I feel so fortunate to born in a country that spread the message of spirituality to the whole world. Here the seeds of spirituality are sown in the beginning, when a woman gets pregnant she is told to read holy scriptures along with a healthy diet so that the baby is nurtured with good ‘samskars’, and become a good human being. I have seen my mother chanting God’s name while doing her daily household work especially cooking food. So, for many meditation is integral part of life. Though some may think that meditation is a new fad…but this is a practice many centuries old.
Indian philosophy believes that attaining spiritual enlightenment is the ultimate goal of life. We all have different temperaments and different views. For example, some people get good results with aerobics, some yoga, some walking and so on. Same manner all can’t do same sort of meditation and get same results. For example some people feel more peaceful after doing active meditation such as dynamic meditation by Osho, some feel more connected with passive meditation, some do mantra chanting, some yogic aasans (postures), some pranayam or tai chi, and so on.
[pullquote-left]“There is meditation (Dhyana) with Japa (Japa -Sahita) that meditation including chanting. There is meditation (Dhyana) without Japa (Japa-Rahita) that is meditation without chanting. This is advised that in the beginning one should combine meditation with chanting.”[/pullquote-left]
Thus the oldest book “Vigyan Bhairav Tantra” talks about 112 ways of meditation, giving ample choice to the seeker to experiment and choose to best suitable for further practice. This 5000-year-old ancient Indian text on meditation is considered by many as the last word on meditation, which is the base of many commentaries. This contains 112 techniques of meditation basically in dialogue form between Lord Shiva and his wife Devi Parvati, that can be used for realizing our true self. These meditation techniques are for people of all ages and all times. It is said that it is impossible for anybody not to find a technique out of 112 techniques suitable for his own level of spiritual development and inner temperament. These include several variants of breadth awareness, concentration on various centers in the body, non – dual awareness, chanting, imagination and visualization and contemplation through each of the senses.
According to many Scriptures, in this Kal Yug that is Iron Age, Japa (chanting God’s name or mantra) is the easiest way of self-realization. Japa (chanting) is the repetition of any Mantra of name of the Lord. Japa is important aspect of Yoga. Japa is repetition of the Mantra. Dhyana is meditation on the form of the Lord with his attributes. This is the difference between Japa and Dhyana. There is meditation (Dhyana) with Japa (Japa -Sahita) that meditation including chanting. There is meditation (Dhyana) without Japa (Japa-Rahita) that is meditation without chanting. This is advised that in the beginning one should combine meditation with chanting.
As you advance, the chanting (Japa) drops by itself, meditation only remains. This is advanced stage. Name and object form are inseparable. Thought and word are inseparable. Whenever you think of the name of your son, his picture comes in your mind and vice versa. Like this when someone do chanting of name of his favorite deity, for example Japa of Rama or Krishna, the picture of Rama or Krishna will come before the mind. Therefore chanting and meditation go together.
Many of us think that meditation means reaching to a state of thoughtlessness, and practically this is quite impossible to attain. As, our mind is a big chatterbox. The mind goes on chattering relevant, irrelevant, meaningful, meaningless Thoughts goes on and it is a constant traffic and it is always a rush hour. In the beginning, if you close your eyes for meditation, you will find there are so many thoughts running in all directions.
Mind is a complex thing to tackle, the more you will try to tame it and get rid of thoughts, the more thoughts you will get. You may be normal, but the moment you decide to indulge yourself in meditation, and decide that, “for the next five minutes I’m not going to thoughts or at least less thoughts if not thoughtlessness…”, you will be surprised. You will witness thoughts of the whole world…. weird thoughts, baseless thoughts, even thoughts in form of old memories that you thought no longer exist now, vague thoughts and so on…. A flood of thoughts will surround you. You will feel clueless and astonished that how come so many thoughts can come on the surface especially when you are trying to get less thoughts?
[pullquote-right]“Japa is the easiest way of self-realization that even small children can practice. Japa can be done those who are not able to do tough forms of meditation, also who are not physically fit.”[/pullquote-right]
So, practically mind has to be tamed before this reaches to the point of thoughtlessness. This is not as easy as we say about it. Constant efforts and consistency is required with discipline. Japa means chanting that is repeating a sacred word or sound that help to divert the mind in positive direction. As we have understood that we can’t wipe out the thoughts from our mind but redirect them with our wisdom. We can replace them, change their direction before finally dropping them off. So this is process to be practiced step by step. This is a path to be explored with practice.
A Guru can initiate you to a mantra but it you who have to practice and explore it’s benefits and attain powers that comes as a reward. The Guru may show you the path but he will not walk for you. I have found that chanting is the easiest way to divert our mind from wasteful thoughts. Our ancestors believed that even if you keep on saying God’s name without any intention of worshipping God, you will get moksha or salvation. The famous story indicate this, where a person named his son “Narayana” (Another name for Lord Krishna), though he doesn’t do any good karma through out his life, but while he is on death bed, he keeps on calling his son, “Narayana, Narayana “, and Lord Narayana came himself to take him and thus he gets Moksha. The moral of the story is that even if someone keep on repeating God’s name unknowingly, he gets the benefits of that Japa. So, Japa is the easiest way of self-realization that even small children can practice. Japa can be done those who are not able to do tough forms of meditation, also who are not physically fit.
There Are Three Kinds Of Japa
1.Vaikhari Japa or loud audible chanting:
The verbal repetition is called Vaikhari Japa. The loud repetition shuts out all worldly sounds. This is helpful for beginners as there is no break of repetition. This is one advantage of loud Japa.
2.Upamsu Japa or chanting with humming:
This is whispering or humming which cannot be heard by anyone but only you.
3.Mansika Japa or mental repetition:
Mental repetition is difficult for beginners as break may occur after chanting a while. The mind may distract to other thoughts while you are chanting. You have to discipline your mind, be alert and keep bringing it to chanting again and again.
Once you master your mind, mental repetition is considered as most powerful in three.
According to Shandilya Upanishad, “The Vaikhari Japa (loud chanting) gives as stated in the Vedas, while the Upamsu Japa (whispering or humming) gives a reward one thousand times more than Vaikhari. The Manasika Japa (mental chanting) gives a reward one crore times more than Vaikhari Japa.”
In modern life style chanting can be added without putting much extra efforts. Also if you are not of religious kind of person, then it is not necessary to chant God’s name or mantra. You can choose your favorite affirmations and chant them like a mantra. All you need is consistent practice to get desired results. And to create high energy for manifestation, regular chanting is required.
For example if you want to become healthy, you start chanting, “I’m healthy”, and visualize yourself doing all the things that you use to do when you were healthy. You will start feeling positive changes in few days or more.
Chanting helps to divert our attention as well as attitude. This summer when I was in Uttarkashi near Shivananda Ashram, I used to attend Geeta discourses. There the monks use to give much importance on chanting mantras. I met Swami Shankaranda who was from California, an old monk who came to Uttarkashi from Haridwar on foot. This took him six days and nights to reach. I was astonished that in this age he traveled almost 200kilometers by walking.
When I enquired from him how he managed to come, Swamiji told me that he used to walk during the day and will take a break and rest in night. I asked him how he does not feel tired? How he got so much energy to walk in the hills? He told me that the secret is, “divert your mind, you start chanting and you will not feel the limitations of your physical body and won’t feel tired at all.”
Though I have been personally chanting mantras but I learned a great secret from Swami ji and after that I have increased my Japa. If you are serious seeker, you can have a fixed time set in your daily routine and start chanting mantras sitting in a particular posture with back straight. You can also use rosary to count the numbers. But if you are not too serious but still want to enjoy it’s benefits such as more clarity, concentration, less thoughts, peace, curing sleep disorder, getting more energy, increasing stamina and much more…. Start with just five minutes twice a day and increase time gradually.
To conclude, my simple formulas for mantra chanting (mental chanting) are when I’m walking, in market, travelling, chopping vegetables, eating, in some gathering where I’m not supposed to speak and expected to be silent, before sleeping, while taking bath, in gym and so on. You actually have to practice it to know its benefits.
On the beginning of New Year, let’s start transforming our mind clutter with chanting mantras, sacred sound or affirmations. Let us create more positive vibrations on our planet.
Have Blissful Happy New Year!