Chanting of mantra was a concept of the Vedic saints that includes mantras as one of the main forms of worship, whose end is seen as salvation. Basically, Mantra Jaap means repeating the mantra. Reciting Mantra has become an established attribute of the Hindu practices. Mantra Japa involves repetition of mantra again and again, usually 108 times completes one cycle. Due to this, the rosary (mala) used for mantra jaap has 108 beads in it. Regardless of the meaning of 108, it is important that if a mala is used to count mantras, the mantra be remembered with sincerity, devotion, feeling, and full attention.
It is believed that through mantra jaap, the devotee attains concentration and focus on the chosen deity or the focal idea of the mantra. One can attain peace of mind quickly by chanting mantra. With prolong and continuous practice, the inherent power of the Mantra (Mantra-Shakti) will be awakened, which will fill your very existence with the Divinity of the Mantra.
Useful Aids to Japa
- Select a Mantra and repeat it from 108 to 1,080 times daily (one to ten malas).
- Take a bath or wash your hands, feet, face and mouth before sitting for Japa at the dawn.
- Sit facing east or north during the practice. This enhances the effectiveness of the Jaap.
- Sit on a rug to conserve 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.
- Maintain a steady pose. You can sit in Padmasana, Siddhasana or Sukhasana. Resolve to complete a certain minimum number of malas before leaving your seat.
- Use a rosary of 108 beads. Do not allow the rosary to hang below the navel. The rosary (mala) must not be visible to you or to others, so cover it properly. Use the middle finger and the thumb of the right to roll the beads. The use of the index finger is not allowed. Do not cross the meru (main bead) while rolling the beads.
- Do mental Jaap for sometime without a rosary or mala. 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.
- Do not chant mantra in hurriedness. Do it slowly with feeling, concentration of mind and devotion.
- Try to associate the chant 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.
- Observe silence and avoid distractions, calls and engagements. It is important not to leave the place at once after the Japa is over and mix with everyone or get into worldly activity. This keeps the spiritual vibrations intact.