Japa : A Psychological Treatment

Q.What is the starting point of japa from the linguistic – point of view? What are the halting places in this journey? And how does the power of japa become comprehensive form the point of view of physiology or of the science of incantation?

Ans. Japa, the repetition of the name of the deity, and jalpa, meaning sophistry, come from the root words japa and jalpa. The root word jalpa connotes plain, explicit speaking; whereas the root word japa has two connotations–explicit speech and mental talk. Thus, the semantic journey of japa begins from ‘loud note’ to ‘mantra-articulation’ and, ‘mental repetition’ thereof. Of course, japa is always done aloud, but from the point of view of articulation, it has been divided into two classes-voiced and mental. From the viewpoint of the science of incantation, japa is of three kinds-japa, antarjalpa, and mental jalpa. In the language of the science of incantation, these are known as voiced, low-voiced, and silent (i.e. mental). All these three kinds of japa can prove useful supports for one’s progress in meditation.

Basically, the whole process constitutes an effort to migrate from the gross to the subtle, from the visible to the invisible world. Gross sound produces gross vibrations and subtle sound produces subtle vibrations. Subtle vibrations are far more powerful than the gross ones Nevertheless, in the initial stages of bringing about a change, gross vibrations have a role to play. But in the higher stages it is necessary to move towards subtle vibrations, because the state of meditation can be attained only through these. Loud japa is gross; low-toned japa is an advance upon the former; at the level of mental japa, the distance between knowledge and. the. word disappears. Here language and thought get very near to each other. In gross vibrations, language and thought function separately.

Subtle vibrations awaken the psychic centres situated in the human body. Although the entire system of the body is affected by these, some centres of consciousness are specially activated. For example-the Centre of Energy, the Centre of Bio-electricity, the Centre of Purity, the Centre of Intuition and the Centre of Wisdom

In the system of preksha meditation,, psychic centres are associated with the endocrine glands as under:

Psychic Centres Endocrine Glands Location

1.Centre of Energy Gonads Bottom end of the spinal cord

2.Centre of Health Gonads Lower abdomen

3.Centre of Bio-electricity Adrenal, Pancreas. Navel Islets of Langerhans

4.Centre of Bliss Thymus Near the heart

5.Centre of Purity Thyroid,Parathyroid Adam’s apple-throat

6.Centre of Celibacy Sense organ of Taste Tongue (Tip)

7.Centre of Vital Energy Sense organ of Smell Nose (Tip)

8. Centre of Vision Sense of sight Eyes

9. Centre of Vigilance Sense of Hearing Ear

10.Centre of Intuituion Pituitary Middle of the eyebrows

11.Centre of Enlightenment Pineal Centre of the forehead

12.Centre of Peace Hypothalamus Front part of the head

13.Centre of Wisdom Cerebral Cortex Top of the head

Through japa, a transformation takes place at all levels- physical, mental and emotional. In the ancient texts, while mentioning the results of japa it has been said :

By reciting spells, one can conquer decay, aversion, loss of appetite (dyspepsia), leprosy, disorders of the stomach, cough, asthma, etc. Like most distinguished persons, the doer of japa earns great merit, and in his next birth attains salvation which is the portion of the noblest beings.

Q.Has the assertion in the ancient texts of diseases being cured by japa, been proved by experiments? If not, how do we establish its authenticity?

Ans. In the context of diseases, japa is one remedy. It is not an imaginary concept, but has a scientific basis. just as the atoms of medicine are capable of destroying the atoms of disease, in the same way the atoms of the mind attracted by japa pull out the disease-atoms in the body and collect healthy atoms. Thus, there is little room for doubting that the disease will be eradicated.

In ancient times, the mantra-therapy was used along with the Ayurved system of medicine. It was a kind of psychological treatment. The mantra-therapy formed an independent discipline within the Ayurvedic system. Accordingly, only he who had mastered the science of mantras, could be a full-fledged Ayurved Acharya. Experimentation was done in respect of various mantras in the laboratory of the mantra-specialists. Even today, the mantra-therapy is prevalent in some form. Though only to a slight degree, modern people are scientifically reviving the mantra-therapy. If this work goes ahead, there is room for a great deal of research and new discoveries.

Sound-therapy is also a part of the mantra-therapy. The rhythmic vibrations of sound can create vibrations in both the inner and the outer environment. They affect not only man, but also the whole world of living beings. The impact of sound vibrations on the vegetable kingdom is even greater than upon human beings. In this connection, new experiments are being performed in America and other countries. They are also experimenting with the effects of music on vegetation. Although music has no shape or appearance of a mantra, it certainly is a component vital to its incantatory effect. Plants exposed to music develop early, the grass grows apace, the petals are larger and smoother, the fruit more abundant and delicious. Sound-induced sweetness imparts to the vegetation all-round a sense of being loved and cared for and a feeling of joy at being so loved. During the period of experimentation, those plants which were deprived of the atmosphere of music, in contrast with their more happy brethren, showed the effect of such deprivation on their growth, leafing, flowering and fruition. Experiments have also been conducted on the effect of music on animals. Cows exposed to music yielded more milk. In view of the fact that waves of music exercise such a powerful influence on vegetation and animals, the effect of vibrations produced by a mantra can no longer be disputed. The working of a mantra is even more subtle, so its effect is visible on a subtle level. Combined with faith, self-confidence and passion, a mantra’s power of doing good is increased a hundred fold.

Q.You have talked about the scientific nature of spell-craft and the system of mantra-therapy. But it has been observed that those resorting to japa and mantras for years together, are not satisfied with the results. Some even talk of giving up mantra-japa altogether. Is that the right approach?

Ans. The words of a mantra are in themselves charged with electricity. The user of a spell also experiences its electric effect. How effective it proves, depends upon the disposition of the experimenter. “Sweetness depends upon the amount of sugar put in,” is a traditional saying. Similarly, the greater the devotion, the greater the power of japa. Japa always yields some definite result, more or less. It seems to me that in order to advance in the field of sadhana, to remove obstructions in the path of spiritual progress, and to enter the inner world, the first thing to be done is japa. The doubt about the effectiveness of japa is now being replaced by a new faith in its power.

In the Jain tradition, the recitation of ‘namaskar mahamantra’ (obeisance-spell), of seed-letters, of a spell word or the name of one’s personal deity, is still very much prevalent. The question arises if it produces the desired results. Some people get good results, whereas others draw a complete blank. But the talk of giving up. japa-sadhana in the absence of any visible results, is not right. Because the reason behind the absence of results is not any lack of virtue in the mantra, but the practitioner’s ignorance of the proper technique of recitation. The water has the power of slaking one’s thirst. If because of some reason, the water is rendered unclean or it gets tepid as in the hot season and cannot slake one’s thirst, it cannot be said that the water has lost its virtue. If the same water is cleaned and cooled, it becomes fit for use.

Similarly, people who undertake japa unsystematically, recite the mantra too quickly, or too lethargically, or sit down to practice it when their mind is restless and wandering-these are the defects of performance. If these defects are removed, japa can establish itself in the form of a powerful tool for bringing about physical, mental and spiritual change. The fundamental basis of change is the purity of the life-current. Total concentration of the mind on the mantra does not in any way obstruct the flow of vital energy. The flow of vital energy means the flow of strength and vigor in the body. The purer the flow, the stronger the vital energy. Unless combined with the vital energy, the mantra loses its virtue. In order to achieve the desired result from the practice of mantra recitation, it is necessary to blend it with the flow of vital energy.