Wrote this a few months back, in reaction to some annoyance out there in the wilds of twitter about not being able to just … pick up and start practicing any Mantra one likes, just because one wishes to.
“we had recently had an associate write in with a similar question of the “why can’t I read x” variety. It is an understandable question.
The way I had answered it was, in part, via analogy –
We do not tend to allow just anybody to have rifles. We generally expect them to have undertaken firearm safety training and been able to pass / obtain a firearms license – in NZ, including installing a gun-safe in the home, etc, and restrictions on where/how to use.
It may seem a rather curious metaphor – but a gun, everybody acknowledges its power. it is prima facie obvious why there are restrictions in place for it.
A Vedic mantra, however …
it is a curious paradox. The people who want to be able to ‘read’ Vedic mantras – recite, more properly speaking (literally) … they want to do so precisely because they KNOW that these ‘words’ have Power.
And yet this Power .. all too often it is incautiously approached. It is acknowledged that the Power exists, yet the respect – the fearful reverence, even – that is the appropriate disposition towards such, seems to go a bit ‘missing’ in the process.
But Guns ? Everybody knows. Similar thing viz. the complexities of ritual operations. “Oh, why can’t I carry out x rite” – it is like saying “oh, why can’t I carry out x surgery. I saw how to do it on youtube!”
No thanks. I’d prefer a qualified surgeon! (or Priest, in this case)
Meanwhile, on other side of equation – the people who just want to ‘read’ these texts because .. what, academic interest? the prestige of knowing something?
It is a different kind of ‘risk’.
Sure, the odds of metaphysical consequences ensuing as the result of somebody picking up an English translation of the RV and spouting off about this that and the other thing are .. rather less overt in their hazardousness –
However, the propensity with which this kind of thing leads to people making ill-informed inferences and then broadcasting lurid misinformation as the result is … undesirable to say the least. And highly aggravating in any case.”
Now, there is a rather more ‘foundational’ point to be raised about all of this – and that is the fact that in the absence of actual deeksha (‘initiation’), for a given Mantra … one is not going to be getting nearly as far in its attempted usage as if one actually has such a thing in the first instance.
This is not even a simple matter of being able to do more with proper instruction – proper imparting of the knowledge and mental insight and acuity to be able to wield the force of the words upon the page through tangible demonstration.
[And, for that matter, being able to avoid some of the ‘traps’ – sometimes quite literal – that are part-and-parcel of particular Mantras which have elements that aren’t supposed to be done except in a very specific way, lest things ‘blow up’ accordingly … something that in various cases is not so swift nor so easy to merely google.]
Although it is most certainly the case that with a Teacher (or, if you like, a ‘Coach’ – although that lacks the right ‘feeling’), you learn a lot more and are able to advance rather more quickly than having to puzzle it all out yourself.
No, the situation of the relevant Diksha is that of the impartment of an ‘essence’, the actual ‘seed’ (or, perhaps we might say – ‘Spirit’, given PIE *Men) of the Mantra that is its essential force and source.
This isn’t something as simple and straightforward as just saying the thing to somebody else.
This is something that actually has a far more subtle ‘communicative saliency’ to it. Something that, whilst it is within the Words, is also not the words – at least, not simply air moved by lungs and mouths, yet carried upon them and very much in the ‘shape’ of same.
It is, we may very succinctly say (and not entirely accurately), the ‘energy’ that the Mantra ‘is’. At least, from our perspective.
And it is imbued into the recipient, to become a part of them.
Hence, the recitation of a Mantra for which one has the appropriate Initiation – is an entirely different creature to the recitation of some lines upon a page that one happens to have picked up from Google.
But, of course, we all long for shortcuts …
Now, having said all of that – there are some ‘exceptions’; the Shiva Panchakshari Mantra is a very good one.
Why? Because via Direct Divine Fiat – of Lord Shiva Himself (it is, after all, His Mantra) – it’s much more accessible than most others.
There are also some other rare instances wherein somebody has the Rules ‘bent’ for them – they are an exceptional case, and will probably have some very good reason why things were enabled to work for them on a rather different basis for a bit.
However, ‘hard cases make for bad lore’ – and it is much better and much easier, I think, to do things properly rather than just blithely presume that you’re the sort of ‘special’ that can, in every single instance where it is attempted, ‘jump the queue’, do something never done before, and so on and so forth.
The world of the Mantrika is a … much broader and incredibly more complex one than we are often used to thinking of.
You are not at the center of it.
But with the proper and appropriate respect and disposition, you can venture into it and begin to behold its Wonders.