Asit Mohanty & Sibkumar Das
‘Swapnabati Mantra’ is perhaps the most discussed subject in the whole process of Nabakalebara rituals. It is believed that the chanting of this mantra provides clues to the ‘Daitapati’ servitor members of the ‘banajaga yatra’ team about the location of the ‘daru’ trees. It is claimed that they get these subtle signals through dreams. It is a metaphorical presentation of the theories on the various states of consciousness recognised by ancient Indian philosophy as well as the modern science of psychology.
As per time-honoured tradition, ‘Daitapati’ servitors chant the ‘Swapnavati mantra’ 108 times before going to sleep at night during their camp at Deuli Math in Kakatpur. They continue the routine till they ascertain the location of the appropriate ‘daru’ trees. Although commonly known as ‘Swapnabati mantra’, this mantra is actually ‘Swapna-Manabaka mantra’. The word ‘manabaka’ literally means an ignorant child and figuratively a person devoid of Vedic knowledge. It is a symbolic attempt to surrender before the Mother Goddess like an innocent, ignorant and simple child with a fervent prayer for assistance in locating the right ‘daru’ trees.
The meaning of this mantra is “O, Lord Vishnu, Who rules the universe; Hey omnipresent basis of this Universe; Hey Lord of all dreams; I bow down before you. Hey Lord of gods in heaven; I am taking refuge before you; Please fulfil the wish in my heart.”
Goddess Maa Mangala at Kakatpur, who is worshipped by servitors in search of ‘daru’, is also known by the name ‘Swapnabati’. This name finds place in the ‘Sri Durga Sahasra Nama’. Yet this mantra, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is named ‘Swapnabati’. The obvious question that follows is: how would he chanting of this mantra please Maa Mangala so much that she would happily provide clues to locate the appropriate ‘daru’ trees.
In the seventeenth verse of the ninth chapter of Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna says, “Pitahamasya jagato mata dhata pitamahah”. It means ‘I am the father, mother, grandfather as well as ultimate doer of this universe’. It is understood that the Almighty’s omnipresence encompasses all identities. There is no difference between Lord Vishnu and Mother Goddess Mangala. So, Maa Mangala can be appeased through prayers by ‘Swapnabati mantra’ addressed to Lord Vishnu.
It is hard for a logical mind to accept that dreams can guide the Banajaga Yatra team to the exact location of the ‘darus’. In reality though, this mantra is nothing but an exercise aimed at soothing the nerves and calming down the mind so that it can take a proper and logical decision resulting in the achievement of any goal, including the search for ‘daru’. The Sanskrit word ‘mantra’ consists of the root ‘man’ or ‘manas’ meaning mind, which is added with the suffix ‘tra’ denoting tool or instrument. Hence the literal meaning of ‘mantra’ is ‘an instrument of mind’. In Indian philosophy, ‘mantras’ are tools to calm down the brain. A calm mind leads to a higher realm of consciousness.
To demystify ‘Swapnabati mantra’, we have to delve into the various states of our consciousness. Mandukya Upanishad classifies consciousness into three stages; ‘jagrat’, ‘swapna’ and ‘sushupti’. Modern psychoanalysis terms them as conscious, subconscious and unconscious states of the brain. A conscious or ‘jagrat’ brain is the tip of the iceberg of our total consciousness. ‘Sushupti’ or unconscious is the unexplored strata of the brain.
Although ‘Swapna’ literally means dream, in the spiritual realm, it denotes the subconscious. Our subconscious creates our dreams. No information escapes our subconscious, although our conscious mind may miss much. It is an accepted fact that our subconscious is the guiding factor behind all our actions enacted through the conscious mind. The ultimate spiritual goal is the realisation of all states of consciousness as one, which is also the ultimate use of the potency of our brain.
So, the chanting of ‘Swapnabati mantra’ before sleep is just a tool to calm the subconscious. During sleep, we enter the subconscious state before stepping into unconscious state or deep sleep. A calm subconscious will calm down the conscious mind. This will lead to a prefect state of mind that helps take the right decision, be it the search for ‘daru’ or anything else. This is the mystery behind the ‘Swapnabati mantra’.
Next: Neem as ‘daru’ tree for Nabakalebara