Engrossment of mind in the meaning, implication, or the divine feeling associated with a mantra – is essential for adept practicing of any kind of japa. This, not only trains the mind for sharp concentration and deeper meditation, but also helps its purification via removal of the assimilated kusamskaaras – pertaining to the evil instincts of jealous, lust, anger, arrogance and insidious addictions etc. Once the mind is cleaned the intrinsic afflatus and effects begin to mark their impressions on it…. This subsequently results in the cultivation of virtuous mental abilities and creative talents together with distinct moral elevation. Japa is described in almost all religions as the best exercise for the preliminary training and enlightenment of mind.
By repeated and continuous movements, even a rope, used for fetching water from a well, can leave its mark on the stones around the wall of the well. Domestic animals, even if let free, return back to their masters just because of habit…. The animals of the circus companies become master performers by rigorous training and repeated practice. Be that a wrestler, a good student or a dedicated scientist…., each one gains success only after a scrupulous effort and sincere practice….. Continuous collection of small drops can fill the whole tank… These and similar well known examples signify the necessity as well as the sufficiency of regular practice for the achievement of perfection in any training…. The same holds true for the conditioning and refinement of mind by the Saadhana of japa. The disciplined endeavor of japa is therefore also termed as a yagna. Meditation (dhyaana) and japa are mutually complementary and essentially coexisting in every kind of mantra-Saadhana.
A regular and sincere practice of japa results in gradual decrease in the mental instability, illusions, mental infirmities and ill tendencies – including jealous, fear, ego, avarice, etc. The positive effects of japa are also accompanied by a simultaneous increase in the trenchancy of mind, piety of thoughts and sentiments that are manifested in the virtues of honesty, modesty, illustriousness, farsightedness, fairness, peace and love etc.
The effects of japa awakens one’s inherent virtues that naturally result in an overall improvement in his personality, and amelioration of his physical and mental potentials. These positive effects can be used for noble success in terms of worldly progress as well. It is the willpower and the vision; aroused by the japa that ‘transform’ the difficult circumstances and obstacles into minor ones in a miraculous manner.
Some common disciplines essential for every kind of japa saadhanaa are –
The cleanliness of the body and mind of the saadhaka, and that of the place and its surroundings where the japa is performed. The calm and stable state of the saadhaka’s mind is a natural requirement for meditation during japa. The following guidelines are usually prescribed to meet these pre-requisites. Japa should be performed in a neat and tidy condition of the body, after having bath, wearing clean cloths etc. The clothing should also be such that the body would be free and relaxed while sitting in the posture of sukhaasana, Padmasana, vajrasana or any other posture where base is broad and spine is erect, if sitting on floor is difficult, chair can be used. The saadhaka should sit on a clean cloth sheet or kusaasana spread over the floor in a silent corner of the house or any suitable place outside, which is neat and peaceful.
While performing a japa, the saadhaka should let his mind free from every kind of negative thinking, anger, jealous, excitement, etc
The speed of japa should be normal and set at one’s natural frequency of speech. It should not be too slow so as to cause dullness, neither too fast that would cease the clarity of pronunciation.
Pictures and idols of the manifestation of God in whom the saadhaka has affectionate faith, or, posters/ photographs of some saints and great personalities often provide inspiring company at such places. Performance of some rituals of worship, presence of fresh flowers and plants in the surroundings add to the purity and serene beauty of this atmosphere. With gradual progress in the Saadhana, the refinement of the sublime domains of consciousness in and around the saadhaka also becomes more important. In order to maintain the sacred ambience, only the people of high moral character and piety of mind should be allowed to visit the place of Saadhana.
japa is incomplete without meditation. The saadhaka should meditate upon the meaning, implications and the devataa of the mantra which is being enunciated; the intensity of this mental engrossment should increase to the extent of ‘feeling of unification with the divine radiance and the power hidden in the (soul) of the mantra. The scripture named Yoga Darshan (1|18), describes that a japa performed with immense faith and deep mental concentration effectuates the experience of trance and endows the saadhaka with beatified bliss.
Loud chanting helps in reducing distraction in initial stages, but slowly it should be turned inward, without sound.