Tuesday, 22 April 2014

JAPA PURASCHARANA: THE MASTER CLEANSER OF JAPA RESOLUTION



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"Life is short. Time is fleeting. The world is full of miseries. Cut the knot of Avidya and drink the Nirvanic bliss. That day on which you do not perform Japa is simply wasted. Those who simply eat, drink and sleep and do not perform Japa are horizontal beings only."

Swami Sivananda 


There are many secret weapons in Sadhana that everyone, be it householder of recluse, can use and benefit from. But what more exalted practice than a vow, a vrata, to complete a mantra purascharana? This is a very specific task, and one which, however you look at it, takes up a lot of time to do. But many brothers and sisters are bravely setting forth... 

(read Vishnupriya's excellent blog on this here at

 http://mantrayoga.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/beginning.html).

I have included  a link to Swami Sivananda's famous notes on japa from his guide that you can read here:

http://www.dlshq.org/teachings/japayoga.htm.


What is a japa purascharana

What is a purascharana? It is a way for the mantra you use to become enlivened, by the constant practice (abhasya) of repetition via the technique of Japa. A purascharana vrata involves the repetition 100,000 times (one lakh) of EACH syllable of the mantra (not each letter). It is also an intensive use of what is called japa naam, naam being "The Holy Name".

A puruscharana can manifest the deity for you, but at the very least it can cleanse you from the inside in ways that are staggering. All of us have a temple in our inner heart space in which dwells the deity, but for most of us this temple is inaccessible, the way to it covered by muck and filth. There's a legend from Ancient Greek mytho-history that neatly provides a metaphor: one of the 12 labours of the famous hero Hercules was to clean out the Augean stables, a truly Herculean task. Cleaning out the inner temple is essential, or otherwise we will never have the deep union with the Divine which our souls crave. Japa is a deeply effective way to do this cleaning.

If you undertake a purascharana for worldly reasons - success, job, wealth and all that, it does have an effect - but what a waste of energy and a sad comment on your own limited view on life. Doing a purascharana for a shiny new car or whatever it is you might want is just the essence of mistaken spirituality.But nevertheless this kind of effort is supported by the scriptures. If you desperately require a way to earn a living, a partner, freedom from debts and so forth, then some way to clear away the effects of prarabdha karma is required.

The effects of Prarabhda Karma

Prarabdha karma has no equivalent in western thought beyond the vague terms "fate" and "destiny" but in the Vedic world system it is defined as "past-life karma" or karma from earlier actions in your life which bear fruit. It often explains exactly why we stuck in difficult situations which seem to make no sense, which might cause us pain, sorrow or distress. It is the difficult stuff - the crop we are reaping from the seeds we sowed earlier, and normally we have no conscious way of knowing the whys, whens and wherefores.

We can endure this karma with fortitude but there is actually a way to mitigate it, and japa is the perfect weapon in this. It is, as Sri Ramakrishna's famous wife Sri Sarada Devi put it, as if japa turns the destiny of someone due to lose a leg into the same person simply suffering the prick of a thorn. Japa cleanses this kind of karma. It lifts the mire and the dirt we may have accumulated. It frees our bonds. But only if there is some devotion, it's not the insane gabbling of a name for no reason.

Concrete tapasya

Best is spiritual reasons and spiritual endeavour. A purascharana is concrete and real tapasya, done throughout the ages by great saints, great sinners, yogis, householders, warriors, the downtrodden, you name it and at the very least it will help you clear your karmic load and help destroy negative tendencies. it is not for the idle, the volatile, for those too lazy to make any real efforts in sadhana. It is tough.

Japa is the spiritual practice recommended for Kali Yuga, simply because it is so easy to do, requires no elaboration - although some follow a purascharana with various offerings and rituals, and others decide to do it over 40 days (which, depending on the length of the mantra, could be impossible if you have a job or a family).

A purascharana vrata involves the repetition 100,000 times (one lakh) of EACH syllable of the mantra (not each letter). Some schools of thought say all this has to be done in 40 days... Which in the case of some mantras seems mathematically impossible.

Much as we might love to devote 6 or even 16 hours a day to japa, unfortunately our jobs and occupation and responsibilities might not let us, so be severely practical and make this doable within the allotted time available. Different mantras have different rates of completion (Thus, OM on its own would be relatively easy to do).

Setting a very strict time-frame is less important that actually getting it done. But choose an auspicious day to begin! As the saying goes, "well begun is half done" and if you need a panchang to help you, try this one: http://www.drikpanchang.com/panchang/month-panchang.html?l=7191.

My own advice would be to set aside at least 2 hours a day for the japa, and aim to devote yourself fully in this time. If you live alone and have a place to perform this japa, you can do longer. The ideal mentioned by Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Sivananda is 6 hours a day. Sri Sarada Devi used to manage to recite her mantra 20,000 times a day, but I imagine her mantra was relatively short.


Equipment

You basically need just three bits of equipment, ie:

1) japa mala
2) mala bag
3) a counting string of beads

Item 1 is easy to obtain. Traditionally you use a Tulsi japa mala for Vaishnava mantras, rudrakshas for Shaivite mantras, Lotus, crystal or rudraksha for Shakti mantras. All are easily obtainable. A mala bag covers and protects the mala and fits over your right hand. You hold it above the navel, don't let it droop!

The counting bed helps you count off each mala. You recite the japa in a particular way in the Hindu tradition, never crossing the "guru" bead, and not using your first finger or 4th or 5th. Easy technique once you get the hang of it. I have used many malas, but the smoothest and easiest is a good lotus bead mala. Rudrakshas are a little spiky to use...

A mala bag should never be placed on the ground. It should only be used on the right hand. And you should precede your mantra repetitions with some introductory prayers, especially to your Guru and to Lord Ganesh, who is the remover of obstacles in sadhana.

Further japa considerations

Find a posture that is comfortable, seated on a dedicated mat of wool is best, with a mat of kusha grass beneath, and once your posture is set, stick to it from then on. You will find your right arm may get a bit sore after a while, which is why some Yogis had supports to help them - a pillow or cushion will help you rest the arm, the objective is not to torture your body unnecessarily, so be comfortable but never do japa lying down.

According to the Kalika Purana the following japa malas have particular purposes:
Ivory: Lord Ganesh
Corals: getting wealth
All desires: crystal
Sandalwood: Shiva/Devi
Rudraksha: Shiva/Devi
Tulsi: Vishnu, Krishna, Nrisimha

In case a rosary breaks, it is considered auspicious by some, but a sign of progress by others. If it falls down, to repurify it, chant Hrim and the Om Namah Shivaya 108 times.

If possible, face East or North if during day, or North if chanting at night.

Always if you can do one initial mala (ie 108 times) to Lord Ganesh, as the remover of obstacles, with his mantra Om Gam Ganapataye Namahah or some such formula.

Scriptural reminders of Japa's importance

In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna tells us: "Among the yajnas, I am the Japa-yajna." Yajna means in this context sacrifice, and there are many kinds of ritualistic yajnas that can be performed, but Lord Krishna chose to highlight japa. Why? According to the Linga Purana, all other yajnas ultimately involve, however subtly, some sort of injury. There is none in Japa.

Here is a definition also from the Agni Purana:
The syllable ja destroys the birth and death cycle and the syllable pa destroys all sins. Thus that which destroys all sins and puts an end to samsara andliberates souls from bondage is japa.

More from the Linga Purana:
"When you do japa in your home, the merit will be only as much as the count of japa. Whereas if chanted in a cow-pen (Goshala), the merit is a hundredfold greater. If the same japa is done on the bank of a holy river, the merit will be 100,000 more than the previous two. If the same japa is done in front of a holy image of God, its merit could not be counted. On the shores of the ocean, on mountains, in temples, hermitages, the japa brings untold merits. The japa done in front of the Lord's image or gazing at the pole star and the sun-god are very efficacious. The japa done in front of a flame, fire and cow are meritorious; likewise the holy mantra and japa done in front of the Guru."

Japa done in a garden of Tulasi, or Bilva trees, Rudrakshas and so forth controls the mind very easily.

Practice

You should aim to do a sit number of repetitions in one sitting, at the same time every day, and in a place by yourself - ie not watching the TV, listening to the radio or sitting with your cat knitting. And you also need a picture of the deity to whom you offer your prayers. Once finished, sit quietly for at least 5 minutes.

Boredom and mental restlessness can inevitably set in, and for this reason the saints and sages recommend you vary things a bit - one round of japa you can speak, maybe one you can sing, one you whisper, one you do silently and so forth. Remember, your determination and humility are the key to unlocking the potential of a mantra. Every mantra has a "bolt" that locks up its power, a little like a hard casing of a seed, which only splits open when the right conditions come along. The water, in this case, is your courage and one-pointedness. This takes bravery! Do you have this? Be realistic and authentic.

There are some great tales of puruscharanas undertaken by saints. Less inspiring are those who set out to get great riches or powers. Gopi Krishna's autobiography about Kundalini awakening contains two salutary stories of people who tried to do that and ending up getting more than they bargained for.

But if your heart is pure and intentions noble, then have absolutely no fear.  And in many cases, people want some help from what they see as bad luck... In getting a job, in helping cure illness and so forth. This kind of simple but deep tapasya is an ideal way to get Divine help in difficulty.

You will rapidly find that any irritation at doing Japa gives way to something much more engrossing and calming.

The ideal way is to link the mantra to the inbreath and the outbreath (Ajapa-Japa) , and this depends on the length of the mantra. I use 2 beads for inbreath/retention, 2 for outbreath/retention. But this soon gets extended. You can find yourself saying the whole mala just on the inbreath or in breath suspension. Japa becomes very blissful and a different experience altogether if you link in this way.

The other advice would be to turn gradually to "manasika" japa, ie mentally and clearly repeated, linked to the inbreath and outbreath. This is the royal way to do japa and is wonderful. Sometimes you may then vary to quiet movement of the lips and tongue. The great Manu tells us: "The oral japa is ten times more meritorious than ritual sacrifice. Upamsu japa is a hundred times better and mental japa is a thousand times greater."

A tune or hint of a melody also helps, one which differentiates between your inbreath japa and outbreath japa, so you instantly know where you are if you get a little spaced out.

What mantra, and what if I am not initiated?

This is a very real concern for many, who have no access to a living Guru or a teacher, and are fearful of making a mistake and incurring bad fortune. Firstly, let me observe that this is a very Indian mind-set, a sort of needless terror of a wrathful deity who points a baleful finger your way and says "But you pronounced my name wrooongly..." with a clap of thunder. If this is what you fear, what image of God do you honestly hold in your heart? Because this is something the saints do not recognise! God is merciful, kind, loving, eager to lift you from misery and troubles. God will go to any lengths for a genuine devotee. This is the true experience of everyone who has progressed on the path of sadhana.

The image of an angry punishing God is simply a reflection of a tamasic and impure mind that projects their own anger, their own issues about mother and father figures, onto the universe. If you cannot believe God is Love and means you well then simply do not do a purascharana, it is not for you.

The best mantras to use are indeed the ones given in initiation, but if this is not practically possible, then many saints advise that you choose a mantra in good faith and use it, and stick to it. The Swami Sivananda link has a list of mantras you can safely use. There are many other teachers who advise this same route, so have no fears about this.

Some words from the Gurus and saints on japa

Shri Shri Bijoykrishna Goswami (a great saint from Ramakrishna Paramahansa's time):
"In a place of worship if one fixes one's eyes on a deity and repeats naam with total concentration, the God may actually be seen."

"Try to repeat the naam in every breath. There is no better way than repeating naam. I have got great results in my life by this practice. Just practice repetition of naam in the right manner and then see if you don't achieve results!Initially one may feel great irritation on repeating naam but it should not be given up. Prarabdha karma gets eroded by repetition of naam in every breath. Good and better states are also attained by it. There is no better way than eroding prarabdha than this."

"Everything is achieved only when one is habituated in repeating naam in every breath. Nothing gives as much benefit, irrespective of your doing japa otherwise 3 or 4 lakhs or 3 or 4 crores."

"One can be free by intense renunciation. Not a single inhalation or exhalation should be missed in naam because so many enemies can move inside finding that little hole! So many men, gandharvas, gods, create various obstacles on this path of desireless salvation. All test you severely on this path."

Shri Kuladananda Brahmachari, his disciple:
"Believing that due to my own flawed efforts I was not getting any benefits from sadhana, I was disgusted with myself. I vowed to pursue sadhana all my life and burn my body and soul to ashes in the process. I started non-stop japa starting from early morning till 11 at night except the time taken for bathing and sleeping."

Baba Muktananda:
"While coming and going, while standing or doing different jobs, one should chant the Divine name with great love. In this way one will not only become liberated himself but will be able to liberate others, too. Japa should become an addiction from which you cannot find a way out."

"Just as fire purifies gold of all its dross, likewise the name of the Lord, once it takes residence in one's heart, purifies that heart completely from the dross of impurities and sins. Another name for chanting is devotion.!

Sri Sarada Devi:
"One must experience the result of prarabdha karma. No one can escape it. But japa minimises its intensity. It is like the case of a man who is destined to lose his leg, but instead suffers only from the prick of a thorn in his foot."

Swami Chidananda:
"The more you repeat the name with Bhava, the greater the force generated and ultimately the time comes when the force that is hidden in the name becomes fully awakened."

Swami Vishnudevananda:
"Japa is one of the most direct ways of Self-realisation. It removes the dirt of the mind, the anger, greed and lust and other impurities that hide the light within."

"Japa done with faith, devotion and purity augments the power of the aspirant bestyowing on him the virtues and powers of the mantra's presiding deity. Revealing God to his consciousness it confers illumination and spiritual bliss... if no Guru can be found, select any mantra that seems appropriate. It should be repeated with faith and devotion every day."


The blogger's puruscharana (begun 2014)

I am undertaking a purascharana for my own very long Devi mantra, as a way of thanks to Divine Mother and as an inner house cleaning. This started on the right auspicious time with a simple ceremony on this year's Akshaya Tritiya, a most wonderful auspicious day for all new spiritual endeavour which in 2014 fell on 1 May in London UK. This vrata is a significant undertaking.

This purascharana is dedicated to each and every person who reads these words, . It is hoped this will inspire you to do a similar thing out of love for God, not out of material desire.

Blessings will flow to you, and I really hope you will feel the benefits of this simple tapasya done by a crazy tapasvin! I hope that you can plan a committment, too.

Progress up to end June 2015
The Japa purascharana has continued, like a heartbeat, day in, day out, come sun rain hail, travel, moods month after month, reaching over 980,000 repetitions from 1 May 2014 until the end of June 2015. This should bring 1.6mn repetitions by two years - and hopefully ending on Akshiya Tritiya in 2016, which will be on 9 May.

Every day without fail, rain or shine, I have sat for Japa, and that means at home, at work, travelling to and from work, and on work assignments in Miami, St Petersburg, Sri Lanka, Cape Town, and so forth. Most of it has been unglamorous, steady effort. But it has been a promise made and promise kept, and the cause of such intense inner joy.

Sometimes Japa has been as smooth as silk. Sometimes as hard as pushing a boulder made of iron. For months an extreme weariness assailed me every time I sat for Japa. Then, sometimes, everything has been hushed and still, and plain sailing. The mantra unlocked after about two months, bringing a wonderful vision of the Devi... then for many months it snapped shut, and sadhana carried on under very testing conditions (my twin brother sadly died at this time). But still the effort went on.

Things became more lively again around April 2015, when I slightly changed and removed the "om" at every repetition, given the fact this was a Devi mantra. (Papa Ramdas did a similar adjustment to his own Rama mantra many years previously). The effects were unexpectedly electric. A bit like when you start a wood fire and it does not seem to catch at all.. so you pile on more fuel until finally whooooooooooosh. Well, this is what happened in this case. The mantra opened up, grew enormously vivid and alive, and at this point ajapa-japa began to be very marked, the mantra centred on the throat, the vishuddhi chakra, where seemingly a huge hole opened up, felt as a spacious physical sensation with me now at all times. From this hole gushes the mantra and other mantras as well.

Aside from the formal sitting, I also try to repeat the mantra  through the rest of the day. as I still work for a living. Propped up in front of my computer screen (actually a double screen) is a post-it sticker with the words ajapa-japa on it. These informal repetitions make up for any gabbling or quickness of repetition in the formal sittings.

One important point is to make the japa meaningful and heart-felt, and not some mad impatient gabbling to get it over and done with as soon as possible. Vishnupriyas blog has a link to a good and common-sense piece of advice from Swami Sivananda, a man who was no stranger to purascharanas and tapas of every kind, but who also valuably lived in the world as a doctor before his life as a famous sannyasin and founder of a school of yoga full of integrity. So, if you are interested, read up some of the basics from him.

The conclusion to phase one

The 1.6mn repetitions was reached within 2 years, after long months of repetition. The mantra assumed a life, a living 3D reality, and would remind me if I was late in saying it at formal sittings. Many wonderful experiences, but the ones that I honour the most are the days when nothing happened, like trudging along an empty road for miles and miles, with the mantra as a comfort. It was the one constant in a life of big changes, a beautiful practice.

Experiences

The kind of experiences that will come to you through intense japa will depend on your own purity. But remember that the mantra is the form of the deity, and also that the mantra is light. You will find that the mantra resolves itself into a point of light, and then the body of the deity or the yantra of the deity will appear to you.

You will also begin to be aware of the subtle chakras in your body, especially the point between the eyebrows, the ajna chakra, and the sahasrara, the crown of the heart. A spaciousness will open out for you, and you will begin to see visions.

The mantra repetition will also begin to shift, whether you wish it or not... down to the other centres of your body. It will take its own life and its own direction, because remember that all mantras are not just vehicles, they contain seeds, the famous Bija mantra, and these seeds begin to grow. Seeds do not remain static, they grow. And from their growth you will have extraordinary experiences.

Now these you may think you want, as a sort of cinematic entertainment. But this is not what we are talking about. What really happens is the start of inexorable transformation and deep change. You will never be the same again. Your foolish, selfish, impure and narcissistic self-pitying self will get to see its own gradual dissolution. This needs courage, virtue, wisdom and dedication to accept and encourage.

You will find too that pranayama will take place very naturally - sometimes your breath will go like bellows, as if you are giving birth, or your breath will be suspended for long periods.

When japa really takes off is when it starts to come automatically, very subtly, ringing in your body and mind.

Rapidly too, you will find, your asana becomes your point of refuge, or joy and bliss, as events unfold around you. Sometimes as you do prolonged japa it feels like you are on a raft in a stormy sea, but untouched by the waves and wind, or in the middle of a world of fire. As long as you stay on that asana you are safe. That is one of the beauties of japa: just sit and recite. sit and recite.  sit and recite. All will unfold for you.

A bridge

Wherever you look when you study the lives of great saints, you will come across the magic of purascharana (also anglicized as purushcharana by some). It's a bridge to cross from the land of sloth and spiritual inertia to a land of committed practice. It's a line in the sand. It's the planting of a flag and a sign. 

It is an in-breath, a courageous resolution and a warrior's declaration: 

"Whatever my destiny, good or bad, I can do this difficult thing. 
Like others before me, through the ages, 
I will offer my respects to my ishta-devata. 
I will do this as an act of love."

Now you can complicate this all you like, you can insist on rules and regulation (and there are some basic rules to observe) but the nub of it, the heart of the matter is just you and a japa mala within a japa bag, and your intention versus your wandering mind.

Why this and not just spending more time meditating?

Japa is suited to the Kali Yuga era. Japa controls the tongue in a marvellous way - and control of the tongue and the genitals is said in the scriptures to be the way you can flourish even in Kali Yuga. And it is simple to do! Just japa.. mind wanders... back to japa... japa... japa.

This blog will aim to keep you updated on progress, but do write and let me know about your own efforts.

JAI MATA DI!

Japa from the Dasbodh, the famous Marathi sayings of Swami Ramdas, Guru of Kabir:

One should have constant remembrance of God. The name of God should be repeated continuously. This will bring about freedom and contentment.

One should have the discipline to continuously remember the name of God in the morning, the afternoon, the evening.

One should not be without the name of God at anytime, whether in a state of happiness, sorrow, distress, worry or joy.

Remember god in times of enjoyment, in unfavourable times, auspicious times, festive times, at the time of rest, and at the time of sleep.

By the name of God, stones have floated, an unaccountable number of devotees have been uplifted, and even the worst scoundrels have become completely free.

Everyone, in all classes of society, has the right to chant the name of God. There is no such thing as inferior or superior when remembering God. Even foolish and materialistic people have reached the other shore by remembering God.

All types of troubles from ghosts, malevolent spirits from the astral world, problems arising from the incorrect chanting of mantras, to being haunted by the spirit of a brahmin can all be destroyed with faith in god.

The body of  one who always remembers the name of God should be considered an auspicious body.

Dasbodh 4.3




35 comments:

  1. Namaste,
    I have been reading your blogs for past couple of months and they have been truly inspirational. I would like to share my experience with you to seek a guidance on how to keep my mind focused on sadhana of one deity.
    I was born and brought up in traditional Maharashtrian joint family at Mumbai - India.Like most of the children ,particularly in Maharashtra, since childhood, my most favorite god was lord Ganesh. Our family has been following tradition of celebrating Ganesh chaturthi for many centuries.I have seen my parents celebrating it with great devotion for past 35+ years. Later on somehow I got attracted to Lord Rama - may be because of some brilliant shlokas I read written by Saint Ramdas on Sri Rama.Later on I started praying to lord Dattatreya - reading Laghu - gurucharitra [short gurucharitra].
    Last year I heard Devi Mahatmya [Sanskrit/Hindi] on youtube for the first time and fell in love with it.Our kula-devata is 'Shantadurga Devi" of Goa.I heard devi mahatmya with my parents in Navaratri again.Taking inspiration from you I decided to recite Devi Mahatmya myself.I completed reciting Devi Mahatmya [in Marathi] for the first time yesterday. My immediate experience has been very encouraging.
    Since the time we shifted to new rented house - my 2 year old son has been waking up at night crying loud with no reason.He is otherwise very joyous and playful.We were worried about this sudden change.I knew that Devi Mahatmya is 'shanti-karak' for children.I immediately saw its effect.
    My son was deep in sleep throughout night - we had to wake him up in morning [he generally gets up on his own at 7:15 but today he was deep asleep till 8:30].It was a ‘quick’ miracle for me 
    Since I am householder [working in IT - have own family] – consistency in sadhana is a challenge for me.I try to do 'namasmaran' of shri Shantadurga devi throughout day even while working. I previously did namasmaran of Shri Rama and Shri Dattatreya.
    I wish to seek spirituality [balancing householder's life] .I am aware that it is better to concentrate and pray to one deity but so far I haven't been able to do so.
    Please guide me on this.
    Thank you again for writing such insightful and practical articles on tapasya.
    Regards,
    Mandar

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    Replies
    1. Namaste Mandar and thanks for your very interesting comments. The job of balancing the Householder Sadhana life is not easy, especially with young children, and I entirely understand all that goes with it... Especially the fatigue! But you are doing very well indeed.

      The question of just focusing on the one deity is not something to be too worried about at this stage. Just think of it as the Supreme Paramatman, Ishwara, wearing many different disguises a bit like you wear different clothes. All the deities are just marvellous expressions of the one supreme, and then, too, imagine you are a bee simply flying from beautiful flower to flower looking for the sweetest nectar. Be free and easy about it. Your heart will lock on to one devotion as you get older, but have no guilt or fear about this wide angle approach... Blessings on your journey!

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  2. Namaste - Thank you very much for reply.
    Regards,
    Mandar

    ReplyDelete
  3. Namaste Guruji,

    I have a couple of questions regarding mantras. They say that a person should only chant a mantra after being initiated by a guru. I do not have a guru, but do eleven repetitions (not malas...just repetitions) of a select few mantras everyday.

    In such a scenario, am I a candidate for purascharana? Can I select any mantra and begin with the purascharana? Also, can I not consider Adi Shankaracharya or any of the several manifestations of God as my guru and proceed?

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    Replies
    1. Please let me clarify...I did read Swami Sivananda's words on mantra, japa, and purascharana. But what confuses me is what some others have to say about efforts being wasted if the mantra is not imparted to one by a guru. At another time, I would not have given a damn about statements like this, but in my particular situation (and state of mind) at the moment, I am unsure of whom to believe.

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    2. When great saints say "have no fear, have faith and trust" then even the most hardened of sinners can take heart. In what universe do we live if our sincere desire to repeat the holy names are punished as inappropriate? Remember that the Hare Krishna movement swept across the world on this simple premise: if you repeat the Holy names, no harm will befall you. How sad that we can be so fearful of uttering a mistake. Sing Gods glory! Be like a child, just spread your wings, take some of the very famous mantras, make a vow and... Go for it.

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    3. Thank you for the kind words and the encouragement, Guruji :-) Like I said, had my present state of mind not been so fragile, I would not have bothered what others had to say. I have been repeatedly told (by more than one person) that my present difficulties (financial and emotional) are due to my past irreverence. Hence the fear. At the mind level, I know I am overthinking the fear, but I am not upto taking any more chances.

      Will begin chanting one of the mantras, and if you don't mind, will ask you to clarify any doubts that I may have along the way.

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  4. I had a great Akshaya Trithiya, I fasted and meditated and prayed. From this blog I have learned about observing Akshaya Trithiya, about Shivratri. You have such beautiful verses that bring elation upon reading. Your prose is approachable and always seems to be exactly what answers my questions when I think to look here. Thank you for all of this love.

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  5. Thank you so very much, blessing and love flow from devotee to devotee and let us all meet up on the Devi's Loka after this incarnation!

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  6. Sri Gurubhyo Namaha...I wish to do Purascharana of Gayathri Mantra around 3000 a day and complete Purascharana in two years approximately.. As I would perform Sandhyavandam daily morning and evening ( sometimes in the afternoon too) like to continue with Purascharana for around 1000-1500 each time . That way I should be able to complete 24 lakhs in a period of 2 years..Please suggest and advise if this is oK and what precautions to be taken with regard to ladies at home particularly during their periods.

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  7. To be honest this is going to swallow up all your life if you stick to such a tight deadline. The Gayatri Mantra is not a short mantra at all. Swami Sivananda estimated it can take up to 3.3 years, and doing 3,000 a day in two sittings is a lot to undertake. But having said, that, if you do not have to go out and travel to work every day, it's possible.

    Continue throughout without stopping for a single day, whatever happens. This is the idea of a purascharana - that you do it without fail. Every day.

    My own advice is be a little gentle with yourself. Doing this much japa might seem a great thing to do on Day 1, but see what it looks like on Day 7... if you can sustain it, then it will change your life permanently. But apply common sense and be very practical about what you can and cannot achieve. Good luck!

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  8. Guruji please inform me when registration starts for free sadhana in jan.

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  9. Guruji please inform me when registration starts for free sadhana in jan.

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    Replies
    1. Registration begins 1-15 December...

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  10. Dharmesh Yadav (Google)17 October 2015 at 10:14

    Hi,
    Came across your blog accidentally while going through spiritual stuff and i consider myself lucky to have stumbled upon your blog and the treasures that it has to offer. I also like to have your unindian perspective on many things which is logical and clears so many doubts.

    Guruji, could you please tell me if I do undertake a Purascharana, i.m not sure about it right now and also about the mantra, I'm partial towards 2-3 mantras, and i also got one from Swami Niranjananda ji. But ok, u already explained that. What i want to know at present is do i have to sit at the same place or at the same time everyday while doing the Japa, though i would adhere to it, but just in case i have to travel for work, timings could be very odd then, and yes one more question, Can i do the Japa without the Japa mala, because it seems more a hindrance in my case whereas i'm able to do japa in a much better way with concentration and devotion without the Japa mala.
    Thank you,
    Once again, it has been my good luck to have come across you.

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    1. Thanks for all your kind words and glad the posts are of help. Ok, well with japa... Now a japa mala is best but not for superstitious reasons, just pure practicality. If you do a puruscharana with a fixed target total, you need to count off the repetitions, and a mala simply lets you do this without distracting from the task.

      I too have to travel to and from work, something like a 1hr 15min commute each way, with lots of train changes. In this case, a mini mals, unobstrusive, is great to use.

      Now its all very well to want to free yourself from the restrictions of timing, malas, seating etc, but theres a reason behind the restraints, and thats the whole point of a puruscharana: a voluntary restraint to concentrate the wandering mind on a point of divinity.

      The idea ultimately is to recite nothing but the mantra, which gradually replaces all wild and extraneous thoughts. In my experience you can do formal sessions, normally at the same time every day, but you can also then simply recite the mantra outside this, no formal counting, just have it in your mind every minute of every day.

      As to which mantra, this is your choice and therefore choose wisely. What is the face of God that you worship? Choose the mantra belonging to that face.

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  11. I'm really thankful to you for the answers but i still didn't got the answer. I've read about the necessity of same place and timings, they are there for a reason and if i do japa i'd be following that no doubt about it, but i was asking about the times when i might have to be out due to work for two to three days and won't be able to help it and yes aside from the formal japa i'd be doing the japa outside also, no question about that.

    About the use of mala, i just asked because, first of all, i find it better to recite the mantras without the mala and secondly, i feel why one needs to count how many times one calls out to God. ok, but still in puruscharana one has to keep some sort of account then, say suppose if i recite a mantra for about 120 times in half an hour, then i'll consider it only as one mala, i mean it won't harm if i recite a little extra. The extras won't be counted formally of course, but it'll at least keep me more concentrated on the japa rather than on keeping an account of it. I mean i would be happy if i would just be calling out to mother sincerely without keeping an account and so would be mother i suppose rather than concentrating on the quantity.

    Thank you once again and i'm sorry if i'm bothering you by my silly questions as they might appear to you.

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  12. Dear Yogi, I find your blog very informative and very encouraging for someone like me looking for actual experiences from Sadhakas. I have a fundamental question. Do you visualise the diety while doing Mantra japa ? or just concentrate on the sound and meaning of the Mantra. If yes, is there any method you followed to get the image. I find it very difficult to visualise the image. Is there difference between visualisation and imagination. Imagination is much easier to do.. Thank you in advance.

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  13. These are very interesting wuestions, and the clear up doubts heres my own experiences.

    During the Japa (which in this particular cycle is now over 1.33mn repetitions) I concentrate mostly on the space between the eyebrows, or rather the japa has that immediate effect.

    I recite the japa mentally, but all the whole turn over the beads of a japa mala, so do not drift away... This practice is very different from the dhyan, the meditation practice, so the two are done at different times. Depending on where I am sitting, I will also fix my eyes on a picture or the relevant deity.

    I know many carefully imagine and picture the deity, this is very much an Indian custom which I dont follow, but its a good enough practice as well, as long as it is done without strain and stress with panic when your picture keeps being imperfect.

    As for imagination... Be careful. Imagination is the mind at play, the mind constantly shifting, creating, dissolving, and the whole aim of japa is to quieten the mind down so the light of the Deity is revealed. This light is a real experience, and trust these words. A true vision has an entirely different quality from imagination, and imagination ultimately becomes just vikespha, the tosding and the turning of the mind. Japa implies fixity: one name, repeated over and over and over and over again, day in day out. Now the mind might think this the very definition of boredom, and certainly at times the discipline can be hard as nails. But eventually, the Deity and the presence is reached. So many have experienced this, all sorts of people... But imagination may be very pleasant, but is just the mind playing tricks with itself. Play tricks instead with the mind: fix it on one point, relentlessly and skillfully.

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  14. Dear Yogi, Many pranams to you for the clarification. Iam currently doing sadhana on Gayatri mantra and also chanting Shiva mantra since its Karthk Masa. It is said that Gayatri is mother of all Vedas and all Mantras. May I know if you have tried Gayatri japa and pl share if you had any experiences on the same. Thank you.

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  15. pranams maharaj,
    I am a devotee of the divine mother kali. I had received her mantra from sri ramakrishna in a dream. Since then i have been performing the puja of the mother according to the tantrik scriptures and i worship sri ramakrishna as my guru. I have been devoted to mother kali since my childhood but i never tried performing ritualistic worship before that dream. I have read in the yogini tantra that one must hear a mantra, which one has received in a dream, from a living guru but i have never been fortunate enough to meet such a person whom i can truly call as my guru. Could you tell me what to do? All the commercial "gurus" that i have met are communal and money minded. I personally do not belive in praying for worldy comforts, i pay to the mother that she may cleanse my heart of all it's filth and that i may get to see her within the temple of my heart, that is all i ask of her, but till today you are the only person whom i see shares this idea of prayer with me, all those whom I've met have told me that it is only worth praying if we derive some material benefits from it. I recite sri ramakrishna's prayer to the mother daily after puja. I believe in the famous bengali song " sakali tomari ichha, icchamoi tara tumi, tomar karma tumi karo ma, loke bole kori ami.."- everything is your will, you are the master of this universe, you make us work as you will but we assume that it's our will. As jesus had said, "thine will be done", please pray for me that i may not deviate from the path of devotion and that i may be able to realise the mother, though i am truly unworthy of her grace. I hope i get to meet you someday and receive some treasures from your treasure trove of devotion.
    Jai guru maharaj ji ki jai
    Jai adi shakti anandamayi ki jai

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  16. Now this s so beautiful and your attitude is absolutely spot on. Great yogis often initiate disciples in dreams and it is absolutely fine to proceed on the basis of this. You be brave hearted, forge your path, follow the Mother and have courage. You are very blessed to have this happen to you.

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  17. i did the om namah shivay jaap. i encountered a frightening experience at night...some loud vibrating noise and nightmares...

    i continued with the om namah shivay jaap and saw a black smooth shadow creature covering my face at night. this happened many times..and all the times i did the om namah shivay mantra.

    I am a Hindu by birth. No inglorious secrets about me...nothing very evil...and no history of such experiences.

    I am very disturbed about these incidents and they only happen when i do Om NNamah Sivay Jaap.

    What am I doing wrong? Even my mother and maid have heard this noise at night...like the humming of a thousand bees...and a black shadowy thing.

    Om namah shivay is supposed to protect . whats going on?

    Querist,
    Shivani

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    1. Without knowing more practical details it really is impossible to say, but I will say this. Your mantra is protection, not danger. The names of God never harm, they heal. This is a law of truth, a fundamental law of the universe. So do not put two and two together and come up with 5.

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  18. Very intense blog emphasizing on Japa yoga, I had bookmarked this blog long back, still visit again and again to reinforce or self-suggest my mind and inner self to do more and more Japa. Even reading your blog gives sensation. Thank you very much.

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  19. Namaste Gurudev,

    Please suggest me I chant Digambara digambara Sripadavallabha Digambara when ever I am relaxed. I also do Gurucharitra Parayana atleast once a year as a saptaha (7 days). I also perform Banashankari Devi panchayatan puja daily along with Datta Maharaj's worship. Please suggest on what type of Japa mala I need to use for purascharana. Also please guide me shall I need to undertake purascharana of Banashankari Devi (our family kuladevata).

    Dhanyavaad
    Kiran Kulkarni
    Bangalore

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  20. Thanks for such kind words. May you be Blessed!

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  21. Dear Baba,

    If a purascharana is calculated as 100,000 times the syllables of the mantra, then the Om namah Shivaya mantra should be repaeated about 500,000 times.
    If mental japa is done, must it still be repeated about 500,000 times. According Manu the metal japa is 1000 times more effective than oral japa.

    Must the times of repeating the mantra be divided by 1000 if mental japa is done?

    Please clearify.

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    1. Ha ha... Clever reasoning by the mind! No, it is the same thing if you are doing a puruscharana, there are no short cuts.

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  22. Dear babaji, Wonderful blog to help spiritual sadhkas. I would like to know how to proceed to Ajapa japa. Can you please help me to understand the tatvam and procedure behind it. I am a vaishnavite and took initiation from the matt. I want the mantra to join my breath.
    Thanks
    Sankarshanan

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  23. Namaskars Shankar.

    My advice is dont overcomplicate it! Throw away all this idea of procedures and rituals. Ajapa Japa is a little bit like the image of people keeping those wheels of Dharma rolling in Buddhist temples in Nepal and Tibet.

    You simply keep the mantra in your mind, repeating it as often as you remember you are not saying it, constantly, over and over again. You don't have to create big mental imagery, just repeat it inside yourself. Again and again and again.

    By this method you destroy your tendency to create thoughts and pictures, and if it is there everywhere, what can go wrong? It may link with the breath, it may not, depending on the length of the mantra. Again, don't obsess. Be a little freer with it, just say it, day in, day out, every day of your life. THEN it starts to become automatic.

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  24. Thanks for this wonderful writting. I just started my japa practice. I have somedoubts can you please help me.
    1. When I am doing long japa sometimes it become mechanical and my mind wander away. How can I overcome it?
    2. Due to some physical reasons I can't visualize anything. ( they call it as mental blindness) when I shut my eyes it will become complete blank. So what can I do to overcome it during japa.

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  25. Pay attention.
    That is your instruction.
    As an example: did you even bother to read the very first words of this post that comments are now disabled?
    Pay attention.

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