by Susanna Harwood Rubin
MANTRA: Potency and Evocation
A mantra can make sense without making sense. This is to say that a mantra may consist of words that hold a particular meaning, or it may be built with sounds called bijas, or seeds, that contain not literal translatable meaning, but vibration. Often mantras are constructed out of a combination of these two. Think of the seed that, fertilized, expands into a tree: the bija activates itself, expanding your consciousness in the process. Scholar Dr. Douglas Brooks offers the analogy of zip file: a tiny condensed container of power that unfolds upon being uttered. Bijas are densely packed containers of vibratory power. Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha is a popular mantra composed of a collection of sounds and words that together indicate a specific meaning.
it is packed full of significance. At this point, we are all so familiar with Om in the yoga world that we accept it as an independent word. It has associative meaning as well as deep vibration. Gam is Ganeshaâ€™s bija, so when we say Gam, we evoke him. But the sound doesnâ€™t merely represent him. Gam is Ganesha. When you chant Gam, you are chanting Ganesha: that part of you that is rooted yet transformative, powerful and wise yet still deeply sweet. The potency of Ganesha resides in his sound: how it feels in your mouth, how it vibrates in your body, how it resonates when uttered. Gam. Ganapataye names Ganesha, the sweet and steadfast elephant-headed son of Shiva.
It goes something like this: Om // Evoking everything that exists, Gam // specifically the deepest transformative vibratory potency of consciousness, Ganapataye // called Ganesha. Namaha // I bow down. Do you want to tap into your dense seed-like potency? Chant Gam. Do you want a more narrative and poetic mantra practice? Chant Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha.
Namaha means to bow down, to honor. Om is the bija of bijas: the vibratory power of consciousness itself. We begin in Om and we resolve into Om. Chanting Om to begin and end a yoga class is a way of participating more deeply in this process, like a surfer choosing to move along with a wave in the ocean. Because Om is made up of the letters A-U-M of the Sanskrit alphabet, sort of the alpha and the omega and everything in between, susannaharwoodrubin.com
M A N T R A M A G . C OM
Namaste. Both are words or labels representing powerful concepts. This part of the mantra can be seen as an elaboration on the bija. The seed sprouts a powerful trunk, twists into branches, pushes into buds, and explodes into blossoms or fruit. Which of these mantras you decide to chant depends on the experience you want to have.
Susanna is known for her intense and poetic yoga classes in NYC and internationally. She writes for numerous publications, including the Huffington Post, elephant journal and YOGANONYMOUS, and created Writing Your Practice writing and yoga philosophy workshops and online classes. She also draws her heart out in her studio, sometimes while chanting mantra.