We discussed in the last post that the mantra is a sound form of the Absolute. So, chanting and merging with mantra leads us to samadhi state. Let us look at practical tips for chanting the mantra to achieve yoga.
Using Prayer Beads (Japa Mala) for mantra chanting
In the initial stages of mantra yoga, rosary beads or japa mala(chanting garland), can be used as an aid for counting and focusing on the mantra. Japa mala consists of 108+1 beads of some wood or seeds.
The number 108 has several meanings. One of them is that 108 beads represent the entire cosmos. i. e. 12 zodiac signs and 9 plantes (12 x 9 = 108). Important message here is: we need to chant our favorite mantra with a feeling that – “I am chanting the mantra of my deity 108 times remembering that deity is existent in each and everything in the entire cosmos”. What a great concept!
The central bead (109th bead) is called the Guru bead or Sumeru bead. Guru bead is positioned separately from the main mala of 108 beads (cosmos). So, it signifies that the Guru is the power beyond the cosmos, the Universal Self itself.
As a matter of respect, Guru bead is never crossed while chanting. Mala is turned around after completing 108 beads so that next round begins with 108th bead. Exact procedure of using japa mala has to be learnt from a Master.
Shiva followers use Rudraksha beads. Devotees of Vishnu use Tulasi(Holy Basil) beads. For chanting Sri Devi(Parvati) mantras, red sandalwood beads are generally used. To chant any mantra, Rudraksha beads or sandalwood beads are recommended.
How should we chant the mantra?
There are three stages of mantra japa: vaikhari(loud), upamshu(wishpering) and manasika(mental). The mental chanting is the best. We should chant the mantra with full devotion and attention so that our mind itself becomes mantra! The scripture, Shiva Sutras says:
Chittam mantrah | – Shiva Sutras 2.1
(We should chant the mantra such that -) Mind itself is mantra.
When the mind becomes the mantra (deity), who else will disturb us? So, we can easily achieve the real goal of yoga, i.e. merging into the Universal Self.
Another important feature of mantras is that they are fully effective only if they are received from a Realized Master. This is because the mantra is enlivened by the Guru’s spiritual practice. Also, mantra from a Guru is loaded with his blessings. This protects the practitioner. So, to get the maximum benefits from the mantra, it must be received from an adept master.
Tantric mantras that contain seed letters such as hrim, kleem etc. must be obtained initiation and practiced under the supervision of a Guru. This we conclude our discussion on mantra yoga.
What is waiting to excite us next? Very mystical and esoteric path of yoga!
Next post: Kundalini Yoga – Part 1: Who is Kundalini? Stay with me!
Matr devo bhava| Pitr devo bhava || – Taittiriya Upanishat
Respect your mother and father as God.
Om Namah Shivaya ||