Nama-Aparadhas (=Offences Against the Divine Name)


It is true that the utterance of the Divine Name can absolve one from all sins and enable one to attain salvation or love of God (both of which are so difficult to get); but that is possible only when the Name is uttered with faith and reverence and the practice is free from all taints of sin against the Name, viz., the following ten offences:

1. Vilification of saints and devotees.

2. Differentiation among (Divine) Names.

3. Irreverence towards preceptor (Guru).

4. Speaking lightly of the scriptures.

5. Treating the glory of Name as nothing but exaggerated praise.

6. Commission of sing under the cover of Name.

7. Ranking the Name with other virtues and practising fasting, charity, sacrifices, etc., thinking that the Name by itself is insufficient.

8. Recommending the practice of Name to irreverent and ungodly persons who are not prepared to hear such advice.

9. Want of love for the Name even after hearing its glory.

10. Emphasis of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ and attachment to objects of enjoyment.

If through inadvertence one lapses into any of the above ten sins, the only way to be absolved from it is to repeat the Name again and repent for the mistake.

The Name itself is the best atonement for sins committed against the Name. Through constant Kirtan or Japa of the Name all the desires can be fulfilled and Moksha attained ultimately.

Source: pg. 124 Japa Yoga by Swami Sivananda

Mantra Yoga


The Japa of a Mantra can bring the practitioner realisation of his highest goal even though he has no knowledge of the meaning of the Mantra. Only it will take a little more time. There is an indescribable power or Achintya Shakti in the Name of God or Mantra. If you repeat the Mantra with concentration in its meaning you will attain God-Consciousness, quickly.

The repetition of the Mantra removes the dirt of the mind such as lust, anger, greed, etc. Just as the mirror acquires the power of reflection when the dirt covering it is removed even so the mind from which the impurities have been removed acquires the capacity to reflect the higher spiritual Truth.

As soon as you sit for meditation, chant Om loudly 3 or 6 or 12 times. This will drive away all worldly thoughts from the mind and remove Vikshepa (tossing of mind). Then take to mental repetition of OM.

Source: pg. 301, Yoga Samhita by Swami Sivananda

Likhita Japa Yoga


Of the various methods of Japa described in the scriptures, viz., Vaikhari, Upamshu and Manasika, etc. Likhita Japa is very efficacious. It helps the Sadhaka in concenrtation of the mind and gradually leads to meditation.

An Aspirant should select the Mantra of his tutelary deity or Ishta, according to his liking or inclination. Repetition of the same Mantra with meaning and Bhava should be practised both orally and in writing. For oral Japa, the help of a Mala or rosary is required. For Likhita Japa a note-book and a pen should be used. In Mantra-writing (Likhita Japa) there is no restriction about any particular script. It may be written in any language. The following rules may be observed while practising Mantra-writing.

1. Regularity and punctuality of time should be observed. This would itself bring the requisite help and be of the utmost benefit to the Sadhakas.

2. Physical and mental purity should be observed. Before sitting for Mantra-writing, the face, hands and feet should be washed, effort should be made to keep the mind pure during Mantra-writing. Drive out all worldly thoughts while writing Mantra.

3. Continue to sit in one pose as long as possible. Frequent change of a pose or Asana should be avoided. Sitting in one Asana would increase your power of endurance and also considerable energy will be preserved.

4. Observe silence during the practice. Too much of speaking results in waste of energy and waste of time. Silence helps in an increased outturn of work.

5. Avoid looking hither and thither. Fix your eyes on the note-book. This would help concentration of mind during the practice.

6. Repeat the Mantra mentally also while writing it in the note-book. This will make a threefold impression in your mind. Gradually your whole being will be involved and engrossed in the Mantra.

7. Fix a particular number of Mantras for one sitting. This will keep your practice intact and you will never get out of touch with the Mantra.

8. When you have once started the practice, do not leave it till you have finished the daily quota of one sitting. Do not allow your mind to be diverted to other engagements as this would be an obstruction in the Sadhana. Have at least half-an-hour’s writing at one sitting.

9. To help concentration, one uniform system of writing from top to bottom or from left to right may be maintained during a particular sitting. The whole Mantra should be written at once in continuity. Do not break the Mantra in the middle when you come to the end of the line.

When a Mantra is selected by you, try to stick to it tenaciously. Frequent change of Mantra is not advisable.

The above rules, if strictly observed, will help you much in your quick evolution. You will develop concentration wonderfully. By prolonged and constant practice the inherent power of the Mantra (Mantra-Shakti) will be awakened, which will fill your very existence with the Divinity of the Mantra.

The note-book should be well kept and treated with respect and purity. When completed, it should be stocked in a box and kept in your meditation room in front of the Lord’s picture. The very presence of these Mantra-note books will create favourable vibrations requisite for your Sadhana. 

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. You approach nearer to God through Mantra Shakti. These benefits can be experienced only through regular and incessant practice of Likhita Japa. Those who are not conversant with this Yoga should start the practice immediately and even if they take to this practice for half-an-hour daily, they will realise its benefits within six months.

(pgs. 297-298, Yoga Samhita by Swami Sivananda)

Computing the Mathematical Face of God


The following article is from Hinduism Today (published in February 1990)

Srinivasa Ramanujan died on his bed after scribbling down revolutionary mathematical formulas that bloomed in his mind like ethereal floes — gifts, he said, from a Hindu Goddess.

He was 32, the same age that the advaitan advocate Adi Shankara died. Shankara, born in 788, left earth in 820. Srinivasa Ramanujan was born in 1887. He died in 1920 – an anonymous Vaishnavite Brahmin who became the first Indian mathematics Fellow at Cambridge University. Both Shankara and Ramanujan possessed supernatural intelligence, a well of genius that leaves even brilliant men dumb-founded. Ramanujan was a meteor in the mathematics world of the World War I era. Quiet, with dharmic sensibilities, yet his mind blazed with such intuitive improvisation that British colleagues at Cambridge — the best math brains in England — could not even guess where his ideas originated. It irked them a bit that Ramanujan told friends the Hindu Goddess Namagiri whispered equations into his ear. Today’s mathematicians — armed with supercomputers — are still star-struck, and unable to solve many theorems the young man from India proved quickly by pencil and paper.

Ramanujan spawned a zoo of mathematical creatures that delight, confound and humble his peers. They call them “beautiful,” “transcendent,” and marvel how he reduced very complex terrain to simple shapes.

In this day these equations were mainly pure mathematics, abstract computations that math sages often feel describe God’s precise design for the cosmos. While much of Ramanujan’s work remains abstract, many of his theorems are now the mathematical power behind several 1990’s disciplines in astrophysics, artificial intelligence and gas physics. According to his wife — Janaki, who lived outside Madras — her husband predicted “his mathematics would be useful to mathematicians for more than a century.” Yet, before sailing to England, Ramanujan was largely ignorant of the prevailing highest-level math. He flunked out of college in India. Like Albert Einstein, who toiled as a clerk in a Swiss patent office while evolving his Special Theory of Relativity at odd hours, Ramanujan worked as a clerk at a port authority in Madras, spending every spare moment contemplating the mathematical face of God. It was here in these sea-smelling, paper-pushing offices that he was gently pushed into destiny – a plan that has all the earmarks of divine design.

Ramanujan was born in Erode, a small, rustic town in Tamil Nadu, India. His father worked as a clerk in a cloth merchant’s shop. His namesake is that of another medieval philosophical giant – Ramanujan — a Vaishnavite who postulated the Vedanta system known as “qualified monism.” The math prodigy grew up in the overlapping atmospheres of religious observances and ambitious academics. He wasn’t spiritually preoccupied, but he was steeped in the reality and beneficence of the Deities, especially the Goddess Namagiri. Math, of course, was his intellectual and spiritual touchstone. No one really knows how early in life Ramanujan awakened to the psychic visitations of Namagiri, much less show the interpenetrating of his mind and the Goddess’ worked.

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By age twelve he had mastered trigonometry so completely that he was inventing sophisticated theorems that he was inventing sophisticated theorems that astonished teachers. In fact his first theorems unwittingly duplicated those of a great mathematician of hundred years earlier. This feat came after sifting once through a trigonometry book. He was very disappointed that his “discovery” had already been found. Then for four years there was numerical silence. At sixteen, a copy of an out-of-date math book from Cambridge University came into his hands. It listed 5,000 theorems with sparse, short-cut proofs. Even initiates in the arcane, language of mathematics could get lost in this work. Ramanujan entered it with the giddy ambition and verve of an astronaut leaping onto the moon. It subconsciously triggered a love of numbers that completely saturated his mind. He could envision strange mathematical concepts like ordinary people see the waves of an ocean.

Ironically, his focus on math became his academic undoing. He outpaced his college teachers in numbers theory, but neglected all other subjects. He could speak adequate English, but failed in it and history and other science courses. He lost a scholarship, dropped out, attempted a return but fell ill and quit a second time. By this time he was married to Janaki, a young teenager, and was supporting his mother. Often all night he continued his personal excursions into the math universe – being fed rice balls by his wife as he wrote lying belly-down on a cot. During the day, he factored relatively mundane accounts at the port office for 20 a year. He managed to publish one math paper.

As mathematicians would say, one branch of potential reality could have gone with Ramanujan squandering his life at the port. But with one nudge from the invisible universe, Namagiri sent his Westward. A manager at the office admired the young man’s work and sensed significance. He talked him into writing to British mathematicians who might sponsor him. Ramanujan wrote a simple letter to the renowned G.W. Hardy at Cambridge, hinting humbly at his breakthroughs and describing his vegetarian diet and Spartan needs if he should come to the university. He enclosed one hundred of his theorem equations.

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Hardy was the brightest mathematician in England. Yet, as he knew and would write later at the conclusion of his life, he had done no original, mind-bending work. At Cambridge he collaborated with an odd man named Littlewood. The two, though living within a hundred yards of each other, communicated by exchange of terse, math-laden letters. Ramanujan’s letter and equations fell to them like broadcast from alien worlds. At first, they dismissed it as a curiosity. Then, they suddenly became intrigued by the Indian’s musings. Hardy later wrote: “A single look at them written down by a mathematician of the highest class. They must be true, because, if they were not true, no one would have had the imagination to invent them.”

Hardy sensed an extremely rare opportunity a “discovery,” and quickly arranged a scholarship for the then 26-year-old Ramanujan. The invitation came to India and landed like a bomb in Ramanujan’s family and community circle. His mother was horrified that he would lose caste by traveling to foreign shores. She refused to let him go unless it was sanctioned by the goddess. According to one version of the story, the aged mother then dreamt of the blessing from Namagiri. But Janaki says her husband himself went to the Namagiri temple for guidance and was told to make the voyage. Ramanujan consulted the astrological data for his journey. He sent his mother and wife to another town so they wouldn’t see him with his long Brahmins hair and bun trimmed to British short style and his Indian shirt and wrap cloth swapped for European fashion. He left India as a slightly plump man with apple-round cheeks and eyes like bright zeroes.

Arriving in 1914 on the eve of World War I, Ramanujan experienced severe culture shock at Cambridge. He had to cook for himself and insisted on going bare foot Hindu-style on the cold floors. But Hardy, man without airs or inflated ego, made his feel comfortable amidst the stuffy Cambridge tradition. Hardy and Littlewood both served as his mentors for it took two teachers to keep pace with his advances. Soon, as Hardy recounts, it was Ramanujan who was teaching them, in fact leaving them in the wake of his incandescent genius.

Within a few months war broke out. Cambridge became a military college. Vegetable and fruit shortages plagued Ramanujan’s already slim diet. The war took away Littlewood to artillery research, and Ramanujan and Hardy were left to retreat into some of the most recondite math possible. One of the stunning examples of this endeavor is a process called partitioning, figuring out how many different ways a whole number can be expressed as the sum of other whole numbers. Example: 4 is partitioned 5 ways (4 itself, 3+1 2+2, 2+1+1, 1+1+1+1), expressed as p(4)=5. The higher the number the more the partitions. Thus p(7)=15. Deceptively though, even a marginally larger number creates astronomical partitions: p(200)=397,999,029,388. Ramanujan – with Hardy offering technical checks — invented a tight, twisting formula that computers the partitions exactly. To check the theorem, a fellow Cambridge mathematician tailed by hand the partitions for 200. It took one month. Ramanujan’s equation was precisely correct. US mathematician George Andrews, who in the late 1960’s rediscovered a “lost notebook” of Ramanujan’s and became a lifetime devotee, describes this accuracy as unthinkable to even attempt. Ramanujan’s partition equation helped later physicists determine the number of electron orbit jumps in the “shell” model of atoms.

Another anecdote demonstrates his mental landscape. By 1917, Ramanujan had fallen seriously ill and was convalescing in a country house. Hardy took a taxi to visit him. As math-masters like to do he noted the taxis number — 1729 — to see if it yielded any interesting permutations. To him it didn’t and he thought to himself as he went up the steps to the door that it was a rather dull number and hoped it was not an inauspicious sign. He mentioned 1729 to Ramanujan who immediately countered “Actually, it is a very interesting number. It is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.”

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Ramanujan deteriorated so quickly he was forced to return to India — emaciated — leaving his math notebooks at Cambridge. He spent his final year face down on a cot furiously wiring out pages and pages of theorems as if a storm of number concepts swept through his brain. Many remain beyond today’s best math minds.

Debate still lingers as to the origins of Ramanujan’s edifice of unique ideas. Mathematicians eagerly acknowledge surprise states of intuition as the real breakthroughs, not logical deduction. There is reticence to accept mystical overtones though, like Andrews, many can appreciate intuition in the guise of a Goddess. But we have Ramanujan’s own testimony of feminine whispering from a Devi and there is the sheer power of his achievements. Hindus recognize this reality. As an epilogue to this story, a seance held in 1934 claimed to have contracted Ramanujan in the astral planes. Asked if he was continuing his work, he replied, ”No, all interest in mathematics dropped out after crossing over.”

Importance of Japa Yoga


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. Resolve 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.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.
  17. 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.
  18. Pronounce the Mantra distinctly and without any mistakes. Repeat it neither too slowly nor too fast. Increase the speed only when the mind wanders.
  19. Be vigilant and alert during Japa. Stand up when sleep tries to overpower you.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. Observe silence and avoid distractions, calls and engagements.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.

Source: pgs. 1-10, 56-58, Japa Yoga by Swami Sivananda

What is the Best Advice that You Can Give Me About Sadhana?


Question: To tell you the truth, I am truly bored with my sadhana. For instance, I have been doing chanting for many years, and I now feel bored doing it everyday. What should I do?

“It does NOT matter whether YOUR mind likes it or dislikes it. You must practise your japam (=chanting) as a daily routine….You have received the precious mantram from your Guru. Now dive deep into the ocean of Satchidananda. You have NO self-reliance. Self-effort IS indispensable in spiritual life. Do something for a period of at least four years. Then, if you have not made any TANGIBLE progress, come back and slap me!,” Swami Brahmananda (Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s direct disciple, and who was, according to the Paramahamsa, Sri Krsna’s playmate) (pg. 118, God Lived with Them).

Question: But I cant concentrate during my sadhana. what am I to do?

“Even if we are not able to concentrate (during our) spiritual practice, just sticking to a schedule will help to discipline our mind and keep us on the right track. Sometimes, we stop our sadhana, feeling that we are not making progress. One may think,’I can’t chant the mantra with concentration, so why  should I continue?’ Or, we hope to get some experience during our meditation, and when nothing spectacular happens, we get discouraged. This attitude is NOT correct; we must persevere  in our efforts. (It is like) swimming upstream against a strong current—we may not move forward…or even at all, but if we were to stop… we would be swept backwards… Likewise,… sadhana prevents us from being drowned by our negative tendencies and selfish desires,” Swami Ramakrishnananda (pgs. 188-189, The Secret of Inner Peace) [Note: Swamiji is a direct disciple of Mata Sri Amritanandamayi].

Question: What is the best way to attain success in sadhana?

“Unless one delves within and tries to understand the inner machinery (=mind), one cannot practise sadhana successfully.” (pg. 440, [Practical Sadhana: A Discussion] Sadhana by Swami Sivananda).

Question: How far is the control of senses important to success in sadhana?

“Neither progress in the spiritual path nor success in meditation is possible without self-control. No spiritual growth is ever possible without the control of the senses and the mind. An uncontrolled mind is the greatest barrier to Self-realisation. Strict disciplined life will lead to Self-realisation.” (pg. 131, Voice of the Himalayas by Swami Sivananda)

Devotion and Sadhana: How to Make Progress Today — Right Now?


What is Devotion?

Satya Sai Baba: “Devotion means seeking unity with the Divine through purity in thought, word and deed and concentrating on the oneness of the Godhead. Devotion aims at acquiring friendship with God through this triple purity. Devotion is of three kinds:

a. Saamaanya Bhakti (Ordinary devotion);

b. Ekantha Bhakthi (Devotion in Solitude) and

c. Ananya Bhakti (Exclusive, one-pointed devotion).

Saamaanya Bhakti has nine forms: Sravanam (listening to the glories of God); Kirthanam (Chanting the praise of God); Vishnu Smaranam (ever remembering the name of the Lord);Paada Sevanam (Worshipping the Lord’s feet); Vandanam (Prostration); Archanam (Worshipping the figure of the Lord); Daasyam (Service); Sneham (friendship); Atmanivedanam (Self-surrender).” (Satyam, Sivan, Sundram- Vol- 22) [Internet]

Mata Amritanandamayi: “We should understand that God-realisation is the aim of life, and worship Him with this goal firmly fixed in our mind. ‘devotion in principle’ means recognising that it is the one and the same God who manifests in all living beings and in all the deities — in all names and forms. It means surrendering selflessly to Him. That is the kind of devotion we should have.” (pgs. 79-80, Eternal Wisdom, Vol. 1).

Paramahansa Yogananda: “Devotion means that you know He is omnipresent around you in the dark conundrum of cosmos, playing a divine game of hide-and-seek with you. Behind the leaves, behind the wind, behind the warm rays of the sun—He is hiding, but He is there. He is not far away; that is why it becomes easy to love Him. (Excerpts from 1998 SRF Magazine – (http://yogananda.com.au/pyr/pyr_devotion1.html).

Anandamayi Ma: “Devotion means total dedication and surrender, and love for the Lord”. (pg. 71, Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama).

Sadhana, the Importance of

Question: Everyone talks about spiritual life, or leading a divine life. What, indeed, is spiritual life?

Swami Sivananda: “The most important thing about divine life is in the living ofnot so much in the knowing of it.” (pg. 437, Sadhana by Swami Sivananda).

Question: I have been doing sadhana; but I am not making any progress: why?

Swami Sivananda: “Unless one delves within and tries to understand the inner machinery (=mind), one cannot practise sadhana successfully.” (pg. 440, Sadhana by Swami Sivananda).

Sri Tulsidas: “You can create a blaze of fire from a block of ice, you can squeeze dry sand and make oil drip out of it, but this is sure, without sadhana, without worship, without adoration , you can NEVER cross this ocean of samsara (=life through repeated births and deaths, the process of worldly life)”. (pg. 173, “Ponder These Truths” by Swami Chidananda)

Question: What, then, is the solution?

Swami chidananda: “Exertion, exertion, exertion, sadhana, sadhana, sadhana.” (pg. 173, “Ponder These Truths” by Swami Chidananda)

Is it Necessary for Everyone to do Sadhana? Isn’t faith in one’s Guru enough?

Question: One devotee says that there is no need to perform Sadhana so long as one has faith in one’s Guru.

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Son, a person who has faith in mother will perform sadhana as mother instructs. Such a person will live without erring even a little bit. Will your disease be cured if you only believe the doctor but do not take the medicine? Not only that, faith will gain strength and stediness only if sadhana brings experience. Otherwise, faith will slip into irresoluteness. You cannot progress without sadhana. Can’t you see even jivenmuktas (those who have achieved liberation while tenanting the body) doing meditation and japa (repetitions of the mantra) to set an example? No progress will accrue to him who simply sits saying faith will save me without doing anything. Unquestioning obedience is what is meant by faith and devotion. Whatever the Guru says, one should unconditionally obey.  Do not ask any questions. Do not doubt the guru. One should unconditionally obey the Guru whatever he says, whether it is doing service to the Guru, service to society, Japa, Dhyana or anything else.” (pgs. 82-83, Awaken, Children! Vol. 3)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Concentrate on your sadhana…. Mother gave a mantra to everyone. Do not be puffed up because of that and think, ‘I am mother’s disciple.’ Do not feel proud thinking, ‘I have the ticket’ after getting onto a bus or train. If you do not show the ticket when the ticket collector comes, he will immediately make you get off. He will let you alight at your destination ONLY if you use your ticket for the proper place and in the proper way. Otherwise, you will have to get off before your destination.” (pg. 219, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

No Progress Despite Sadhana: Why?

Question: Why is it that I don’t seem to be making much progress despite years of my performing Sadhana?

Swami Sivananda: “…Even if you do Japa and prayers for ten or fifteen minutes DAILY but spend the REST of the time in WORLDLY activities, you CANNOT make very great spiritual advancement,” (pg. 84, Kingly Science, Kingly Secret)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “We do some kind of spiritual practice, and then, dissipate the acquired spiritual energy by indulging in worldly affairs.” (pg. 71, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Whatever spiritual power is gained through meditation and other spiritual practices gets dissipated through indulgence.” (pg. 123, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Swami Sivananda: “Neither progress in the spiritual path nor success in meditation is possible without self-control. No spiritual growth is ever possible without the control of the senses and the mind. An uncontrolled mind is the greatest barrier to Self-realisation. Strict disciplined life will lead to Self-realisation.” (pg. 131, Voice of the Himalayas by Swami Sivananda)

Swami Sivananda: “A FANCIFUL interest in the spiritual path is of no use. Take recourse to dynamic and many-sided Sadhana… Relentless effort to live a spiritual life is very necessary. The angle of vision has to be changed. Regular Sadhana will keep the mind always CLEAN and CONQUERED,” Swami Sivananda (pg. xiL, Conquest of Mind)

Swami Sivananda: “…a little bit of japa or puja and THEN running after sense-enjoyments will NOT help you much.” (pg. 215, Sivananda’s Lectures: All-India and Ceylon Tour).

Swami Sivananda: “If (Sadhaks) are IRREGULAR in their practice, if their Vairagya wanes, if they mix FREELY with worldly people, they get a DEFINITE setback, the grace VANISHES, the experiences disappear. They are NOT able to rise up again to their original heights of spiritual glory. Therefore, REGULARITY in sadhana and Para-vairagya should be ALWAYS maintained,” Swami Sivananda (pg. 87, Spiritual Experiences).

Swami Sivananda: “If you are in the company of saints, if you read books on Yoga and Vedanta, an attachment to idea of God-consciousness will take place. BUT mere attachment will NOT help you much. BURNING dispassion, KEEN desire for liberation, CAPACITY for Sadhana and INTENSE and CONSTANT meditation IS required,”  (pg. 372, Science of Yoga Vol 5).

No Time to Do Sadhana

Question: But I don’t have much time to do any sadhana.

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Out of 24 hours, allow 22 hours for worldly affairs. Think of His for at least 2 hours. Japa should also be done for some time while sitting in solitude. It should be performed whenever you have the time, even at work. (pg. 84, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Swami Yatiswarananda: “We must MINIMIZE all unnecessary waste of time in FUTILE thinking, GOSSIPING, aimless ACTIVITIES, wandering, etc. THEN, we will get PLENTY of time for our spiritual practice.” (pg. 341, Meditation and Spiritual Practice by Swami Yatiswarananda)

How long do I have to do sadhana?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Out of 24 hours, allow 22 hours for worldly affairs. Think of His for at least 2 hours. (pg. 84, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Swami Sivananda: “…do…Japa for TWO hours.  (pg. 45, Japa Yoga).

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Do not do sadhana with the intention of making it known to others or to please them. We don’t stop brushing our teeth, taking a shower or eating food because those are necessities. In the same way, we should remember that sadhana is also necessary for us every day. We will stink of we do not take a bath and brush our teeth. It will be troublesome for others also.  We should understand that refraining from doing sadhana is at least as harmful as this. Sadhana should become a part of our life.” (pgs. 122-123, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

How to Achieve Success in Sadhana?

Question: When I sit to do my meditation every morning, my mind wanders wildly. It is a big hassle every day to do my meditation, japa or for that matter even prayers, which are always interrupted by varied thoughts and feelings. How to achieve success in my sadhana, i.e., meditation and japa?

Swami Satchidananda: “Meditation is to help you control, discipline and thus gain mastery over the mind. If you sleep for 8 hours, you have 16 hours of waking life per day. During that time, if you discipline the mind during AN HOUR of meditation, what are you doing the other 15 HOURS? If you allow the mind to be your master for those 15 hours, who wins ultimately? The MIND. If you really want to achieve something in meditation, all 16 hours must be taken care of. It doesn’t matter even if you slip, but remember to have DISCIPLINE in your DAILY life. After you do that ONE HOUR of meditation, DON’T LOSE the AWARENESS during the 15 REMAINING HOURS of the day. That’s why all of one’s daily life must be disciplined in order to reach your goal.” [Weekly Words of Wisdom, Integral Yoga Magazine, Spring 2013 issue]

Swami Satchidananda: “Ultimately meditation should be lived all through the 24 hours of the day. It’s NOT that you just meditate only in the morning or in the evening. Meditate on everything you do, on everything you THINK. When you TALK, meditate on that. When you EAT, meditate on that. When you sleep, meditate on that. So I say concentration should be on everything. When we eat, we don’t seem to concentrate on eating. We are very busy doing business or talking about some serious world problem. When you eat, if you DON’T concentrate on eating, you don’t know exactly what you ate and how much you ate. Concentrate on eating. Chew well. Swallow well. Drink all your solids. Eat all your liquids.” [Weekly Words of Wisdom, Integral Yoga Magazine, Winter 2013 issue]

Swami Chidananda: “The entire process of the spiritual ascent is from start to finish one of earnest practice. There is no other road except Abhyasa (=Spiritual practice). One may have the best feeling, the best heart, the most sublime Bhava, but UNLESS and UNTIL every part of this is put into ACTUAL PRACTICE, there is no hope. Abhyasa is the keynote of the life of Sadhana. Without it, Sadhana will not go towards its fruition of Anubhuti or experience.” (pg. xiii, Lord Shanmukha & His Worship)

Arjuna saidDestroyed is my delusion, as I have gained my memory (knowledge) through Thy Grace, O Krishna. I am firm; my doubts are gone. I will act according to Thy word. [Gita 18:73]

Swami Sivananda’s commentary on the sloka: “The whole aim of Sadhana and study of scriptures is the annihilation of delusion and the attainment of knowledge of the Self. When one attains it, the three knots or ties of ignorance, namely, ignorance, desire and action, are destroyed. All doubts are cleared and all Kamas destroyed.” (Pg 527, The Bhagavad Gita by Swami Sivananda)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “The period of SADHANA is like climbing a high mountain. You need a lot of strength and energy. Mountain climbers use rope for pulling themselves up. For you, the only rope is JAPA. Therefore, children, try to repeat your MANTRA constantly. Once you reach the peak, you can relax and rest FOREVER.” (Awaken, Children vol 4 page 50)

What is the Easiest and the Best Sadhana for this Age of Quarrel and Confusion?

Swami Sivananda: “Japa sadhana is considered a COMPLETE sadhana in itself, i.e., it is CAPABLE of bringing about God-Realisation.” (pg. 74, Commentary on Verse 15 of Kandar Anubhuti—Divine Life Society Publication)

Swami Sivananda: “Even a dull aspirant will notice a change in himself if he continues the practice of Japa and meditation for two or three years.” (pg. 340, Science of Yoga, Vol. 2 by Swami Sivananda)

How Long Do I have to do Japa Every Day?

Swami Sivananda: “…do…Japa for TWO hours.  (pg. 45, Japa Yoga).

Swami Sivananda: “Do the treatment of Nama-Japa for at least 2 hours in the MORNING and EVENING. You will find the miraculous effect within a short time.” (pg. 123, Japa Yoga).

Swami Sivananda: “Get up at 4 a.m. and do Japa for TWO hours….Repeat the Name mentally throughout the day.”  (pg. 148, Japa Yoga).

Swami Sivananda: “Have FOUR sittings for Japa daily-early morning, noon, evening and night.” (pg. 53, Japa Yoga).

Swami Sivananda: “…you must evince extreme keenness in doing Japa also 4 times, in the morning, noon, evening and night.”(pg. 91, Japa Yoga).

Swami Sivananda: “If you are tired of repeating the Mantra at one stroke, have 3 or more

sittings, say, in the morning from 4 o’clock to 7, in the evening from 4 to 5, and at night from 6 to 8. (pg. 82, Japa Yoga).

Swami Sivananda: “If a man repeats the Mantra for 6 hours daily, his heart will be purified quickly. He can feel the purity.” (pg. 45, Japa Yoga)

How Do I do Japa?

Swami Sivananda: “Roll the beads with single-minded devotion. Repeat His Name with unswerving faith.” (pg. 140, Self-Knowledge)

Swami Sivananda: “Japa should NOT be done when walking here and there or looking this side and that side. The Upasaka should never be engaged in other activities even in mind…” (pg. 114, Japa Yoga)

Question: How and where should I concentrate on when I am doing Japa?

Swami Sivananda: “… gaze fixed between the eyebrows… This is known as the “Frontal Gaze”, (or)…fix the gaze on the tip of the nose… This is Nasal Gaze… You can select for yourself either the Frontal or the Nasal Gaze. Even when you pass along the road, practise the gaze. You will have wonderful concentration. The Japa can go nicely even while you are walking.” (pg. 81, Japa Yoga)

Doing Japa without Knowing the Meaning of the Mantra I am chanting

Question: Mother, is it beneficial if one chants mantras even without knowing the meaning ?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “…if you chant your mantra without knowing its meaning, it has its own powers. Even then, it is better if it is chanted with faith and love. Concentration is also necessary.” “Out of 24 hours, allow 22 hours for worldly affairs. Think of His for at least 2 hours. Japa should also be done for some time while sitting in solitude. It should be performed whenever you have the time, even at work. (pg. 97, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Mata Amritanandamayi:”…although God’s Name has a power of its own, when we chant it with bhava or concentration, it becomes more powerful.” (pg. 117, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Characteristics of Kali Yuga


We are now Kali Yuga, the age of quarrel, incessant troubles, tribulations, trepidation, calumnies, irreverence, ungodliness, ill-health, pollution, adversities, negativity, un-spirituality, hypocrisy, falsehood and terrorism. Both the Mahabharata and Srimad Bhagavatam give a vivid description of how things are like in Kaliyuga. Many of these things we can see happening around us and we ourselves are also guilty of indulging in many of these actions. The following is a but a short list of features typical of the events in Kaliyuga according to the Ithihaas and purana:

1). People recklessly and mindlessly destroy trees or groves.

2). Everyone will lack discrimination as regards food: they will eat anything and everything.

3). Passing themselves off as saintly, nefarious people will indulge in trade and commercial activity. In the garb of saintliness and spirituality, avaricious people will concentrate on amassing wealth, and find wealth is the mark of a man’s worth in society.

4). In Kaliyuga, man finds friendship only in his wife, and he regards his in-laws as true relatives.

5). People with money and wealth will be considered persons of noble birth with good qualities. People in power will steer the course of justice in their favour.

6). Impecunious and penurious people, and those who are not given to bribery will be deprived of justice.

7). People will consider going on pilgrimage to far-off places more important than honouring and serving their parents.

8). Brahmins will do the work of sudras.

9). Brahmins will abstain from sacrifices and the study of Vedas.

10). People will stop making offerings to their ancestors.

11). Brahmins will start to eat anything (i.e., they become indiscriminate in their choices of food).

12). Men will become feeble, and will have shorter life span: They will lack energy and valour.

13). During Kaliyuga, women will use their mouths for copulation.

14). Under the burden of excess taxation, householders will turn into robbers.

15). In ashramas, brahmacharis will indulge in evil conduct and pander to the desires of the world. The ashrams will be full of show-offs who are experts in the art of living off the food of others.

16). When Kaliyuga degenerates even further, Dharmic people will have shorter life span.

17). People will sell goods with false weights. There will be a lot of deceit associated with trade.

18). Towards the end of Kaliyuga, the young ones will act like old people. The conduct that suits the young is seen in the old. The old will think like children, and young people will have the intelligence of the old.

19). In Kaliyuga, people abbreviate the truth; because of this harm done to the truth, lifespans are further shortened.

20). There will be a lot of intermarriages between people from different strata of society, and miscegenation becomes the order of the day. They will behave like sudras who are devoid of austerities and truth.

21). Because of the shortage of cows, people will resort to drinking goat and sheep-milk.

22). In Kaliyuga, rules about what is to be eaten are transgressed.

23). Brahmins will not observe sacred vows but will criticize the Vedas. Deluded by logic they will give up worship and yajnas.

24). At the end of Kaliyuga, the world will be overtaken by mlechha conduct. There will be no rites and sacrifices. There will be unhappiness everywhere and no festivals will be celebrated.

25). Men will rob possessions of others, even that of widows.

26). Men will happily accept gifts given even by the evil.

27). When the end of Kaliyiga is near, the Kshatriyas will be the thorns in the flesh of the world. They will not protect others.

28). No one will ask for a girl’s hand in marriage; no one will duly give away a girl in marriage. When Kaliyuga is fully ripe, men and women will choose their spouses themselves.

29). Kings, discontented with what they possess, will use every means possible to steal the property of others.

30). When kaliyuga is fully advanced, one hand will steal from the other.

31). Cowards will take pride in their bravery and the brave will be immersed in depression like cowards.

32). During the final stages of Kaliyuga, there will be no Brahmins, Kshatriyas or Vaishyas left. At the end of Kaliyuga the world will have only one varna.

33). Wives will not tend to their husbands. Men and women will eat whatever they wish.

34). People will adorn themselves with the marks of a sadhu, i.e.. there will be profusion of fake sadhus.

35). (Cooked) food will be sold at all major thoroughfares. Note: According to manusmrti selling of cooked food is a sin; this is because everyone has a right to food, whether he has money or not).

36). When Kaliyuga is fully advanced, each will act as he wishes in the name  of human rights.

37). Brahmins will be oppressed by Sudras and thus tormented by the former will wander all over the earth looking for protection.

38). Sudras will expound on Dharma, and the Brahmins will listen to their discourses and serve them. Everything in the world will be utterly upside down.

39). Discarding the gods, bones set into walls will be worshipped.

40). Men will be addicted to meat and liquor and will be weak in Dharma.

41). Rains will come down at the wrong time.

42). Overcome by the burden of taxation, brahmins will flee in the ten directions.

43). Friends and relatives will act only out of love for wealth.

44). Women will be harsh and cruel in speech and will love to cry. They will not follow the words of their husbands.

45). Travelers in transit (guests) will ask for food and water but will not receive it. They will be refused shelter and will be forced to sleep on the roads.

46). People will leave their own countries and seek refuge in other countries, directions, regions, etc., and will roam around the world lamenting ‘Alas, father!’, ‘Alas, son.’

47). Mutual liking between the boy and girl, and not family pedigree or social status, etc., will be criterion for selecting a spouse.

48). Cheating will be the order of the day in business relations.

49). Sexual skill will be the criterion for excellence in men and women.

50). The only mark of evil will be poverty.

51). The one who can make a great display (of his austerities, occult powers etc.) will be considered the greatest sadhu.

52). Brushing one’s hair and dressing up will be considered as substitute for bath.

53). The highest purpose of life will be to fill one’s belly.

54). Maintenance of one’s family will be looked upon as the highest skill.

55). Dharma will be followed to gain fame.

56). There will be no rule in becoming a king. Any Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya or Sudra, depending on who is the most powerful at the time, will become the king. At that time, the rulers will be so greedy that there will not any difference between them and robbers.

57). Houses will be desolate because of the lack of chanting of Vedas and absence of guests.

58) In Kali-yuga the people will be sinful, short-lived, unfortunate, slow, and unintelligent.

How then to survive the virulence of Kali Yuga?

“In this Kali Yuga, when the physique of the vast majority of persons is not good…Japa is an EASY way to God-realisation… There is no Yoga GREATER than Japa Yoga” (pg. 279, Yoga Samhita). In the Gita, Sri Krsna says, “Among Yagnas, I AM Japa Yagna”. Sri Brahma said the same truth to Naradha in Kali-Santarana Upanishad. Vishnu Purana (6:2:17), Brhan Narayana Purana (38:97) have underlined the same fact. Srimad Bhagavatam (12:3:52) asserts, “OTHER processes of worship are NOT possible in THIS yuga”. Hence, Japa IS the sadhana for Kali Yuga.

“In this Kali Yuga, God-realisation can be had in a short period. It is the grace of the Lord. You need not do severe Tapas now. You need not stand on one leg for several years, as people did in days of yore. You can realise God through JAPA, Kirtan (=singing) and prayer.” pg 128, Japa Yoga by Swami Sivananda.

Srimad Bhagwatam 12:3:52 says

krite yad dhyayato vishnum tretayam yajato makhaihdvapare  

paricaryayam kalau tad dhari-kirtanat

That is, whatever result was obtained in Satya-yuga by meditating on Vishnu, in Treta-yuga by performing sacrifices, and in Dwapara-yuga by serving the Lord’s Lotus feet can be obtained in Kali-yuga simply by chanting the holy names of God.

Padma Purana (Uttara-khanda 72.25), in support of the above, desclares:

dhyayan krite yajan yajnais, tretayam dvapare ’rcayan;

yad apnoti tad apnoti, kalau sankirtya keshavam.

In sum, Whatever is achieved by meditation in Satya-yuga, by the performance of yajna in Treta-yuga or by the worship of Krishna’s lotus feet in Dvapara-yuga is obtained very easily in the Age of Kali simply by chanting the name of God.

Garuda Purana 1.228.18, “What is obtained by means of contemplation in the Krta-yuga, reciting mantras in the Treta-yuga and worshiping in Dvapara is obtained in Kali-yuga by constantly remembering Lord Kesava.”

Garuda Purana 1.230.20, “Evil influence of the Kali age, wicked statements, vile utterances of heretics – none of these affect the mind of the person in whose mind Lord Kesava finds a place”.

Garuda Purana 1.230.23, “If Govinda is fixed in the mind, the vile age of Kali is transformed into Krta. If Acyuta is not fixed in the mind even Krta-yuga is transformed into Kali age”.

Swami Sivananda: “In this kali Yuga, even if just ONE Ekadashi is observed with DISPASSION, faith and DEVOTION, AND if the mind is WHOLLY fixed on Hari, one is freed from the rounds of birth and death. There is no doubt this. The scriptures give us their assurance on this point.” (pg. 152, Hindu Fasts & Festivals).

Sources:

1. G. P. Bhatt & J. L. Shastri (Tr). The Bhagavata Purana (5 Volumes): Delhi 2002

2. Debroy, Bibek. The Mahabharata: Complete and Unabridged (Ten Volumes): Penguin India, 2015

3. Mahabarath by Kamala Subramaniam,

4. Pandey, Pandit Ramnarayandutt Shastri. The Complete Mahabharata (The Only Edition with Sanskrit Text and Hindi Translation) – Six Volumes: Gita Press, Gorakhpur, 2017

5. Saraswati, Swami Akhandananda (Tr). Shrimad Bhagavata Purana (2 Volumes): Gorakhpur 2004

6. Yoga Samhita by Swami Sivananda

7. Kali-Santarana Upanishad

8. Vishnu Purana (6:2:17)

9. Brhan Narayana Purana (38:97)

10. Srimad Bhagavatam (12:3:52)

11. japa Yoga by Swami Sivananda

12. Śri Sanatkumara-saṃhita Verses 1-25 (Verse 13)

13. Hindu Fasts & Festivals by Swami Sivananda

Sadhana — Is it Necessary?


Question 1: Someone I know says that there is not much importance in Sadhana and that it is enough to have faith in one’s Guru.

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Son, a person who has faith in (the Guru) will perform sadhana as (the Guru) instructs. Such a person will live without erring even a little bit. Will your disease be cured if you only believe the doctor but do not take the medicine? Not only that, faith will gain strength and steadiness only if sadhana brings experience. Otherwise, faith will slip into irresoluteness. You cannot progress without sadhana. Can’t you see even jivanmuktas (those who have achieved liberation while tenanting the body) doing meditation and japa (repetitions of the mantra) to set an example? No progress will accrue to him who simply sits saying faith will save me without doing anything. Unquestioning obedience is what is meant by faith and devotion. Whatever the Guru says, one should unconditionally obey.  Do not ask any questions. Do not doubt the Guru. One should unconditionally obey the Guru whatever he says, whether it is doing service to the Guru, service to society, Japa, Dhyana or anything else.” (pgs. 82-83, Awaken, Children! Vol. 3).

Question 2: I do sadhana but I feel empty. Why is this so?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “We do some kind of spiritual practice, and then, dissipate the acquired spiritual energy by indulging in worldly affairs.” (pg. 71, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Whatever spiritual power is gained through meditation and other spiritual practices gets dissipated through indulgence.” (pg. 123, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Question 3: How do we find the time to do sadhana? We are all too busy with work and family.

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Out of 24 hours, allow 22 hours for worldly affairs. Think of Him for at least two hours. Japa should also be done for some time while sitting in solitude. It should be performed whenever you have the time, even at work. (pg. 84, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Question 4: Is it all right if one chants mantras even without knowing the meaning ?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “…if you chant your mantra without knowing its meaning, it has its own powers. Even then, it is better if it is chanted with faith and love. Concentration is also necessary.” (pg. 97, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Mata Amritanandamayi: “…although God’s Name has a power of its own, when we chant it with bhava or concentration, it becomes more powerful.” (pg. 117, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

Question 5: Is it necessary to do sadhana everyday? Is it wrong or even harmful to stop sadhana for a day or two?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Do not do sadhana with the intention of making it known to others or to please them. We don’t stop brushing our teeth, taking a shower or eating food because those are necessities. In the same way, we should remember that sadhana is also necessary for us every day. We will stink of we do not take a bath and brush our teeth. It will be troublesome for others also.  We should understand that refraining from doing sadhana is at least as harmful as this. Sadhana should become a part of our life.” (pgs. 122-123, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1).

Question 6: What is the best place to do sadhana?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Sadhana should be done in the presence of a Perfect Master or in an ashram”. (pg. 135, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1).

Question 7: I got a mantra from you; isn’t it enough that I have been accepted as your disciple?

Mata Amritanandamayi: “Concentrate on your sadhana…. Mother gave a mantra to everyone. Do not be puffed up because of that and think, ‘I am mother’s disciple.’ Do not feel proud thinking, ‘I have the ticket’ after getting onto a bus or train. If you do not show the ticket when the ticket collector comes, he will immediately make you get off. He will let you alight at your destination only if you use your ticket for the proper place and in the proper way. Otherwise, you will have to get off before your destination.” (pg. 219, Awaken, Children! Vol. 1)

You may also be interested in the following articles:

https://antaryamin.wordpress.com/2009/11/09/so-amma-is-your-guru-really/

https://theunboundedspirit.com/tv/

Mantra Japa and Japa Yoga


Question 1: A high premium has been placed on Japa (=chanting). Isn’t chanting but incantation of a certain formula or a group of words? How could a mindless repetition of a set of words can become a life-saving instrument, or one that has the key to life mysteries?

“A SPIRITUAL mantra puts us in touch with the highest goal of human life, the Self. Such a mantra is NO ordinary combination of letters and syllables, but a living force. The Nam,e of God is not different from God.” (pg. 80, Where Are You Going? by Swami Muktananda)

Question 2: How is it different from other practices like meditation, yoga, ritualistic prayers, etc.?

“While other techniques are means of attaining Him, mantra (chanting) is His very being. That is why it is SO easy to experience God by repeating the mantra. Mantra repetition bears fruit very quickly.”  (pg. 80, Where Are You Going? by Swami Muktananda)

Saint Tukaram, “With the Name of God on your lips, the bliss of liberation is right in your hand.” (pg. 80, Where Are You Going?)

Question 3: Everyone about me is chanting but I do not see any difference in them or in their lives. They have not changed or changing. How come chanting isn’t working for them?

Saint Tukaram, “Everyone repeats the Name of Rama (=God), including cheats, thieves, and priests. But the way in which the great devotee repeats the Name is entirely different, because the Name redeems them.” (pg. 81, Where Are You Going?)

“The mantra has its own power. However, if we want to obtain the full fruit of the mantra, we have to repeat it with FULL AWARENESS of its meaning… Most of the time, we repeat the mantra with the WRONG understanding, thinking that the syllables of the mantra and the object of the mantra are different from each other and from ourselves. That is why the mantra does not bear immediate fruit for us.” (pg. 81, Where Are You Going? by Swami Muktananda