Invocation is the most misunderstood part of the yogic path.
The frequent assertion that mantra yoga is an activity for the lowest level of seeker is a gross misrepresentation of the place of mantra in the yogic sadhana since the entire journey is interwoven with and dependent on the use of mantra. ‘Mantra’ can be broken down into two parts; man refers to mind (manas) and tra refers to protection. This role is exemplified in the opening prayers made before practice that invoke guidance and protection from the lineage of gurus.
If the initiated student follows the prescribed sequence of activities they come to realise that each layer of practice is nothing but the invocation of a particular power whose door can only be opened by the appropriate mantra. Invocations through mantras are of many kinds, prayers for protection and guidance, instructional prayers, the seed mantras (bijam) used in the building of the power principle, prayers of veneration, and prayers of conclusion and offerings.
Before delving into the deeper layers of mantra yoga it is worth reflecting on the hidden caution given in the introduction to the Amrutavakyam of Gorakshanath.
The meaning of the word Nath is Lord or Master and implies that everything in this world has been moulded by him, the creator. The meaning of Goraksha is that everything is a mystery.
Goraksha can be further broken down into go, which means cow but also tongue and raksha, which refers to protection. Drawing all these together the meaning of Gorakshanath becomes the Lord who is master over the mysteries of the tongue that lead the cows (ignorant people) out of darkness and into light.
Gorakshanath implies that one must uncover the hidden aspect of words rather than dwelling on or debating superficial meaning. Words by themselves are devoid of life and those who first chanted them long dead. Mere chanting of words will bear no results until the hidden depths of meaning within the mantra have been understood. Although reference is often made to the chakras and their sound systems in present day schools of yoga. Unfortunately most are ignorant of the knowledge of mantra yoga that allows access to them.
Matsyendranath in his Samhita outlines the yogic journey from initiation to the crowning process of Samadhi in seven chapters. These seven chapters describe Deha Shuddhi (purification of the body), Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. In all these processes mantra and its applications are utilised for purifying, healing or to invoke the energetic systems within the body. The eighth chapter is titled Antararchanam or inner worship. It is critical to take note here that guidance for inner worship is only given after the state of samadhi has been achieved. This is only possible when the entire practice can be performed during one round of pranayama in that state described by Patanjali as Samprajnata Samadhi (transcendental state induced through the mind) or as Goraknath terms it Samanaskayoga.
The ninth chapter is titled Mantraraja and its Mantroddhara (The King of Mantras and Mantra Support System). It is here that all the layers beginning with deha suddhi are gathered into a single pillar of intelligence. The Mantra Raja draws and rests upon what is termed nyasa-viddhim, the science of placement through touch. One must know that this entire physical appearance is a manifestation of sound. There are 52 bija mantras (seed syllables) that are evenly spread over the periphery of the body that are in correspondence with the central chakra systems of the body, from the muladhara to the sahasrara (crown chakra). Mantra raja is a power system that is developed through repeated practice and can be viewed as a hologram formed from the energies of the sun and moon, through the science of touching and placement and brought into play through the innate qualities of the mind. It is this mantra raja that helps to pierce through the chakras and gather their energies into a single point – bindu.
To be able to establish this pillar of the heart fire one must know all the peripheral sites and their correspondences to the chakra system. All of this is hidden within the sapta-varga-aksharas, the system of seven groups of sound variations that reside in the seven chakras. These sounds correspond to the various parts of the peripheral body. Through them one is able to gain direct control over the face, the senses, right arm, lips and teeth, mouth, ears, soft tissue and bone, left arm, right leg, throat, left leg and the whole body-mind complex. This control cannot be achieved with an unprepared or superficial mindset.
In conclusion one must understand that without the science of invocation there can be no progress on the path of yoga. One must know what is to be invoked and from whom; in the moment of invocation one must recognise what was been invoked and know how to respond to the power that presents itself. Without the science of mantra raja and its mantrodhara the khechari mudra will remain forever a dream never lived.