(Last Updated on : 20/01/2011)
Japa means recitation and quite ideally therefore Japayoga or Japa meditation refers to a particular form of yoga, where reciting a specific mantra whilst concentrating is the basic crux. There are two kinds of Japa yoga, one is written japa yoga and another one is japa done by recitation of the Mantra. Japa facilitates concentration, as it is the repetition of any mantra or the name of a particular Lord. Japa is an important part of Yoga and is the spiritual food for a hungry soul. Japa can be performed while sitting in a meditation posture or as a part of a formal worship in groups.
Japa is a Sanskrit term which means to utter in low voice or internally mutter. This particular attribute of japa further makes japa yoga a distinct form of meditation. While Japa is the repetition of mantra, Dhyana is meditation of the Lord with all its attributes. Meditation or Dhyana can be therefore combined and can be done with Japa and meditation (Japa-Sahita- Dhyana). Although Japa can be combined with meditation but Dhyana can be done without Japa (Japa- Rahita- Dhyana).
However Japayoga recommends to Dhyana with Japa. As one advances the Japa drops by itself, meditation only remains. Name (Name) and the object (Rupa) symbolizing the Name are inseparable. Therefore when one does Japa of Rama, Krishna or Vishnu the picture of Rama, Krishna or Vishnu comes in the mind and this shows Japa and Dhyana go hand in hand. Japa can be done verbally or mentally. But above all what is important that it should be done with feeling by knowing the meaning of the mantra.
In most forms of japayoga, the repetitions are done using a japa mala, which is actually a string of beads. In Hinduism, Vaishnava devotees use beads made from Tulsi plant while Shaivites use Rudraksha beads. There are one hundred and eight beads in a japa mala. The aim or goal of Japayoga varies depending on the mantra involved and the religious philosophy of the practitioner..
The popular Japa mantras for japayoga are, Om, Hare Krishna mantra, Ram Nam, Gayatri Om namo Narayana, Pancha Tattva mantra, Aum Namah Sivaya, Om mani padme hum and Shri Ram Jay Ram Jay Jay Ram.