An overview of Transcendental Meditation (TM) and its relationship to the Hindu tradition of meditative practice by Octavian Sarbatoare.
This paper will discuss the technique of meditation known as Transcendental Meditation (TM), its basic facts and relation to the Hindu tradition of meditative practices. Some issue on origination of the TM will be brought into attention together its relevance the present time.
TM started, as a worldwide movement by an Indian Guru known as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1957. Maharishi has developed a technique of deep relaxation by which the mind was taken to the source of thought, to what is called the pure field of creative intelligence. He claimed the technique could enable the mind to expend and increase its power and even the body could get more energy, thus a person being able to use a greater potential of the mind (note 1).
One of the major claims of TM is that the physiological effects of stress are minimized by a deep relaxation of the body during meditation, a claim that has been scientifically substantiated (ref. notes for bibliography). All the benefits could be obtained by a simple method, an easy technique that is thought by accredited teachers only.
The technique is imparted through initiation only. An initiation ceremony takes place through a ritual in which the aspirant brings to the teacher flowers, fruits, a white handkerchief and a small fee. The core of the initiation is to receive of a Mantra, a sacred sound. The aspirant is taught how to meditated twice a day (note 2) for about 20 to 30 minutes each season. Following research into the practice many inquiries followed, especially from the scientific establishment, and a great interest was shown into the roots of TM that were in fact found in the Hindu tradition of meditation.
It has been found that the Mantra sounds given at the initiation time originated in the Hindu tradition of Bija Mantras, short mystical syllables that belong to the Vedic and Tantric tradition as Tantra Yoga was also known as Mantra Yoga. The inescapable conclusion was that the effects of such sounds have to come from the vibratory nature of Bija Mantras since they have no meanings (note 3). Although Guru Maharishi has presented TM as non-religious and non-affiliated method, the Bija Mantras used are well known in the Hindu tradition. To start with it is the celebrated Vedic Mantra Om, as the primordial sound that is supposed to bring the meditator to the source of the generation of the universe itself at the time of the Big Bang.
Other Bija Mantras are Aing, Shring, Kling, that are well known in Tantra as Mantras linked to deities like Sarasvati, Lakshmi and Krishna respectively. What these Bija Mantras have behind them is that through consistent practice, the principle behind the deity itself is assimilated. For example Sarasvati Devi, is linked to become knowledgeable and to acquire wisdom, Lakshmi Devi is linked to the idea of obtaining beauty and wealth, meditation on Krishna brings love and protection (note 4).
Therefore, there is clear evidence that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has managed to present old Hindu meditative techniques in new words in an entirely new social context where science is able to do independent research beyond the mystics of the religious tradition. In my view this is a remarkable achievement as we are now able to demystify what was kept for millennia confined by only a few of knowledgeable people.
In conclusion, TM is using Bija Mantras, short mystical sounds that are used in Hindu meditative practices. The founder of TM, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has managed to bring into the open the secret knowledge and allowed science to do research into the field. In this way it was found that present level of science is able to acknowledge that many techniques thousand of years old could be valuable.
Copyright © 2002 Octavian Sarbatoare