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Importance of Jaap of Bhagavaan's Name
See also    Laksh Jaap

A devotee asked, "How does the repetition of the name of God help Realization?

Shree Ramana Maharshi said - "The original name is always going on spontaneously without any effort on the part of the individual. That name is "aham" "I". But when it becomes manifest it manifests as "Ahankaar" the ego. The oral repetition of the name leads one to mental repetition which finally resolves itself into the eternal vibration. The mind or the mouth cannot act without the Self."

Thereupon Shree Bhagavaan told the following story of Sant Tukaaraam --

Sant Tukaaraam, a Mahaaraashtra Saint, used to remain in Samaadhi in the day and sing and dance at night with large crowds of people. He always used to utter the name of Shree Raam. Once he was answering the call of nature and also saying "Raam, Raam". An orthodox priest was shocked at the uttering of the holy name by the saint at the time when his body was not clean. Hence he reprimanded him and ordered him to be silent. Tukaaraam said, "All right!" and remained mute. But at once there arose the name of Raam from every pore of Tukaaraam and the priest was horrified by the din. He then prayed to Tukaaraam, "Restrictions are only for the common people and not for saints like you."

Grace of Jap

Jap is the constant repetition of the Lord’s name or a Mantra from the scriptures, either aloud or silently with full attention. Through repetition the mantra is ingrained and leaves a strong impression in the mind. The mind is a vast storehouse of strong impressions, which come from past habits created through repetition. These impressions are the source from which thoughts in the mind arise.

Jap is a technique given in the scriptures, by our ancient sages. A Mantra is defined as a word or a sentence from the scriptures with a deep meaning having the power to transform our whole being. A Mantra is defined as: "Mannat Trayate Iti" Mantra - that which protects us when we contemplate upon it. Mantra possess their own hidden power, which lies concealed in them. Each Mantra has its own resident Devtaa and so also its own Rishi (the one who reveals the Mantra). When chanted with the right attitude, remembering its Devtaa, Shakti and Rishi, it creates its own divine vibration. The power inherent in each Mantra cleanses and purifies the mind, which is made up of thoughts and subtle vibrations.

For instance, when we fall ill we go to a doctor who prescribes some medicine. Medicine is nothing but food, working in a specific way. It has the inherent power to rectify the ailment and remove the cause of the disease. Likewise, mantras are words, which are special sounds having the power to affect the mind. Our scriptures abound with powerful and well-known Mantra. Mantra Shaastra is a complete and ancient science according to which each and every Sanskrit alphabet (Akshar) is a Mantra. Then there are Beej Mantra and also combinations of Mantra. The Sabar Mantra given by Shiv are specifically for the present Kali Yug. To the uninitiated these may appear to be meaningless words and sentences but they have great power. The Atharv Ved prescribes Mantra for specific purposes. Some like the ancient Gayatri Mantra are Vaidik in origin. The famous four Mahaavaakya are found in the Upanishad -

(1) ‘Pragyaanam Brahman’ from the Aitareya Upanishad;
(2) ‘Tat Twam Asi’ from the Chhaandogya Upanishad;
(3) ‘Ayam Aatm Brahm’ from the Maandookya Upanishad and
(4) ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ from the Brhadaaranyak Upanishad.
These are powerful aids to meditation.

Devotees have repeated Pauraanik Mantra and also Mantra related to Bhagavaan’s name like ‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vaasudevaaya’, and ‘Om Namah Shivaaya’, over the centuries. Chanting of Bhagavaan’s name is the simplest and most beautiful of all Mantra. No special ritual is required for these, as Bhagavaan Himself has blessed them. For instance, ‘Shree Raam Jaya Raam Jaya Jaya Raam’ and ‘Shree Krishn Sharanam Mama’, carry with them the blessings of Raam and Krishn respectively. In some traditions teachers specially gives Mantra to their students during the Sanyaas Deekshaa. Seekers of Truth should adopt Mantra that purify the mind and take them towards the state of Enlightenment. Other Mantra are a mere distraction.

The most important thing in Jap is the grace of the Mantra, per se, or the grace of God. Jap is not dependent on the physical effort (Purushaarth) of the seeker. The power of a pill lies in the tablet and not in the one taking it. Even if it is forcefully put into the mouth it will do its work. Similarly, the Mantra has its own power; it is not the Shakti of the one who is chanting it.

When a particular Mantra is repeated with reverence, it slowly and steadily comes alive and begins vibrating. Like when someone is woken up the remnants of sleep remain. It is only after a while that the person is fully awake. Similarly the Shakti of the Mantra lies dormant till is awake. We can say that it is asleep. When it is chanted regularly over a long period of time with reverence, it begins to vibrate. In two people chanting the same Mantra, the level of its vibration will be different. The difference lies in the attitude and this is of great importance.

With repetition, the power of the Mantra permeates the system of the one who chants it. In the beginning it may be superficial, remaining only at the level of the tongue. According to Sant Gyaaneshwar even the mere chanting of ‘Hari, Hari, Hari’ is extremely beneficial. Even if the attention wanders, the power still remains. With continuous chanting, the Mantra travels from the level of the tongue to the sub-conscious mind. Then without any special effort, in a conducive environment the Mantra automatically returns to the mind. By constant and regular repetition over a long time, the Mantra pervades the unconscious mind. Working deep within the recesses of the unconscious mind, it cleanses the system of all past Vaasanaa and tendencies. Being alive, it destroys all our negativities. We only have to allow the Mantra to penetrate deep within.

The First Step in Jap is Uttam Stavan
Stavan or Stuti is the praise of the Lord through more elaborate Mantra like Raam Stuti, Krishn Stuti or some Devee Stuti. Even the Raamaayan and Bhaagvat Puraan are Stuti. The Stuti allows the mind freedom to roam around in a given field. At the outset, the mind is restless. It is brought under control by turning it again and again to think of the lories and the greatness of God. Stavan is to remember Eeshwar or the Lord, bringing to mind His glories. With the understanding of His glories, reverence develops. Eeshwar is glorified as having great powers. He is described as being compassionate, most beautiful, all knowing, the giver of the fruits of actions, and the inner controller.

Thereafter, it is recommended that we begin loud chanting of the Lord’s name. While chanting the mind should be focused and attentive, listening to the chanting. It should be done slowly and with full attention. If this is done diligently, instantly the mind becomes quiet.

Raam Naam or Bhagavaan's any other nam,e though the simplest of Mantra, sounds beautiful. The sound ‘Raam’ is the originator of the elements fire, the Sun and the Moon. The sound Ra, is the seed (Beej) Mantra of fire; ‘A’ is the Beej of the Sun (Soorya); and ‘Ma’ is the seed Mantra of the Moon (Chandramaa). When the name Raam is chanted, we activate the subtle fire - the Sun representing brilliance or light and the Moon standing for coolness or serenity. Ra destroys our negative tendencies, and ‘A’ gives the light of knowledge of the Self and illumines the intellect by granting wisdom. Repetition of ‘Ma’ endows us with the coolness of peace. By just chanting Raam all these three happen simultaneously and automatically. Thus every name of the Lord has its own significance.

The Next Step in Jap is Mand Jap
The next step of the ladder takes us to Mand Jap. When we chant the name softly making it in soft and slow voice, audible only to our own ears; not loud enough for others to hear, it is called mand Jap. This refines the practice and makes it subtler. We, as if, whisper His name so that it is heard by our inner ear not by our outer ear. Only the lips move but the sound is not heard.

Mastering this practice, of Mand Jap, we graduate to Chittajam Jap. Without moving the lips or tongue, the chanting takes place in the mind. This technique is more advanced and difficult because chanting with the mind is very subtle. The mind may not readily be able to understand or chant in this manner.

The analogy of the reading habit will help us understand this better. When we read silently we believe that we are reading in the mind. In fact we read the words with our speech only. Although we do not utter the words aloud, we read with our speech, not with the mind and hence it is very slow. We have to in fact specially train ourselves to read with the mind.

For example, whilst driving when we see a ‘Stop’ sign, the mind instantly registers its meaning. We look at the red light and know what it means. The word ‘Stop’ is not uttered. It being something subtle we do not read it with our speech. It is instantly read by the mind. So when a person learns to read with the mind, he just has to move his eyes to see the structure. For instance, when we see our own name or some known words, we don’t read the parts like children. Just one look at the whole word is enough for it to simultaneously register in our brain. Mind reading is much faster than that. The entire sentence registers at once, like when taking a photograph.

When we look at a person, we do not look scan the body parts separately. We look at the whole image. In a way, we read with our minds, which is much faster than speech. As children we learnt to read loudly with our speech. So though we supposedly read with the mind, we are actually reading with our speech. Reading with the mind happens at tremendous speed. Readers trained in speed reading can read an entire page within seconds and thick books in a very short time.

Chittajam Jap is done with the mind. Loud chanting of the Mantra in the mind is not Chittajam Jap. Most people erroneously believe that they are chanting with the mind. They are actually chanting with the speech only. Chittajam Jap happens when we can register the Bhaavanaa of the Jap and then that Bhaavanaa is repeated as Jap. It transcends the name.

When we take the name of a person dear to us, the name is, as if chanted, but later it becomes a feeling. When that feeling is repeated it is like Maanasik Jap. The mind is made up of feelings; it is not words chanted, it is not just speech. By not saying something loudly does not mean that you are saying it with the mind. Even when reading silently we use the tongue only. Hence our reading is slow because the tongue cannot move very fast. But when reading with the mind, we are able to register whole sentences and their meaning instantly. The whole process is very fast and altogether different.

Similarly when we chant the name ‘Raam’ with the mind, we develop a feeling or emotion towards it. Then the essence of the name comes to us by merely focusing attention on the emotion. The feeling is the name registered at the level of the mind. That feeling has to be repeated. This may appear difficult, so now and then we chant the name to bring the feeling into the mind. In this way we maintain the feeling. This Chittajam Jap is very subtle. The name permeates the depths within and then becomes so absorbed that no other feeling can enter. But when the mind is distracted, we must again chant the name loudly to bring back the Bhaav. The name of the Lord produces an intensity of feeling, which is enough to lead a person into the state of Samaadhi.


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/9/09
Updated on 11/04/12