्पृष्ट for Consonants, one can distinguish between vowels and consonants in any language.
Another word used for a vowel is स्वर (Svara) and for consonant is the word व्यन्जन (Vyanjana) is used. Svara means स्वयम् राजते (Svayam [itself] Rajate), so स्वर (Svara) means one that shines by itself. Whereas the word व्यन्जन (Vyanjana) means Decoration. Consonantal sounds are decorative sounds. Vowel sounds are the life of the language and the very soul of the language, therefore called आत्मा (Aatma) means soul, or प्राण (PraaNa) meaning life, whereas consonants can be compared with the body because the body can be decorated. The soul cannot be decorated.
Vowel sounds are the life of the language and the very soul of the language, therefore called आत्मा (Aatma) means soul, or प्राण (PraaNa) meaning life, whereas consonants can be compared with the body because the body can be decorated. The soul cannot be decorated.

Sound and logic (arrangement of alphabets)

The entire arrangement of sounds in Sanskrit is based on the following:

1. The place of its production or pronunciation.
2. The effort required to produce it.
3. The duration for which it is produced.
4. The quality of the sound.

When we recite a sound, the air gets translated to sound. When air moves out through the vocal cord, it can be obstructed at different places in the mouth to produce speech sounds. However, one cannot obstruct the air at any position in the mouth where one pleases and generate a sound. There are possible positions in the mouth where the air can be obstructed. The first possible position where the air can be obstructed is from where one produces – क (Ka) ख (Kha) ग (Ga) घ (Gha) ङ (ṅa). These sounds are also referred to as Gutters. At this position, the जिव्हा मूल (Jivha Mula) means the root of the tongue comes in contact with मृदु तालु (Mridu Taalu) means the soft palate and obstructs the airflow. It is not possible to obstruct the flow of air below this position by any human being. Therefore, क (Ka) is not only the first consonantal sound in Sanskrit but also for humanity.
The second possible position is from where the consonants – च (ca), छ (cha), ज (ja), झ (jha), ञ (ña) are produced. At this place, the air is obstructed when the upper middle of the tongue comes in contact with the back of the hard palate. There is space between the first and second positions, however, it’s not possible to obstruct the air in that space.

The third possible position is from where we say – ट (ṭa), ठ (ṭha), ड (ḍa), ढ (ḍha), ण (ṇa). The tongue is rolled back to touch its tip to the middle hard palate. They are also referred to as Retroflexed.

The fourth possible position is from where we say – त (ta), थ (tha), द (da), ध (dha), न (na). Here the tip of the tongue touches back of upper teeth when producing these consonants. They are also referred to as Dentals.

The fifth possible position is from where we say – प (pa), फ (pha), ब (ba), भ (bha), म (ma). Here both the lips are pressed together. They are also referred to as Labials.

The consonants are tabulated below summarizing the above partly (There is more to the table that we’ll see later).
Now, consider the first row, क (Ka) ख (Kha) ग (Ga) घ (Gha) ङ (ṅa). These are produced from the same position, that is, Guttral. What makes all of them different? How is क (Ka) different from ख (Kha)? More air is released when we recite ख (Kha), whereas less air is released when क (Ka) is recited. So, sound क (Ka) is produced with minimum breath release whereas ख (Kha) is produced with maximum breath release. In other words, क (Ka) is contracted and ख (Kha) is expanded. This is like concentration and meditation.

This play of contraction and expansion is repeated again in ग (Ga) and घ (Gha). In Sanskrit, the sounds that are produced with minimum breath are called अल्प प्राण (Alpa Prana) and the ones that are produced with maximum breath are called महा प्राण (Maha Prana). In all the 4 sounds that we saw, the air was released through the mouth and the nasal cavity was closed. If the air is allowed to pass through the nasal cavity and the mouth simultaneously, the fifth sound ङ (ṅa) is produced from the same position.
However, this is not pure nasal sound. All the sounds in the fifth group – ङ (ṅa), ञ (ña), ण (ṇa), न (na) and म (ma) are referred to as अनुनासिक (Anunasika) or मुख-नासिकवचन (Mukh-nasikavachan) मुख means mouth, नासिका means nose and वचन means expression, so मुख-नासिकवचन or Oro-Nasal expressions/sounds as both mouth and nose need to be open simultaneously when reciting these sounds. It is not possible to produce these 5th group sounds by opening either the mouth or the nose, both need to be open simultaneously. Experiment and verify it for yourself.

If you very slowly and consciously repeat these sounds you will find that there is an in-built system of Pranayama in the alphabets itself. If you recite these alphabets starting from अ (a) to ह (Ha), Pranayama takes place and it begins the healing process.
There is a tradition in India, where people just keep chanting these alphabets and nothing else; alphabets chanting is the mantra for them and they chant them in various ways.

Sanskrit Vowels

In Sanskrit, there are 13 Vowels – अ (a), आ (aa), इ (i), ई (ii), ऋ (ṛ), ॠ (ṝ), लृ (ḷ), उ (u), ऊ (uu), ए (e), ऎ (ai), ओ (o), औ (au).

Of these 13, 9 are Basic Vowel sounds, they are – अ (a), आ (aa), इ (i), ई (ii), ऋ (ṛ), ॠ (ṝ), लृ (ḷ), उ (u), ऊ (uu).

In the tantric tradition, the entire human body is conceived as a शब्द शरीर (Shabda Sharir) शब्द means sound and शरीर means body, so शब्द शरीर means sound body. It is called so because of the flow of प्राण (Prana) means the Life-force or Life-energy through different channels or nadis (72,000 of them) in the body. The movement of the Prana generates sounds. These sounds are created in our system all the time. They are heard by the tantric sages, seers, practitioners in their meditation. That is why, in the tantric scriptures we find the location of these sounds in the human body. They gave names to these locations based on the number of energy currents.
The place where 2 energy currents meet is called as सन्धि (Sandhi).

The place where 3 energy currents meet is called as मर्म (Marma). There are about 52-55 मर्म स्थान (Sthana) means location in the body and each location has its own sound. In the rituals, when they do अङ्ग स्पर्श (Anga Sparsha) अङ्ग means body and स्पर्श means to touch, they touch different मर्म स्थान in the body. For example, using the sound they touch the eyes or ears; doing this purifies and energizes those locations.

The place where more than 3 energy currents meet is called as चक्र (Chakra). This is where the sound is more obvious. Specific sounds are assigned to different chakras. When one recites those sounds or mantras, it purifies and energizes that Chakra.

In the tantric scriptures, when they conceived the human body as शब्द शरीर, they called an individual – अहम (Aham). अहम means it starts with अ (a) and ends with ह (Ha). So, an individual comprises of everything between अ (a) and ह (Ha), both inclusive. म (Ma) is added to make it a proper verb, hence the word अहम (Aham) means “I”.
Dr. Sampadanandaji (director of Sri Aurobindo Foundation for Indian Culture) pointed out that when ह (Ha) is combined with the seven special alphabets – ण (ṇa), न (na), म (ma), य (ya), र (ra), ल (la) and व (va), then one gets a completely different experience with it when articulated correctly.

ह (Ha) + ण (ṇa) = ह्ण (Hṇa)
ह (Ha) + न (na) = ह्न (Hna)
ह (Ha) + म (ma) = ह्म (Hma)
ह (Ha) + य (ya) = ह्य (Hya)
ह (Ha) + र (ra) = ह्र (Hra)
ह (Ha) + ल (la) = ह्ल (Hla)
ह (Ha) + व (va) = ह्व (Hva)

If one repeats the above set for more than 25 cycles, an individual can start sweating. This is because it makes natural कपालभाति (KapalaBhati). It is also very good for clearing the throat and other throat related problems. These 7 sounds are known as उरस्य (Urasya). उरस (Uras) means the chest and the lungs, so उरस्य (Urasya) means belonging to lungs. ह (Ha) sound comes from the lowest depths, and by combining it with the 7 sounds, it further extends the depth.

There are many words in Sanskrit that are उरस्य (Urasya). For example, when saying the word ब्रह्मा (Brahma), many (including me) pronounced it incorrectly as Bramha. मध्याह्न (Madhyahna) means Midday.

Language of Vibration

“Sanskrit is a language of vibration.”

Scientists tell us that everything in the manifest universe is nothing but the vibration of atoms and molecules. So, to come in contact with a language of vibration is to come in contact with what we are essentially. It gets deeper than that.
When you connect with what you are essentially on the manifest level, you can more easily feel what you are beyond manifestation.
As per Indian Meta-Physics, the moment a स्पन्द् (Spanda) means Vibration is created, it is imperishable. The moment one thinks, one creates vibration. Once created the sound of vibration is permanent, it never dies, it does not decay, instead it gets absorbed in the आकाश (Akasha) means Space and it remains there. So, the स्पन्द् is imperishable. This realization of the Sages and Rishis resulted in the word Akshara, attributing the imperishable property of sound. It refers to the philosophy of शब्दो नित्यः (Shabdo Nityaah) means the eternity of sounds. However, the word अक्षर (Akshara) got confined to the speech sounds, the fundamental sounds of the language. Again, I would like to emphasize that, Akshara is not the gross sound that we hear, listen, spear or write, it essentially means स्पन्दन (Spandana) or vibration.

Root meaning

Principle on which the roots of the devabhāṣā were formed.
All Shabda (a speech sound, vāk - words) as it manifests out of the ākāśa (space) by the force of mātariśvan, the great active and creative energy, and is put in its place in the flux of formed things (apas) carries with its certain definite significances (artha). These are determined by the elements through which it has passed. Śabda appears in the ākāśa, travels through vāyu, the second element in which sparśa is the vibration; by the vibrations of sparśa, it creates in tejas, the third element, certain forms, and so arrives into being with these three characteristics, first, certain contractual vibrations, secondly, a particular kind of Tejas or force, thirdly, a particular form. These determine the bhāva or general sensation it creates in the mind and from that sensation develop its various precise meanings according to the form which it is used to create.
The root-sense of sound is "determined by the elements through which it has passed" and these "determine the bhāva or general sensation it creates in the mind and from that sensation develop its various precise meanings according to the form which it is used to create."

The building blocks, elementary parts, of sense are six in number

1. Being
2. Motion
3. Contact
4. Sound
5. Form
6. Action.

From the persistent evidence of the Sanskrit language, it is clear that to the initial idea of existence the Aryans attached, as fundamental circumstances of being, the farther ideas of motion, contact, sound, form and action and there are few root-families in which there are not the six substantial ideas which form the starting-point of all farther development of use and significance. Sri Aurobindo (Indian philosopher, yogi, guru, poet) has given this chart of the psychological sense in the root Sanskrit sounds on the metrics of the six ideas as is present in the Dev-Bhasha:
अ — a — absolute existence
इ — i — relative existence
उ — u — pervasive, contained or progressive existence

क — ka — possession, mastery, creation, action
ख — kha — attack, invasion, insistence, attrition or detrition
ग — ga — contact, motion, action upon
घ — gha — violent contact, hostile action, strong motion

च — ca — swift and brilliant action, existence, contact
छ — cha — the same like ca with a greater lightness
ज — ja — restless, brilliant, decisive action, existence or contact
झ — jha — the same like ja with a greater lightness

ट — ṭa — hardness, force, crudity - rajasic
ठ — ṭha — the same with greater impetuosity, -rajasic
ड — ḍa — dullness, persistence, obstinacy - rajaso-tamasic
ढ — ḍha — obstinacy, tenacity

त — ta — touch, impact, -lighter than
थ — tha — the same like ta with greater force
द — da — hard forcible impact or action
ध — dha — softer but strong impact or action
न — na — gentle but effective relation

प — pa — soft touch or impact, kindly relation, possessive action
फ — pha — the same like pa with greater force
ब — ba — soft, strong, embracing contact, possession, action
भ — bha — the same like ba with a sense of containing
म — ma — limitation, finality, completion

य — ya — relation
र — ra —vibration, play
ल — la — love, sweetness, etc. in relation
व — va — manifest existence

श — śa — vehemence in union
ष — ṣa — strong action in rest
स — sa — repose, union
ह — ha — force

Spine of the language

From our experience and experience of others, we can testify that simply listening or reciting Sanskrit hymns, verses, or mantras, has a very profound soothing, healing and revitalizing effect. Various Sanskrit mantras including specific sequences of the sounds of the Sanskrit alphabet are described as part of the inner structure of the circular centers of the energy body.

These kinds of sounds, as well as other mantras, verses, and hymns in Sanskrit, were used since times immemorial for the purpose of solving and avoiding problems in life, and for healing various aspects of the energy body and the physiology. They were also used as tools to achieve meditative states, and to elevate the human consciousness towards unfolding its full potential.
Sanskrit sounds emanate from five distinct mouth positions that exist on your palate. These five positions correspond to different points in the brain and/or body, which exponentially magnifies their potency. In other words, as you say, for example, the sound ‘A’ you are not just mindlessly saying ‘A.’ You say the sound and if you pay attention you can feel the prana contact the back of the throat, the vocal cords rub together creating gentle friction and the vibration of the sound energy rising to the front of the face, the crown of the head and then extend down to the heart. This whole process culminates together to create a kind of inner soul dialog between the head and the heart.
“The only solution to be reached was the findings of a great sacred language of which all others would be considered as manifestations and that was found in Sanskrit.”
Swami Vivekananda.

Healing sounds of Sanskrit language

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