An intro to Kundalini Yoga

The word Kundalini is a familiar one to all students of Yoga, as it is well known as the power, in the form of a coiled serpent, residing in Muladhara Chakra, the first of the seven Chakras, the other six being Svadhishthana, Manipuraka, Anahata, Visuddha, Ajna and Sahasrara, in order.

All Sadhanas in the form of Japa, meditation, Kirtan and prayer as well as all development of virtues, and observance of austerities like truth, non-violence and continence are at best calculated only to awaken this serpent-power and make it to pass through all the succeeding Chakras beginning from Svadhishthana to Sahasrara, the latter otherwise called as the thousand-petalled lotus, the seat of Sadasiva or the Parabrahman or the Absolute separated from whom the Kundalini or the Shakti lies at the Muladhara, and to unite with whom the Kundalini passes through all the Chakras, as explained above, conferring liberation on the aspirant who assiduously practises Yoga or the technique of uniting her with her Lord and gets success also in his effort.

In worldly-minded people, given to enjoyment of sensual and sexual pleasures, this Kundalini power is sleeping because of the absence of any stimulus in the form of spiritual practices, as the power generated through such practices alone awakens that serpent-power, and not any other power derived through the possession of worldly riches and affluence. When the aspirant seriously practises all the disciplines as enjoined in the Shastras, and as instructed by the preceptor, in whom the Kundalini would have already been awakened and reached its abode or Sadasiva, acquiring which blessed achievement alone a person becomes entitled to act as a Guru or spiritual preceptor, guiding and helping others also to achieve the same end, the veils or layers enmeshing Kundalini begin to be cleared and finally are torn asunder and the serpent-power is pushed or driven, as it were upwards.

Supersensual visions appear before the mental eye of the aspirant, new worlds with indescribable wonders and charms unfold themselves before the Yogi, planes after planes reveal their existence and grandeur to the practitioner and the Yogi gets divine knowledge, power and bliss, in increasing degrees, when Kundalini passes through Chakra after Chakra, making them to bloom in all their glory which before the touch of Kundalini, do not give out their powers, emanating their divine light and fragrance and reveal the divine secrets and phenomena, which lie concealed from the eyes of worldly-minded people who would refuse to believe of their existence even.

When the Kundalini ascends one Chakra or Yogic centre, the Yogi also ascends one step or rung upward in the Yogic ladder; one more page, the next page, he reads in the divine book; the more the Kundalini travels upwards, the Yogi also advances towards the goal or spiritual perfection in relation to it. When the Kundalini reaches the sixth centre or the Ajna Chakra, the Yogi gets the vision of Personal God or Saguna Brahman, and when the serpent-power reaches the last, the top centre, or Sahasrara Chakra, or the Thousand-petalled lotus, the Yogi loses his individuality in the ocean of Sat-Chit-Ananda or the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute and becomes one with the Lord or Supreme Soul. He is no longer an ordinary man, not even a simple Yogi, but a fully illumined sage, having conquered the eternal and unlimited divine kingdom, a hero having won the battle against illusion, a Mukta or liberated one having crossed the ocean of ignorance or the transmigratory existence, and a superman having the authority and capacity to save the other struggling souls of the relative world. Scriptures hail him most, in the maximum possible glorifying way, and his achievement. Celestial beings envy him, not excluding the Trinity even, viz., Brahma, Vishnu and Siva.

Kundalini And Tantrik Sadhana

Kundalini Yoga actually belongs to Tantrik Sadhana, which gives a detailed description about this serpent-power and the Chakras, as mentioned above. Mother Divine, the active aspect of the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, resides in the body of men and women in the form of Kundalini, and the entire Tantrik Sadhana aims at awakening Her, and making Her to unite with the Lord, Sadasiva, in the Sahasrara, as described in the beginning in detail. Methods adopted to achieve this end in Tantrik Sadhana are Japa of the name of the Mother, prayer and various rituals.

Kundalini And Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga also builds up its philosophy around this Kundalini and the methods adopted in it are different from Tantrik Sadhana. Hatha Yoga seeks to awaken this Kundalini through the discipline of the physical body, purification of Nadis and controlling the Prana. Through a number of physical poses called Yoga Asanas it tones up the entire nervous system, and brings it under the conscious control of the Yogi, through Bandhas and Mudras it controls the Prana, regulates its movements and even blocks and seals it without allowing it to move, through Kriyas it purifies the inner organs of physical body and, finally, through Pranayama it brings the mind itself under the control of the Yogi. Kundalini is made to go upwards towards Sahasrara through these combined methods.

Kundalini And Raja Yoga

But Raja Yoga mentions nothing about this Kundalini, but propounds a still subtle, higher path, philosophical and rational, and asks the aspirant to control the mind, to withdraw all the senses and to plunge in meditation. Unlike Hatha Yoga which is mechanical and mystical, Raja Yoga teaches a technique with eight limbs, appealing to the heart and intellect of aspirants. It advocates moral and ethical development through its Yama and Niyama, helps the intellectual and cultural development through Svadhyaya or study of holy Scriptures, satisfies the emotional and devotional aspect of human nature by enjoining to surrender oneself to the will of the Creator, has an element of mysticism by including Pranayama also as one of the eight limbs and finally, prepares the aspirant for unbroken meditation on the Absolute through a penultimate step of concentration. Neither in philosophy nor in its prescription of methods of Raja Yoga mentions about Kundalini, but sets the human mind and Chitta as its targets to be destroyed as they alone make the individual soul to forget its real nature and brings on it birth and death and all the woes of phenomenal existence.

Kundalini And Vedanta

But when we come to Vedanta, there is no question about Kundalini or any type of mystical and mechanical methods. It is all enquiry and philosophical speculation. According to Vedanta the only thing to be destroyed is ignorance about one’s real nature, and this ignorance cannot be destroyed either by study, or by Pranayama, or by work, or by any amount of physical twisting and torturing, but only by knowing one’s real nature, which is Sat-Chit-Ananda or Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. Man is divine, free and one with the Supreme Spirit always, which he forgets and identifies himself with matter, which itself is an illusory appearance and a superimposition on the spirit. Liberation is freedom from ignorance and the aspirant is advised to constantly dissociate himself from all limitations and identify himself with the all-pervading, non-dual, blissful, peaceful, homogeneous spirit or Brahman. When meditation becomes intensified, in the ocean of Existence or rather the individuality is blotted or blown out completely. Just as a drop of water let on a frying pan is immediately sucked and vanishes from cognition, the individual consciousness is sucked in by the Universal Consciousness and is absorbed in it. According to Vedanta there cannot be real liberation in a state of multiplicity, and the state of complete Oneness is the goal to be aspired for, towards which alone the entire creation is slowly moving on.

 

 

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Karma Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda

What is Karma ?

Karma is a Sanskrit term. It means action or deed. Any physical or mental action is Karma. Thinking is mental Karma. Karma is the sum total of our acts, both in the present life and in the preceding births.

Karma means not only action, but also the result of an action. There is a hidden power in Karma or action termed ‘Adrishta’ which brings in fruits of Karmas for the individual. The consequence of an action is really not a separate thing. It is a part of the action and cannot be divided from it.

Karma, according to Jaimini Rishi, is the performance of Agnihotra and other Vedic rituals. According to the Gita, any action done with Nishkamya Bhava is Karma. Lord Krishna says: “Work incessantly. Your duty is to work but not to expect the fruits thereof.” The central teaching of the Gita is non-attachment to work. Breathing, eating, seeing, hearing, thinking, etc., are all Karmas. Thinking is the real Karma. Raga-dvesha (likes and dislikes) constitute real Karma.

How Karma is Fashioned

Man is threefold in his nature. He consists of Iccha, Jnana and Kriya. Iccha is desire or feeling. Jnana is knowing. Kriya is willing. These three fashion his Karma. He knows objects like chair, tree. He feels joy and sorrow. He wills – to do this, or not to do that.

Behind the action, there are desire and thought. A desire for an object arises in the mind. Then you think how to get it. Then you exert to possess it. Desire, thought and action always go together. They are the three threads, as it were, that are twisted into the cord of Karma.

Desire produces Karma. You work and exert to acquire the objects of your desire. Karma produces its fruits as pain or pleasure. You will have to take births after births to reap the fruits of your Karma. This is the Law of Karma.

Kinds of Karma

Karma is of three kinds, viz. Sanchita or the accumulated works, Prarabdha or the fructifying works, and Kriyamana or the current works. Sanchita is all the accumulated Karmas of the past. Part of it is seen in the character of man, in his tendencies and aptitudes, capacities, inclinations and desires. Prarabdha is that portion of the part of Karma which is responsible for the present body. It is ripe for reaping. It cannot be avoided or changed. It is only exhausted by being experienced. You pay your past debts. Kriyamana is that Karma which is now being made for the future. It is also called Agami or Vartamana.

In Vedantic literature, there is a beautiful analogy. The bow-man has already sent an arrow; it has left his hands. He cannot recall it. He is about to shoot another arrow. The bundle of arrow in the quiver on his back is the Sanchita. The arrow he has shot is Prarabdha. And the arrow which he is about to shoot from his bow is Agami. Of these, he has perfect control over the Sanchita and the Agami, but he must surely work out his Prarabdha. The past which has begun to take effect he has to experience.

Actions are of three kinds, viz., good, bad and mixed. Good Karmas make you a god or angel in heaven. Bad Karmas throw you in lower wombs. Mixed actions give you a human birth.

Every work is a mixture of good and evil. There can be neither absolute good work nor absolute bad work in this world. This physical universe is a relative plane. If you do some action, it will do some good in one corner, and some evil in another corner. You must try to do such actions that can bring the maximum of good and the minimum of evil.

 

The Law of Karma

The Doctrine of Karma forms an integral part of Vedanta. The Law of Karma is one of the fundamental doctrines not only in Hinduism, but also in Buddhism and in Jainism.

As a man sows, so he shall reap. This is the Law of Karma. It expounds the riddle of life and the riddle of the universe. It brings solace, satisfaction and comfort to one and all. It is a self-evident truth. Fortunately, the Westerners have also begun now to acknowledge its importance and veracity. The Americans have now full belief in this doctrine. Every sensible man will have to accept it. There is no other go.

A close study of this law gives encouragement to the hopeless man, to the desperate and ailing. Destiny is created by man’s thoughts, habits and character. There is every chance for his correction and improvement by changing his thoughts and habits. The scoundrel can become a saint; the prostitute can become a chaste lady; a beggar can become a king. This mighty law provides for all this.

The Doctrine of Karma only can explain the mysterious problem of good and evil in this world. The Doctrine of Karma only can bring solace, contentment, peace and strength to the afflicted and the desperate. It solves our difficulties and problems of life. It gives encouragement to the hopeless and the forlorn. It pushes a man to right thinking, right speech and right action. It brings a brilliant future for that man who lives according to this universal law. If all people understand this law correctly and discharge their daily duties carefully, they would rise to sublime heights in the ladder of spirituality. They will be moral and virtuous and have a happy, peaceful, contented life. They can bear the burden of Samsara with patience, endurance and strength of mind. There will not be any room for complaint when they see the inequalities in birth, fortune, intelligence, capacities, etc. There will be heaven on earth. All will rejoice even in suffering. Greed, jealousy, hatred, anger, passion will vanish. Virtue will reign everywhere. We will have a glorious Satya Yuga now with peace and plenty everywhere. Blessed is the man who understands and lives in the Law, for he will soon attain God-consciousness and become one with the Law-giver! Then the Law will no longer operate on him.

What is Karma Yoga?

Karma Yoga is consecration of all actions and their fruits unto the Lord. Karma Yoga is performance of actions dwelling in union with the Divine, removing attachment and remaining balanced ever in success and failure.

Karma Yoga is selfless service unto humanity. Karma Yoga is the Yoga of action which purifies the heart and prepares the Antahkarana (the heart and the mind) for the reception of Divine Light or attainment if Knowledge of the Self. The important point is that you will have to serve humanity without any attachment or egoism.

Action of some kind or the other is unavoidable. You cannot keep quiet without doing anything. What binds you to phenomenal existence or Samsara is not the action but the idea of doership and enjoyership. Karma binds when it is done with a selfish motive, with the expectation of fruits. But when action is done without the expectation of fruits, it is liberating. If you act as an instrument in the hands of the Lord, as a participant in the cosmic activity of Nature, without expectation of fruits, that Karma will not bind you. Karma, then becomes Karma Yoga. Work unselfishly. Feel that you are only an instrument and that the Lord is working through you. Surrender the actions and their fruits to the Lord. You will be freed from the bonds of Karma and enjoy peace.

The practice of Karma Yoga prepares the aspirant for the reception of knowledge of the Self. It makes him a proper Adhikari (aspirant) for the study of Vedanta. Ignorant people jump at once to Jnana Yoga, without first having a preliminary training in Karma Yoga. That is the reason why they fail miserably to realize the Truth. Various impurities lurk in the fourfold mind (Antahkarana). The mind is filled with likes and dislikes, jealousy, etc. They only talk of Brahman. They indulge in all sorts of useless controversies, vain debates and dry, endless discussions. Their philosophy is only on their lips. In other words, they are lip-Vedantins. What is really wanted is practical Vedanta through ceaseless, selfless service. Selfless service is the only way to remove the impurities lurking in the mind.

Two things are indispensably requisite in the practice of Karma Yoga. The Karma Yogi should have non-attachment to the fruits of actions. He will have to dedicate his actions at the altar of God with the feeling of Ishvararpana. Non-attachment brings freedom from sorrow and fear. Non-attachment makes a man absolutely bold and fearless. When he dedicates his actions at the Lotus Feet of the Lord, he develops devotion to God and approaches Him nearer and nearer. He gradually feels that God works directly through his Indriyas or instruments. He feels no strain or burden in discharge of his works now. He is quite at ease. The heavy load which he felt previously on account of false notion has vanished out of sight now.

Practice of Karma Yoga

The practice of Karma Yoga does not demand that you should possess enormous wealth. You can serve with your mind and body. If you find a poor sick man lying on the road side, give him some water or milk to drink. Cheer him up with sweet, encouraging words. Put him in a carriage and take him to the nearest hospital. If you have no money to pay for the carriage, carry the patient on your back and see that he is admitted into the hospital. If you do service like this, your heart will be purified. God is more pleased with such sort of service for the poor helpless people than with the service done by rich people with pomp and vanity.

If any one is suffering from acute pain in any part of the body, at once shampoo the affected part very quickly. Feel, when you massage, that you are shampooing the body of the Lord (Virat). Repeat your Ishta Mantra or any name of the Lord while shampooing. Pray also from the bottom of your heart: “O Lord! Remove the pain of this man. Let him rest in peace. Let him possess good health.” Feel, when you massage, that the energy from the cosmic source, Hiranyagarbha, is flowing continuously through your hands. Some neophytes are afraid their energy will be depleted by massaging another person. This is a serious mistake. The more you give, the more yu will get. You will be in tune with the cosmic energy or the Infinite. This is the divine law.

 

Qualifications o a karmic yogi

A Karma Yogi should be absolutely free from lust, greed, anger and egoism. Even if there are traces of these Doshas, he should try to remove them. He should not expect any kind of fruits for his actions herein and hereafter. He should not have any desire for name and fame, approbation, thirst for applause, admiration and gratitude. He must have a spotless character. He should try to possess this gradually. He should be humble and free from hatred, jealousy, harshness, etc. He should always speak sweet words. How can a proud and jealous man, who expects respect and honour from others, serve others ? He should be absolutely fearless. A timid man is absolutely unfit for Karma Yoga. He is fit to assist his wife in cleaning utensils in the kitchen in the morning and in washing her clothes in the evening.

A Karma Yogi should have large heart. He should be free from crookedness, meanness, miserliness and selfishness. He should be absolutely free from greed, anger and egoism.

A Karma Yogi should have an amiable, loving social nature. He should be able to move and mix with everybody without distinction of caste, creed or colour. He should have perfect adaptability, tolerance, sympathy, cosmic love and mercy. He should be able to adjust with the habits and ways of others. He should have an all-embracing and an all-inclusive heart. He should always have a cool and balanced mind. He should have presence of mind also. He should have equal vision. He should rejoice in the welfare of others. A man who is easily irritable and who can easily be offended for trifling things is absolutely unfit for the path of Karma Yoga. He should have all the organs under perfect control. He should lead a very simple life. He should bear insult, disrespect, dishonour, censure, infamy, disgrace, harsh words, heat, cold and the pain of diseases. He should have absolute faith in himself, in God, in scriptures and in the words of hid Guru. If he leads a life of luxury, if he wants everything for himself, how can he share his possessions with others ? He should burn his selfishness to the very root. Let me remind you the words of the Gita: “Restraining and subduing the senses, regarding everything equally, rejoicing in the welfare of all, these alone come to Me.” Such a man becomes a good Karma Yogi and reaches the goal quickly.

 

Benefits of Karma Yoga

By doing selfless service you purify your heart. Egoism, hatred, jealousy, ideas of superiority and all the kindred negative qualities will vanish. You will develop humility, pure love, sympathy, tolerance and mercy. Sense of separateness will be annihilated. Selfishness will be eradicated. You will get a broad and liberal outlook on life. You will begin to feel oneness and unity. Eventually you will obtain knowledge of the Self. You will realize One in all and All in one.

Generally people are impatient and they expect Siddhis after doing a little service. The real Karma Yogi who serves people with humility and Atma Bhava (seeing God in every face) becomes a real ruler of the world. He is honoured and respected by all. The more service you do with Atma Bhava the more power, energy and capacity you get. Practice this and feel.

If you really want to grow in the spiritual path you must do all sorts of service daily till the end of your life. Then only you are safe. Do not stop doing service when you have become a famous Yogi. The spirit of service must enter every nerve, cell, tissue and bone of your body. It must become ingrained in you. Then only you will become a real, full-blown, practical Vedantin. Is there any greater Vedantin or Karma Yogi than Lord Buddha ? He still lives in our hearts, because that spirit of service was ingrained in him and he spent his whole life in serving others in a variety of ways. He is indeed a magnanimous soul, one without a second. You can also become a Buddha if you apply yourself diligently to selfless service with the right mental attitude.

In the practice of Nishkama Karma Yoga, there is no loss of effort. There is no harm. There is no transgression also. Even a little of this practice can protect you from great fear of rebirth, of death with its concomitant evils. You will reap the fruits of Karma Yoga, viz. Jnana. There is no uncertainty here. The path of Karma Yoga eventually leads to the attainment of Bliss of the Self.

May you all attain purity of heart through constant selfless service. May you all shine as dynamic Karma Yogins radiating joy, peace and bliss everywhere. May you all rejoice in the welfare of all beings. May your minds be fixed in the Lord while your hands are in the service of humanity. May you all understand the principles and techniques of Karma Yoga. May all your actions become offerings unto the Lord. May you all attain Kaivalya Moksha through the practice of Karma Yoga in this very birth.

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Bhakti Yoga By Sri Swami Sivananda

What is Bhakti?

The term Bhakti comes from the root ‘Bhaj’, which means ‘to be attached to God’. Bhajan, worship, Bhakti, Anurag, Prem, Priti are synonymous terms. Bhakti is love for love’s sake. The devotee wants God and God alone. There is no selfish expectation here. There is no fear also. Therefore it is called ‘Parama Prem Rupa’. The devotee feels, believes, conceives and imagines that his Ishtam (tutelary deity) is an Ocean of Love or Prem.

Bhakti is the slender thread of Prem or love that binds the heart of a devotee with the lotus feet of the Lord. Bhakti is intense devotion and supreme attachment to God. Bhakti is supreme love for God. It is the spontaneous out-pouring of Prem towards the Beloved. It is pure, unselfish, divine love or Suddha Prem. There is not a bit of bargaining or expectation of anything here. This higher feeling is indescribable in words. It has to be sincerely experienced by the devotee. Bhakti is a sacred, higher emotion with sublime sentiments that unites the devotees with the Lord.

Mark how love develops. First arises faith. Then follows attraction and after that adoration. Adoration leads to suppression of mundane desires. The result is single-mindedness and satisfaction. Then grow attachment and supreme love towards God.

In this type of highest Bhakti all attraction and attachment which one has for objects of enjoyment are transferred to the only dearest object, viz., God. This leads the devotee to an eternal union with his Beloved and culminates in oneness.

Types of Bhakti

Bhakti is of various kinds. One classification is Sakamya and Nishkamya Bhakti. Sakamya Bhakti is devotion with desire for material gains. A man wants wealth with this motive practices Bhakti. Another man wants freedom from diseases and therefore does Japa and offers prayers. A third one wants to become a Minister and does Upasana with this aim. This is Sakamya Bhakti. Whatever you want the Lord will certainly give you, if your Bhakti is intense and if your prayers are sincerely offered from the bottom of your heart. But you will not get supreme satisfaction, immortality and Moksha through Sakamya Bhakti.

Your Bhakti should always be Nishkamya Bhakti. God has already given you a good position, a good job, wife and children and enough wealth. Be contented with these. Aspire for Nishkamya Bhakti. Your heart will be purified and the Divine Grace will descend upon you. Be in communion with the Lord, you will become one with the Lord and you will enjoy all the Divine Aisvaryas (Divine attributes like wisdom, renunciation, power, etc.). All the Vibhutis (Special forms in which the Lord manifests) of the Lord He will give you. He will give you Darsan. He will help you to dwell in Him. At the same time He will give you all the Divine Aisvaryas also.

Another classification of Bhakti is Apara-Bhakti and Para-Bhakti. Apara-Bhakti is for beginners in Yoga. The beginner decorates an image with flowers and garlands, rings the bell, offers Naivedya (food-offerings), wave lights; he observes rituals and ceremonies. The Bhakta here regards the Lord as a Supreme Person, who is immanent in that image and who can be propitiated through that form only.

He has no expanded heart. He is a sectarian. He dislikes other kinds of Bhaktas who worship other Devatas. Gradually, from Apara-Bhakti, the devotee goes to Para-Bhakti, the highest form of Bhakti. He sees the Lord and Lord alone everywhere and feels His Power manifest as the entire universe. “Thou art all-pervading; on what Simhasana shall I seat Thee ? Thou art the Supreme Light, in whose borrowed light the sun, the moon, the stars and the fire shine; shall I wave this little Deepa or light before You ?” – thus the devotee recognizes the transcendental nature of God. Para-Bhakti and Jnana are one. But every Bhakta will have to start from Apara-Bhakti. Before you take your food, offer it to God mentally; and the food will be purified. When you pass through a garden of flowers, mentally offer all the flowers to the Lord in Archana (offering flowers in worship). When you pass through the bazaar and see a sweetmeat shop, offer all the sweetmeats as Naivedya to the Lord. Such practices will lead to Para-Bhakti.

Bhakti is also classified into Gauna-Bhakti and Mukhya-Bhakti. Gauna-Bhakti is the lower Bhakti and Mukhya-Bhakti is the higher type of Bhakti.

Go from stage to stage. Just as a flower grows in the garden, so also gradually develop love or Prem in the garden of your heart.

The enemy of devotion is egoism and desire. Where there is no Kama or desire, there alone will Rama (the Lord) manifest Himself. The enemies of peace and devotion are lust, anger and greed. Anger destroys your peace and your health also. When a man abuses you, keep peaceful. When blood begins to boil, it is impoverished. You lose vitality if you become a prey to fits of temper.

How to caltivate Bhakti

It would be a gross mistake if you consider Bhakti as merely a stage of emotionalism, while it is actually a thorough discipline and training of one’s will and the mind, a sure means to intuitive realization of God Almighty through intense love and affection for Him. It is a means to thorough apprehension of the true knowledge of Reality, beginning from the ordinary form of idol worship right upto the highest form of cosmic realisation of your oneness with Him. You can achieve this by following the eleven fundamental factors which Sri Ramanuja had prescribed. They are:

  • Abhyasa or practice of continuous thinking of God;
  • Viveka or discrimination;
  • Vimoka or freedom from everything else and longing for God;
  • Satyam or truthfulness;
  • Arjavam or straightforwardness;
  • Kriya or doing good to others;
  • Kalyana or wishing well-being to all;
  • Daya or compassion;
  • Ahimsa or non-injury;
  • Dana or charity;
  • Anavasada or cheerfulness and optimism.

 

People put a question: “How can we love God whom we have not seen ?”

Live in the company of saints. Hear the Lilas of God. Study the sacred scriptures. Worship Him first in His several forms as manifested in the world. Worship any image or picture of the Lord or the Guru. Recite His Name. Sing His glories. Stay for one year in Ayodhya or Brindavan, Chirakut or Pandhapur, Benares or Ananda Kutir. You will develop love for God.

Every act must be done that awakens the emotion of Bhakti. Keep the Puja(worship) room clean. Decorate the room. Burn incense. Light a lamp. Keep a clean seat. Bathe. Wear clean clothes. Apply Vibhuti (sacred ash) or Bhasma, and Kumkum on the forehead. Wear Rudraksha or Tulasi Mala. All these produce a benign influence on the mind and elevate the mind. They generate piety. They help to create the necessary Bhava or feeling to invoke the Deity that you want to worship. The mind will be easily concentrated.

Practice of right conduct, Satsanga, Japa, Smarana, Kirtan, prayer, worship, service of saints, residence in places of pilgrimage, service of the poor and the sick with divine Bhava, observance of Varnashrama duties, offering of all actions and their fruits to the Lord, feeling the presence of the Lord in all beings, prostrations before the image and saints, renunciation of earthly enjoyments and wealth, charity, austerities and vows, practice of Ahimsa, Satyam and Brahmacharya – all these will help you to develop Bhakti.

 

Bhavas in Bhakti

When the devotee grows in devotion there is absolute self-forgetfulness. This is called Bhava. Bhava establishes a true relationship between the devotee and the Lord. Bhava then grows into Maha-Bhava wherein the devotee lives, moves and has his being in the Lord. This is Parama-Prema, the consummation of love or Supreme Love.

There are five kinds of Bhava in Bhakti. They are Shanta, Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Madhurya Bhavas. These Bhavas or feelings are natural to human beings and so these are easy to practice. Practice whichever Bhava suits your temperament.

  • In Shanta Bhava, the devotee is Shanta or peaceful. He does not jump and dance. He is not highly emotional. His heart is filled with love and joy. Bhishma was a Shanta Bhakta.hqdefault
  • Sri Hanuman was a Dasya Bhakta. He had Dasya Bhava, servant attitude. He served Lord Rama whole-heartedly. He pleased his Master in all possible ways. He found joy and bliss in the service of his Master.Maha018
  • In Sakhya Bhava, God is a friend of the devotee. Arjuna had this Bhava towards Lord Krishna. The devotee moves with the Lord on equal terms. Arjuna and Krishna used to sit, eat, talk and walk together as intimate friends.Mahabharata-Krishna-
  • In Vatsalya Bhava, the devotee looks upon God as his child. Yasoda had this Bhava with Lord Krishna. There is no fear in this Bhava, because God is your pet child. The devotee serves, feeds, and looks upon God as a mother does in the case of her child.Shri-Krishna-With-Mata-Yashodra-
  • The last is Madhurya Bhava or Kanta Bhava. This is the highest form of Bhakti. The devotee regards the Lord as his Lover. This was the relation between Radha and Krishna. This is Atma-Samarpana. The lover and the beloved become one. The devotee and God feel one with each other and still maintain a separateness in order to enjoy the bliss of the play of love between them. This is oneness in separation and separation in oneness. Lord Gauranga, Jayadeva, Mira and Andal had this Bhava.
    Meerabai (1)

A Caution: Madhurya Bhava is absolutely different from conjugality of earthly experience. One should not be mistaken for the other. Earthly conjugality is purely selfish and is undertaken only because it gives pleasure to one’s own self. But in love for God it is because it gives pleasure to God and not for the sake of the devotee. Divine love is not selfish. It is born of sattva. But earthly lust is born of rajas and attachment to bodies. Earthly conjugality is the outcome of egoisitc self-regarding egoistic feeling, while divine communion is the outcome of other-regarding feeling devoid of egoism. Strong selfishness is the root of worldly passion; divine love is the product of loss of egoism. This is the greatest difference between lust (kama) and divine love (prema). The two are related as darkness is related to light. No development of earthly affection, however perfect it may be, can lead one to supreme joy of divine communion. Lust lurks in the heart due to the passion that burns in the core of things. Divine love is unknown to the man of the world, however religious he may be. The secret of divine love cannot be understood, and should not be tried to be understood, so long as man is only a man and woman only a woman. The austere transformation of the human into the divine is the beginning of true love for God.maharas-bhakti

 

Nava-Vidha-Bhakti

Devotion to God is developed in nine different ways. It is supreme attacment to God through a Bhava predominant in the devotee. Intense love is the common factor in all the nine modes. Exclusive love for God is expressed through various methods. All Bhaktas of this type are above the formalities of the world. They are untouched by the laws of human Dharma and are out and out concerned with God.

Good conduct which is in accordance with perfect moral law is an auxiliary to pure Bhakti and it follows the true Bhakta wherever he goes. One cannot develop true devotion to God if he is crooked in his heart, if he has got objects of love in this world, if he is tempted by charming worldly things, if he wishes to take care of his wife, children and relatives, if he wishes to feed his body well, if he wishes to earn a great name in the world, if he wants to establish a permanent fame on earth, if he does not like to part with the alluring contents of the world. Perfect detachment from all objects is a preliminary to real devotion. Vairagya is the product of real love for God. One who has love for the world cannot have love for God. Where there is Kama, there cannot be Rama and where there is Rama there cannot be Kama. Love for the world and love for God are diametrically opposite things. One has to be renounced for the attainment of the other. This renunciation can be acquired through the nine forms of Bhakti.

In the Srimad-Bhagavata and the Vishnu Purana it is told that the nine forms of Bhakti are

  1. Sravana (hearing of God’s Lilas and stories),
  2. Kirtana (singing of His glories),
  3. Smarana (remembrance of His name and presence),
  4. Padasevana (service of His feet),
  5. Archana (worship of God),
  6. Vandana (prostration to Lord),
  7. Dasya (cultivating the Bhava of a servant with God),
  8. Sakhya (cultivation of the friend-Bhava) and
  9. Atmanivedana (complete surrender of the self).

A devotee can practice any method of Bhakti which suits him best. Through that he will attain Divine illumination.

Sravana is hearing of Lord’s Lilas. Sravana includes hearing of God’s virtues, glories, sports and stories connected with His divine Name and Form. The devotee gets absorbed in the hearing of Divine stories and his mind merges in the thought of divinity; it cannot think of undivine things. The mind loses, as it were, its charm for the world. The devotee remembers God only even in dream.

The devotee should sit before a learned teacher who is a great saint and hear Divine stories. He should hear them with a sincere heart devoid of the sense of criticism or fault-finding. The devotee should try his best to live in the ideals preached in the scriptures.

One cannot attain Sravana-Bhakti without the company of saints or wise men. Mere reading for oneself is not of much use. Doubts will crop up. They cannot be solved by oneself easily. An experienced man is necessary to instruct the devotee in the right path.

King Parikshit attained Liberation through Sravana. He heard the glories of God from Suka Maharishi. His heart was purified. He attained the Abode of Lord Vishnu in Vaikuntha. He became liberated and enjoyed the Supreme Bliss.

Kirtana is singing of Lord’s glories. The devotee is thrilled with Divine Emotion. He loses himself in the love of God. He gets horripilation in the body due to extreme love for God. He weeps in the middle when thinking of the glory of God. His voice becomes choked, and he flies into a state of Divine Bhava. The devotee is ever engaged in Japa of the Lord’s Name and in describing His glories to one and all. Wherever he goes he begins to sing and praise God. He requests all to join his Kirtana. He sings and dances in ecstasy. He makes others also dance.

Smarana is remembrance of the Lord at all times. This is unbroken memory of the Name and Form of the Lord. The mind does not think of any object of the world, but is ever engrossed in thinking of the glorious Lord alone. The mind meditates on what is heard about the glories of God and His virtues, Names, etc., and forgets even the body and contents itself in the remembrance of God, just as Dhruva or Prahlada did. Even Japa is only remembrance of God and comes under this category of Bhakti. Remembrance also includes hearing of stories pertaining to God at all times, talking of God, teaching to others what pertains to God, meditation on the attributes of God, etc. Remembrance has no particular time. God is to be remembered at all times without break, so long as one has got his consciousness intact.

Padasevana is serving the Lord’s Feet. Actually this can be done only by Lakshmi or Parvati. No mortal being has got the fortune to practice this method of Bhakti, for the Lord is not visible to the physical eyes. But it is possible to serve the image of God in idols and better still, taking the whole humanity as God. This is Padasevana. Padasevana is service of the sick. Padasevana is service of the whole humanity at large. The whole universe is only Virat-Swarupa. Service of the world is service of the Lord.

Archana is worship of the Lord. Worship can be done either through an image or a picture or even a mental form. The image should be one appealing to the mind of the worshipper.

Worship can be done either with external materials or merely through an internal Bhava or strong feeling. The latter one is an advanced form of worship which only men of purified intellect can do. The purpose of worship is to please the Lord, to purify the heart through surrender of the ego and love of God.

Vandana is prayer and prostration. Humble prostration touching the earth with the eight limbs of the body (Sashtanga-Namaskara), with faith and reverence, before a form of God, or prostration to all beings knowing them to be the forms of the One God, and getting absorbed in the Divine Love of the Lord is termed prostration to God or Vandana.

The ego or Ahamkara is effaced out completely through devout prayer and prostration to God. Divine grace descends upon the devotee and man becomes God.

Dasya Bhakti is the love of God through servant-sentiment. To serve God and carry out His wishes, realizing His virtues, nature, mystery and glory, considering oneself as a slave of God, the Supreme Master, is Dasya Bhakti.

Serving and worshipping the Murtis in temples, sweeping the temple premises, meditating on God and mentally serving Him like a slave, serving the saints and the sages, serving the devotees of God, serving poor and sick people who are forms of God, is also included in Dasya-Bhakti.

To follow the words of the scriptures, to act according to the injunctions of the Vedas, considering them to be direct words of God, is Dasya Bhakti. Association with and service of love-intoxicated devotees and service of those who have knowledge of God is Dasya Bhakti. The purpose behind Dasya Bhakti is to be ever with God in order to offer service to Him and win His Divine Grace and attain thereby immortality.

Sakhya-Bhava is the cultivation of the friend-sentiment with God. The inmates of the family of Nandagopa cultivated this Bhakti. Arjuna cultivated this kind of Bhakti towards Lord Krishna.

To be always with the Lord, to treat Him as one’s own dear relative or a friend belonging to one’s own family, to be in His company at all times, to love Him as one’s own self, is Sakhya-Bhava of Bhakti-Marga. How do friends, real friends, love in this world ? What an amount of love they possess between one another ? Such a love is developed towards God instead of towards man; physical love turned into spiritual love. There is a transformation of the mundane into the Eternal.

Atma-Nivedana is self-surrender. The devotee offers everything to God, including his body, mind and soul. He keeps nothing for himself. He loses even his own self. He has no personal and independent existence. He has given up his self for God. He has become part and parcel of God. God takes care of him and God treats him as Himself. Grief and sorrow, pleasure and pain, the devotee treats as gifts sent by God and does not attach himself to them. He considers himself as a puppet of God and an instrument in the hands of God.

This self-surrender is Absolute Love for God exclusively. There is nothing but God-consciousness in the devotee. Even against his own wishes, the devotee shall become one with God and lose his individuality. This is the law of being. The highest truth is Absoluteness and the soul rises above through different states of consciousness until it attains Absolute Perfection when it becomes identical with God. This is the culmination of all aspiration and love.

The nine modes of Bhakti are the ways in which a devotee attains the Supreme Ideal of life. A devotee can take up any of these paths and reach the highest state. The path of Bhakti is the easiest of all and is not very much against the nature of human inclinations. It slowly and gradually takes the individual to the Supreme without frustrating his human instincts. It is not direct assertion of God, but a progressive realization of Him.

Fruits of Bhakti

Bhakti softens the heart and removes jealousy, hatred, lust, anger, egoism, pride and arrogance. It infuses joy, divine ecstasy, bliss, peace and knowledge. All cares, worries and anxieties, fears, mental torments and tribulations entirely vanish. The devotee is freed from the Samsaric wheel of births and deaths. He attains the immortal abode of everlasting peace, bliss and knowledge.

The fruits of Bhakti is Jnana. Jnana intensifies Bhakti. Even Jnanis like Sankara, Madhusudana and Suka Dev took to Bhakti after Realization to enjoy the sweetness of loving relationship with God.

Knowledge or wisdom will dawn by itself when you practice Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti is the pleasant, smooth, direct road to God. Bhakti is sweet in the beginning, sweet in the middle and sweet in the end. It gives the highest, undecaying bliss.

Kindle love divine in thy heart, for this is the immediate way to the Kingdom of God.

Pray to the Lord. Sing His glory. Recite His Name. Become a channel of His grace.

Seek His will. Do His will. Surrender to His will. You will become one with the cosmic will.

Surrender unto the Lord. He will become your charioteer on the field of life. He will drive your chariot well. You will reach the destination, the Abode of Immortal Bliss.

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Sankirtan Yoga by Sri Swami Sivananda

Sankirtan is the Svarupa (essential nature) of God. Dhvani is Sankirtan. Sankirtan is the essence of the Vedas. The four Vedas originate from sound. There are four kinds of sound, viz., Vaikhari (vocal), Madhyama (from the throat), Pasyanti (from the heart) and Para (from the navel). Sound originates from the navel. Vedas also originates from the navel. Sankirtan and Vedas are born from the same source.

People sit together and sing the names of the Lord with harmony and concord, and with Suddha or Divine Bhava (feeling). This is Sankirtan. Sankirtan is accompanied by the play of musical sounds as the word ‘San’ precedes ‘kirtan.’ Sankirtan is an exact science. It elevates the mind quickly and intensifies the Bhava or divine feeling to a maximum degree.

Nama and Nami are inseparable. Nama means Name (Name of God). Nami means ‘that which is denoted by the Nama or Name’. Nama is greater than the Nami. Even in worldly experience the man dies but his name is remembered for a long time. Kalidasa, Valmiki, Tulsidas, etc., are remembered even today. Nama is nothing but Chaitanya. Sankirtan is singing God’s name with Bhava, Prem or divine feeling.

Sankirtan Yoga is the easiest, quickest, safest, cheapest and best way for attaining God-realization in this age. People cannot practice severe austerities now-a-days. They do not have the strength of will to practice Hatha Yoga. They cannot maintain perfect life-long Brahmacharya. They do not have the prerequisites for Raja Yoga. They are not endowed with the keen intellect necessary for Jnana Yoga or Vedantic Sadhana. But this Sankirtan Yoga or the Yoga of Singing Lord’s Names is within the reach of all.

There is infinite Sakti or power in the Lord’s Names. It will remove all impurities from your mind. Vedantins say that there are three kinds of obstacles to Self-realization – Mala, Vikshepa and Avarana. To remove them they prescribe Nishkamya Karma (selfless service), Upasana (worship) and Vedantic Nididhyasana (intellectual enquiry). This Sankirtan alone can achieve all these together. Sankirtan removes the impurities of the mind (Mala); it steadies the mind and checks its tendency to vacillate (Vikshepa); and ultimately it tears the veil of ignorance too (Avarana), and brings the Sadhaka (aspirant) face to face with God.

Maya is so powerful that she deludes you every moment. Every moment she makes you feel that there is pleasure only in the sense-objects and nowhere else. You mistake pain for pleasure. This is the work of Maya. Beware. Remember Janma-mrityu-jara-vyadhi-duhkha-dosha, – this world is full of the pains of birth, death, old age, disease and misery. There is no pleasure in these finite objects. Yo Vai Bhuma Tat Sukham. You can have Bliss in the Infinite alone. Sankirtan will enable you to realize this Infinite here and now. Sankirtan will save you from Maya, from delusion. Therefore sing the Names of the Lord always.

Let us, therefore, sing the Maha Mantra:

Hare Rama Hare Rama
Rama Rama Hare Hare,
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.

This is the great Mantra which is specially meant for the people of Kali Yuga (this modern age of destruction) . Narada went to Lord Brahma and said: “O Lord, the people of Kail Yuga will not be able to practice austerities, nor to perform the Yajnas (sacrifices), nor to pursue the path of Vedanta. Kindly have mercy on them and tell me some easy way by which they can attain God.” Lord Brahma in His Supreme Compassion and Mercy gave this Maha Mantra by repeating which people of the Kali Yuga will attain Self-realization. Therefore, sing the Lord’s Names; serve, love, give, meditate, realize; be good and do good (this is the essence of all scriptures); be kind and be compassionate; enquire “Who am I ?”, know the Self and be free. May God bless you all with health, long life, peace, prosperity and Eternal Bliss.

 

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Mantra Yoga By Sri Swami Sivananda

What is Japa ?

Repetition of any Mantra or Name of the Lord is known as Japa. Japa is an important Anga of Yoga. It is a spiritual food for the hungry soul. Japa is the rod in the hand of the blind Sadhakas (aspirants) to plod on the road to Realization. Japa is the philosopher’s stone or divine elixir that makes one God-like. In this iron age, practice of Japa alone can give eternal Peace, Bliss and Immortality.

Japa is repetition of the Mantra. Dhyana is meditation on the form of the Lord with His attributes. There is meditation or Dhyana with Japa (Japa-Sahita-Dhyana); there is meditation or Dhyana without Japa (Japa-Rahita-Dhyana). In the beginning you should combine Dhyana with Japa. As you advance the Japa drops by itself; meditation only remains. It is an advanced stage. You can then practice concentration separately. You can do whatever you like best in this respect.

Name (Nama) and the object (Rupa) signified by the Name are inseparable. Thought and word are inseparable. Whenever you think of the name of your son, his figure stands before your mental eye, and vice versa. Even so when you do Japa of Rama, Krishna or Christ, the picture of Rama, Krishna or Christ will come before your mind. Therefore Japa and Dhyana go together. They are inseparable.

Do the Japa with feeling. Know the meaning of the Mantra. Feel God’s presence in everything and everywhere. Draw closer and nearer to Him when you repeat the Japa. Think He is shining in the chambers of your heart. He is witnessing your repetition of the Mantra as He is the witness of your mind.

Mantra

‘Mananat-trayate iti Mantrah’ – By the Manana (constant thinking or recollection) of which one is protected or is released from the round of births and deaths, is Mantra. That is called Mantra by the meditation (Manana) on which the Jiva or the individual soul attains freedom from sin, enjoyment in heaven and final liberation, and by the aid of which it attains in full the fourfold fruit (Chaturvarga), i.e.,Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. A Mantra is so called because it is achieved by the mental process. The root ‘Man’ in the word Mantra comes from the first syllable of that word, meaning ‘to think’, and ‘Tra’ from ‘Trai’ meaning ‘to protect’ or ‘free’ from the bondage of Samsara or the phenomenal world. By the combination of ‘Man’ and ‘Tra’ comes Mantra.

A Mantra is divinity encased within a sound-structure. It is divine power or Daivi Sakti manifesting in a sound-body. The Mantra is itself Devata.

The sacred Mantra or the Divine Name is a vital symbol of the Supreme Divinity directly revealed in the innermost depths of divine communion to the sages of Self-realization in the hoary Vedic and Upanishadic times. These symbols are in the nature of unfailing keys to gain access into the transcendental realms of absolute experience.

Mantra Yoga is an exact science. A Mantra, in the Hindu religion, has the following six parts. It has got a Rishi (a man of Self-realization) to whom it was revealed for the first time and who gave this Mantra to the world. He is the Drashta or Seer for this Mantra. Sage Viswamitra is the Rishi for Gayatri. Secondly, the Mantra has a metre (Chhandas), which governs the inflection of the voice. Thirdly, the Mantra has a particular Devata or supernatural being, higher or lower, as its informing power. This Devata is the presiding deity of the Mantra. Fourthly, the Mantra has got a Bija or seed. The seed is a significant word, or series of words, which gives a special power to the Mantra. The Bija is the essence of the Mantra. Fifthly, every Mantra has got a Sakti. The Sakti is the energy of the form of the Mantra, i.e., of the vibration-forms set up by its sound. These carry the man to the Devata that is worshipped. Lastly, the Mantra has a Kilaka – pillar or pin. This plugs the Mantra-Chaitanya that is hidden in the Mantra. As soon as the plug is removed by constant and prolonged repetition of the Name, the Chaitanya that is hidden is revealed. The devotee gets Darshana of the Ishta Devata.

Sound and Image

Sounds are vibrations. They give rise to definite forms. Each sound produces a form in the indivisible world, and combinations of sound create complicated shapes. Repetition of a Mantra has a mysterious power of bringing about the manifestation of the Divinity, just as the splitting of an atom manifests the tremendous forces latent in it. When a particular Mantra appropriated to a particular god is properly recited, the vibrations so set up create in the higher planes a special form which that god ensouls for the time being. The repetition of the Panchakshara Mantra – Om Namo Sivaya – produces the form of Lord Siva. The repetition of Om Namo Narayanaya, the Ashtakshara Mantra of Vishnu, produces the form of Vishnu.

Glory of Divine Name

The Name of God, chanted correctly or incorrectly, knowingly or unknowingly, carefully, is sure to give the desired result. Just as burning quality is natural to and inherent in fire, so also, the power of destroying sins with their very root and branch, and bringing the aspirant into blissful union with the Lord through Bhava-Samadhi, is natural to and inherent in the Name of God.

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.

There is a Sakti or power in every word. If you utter the word ‘excreta’ or ‘urine’ when your friend is taking his meals, he may at once vomit his food. If you think of ‘Garam Pakoda’, ‘hot Pakoda’ (fried delicacies), your tongue will get salivation. When anyone suddenly shouts ‘Scorpion! Scorpion!’, ‘Snake! Snake!’, you at once apprehend the scorpion or the snake and jump in fright. When anyone calls you a ‘donkey’ or an ‘ass’, you are annoyed and you show anger. If anyone says, “You are a nice person,” you smile. When such is the power of the names of the ordinary things of this world, what tremendous power should there be in the Name of God! God is the completion or the fullness of existence. Hence, the Name which denotes Him, too, is full and perfect. Therefore, the power of the Name of God is incalculable, for it is the height or the zenith of power. The Name of God can achieve anything. There is nothing impossible for it. It is the means to the realization of God Himself. Even as the name of a thing in this world generates the consciousness of that thing in the mind, the Name of God generates God-consciousness in the purified mind and becomes the direct cause of the realization of the Highest Perfection or God.

Varieties of Japa

Repeat the Mantra verbally for sometime, in a whisper for sometime, and mentally for sometime. The minds wants variety. It gets disgusted with any monotonous practice. The mental repetition is very powerful. It is termed Manasika Japa. The verbal or loud repetition is called Vaikhari Japa. The loud Japa shuts out all worldly sounds. There is no break of Japa here. Repetition in a whisper or humming is termed Upamshu Japa. Even mechanical repetition of Japa without any Bhava has a great purifying effect on the heart or the mind. The feeling will come later on when the process of mental purification goes on.

Write down daily in a notebook your Ishta Mantra or Guru Mantra for half an hour. When you write the Mantra, observe Mouna. Write the Mantra clearly in ink. On Sundays and holidays, write this for one hour. This is Likhita Japa You can develop a wonderful power of concentration.

The benefits of Mantra-writing or Likhita Japa cannot be adequately described. Besides bringing about purity of heart and concentration of mind, mantra-writing gives you control of Asana, control of Indriyas, particularly the sight and the tongue, and fills you with the power of endurance. You attain peace of mind quickly. By prolonged and constant practice the inherent power of the Mantra (Mantra-Sakti) will be awakened, which will fill your very existence with the Divinity of the Mantra.

In Mantra writing, there is no restriction about any particular script. It may be written in any language.

Practical aids to Japa

  1. Select any Mantra or Name of God, preferably that given to you by your Guru, and repeat it from 108 to 1,080 times daily (one to ten malas).
  2. Always keep your Guru-Mantra a secret. Never disclose it to anyone.
  3. It is better to stick to one Mantra only. See Lord Krishna in Rama, Shiva, Durga, Gayatri and in everyone.
  4. Get up at 4a.m. and do Japa for two hours. The early morning period (Brahmamuhurta) and dusk is the most favourable time for Japa and meditation. This is when Sattva (purity or steadiness) is predominant.
  5. Take a bath or wash your hands, feet, face and mouth before sitting for Japa in the morning. At other times this is not absolutely necessary. Do Japa whenever you have leisure, at the three junctions of the day – morning, noon and evening – and before going to bed.
  6. Face east or north during the practice. This enhances the efficacy of the Japa. Sit on a deer skin or rug. Spread a piece of cloth over it. This conserves body-electricity. Sit in a separate meditation room or in any suitable place, such as a temple, on a river bank or under a banyan or peepul tree.
  7. Maintain a steady pose. Attain mastery of the posture. You must be able to sit in Padmasana, Siddhasana or Sukhasana for three hours at a strech.
  8. Reslove to complete a certain minimum number of malas before leaving your seat.
  9. Recite some prayers before starting the Japa.
  10. A rosary is a whip to goad the mind towards God. Use a rudraksha or tulsi mala of 108 beads.
  11. Do not allow the mala to hang below the navel. Keep the hand near the heart or the nose.
  12. The mala must not be visible to you or to others. Cover it with a towel or handkerchief, which must be clean and washed daily.
  13. Use the middle finger and the thumb of the right to roll the beads. The use of the index finger is prohibited.
  14. Do not cross the meru while rolling the beads. Turn back when you come to it.
  15. Sometimes do the Japa without a mala. Use a watch.
  16. Do mental Japa for a time. When the mind wanders, do the Japa aloud, or whisper the Mantra for some time and come back to mental Japa again as soon as possible.
  17. When you repeat the Mantra, have the feeling or mental attitude that the Lord is seated in your heart, that purity or Sattva is flowing from the Lord into your mind, that the Mantra is purifying your heart, destroying desires, cravings and evil thoughts.
  18. Do not do the Japa in a hurried manner, like a contractor who tries to finish his work in a short time. Do it slowly with feeling, one-pointedness of mind and single-minded devotion.
  19. Pronounce the Mantra distinctly and without any mistakes. Repeat it neither too slowly nor too fast. Increase the speed only when the mind wanders.
  20. Be vigilant and alert during Japa. Stand up when sleep tries to overpower you.
  21. Try to associate the Japa with the rhythm of the breath and meditate in the form of your Deity. Keep a picture or idol of the Deity in front of you. Think of the meaning of the Mantra while repeating it.
  22. Regularity in Japa Sadhana is most essential if success is to be achieved. Sit in the same place and at the same time every day.
  23. Do not beg for any worldly objects from God while doing Japa. Feel that your heart is being purified and that the mind is becoming steady by the power of the Mantra and the Grace of the Lord.
  24. Observe silence and avoid distractions, calls and engagements.
  25. It is important not to leave the place at once after the Japa is over and mix with everyone or plunge into worldly activity. Sit very quietly for at least ten minutes, humming some prayer, remembering the Lord and reflecting upon His infinite love. Then, after devout prostration, leave the place and commence your routine duties and activities. In this way the spiritual vibrations will remain intact.
  26. Continue the current of Japa mentally at all times, whatever be the activity in which you are engaged. Carry on your Sadhana with tenacity and perseverance, without a break. Realize the glorious goal of life and enjoy supreme bliss.

 

Mantras for Japa

Lord Krishna:

    • Maha-Mantra :
      Hare Rama Hare Rama
      Rama Rama Hare Hare
      Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
      Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    • Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya
    • Om Sri Krishnaya Govindaya Gopijana Vallabhaya Namah
    • Om Sri Krishnaya Namah
  • Sri Devi:
    • Om Sri Durgayai Namah
  • Lord Ganapati:
    • Om Sri Ganapataye Namah
  • Sri Hanuman:
    • Om Sri Hanumate Namah
  • Lord Hari:
    • Om Namo Narayanaya (Ashtakshara)
    • Hari Om
    • Hari Om Tat Sat
  • Jugal (Combined) Mantra:
    • Sita Ram
    • Radhe Shyam
    • Radhe Krishna
  • Sri Kalika:
    • Om Sri Kalikayai Namah
  • Sri Lakshmi:
    • Om Sri Maha-Lakshmyai Namah
  • Lord Shiva:
    • Maha-Mrityunjaya Mantra:
      Om tryambakam yajamahe
      sugandhim pushtivardhanam
      uurvarukamiva bandhanaan
      mrityor mukshiya maamritaat.
    • Om Namah Shivaya (Panchakshara)
  • Lord Rama:
    • Om Sri Ram Jaya Ram Jaya Jaya Ram
    • Om Sri Ramaya Namah
    • Sri Rama Rama Rameti,
      Rame Rame Manorame
      Sahasranama Tattulyam Rama Nama Varanane
    • Om Sri Sita-Ramachandradhyam Namah
    • Sri Ram
  • Sri Saraswathi:
    • Om Sri Sarasvatyai Namah
  • Lord Subramanya, Kartikeya:
    • Om Sri Saravanabhavaya Namah
  • Sharangati Mantra (for surrender):
    • Om Sri Ramah Sharanam Mama
    • Om Sri Krishnah Sharanam Mama
    • Om Sri Sita-Ramah Sharanam Mama
  • Sharada:
    • Om Sri Bala-Parameshvaryai Namah
  • Tripurasundari:
    • Om Sri Tripura-Sundaryai Namah
  • Vedantic Formulae:
    • Om Soham
    • Om Tat Tvam Asi
    • Om Aham Brahma Asmi

 

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