Sep 13, 2023

Transcendental Meditation Mantras

Maharishi gave out mantras at the end of a ceremony he called puja, varieties of which are daily occurrences in pious Hindu households. A candle burned in front of a portrait of Guru Dev as Maharishi stood before it, waving incense and making offerings of water, parched rice, sandalwood paste, fruit and flowers, all the while chanting phrases in Sanskrit that sometimes included the names of Hindu gods. Then Maharishi gave the new meditator a mantra (in those days based on their gender, but later based on age), and the initiation was complete. The new initiate then performed a short meditation, and once Maharishi was certain they had practiced correctly, they were free to go home and meditate on their own ever after – with no requirement that they attend further meetings. The entire process took about an hour. But why should such an apparently simple and easy meditation practice be worth bothering with? What did these first meditators hope to gain? Maharishi explained during his seven lectures leading up to initiation that people commonly suffer because they don’t know who they are.

" ... In early 1961, SRM groups from all over the world learned that Maharishi’s first teacher training course (TTC) would be held in the Himalayas, supposedly to give his teachers more prestige with the public than if he held the course in the United States or Europe (Dragemark 1972: 43). Subsequently, a thirteen-acre site was secured on the banks of the Ganges at Rishikesh, a Hindu pilgrimage center, and a small complex was erected and dedicated as the Dhyan Vidya Peeth (“the Seat of Meditation Knowledge”). After three months of attending Maharishi’s lectures, meditating for eight to ten hours per day, and doing little else, the group was informed by the guru that sixteen of the thirty-five were eligible to be teachers. This group was taken aside and given the two mantras they would thereafter bestow during initiations, with one mantra for men and one for women. This number would increase over the years – to eight mantras in 1969, nine in 1972, and sixteen in 1976."

There were other sets of mantras including different sets for Americans and Europeans. One initiator I interviewed was given a set of mantras when she was made a teacher. Immediately after her TTC she attended a six-month course. At the conclusion of the six-month course, she met with Maharishi because she was unsure of the mantras. MMY gave her a different set/pronunciation of mantras.

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