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Ashtakshari Kalpa

 

The sacred Ashtakshari Mantra of Bhagavan Srimannarayana, along with gAyatri, panchAkshari and shrIvidyA, is one of the four mokSha mantras. The practical details discussed here are for the use of upAsakas who are initiated into the mantra by a Sad-guru.

By reciting ashtakshari with devotion and sincerity, one is cleansed of all sins and attains the qualification for comprehending the essence of Mahavakyas and thereby attains realization. The sacred ashtakshari mantra is as follows: Om namo narayanaya. The Rishi of this mantra is sAdhya nArAyaNa, chandas is gAyatrI and Mahavishnu is the Devata. The Kara-Anga nyasas are performed with the mantras – kruddholkAya – maholkAya – vIrolkAya – dyUlkAya – sahasrolkAya, prefixing each nyAsa pAda with praNava. Some other works specify the Rishi as antaryAmi. Either of these names refer to the great sage nArAyaNa (of the nara – narayana pair) residing in Badarikashrama. The Rishi and Chandas for each of the letters have also been detailed:

OM- Gautama – Gayatri

na - Bharadwaja – Ushnik

mo – Vishwamitra – Anushtup

naa – Jamadagni – Brihati

raa – VasisTha – Pankti

ya – Kashyapa - Trishtup

Naa – Atri - Jagati

ya – Agastya – Virat

A special nyAsa called ashTaaMga nyAsa is prescribed for ashtakshari. Using each syllable of the mantra, the Shadangas are performed like for any other mantra (i.e. OM hrdayAya namaH – naM shirase swAha, yaM astrAya phaT). The final two syllables are placed on the belly and back (NaaM udaraaya namaH and yaM pR^iShThAya namaH). Using Sudarsha mantra, Digbandha is performed specifically for each of the directions. Those initiated can perform keshava mAtR^ikA nyAsa and mUrti and vibhUti panjara nyAsas (Srshti and Samhara karmas) at this point. The Mudras to be displayed now are Shankha, Chakra, Gada and Padma. The Dhyana Shloka is as below:

udyatkoTidivAkarAbhamanishaM shaMkhaM gadAM pa~Nkajam
chakraM bibhratamindirAvasumatIsaMshobhipArshwadwayam |
keyUrAMgadahArakuNDaladharaM pItAmbaraM kaustubho –
ddiiptaM vishwadharaM swavakShasi lasacChriivatsachihnaM bhaje ||

For those desiring wealth and prosperity, dhyAna visheSha where Mahalakshmi is explicitly meditated on, along with Mahavishnu:

Vaame vichintyaa kamalaayataakShI
hemaabjavarNaa kamala cha devii |
vibhuutikaamena suratnahaaraa
premNaa sR^ijantii nayane harau yaa ||

Lord is also meditated along with Bharati devi by those who seek mastery of all scriptures:

dakShiNe devadevasya puurNachandranibhaananaam
kshiiraabdhiphenapuMjaabhe vasaanaaM shwetavaasasii |
bhaaratyaa sahitaM viShNuM dhyaayeddevaM paraatparam
vedavedaarthasamvedii jaayate sarvavittama ||

The seven mudras to be displayed before the recitation of the mantra are: shrivatsa, kaustubha, vanamaalaa, shamkha, chakra, gadaa and padma. The number prescribed for purashcharana is 8 lakhs (akShara lakSha). However, as indicated by Sri Padmapadacharya, the number prescribed in Kali Yuga would be four times which is 32 lakhs. After purascharana, one can recite the mantra along with lakshmi bija to obtain prosperity. For protection, Nrsimha Bija is added to the mantra. For removing the effects of poison, the mantra is recited in combination with garuDa panchakshari. For overcoming hurdles, the mantra is recited with gaNapati bija. For mastery over scriptures, poetry and other branches of learning, vAni bija is used. The first three Varnas should recite the entire eight letters of the mantra. Those belonging to the fourth mantra and women should recite the mantra without praNava. For liberating knowledge, one should recite the mantra with praNava at both the beginning and the end.

Further details on ashtakshari charyA are seen in Nrsimha Purana. One should recite the mantra 1000 times every day after Nitya Karma to obtain the grace of the Lord. Else, one should recite the mantra 108 times every day and especially on dwAdashI. By reciting a lakh, one attains Atma shuddhi. With two lakhs, one achieves mantra shuddhi. By three lakhs, one attains the heavenly worlds. By fourth lakh, one achieves nearness to the lord. By fifth lakh, one's mind gets fixed on the Lord. By sixth lakh, one achieves pure knowledge. By seventh lakh, one realizes the true form of one-self. By eight lakh, one achieves realization and liberation. It is to be noted that in Kali Yuga, purashcharana samkhya is the four times the said number.

nArAyaNaya nama ityayameva satyam |
saMsaaraghoraviShasamharaNaaya mantraH ||