It is practice of concentrated repetition of a mantra, often while counting the repetitions on a mala or strand of beads. It is recommended as a cure for pride and arrogance, anger and jealousy, fear and confusion. It fills the mind with divine syllables, awakening the divine essence of spiritual energies. There is no particular place for the practice, even may be combined with other activities like travelling. It is traditionally performed while sitting in a meditation posture as part of formal worship. Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi, while not gracing any mantra to anyone, accepted the validity in the practice of nama-japa, the continuous repetition of God’s names. He advocated it as a useful aid for those who were following the bhakti path of surrender.
In Tantra, japa is a tool for focusing the mind and also filling the mind with the grace of the Goddess. Repeating the prescribed mantra with each breath using a particular count focuses the mind on the entire process of breathing and at the same time infusing the body with the energy of the mantra.
Japa karta is one who does japa. Japa Mala is garland of incantation; a strand of beads for holy recitation usually made of rudraksha, tulasi, sandalwood or crystal beads. Vaishanvites are given to tulsi beads whie Shaivites use the rudraksha mala. Ajapa-japa of mantra means awareness. Mantra japa means repeating or remembering mantra.
There is a Shakti or power in every word. The Name of God, chanted correctly or incorrectly, knowingly or unknowingly, carefully, is sure to give the desired result. The glory of the Name of God cannot be established through reasoning and intellect. It can be experienced or realized only through devotion, faith and constant repetition of the Name. By Mantra japa, you can attain peace of mind quickly. By prolonged and constant practice the inherent power of the Mantra, the Mantra Shakti will be awakened, which will fill your very existence with the Divinity of the Mantra.
Japa Yoga is the yoga or science of mantra repetition. It is centralizing discipline of recitation. Likhita japa is a form of writing meditation by writing mantras. There is a tradition of writing the Lord’s name on paper which is later burnt. The rewards are said to include an increased sense of conviction, freedom from fear, greater alertness, forgetting world ills and spiritual healing.
“Japa purifies the heart. Japa steadies the mind. Japa makes one fearless. Japa removes delusion. Japa gives supreme peace. Japa gives health, wealth, strength and long life. Japa brings God-consciousness” said Sri Swami Sivananda. It is the spiritual a spiritual food for the hungry soul. Japa is the rod in the hand of a blind sadhaka to plod on the road to realization. Japa is the philosopher’s stone or divine elixir that makes one God-like. It is said that in this iron age, practice of japa alone can give eternal peace, bliss and immortality.
MANTRAS FOR JAPA
OM Sri Maha Ganapataye Namah
Prostrations to the great Lord Ganesha
OM is the original, most powerful Mantra sound. It is a part of almost every other Mantra, and serves to invoke pure supreme vibrations. Sri is a title of reverent respect. Maha means great. Ganapati is another name of Ganesha who is symbolized as the elephant headed god, representing strength and fortitude. He is the remover of obstacles and bestower of success.
OM Namah Sivaya
Prostrations to Lord Siva
Siva is the lord of ascetics and recluses. He is part of the Hindu Trinity. Brahma and Vishnu, the other two parts, are associated with creation and preservation, respectively. Siva, the Cosmic Dancer, presides over the destructive energies, which break up the universe at the end of each age. This is the process of the old making way for the new. In a more personal sense, it is Siva's energy by which one's lower nature is destroyed, making way for positive growth.
OM Namo Narayanaya
Prostrations to Lord Vishnu
Narayana is the name of Vishnu, the preserver if the world. After the Creation, it is the energy of the Vishnu, which maintains order of the universe. It is Vishnu who regularly takes on a human form and incarnates in earth to benefit mankind. People who are closely involved in the running of the world and maintaining the harmony of life are drawn to this aspect of God.
OM Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
Prostrations to Lord God, Vasudeva
Bhagavan means Lord, referring to Vishnu. Vasudeva, meaning, "He Who abides in all things and in Whom all things abide," is a name of Krishna. Krishna is one of the most loved of all deities. He is considered to be a world teacher for he is the source f the Bhagavad-Gita Gita, one of the most popular of all the Eastern religious texts. People are drawn to Krishna because of his playfulness and joyful nature.
Hari is another name for Vishnu. It is that aspect which forgives the past actions of those who takes refuge in Him and destroys their negative deeds. Thus Hari is a redeemer and a guide to personal salvation as well as the World Preserver.
OM Sri Ramaya Namah
Prostrations to Lord Rama
Rama, an incarnation of Vishnu, took life on earth for the purpose of upholding righteousness and rewarding virtue. His life is the subject of The Ramayana. Rama lived the life of perfection and responsibility. Rama and Sita epitomized the devotional relationship between husband and wife. They are the models for all householders and people with family duties.
OM Sri Durgayai Namah
Prostrations to Mother Durga
Supreme Divinity is without qualities or attributes, and as such it contains all qualities and attribute. The masculine principles are important yet; they must be balanced with the feminine principles. Masculine and feminine are but obverse and reverse of the same coin. Durga represents the motherhood aspect of God. She is the force, or Shakti, through which Divinity manifests. Durga is power. She is the protector and benefactor. According to Hindu mythology, the chaitanya, or pure consciousnesses, of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva were united to form the being of Mother Durga. She is commonly pictured riding a tiger and having eight arms with which she carries flowers and weapons of protection and gives the gesture of blessing.
OM Sri Maha Lakshmyai Namah
Prostrations to great Mother Lakshmi
Lakshmi is the bountiful provider. As Vishnu's consort, she aids in the preservation of the three worlds by bestowing wealth and abundance of a material and spiritual nature. She is pictured as a beautiful woman standing in a lotus blossom with her arms open and giving.
OM Aim Saraswatyai Namah
Prostrations to Mother Saraswati
Aim is the bija of Saraswati, the source of all learning, and knowledge of the arts and music. She is Brahma's consort and is involved with the creation of new ideas and things. Responsible for bestowing wisdom and knowledge, She is often worshipped by people in the creative arts.
OM Sri Maha Kalikayai Namah
Prostrations to Mother Kali
Kali is that divine aspect which is responsible for the destruction and eradication of negative qualities in this world. She is the transformative power of Divinity, which dissolves the individual into cosmic union. Maha Kali is one of the most fearsome of all the expressions of the Divinity. Because of the intensity of her purgative nature, very few people are initiated to this Mantra.
OM Sri Hanumate Namah
Prostrations to Blessed Hanuman
Hanuman is the perfection of devotion. He is the greatest and the most selfless devotee of Lord Rama. In the Hindu tradition, he is considered to be a semi- deity, for he is the son of the wing- god. He possesses great strength and courage.
Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare;
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
My Lord, Rama! My Lord, Krishna!
Hare is a glorified form of address for calling upon God. Rama and Krishna were two of the best-known and most beloved incarnations of Vishnu. They took human birth on this earth to lead mankind to eternal salvation. This is the Maha Mantra, the easiest and surest way for attaining God Realization in this present age.
OM Sri Rama Jaya Rama Jaya Jaya Rama
Victory of Rama
Jaya means "victory" or "hail."
Sri Rama Rama Rameti, Rame Rame Manorame;
Sahasrenama tattulyam, Rama Nama Varanane
All these sacred names of Rama are equal to the highest name of God.
This Mantra cures gossiping and back- biting and makes up for time lost in idle chitchat.
OM Tryambakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam
Urvarukamiva Bandhanam Mrityor Mukshiya Mamritat
We worship the three-eyed Lord (Siva) who is full of sweet fragrance and nourishes human beings. May he liberate me from bondage, even as the cucumber is severed from the vine.This is the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. It removes disease, prevents accidents and bestows liberation. It should be repeated daily.
OM Namo `stute Mahayogin Prapannamanusadhi Mam Yatha; Twachcharanam Bhoje Ratih Syadanapayini
Salutation to thee, O great Yogi! Pray direct me that have fallen at Thy feet, so that I may find unfailing delight at Thy lotus feet.
This is the Mantra for self-surrender. It should be repeated with a pure heart free of personal desires. (Samarpan)