Potency of Sound

[originally posted April 9, 2006]

Hans Jenny

Hans Jenny


Science Shows It All Began with Sound

In the 1960s, Hans Jenny (1904-1972), a Swiss physician, artist and naturalist, became interested in the relationship between sound waves and matter, and performed a series of experiments to scientifically study and record the visual manifestation of sound waves at varying frequencies on various media. Dr. Jenny used crystal oscillators and invented a instrument called the tonoscope to enable him to observe the human voice’s effect in generating and influencing patterns, shapes and movement. Over a period of 14 years he meticulously recorded and documented his findings. In 1967 he published his book Cymatics: A Study of Wave Phenomena in two volumes with over 350 photos of his experiments.

Sri Yantra

Sri Yantra

At one point Dr. Jenny took an interest in Vedic yantras. A yantra is a mandala that corresponds to a particular sound, or mantra, which in turn is representative of a particular deity. Perhaps his most widely publicised research is his experiment verifying the relationship between the Sri Yantra and the sound vibration Om. Dr. Jenny placed sand on a membrane and using the tonoscope to project the human voice onto it, began to vibrate “Om.” Initially the vibration produced a circle, which then began to fill with concentric squares and triangles, and just as the last traces of sound died away, left the same geometric pattern as that of the Sri Yantra. Dr. Jenny’s precise methods enabled the experiment to be replicated again and again with the same results every time.

Dr. Jenny also experimented with languages and the tonoscope. He found that when the vowels of the Sanskrit language were pronounced, the sand took the shape of the written daiva-nagari character for these vowels. On the other hand, his experiments with modern language generally produced chaos.

Dr. Jenny concluded that sound generates form:

The more one studies these things, the more one realizes that sound is the creative principle. It must be regarded as primordial. No single phenomenal category can be claimed as the aboriginal principle. We cannot say, in the beginning was number, or in the beginning was symmetry, etc. These are categorical properties which are implicit in what brings forth and what is brought forth. By using them in description we approach the heart of the matter. They are not themselves the creative power. This power is inherent in tone, in sound.” (Dr. Hans Jenny, Cymatics, Vol. 2, p.100, cited at “Sound Wave Energy“, http://www.harmonyera.com/1.2.research.htm)

Sources: “Sound Wave Energy” at http://www.harmonyera.com/1.2.research.htm; Beata Van Berkom, “Circles, Sound and Creation: Cymatics” at http://s010600e029332f52.ss.shawcable.net/circles/cymatics.html; Enygma, “Sounds, Crop Circle Creation and Planetary Healing” at http://www.lyon-art.com/5-mandalas/la-mandalas-4.html; Cymatics: Nada Brahma, the World is Sound at http://www.cymaticsource.com/cymaticsbook.html.


The entire material manifestation began from sound, and sound can also end material entanglement, if it has a particular potency. The particular sound capable of doing this is the transcendental vibration Hare Krishna.

excerpt from Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 3: The Status Quo, Chapter 26: Fundamental Principles of Material Nature, Texts 32-35 and purports by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

TEXT 32
When egoism in ignorance is agitated by the sex energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the subtle element sound is manifested, and from sound come the ethereal sky and the sense of hearing.

PURPORT
It appears from this verse that all the objects of our sense gratification are the products of egoism in ignorance. It is understood from this verse that by agitation of the element of egoism in ignorance, the first thing produced was sound, which is the subtle form of ether. It is stated also in the Vedanta-sutra that sound is the origin of all objects of material possession and that by sound one can also dissolve this material existence. Anavrittih shabdat means “liberation by sound.” The entire material manifestation began from sound, and sound can also end material entanglement, if it has a particular potency. The particular sound capable of doing this is the
transcendental vibration Hare Krishna. Our entanglement in material affairs has begun from material sound. Now we must purify that sound in spiritual understanding. There is sound in the spiritual world also. If we approach that sound, then our spiritual life begins, and the other requirements for spiritual advancement can be supplied. We have to understand very clearly that sound is the beginning of the creation of all material objects for our sense gratification. Similarly, if sound is purified, our spiritual necessities also are produced from sound.

Here it is said that from sound the ether became manifested and that the air became manifested from ether. How the ethereal sky comes from sound, how the air comes from sky and how fire comes from air will be explained later on. Sound is the cause of the sky, and sky is the cause of shrotram, the ear. The ear is the first sense for receiving knowledge. One must give aural reception to any knowledge one wants to receive, either material or spiritual. Therefore shrotram is very important. The Vedic knowledge is called shruti; knowledge has to be received by hearing. By hearing only can we have access to either material or spiritual enjoyment.

In the material world, we manufacture many things for our material comfort simply by hearing. They are already there, but just by hearing, one can transform them. If we want to build a very high skyscraper, this does not mean that we have to create it. The materials for the skyscraper—wood, metal, earth, etc.—are already there, but we make our intimate relationship with those already created material elements by hearing how to utilize them. Modern economic advancement for creation is also a product of hearing, and similarly one can create a favorable field of spiritual activities by hearing from the right source. Arjuna was a gross materialist in the bodily conception of life and was suffering from the bodily concept very acutely. But simply by hearing, Arjuna became a spiritualized, Krishna conscious person. Hearing is very important, and that hearing is produced from the sky. By hearing only can we make proper use of that which already exists. The principle of hearing to properly utilize preconceived materials is applicable to spiritual paraphernalia as well. We must hear from the proper spiritual source.

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