are various practical aids to progress in japa meditation that have been
tested for thousands of years and are based on sound psychological and
telling of rosary beads is the form of japa most familiar to Western
experience. A japa mala, similar to rosary, is often used in Mantra
repetition. It helps to foster alertness, acts as a focus for the physical
energy and is and aid to rhythmic, continuous recitation. It consists of
108 beads. An additional bead, the meru, is slightly larger than the
others. It is the signal indicating that with one Mantra recited for each
bead, japa has been done 108 times, or one mala. The fingers should not
cross the meru. When it is reached, the beads are reversed in the hand;
one continues reciting the Mantra, moving the mala in the opposite
direction. The thumb and the third finger roll the beads; the index
finger, which is physically negative, is never used. The rosary must not
be allowed to hang below the navel, and should be wrapped in a clean cloth
when not in use.
appropriate prayer before beginning induces purity of feeling. Wit eyes
closed and concentration focused either between the eyebrows on the ajna
chakra or on the anahata chakra of the heart, one should invoke the aid of
his chosen deity and guru. The Mantra must be pronounced distinctly and
without mistakes, for it and the deity itself are one and the same thing.
Repetition must be neither too fast nor too slow, and thought must be
given to its meaning. Speed should be increased only when the mind begins
to wander. Because the mind will naturally try to drift away after a time,
it is necessary to keep alert throughout the practice.
in japa is necessary to sustain interest, avoid fatigue and counteract the
monotony that can arise from constant repetition of the same syllables.
This can be provided by modifying the volume. The Mantra can be repeated
aloud for a while, then whispered, and then recited mentally. The mind
needs variety or it becomes tired. However, even mechanical repetition
that is devoid of feeling has a great purifying effect. Feeling will come
later, as the process of purification continues.
repetition is called vaikhari japa, while that done by whispering or
humming is termed upamsu japa. The Mental repetition, manasika japa, is
the most powerful; it requires keener concentration, for the mind tends to
shut off after a period of time. The advantage of loud japa, which should
be used with discretion, is that it shuts out all worldly sound and
distractions. One should alternate when necessary, particularly when
drowsiness sets in.
Unaccustomed to this kind
of activity, the beginner at first may find himself giving up too soon,
after five or ten minutes of repeating the Mantra. The syllables in this
case may sound meaningless--mere syllables and nothing more. But by
persevering for at least half and hour without interruption, he will give
the Mantra time to work itself into his consciousness, and benefits will
be felt in a few days.
Meditation on the image of
the chosen deity while the Mantra is being repeated adds tremendously to
the efficacy of japa. Sound and form correspond and reinforce each other.
Sound vibrations alone, if made with care and devotion, are capable of
producing the form in the consciousness of the aspirant. The process can
be greatly facilitated by visualizing the deity in the heart area or the
space between the eyebrows. With the visualization, there should be
awareness of the various attributes of the deity. Feel that the Lord is
seated within, emanating purity to the heart and mind, and manifesting his
presence by the power of the Mantra.
in meditating on Siva, the physical energy is focused on rolling the mala
beads. The image of the deity, with the third eye and the symbolic
crescent moon, serpents, trident, drums, etc. occupies the mind on one
level. The Mantra OM Namah Saivaya is simultaneously being repeated, and
on another level is being embedded in the consciousness. Repetition of
Mantra has a cumulative effect, and with continued practice it gains in
power. It should be evident that japa meditation is far more than a verbal
exercise. It is a state of complete absorption.
Concluding prayer and rest
are important. When japa practice is finished, it is advisable not to
plunge immediately into worldly activity. Sitting quietly for about ten
minutes, one should reflect on the Lord and feel His presence. As routine
duties are commenced, the spiritual vibrations will remain intact. This
current should be maintained at all times, no matter what one is engaged
doing manual work, give the hands to work but give the mind to
Like a woman who continuous knitting while talking to her
friends, one can sustain mental japa. With practice, the manual work will
become automatic. When the Mantra can be repeated throughout the day, God
consciousness will permeate one’s life.
writing, likhita japa, is another, supplementary form of japa. The Mantra
should be written with a special pen and notebook, which have been
set-aside for this purpose. It should be done for half an hour, during
which time complete silence and concentration are observed. While writing,
simultaneously repeat the Mantra mentally so that the impression made in
the consciousness will be intensified. Likhita japa may be done in any
language or script. It greatly helps the aspirant to concentrate and leads
to meditation. This practice helps to set up a continuous vibration of
divine energy that guides and protects, regardless of what one is
Advanced meditation should
not be attempted without the guidance of guru. Bija Mantras and certain
mystic Mantras, such as the Sri Vidya, should not be repeated by those who
are not well acquainted with them and with the Sanskrit language. When
improperly repeated, they can actually bring harm to the psychic system.
Those who are not qualified, and who do not have access to a guru, who has
broken the power of these advanced Mantra, should concentrate on their own
Mantras are used for purascharana, which is concentrated japa meditation
extended over a long period of time. When performing a purascharana, the
aspirant sets aside a number of hours each day for japa. The Mantra is
repeated 1,00,000 times for each syllable of the Mantra. The Mantra is
repeated with feeling, and in a particular manner with the right
observance, until the fixed number of Mantras has been recited. Slow
repetition of Maha Mantra may take as long as three years to finish. The
practitioner must observe certain rules and regulations lay down in the
scriptures in regard to purascharana and must observe perfect dietary
discipline in accordance with those injunctions.
Anushathana is the
practice of religious austerity for the sake of obtaining some object or
goal, the highest being spiritual. For the success, the desire should be
spiritual, and it should be kept in view throughout the practice. The
rigor of the austerity, which may be various kinds, depends on the
constitution and health of the aspirant.
japa anushathana, a deity Mantra should be selected in accordance with the
desired goal. Although his personal deity might be Krishna, if one wanted
to compose sublime music, he would repeat the Mantra for Saraswati; if he
wished his spiritual obstacles to be removed, he would select a Ganesha
Mantra. Japa meditation is then performed for a protracted period, with
intense concentration of mind and no thought of the external world. This
leads to achievement of the desired goal.
may be other types of japa meditation, but the broad theory and techniques
do not greatly vary. Approached with faith and devotion, and carried out
with perseverance, japa is the most direct path to