Clarification sought: would like to know the difference between the Panchadasi and Shodashakshari mantras, of course apart from the fact that the later contains one more akshara. Why is the Shodashakshari kept so secret?
Clarification: Panchadasi and Shodasi mantras have been already explained during the course of our discussions on Lalitha Sahasranamam. Shodasi has been explained under nama 587. All mantras are considered as secretive in nature and Shodasi in not an exception. Recitation of Shoadsi leads to liberation. This mantra does not give any materialistic gains. It leads straight to the Brahman. Normally, one is not initiated into this mantra straight away. Guru decides the timing of initiation into this mantra. Generally one is first initiated into Bala. Depending upon one’s progress, Panchadasi is initiated. If Guru considers that his disciple is fit for final liberation, he initiates him into Shodasi. One should recite 900,000 times of this mantra followed by ‘purascharana’ rituals to attain siddhi. Then only liberation is possible.
Shodasi Vidya is considered as Brahma Vidya, the knowledge of the Brahman. Brahman is depicted in the form of mantras in shodasi vidya. Since Shodasi depicts the Brahman in the form of mantras, it is treated as secret. But the important aspect of its secrecy is the replacement of second ‘om’ in this mantra with atma bija. The third aspect of the secrecy is the worship of ‘ninth avarana’ that deals with ‘para, para-para and apara’ states. If one is able to reach the fourth stage of ‘turiya’, he gets prepared to attain liberation in the next stage of ‘turiyatita’. Turiya is reached without any difficulty when Shodasi mantra is chanted regularly.
In Panchadasi mantra you transcend the fourth state of consciousness, the turiya state. In Shodasi you merge with the Brahman, by reaching the fifth state of consciousness, turiyatita. There is nothing beyond this. What happens if one transcends turiya state? The self is replaced by SELF. This transformative realization happens in a fraction of a second where near death like situation is experienced. One is not the same person after that ‘second’.