Bell and its significance:
The Sanskrit word for Bell is Ghanta, which means “sound”. Bell is basically a musical instrument made out of bronze, magnesium and other metals. It has a hollow interior and from the centre hangs a piece of metal which strikes the metallic side of the hollow vessel and creates sound. The space between the hollow vessel and the metallic rod signifies the gap between sky and earth. In Sanskrit Literature, we can find many types of bells such as Kansyaghanta, tala, ghatika, jayaghantika, kshudraghanta and karma. The bell which has a handle in the shape of Vajra is known as Vajraghanta. In Buddhist monastery, the bell which has a Stupa shaped handle is used for prayers.
Before commencing any Pooja, the bell is stroked. This is to welcome the God and ask for his presence throughout the Pooja. By striking the bell continuously, the whole place fills with a divine ambiance and our mind is fully occupied by the sound, which prevent the devotees from distracting. Adding to it, while praying whole heartedly, we should not be disturbed by any other external sounds so, ringing bell continuously will subside the external sounds and make the devotees concentrate only on Lord.
Scientific facts behind bells:
Temple bells are not just an ordinary metal. It is engraved from a combination of many metals including cadmium, lead, copper, zinc, nickel, chromium and manganese. The proposition of every elements used in making bell is where the real science lies. Each bells are carved intricately to produce a distinct sound which passes an electric wave inside the hearer and creates unison of left and right brain. Unlike other instruments, the sound produced during ringing a bell will be sharp keen and can last for at least seven seconds in our mind. In this seven second the sound travels to the seven sensitive point (seven chakras) of our body and spreads positive vibe.
Creating bells that produces long-lasting requisite sounds is an incredible art. Some bells can produce the long strains of the sound OM. The moment bell sound happens your brain is emptied of all thoughts. Invariably one will enter state of trance where we are very receptive. At this point one can feel the oneness of God. As we are totally possessed by the thought of Lord, to retrieve us back to the normal state a Shock is needed, and here Bell works as antidote to our mind.
One of the purpose of ringing temple bell is to disconnect us from the worldly thoughts so that we’re ready from within to invoke the divinity inside us. Ideally while ringing the bell you should remember the deity intensely. So that the vacuum (no-mind state) created by bell is filled with the thoughts of the deity. That is why most Hindus chant the name of god (like jai Sri Ram or har har Mahadev) while ringing the bell. The purpose is to bring your attention towards the god.
The most widespread belief is that the ghanta is sounded to invite the deity to accept the worship and prayers. Another belief is that it is to drive away the evil forces.
A well carved bell sound will be uninterrupted, reverberating, deep and sonorous. As you hear the sound, you can feel your nerves vibrating. The body of the bell is personified as Time ( Ananta), the tongue of the bell represents Goddess Saraswathi, and the handle of the bell represents Hanuman, Garuda, Nandi or Chakra.
When the bell sound in accompanied with the music of drums, conch and other instruments, it produces an incredible divine sound, which transits positive energy throughout body. An added significance of ringing the bell, conch and other instruments is that they help drown any inauspicious or irrelevant noises and comments that might disturb or distract the worshippers in their devotional ardour, concentration and inner peace.
While ringing bells, chanting the following mantras will add more benefits
Kurve ghantaaravam tatra
Which means, “I ring this bell indicating the invocation of divinity, So that virtuous and noble forces enter (my home and heart); and the demonic and evil forces from within and without, depart”
The number of times the bell should be sounded depends on the number of letters in the mantra; accordingly the bell should be sounded 8, 16, 24, or 32 times. In Āgama Shastra it is mentioned that bell should be made of pancha lauha – five metals, namely, copper, silver, gold, brass and iron. These 5 metals represent the pancha bhoota.