Importance of Japa and Dhyaana
After long searches here and there, in temples and churches, in earth and heavens, at last you come back completing the circle from where you started, to your own soul and ﬁnd that He for whom you have been seeking all over the world, for whom you have been weeping and praying in churches and temples, on who you were looking as a mystery of all mysteries, is nearest of near, is your own self, the reality of your life, body and soul. That is your own nature. Assert it, manifest it.
It is truth and truth alone that is one’s real friend, relative. Abide by the truth and follow the path of righteousness and not a hair of your body will be injured.
Meditation is nothing else but rising above desires. Renunciation is the power of battling against evil forces and holding the mind in check — Baba.
Plantains and mangoes, while green, are covered by straw or kept in a closed room so that the heat might make them ripe and tasty.
Meditation on God gives you too the right temperature in which you can ‘ripen’ and become more acceptable to God, – says Baba.
Japa means a repeated and continuous mental chanting of a chosen Name of the Lord or a Mantra that represents an aspect or some aspects of divinity with intense devotion and concentration. The name of the Lord and the mantras have great power in them and they have got a great purifying effect on man and help to awaken the spirit in man. The syllable Ja in the word Japa stands for destruction of birth and death and Pa for destruction of sin. It is called Jakaaro Janma-vinaashanam, pakaaro paapavinaashanam.
Dhyaana means meditating on the form of the Lord represented by the name chosen for Japa chanting. Baba says the word Dhyaana is derived from the root words “Dhee” and “Yaana”. Dhee is Buddhi the intellect and Yaana rowing. Thus Dhyaana means rowing or channelising our thought force towards a chosen object i.e. God which is our own self. It is thus an inward journey into spiritual consciousness.
Japa is the greatest aid for meditation. It is a training for the mind in ﬁxing to a single line of thinking and controlling and expelling all other thoughts from the mind. Japa is like the rudder of a boat and Dhyaana is like the Oar. “As one thinks, so he becomes”. There is a beautiful analogy known as Bhramara-Keetaka Nyaaya to explain the science of meditation. Bhramara picked up a Kumira worm and held it captive in a tiny mud nest with a narrow opening. The Kumira worm was so frightened of the wasp who visited the nest so often that it kept staring at the wasp through the hole. As a result of its single pointed devotion the worm got transformed and metamorphosed into a beautiful Bhramara shedding its own ugly form.
In the same way if man (maanava) has single pointed devotion, meditates on the Lord he too becomes Maadhava, says Baba. Just as the air conditioner takes away the heat of the body and gives cool comfort, so also the name we chant endows upon us good qualities and dispels away our animal traits and ignorance. Man is essentially divine. Baba reminds us of this by addressing us time and again as “Divyaatma-Swaroopas Embodiments of the divine spirit!” Not only I but you also are God but you are not aware of it, whereas I am aware of it”.
Since Man identifies himself with his body and feels he is the body he suffers in life and this is the root cause of all the misery. If he becomes aware that he is not the body, but the spirit then he gets freed from the cycle of birth and death and he gets transported to a state of supreme bliss. But to attain such an Aatmic state requires systematic saadhanaa. The mind should be made free from all desires, from all worldly thoughts and be immersed and submerged in God thought alone, (the Aatmaa); Japa and Dhyaana is the best means to achieve this. So we can say Japa and Dhyaana is an effort to channelise all thought forces, all the mental faculties, focusing and centering it on one single thought i.e. God thought (Dhyaana).
To know that one is not the body but the spirit one must understand the distinction between the spirit and the body i.e. between self and non-self or between soul and its physical body.
The spirit or the soul is encased in the body-mind complex, which consists of 5 sheaths. They are called Pancha Koshas. They are –
- Annamaya Kosha – the food sheath
- Praanamaya Kosha – the vital air sheath
- Manomaya Kdsha – the mental sheath
- VijnaanamayaKosha – the intellectual sheath
- Aanandamaya Kosha – the Bliss sheath
Aatmaa is encased by these 5 sheaths. Aatmaa is distinct from these sheaths and Aatmaa is God.
Annamaya Kosha – Sthoola shareera (Gross body)
Praanamaya Kosha & Manomaya Kosha – Together form Sukshma Sharera
Vijnaanamaya Kosha – (subtle body)
Aanandamaya Kosha – Kaarana shareera (causal body).
All these shareeras have 3 states or Avasthaas –
- Waking or Jagrat Avasthaa – we are conscious of and function through our sense organs.
- Dream or Swapna Avasthaa – Mind projects its own world of suppressed desires and suffers from its own creation (Swapna).
- Deep sleep or Sushupti Avasthaa – No awareness about anything around. It is a state of complete ignorance and supreme bliss.
Beyond all this there is the Aatmic state or Tureeya Avasthaa stage of supreme bliss. To achieve this ultimate stage Sage Patanjali has given the Astaanga yoga, which is as follows:
BAHIRANGA SAADHANAAS (1 TO 5)
- Aasana – Sthira – Sukhamaasanam
- Praanaayama – controlling the motion of inhalation and exhalation.
- Pratyaahaara – withdrawal of the senses from the sense objects.
- Dhaaranaa (concentration)
- Dhyana (Meditation)
- Samaadhi (super conscious state)
- 1 & 2. Yama and Niyama are moral and religious discipline like saadhanaas for everyday living, withdrawing the mind from desires and attachments and directing towards God. Thus this helps purify and mellow the heart. It helps to develop a Saattvic temperament, a healthy mental poise for other disciplines leading to meditation.
- Aasana – For meditation, posture is very important. In Aasana, sit comfortably without discomfort cross legged, erect back and hands resting on the knees, thumb and forefinger of each hand joined together. Thumb is Paramaatmaa and forefinger Jeevaatmaa. The three remaining fingers are the three gunas which keep Jeevaatmaa in ignorance.
- Praanaayaama – controlling the breathing process – Inhalation/exhalation. Regulation of breath helps in regulation of the mind. First close the right nostril and breathe in through the left nostril and vice versa. Breathing in should be 4 secs, holding breath for 16 secs and breathing out should be 8 secs.
Breath should be gentle, natural, slower and deeper breath makes lifespan longer. After purifying and steadying the mind, we will have to do:
- Pratyaahaara – withdrawal of the senses from sense objects and attachments and turning towards God within (self).
- Dhaaranaa – holding the mind on to some particular object centralising and focusing it between the eyebrows (Bhroomadhya). Object may be an idol, picture or light etc.- single pointed concentration.
- Dhyaana (Meditation) – holding the mind in single pointed concentration for a certain period with no external senses. For this Japa helps. Japa is like a rudder helping it to keep on the correct track.
- Samaadhi – Dhyaana for a long period of time. Forgets he is in Dhyaana and remains in that state. It is Samaadhi. He soon knows his Divine nature or oneness with God.
SOME PRACTICAL HINTS FOR DHYAANA:
I. Time of Meditation
Early morning time i.e. between 3am to 6am is the Brahma Muhurta and is the best time to practice meditation. We must meditate at the same time every day. This time is auspicious because –
- There is no distraction of any kind.
- One feels pure in the early hours of morning.
- The yogis around the Himalayas meditate around this time thereby generating a strong spiritual current and vibrations afloat in the whole atmosphere.
- According to Hatha Yoga – breathing, especially at this hour is steadier. Also the Sandhyaa period at sunrise and sunset are suitable for meditation.
II. Posture and Seat
a. One must sit in a comfortable posture preferably Padmaasana. One must not sit on the bare floor but on a wooden plank covered with a cloth. The wooden plank will not allow our spiritual current flowing through us to be dissipated away by the gravitational force of the earth.
b. We must sit facing either towards North or East.
c. OMKAARA chanting – One should begin with chanting OMKAARA a few times.
d. Mood of surrender – Exhale uttering ‘Ham’ and inhale chanting ‘So’. This helps in purifying the nerves.
e.Purifying the body and filling the heart with love for all beings – Have a lamp or candle with an open flame, steady and straight before us. Look steadily at the lamp and then close the eyes. Imagine the light entering into our heart and the petals of lotus open one by one and every thought and emotion is purified. The light spreads to the other sense organs and purifies them. Let the light radiate and spread to all those whom we love, our enemies, friends, all living beings covering the whole world. Our heart must become expansive and overflow with love for them all.
Now let us try to visualise the form of the God, our Ishta-devataa Baba in the all-pervasive light. For light is God, God is light. The body is the temple of God. Unless we develop a strong will power it is not possible to give up the body consciousness.
f. Japa Sahita Dhyaana – Japa is the discipline of repeating the Guru Mantra or the name of the Ishta Devataa. It can be done in 3 ways:
- Vaikharee – loud chanting
- Upaamshu – Uttering silently – moving the lips alone.
- Maanasic – Mental repetition.
In the initial stages one should use the Japamaalaa of 108 beads, because 108 is a product when 12 is multiplied 9 times. 108 indicates the totality of God, the Niraakaara and the Saakaara aspects of God together. Also there is a special way of holding the Japaamaala over the middle finger, keeping the 3 fingers below together. These represent the three gunas of the objective world. The thumb representing Brahman and the forefinger representing our individuality and ego. These two fingers are joined together showing Jnaana Mudraa ie. the gesture of wisdom of Jivi surrendering itself and uniting and becomes one with Brahman.
While doing japa if our mind wanders we can draw before our eyes, the picture of the form that the name represents. When our mind wanders away from the recital let us look back again at the picture of the form. This way the mind should be trained and tamed. This saadhanaa is called Japa Sahita Dhyaana and finally the Lord assumes that form and fulfils our aspiration.
g. After Dhyaana do not get up suddenly. First recapitulate the peace of joy got during Dhyaana, release and loosen the limbs and slowly get up and thereafter enter upon the day’s duties and work, holding on to the joy and peace in our heart.
TARATI SHOKAM AATMAVID
The one who has realised the self crosses the ocean of grief. Awareness of self puts an end to all sorrows of life and leads to bliss.
OM SHAANTIH SHAANTIH SHAANTIH
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