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Spectral Analysis of the Vedic Mantra Omkara

Heisnam Jina Devi, N V C Swamy* and H R Nagendra
Hindu University of America, Orlando, Florida, USA Extension Center, Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana, Bangalore
Received 28 May 2003; revised 31 December 2003

It has been recognised for quite some time that Mantras or sacred words have beneficial effects on human beings and even plants. In a previous study, the authors have demonstrated the effect of Agnihotra mantra chanting at sunrise and sunset on the germination of rice seeds. Scriptures also mention that mantras like Om, Gayatri and Mrityunjaya have benefited humanity quite a lot.
This paper is an attempt to identify quantitatively the signal characteristics of mantra sound patterns. It is a pilot study and appears to be one of the first of its kind in the world. The study has confined itself to the identification of the predominant frequencies and their subharmonics of A-kara, U-kara, Ma-kara and Om-kara.

Keywords: Spectral analysis, Vedic mantra, Omkara.

IPC Int. Cl.7: G10K115/02.


Since time immemorial, there has been a belief that sacred words and their combinations called Mantras have beneficial effects on human beings, animals and even the plant kingdom. This belief has been so widespread that practically every scripture refers to it in some way or other. Extensive details regarding the meaning and significance of Mantras and their use in daily life are available in Jina Devi1.
Recently, some investigations have been carried out on the effect of chanting of Agnihotra mantra at sunrise and sunset,accompanied by sacrificial fire, on the germination of rice seeds2. It has been demonstrated with the help of controlled experiments that the Agnihotra ritual performed according to scriptural injunctions has a remarkable effect on the rate of rice seed germination. This naturally leads to the question—what is that aspect of the mantra which influences the germination so noticeably?
While a qualitative  analysis of the effect of mantras is easily done, a quantitative analysis is more complicated. It is known from scriptures that mantras like Om, Agnihotra mantra, Gayatri mantra and Mahamrityunjaya mantra have benefited humanity to a large extent. However, it is very difficult to pinpoint what precisely there is in these mantras which makes them so effective. This requires a detailed study of the sound patterns of the mantras and their characteristics, based upon the latest advances in speech synthesis, analysis and recognition. It is against this background that the study reported in this paper was undertaken. To the best of the authors knowledge, this appears to bethe first study of its kind.

Since the time of Lord  Rayleigh, i.e., the beginning of the 19th century, there has been a lot of interest in studying the effect of music on the human system. It is only recently that interest has developed in extending this work to Mantras also.
In 1981,Stigsby  et al3 conducted a study on the effect of mantra meditation on the electroencephalograms of experienced meditators. The results were in conclusive. Seer & Raeburn4 conducted a similar study on the effect of meditation training on hypertension. Here also, the study showed modest reductions in blood pressure, but the results were again in conclusive.
In1994, Telles  et al5 conducted experiments on the effect of Om meditation on Middle Latency Auditory Evoked Potentials of 18 male subjects between the ages of 25 and 45 years, 9 of whom had more than 10 years ofexperience in Om meditation and the other 9 had no experience at all. The results indicated that the experimental group showed an increase in the peak amplitude of Na-wave, whereas there was a significant decrease in the control group.
They extended this work in 1986, with the experimental group meditating on Om and the control group meditating on a neutral word One. Mental repetition of Om showed a significant decrease in skin resistance level of the experimental group as against the control group.There was also a reduction in the heart rate and the rate of breathing.
Takahashi  etal7 conducted a pilot study in 1999 on the effect of low frequency noise on human body vibration.They showed that the low frequency noise affects the health of individuals depending on the structure of the body. The frequency range used by them was from 20 to 50 Hz, which is quite below the frequency of a normal human voice.
Perhaps the most  interesting study, and the most relevant for our current work, is that of Uchida & Yamamoto80 the effect of sound forms on the germination of seeds, which showed that sinusoidal vibrations in the range of 40 to 120 Hz had a significant effect on seed germination. The increase in the rate of seed germination depended upon the frequency and was noticeable in the range of 70 to 100 Hz. This behaviour, however, was not uniformly noticed for seeds of different varieties. This work compares favourably with our own studies on the effect of Agnihotra Mantra on the germination of rice seeds as reported in Jina Devi2.
It is thus seen that attention has so far beenfocused on  the effect of sound forms, hardly anything having been done on thestructure of the sound forms or mantras. Unless one knows the soundcharacteristics of mantras in detail, one will not be in a position to identifythe factors, which have been found to influence seed germination in the twostudies referred to in the previous paragraph. It is this fact which has motivated the current study.
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