■■ Involution is the path of looking within ourselves. It is the path of meditation and yoga. And a very important role, in this entire process, is played by the mantras – a string of words well-knitted to enhance this inward journey. We went through four stages of evolution of speech in reaching matrika – the exposition of words and language. To summarize, these were, para-vaak, pashyanti, madhayma and vaikhari. Similarly there are four mantras to assimilate the returning energies of the sadhak or practitioner.
The first mantra, according to the Shiva- sutras, is ‘hamsa’. This mantra brings about the awareness of breathing. For, ‘ha’ is samhara-bija or the mystic letter denoting inspiration of breath and ‘sa’ is the shrishti-bija or the mystic letter denoting expiration. These sounds just happen as we inhale and exhale 21,600 times approximately everyday and the concentration on this fact enhances deep-breathing or pranayama. Incidentally, the word ‘hamsa’ is also the name of the mythical white, swan-like bird which is very rarely seen and in folk-lore the flying away of this bird is likened to the release of prana at the time of death. These are the white swans on Goddess Saraswati’s sides.