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Language Stories

The Path of Ahiṃsā, and ‘Harm Less’

We made a design for Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा) in the Devanagari Script (देवनागरी), and then we put the design on a shirt. A simple two color print with a graffiti-based style. So? What’s the story, morning glory?

What is Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा)?

Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा), is the Sanskrit word for ‘non-violence’. The word is specific to Sanskrit, one of the underpinning languages for the philosophies of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is a word composed of a prefix ‘a’ (अ) and a roothiṁs’ (हिंस्) (as described by the rules of Sanskrit grammar).

The word Ahimsa—sometimes spelled Ahinsa[2][16]—is derived from the Sanskrit root hiṃs, meaning to strike; hiṃsā is injury or harm, while a-hiṃsā, its opposite, is non-harming or nonviolence.[2][17]

~wikipedia

Being familiar with the basics: language, etymology, the actual location in canonical texts, are simple ways to set the stage for study. Bringing these practices into a practical routine is a subtle way of transforming habits for the better and making everybody’s Kali Yuga (कलियुग) a little gentler… Onward and upward!

Where is the word Ahimsa (अहिंसा) used in Hinduism?

In Hinduism, Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा), can be found in the Vedas (Rigveda: ऋग्वेदः), Yajurveda,: यजुर्वेदः) and in the Upanishads (Chāndogya Upaniṣad: छान्दोग्योपनिषद्, Sandilya Upanishad: शाण्डिल्य उपनिषत्). It is also featured in the Mahabharata and documents concerning Yoga (one of the six orthodox schools of Hinduism), specifically the Yoga Sutras (2.30-35) and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika(1.16).

अहिंसा
Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा), in Devanagri (देवनागरी)script.

Where is the word Ahimsa (अहिंसा) used in Buddhism?

The Buddhist ‘Five Precepts‘ from the Dhammika Sutta has non-harm listed as the first of five guidelines. For the laymen of Buddhism, non-harm is a guideline. However, for monks and nuns, transgressing against the rule of non-violence may result in severe punishment… It is also a frequent subject in the Buddha’s discourses and stories. Since Buddhism has a range of languages representing the canon of work, it’s worthwhile to mention that the cognate of ahimsa in Pali is ‘avihiṃsā‘. It is also noteworthy that in Buddhist thought, the concept of non-harm extends to economics and trade (Anguttara Nikaya V177).

These five trades, O monks, should not be taken up by a lay follower: trading with weapons, trading in living beings, trading in meat, trading in intoxicants, trading in poison.

Anguttara Nikaya V.177, Translated by Martine Batchelor[115]

Up next? Jainism… The folks that went straight edge on non-violence… enjoy!

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Saraswatī Stories

Aim 002: Parallel Pen

Yep, another aim, AING, aiṃ…(ऐँ) with chandra bindu for extra symbolism. The blue colors are for Saraswatī‘s affiliation with water. The composition focuses on balance without symmetry. Because of the way the glyph was constructed, I sometimes see an auṃ trying to emerge, and it reminds me that they are related. Auṃ being the sun, and aiṃ the moon. The character centered on the bottom is in Telugu script, from Andhra Pradesh; it is the first syllable for the name Jāyapa, my signature for this meditation art, and, a tribute to the man (Jāyapa Sennani) who wrote a comprehensive treatise on classical dance Nritya Ratnavali.

I would like to continue with intertwining the aspect ratio and the various relations of the strokes…

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Saraswatī

Aim 004: Parallel Pen

Aiṃ, a bīja mantra for Saraswatī

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Language Saraswatī

Aim 003: Parallel Pen

Slant Pen Exercise 001 (aiṃ ऐँ)

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Saraswatī

Who?

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Saraswatī

More of… Who?

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Saraswatī

Who? Saraswatī, that’s who!

Yā, or या, is the first word in the first three lines of the Saraswatī Vandana.  And it means “who”, it’s an interesting place to start, or continue, as the case may be.

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Saraswatī

Aim 001: Antique Treatment

Thoughts on Aim…

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Galleries Saraswatī

8 Interesting facts about the aim bija mantra

New to the aim bija mantra? Then, welcome!

If you’re familiar with auṁ (Sanskrit:ॐ, more commonly written as om), the 800-pound gorilla of bija mantras (aka beej mantra or seed syllable), think of the aim bija mantra as aum’s little sister.

So, what exactly is a bija mantra?

Why is it important?

And what is the aim bija mantra?

A good place to start is with eight (8) interesting facts about the aim bija mantra.

1. Aim bija mantra—what is a bija mantra?

Aim is one of a number of bija mantras. First of all, what is a bija mantra? A bija mantra is a monosyllabic mantra, as opposed to longer mantras such as the Gayatri mantra. The word bija, in Sanskrit, means seed, therefore it is also known as a seed mantra or seed syllable. But what is a bija mantra? In Hindu philosophy:

Certain sounds which cannot be translated into a literal meaning but have the power to create great transformative growth and expansion in humans at the physical, emotional and spiritual levels are known as “Bija” or Seed Mantras.

~ from The Transformative Powers of ‘Bija Mantra’ Meditation

Understanding a little about the Vedic culture and language, i.e., the foundations of Hindu philosophy and Sanskrit (which is way beyond the scope of this article) helps. But, suffice it to say, “the Vedic language is based upon an earlier more primordial language of seed (bija) mantras.”  Hence, bija mantras are tools for expanding and widening “one’s mind by utilizing the power of sound vibrations.

Are you familiar with the chakras? Then you know that seed mantras are associated with each of the seven chakras. When a seed mantra is said out loud,

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][i]t activates the energy of the chakras in order to purify and balance the mind and body. When the Bija mantras are spoken, the energy is resonated of that associated chakra, helping one focus on their instinctive awareness of their bodies needs.

~ From wikipedia

And yet another association is with deities. Which leads us to number 2.

2. How to pronounce Aim?

As A-U-M is to om, so too A-I-M is to aim. If you say it really slow, it sounds like ah-ee-mm (like ah-ooh-mm for om). But when you say it quickly, it sounds like “I’m” (where the “m” becomes nasal). Then why is it sometimes written as aing?

Well… it’s more problematic for non-Sanskrit speakers as it is a different means of transliteration. An easy analogy, for me at least, is the difference between Peking and Beijing:

  • They both refer to the same word
  • In Chinese, there is only one pronunciation (no Chinese speaker pronounces it with a “p”)
  • But, depending on the source, you see it written both ways

Clear as mud?

Don’t worry. While proper pronunciation is nice, above all else, it’s your intent that’s important. Especially when reciting mantras in the beginning. Don’t let the player haters fool you.

3. Aim: the Saraswati mantra

In typical Hindu fashion, each goddess has her associated seed mantra. The aim bija mantra is associated with Saraswati, goddess of the arts, literature, music, learning, knowledge, and wisdom, for starters. She who dispels darkness and ignorance.

Modern day Saraswati Saraswatī सरस्वती
Modern day Saraswati Saraswatī सरस्वती

Saraswati is a personal favorite here at The Lazy Beetle. A goodly amount of our articles and designs center around Saraswati, who is just plain awesome no matter what your religion or beliefs. Consequently, if you stick around, or check back, you’ll see more and more Saraswati (and Saraswati mantras) popping up throughout The Lazy Beetle.

4. Aim bija mantra—the energy of sound

The aim bija mantra is one of the Shakti mantras. Shakti is the “primordial cosmic energy” representing “the dynamic forces that are thought to move through the entire universe.” Shakti mantras are used to create, sustain or dissolve various forms, patterns and forces within us.  At the deepest level, Shakti mantras “arouse and support the Yoga Shakti or inner power of Yoga within us.” The prime shakti bija mantras are:

  • Om bija mantra, pranic energy
  • Aim bija mantra, energy of sound
  • Hrim bija mantra, solar energy
  • Shrim bija mantra, lunar energy
  • Krim bija mantra, electric energy
  • Klim bija mantra, magnetic energy
  • Hum bija mantra, power of fire
  • Hlim bija mantra, power to stop
  • Strim bija mantra, power to stabilize
  • Trim bija mantra, power to transcend

This leads us to number 5—what does this mean for the practitioner?

5. What does Aim invoke and what does it mean for the practitioner?

Because aim is associated with the goddess Saraswati, chanting aim aids us in learning, art, expression and communication. Because it represents the energy of sound, in Ayurveda, it strengthens the voice and the vocal chords.

In David Frawley’s book Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound, “aim is also the mantra of the guru and helps us access all higher knowledge.” Thus, we can use it to:

  • Invoke wisdom and understanding
  • Motivate, to direct and to strengthen our will-power
  • Orient us toward whatever it is we seek
  • Increase concentration of our mind to awaken our higher intelligence
  • *And, imho, it really helps in getting things done that need getting done

In essence, chanting aim is a good thing; a very, very good thing.

Outside meditation with aim bija mantra
The aim bija mantra serves as a little reminder

6. The feminine counterpart of om (aum)

As Om is the unmanifest and expansive aspect of primal sound, Aim is the manifest or directed form. As Om is the supreme Purusha or cosmic masculine form, Aim is Adya Shakti, the supreme Shakti or cosmic feminine force.

~ from Satya.dk

The aim bija mantra is a standalone mantra, but aim, like om, is also used in other mantras. And since it represents the feminine, we find the mantra aim in many different mantras to the Goddess or Divine Mother.

7. The aim bija mantra is the second most common one word mantra after om/aum…

…according to Mr. David Frawley in his book Mantra Yoga and Primal Sound. We don’t make this up folks.

8. Aim with chandrabindu

Lastly, we have the chandrabindu. Now here’s where it gets a little challenging. Nailing down chandrabindu, is like going down a rabbit hole. (The rabbit hole is a common theme at The Lazy Beetle…) Some aim seed mantras contain the chandrabindu while others do not. So, what’s the deal? Is one correct and the other one incorrect?

Aim bija mantra with chandrabindu detail
Aim bija mantra with chandrabindu detail

Again, first things first. What is a chandrabindu? Chandrabindu (“moon dot” in Sanskrit,◌̐ ) is “a diacritic sign with the form of a dot inside the lower half of a circle.” (Not to be confused with the popular Bengali band Chandrabindoo.)

Here’s where we take a little dive into Sanskrit grammar. To understand chandrabindu, we must first begin with the concept of anusvāra. Anusvāra means after-sound. In modern day Devanāgarī, it appears as a dot over the syllable, e.g,. ta त vs taṃ तं. In Roman script, we use an m with an underdot (ṃ); or some times an overdot (ṁ, as in auṁ). Next, there is the anunāsika (‘from the nose’). When “n” or “m” follow a vowel, the “n” or “m” becomes silent and causes the preceding vowel to become nasal. The anunāsika is indicated with chandrabindu in Devanāgarī: la ल vs lṃ लँ. In modern languages, such as Hindi, the anusvāra and anunāsika are used interchangeably, but the anunāsika is used with seed syllables so as to add symbolism. (See Visible Mantra and Wikipedia.)

And there you have it folks—chandrabindu for extra symbolism. Thus, to answer the original question, both forms are correct (thank you Hinduism).

Conclusion

Thus concludes our journey of the aim bija mantra. Hopefully, you have a slightly better understanding of the aim bija mantra and bija mantras in general.

We leave with one final thought. For all mantras, it’s your intent that matters. Stay in the present moment, be mindful, and have fun. Because, in the end, that’s what counts.

More…

The aim bija mantra featured in this article is available for sale on Etsy.com.

Last updated: 08.27.2016Save

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Language Saraswatī

Who?

The first word of the Saraswati Vandana, simple and unadorned. When doing becomes too hot, or strained, thankfully, there is letting, or allowing, to cool the fever

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Galleries Language Saraswatī

Thoughts on AIM, ऐँ

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Saraswatī

A song of devotion, Saraswatī Vandanā, सरस्वती वन्दना

Saraswati Vandana—A Song of Devotion,

for Beautiful Saraswatī
सरस्वती वन्दना

या कुन्देन्दुतुषारहारधवला या शुभ्रवस्त्रावृता
या वीणावरदण्डमण्डितकरा या श्वेतपद्मासना।
या ब्रह्माच्युत शंकरप्रभृतिभिर्देवैःसदावन्दिता
सा मां पातु सरस्वती भगवती निःशेषजाड्यापहा

Who is dazzling as a garland of jasmine, white as snow, beautiful without adornmentWho evokes a golden melody, borne by a pure and bright lotus flower.  Whom all divine beings adore.  Please Flowing One, illumine my darkness.

~ A song of devotion to Saraswatī (author’s translation)

Below is a transliteration of the song (i.e., Saraswati vandana), a non-literal translation, and a blow-by-blow, word-by-word translation. As my Sanskrit improves, I’d also like to provide grammar and syntactical notes… as my Sanskrit improves… Thanks to Saraswati (Saraswatī सरस्वती)!!!

The transcription, transliteration, and translation of the Saraswati vandana (Saraswatī सरस्वती)

या कुन्देन्दुतुषारहारधवला या शुभ्रवस्त्रावृता

yā kundendutuṣārahāradhavalā yā śubhravastrāvṛtā
Who is dazzling as a garland of jasmine, white as snow, beautiful without adornment

या वीणावरदण्डमण्डितकरा या श्वेतपद्मासना।

yā vīnāvaradaṇḍamaṇḍitakarā yā ṣvetapadmāsanā
Who evokes a golden melody, borne on a pure and bright lotus flower

या ब्रह्माच्युत शंकरप्रभृतिभिर्देवैःसदावन्दिता

yā brahmācyuta śaṁkaraprabhṛtibhiṛdevaiḥ sadā vanditā
Whom all divine beings adore

सा मां पातु सरस्वती भगवती निःशेषजाड्यापहा

sā māṁ pātu sarasvatī bhagavatī niḥśeṣajāḍyāpahā
Please Flowing One, illumine my darkness

Word by word…

या who
कुन्देन्दु kundendu Star jasmine, Downy jasmine, Jasminum multiflorum
तुषार tuṣara ice, snow, dew, spray, camphor
हार hāra garland of pearls, necklace, charming
धवला dhavalā white, beautiful, dazzling white
या who
शुभ्र śubhra bright, white, splendid, radiant
वस्त्रा vastrā dressed, rainment, dress, clothes, robe
वृता vṛtā modestly, concealed, hidden
या who
वीणा vīnā vina, ancient string instrument
वर vara excellent, boon, best, precious
दण्ड daṇḍa sceptre, rod, stick, fine
मण्डित maṇḍita adorned, ornamented, decorated
करा karā Hard, firm, stiff, part of an instrument below the neck
या who
श्वेत ṣveta white, dressed in white, bright, white cloud
पद्म padma lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, lotus-hued
अासना āsanā seat, abiding, stay
या who
ब्रह्म brahma Brahma, sacred wisdom, from the Vedas
अच्युत acyuta Vishnu, imperishable, permanent
शंकर śaṁkara Shiva, beneficent, cause of prosperity, auspicious
प्रभृति prabhṛti attached, offering
देव deva god, heavenly, divine
सदा sadā always, continually, ever, perpetually
वन्दिता vanditā praised, celebrated, extolled
सा with, having, accompanied by, giving, bestowing, granting
मां māṁ me
पातु pātu clever, adroit
सरस्वती sarasvatī saraswati, mythical river, speech
भगवती bhagavatī fortunate
निःशेष niḥśeṣa consumed, , without remainder
जाड्या jāḍyā sluggishness, stupidity, laziness
पहा pahā destroy, annihilate

 

The Saraswati Vandana Design Details

And a most fabulous real life print (screen print) of the Saraswati vandana on a t-shirt (from our Etsy shop):

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Galleries Language Saraswatī

सरस्वती for the purists

Usually, when hand-written (in देवनागरी devanāgarī), the ligatures for vowels are to be joined to the horizontal joining line, and in good proportion to the consonant and vowel marks being joined.  In more modern times, due to Unicode fonts and kerning concerns, this has been largely dropped in computer applications.  IMHO, this structural loss is more than made up for by the availability of standardized material, that make volumes of recorded information available to all.

But, for the purists, here’s a सरस्वती calligraphic, art-deco style treatment with the ligature joined to the body.  Enjoy!

 

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Saraswatī

A variation on a theme for Saraswatī (सरस्वती).

I love the dots, I think I’d like to experiment with more variation… of the dots. Maybe a blend, or some sort of width adjustment to the stroke? hmmm. Dedicated to Saraswatī. Devanagārī characters in an art deco style.