Friday, December 21, 2012

Japa

Japa

Japa is the repetition of a mantra (the name of God). One should not think that a mantra is just a collection of mere words; it is in fact a manifestation of God in the form of those sounds. To chant or speak a mantra is to invoke the divine in a very real and tangible way. The devotee associates himself with that aspect of divinity being summoned by the mantra, and with practice one's mind becomes purified through constant remembrance.

Swami Sivananda was a great advocate of japa and felt that it was one of the most effective spiritual practices. To repeat the name of God helps to quiet the mind and leads the devotee to a deeper understanding of his own divine nature. Gurudev encouraged people during his lifetime to write pages and pages of their mantra and send them to him. (Those books and notebooks sent by the devotees are still stored in the Ashram 50 years later!)

According to one's interest and predisposition, there are many mantras to be chosen at the outset if the devotee is not already initiated in a mantra by a guru. Some ancient and revered mantras include: "Om Namah Sivaya," "Om Namo Narayanaya," "Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya," "Om Sri Ram Jai Ram," or, for Christians "Om Jesus". There are many others, and a fuller description of the practice of the repetition of the divine name can be found in Swami Sivananda's book Japa Yoga.

Japa is the most widely practised sadhana (spiritual practice) for three different reasons :

1.      A pre-condition for practising other paths of Yoga is that the aspirant should qualify himself through purity of the inner being and steadiness of the mind; Japa removes whatever defects and imperfections the sadhaka (spiritual aspirant) may have and replaces them by all sattvic (pure), positive and constructive qualities, and steadies the mind and makes it introspective.

2.      Even after some progress in sadhana, japa protects the sadhaka from downfall.

3.      Japa Yoga is accepted as a distinct Path of Yoga (mode of approach to Divinity) by itself and can lift the practitioner to Divine Consciousness.

Japa being an accepted mode of approach to Divinity in all religions, it is the most commonly practised sadhana and is followed universally.

An attempt is made here to answer your possible queries and clear your doubts from the writings of the two Gurus - Swami Sivananda (Gurudev) and Swami Chidananda (Swamiji).

Meaning

Sadhaka : What is the meaning of japa?

Gurudev : Japa is the repetition of any mantra or name of the Lord.

Sadhaka : Please explain the meaning of the concept mantra.

Swamiji: Mantra is a mysterious Divine formula which if repeated will ultimately lead to Divine Consciousness. Mantra is a collection of letters scientifically arranged and energized by constant repetition. These symbols were handed down through the technique of initiation to qualified recipients who, in their turn, with their purified will, firm faith and determination, re-live that Experience which their Sage-Guru had lived; and ultimately became one with that consciousness which is Sat-chid-ananda (Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute). The mantra represents this very Consciousness. It becomes the means of awakening the hidden Consciousness in us. Then we have Self-realisation.

Significance of Mantra

Sadhaka : Why has mantra been glorified so much?

Gurudev : A mantra is Divinity. The mantra and its presiding deity are one. By constant repetition of the mantra, the sadhaka imbibes the virtues and powers of the deity that presides over the mantra; he becomes transformed actually into the divinity itself.

Swamiji : Mantra is the prakat-svarupa (manifested form) of Parmatma (the Supreme Being), a form assumed by the Lord Himself as shabda or nada (sound).

Benefits of Japa

Sadhaka : Please enlighten me about the main benefits of japa.

Gurudev : In this Iron Age (Kaliyuga), japa is the easiest and surest way for God-realisation. Practice of japa removes the impurities of the mind, destroys sins and brings the devotee face to face with God. Just as fire has the natural property of burning things, so also the name of God has the power of burning sins and desires. Japa purifies the heart, steadies the mind, burns sins, annihilates attachment, roots out all desires, removes delusion, gives supreme peace, unites the devotee with the Lord, brings God-consciousness, bestows eternal Bliss.
Japa checks the force of thought-currents moving towards objects. It forces the mind to move towards God. During japa all the divine qualities steadily flow into your mind from the Lord. Japa fills the mind with sattva. It eradicates all kinds of evil thoughts and inclinations.
"As a man thinks, so he becomes" - this is a psychological law. The mind of a man, who trains himself in thinking good, develops a tendency of good thoughts. His character is moulded and transformed by good thoughts when the mind thinks of the image of the Lord during japa and worship, the mental substance actually assumes the form of image. He who entertains thoughts of Divinity becomes transformed actually into the Divinity itself. By constant thinking and meditation, this bhava or disposition is purified and divinised. The sound vibrations of a mantra generate the image of the Lord of that mantra, and you get the vision or darshan of the Lord subjectively or objectively. If you constantly think of the Lord, you will become identical with the Lord. You will abide in Him for ever. You will become one with the deity you meditate upon.

Practical Hints

Sadhaka : Will you please give me some guidance for japa sadhana?

Swamiji : It is advisable that you do the japa at the same time and the same place every day. It is very beneficial if you can do japa sadhana in the morning. When you are doing japa, you must also think of the Lord and try to visualize God inside your heart.

Gurudev : The most effective time is early dawn and dusk when sattva (purity) is predominant. Regularity and system are very essential. While you are doing the japa of any mantra you must have the bhava (idea) that Atma, Ishvar, Devata and mantra are one. While you are doing the japa of any mantra, think that you are really praying to your Ishta-Devata (chosen Deity) that He is listening to you, that He is looking at you with merciful and graceful eyes. You must have the same flow of love and respect (devotion) in your heart at the time of remembering His name that you naturally may have in your heart at the time when you see Him. Feel His presence everywhere. Draw closer and nearer to Him when you repeat the mantra. When the mind wanders too much, do verbal japa. When the mind becomes steady, do mental japa. A beginner should have a japa mala or rosary. Later on he can take recourse to manasic japa (mental repetition). Use only the middle finger and thumb of the right hand for rolling the beads. The index finger is prohibited. Do not cross the meru (crown or head) of the mala while rolling the beads. Turn back when you come up to it. Carry on the current of japa mentally even at other times, in whatever works you may be engaged.

Doubts and Clarifications

Sadhaka : Does it mean that the japa can go on in the lavatory also?

Swamiji : If you are doing with Nishkamya bhava (unselfish motive), only for the sake of propitiating God, for His darshan and Moksha (Liberation), there are no restrictions about desha, kala (place, time) or anything else. All time and place are suitable and sacred, because you are doing it in the Presence of God. It has got the power of transforming impure places into pure place.

Sadhaka : I am already following my chosen Path of Yoga. Is it then necessary to do japa also?

Swamiji : Whatever Yoga we may do according to our temperament or inclination, let us not fail to give a place of importance to mantra japa also. Let us keep it as a prominent part of our sadhana, and with the help of the power of the Divine Name may we attain quick success in our spiritual life and make ourselves blessed and radiate blessedness. May we all take the best advantage of this great path of Mantra Yoga, which has been bestowed as a Divine boon by the Lord upon humanity!


References : 
 Swami Sivananda: (1) Japa Yoga, (2) Ananda Gita, (3) Yoga In Daily Life. 
Swami Chidananda: (4) Yoga, (5) Bliss Is Within.


Peace  love  harmony
 

Friday, December 14, 2012

PRACTICE OF BRAHMACHARYA


CONTENTS
  


      • Peace  love  harmony