What is your experience of the Ramacharitmanas?
Swami Niranjanananda: The Ramacharitmanas is not just a mythological story of someone born thousands of years ago; it is an incredibly special book. In the verses of the Ramacharitmanas are hidden shabar mantras. These are mantras of immense power that give instant benefit and result. Only knowledgeable people are aware which shabar mantras are within the text. Nevertheless, when the Ramacharitmanas is chanted, the effect of those shabar mantras changes lives instantly, even for those who do not know them.
When Sri Swami Satyananda was in isolation in Rikhia, doing the sadhana of panchagni, the five fires, one day he said, “I read many books, imbibed a lot of knowledge and learnt a lot about man, God and religion, but my mind never felt satisfied. I always felt something was lacking. However, when I started the chanting of Ramacharitmanas in the correct form, I realised that I did not need to read or know anything more. The full meaning of life and God is given in this easy and incomparable book. “
When Sri Swami Satyananda said this,I did not understand what he meant. I have also chanted the Ramacharitmanas many times and done akhanda paths. Still,I was not able to understand his deep words. When I was doing the panchagni, I chanted the Ramacharitmanas during the sadhana and completed three rounds of nine-day readings of the full text.
During the first reading, I was absorbed in the story. In the second reading, I observed that my mental state had changed. In the first reading, the words appeared as they do: black inscriptions on white paper, but in the second reading they did not appear in that form. Instead,it seemed as if the words, couplets,stanzas and slokas were written in jewel-enceusted letters and were sparkling. It was as if each page was a storehouse of precious stones. When I read it the third time, my awareness became even more subtle.
I am telling you about this experience with the Ramacharitmanas as I have seen myself as a seeker and a laboratory, and have made an effort to understand how change comes about in one’s awareness and life through a process of sadhana. When the third reading was taking place, my awareness had become so subtle that I started to see the shabar mantras. If this process had continued, it is possible that I would have glimpsed, experienced and learnt many more things.
Whatever Sri Rama may have been – a child, a king, an avatara, or a maryada Purushottam, an idea man – the Ramacharitmanas is an unparalleled book. It depicts Rama’s character as the culmination of spiritual thinking and understanding. The methods of spirituality are contained in a hidden manner in the form of the mantras. As one connects with chanting, the effects of the mantras start playing on the awareness, and they awaken new areas of consciousness, leading one towards enlightenment and liberation.
Near take the Ramacharitmanas lightly as just a story-book or a historic text. Its incidents may be historic, yet the benefit that you receive from chanting it, the satisfaction, happiness and peace that you gain from it, will never be had from any other literature, scripture or philosophy anywhere in the world.
Over centuries, it has been the experience of people in society that chanting of Sundarkand, one of the chapters of the Ramacharitmanas, brings peace and joy, and fulfils all desires. Whether or not you understand what you chant, whether you believe in Rama or not, it does not matter. The chanting will give you the result.
Bhakti Yoga Book 1