(Last Updated on : 27/10/2014)
Japa meditation also known as the Mantra Yoga is an exact science. An ancient science of the unification of concentration with knowledge is the fundamental idea of japa meditation. The Sanskrit word Japa is derived from the root 'Jap', meaning 'to utter in a low voice, repeat internally or mutter.' Japa Meditation is regarded as one of the most effective ways of meditation as it helps the mind to be free from numerous problems and worries and fills it with soothing senses. Japa Meditation is practiced from ancient time in all religious groups. People experience peace, calmness and tranquility in their minds and lives when they perform Japa Meditation. This is an indispensable tool for concentration of mind, the technique of which is handed over from one generation to another.
The meditation involves focusing the mind on a certain objective or thing after shutting out the distracting external stimuli. Meditation can be done through different techniques, which helps to achieve mental peace. The mental chanting or repetition of Mantras is a very effective but simple way of meditation, which is also called Japa Meditation. Japa meditation involves chanting of Mantras, which is most commonly written in Sanskrit. The mantras produce a vibratory effect on the mind of the enchanter and the listener, which is extremely effective to create a significant change in attitude and mind set of individuals. Mantras help to focus one's energy to achieve a sense of calmness within oneself. Mantras can be even composed of one word, which is uttered in a repeated manner, such as the name of the god and so on.
A Mantra is mystical energy encased in a sound structure. Every Mantra contains within its vibrations a certain power. Upon concentration and repetition of a given Mantra, its energy is elicited and takes form. Japa meditation, or Mantra Yoga, is that practice by which the power contained within Mantras is applied for specific purposes. Each Mantra is constructed from a combination of sounds derived from the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. Sanskrit is also known as Devanagari, or language of the gods. The ancient sages, who were attuned to higher levels of consciousness, were well aware of the inherent power contained in sound. They utilized combinations of sounds to set up specific vibrations. These vibrations applied systematically could literally move mountains. In fact, one theory on the building of the pyramids suggests that it was the highly developed science of manipulating sound vibrations that enabled the early Egyptians to sculpt and move stones of such enormous proportions.
There is no doubt that sound does have a definite and predictable effect on the human psyche and body. An obvious example is the difference between classical and rock music. The first tends to be relaxing while the other is inclined to excite the senses. On a more subtle level, various Mantras are applied for certain purposes. Most specifically, they turn the mind toward concentration on the Supreme and release spiritual energy in the dwarfs of the body.
There are usually two ways for Japa meditation. One is 'Vaikhari Japa' that includes audible Japa meditation. It might include uttering mantras in whisper or even audible pitch. The other is the silent or mental Japa Meditation, which is called 'Manasika Japa'. Manasika Japa is considered to be extremely powerful as it involves the complete focusing of the mind. It always protects the mind from getting disturbed by the external influences. There are different types of Mantras in japa meditation. Some called Baja or seed Mantras. These can be explained, as they have no exact meaning. They act directly on the nadirs, or nerve tubes of the astral body. They vibrate in the chakras along the spine, acting as a subtle massage. There are also Mantras that have meaning, which can be translated. These virgin or abstract Mantras also set up powerful vibrations in the body, but verbally assert union with unman fest pure consciousness.
However more common is the Deity Mantra, in which a specific form is visualized with attributes. It is often accompanied with the repetition of the sound. For example, a reclusive person bent on destroying his negative qualities would repeat a Siva Mantra. A family person, whose ideal was to be a loving and responsible husband or wife, might meditate on the name of Ramah. An individual who sees God as infinite, all-loving, and even a little playful would build these qualities in him by repeating a Krishna Mantra as well.
The best way to practice Japa meditation is to sit cross-legged on a sheet or cloth on the ground. The mantra is chanted with whirling a rosary of 108 beads that is called a Japamala. In Hindu traditions, Vaishnava devotees use beads made from the Tulsi plant or holy basil while Shaivites do it with Rudraksha beads. Some people wear Japa beads around their neck and some other practitioner prefer to carry them in a small bag in order to keep them clean. When practiced properly, Japa Meditation makes our lives peaceful by easing stress and tension. Further, it makes life calm and evokes happiness of mind and soul as well.