Quotes on Japa

Sri Ramakrishna
“Japa means silently repeating God’s name in solitude. When you chant His name with single minded devotion you can see God’s form and realize Him. Suppose there is a piece of timber sunk in the water of the Ganges and fastened with a chain to the bank. You proceed link by link,holding to the chain, and you dive into the water and follow the chain. Finally, you are able to reach the timber. In the same way, by repeating God’s name you become absorbed in Him and finally realize Him.” (M, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, trans. Swami Nikhilananda (Chennai: Ramakrishna Math, 2002), 878-9)

Sri Sarada Devi:
“While performing japa take the name of God with the utmost love, sincerity and self-surrender. Before commencing your daily meditation, first think of your utter helplessness in this world and then slowly begin the practice of sadhana (spiritual discipline) as directed by your Guru.” (Teachings of Sri Sarada Devi the Holy Mother, pg-46)

“One has to be up and doing; can anything be achieved without diligence? One should find some time even in the midst of domestic duties.What to speak of myself, my child! I used to begin my japa in those days at Dakshineswar after leaving the bed at three in the morning, and lose all consciousness.” (Swami Gambhirananda, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi pg-110)

“Repeating the name of God once, when the mind is controlled, is equivalent to a million repetitions when the mind is away from God. You may repeat the name for the whole day, but if the mind is elsewhere it does not produce much of a result. The repetition must be accompanied by concentration. Only then does one obtain God’s grace.” (Teachings of Sri Sarada Devi 50-1)

“By japa and austerity is cut asunder, the bondage of Karma (past action). But God can’t be realized except through love and devotion. As for japa and such other things, do you know what they stand for? Through them the senses etc., become subdued” (Swami Gambhirananda, Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi 406-7)

“The result of karma is inevitable. But by repeating the Name of God, you can lessen its intensity. If you were destined to have a wound as wide as a ploughshare, you will get pinprick at least. The effect of karma can be counteracted to a great extent by japa and austerities.” (Swami Adiswarananda, Sri Sarada Devi, the Holy Mother: Her Teachings & Conversations pg-173)

Swami Vivekananda:
“Ishvara is the Atman as seen or grasped by the mind. His highest name is Om; so repeat it, meditate on it, and think of all its wonderful nature and attributes. Repeating the Om continually is the only true worship. It is not a word, it is God Himself.”(The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda 7.62) “Mantra is a special word, or sacred text, or name of God chosen by the Guru for repetition and reflection by the disciple. The disciple must concentrate on a personality for prayer and praise, and that is his Ishta. These words are not sounds of words but God Himself, and we have them within us. Think of Him, speak of Him. No desire for the world! Buddha’s Sermon on the Mount was, “As thou thinkest, so art thou.”” (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda 6.90)

“Each Ishta has a Mantra. The Ishta is the ideal peculiar to the individual worshipper; the Mantra is the external word to express it. Constant repetition of the word helps to fix the ideal firmly in the mind.” (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda 7.63)

Mahatma Gandhi:
“One must be completely absorbed in whatever mantra one selects. One should not mind if other thoughts disturb one during the jap a (recitation). I am confident that one who still goes on with the japa in faith will conquer in the end. The mantra becomes one’s staff of life and carries one through every ordeal.

One should not seek worldly profit from such sacred mantras. The characteristic power of these mantras lies in their standing guard over personal purity, and every diligent seeker will realize this at once. It should, however, be remembered that the mantra is not to be repeated parrot-like. One should pour one’s soul into it. The parrot repeats such mantras mechanically; we must repeat them intelligently in the hope of driving out undesirable thoughts and with full faith in the power of the mantras to assist us to do so.” (Navajivan, 5-6-1924)

Sri Aurobindo:
“The name of the Divine is usually called in for protection, for adoration, for increase of bhakti, for the opening up of the inner consciousness, for the realization of the Divine in that aspect. As far as it is necessary to work in the subconscious for that, the Name must be effective there.” (Letters on Yoga, Cent. Edn., Vol.23, p745)

“The word is a sound expressive of the idea. In the supra-physical plane when an idea has to be realised, one can by repeating the word-expression of it, produce vibrations which prepare the mind for the realisation of the idea. That is the principle of the Mantra and of japa. One repeats the name of the Divine and the vibrations created in the consciousness prepare the realisation of the Divine. It is the same idea that is expressed in the Bible, “God said, Let there be Light, and there was Light.” It is creation by the Word.” (CWSA vol 27, Letters on Poetry and Art, page 7)

“When one repeats a mantra regularly, very often it begins to repeat itself within, which means that it is taken up by the inner being. In that way it is more effective.” (SABCL vol. 23, Letters on Yoga, p748)

As when the mantra sinks in Yoga’s ear, Its message enters stirring the blind brain And keeps in the dim ignorant cells its sound The hearer understands a form of words And, musing on the index thought it holds, He strives to read it with the labouring mind, But finds bright hints, not the embodied truth: Then, falling silent in himself to know He meets the deeper listening of his soul: The Word repeats itself in rhythmic strains: Thought, vision, feeling, sense, the body’s self Are seized unulterably and he endures An ecstasy and an immortal change; He feels a Wideness and becomes a Power, All knowledge rushes on him like a sea: Transmuted by the white spiritual ray He walks in naked heavens of joy and calm, Sees the God-face and hears transcendent speech. (CWSA vol. 33-34, Savitri, Book IV, Canto 3, p 375)

The Mother (Mirra Alfassa):
“And that’s how a mantra has life: when it wells up all the time, spontaneously, like the cry of your being – there is no need of effort or concentration: it’s your natural cry. Then it has full power, it is alive. It must well up from within…. No guru can give you that.” (Mother’s Agenda, May 11 1963)

Sri Ramana Maharshi:
“What is your idea of unspoken and involuntary japa [ajapa]? Will it be ajapa if you go on repeating with the mouth `soham, soham’ [`I am he, I am he’]? Ajapa really means to know that japa which goes on involuntarily without being uttered through the mouth. Without knowing this real meaning people think that it means repeating with the mouth the words `soham, soham’ hundreds of thousands of times, counting them on the fingers or on a string of beads.

Before beginning a japa breath control is prescribed. That means, first do pranayama [regulating of breath] and then begin repeating the mantra. Pranayama means first closing the mouth, doesn’t it? If, by stopping the breath, the five elements in the body are bound down and controlled, what remains is the real Self. That Self, will by itself be repeating always `aham, aham’ [`I, I’]. That is ajapa.

Knowing this, how could that which is repeated by mouth be ajapa? The vision of the real Self which performs japa of its own accord involuntarily and in a never-ending stream, like the flowing down continuously of oil, is ajapa, gayatri and everything. If you know who it is that is doing japa you will know what japa is. If you search and try to find out who it is that is doing japa, that japa itself becomes the Self.” (David Godman, Be As You are)

“When the japa becomes mental, where is the need for the sounds? Japa, becoming mental, becomes contemplation. Dhyana, contemplation and mental japa are the same. When thoughts cease to be promiscuous and one thought persists to the exclusion of all others, it is said to be contemplation. The object of japa or dhyana is the exclusion of several thoughts and confining oneself to one single thought. Then that thought too vanishes into its source – absolute consciousness. The mind engages in japa and then sinks into its own source.” (David Godman, Be As You are)

Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha Swamigal (Of Sringeri):
“Japa brings good to us to the extent that we do. If we get accustomed to it by practice, it effortlessly continues even without our being aware of it. In course of time, it continues into the dream state also” (Exalting Elucidations, pg 197)

“Svara-s must be correct if japa is performed with the lips moving; but if the mantra is chanted mentally with one-pointed concentration, importance need not be given to svara-s. It is sufficient to do just the japa.” (Exalting Elucidations, pg 198)

“Japa always yields results. It produces better effects if done with the mind one-pointed. Otherwise, the effects will be less.” (Exalting Elucidations, pg 198)

“Whenever one chants the vedamantra-s, it does not mean that one has to desire the objects mentioned there. Mantra-s such as Rudram is very sacred. If the mind does not long for what is prayed for, purity of the mind and grace of Ishwara is obtained” (Exalting Elucidations, pg 199)

Jagadguru Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati (Of Kanchi):
“Even in times of misfortune the Gayatri must be muttered at least ten times at dawn, midday and dusk. These are hours of tranquility. At dawn all creatures including human beings rise and the mind is serene now. At dusk all must be restful after a day’s hard work: that is also a time of calm. At noon the sun is at its height and people are at home and relaxed and their mind is calm. During these hours we must meditate on Gayatri, Savitri and Sarasvati. In the morning the dominant presence is that of Visnu, at noon that of Brahma and at sundown of Siva. So we must meditate on Gayatri in the morning as Visnu personified, at noon as Brahma personified and at dusk as Siva personified.

Gayatri contains in itself the spirit and energy of all Vedic mantras. Indeed it imparts power to other mantras. Without Gayatri-japa, the chanting of all other mantras would be futile. We find hypnotism useful in many ways and we talk of “hypnotic power”. Gayatri is the hypnotic means of liberating ourselves from worldly existence as well as of controlling desire and realising the goal of birth. We must keep blowing on the spark that is the Gayatri and must take up the Gayatri-japa as vrata. The spark will not be extinguished if we do not take to unsastric ways of life and if we do not make our body unchaste.” (Hindu Dharma, Part 17, Ch-Gayatri and Sandhyavandana)

“The mantras are numerous. Before we start chanting any of them, we say why we are doing so, mention the “fruit” that will yield. The benefit we derive from the Gayatri mantra is the cleansing of the mind (cittasuddhi). Even other mantras have this ultimate purpose, but cittasuuddhi is the direct result of Gayatri-japa.” (Hindu Dharma, Part 17, Ch-Gayatri and Sandhyavandana)

“He who takes to the path of naama japa should do so in all humility, maintaining a high standard of personal conduct.” (Acharya’s Call Part 2, Ch.50- Efficacy of Nama-Japa)