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Thread: Mantra japa or nama japa for me?

  1. #1
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    Mantra japa or nama japa for me?

    Namaste.

    Maybe it's because my mind is not disciplined, I cannot seem to concentrate or derive anything (feeling) from the mantra Om Namo Bhagavate Vāsudevāya when I do japa. Certainly I know it's meaning, but I don't "connect" with it. I know that properly a mantra should be given by a guru, but I do not have a guru, and most likely never will. I chose Om Namo Bhagavate Vāsudevāya because I've read that is the one for Vaishnavas to use, that it brings you close to Krishna.

    On the other hand, I read that when one is not initiated, one should not chant mantra japa, but rather nama japa. If I understood what I read, should I not use Om Namo Bhagavate Vāsudevāya or Om Sri Krishnaya Namaha, or another mantra? Rather, I should just chant "Krishna, Krishna, Krishna..." or "Govinda, Govinda, Govinda..." or "Rāma, Rāma, Rāma... " on my mālā? If so, I think even that's very nice in itself.
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

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    Re: Mantra japa or nama japa for me?

    Hari Om!

    There are several schools of thought on this. I'll offer my own humble suggestions with the hope that you will find some clarity and comfort within.

    Speaking from my own experience, it took some time to feel a connection to the mantra and further, the bond between deity and myself through mantra. Not sure how long you've been practicing with said mantra, but concentration does come over time. Feeling may. I might suggest sticking with it, but again it's only my opinion.

    Then again, another school of thought WOULD be to change things up and take a new mantra. While I'm not totally for this, I'm also not totally against it either. My bias would have you reciting "Rama Rama Rama" but you must go with what resonates.

    Perhaps you could do both? Could one be the catalyst for the other?

    You state that you don't have a guru and most likely never will. Is this a personal choice? A preference? If not, please be open to one coming to you knowing that the God that you worship may in fact be your first guru (just a thought) but will certainly lead you to the correct source if it is to be. No harm in asking for guidance however.

    On a final note, I admire that you include japa in your sadhana. Many are just "too busy" or may have some other obstacle that keeps them from committing from practicing. Hari Om my friend!

    Om Namah Sivaya
    Jai Hanuman!

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    Re: Mantra japa or nama japa for me?

    Namaste.

    Quote Originally Posted by c.smith View Post
    Speaking from my own experience, it took some time to feel a connection to the mantra and further, the bond between deity and myself through mantra. Not sure how long you've been practicing with said mantra, but concentration does come over time. Feeling may. I might suggest sticking with it, but again it's only my opinion.
    I see, maybe I am expecting too much too soon from the mantra. I feel connected to Krishna Himself, though I wish I knew Him better. I feel very connected to Lord Narasimha. I feel like He is my spiritual "bodyguard".

    Then again, another school of thought WOULD be to change things up and take a new mantra. While I'm not totally for this, I'm also not totally against it either. My bias would have you reciting "Rama Rama Rama" but you must go with what resonates.

    Perhaps you could do both? Could one be the catalyst for the other?
    I have thought about trying a different one or two to see which one, as you say, resonates. I have thought about Om Sri Krishnaya namaha and Om Sri Krishna sharanam mama. Though I know the second one is a mantra of Swaminarayan, I feel like He truly is my refuge, safety and sanctuary. I see it as running to Him and letting Him envelope me in His love and protection in all things. And maybe therein lies my affinity and affection for Lord Narasimha.

    You state that you don't have a guru and most likely never will. Is this a personal choice? A preference? If not, please be open to one coming to you knowing that the God that you worship may in fact be your first guru (just a thought) but will certainly lead you to the correct source if it is to be. No harm in asking for guidance however.
    I think it would be great to have a guru. It's a matter of opportunity. I live in any area where there is only one temple, about 20 miles from me. When I could get there, they are conducting services. Then the temple closes. I don't know if there's a financial aspect, which is a hardship for me. But aside from that, I don't even know how to go about finding a guru.

    On a final note, I admire that you include japa in your sadhana. Many are just "too busy" or may have some other obstacle that keeps them from committing from practicing. Hari Om my friend!

    Om Namah Sivaya
    Jai Hanuman!
    Thanks... and here I feel like I'm not doing enough, properly, and now I hear some people don't do it at all!
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

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    Re: Mantra japa or nama japa for me?

    Well, another mystery of the universe solved. There is nothing wrong with the Om Namo Bhagavate Vāsudevāya mantra for me... it is me. Or rather was, has been... whatever verb tense you like... all along. It is my breathing and rhythm that's been off. I also used a melodic chant this time. By focusing on those and bringing them together, though my mind did wander from time to time (to be expected, I suppose), I found it easier to bring myself back by and focus on japa. It was a pleasant feeling. I know this will take practice.
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

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    Re: Mantra japa or nama japa for me?

    Hari Om!

    Just a suggestion, but perhaps a brief pranayama session before japa - say 5 minutes or so. This will help with concentration and your breathing during jap. If able and wanting to take it a bit further, one could do a light yoga session before the pranayama, say 5 - 10 minutes in length. In combination this would help to center, calm and help one to reflect.

    All the best to you.

    Om Namah Sivaya
    Jai Hanuman!

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    Re: Mantra japa or nama japa for me?

    Thanks, I think you are right. I never thought of that. Well, that's not entirely true... I had it backwards. After my japa tonight I sat for a few minutes, eyes closed, breathing easily and letting my mind empty (which isn't hard ). It was a nice effect. I have to do this regularly.
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

  7. #7

    Re: Mantra japa or nama japa for me?

    To start with you can concentrate on the image of lord krishna in the sweetest form you can imagine which is a living & breathing one, this should give rise to some bliss in the mind - japa can then ride on this bliss flow and perpetuate it further.
    What is Here, is Elsewhere. What is not Here, is Nowhere.

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    Re: Mantra japa or nama japa for me?

    Namaste sm78. Thanks.

    When I do japa, it's usually in front of His image. If my eyes are open, I focus on His mischievous and loving facial expression. I also look at how Srimati Radha looks at Him with love.

    If I close my eyes and/or I'm not in front of His image, I imagine Him frolicking with His mates and the gopis, and being the lovable tease and prankster. That's when I have the best success. I haven't yet gotten that "ingrained" in my practice, nor have I let myself hear His flute music calling. There are so many things running through my head I forget why He plays the flute... to call us to Him.
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

  9. #9

    Re: Mantra japa or nama japa for me?

    It may be that you took the less important part of my suggestion to be more important, so I re-iterate.
    <<<this should give rise to some bliss in the mind - japa can then ride on this bliss flow and perpetuate it(bliss) further>>>

    Imagination is a tool to activate the innate ananda in us and the idea is not to get lost in an imaginary story line. Novel reading would be more effective for that. In vaisanava terms I am talking about the harnessing the rasa/"juice" in visualization and not the visualization itself. Krishna playing flute and frolicking with gopis can be a very dry visualization taxing the mind with little benefit, unless you are the gopi and get the pleasure from this, which is the rasa of this visualization, and on which japa can be enhanced. Maybe a simple static visualization which touches your heart is better for it than such elaborate affair? Just a few suggestions from meditation p.o.v only (i don't know any vaishnava dharma), but ultimately you will know what best works for you.

    open eyes concentration on a photo may be ok, but also points to the reality of deity as only a photo and mind may not derive much pleasure from it. May be you have tried looking at the photo and then closing eyes to internalize the same? This can be done alternatively with looking at the photo when internal vision is getting diluted. Might work out better.
    Last edited by sm78; 17 February 2012 at 09:32 AM.
    What is Here, is Elsewhere. What is not Here, is Nowhere.

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    Re: Mantra japa or nama japa for me?

    I see, so it's an upward spiral of improvement...building blocks.
    śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ

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