The planets project powerful cosmic forces, both positive and negative, which influence us on all levels. They are not just material or chemical sources of light, but the source of subtle mental and emotional energies. They are lords of fate, karma and destiny that we must approach with reverence and respect. Their mantras are their names through which we can connect to their inner being. Their mantras are not simply sounds to repeat or formulas that work of their own accord. They require deep regard for, if not devotion to, the Divine forces working through the planets, the Planetary Gods and Goddesses. So please bear in mind our discussion of these planetary beings when you consider the role of mantra.
There are certain formalities traditionally associated with taking up any mantra. Initiation into astrological mantras usually follows a ritual worship of the planet and is done at a favo rable time and place. Mantras are usually given as part of a spiritual tradition or lineage and received from a guru. It is best to receive astrological mantras from yogis and astrologers who have used the mantras as part of their lifelong practices. A mantra from one who has not practiced it or who does not have the shakti (power) of the mantra is not likely to yield its full effects.
Astrological mantras, however, do not have as many restrictions in their usage as do spiritual mantras aimed at gaining higher spiritual aims. Astrological mantras are part of astrological treatment methods with a limited and specific application that depends mainly upon the planet needing propitiation in the chart. Yet the more we empower the mantra and the more it is grounded in an authentic tradition, the stronger it becomes.
A well trained Vedic astrologer should know both the mantras for the planets and how to adapt them to their clients. Yet he should also know his limitations, particularly if he is just learning these mantras himself. He should not use them beyond their scope, claiming that the mantras will give magical results or of themselves solve a person's problems without any examination of the karmas involved.
A good astrologer should work with mantra as part of their personal spiritual practice, building up their mantra shakti in a consistent manner. A Vedic astrologer should practice Vedic planetary mantras on a regular basis, preferably every day before seeing clients or studying charts. Planetary mantras stimulate the right perception and intuition required to learn the secrets of Vedic astrology. Planetary mantras should be done along with other spiritual and yogic mantras, like those to Ganesha, ones guru or the form of God one worships.
Mantras have more latitude in their application than gemstones, which are mainly used for strengthening weak planets in the chart. Mantras can be used to increase the positive influence of benefic planets, yet can also serve to decrease the negative influence of malefic planets. Mantra works either way while gems are more safely used to increase positive planetary influences.
Yet besides their usage as a remedial measure in their own right, mantras are an integral part of all other astrological remedial measures. They are essential to properly empower planetary gemstones.
The appropriate mantras awaken the subtle power of the gems and help us use them in a more conscious manner. They form the basis for propitiatory rituals for the planets like pujas or yajnas. Without some knowledge of mantra, it is difficult to apply any astrological treatment measures effectively.
The most important and powerful of all mantras are single syllable or bija (seed) mantras like OM. Bija mantras are primal sounds that carry an integrated concentration of both sound and meaning from which all language and the very forces of creation arise. They can create a great force of transformation that penetrates deep into the subconscious mind, reaching the very causal body or karmic sphere of the soul. Bija mantras have an energetic effect that works well with pranayama and silent meditation. As such, they can be more powerful than prayers, which rely more on thought and intention. Bija mantras may be used by themselves or combined with other mantras, in which case they serve to energize them more strongly.
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