Mantra & Japa

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Repeating sacred sounds soulfully has many spiritual benefits, including increasing one’s peace, poise, and life-energy. So what is a mantra? Sri Chinmoyexplains that “mantra is a syllable divinely surcharged with power.” In another book, he adds,

“A mantra is an incantation. The repetition of a mantra is a process for going deep within or accelerating one’s spiritual progress. It can be a syllable, a word, a few words or a sentence. By repeating a mantra we can either invoke the presence of a particular god or bring to the fore our own inner divinity.”

As an example listen to a song named Tomar Kata performed by Serbian group Blue Flower

Repeating mantras or sacred sounds many times is called Japa. From time immemorial, chanting mantras and doing Japa have offered countless benefits to seekers who sincerely try to practice this type of meditation. Mantras can help increase our inner peace, especially when repeated very softly, slowly and soulfully. The mantra Supremeis one of the most effective mantras we can repeat. That was also his most favorite way of addressing God, full of sweetness and intimacy. Another most effective mantra is the Sanskrit word Shanti,which means peace. Repeating Shantiagain and again, slowly and with a sacred feeling, is a very effective way to invoke peace inside your entire being. Mantras can also help us increase our purity, which is of great importance in our spiritual life. Sri Chinmoy writes in Prayer-World, Mantra-World and Japa-World:

“If you repeat the mantra out loud, you will get physical purity. If you repeat the mantra in silence, you will get purity in your inner existence. Without inner purity, you will make no spiritual progress…So it is better to practise japa in silence. When you do, try to feel that there is somebody inside you, your inner being, who is repeating the word on your behalf. Just by repeating your mantra devotedly and soulfully you can have purity in your heart and in your mind, and from purity you can get everything — the Highest, the Supreme.”

At times of great danger or fear, mantras can come to our rescue. Many seekers have been faced with extremely dangerous situations and by repeating very quickly and loudly again and again, “Supreme, Supreme, Supreme, Supreme!” they have been saved. Again, repeating Supremerapidly is the most effective way to overcome lethargy. What is the quickest way to overcome lethargy permanently?

“The quickest way is by repeating Supremeas fast as possible. You do not have to shout at the top of your lungs, but you have to be able to hear it; do not do it in silence. You can be seated in your room or walking in a silent place where nobody is going to hear you, but you should not do it while lying down… Each time you say ‘Supreme’, chanting as fast as possible, try to feel that the Power of the Supreme, the Life of the Supreme and the Divinity of the Supreme are entering into you.”

Mantra Japa

Mantra Japa means “repeating a mantra”. Perhaps you have seen before monks from various spiritual traditions using beads to count their mantra repetitions. We can certainly do it without beads as well, but you can use them if you want. There are various forms of how to perform mantra Japa. Let us explain one of them here.

First, we choose a mantra that we want to repeat. If we don’t know any, we can try Aum or Yam. The first day we will repeat the mantra 50 times; the second day 60 times; the third day 70 times. Up until 120 repetitions. Each repetition doesn’t have to be very long but we should try to feel our (spiritual) heart while saying the mantra. At 120 repetitions it will take us approximately 10 minutes. The following days we will decrease the number of repetitions; that means 110, 100, 90, all the way until 50. Then we will repeat the whole cycle once more. If we forget about doing our Japa one day, we just skip that day and continue as if nothing has happened. We can count using our fingers – one hand counts tens and on the other, we count 1 to 10. By doing this we have no stress that we forget the number. Even if we forget to count some repetitions it’s alright. But counting like this keeps us alert. In this way, we avoid falling into repeating the mantra mechanically.

This exercise will give us lots of new energy, that’s why it’s not a good idea to do it right before sleep. If you don’t know how to start with it, or if you would like to start doing mantra Japa in a group of people you can try one of our meditation classes where we will surely do mantra Japa at some point 🙂

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