How Mantra-japa becomes Effective
26 April 1997
Dear and blessed R,
Harih Om Tat Sat. Your letter of 20th makes feelingful reading. I am happy that you have
taken to the mantra-japa as a regular practice. All that is needed now is a proper attitude and
understanding about the practice, and a more wholesome and deeper effort with the passage
In May 1996 issue of Vicharasetu, I had written on "Might and Magnificence of Mantra". I
wrote this because I found that those who get initiated into Brahmavidya or Mantra-deeksha,
do not take to the saadhana in all earnestness and with vigour. Read the article and take your
Mantra-japa can be a full-fledged saadhana. What matters is the seriousness and heartiness
with which you take to the practice after getting initiated. Mantra expresses an idea, a
thought. Mantras will be either dvaita or advaita (dual or non-dual) in content. If it is of the
first category, then it will imply a relationship between you and the Supreme. Make this
relationship more and more true and wholesome. Japa is done to make it so.
Suppose the idea is : "I prostrate before the Supreme Lord, the Self". Then through japa you
have to instill this idea into your mind. The mind has to grow with the idea. "I prostrate".
What is meant by prostration? What should be the state of mind when I really mean
prostration? I prostrate before whom? The Supreme Lord. What is He? The Self in me, nay
myself, My own Self is the supreme Lord. Am I prepared to accept this proposition? What is
the Self then? Can it be the born body? Supreme Lord does not get born! So, what is the Self
in me? And what is meant by the Supreme Lord?
Link up the thoughts and go deep into the meaning and relationship. To such a Lord, all that I
have to do is to prostrate! Why? Think of what the Lord means. If everything including my
own body belongs to the Lord, then am I to give Him anything of these? Or, I must confess
that all this is His, and remain in that awareness? Do I really remain in that awareness? If at
all, then how long? Why do I slip? Where lie the causes?
Prostration thus assumes a new significance, profundity. Feeling of humility and fondness
will naturally begin to swell. May be a new fervour and depth will dawn.
If the supreme Lord is really given the supreme pedestal in my life, then all else – my family,
my profession, my comforts, my prestige – everything will have only the secondary place. Is
it so? Have I given Lord the first place? If not, then what prevents me from giving Him
the place due to Him?
Through this kind of introspection, the mantra idea must gain ground and institute a culture
within your being. You have to be open and truthful to yourself. Then this practice will
bring about purity, depth and refinement. It is not just repeating the letters or the words, but
imbuing into you what it means.
Thus, mantra-japa will take you to a new level of introspection. It will involve your mind
more and more. Many self-examining thoughts and enquiry will start. You will begin to
discover many gaps and insufficiencies. May be you will feel new compulsions. Through
such compulsions, saadhana will deepen. The practice is only a practice. But its effects will
be multiple. Find out yourself what you encounter and let me know.
Sankaracharya says :
+IÉ®ú-º¨ÉÞiªÉÉ´ÉÞiªÉÉ ¨ÉxjÉÉ´ÉÞÊkÉ: ºªÉÉiÉÂ <ÊiÉ SÉäiÉÂ xÉ
¨ÉÖJªÉÉlÉÈ +ºÉ¨¦É´ÉÉiÉÂ ¨ÉxÉÉäÊxÉ´ÉÞÊkÉi´ÉÉiÉÂ ¨ÉxjÉÉhÉÉ¨ÉÂ *
"Will mantra-japa take place by the mere repetition of the letters of the mantra? No.
Because, by that the idea conveyed by the mantra will not produce its effect. Mantra is meant
to generate a special function in the mind." The japa is only a practice. The introspection it
stimulates must hold your inner being.
When distractions intercept, question them: "I have set my mind to think of the Supreme
relationship. How come all the things which subsist on this fundamental relation, distract me?
I will not be subdued or deluded thus." In one way or another, be held to the central concept.
Activate the mind and intelligence by the mantra idea. Only when deep introspection and
evaluations occupy the mind and intelligence, the mantra-japa can be considered as effective.
The worship becomes effective when its ineffective nature is felt with despair and suffocation,
as it happened with Sri Ramakrishna Dev.
Intensify your saadhana. That will strengthen you in every way. You have my blessings and
Your own Antaratma
* * *