The Ascent towards Supermind, Part II, Chapter XXVI - The Ascent towards Supermind 505

I will give you a passage from Satprem’s book, The Adventure of Consciousness. Where he has spoken of mantric poetry on which you raised a question. I think this would be quite interesting to go through this section. This is the section on mantric poetry.

“The planes of consciousness are not distinguished only by the luminous vibrations of different intensities but by different auditory vibrations or rhythms which can be heard when one has that “ear of the ear” of which the Veda speaks.

(This mention is from the Kena Upanishad, where the Rishi speaks of ‘chakshauh chakshu, shrootrasya shrota’ – ‘the eye of the eye and of the ear of the ear’, so this ear of the ear, when it is vibrating then you grasp this mantric poetry.)

“Sounds or images, lights or forces, or beings are different aspects of a same Existence which manifests itself variously and with varying intensities according to the planes. The more one descends the ladder of consciousness, the more do the auditory vibrations, like the lights, like the beings or the forces, get broken up. On the vital plane, for example, can be heard the disordered vibrations of Life, jarring, syncopated, like certain types of music which come from this plane (Some kind of pop music or rock music and so on, same thing, of this kind for the light plane) or like a certain type of vital painting or poetry which, all of them, translate this broken and highly-coloured rhythm. The higher one rises, the more do the vibrations harmonies, unite, spin out like certain great notes of Beethoven’s String Quartets, which seem to draw us vertiginously, with held breath, to the resplendent heights of pure light. The power is not characterized any longer by volume or coloured outburst but by a high inner tension. The vibratory rapidity turns the rainbow to pure white, a high note so swift that it seems to be still, caught in eternity, a single sound-light-force, which is perhaps the sacred syllable of the Indians, OM − [the] Word concealed in the upper fire. “In the beginning was the Word”, says the Scriptures.

“There exists in India a secret knowledge based on the study of sounds and the differences of vibratory modality according to the planes of consciousness. If the sound OM is pronounced, for example, one can clearly feel that it envelopes the head centres, whilst the sound RAM touches the navel centre; and as each of our centres of consciousness is in direct communication with a plane, one can thus, by the repetition (japa) of certain sounds put oneself in communication with the corresponding plane of consciousness. An entire spiritual discipline called “tantric” because derived from certain sacred texts called tantra, it is founded on this fact. The basic or essential sounds which have the power of establishing the communication are called mantras. The mantras, always secret are given to the disciple by his Guru, are of all kinds (each plane of consciousness has a crowd of degrees) and they may serve the most contradictory ends. By the combination of certain sounds one can, at the lower levels of consciousness, generally at the vital level, put oneself in relation with the corresponding forces and obtain many strange powers: there are mantras that can kill (sometimes in five minutes, − terrifying vomiting), mantras which attack with precision a particular part or the organ of the body, mantras which heal, mantras which kindle fire, which protect, spell-bind. This kind of magic or vibratory chemistry proceeds simply by the conscious manipulation of the lower vibrations. But there is a higher magic which also proceeds by the handling of vibrations but on higher planes of consciousness; this is poetry, music, the spiritual mantras of Upanishads and the Vedas or the mantras which the Guru gives his disciple to help him enter consciously into direct communication with such or such a plane of consciousness, such or such a force, such or such a divine being. Here the sound carries in itself the power of experience and realization − it is a sound that makes one see.

“Poetry and music which are an unconscious handling of secret vibrations may then be considered powerful means of the opening of consciousness. If we could succeed in composing poetry or music which is a product of a conscious handling of higher vibrations, we would create great works having an initiatory power. Instead of a poetry which is a fantasy of the intellect and a nautch-girl of the mind as Sri Aurobindo says, we would create a mantric music or poetry to bring the Gods into our life. For true poetry is an act, it makes holes in the consciousness − we are so walled in and barricaded! − through which the Real can enter: it is a mantra of the Real, an initiation. This is what the Vedic rishis and the seers of the Upanishads have done in their mantras which have the power of communicating an illumination to one who is ready; this is what Sri Aurobindo explained in his Future Poetry and this is what he has done in Savitri.

“The mantra or great poetry, great music, the sacred Word, come from the overmind. This is the source of all creative or spiritual activities (it is not possible to distinguish between the two: the categorical divisions of the intellect vanish in a clear air wherein all is sacred, even the profane). We may hence try to say in what lies the particular vibration or particular rhythm of the overmind. And, first, for any one who has the capacity to enter more or more consciously into relation with the higher planes − poets, writer or artist − it is quite evident, perceptible, that after a certain level of consciousness it is no longer ideas that one sees and tries to translate. One hears. There are literally vibrations or waves, rhythms which lay hold of the seeker, invade him, then clothe themselves with words and ideas or with music, colours, in their descent. But the word or the idea, the music, the colour, is the result, a secondary effect; they just give a body to that first terribly imperious vibration. And if the poet, the true one, corrects and re-corrects, it is not to improve upon the form as one says, or to express himself better, but to catch that vibrating thing – and if the true vibration is not there, all his magic crumbles, as that of the Vedic priest who has badly pronounced the mantra of the sacrifice.

(This is reference to a story in a Brahmana that every word in the mantra is in its right place. A mantra is one which called inevitable expression or incorrigible expression, it can’t be corrected, the rhythm, the placement of words, the vision, all this are absolutely, accurately expressed. If you change one thing into the other even in pronouncing, the whole effect is marred. There is a story in Brahmana that somebody, − a demon wanted to kill Indra and there was a mantra which would kill Indra by merely pronouncing that mantra. The priest mispronounced it while reciting and instead of reading that the one should kill Indra, it was pronounced to mean that one, who can be killed by Indra, is killed and therefore, the demon was killed in return. So in the case of mantric poetry, every word is in such a place that if you just make a little change the whole effect would be quite different. That is why there is a tradition in India that mantras have to be pronounced perfectly well, there should be no mistake in the pronunciation of the mantra, this is the tradition in India. It is to that which he is referring here).