Sat Nam Building Blocks

Mantras are prelinguistic and they came before all languages. The sounds of mantras are independent of meaning and their effects are universal.

They are sonic formulas to facilitate healing and transformation, and each part of the formula can be better understood if we look at the basic building blocks of all mantras – the primal fundamental sounds we use in our human speech.

These primal sounds are the secret of mantra.

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In the technology of mantras, there are three primal vowels (A, I, U), sixteen vowels (long and short), four semivowels, five sibilants, and twenty-five consonants.

All of these primal sounds produce a different effect on the body, mind, and spirit and are combined to form all the mantra sounds we use – and specifically SAT NAM.

Sat Nam is considered to be a bija mantra, a powerful short sound that has a multitude of meanings and effects. Bija mantra are seeds (the word “bij” means “seed”) that are full of potentialities that can be realized by the practitioner.

The mantra Sat Nam is composed of five sounds: “S” “T” “N” “M” and “A”.

These five sounds in Sanskrit are called Panj Shabad where panj means “five and shabad means “sound.”

When you differentiate Sat Nam into its primal sounds, we get SAA TAA NAA MAA or the mantra used in the Kirtan Kriya meditation (among others).

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The common “AA” sound in the mantra is the most basic sound and forms the root of all other words, including the primary sound of AUM (OM). It is the first sound of the universe.

In the Saa Taa Naa Maa mantra, it is considered to be the long vowel and pronounced as the “a” in father. The long A vowel represents the expansion into the infinite space of the Higher Self. Physically the “AA” sound is relaxing, releasing and vitalizing. This sound releases and expands the prana , and is common to the other four sounds of the mantra.

The “S” sound is one of the sibilants in Sanskrit. This is the sound that opens the breath, and its etymology means to take in, to inhale, to initiate, and to set into motion. As such, the SAA sound begins the cycle of the Kirtan Kriya mantra.

The “T” sound is one of the dental consonants and creates a stability of movement along a horizontal plane. The TAA sound extends, propels and flattens out the energy initiated by the “S” (SAA) sound and carries it farther forward in the mouth.

The “N” sound is one of the cerebral consonants and provides a heavier energy that stabilizes the initiation and movement of energy created by the first two sounds (SAA, TAA). The sound NAA also is indicative of negation.

The “M” sound is a labial consonant and creates both a dissolution and a return of the energy. It turns back onto itself, so that its ending is also its beginning. The sound of MAA is softening, nourishing and calming and returns us to our source, the mother.

Now you can see the majesty and perfection of the mantra SAA TAA NAA MAA. There is a sense of initiation, extension, stability, dissolution and a return or a rebirth, the cycle of the cosmos and our lives.

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