Meditation Series

Japa sādhanā

The Sādhaka in his quest for self-realisation surrenders to Sri Guru.  A path is shown to him by the Guru to tread for reaching this goal. The Initial step in this path is mantra japa sādhanā. Later a puja ritual is instructed and further is the meditation on the identity of the self, universe and the Isvara.

Mantras are sound with seed letters (bīja akṣaras). Since sound is the property of the subtle element space, it follows that all the sound is eternal (since space is the first subtle element to be created). These letters carry in them a force to awaken the individual and lift the veil of Ignorance.  ‘Ma’ represents the Individual consciousness and ‘tra’ represents the all-pervasive consciousness. Thus ‘Mantra’ represents the identity of the individual and cosmic consciousness. Another interpretation is ‘Ma’ represents constant repetition and ‘tra’ represents the act of saving. Thu ‘Mantra’ also means that formūla or sound combination that saves one who constantly repeats it. 

The seven characteristics of Mantra are Ṛṣi, chandas, devata, bīja, śakti, kīlaka, and nyāsa. A discussion of their philosophical aspect is given here:

  1. Ṛṣi: This refers to the sage who has had a vision of the mantra from the subtle space element. On constant penance the divine chose him to reveal this sound combination of a particular divine energy. He ‘saw’ the mantra and revealed it to this world. ‘Ṛ’ denotes the emergence of the sound-bījas from the space into his consciousness and ‘shi’ denotes the revealing and sustenance of this combination. Thus, this will denote the ‘birth’ and ‘maintenance’ of the mantra. ‘R’ is referred as the amṛta bīja in Mātṛkā akṣara (the four vowels from ṛ-ṝ-ḷ-ḹ have no change like other vowels, a+i= e like so on, hence Amṛta or Eternal bīja) hence refers to the Brahman which is eternal, ‘ṣa’ denotes Ākāśa tatva and hence its subtle element sound and ‘i’ denotes the icchā (desire) śakti. On a whole this refers to emergence of sound from the Brahman due to desire of the śakti through the medium called Ṛṣi. 
  2. Chandas: This refers to a particular rhythm of the above sound combinations. There are seven primary sound rhythms in the Vedic mantras. They are Gāyatrī, Uṣṇik, Anuṣṭup, Bṛhati, Paṅkti, Triṣṭup and Jagati (the seven horses in the chariot of sun). ‘Cha’ denotes the Universal consciousness and ‘da’ denotes aspiration or desire to merge in it. Thus, this denotes a fervent aspiration to merge in the universal consciousness.
  3. Devata: This refers to the particular divine energy form emerged for blessing the sādhaka. ‘Div’ is the root word which means ‘to illuminate’. Hence this indicates the divine energy which illuminates the universe in a particular form. Upanishad also says ‘tasya bhāsa sarvam idam vibhāti’- ‘the effulgence of the Brahman illuminates this entire world’.
  4. Bīja: This refers to the seed sound letter inherent in this unique sound combination causing all benefits on repeating the mantra. As a big tree dwells inside a seed, the divine energy dwelling in this specific sound letter for this sound combination is the subtle cause for the emergence of the mantra, the divine form, and the five subtle elements to build this universe.
  5. Śakti: This refers to power of the bīja (above). Virility, Power, strength are its characteristics. The entire play of this universe and its movement are inherent in this sound letter.
  6. Kīlaka: This refers to the sound letter which synchronise mantra and sādhaka. As a pin or shaft on with which a pair of wheels revolves and also link it to the main body of the vehicle (the axle), the divine energy in this sound letter synchronizes the mantra and the sādhaka.
  7. Nyāsa: This means ‘to keep’. Hence this refers to keeping of the divine energy in certain parts of the hand and body. The mantra is usually divided into six parts or the bīja (seed letter) is combined with the six long vowels (Ā-Ī-Ū-Ai-Au and Ah) and placed on (1) the five fingers and the palm and (2) six limbs ending with certain specific mantras. The six limbs are Hṛdaya (heart), Śiras (head), Śikhā (tuft of hair on the head), Kavaca (on both arms like wearing armor), Netra (eyes-knowledge organ) and Astra (by clapping the hands as if sending a missile for protection). The respective ending mantras are namaḥ, svāhā, vaṣaṭ, Huṃ, vauṣaṭ and phaṭ. They are employed in magical purposes for worldly gain such as santi (peace), vasya (causing attraction), stambhana (causing immobility), vidveshana (causing enmity between people), ucchāṭana (causing people to flee) and marana (causing death). A philosophical interpretation of these is:
    1. Hṛdaya-namaḥ: Heart denotes the all-pervading Brahman; namaḥ is obeisance to it or rather directing our mind to it. Na also means negation; ma represents individual consciousness (Jiva bhava). So, negation of the individual ego and emergence of the cosmic consciousness is denoted here.
    2. Śiras-svāhā: Head denotes the highest principle called Brahman and svāhā is dissolution of the universe and individual ego in it. 
    3. Śikhā-vaṣaṭ: The tuft protects the head which is the highest principle called Brahman by cultivation of radiance through deep contemplation of it, vaṣaṭ denotes the physical activity connected with this action. Constant awareness that the body and universe are an expression of the divine radiance in denoted by this.
    4. Kavaca-Huṃ: ‘Kava’ means ‘to catch’ and ‘Huṃ’ means ‘the divine radiance’. This refers to development of the inherent bliss radiating throughout the body.
    5. Netra-vauṣaṭ: Netra is the organ of sight and implies organs of knowledge. Vauṣaṭ is seeking the divine knowledge. The constant awareness that all that are experienced by the knowledge organs are an expression of divine is denoted here.
    6. Astra-phaṭ: ‘Asu’ means to throw, ‘tra’ denotes agitation and ‘phaṭ’ is the fire of knowledge. The rejection of all worldly sorrows by recognizing the all-pervasive bliss is denoted here.

Thus, it is clear that all the saḍaṅga mantras are having a repetitive and enforced idea that this universe is an expression of the divine and we are identical to it. This is verily the goal of all sādhanā.

Dhyana: After saḍaṅga nyāsa the sādhaka has to do the dhāyna of the deity, of that particular form of Brahman which has manifested for the sādhaka according to the upadeśa from the Guru. There is usually a meditative verse which is chanted and the deity visualized as per that sloka.

Pañca puja:  Mentally the sādhaka has to offer to that particular form which was visualized in his mind five basic offerings as per tradition. They are Sandal paste (gandha), Flowers (Pushpa), Incense smoke (dhūpa), lighted lamp (dīpa) and food (naivedya). They represent the five elements earth, space, air, fire and water which have the subtle properties as smell, sound, touch, form and Taste and they represent satsaṅga(group interaction between sādhakas to exchange ideas and knowledge), indriya nigraha(conquest of the senses), Kāma krodha lobha moha mada mātsarya visarjana(leaving away the unwanted illogical desires, misguided anger, absolute miserliness, deep attachment, high arrogance, cruelty), śiva śakti sāmarasya aikya bhāva( the realisation of the unity of śiva and śakti – the passive and active principle of the universe) respectively.   The followings mantras are chanted:

4- Lam gandha tanmātrātmaka pṛthvyātmikāyai(tmane) satsaṅga rūpa gandham kalpayāmi namaḥ

4-ham śabda-tanmātrātmaka Ākāśātmikāyai(tmane) indriya nigraha rūpa puṣpam kalpayāmi namaḥ

4-yam sparśa-tanmātrātmaka vāvyātmikāyai(tmane) kāma krodha lobha moha mada mātsarya visarjana rūpa dhūpam kalpayāmi namaḥ

4-ram rūpa-tanmātrātmaka vahniyātmikāyai(tmane) citakalādarsana rūpa dīpam kalpayāmi namaḥ

4-vam rasa-tanmātrātmaka amṛtatmikāyai(tmane) śiva śakti sāmarasya Aikya bhāva rūpa naivedyam kalpayāmi namaḥ

4-sam sarvātmikāyai upaniṣat śravana manana nidhidhyāsana rūpa sarvopacārān kalpayāmi namaḥ

Count of the japa: Usually a rosary of rudrākṣa, sphatika, putra sajeevani beads are used to count the number of japa done. Our elders have shown a rosary of the letters (Mātṛkā akṣara) for counting the number. The process is described: Start with am-mūlamantra-Ām mūlamantra- im mūlamantra-Īm mūlamantra-um mūlamantra-Ūm mūlamantra, So on and so forth up to śam mūlamantra-ṣam mūlamantra-sam mūlamantra-ham mūlamantra-Lam mūlamantra-kṣam-mūlamantra Lam- mūlamantra ham –mūlamantra sam -mūlamantra ṣam, in reverse up to mūlamantra Ūm-mūlamantra um-mūlamantra Īm-mūlamantra im-mūlamantra Ām –mūlamantra am.

The following is the diagrammatic explanation of the inter shat cakra japa as per Paramananda tantra along with Matruka akshara. 

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