Fundamental Sounds: Bija & Chakra Bija Mantras

Here we offer considerations about a few of the fundamental sound forms. These sounds are not bija mantras in and of themselves (which are given below) but rather are sounds that often form a part of mantras.

Key Vowel Sounds

Following are the “three primal vowels” in Sanskrit that Dr. David Frawley explains are “the basis of all other sounds and of all creation.” The explanations below come from Dr. Frawley’s teachings.

  • Short A (uh as in another) – relates to the Absolute, Pure Consciousness; promotes pratyahara, meditation, samadhiYoga Nidra
  • Short I (ee as in eat, “but shorter”) – relates to the Creator; promotes dharana, willpower, discrimination, knowledge
  • Short U (oo as in flute) – relates to Vibration, Creation, Power; promotes perceptive listening, knowledge formless meditation

There are sixteen Sanskrit vowels which all may be considered important and meaningful but here we highlight a subset:

  • Long I (ee as in deep)
  • Long A (ah as in father)
  • E (ay as in cake)
  • AI (as in aisle)
  • (oh as in yoke)
  • AU (ow as in out)

The Continuous, Enduring Resonance of Vowels

Vowels represent consciousness, Spirit… Vowels are the essence of sound and vibration, continuous, independent and enduring in their resonance. You can take any vowel and intone it indefinitely. Many powerful Sanskrit seed mantras like Om and Aim are vowel predominant for this reason. They allow our energy to open, expand and ascend to higher levels. – Dr. David Frawley

More Sounds

  • Teachings across many traditions also often include the sounds of “mm” and/or “ng” in mantras.
  • Larry Payne notes the importance of the sounds “ah,” “ma” and “sa.”
  • An important Kundalini Yoga mantra uses the sounds “sa,” “ta,” “na” and “ma.” (See more here.)

Ah, Ma, Sa Calming to the Body & Mind

The simple sounds that are user friendly in all languages and dialects are ah, ma, and sa. They are easy to use and calming to the body and mind. When spoken during an exhale, these sounds substantially lengthen the breath by narrowing the air passages and slowing the release of air from the lungs. –Larry Payne PhD