Mantras are words or prayers that are composed of psychically potent sound syllables that influence the human system. Repeating mantras with or without a counting device is known as japa or mantra yoga. Japa is a practice used by aspirants of all religions - Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Zoroastrians,... - as a powerful tool to control the mind. They all believe that an idle mind is the devil's workshop, and they work on themselves by doing prayers, often with a rosary.
In Tantric Japa one repeats mantras for a prescribed number of times. After nine tenth of the total number of repetitions have been done or after completion of the prescribed number, offerings of ghee and herbs are made to the fire. When it is done without any desire, it needs no such fire worship or Homa.
Silent japa (upanshu japa) is supposed to be more powerful than when said aloud. An easy way to exercise silent japa is to perform it aloud for a period of time so that the ears will hear the mantras and the brain will register it. The aspirant should keep on decreasing the volume of the sound, using bass sounds, and should gradually start doing the mantra yoga silently. This japa method is effective because the cerebral cortex will keep on repeating the mantras for a period of time even after the audible japa has stopped. The speed of japa should remain uniform, and it should be done in sustained tones.
Written Japa is a powerful variation of silent japa. It entails writing the name of the deity on paper, birch bark or tree leaves. Written japa creates a habit of silent japa and is supposed to be ten times more powerful. Written japa can be made even more powerful if a picture of the deity is composed by the writing. Also, the use of different colors can make it more aesthetic and powerful. Below are some more examples of written japa :
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The first, last, and best mantra is "AUM". It is the supreme consciousness in sound form. It is Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer all in one. Using AUM before and after any mantra in japa harmonizes the two hemispheres of the brain and creates a magical effect.
If the mantra "AUM GANG GANAPATAYE NAMAH" is repeated 5000 times for 25 days one will see the effect of the mantra. Ganapati or Ganesha is supposed to be the obstacle remover. He gives all kinds of physical and mental powers. He gives peace and prosperity.
A very good story to explain how Japa works is that of "The Genie and the Pole".
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You can also read : How to meditate ?
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