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Japa Yoga Sadhana

by Swami Sivananda

INTRODUCTORY

Sadhana is purifying and steadying the mind and fixing it on the Lord. Without Sadhana you cannot attain the Sadhya or the object of meditation i.e., the Supreme Being, the abode of Immortality and Bliss.

Japa is an important Sadhana. Make a resolve "I will do ten Malas of Japa today" and do not get up from your Asana or seat till you finish the required number of Malas. This will strengthen your will and enable you to control the mind easily.

Another important point is that there should not be any break in your Sadhana till you finish the required number of Malas. Entry of worldly thoughts, planning etc., constitute break. If there is any break after finishing two Malas of Japa, you should not include the two Malas of Japa. You must again start the Japa and try to finish ten Malas. If there is any break after finishing four Malas, do not include the four Malas. Again try to finish ten Malas. This will be trying discipline indeed. But the fruit of such a Sadhana is immortality or eternal blissful life in the Atman. You will have to practise it if you wish to attain this highest end or supreme Goal.

If a boy commits a mistake, the teacher asks him to catch hold of his ears and do 'Baitaks' ten times continuously as a sort of punishment. If he makes a break after doing four 'Baitaks,' he again asks him to do ten more 'Baitaks' without any break. Similar is the case with this Japa Sadhana. Similar is the punishment you will have to inflict on the mind when you do Japa Sadhana. You should not give leniency to the mind. Spare the rod, you will spoil the child. Be lenient, the mind will jump upon you.

The moment you sit on the Asana in a closed room, feel that you a mental Sannyasin. You have nothing to do with the world or family members. Forget everything. If anybody taps at your door, do not be perturbed. Do not open the door. Tell your family people not to disturb you on any score till you finish your Sadhana.

When you come out of the room try to keep up the same Sattvic Bhava. Recite the Mantra or Name of the Lord always. If there is any break again keep up the remembrance. Gradually meditation and recitation of Japa will become habitual or Sahaja. The subconscious or the subjective mind will be ever repeating the Name, though the conscious or objective mind may forget it occasionally.

The Samskaras or impressions you have created during your Sadhana period within a closed room will be wiped out if you are not careful or vigilant during the period of activity in the world. You must be careful about the company you keep, about worldly talks, the food you take, the dress you wear, the objects at which you look, the words that you hear etc.

You must not speak vulgar or harsh words. You must take Sattvic food and wear simple dress. You must not visit cinemas. You must make the mind ever dwell on the form of the Lord and put a stamp of it on any form you see. You must not visit clubs. You must not read newspapers and novels. Novels, newspapers, cinemas constitute evil Sanga. They generate worldly thoughts and disturb the peace of mind. You do not gain anything.

There are many obstacles and difficulties in the world. But if you want to attain Immortality you will have to observe the Rules of Yoga. Where there is a will, there is a way. If there is strong aspiration and burning Mumukshutva, strength will come from within and you will be able to observe all the rules even though you remain in the world only. Pandit Madanmohan Malavya, Gandhiji and many others have evolved while remaining in the world. Do not bring lame excuses. The world is not a hindrance in your spiritual path. The world is your Guru. The world is a training school. World is Virat or Isvara.

Spend your holidays and privilege leave in solitary places like Rishikesh and do intense Sadhana. Come alone and lead the life of a Sannyasin during that period.

May you all be freed from the cycle of births and deaths. May you all rejoice in the innermost Atman alone, the ocean of bliss, the fountain of joy, the pool of wisdom, the sea of peace, the spring of eternal satisfaction!

PRACTICAL AIDS TO JAPA SADHANA

You have a thorough knowledge of Japa Yoga and the glory of the Name. Now you can start real Sadhana from this minute. I have given below a number of practical hints of great use for your daily Sadhana. Kindly note and follow them carefully.

1. Fixed hours: Most effective time for Japa is early dawn Brahmamuhurta and dusk, when Sattva is predominant. Regularity in Japa is very essential.

2. Definite place: It is highly advantageous to sit in the same place every day. Do not change it now and then. When you sit there you will have automatically the mood to do Japa. Just as you have a mood to study books when you enter a library or pray when you enter a temple so also you will get the mood to do Japa when you sit in your usual Asana.

3. A steady pose: A comfortable Asana helps to make the mind steady also, controls Rajas and aids concentration. Concentration cannot be acquired by one whose pose is not steady. Keep the Merudand (spine) always erect. If you droop down like an old man while sitting for Japa and meditation your mind will always waver and wander. Have a steady pose all throughout the period of Japa.

4. Face North or East: This exercises a subtle influence and enhances the efficacy of Japa. Sages and Rishis of the Himalayas help those who sit facing North for Japa because they come in contact with them by facing North.

5. A Seat: Deer skin or Kusha-mat or a rug should be used. The Gita says 'Chailajinakusottaram.' Have a Kusa mat, a deer-skin over that and a clean white cloth above. This is the seat prescribed by the Gita. Energy is conserved which is otherwise dissipated without a proper seat.

6. Repeat elevating prayers: Invoking the aid of the Ishtam with appropriate prayer induces a proper Sattvic Bhava. In all spiritual Sadhana divine help is prerequisite. Without it no spiritual progress can be attained and control of the wandering, mischievous mind becomes impossible.

7. Clear articulation: Start the Japa pronouncing the Mantra distinctly and without mistakes. Mantra Sakti is quickly awakened, mind is easily elevated and made one-pointed if the pronunciation is clear and distinct.

8. Vigilance and alertness: This is very important. You will be fresh and alert when you commence. After a time unconsciously the mind becomes weary, begins to wander and drowsiness overpowers you. Avoid this state. Some sleep during Japa and meditation and imagine to have attained spiritual bliss. This is mere hallucination.

9. Japa Mala: Using a Mala helps alertness and acts as an incentive to carry on the Japa continuously. Resolve to finish a certain number of Malas before leaving the seat. The mind will deceive you if you do Japa without a Mala. You will imagine that you have done Japa for a long time and that you have done more than the required number.

10. Variety in Japa: This is necessary to sustain interest, avoid fatigue and counteract monotony. Repeat aloud for a time, then hum the Mantra and repeat mentally sometimes. When the real bliss or taste for Japa is acquired then Japa becomes habitual and pleasant. There will be no monotony at all. The variety of Japa is for beginners only. Mental Japa is the most powerful. It directly counteracts the evil Vrittis of the mind and makes the mind pure.

11. Meditation: Side by side with Japa think of the Lord as present before you and picture His entrancing beautiful form. This practice adds tremendously to the efficacy and power of your Sadhana. The mind is fully engrossed in the form of the Lord by this practice and there is no chance for the mind to get hold of the objects of senses which are like straw or chaff before the bliss of the presence of God.

12. Concluding prayer and rest: This is important. After Japa is over do not immediately leave the place, mix with everyone and plunge into worldly activity. Sit very quietly for about 10 minutes at least humming some prayer, remembering the Lord or reflecting upon His infinite love. Then after devout prostration leave the place and commence your work. Spiritual vibrations will be in tact. You will find it easy to remember the Lord even while at work. Combine prayer with your daily routine and occasionally remember Him.

GREATNESS OF DIVINE NAME.

The glory of the Name of God cannot be established through reasoning. It can certainly be experienced through faith, devotion and constant repetition. Have reverence and faith for the Name. Do not argue. Every Name is filled with countless powers. Just as fire has the natural property of burning things, so also the Name of God has the power of burning sins and desires. The power of the Name is ineffable. Its Glory is indescribable. The efficacy and inherent Sakti of the Name of God is unfathomable.

O Man! Take refuge in the Name. Nami and Name are inseparable. Sing the Lord's Name incessantly. Remember the Name of the Lord with every incoming and outgoing breath. In this iron age Namasmarana or Japa is the easiest, quickest, safest and surest way to reach God and attain immortality and perennial Joy. Glory to the Lord! Glory to His Name.

Just hear the glory of Ram Nam. Mahatma Gandhiji writes "You might ask me why I tell you to use the word Ram and not one of the many other names of the creator. True, His Names are as many as and more than the leaves on a tree; and I might, for instance ask you to use the word God. But what meaning, what associations would it have for you here. In order to enable you to feel anything when repeating the word God, I should have to teach you some English. I should have to explain to you the foreign people's thoughts and associations.

"But in telling you to repeat the Name of Ram, I am giving you a Name worshipped since countless generations by the people of this land-a Name familiar to the very animals and birds, the very trees and stones of Hindustan through many thousand years. You will learn from Ramayana how a stone by the roadside sprang to life at the touch of Ram's foot as he passed by. You must learn to repeat the blessed Name of Ram with sweetness and such devotion that the birds will pause in their singing to listen to you-that the very trees will bend their branches towards you stirred by the Divine melody of that Name."

Sant Kabirdas sent his son Kamal to Sant Tulasidas. Tulasidas wrote Ram Nam on a Tulasi leaf and sprinkled the juice over 500 lepers. All were cured. Kamal was quite astonished. Then Kabir sent Kamal to blind Sur Das. Sur Das asked Kamal to bring the corpse that was floating in the river. Sur Das repeated Ram only once in one ear of the corpse, and it was brought back to life. Kamal's heart was filled with awe and wonder. Such is the power of God's Name. Kabir says: "If any one utters Ram, Ram even in dream, I would like to make a pair of shoes out of my skin for his daily use."

Who can describe the glory of God's sacred Name? Who can really comprehend the greatness and splendour of the holy names of God? Even Parvati, Lord Siva's consort failed to describe in adequate terms the grandeur and true significance of God's Name. When one sings His Name or hears it sung, he is unconsciously raised to sublime spiritual heights. He looses his body-consciousness. He is immersed in joy. He drinks deep the divine nectar of immortality. He gets divine intoxication. Repetition of God's Name enables the devotee to feel the Divine Presence, the Divine glory, and the Divine consciousness within himself and everywhere also. How sweet is Hari's Name! How powerful is God's Name! How much joy, peace and strength it brings to one who repeats His Name! Blessed indeed are those who repeat God's Name, for they will be free from the wheel of birth and death and will attain immortality!

You may be aware how the Ganika (prostitute) Pingala was mysteriously transformed into a saintly lady by the power of Name (repeating the Name of Sri Rama), through her Guru the parrot, which she obtained as a lovely present from a thief and how she easily obtained salvation. The parrot was trained to utter the Name "Sri Rama, Sri Rama." Pingala knew nothing of Rama-nama. She heard the sound Rama-Rama through the mouth of the parrot. It was very melodious and charming. Pingala was very much attracted. She fixed her mind on Rama Nama uttered by the parrot and mysteriously entered into Bhava Samadhi (union with Rama). Such is the power of Name of the Lord.


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