By means of mantra the tattwas or elements in Nature are influenced. A different class of mantra which is not written down but handed down from guru to chela are known as abhichara mantras. They are used to cause disease or kill someone. There is also another class of mantra through which a thought, a message can be transmitted to another person living anywhere, or through which one is able to read another's thoughts. Then there are minor mantras for curing scorpion bites, snakebites, jaundice, etc. They are known to people even to this day. In different parts of India people have perfected different classes of mantra. Mithila in Northern Bihar was, and still is, famous for abhichara mantras which form a part of the kaula tradition.
In tantra there are many traditions - vedachara, vamachara, kaulachara - and according to the system the mantras have to be applied. For instance, if you follow vedachara, then you cannot learn or be taught the abhichara tantras. They will be handed down to you only if you belong to the kaulachara tradition. And perhaps you know that a prayog, an experiment on abhichara mantras was done on Adi Shankaracharya by a great tantric of Mithila. In order to avert the effect of this, Adi Shankara had to propitiate Devi. The mantras composed by him are known today as "Ananda Lahari" beginning with the mantras:
"Shivah shaktya yukto yadi bhavati shakta prabhavitoom
Nache devam devo na khalu kushalah spanditumapi"
In addition to the sixty-four traditional tantras this became the sixty-fifth tantric text. By this he was able to avert the abhichara which was aimed at him to kill him.
It is true that through mantra one can do many great things, but as time has gone by, man has changed his nature. He has become very selfish. He has become very emotional and sentimental. For a bit of property or due to a little jealousy, he is prepared to kill and destroy anyone! If these mantras were revealed to him now in this Kali Yuga, you can just imagine the state of affairs there would be. So the wise men have withdrawn these mantras from the public. Only a few are now revealed - the bhakti mantras which help you to correct yourself, which help you to transform your nature, to overcome some sort of difficulties in lift-worries, anxieties, passions, etc., like 'Om Namah Shivaya', 'Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya' and others. A few more powerful systems are also known to us like Bhagala Mukti, Tara Yantra, Shri Yantra, but these mantras are benign in nature. With them you can only create positive effects, not malefic effects, because the munis and rishis, have become very careful now in announcing the classes of mantra. Although some people are still in possession of what we call the 'malefic' mantras, when they use them for a selfish purpose they rebound on them.
Mantras are a combination of akshara and varna. Akshara is not a syllable; akshara means 'imperishable vibration'. Varna means 'colour'. These mantras have a deity and also a yantra. For example 'Om Namah Shivaya' is the mantra. Its mandala is the shivalinga. The devas and devatas, according to the tantric tradition, are the mandala and at the same time they have a yantra which you see in the form of geometrical formations.
They are not just lines and circles, and they have a very powerful effect on the deeper unconscious of man.
"Manana trayata iti mantraha". This is the etymology of mantra. Each and every akshara in the mantra is the seed of vibration. lt is chanted one thousand, ten thousand times etc., in the mind or verbally, or with pranayama. And there are many other ways of practising mantra, not merely the way we teach. Each and every akshara is so powerful that in tantra there is matrika, nyasa, varna nyasa, where these akshara are projected throughout the body. Their vibrations are injected into each and every part of the body. You may have seen panditjis doing these things but they themselves generally do not understand them. They do matrika and vama nyasa but they do not know exactly what they are doing.
Each and every akshara is sound, every sound has vibrations, and every vibration can be enlarged and made very powerful. You have heard some of the stories about Tansen. He used to sing deepak raga and megha mala. Lights used to burn and clouds showered rain, because when they produced deepak raga or megha mala, the sound vibration reached such a high pitch that the elements of Nature came under their influence-mind was connected with matter. And when the mind is connected with matter, if the man is strong enough, then matter is influenced. If he is weak then the mind is influenced, not matter.
For all of us now music is enjoyment, recreation, pleasure and jumping. The very philosophy of music has been destroyed by us because it exists today only on the level of the senses. It cannot influence matter because there is no science in it. However, when you produce a raga you are actually producing vibrations and these vibrations are the connecting link between your mind and the elements of Nature. There has to be a medium between my mind and that part of Nature which I want to influence. So, in order to link myself with that particular item of Nature, I create vibration at such a high frequency, like laser beams, that Nature is affected: there is rain and lamps are set alight. But this tradition has been lost, even though the mantras do exist.
Many times girls find it difficult to get married and to them the katyayani mantra is given. What for?
Not only to support their faith and belief and give them some sort of hope and optimism. No, it is not just for psychological consolation that I give you the katyayani mantra and you believe that you are going to get married - certainly not! There is some destiny which is coming in between on account of which the marriage proposals are being dismissed shortly after they come. Destiny is interfering with that. How are you going to disperse this destiny? The mantra is given for that purpose.
Usually people think that mantra is a kind of psychological consolation. It is a psychological consolation - it gives you hope to live on; it gives you hope to work; it gives you some sort of sympathy, some sort of optimism, some basis to live and not commit suicide, but that is not all. That is not the only role of mantra. Mantra has a definite effect on the objective field. I used to say, and still do, that 'mind can move matter', but it can only move matter when it is mounted on a mantra, yantra or mandala.