Most powerful mantras available to us today are “cursed”. Scriptures teach shaapa vimochana mantras, i.e. mantras that relieve curses. Examples are Gayatri mantra and Chandi navarna mantra (moola mantra of Saptashati).
These stories are metaphorical representations of things to watch out for and things to keep in mind, as one does sadhana with a mantra. Essentially, these curses are like blessings that limit the use of mantra devatas for unworthy purposes!
Take Savitru Gayatri mantra for example. It extolls the supreme effulgence of Paramatma (supreme soul), which lights up and impels every perception and awareness in everyone’s consciousness.
One-pointed focus on that mantra and on the supreme effulgence of Paramatma can give one realization of Self, by shifting attention from specific perceptions and specific perceived objects to the Supreme Being who is animating it all.
But, if one with a strong desire for a specific thing becomes adept at that mantra, the dual focus on the desire and mantra can result in obtaining one’s desire. Thus, Gayatri mantra can also fulfill desires. However, one using Gayatri mantra to get limited things is wasting its power. It is really meant for self-realization.
Curses on a mantra are essentially blessings on mantra devata to limit the underuse of mantra (I find the word “underuse” more appropriate than “misuse”).
Gayatri mantra has 3 curses. Take the one from Vasishtha for example.
The word Vaishtha comes from vasu and means “the purest and the most excellent one”. If an impure one, i.e. one with desires of a limited I-ness, is chanting it, there is a curse from Vasishtha that blocks the mantra.
Shaapa vimochana mantra given in tradition for Vasishtha’s curse basically says, “I am the light that fills the entire comos, I am Shiva” etc.
Some people may chant the mantra thinking “I, a good scholar, need people’s praises”, “I, this body, needs to be healthy” etc.
The curse basically implores a seeker to shed the limited I-ness and desires and seek the higher Self.
Take Vishwamitra’s curse on Gayatri mantra.
The word Vishwamitra means “friend of all worlds”, i.e. one who does not distinguish between various beings. It is meant to block one who has bheda bhava and belittles creation while pursuing Self!
The shaapa vimochana mantra given in tradition for Vishwamitra’s curse basically says, “I extoll auspicious Gayatri whose womb contains the worlds and various deities who create those worlds”.
Some people try to run away from the world and belittle it and see Self as something “beyond” this world and saves one from the nuisance from this world. Such attitude gives a boost to spiritual sadhana in the beginning, but one will never realize Self that way.
Self or supreme being is beyond perception, experience and conceptualization. This creation is the only perceptible, though limited, manifestation of Self or supreme being! Seeking the former while belittling or hating the latter is unproductive!
The curse basically implores a seeker to seek the Absolute Reality without aversion for relative reality and actually see absolute reality even within relative reality!
If one merely chants a shaapa vimochana mantra, it is akin to chanting “Advil stops headache”. Chanting that does not stop headache - one needs to actually take Advil! smile emoticon
Similarly, mere mechanical chanting of shaapa vimochana mantra is of no use. One needs to imbibe the meaning of the shaapa vimochana mantras, in order for the original mantra to work fully and perfectly.
The shaapa vimochana mantras elucidate the pitfalls, how to avoid them and what attitude to have, in order to have the realization represented by the original mantra!
Please do not think that your mantra or ritual is not working because it is cursed and that it will magically work if you chant a shaapa vimochana mantra.
Rooting out of conditioning though CONSTANT contemplation enables one to do a better sadhana with any ritual or mantra. The time spent in ritual or mantra japam enables one to contemplate better and eliminate conditioning faster. The external sadhanas and the internal contemplation aid each other.
When one’s attitude is pure enough, all mantras become possible. Mantras chanted by an impure, limited and selfish mind have all kinds of curses on them and yoeld no results.