Why is purashcharan performed before commencing chanting of mantra?


1. Purification of the mantra

‘Before any mantra is made efficacious (siddha) it has to be purified. The seven methods of purifying a mantra are given in Goutamiya as follows –

भ्रामणं रोधनं वश्‍यं पीडनं शोषपोषणे ।
दहनान्‍तं क्रमात्‌ कुर्यात्‌ तत: सिद्धिर्भवेन्न तु ।

In brief it means :

1. Bhraman
: Interweaving of all the consonants of the mantra
  with ‘yam’ the bija of the vayu (absolute air)
2. Rodhan
: Chanting of the mantra should be done with the
  bija Om.
3. Vashikaran
: Using a paste of either alata, redsandalwood
  (raktachandan), turmeric, thorn apple (dhatura)
  seeds or red arsenic sulphate, the mantra should
  be written on a parchment of birch bark (bhurja
4. Pidan
: The mantra should be written with the latex of a
  special type of gum tree and should be pressed
  with the foot.
5. Shoshan
: The mantra should be chanted after the addition
  of the bija vam’ of Varun.
6. Poshan
: The mantra should be chanted after the addition
  of the three bijamantras prescribed by the Guru.
  Then it should be written using cow’s milk or
7. Dahan
: The mantra should be chanted with the insertion
  of ‘ram’ the bija of Agni in the beginning, middle
  and at the end of the mantra. Then it should be
  written with oil extracted from the seeds of the
  palash tree.’ (1)

2. Utkilan (nishkilan)

Some mantras are impure. Once they are activated with bijakshars their cleansing occurs and their energy becomes manifest. See point Kilak.

3. Befriending mantras (mantramaitri)

‘Often one has to befriend mantras. This friendship is achieved through rituals. Depending on the cause for which the mantra is required and to what extent that cause is pure, impure, mild, harsh, auspicious, inauspicious, complimentary or harmful, one has to perform some rites (kriya) on that mantra accordingly. The seats (asans), malas (rosaries) and yantras used while performing them vary. (There are also various types of mantras for befriending mantras).

4. Emancipation from the curse (shapvimochan)

Various sages have cursed some mantras. Lord Shankar has cursed seven crores of mahamantras. The Gayatri mantra too has been cursed by Sages Vasishtha and Vishvamitra, Lord Brahma and Varun.’(2) Hence, for a mantra to become efficacious the curse has to be eliminated in the following ways.

A. Under the guidance of one’s Guru the following mantras should be chanted consecutively,

  • Gayatri mantra
  • Mrutyunjay mantra
  • Jatvedase …’ (sukta) from the Vedas
  • Gayatri mantra
  • Paro rajase savadom …’ (sukta) from the Vedas
  • Hansaha so’ham
  • Chanting the words in the mantra in a reverse order.

B. The ritual of sanjivan: All the tantrik procedures involved in this ritual have been described in detail in the science of Tantra.

5. Sanskars (rites) on the mantras

For any mantra to be effective one needs to perform the following ten sanskars on it under the guidance of a Guru.

  • A. Janan: The mantra should be written on a parchment of birch bark (bhurjapatra) with a bright yellow pigment from the bile or urine or head of a cow (gorochan). Then a yantra of the mantra should be made as described in the scriptures and worshipped after invocation (avahan) of the deity of the mantra.
  • B. Dipan: One should chant ‘hansaha – “mantra” – so.. ham’ one thousand times.
  • C. Bodhan: One should chant ‘hansaha – “mantra” – hansaha’ five thousand times.
  • D. Tadan: One should chant ‘phat – “mantra” – phat one thousand times.
  • E. Abhishek (consecration by sprinkling water or liquids): ‘Aim hansaha Om – “mantra” – aim hansaha Om’ and chant the mantra one thousand times. While chanting the mantra one should continuously sprinkle water on the mantra written on a parchment of birch bark.
  • F. Vimalikaran: One should chant ‘Om troum vashatmantra”- vashat troum Om’ one thousand times.
  • G. Jivan: One should chant ‘svadha vashat – “mantra”- vashat svadha’ one thousand times.
  • H. Tarpan: One should sprinkle milk, ghee and water on the mantra written on a parchment of birch bark each time while chanting the mantra a thousand times.
  • I. Gopan: One should chant ‘rhim – “mantra” – rhim’ one thousand times.
  • J. Apyayan: One should chant ‘hansaha – “mantra” – so’.ham’ one thousand times.

6. Activation of mantras

The activation of a mantra means increasing the energy in it.

For the mantras of fire or the sun one should chant the mantraOm ram’ when the Ida channel (nadi) is operational, that is, when breathing is occurring through the left nostril. The mantra should also be chanted for the mellow mantras or those of the moon when the Pingala channel is operational, that is, when breathing is occurring through the right nostril.

7. A Purashcharan

7.1 Definition

  • A. According to Vayusanhita, ‘पुरत: चरणं’ means a purashcharan, that is, the worship of a deity performed with a tantra, mantra and chanting (japa) and the prescribed rituals done to enable the mantra to give the expected results, before commencing the chanting of the mantra.
  • B. ‘मंत्रफलसिद्ध्‌यर्थं नियतसङ्‌ख्‍याको जप: ।’ means particular quantity of chanting for the acquisition of the desired result of the mantra [of the benevolent deity (ishtadevata)] is termed as a purashcharan or a puraskriya.

7.2 Importance

According to the text Yoginihruday, just as a lifeless person is unable to perform any action so also without a purashcharan, a mantra is incapable of imparting supernatural powers (siddhis). Although the mantra obtained from the Guru is efficacious yet in some sects its purashcharan is performed. With the ritual of purashcharan, the mantra becomes efficacious and the deities too are appeased.

7.3 Parts

Chanting (japa), sacrificial fire (hom), offering to the ancestors (tarpan), consecration of the deity by sprinkling water or liquids such as milk (abhishek / marjan) and offering food to Brahmans (Brahmanbhojan) constitute the five parts of a purashcharan.

7.4 Preparations

A purashcharan is commenced on an auspicious day, in the first half of the bright fortnight of the month, of the Hindu lunar when the moon and planets are favourable. It may also be performed at the time of an eclipse. During a solar eclipse the purashcharan gets completed only with the number of rounds done from the time of the commencement of the eclipse till its end. The rule mentioned later, of chanting the mantra a thousand times is not applicable to it. However, the eclipse should not be of the type where one merely sees its onset or the end. One may choose any half of the lunar month for the purashcharan according to one’s ability.

Holy places, river banks, caves, mountain peaks, confluence of rivers, isolated parks, temples of Lord Shiva, etc. are considered ideal to perform a purashcharan. A site where the cold, wind or rain will not affect the doer or cause physical ailments and also where the concentration will not be disturbed by anything should be chosen for the purashcharan. Prior to the commencement of the purashcharan of a mantra the seeker should perform the sanskars (rites) of Mukhashodhan, Jivhashodhan, Ashouchabhang, Kulluk, Nirvan, Setu, Nidrabhang and Mantrajagar and also austerities like Kruchchra, etc.

In order to purify the physical body one should partake of a mixture of milk, curd, butter, urine and dung of the cow (panchgavya) and should wear the sacred thread (yadnyopavit). In order to overcome any defects in the mantra one should chant the Gayatri mantra a thousand or ten thousand times, recite the Varunsuktas like Apohishtha, etc. Panchasukta, Pavamansukta, Rudrasukta and make offerings to the sages (rushitarpan) on the eve of the purashcharan. If one is unable to recite the Suktas then one should invite Brahman (priest) to recite them and should listen to them. One should observe a fast on the previous day.

7.5 The day of the purashcharan

One should perform Punyaha-vachan, Matrukapujan and Nandishraddha after expressing the resolve (sankalpa). A seat made of grass (darbhasan), deerskin or wool should be used for the purashcharan. The same seat and place should be chosen everyday. One should then perform the ritual of taking the seat (asanvidhi) with mantras like ‘pruthvi tvaya dhruta loka….’, etc. Then after performing nyas [establishing the benevolent deity (ishtadevata) or the mantra], praying to the deities, sprinkling holy water on the mala (prokshan) and meditating on the Savita (Sun) deity, chanting should be commenced.

A Japa

The total chanting of the purashcharan should be equivalent to the number of letters in the mantra, in lakhs or crores. It is necessary to complete a specific quantity of chanting everyday and to conclude it before noon.

If one decides to perform a purashcharan in thousands and if one performs hundred rounds (avartans) everyday then in a span of ten days one mini purashcharan will be completed. One should decide the number of rounds depending on one’s capacity. If the number is reduced then more days will be required to complete it and vice-versa. However one should remember that as far as possible one should complete the number of rounds decided in the beginning. Ancient texts like Mundamala, etc. clearly state that one should neither decrease or increase the quantity nor break the routine. However, Sage Vaishampayan states that if on account of difficulties like ill health, fever, impurities due to mourning or childbirth (soyar-sutak), etc. more time is taken or a variation in the predetermined quantity occurs, then it does not amount to sin.

Since Ganapatyatharvashirsha is the Upanishad Shrutiveda women cannot practise it. Ganapatyatharvashirshabhashya prescribes the purashcharan in multiples of thousand. However from the science of Mantra one can also select quantities such as ten thousand, etc. Accordingly three types of purashcharans are possible viz. primary with 1000, medium with 10,000 and superior with 1,00,000 rounds (avartans). For the fulfillment of one’s desires one can also perform purashcharans in the Mandal Mahamandal method of chanting, 441 (21 x 21) or 9261 (21 x 21 x 21) times.

B Havan

After completion of the predetermined quantity, a havan (offering an oblation with fire) is performed with one tenth of that quantity. If this is not possible then one should chant four times the quantity of the havan. During a Gayatri purashcharan an oblation of boiled rice (charu), sesame seeds, a sweet made of rice and milk (payas), durva and sacrificial fire sticks (samidha) is used in the havan. According to the Vishnudharmottar Puran, the ingredient used in the havan should be modified according to the resolve of the purashcharan.

The desire   Ingredients used in
the havan
The desire Ingredients used in
the havan
of all sins
Sesame seeds Foodgrain Uncleaned rice
Serenity Barley Pacifying the
Sacrificial firewood
Longevity Clarified butter
(Sesame oil, cooked
rice mixed with
clarified butter)
Wealth Fruits of the bel
Success in
Mustard seeds Opulence Lotus
Milk (Payas) Health Durva and milk
A son Curd Marital
Globules of

C Tarpan

Tarpan of the benevolent deity (ishtadevata) is performed with another tenth of the quantity of the havan.

D Marjan (abhishek)

Consecration of the deity by sprinkling liquids is to be performed with a tenth quantity of the tarpan.

E Offering food to Brahmans (Brahmanbhojan)

One should offer food to Brahmans in a number equivalent to one tenth of the abhishek. If offering food to Brahmans is not possible then the Guru should be worshipped and appeased.

One can also perform a purashcharan consisting of one, two, three, four, five or ten or more parts.

F Alternatives to a havan

If a havan, etc. is not possible due to financial constraints then according to the mundamalatantra the purashcharan can be performed with chanting (japa) too. If one wishes to do 24,00,000 purashcharans of a mantra then one can perform chanting as follows as an alternative to a havan, etc.

  Quantity of
1. A purashcharan 24,00,000
2. A havan after suffixing ‘svaha
    to the mantra
3. Tarpan after suffixing ‘savitaram
4. Marjan after suffixing ‘atmanam
5. Offering food to Brahman 240
Total 26,66,640

G Rules and restrictions

The host performing the purashcharan has to follow certain rules and restrictions of diet. Eating food cooked by outsiders, a body massage, intercourse, telling lies, etc. are prohibited.

7.6 Conclusion (samapti)

After the completion of the purashcharan the host should offer money (dakshina) to the priest according to his financial capacity and should surrender the action unto God. Speaking falsely during the purashcharan and leaving the site of the purashcharan are forbidden. During the purashcharan period the host should sleep on the floor. One should not undertake a purashcharan during the four months of chatrumas.

Performing a purashcharan by oneself is more beneficial than getting it done through a Brahman.

(The above information is based on excerpts from volumes 2 and 5 of the Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh and Savidhanam Shriganapatyatharvashirsham, First edition 1981, pages 106-111, Publisher: Keshav Bhikaji Dhavale, Mumbai 400 004.)

8. Meaning of the mantra

One should chant the mantra concentrating on its meaning and thus let the whole body get engrossed in it.

9. Comparative importance of the techniques

The Technique The
1. Purification of the mantra 4
2. Removal of the Kilak (utkilan) 2
3. Befriending the mantra 2
4. Emancipation from the curse 2
5. Sanskars (rites) performed on
    the mantra
6. Activation of the mantra 5
7. Purashcharan 70
8. Meaning of the mantra 2
9. Others 8
Total 100

10. ‘The six tantrik acts (shatkarmas) essential for proving a mantra (mantrasiddhi)

Shanti, Vashikaran, Stambhan, Vidveshan, Uchchatan and Maran are the six acts to be performed at the appropriate time and positioning of the planets and stars, under the guidance of a Guru.

  • A. Shantikarma: The ill effects of sins acquired in previous births are destroyed. Besides the undesired influences of planets and diseases are overcome.
  • B. Vashikaran: One is able to attract various animals, men, women and deities.
  • C. Stambhan: One is able to arrest the harmful activities of the enemy which are directed towards oneself and is able to obstruct the regular activities of the fire, vayu (absolute air), tej (absolute fire) and other elements. If Stambhan is performed then even fire is unable to obstruct the proving of the mantras (mantrasiddhi).
  • D. Vidveshan: One can destroy the organisation of one’s enemies and they begin to detest one another.
  • E. Uchchatan: One can drive the enemy out of the country by inflicting distress upon him.
  • F. Maran: The enemy is eliminated.

When performing these six tantrik acts one has to worship one of the following female deities – Tara, Kalika or Chinnamasta. Before commencing the acts one should perform ritualistic worship (puja) of the deities Rati, Vani, Rama, Jyeshtha, Matangi, Kulakamini, Durga and Bhadrakali using sixteen ingredients (shodashopchar). These six acts should be performed in isolation. The spiritual practice for the act of Maran should be done seated on a corpse or in a crematorium. When performing this act the seeker should either be nude or should adorn tiger skin. Red silk clothing may also be used. A mala (rosary) of beads made from human bone is auspicious for chanting. However one of glass or indrakshas may also be used. The seat (asan) used for undertaking the spiritual practice should be made of mud, grass, wood or tiger skin. At the outset one should chant the mantra of Lord Bhairav to become fearless. Then, an animal sacrifice should be made according to the scriptures.

The scriptures recommend that the act of Maran should be performed on a Saturday night, the other acts should be done on Sunday. One day prior to beginning the ceremony when one prahar (three hours) of the night is left one should worship the deity Kulavinashini along with Lord Ganesh and five other deities. Then becoming nude and letting the hair loose one should contemplate on Shri Devi (the Primal Energy) and then commence the chanting of the mantra. In this way till one lakh of chanting is completed one should offer meals to sorcerers and priests everyday. Then hundred offerings each of fish, meat and liquor should be made into the fire and the Guru should be appeased by giving offerings (dakshina) in abundance. If the ceremony is prolonged then a sacrifice (bali) of a goat should be made. At the end of the ritualistic worship it should be offered to the fire.

A separate energy is recommended for every act – Padmini for Shantikarma, Shankhini for Vashikaran, Nagini for Stambhan and Uchchatan and Dakini for Maran. The woman chosen as the energy (shakti) should have a high sexual desire, having a son and beautiful.

The Yoginitantra recommends the one lettered Kalika mantrakrim’, the Tarini mantrarhim strim hum’ or the eleven lettered Vajravairochan mantra for spiritual practice.’ (3)

11. The efficacious (siddha) mantras

‘Some mantras are efficacious (siddha) by themselves. No rites need to be performed to make them efficacious. The mantras from all the four Vedas are considered to be both efficacious by themselves and self-illuminated. The mantras which are handed down as family tradition are also efficacious by themselves. Some of the mantras amongst the thousands from the science of Tantra are also efficacious ones.’ (4)

The efficacious (siddha) mantra is one which is powerful. The potential in a mantra depends upon the following four points. The table shows the comparative importance of all the four.

The components of the potential in the mantra The
Importance %
1. The spiritual level of the one who created the
2. The spiritual level of the one who recommended
    the chanting of the mantra
3. The spiritual practice of the seeker 70
4. Pronunciation of the mantra in a correct manner
    as described in the scriptures
Total 100

Of all these four, the spiritual practice of the seeker is the most important. In other words, a mantra does not possess much power of its own. The seeker has to generate power from it, within himself, through spiritual practice. Hence, if an efficacious mantra is given to a person who has not done any spiritual practice, he will not derive any benefit from it unless he does spiritual practice. The important point to be remembered here is that saints endow a seeker with a mantra after considering his potential. This means that the one receiving the mantra has definitely completed some amount of spiritual practice. Sometimes some evolved persons do spiritual practice in order to revive the power of a mantra if it has been reduced with the passage of time. Saint Anna Karandikar from Dahanu was one such saint. He told us this Himself.


Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh. Publishers: Pandit Mahadevshastri Joshi, Secretary, Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal, 410 Shanivar Peth, Pune 411 030.
Vol. 1 and 2: Second edition           Vol. 3 to 10: First edition
1. Vol. 6, Pg. 649     2. Vol. 6, Pg. 649
3. Vol. 9, Pg. 500     4. Vol. 6. Pg. 650


Why is correct pronunciation important while reciting a mantra?


1. Pronunciation of mantra and its importance

‘The objective behind doing spiritual practice of mantras is to reveal their obscure energy. Sages have already described what benefits a particular mantra yields. A mantra is not merely a union of letters. Their combination is a representation of inner energy. The energy within a seeker gets activated due to a mantra and he acquires tremendous strength. The divine consciousness (chaitanya) in a mantra is superior to the gross words in it. It is found that if one performs the purashcharan (chanting) of a mantra infallibly and with assertion then one can experience the powerful energy in it and can achieve anything from mundane detachment of greed to Self-realisation.

The science of Mantra has originated from the word (shabda) Brahman. The energy of a mantra lies in its pronunciation. That energy is manifested from frequencies generated in the atmosphere by the sound vibrations that are generated through its chanting. The nature of the mantra is one of radiance (tej). Though it appears rather meaningless it is laden with the potential to bring about the manifestation of a deity.

The power of a mantra itself is the power of the mind which in turn is the power of one’s thoughts. Thoughts which are devoid of words are very subtle. When thoughts are expressed in words, they become gross. It is evident that the energy in the gross is less than that in the subtle. The energy in a mantra in the form of thought or meaning is always greater than the pronunciation of a mantra in the form of words. Considering the tremendous power generated by thought, Indian philosophers proclaimed the shocking doctrine over five thousand years ago that bad thoughts are more harmful than bad words.’ (1)

Once one concentrates on pronouncing a mantra correctly, the mind does not wander and this helps build up concentration of the mind.

Sound (nad) is the basic component of creation and is based on the sciences of Music and Mantra. Now pronounce Om as one usually does and note the spiritual experience. Then prolong the duration of Om three to four times, that is O….m…. and then record the experience. With the prolonged Om one experiences more energy or goes into a kind of trance, than with the usual Om. The reason for this is that with the usual pronunciation only one direction is stimulated whereas with the prolonged variation all the eight directions are stimulated. It is for this very reason that usually when a note is prolonged a positive effect is obtained.

In the Vedas too, the mere meaning is unimportant. One should be able to recite them with the correct rhythm (chanda), syllabic foot (vrutta) and measure of verse (matra). Only then is the real benefit obtained. With such Vedic chanting one also acquires the benefit of pranayam.

‘A mantra should be obtained only from the Guru and should be chanted according to the science of Matras. A matra is that with which one realises the magnitude of the sound of words. The science of Matras, that is the correct pronunciation of the mantras as regards their notes such as aroha, avaroha, udatta, anudatta, svarit, prachay, etc. is of special importance. If there is an error in that then the deleterious effects that can be caused are described with examples in the teachings of Panini as –

मन्‍त्रो हीन: स्‍वरतो वर्णतो वा मिथ्‍याप्रयुक्तो न तमर्थमाह ।
स वाग्‍वज्रो यजमानं हिनस्‍ति यथेन्‍द्रशत्रु: स्‍वरतोऽपराधात्‌ ।

The meaning: The mantra without proper pronunciation of vowels (svar) and consonants (varna), that is the utterance of a mantra in a faulty manner makes it faulty and does not convey the intended meaning. Instead it gets converted into a verbal thunderbolt and harms the one chanting it, as had occurred in the case of the word Indrashatru with faulty pronunciation of the vowels.

The compound word Indrashatru could have two meanings, one being “Indra’s enemy” (the slayer of Lord Indra) from Tatpurush Samas and “the one whose enemy is Lord Indra” (the one who will be slain by Lord Indra) from Bahuvrihi Samas. Since the first meaning was intended for Tvashta he had to utter the note of the last letter of the entire word in a lofty tone. He however, uttered the last letter of the first word in the Samas in a lofty tone. Consequently, instead of a son being born to slay Lord Indra, a son, Vrutra who would be killed by Lord Indra was born. (Taittiriya Sanhita 2.5.1-2)

The teachings of Panini further say,

अनक्षरं हतायुष्‍यं विस्‍वरं व्‍याधिपीडितम्‌ ।
अक्षता शस्‍त्ररूपेण वज्रं पतति मस्‍तके ।।

The meaning: If some of the consonants in a mantra are deleted then they destroy life, if the vowels (svar) are faulty then disease sets in. The consecrated rice (akshata) [consecrated with a mantra which has discordant vowels and omission of letters] descends upon the head of the host like a thunderbolt (vajra).

Only a mantra imparted by an appeased Guru, one obtained in a dream or from a deity during meditation or accepted after the performance of appropriate rites such as the removal of kilak, chanted with pure and appropriate notes observing the ritualistic rules and restrictions can prove successful and even endorse the desired benefits. Chanting a mantra read in a book and getting initiation of a mantra from a person without spiritual authority is not only meaningless but also disastrous.’ (2)

‘One comes across Narad and Tumbaru as a pair in the Purans. Tumbaru possessed knowledge of music but Narad did not and hence was once insulted by Lakshmi, the deity of wealth. Then Narad began to learn music from Tumbaru. Once as He was singing, all the Raginis, the deities of musical notes appeared before Him. They were emaciated and drained of energy. When Narad asked them the reason for their state they replied, “We have been reduced to this state because of your improper and harsh singing. Now, after hearing Tumbaru sing we will return to our original state.” Narad was humiliated hearing this. He then proceeded to Shvetadipa and prayed to Lord Vishnu asking for the knowledge of music. Lord Vishnu responded, “I will teach you music in My incarnation as Krushna.” Later along with His wives Rukmini, Satyabhama and Jambavati Krushna Himself perfected Him with the knowledge of singing.’ (3)

Our ears are influenced by sound (nad). How one perceives the various characteristics of an object through the different sense organs is described in the following table. From this table one will also realise the superiority of the sense organ of hearing, over the others. Just as in us the sense organ of hearing is the most important so also of the five universal subtle sense organs, the subtle sense organ of hearing is the most important. It is activated by sound (nad).

1. The sense organs ears skin eyes tongue nose
2. What can the sense
    organ perceive?
touch form
taste odour
3. Knowledge about a
    person or an object
    existing in the
yes yes yes yes yes
4. Knowledge of an
    object without its
    entering one’s body
yes yes yes yes
5. Knowledge of a
    person or an object
    from a distance
yes yes
6. The ability to acquire
    knowledge about the
    past or future of a
    person or an object
    or information related
    to it or the gross
    emotions, as
    described or written
    by someone
yes yes
7. Acquisition of
    knowledge of subtle
    frequencies generated
    from the motor
    organs of a person by
    the subtle sense organ

* Knowledge is acquired from the subtle sound generated from the movements of the motor organs.

1.1 Pronunciation and purification of speech

When any word is pronounced aloud or mentally according to the rules of grammar, purification of speech is achieved.

2. Benefits of chanting mantra

  • A. The deity of the mantra is appeased through veneration.
  • B. Spiritual progress
  • C. Protection: A mantra is a tremendous force. According to the science of Mantra, the armours (kavach) of different deities are – Lakshmi kavach, Shiva kavach, Gopal kavach, Viíhnu kavach, Datta kavach, Ramaraksha, Maruti stotra, etc. By regular recitation of these mantras an armour is created around the physical body. Evolved seekers can either see or sense this armour. These subtle armours are stronger than the gross ones. Gross armours protect against gross weapons such as bullets while the subtle ones protect against gross as well as subtle energies such as spirits, black magic (karni), etc.

         Some mantra or yantra is written on a leaf, a sheet of paper or tin and is inserted into an amulet and then worn around the neck or tied on the arm. That is also called an armour. An armour is used either to protect the body, to combat disease or to fulfill some wish. Just as a deity has its verse of praise (stotra) it also has its own armour. This armour contains a prayer for protection of all the organs in one’s body. The ‘Rama kavach’ given below is a part of the famous ‘Ramaraksha’ verse.

    शिरो मे राघव: पातु भालं दशरथात्‍मज: ।।
    कौसल्‍येयो दृशौ पातु विश्वामित्रप्रिय: श्रृति: ।…

         The meaning: May Lord Raghav protect my head. May the son of Dasharath protect my forehead, may my eyes be protected by the son of Kousalya, the ears by the one dear to Sage Vishvamitra.

  • D. Destruction of the enemy
  • E. Acquisition of supernatural powers (siddhis): One can gain control over different elements including the akash (absolute ether) element with mantras. As a result various supernatural powers are acquired.
  • F. Nullification of sins
  • G. Purification of speech: Refer point ‘1.1’.

2.1  Preconditions

  • A. ‘For the energy of a mantra to manifest itself one has to chant the mantra. Chanting means repetition in rounds (avartans). However, these rounds should also include the meaning of the mantra and not mere words. Hence, rather than mere utterance, chanting the mantra with spiritual emotion (bhav) after understanding its meaning, is implied in its chanting.
  • B. The mantra should be chanted with faith.

    मंत्रे तीर्थे देवे व्‍दिजे दैवज्ञे भेषजे गुरौ ।
    यादृशी भावना यस्‍य सिद्घिर्भवति तादृशी ।।

         The meaning: One gets the benefit according to the amount of faith that one has in a mantra, holy water (tirtha), God, a Brahman, an astrologer, a physician and a Guru.

  • C. The thoughts and behaviour should be sattvik (sattva predominant) in nature.
  • D. The practice of Tantra is useful for a mantra. The practice of Tantra involves drawing figures (yantras) such as triangles, quadrangles, circles, etc. on paper or engraving them on copper sheets and worshipping them ritualistically.’ (4) Refer ‘Pronunciation and its importance’.

2.2 The signs of progress

  • A. Disappearance of obstacles in spiritual practice.
  • B. Visions of auspicious signs
  • C. Spiritual experiences denoting spiritual progress
  • D. The divine consciousness of a mantra (mantrachaitanya): The mantra, its meaning and the deity of the mantra blend into one.

The signs of progress from chanting, mentioned in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 9 – Path of Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga)’ are applicable to chanting of mantras (mantrajapa) as well. The ultimate progress in this means the blending of the mantra, the act of chanting it and the one chanting it,that is dissolution of their triad. In other words, it is the realisation of non-duality (advait).

3. Practical suggestions

‘The Rudrayamal states that a man should not initiate his wife, his children or his brother with a mantra. The Yoginitantra mentions that one should not receive initiation of a mantra from one’s father, maternal grandfather, younger brother and anyone from the enemy’s camp. According to the Sarsangraha, in a good place of pilgrimage, during solar and lunar eclipses and on the full moon day of Shravan (Shravani pournima) of the Hindu lunar calendar one does not need to consider the auspiciousness of the day (tithi), stars, etc. for receiving an initiation. On other days however one has to find an auspicious moment (muhurt) for it.’ (5)

4. Why is it said that ‘A mantra should be kept a secret?’

  • A. Since each one’s mantra is different one knowing the other’s mantra would not be of any use to the other.
  • B. If one chants another’s mantra wrongly it may prove harmful to him.
  • C. When initiating a seeker with a mantra, the Guru considers his requirements and incorporates His energy into it. When the same mantra is told by that seeker to someone else the latter does not benefit from it as the former does not have spiritual energy. If this happens, then there is a possibility that on hearing the latter’s experience the former may get misled and he too may give up spiritual practice.
  • D. When one has to keep some secret one remembers it incessantly. Similarly when a mantra has to be kept a secret, the chanting of the mantra increases.

However, when conversing with other seekers there is no need to keep a mantra or any other spiritual practice a secret as through it everyone is able to learn something. Besides, discussion does not cause any harm. The Gurumantra we were initiated with is ‘Shrirama jai Rama jai jai Rama.’

5. Comparison with other paths of Yoga

5.1 Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namajapa) and chanting a mantra (mantrajapa)

Chanting (japa) is repetition of a letter, word, group of words or a sentence. The following table compares the chanting of The Lord’s Name and that of a mantra.

  Chanting The Lord’s
Chanting a mantra
1. Repetition Present Present
2. Utterance of the
    intention (sankalpa)
    behind the chanting
Absent Present
3. Rituals like sacrificial
    fires (hom, havan), etc.
Not performed Are performed
4. A count of the chanting Not to be maintained Needs to be maintained as
the chanting is based on
quantity. No benefit is
acquired if it is not counted.
5. The minimum amount A celibate (brahmachari)
and a householder worshi-
pping the ahitagni fire: 108,
a retired householder
(vanprasthi) and yati: 1000
6. The motive Either with or without
expectation (sakam
With expectation (sakam)
to protect oneself, to destroy
the enemy or to acquire
supernatural powers
(siddhis) or without expect-
ations (nishkam)
7. Initiation (diksha) from
    the Guru
Mostly absent (some-
times initiation of the
Lord’s Name)
Essential (initiation of a
mantra) as the Guru also
teaches the correct
8. Ritualistic rules and
Absent Present. e.g. ritualistic rules
are ‘bathing before comm-
encing chanting of a mantra,
eating fruit, drinking milk’,
etc. during the specified
quantity of chanting
(anushthan) of the mantra.
‘Abstaining from eating meat’
is a restriction.
9. The pronunciation In any manner Benefits are derived only if
the pronunciation is correct.
10. The time of practice Anytime: there is no
restriction of time
At a particular time, e.g. the
Gayatri mantra if chanted at
sunrise and sunset proves
more beneficial.
11. The place of practice Anywhere: even in the
Only in a pure place, e.g. a
home, on the banks of a
river, a cow shed, a place
where fire is worshipped, a
place of pilgrimage, in front
of the idol of a deity of
worship (upasyadevata)
12. Possibility of harm Never It may prove harmful if the
pronunciation is incorrect.

5.2 Namasankirtanyoga, Dhyanyoga, Dnyanyoga and Mantrayoga

उत्तमा सहजावस्‍था मध्‍यमा ध्‍यानधारणा ।
अधमं तत्त्‍वचिंतनं मंत्रचिंताऽधमाधम: ।।

As spiritual practice the natural state of being in communion with The Lord (sahajavastha) achieved through continuous chanting of The Lord’s Name is the best. Concentration (dharana) and meditation (dhyan) are next to it followed by mere contemplation on various principles from the path of Knowledge (Dnyanyoga) which is inferior. The spiritual practice of chanting a mantra however is inferior to them all.


Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh. Publishers: Pandit Mahadevshastri Joshi, Secretary, Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal, 410 Shanivar Peth, Pune 411 030.
Vol. 1 and 2: Second edition           Vol. 3 to 10: First edition
1. Vol. 6, Pg. 648-649     2. Vol. 6, Pg. 650
3. Vol. 5, Pg. 58               4. Vol. 6, Pg. 648-651
5. Vol. 6. Pg. 651


What is a bijamantra?


1. Origin and meaning of Path of Mantra (Mantrayoga)

Some definitions of the word mantra are as follows:

  • A. ‘मननात्‌ त्रायते इति मंत्र: ।’ manan means bringing only one thought to one’s mind repeatedly and trayate means to protect. In other words mantra refers to that which when thought of repeatedly protects oneself and also that which protects one from the mind or that which helps to bring about the dissolution of the mind. At a further stage Mantrayoga also means that state in which contemplation (manan) stops during chanting, there is dissolution of the mind, cessation of the mantra, dissolution of the triad (triputi) that is, of the mantra, the one chanting the mantra and the act of chanting and the seeker attains the state of dissolution (layavastha).
  • B.Mantra refers to the collection of letters which assists in acquisition of the favourable and the vanquishing of obstacles. The word mantra is derived from mantri, a Sanskrut word which means secret speeches (guhyabhashane). It has various meanings like acquisition of secret objectives, acquisition of secret meanings, invoking a deity for a specific cause, etc. Philosophically it means that by contemplation (manan) of which, knowledge about the oneness of the entire world, that is the embodied soul (jiva), Brahman and the universe is bestowed upon oneself and that by which the embodied soul acquires Liberation (Mukti) from worldly bondages and Righteousness (Dharma), wealth (artha) and desire (kama) are achieved in this world.
  • C. “मंत्रा: मननात्‌ ।” means a mantra is that on which one contemplates (manan) and from which one acquires the knowledge about sacrificial fires (yadnya), God and the soul (Nirukta 7.12).
  • D. मकारो मननं प्राह त्रकारस्त्राणमुच्‍यते ।
         मननत्राणसंयुक्‍तो मंत्र इत्‍यभिधीयते ।।

         The meaning: In the word mantrama’ (म) refers to contemplation (manan) and ‘tra’ (त्र) to protection (tran). Thus that which consists of contemplation (manan) and protection is called a mantra.’ (1)

  • E. The word mantra is derived from ‘man’ (मन्‌) and ‘tra’ (त्र). ‘Man’ refers to the mind and ‘tra’ to vital energy (pran). That which is done with the fusion of the mind and vital energy is called a mantra.
  • F. According to the science of Tantra: ‘According to the sorcerers (tantriks) sound (nad or dhvani) being the fundamental frequency of creation appears foremost in the origin of the universe. Sound is a subtle part of the divine energy (chit shakti) of the embodied soul (jiva). Just as sound waves are produced in the atmosphere due to air currents, so also in the body of the embodied soul sound waves are generated due to flow of a type of vital energy (pranvayu). A word is generated from this sound. Later, a mantra originates from it. The energy contained in a mantra is beyond one’s imagination.’(2)

2. Parts of a mantra

मंत्राणां पल्‍लवो वासो । मंत्राणां प्रणव: शिर: ।
शिर: पल्‍लव संयुक्तो । कामधुक्‌ भवेत्‌ ।।

The meaning: The letters or words in a mantra constitute its body and the Om at its beginning, is the head. If both the head and the body are present then with that mantra one’s aspirations are fulfilled.

Usually a mantra consists of the following:

2.1 The Name of a deity

The Name of the deity which is to be worshipped. Usually Shri or Om is prefixed to the deity’s Name. [Refer ‘Prefixing Shri or Om to the Name’.]

2.2 The favour asked for

Whatever is to be asked of the deity.

2.3 Pallav (salutation)

Pallav refers to the last or the decorative part of the mantra. Pallav also means to collect, the description of the benefit derived, etc. Often the ‘namaha’ in a mantra expresses salutation to the deity. That is the pallav. The words in the mantra are also known as pallav.

The meaning of some words which appear at the end of a mantra: ‘Often several words like namaha, svaha, svadha, vashat, voushat, hum and phat are joined to the bijas. These words either depict the mental state of a seeker at the time of chanting the mantra or whatever one wishes to achieve with their usage. Their implied meanings are as follows.

A. Namaha : The serene and peaceful state of the antahkaran
  appeasing the deity of the mantra by surrendering to it.
B. Svaha : Destruction of harmful energy, for instance curing
  a disease and doing good to others, appeasing the
  deity of the mantra with offerings.
C. Svadha : Self-contentment, strengthening oneself
D. Vashat : A spiritual emotion of destroying the enemy
E. Voushat : To create conflicts or opposition among enemies,
  to acquire power and wealth
F. Hum : Anger and courage, to frighten one’s enemy
G. Phat : A spiritual emotion of attacking the enemy, to
  drive the enemy away.’(3)

2.4 Kilak

  • A. Kilak means a wedge or a clue to a mystical puzzle. The Guru gives the kilak of the mantra. Consequently the energy of the mantra is manifested. Kilak means the description, proximity, speed and method of pronunciation, the rhythm of recitation of the mantra (alap), etc. Sometimes the kilak assumes the form of a prior notice. When a sage creates a mantra along with a precondition that ‘without the pronunciation of a particular word prior to the mantra, the practice of the mantra will not be fruitful’, then the mere chanting of the mantra does not prove to be of any avail. Such a word is termed as a kilak of a mantra, that is a wedge or a clue to a mystical puzzle. Only when the mantra is chanted along with it does it prove to be fruitful. Understanding that word, and chanting along with it or destroying the relationship of that word with the mantra is called nishkilan or utkilan. However, only spiritually evolved persons can give guidance to this effect. One comes across ‘Shrimat Hanuman kilakam’ in Shriramaraksha verse (stotra).
  • B. Movement of the saman vital energy (vayu) is essential to activate the kundalini (spiritual energy). Nadibandha (blocking the channels) is performed to achieve it. The energy used to perform nadibandha is also called kilak. Kilak means the expulsion of the saman vital energy from which energy is generated. Nadibandha also occurs if a mantra is chanted appropriately.

2.5 Parts of a mantra according to the science of Tantra

‘Every mantra includes three principles, the pranav, the bija, and the deity. The secrets of The Almighty within and beyond the universe are present in the pranav principle. Through the bija principle one becomes aware of one’s true nature (prakruti), the type of one’s relationship with The Almighty and the unmanifest energy within oneself which is making attempts to manifest itself. Knowledge of the deity principle gives one the realisation of The Lord’s wish which is to be fulfilled through oneself.’ (4)

3. Chanting a mantra (mantrajapa)

Repetition of a mantra understanding its meaning, along with faith and spiritual emotion is called chanting a mantra (mantrajapa).

4. Types of mantra

4.1 According to the holy texts

  • A. The Vedas: ‘Vedic mantras are superior to all other mantras. The Sanhita section of the Vedas is itself regarded as a mantra. The Gayatri mantra in the Rugveda was first written by Sage Vishvamitra and is considered superior to the others. The Atharvaveda too is a treasure house of various mantras. Mantras or meanings are created in various sciences such as astrology, Ayurveda, Spirituality, etc. when different bijas are prefixed to the Vedic verses.
  • B. The texts of the Tantras: As in the Vedas thousands of mantras have also been mentioned in the texts of the Tantras.

    The Vedic and Tantrik mantras: Since the Vedic mantras are the very breath of The Lord they are efficacious (siddha) mantras. Hence according to Vedic scholars no rituals are deemed necessary for their chanting. Contrary to this, the sorcerers (tantriks) have prescribed specific rituals even for the Vedic mantras.

    In the science of Mantra, the armour (self protection), argala (generation of energy, destruction of distressing energies) and kilak are equally important and without the accomplishment of all these, a mantra cannot become efficacious. In the Tantrik path the armour and argala are deemed to be inferior and greater importance is attached to the kilak. According to the science of Tantra mere removal of obstacles preventing the accomplishment of the tantra is sufficient for proving the tantra, as this science is based on gross objects. 5% of the effectiveness of a tantra is due to the qualities of the object used in it, for instance black lentil (udid). The effect is purely due to the intrinsic qualities of the object and not due to any external process.

  • C. The Shabar texts: Thousands of Shabar mantras are given in these texts. They are also known as mantras of spirits (paishachik mantras) and are often meaningless. In these mantras emphasis is laid not on the meaning but on the sound. These mantras are of an inferior quality because through them a seeker develops communion with spirits and not deities.’(5) They have been written in a number of languages like Sanskrut, Prakrut (a dialect derived from Sanskrut), Marathi, Arabic, etc. The notes in some of the Shabar mantras are an admixture of the sounds of insects, animals, birds, etc.

4.2 According to the meaning

  • A. With meaningful words: Mantras such as the Gayatri mantra have a specific meaning.
  • B. Without meaningful words: Some mantras pertaining to spirits and others like ‘Gan gan ganata bote’ as chanted by Saint Gajanan Maharaj of Shegaon or monosyllables such as lam, vam, sham, etc. which represent various spiritual energy chakras in our body appear meaningless at face value. Some of these seemingly meaningless mantras too have a deep meaning. For instance the Sanskrut letter Om is composed of the three letters a (अ), u (उ) and m (म). These represent the sattva, raja and tama components respectively. Om, a combination of the three components (trigunas) is in fact a symbol of the one beyond the three components (trigunatit). Vowels have high frequencies, most consonants have medium frequencies, whereas y (य), r (र), v (व) and h (ह) have low frequencies. Om, however has all these three frequencies.

4.3 According to the number of letters

A. The existing types

1. Bijamantra : Monosyllabic mantras like yam, ram, rham, rhim
2. Mulamantra : 2 to 10 letters or the deity’s subtle body known
  as kamakala
3. Pindamantra : 11 to 20 letters
4. Malamantra : A mantra with more than 20 letters or one
  chanted with a mala (rosary)

B. Types according to the Nitya Tantra

1. Pinda : A mantra with only one letter
2. Kartari : 2 letters
3. Bija : 3 to 9 letters
4. Mantra : 10 to 20 letters
5. Mala : More than 20 letters

C. Some prevalent examples

1. With one letter : Om (ॐ)
2. With five letters : Namaha Shivaya (नम: शिवाय ।)
3. With six letters : Om namaha Shivaya (ॐ नम: शिवाय ।)
  Om namo Vishnave (ॐ नमो विष्‍णवे।)
4. With seven letters : Om rhim Suryaya namaha
  (ॐ र्‍हीं सूर्याय नम: ।)
5. With eight letters : Om namo Vasudevaya
  (ॐ नमो वासुदेवाय ।)
6. With nine letters : Om gam Ganapataye namaha
  (ॐ गं गणपतये नम: ।)
7. With twelve letters : Om namo Bhagvate Vasudevaya
  (ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय ।)
8. With thirteen letters : Shrirama jai Rama jai jai Rama
  (श्री राम जय राम जय जय राम ।)

4.4 According to the gender

In the science of Tantra masculine and neuter mantras are called mantras while the feminine ones are known as vidya (knowledge).

  • A. Masculine [solar (soura)] mantras: Mantras concluding with words like ‘hum, phat’ are considered as masculine mantras. Such mantras help in vanquishing enemies or in changing the minds of others. Mantras of the Sun deity too are masculine mantras.
  • B. Feminine [lunar (som)] mantras: Mantras concluding with words like tham, svaha or svadha should be considered as feminine mantras. Such mantras are useful in curing illnesses. Mantras of the moon are considered to be feminine mantras.
  • C. Neuter mantras: Mantras ending with ‘namaha’ are considered as neuter mantras. Such mantras are used to fulfill some desire.

4.5 Gurumantra [initiation of a mantra by the Guru (mantradiksha)]

This is also called a sabija mantra as besides the letters it is laden with the Guru’s resolve (sankalpa) and divine consciousness (chaitanya) too. [For further details refer ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 4 – Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga), point Gurumantra’.] In the routine spiritual practice commenced on one’s own, the energy of spiritual practice is operational whereas in the initiation of a mantra both, the energy of spiritual practice as well as the energy of the mantra become operational.

4.6 The bijamantra

A. Introduction:

‘The bija is the seedling of the mantra. It is from this seedling that shoots of the science of Mantra spread. The energy of any mantra lies in its bija. The chanting of a mantra is efficacious only if an appropriate bija is selected. The bijas activate the deity of the mantra. In this context the Bruhadgandharvatantra relates –

शृणु देवि प्रवक्ष्‍यामि बीजानां देवरूपताम्‌ ।
मन्‍त्रोच्‍चारणमात्रेण देवरूपं प्रजायते ।।

The meaning: O Parvati, I will tell you the divine nature of bijas. Mere pronunciation of a bijamantra, causes the manifestation of the deity at that site.

Bijas are also extremely useful from the physical and psychological point of view. When pronouncing bijas a particular frequency is generated leading to the production of specific sound waves. Spread of these waves activates certain centres and chakras in the body, which in turn facilitate the proper flow of the vital energies (pranas) through the channels (nadis). It is said that chanting of a bijamantra helps to achieve a healthy body, pure mind, increase in the mental (psychic) energy, sharp intellect, etc.

Mr. Woodrof has explained about bijas of various deities, their implied meaning and objectives in the following way:

1. Om (ॐ) : This is a bija too. It has to be pronounced before
  all bijas and mantras. It is called the pranav
  bija. This itself is the bija or the gist of the Vedas.
  All the bijas originate from the pranav bija.
  This is an eternal and non-dualistic (advait) bija.
2. Aim (ऐं) : The bija of Sarasvati. The objective is the same
  as above.
3. Krim (क्रीं) : The bija of Kali, k = Kali, r = Brahman and i =
(the Great Illusion). The dot in
  Sanskrut (anusvar) means overcoming
  unhappiness. The objective is to overcome
4. Klim (क्‍लीं) : The bija of Krushna or desire (kama), k =
  Krushna or kama (desire), l = Indra, i =
  satisfaction and the dot refers to generation of
  happiness. Its objective is acquisition of happiness.
5. Gam (गं) : The bija of Ganesh, g = Ganesh, the dot
  represents overcoming unhappiness; its objective
  is overcoming unhappiness.
6. Dum (दूं) : The bija of Durga, d = Durga, u = protection and
  the dot refers to the act of protection. Its objective
  is protection.
7. Shrim (श्रीं) : The bija of Lakshmi, sh = Lakshmi, r = wealth,
  i = satisfaction and the dot represents overcoming
  unhappiness. Its objectives are prosperity and
8. Strim (स्‍त्रीं) : The bija of Vadhu, s = protection from crisis, t =
  saviour energy, r = Liberation (Mukti), i =
  Mahamaya (the Great Illusion) and the dot
  indicates overcoming unhappiness. Its objective
  is overcoming unhappiness.
9. Rhim (र्‍हीं) : It is the bija of Brahman (Shiva) and Energy
  (Shakti), h = Shiva (Brahman), r = Prakruti, r =
  Mahamaya and the dot indicates overcoming
  unhappiness. Its objective is to overcome
10. Hum (हूं) : The bija of Varma or Kurcha, h = Shiva, u =
  Bhairav and the dot indicates overcoming
  happiness. Its objective is to overcome
11. Houm (हौं) : The bija of grace (prasadbija), h = Shiva, ou =
  grace of Lord Shiva or Sadashiv and the dot
  refers to overcoming of grief. Its objective is to
  overcome unhappiness with the grace of Lord
  Shiva or Sadashiv.
12. Kshroum (क्ष्रौं) : The bija of Nrusinha, ksh = Nrusinha, r =
  Brahman, ou = Urdhvadanta and the dot
  represents overcoming grief. Its objective is
  overcoming unhappiness.

Various combinations are created when bijas are combined. Two or more bijas can be combined. As a result, great diversity is created in the energy of the mantra for example,‘rhim shrim krim’ is a conjoined bijamantra. All the three bijas are various forms of the same energy – rhim = the Great Illusion (Maya), shrim = Lakshmi and krim = the deity Kali. According to the scriptures (Darshans) these three bijas represent creation, sustenance and destruction respectively. The Fetkarini Tantra gives the yogic meaning of some conjoined bijas, for example when rhim is joined twice it becomes a bija of coyness (lajjabija). This is considered to be the bija of the principle of entire creation. To illustrate this with an example, a legend states that at the time of creation of the universe The Creator felt coy for the first time. ‘Shrim’ means maintaining harmony between the functions of Lord Vishnu namely nurture and sustenance.’(6)

B. Types according to the motive

  • 1. With worldly expectation (sakam): The mantra begins with rhim, shrim, klim, etc.
  • 2. Without worldly expectation (nishkam): The mantra commences with Om. All mantras originate from Om. It is a symbol of Brahman, God and the Vedas. Hence, the mantraOm’ can bestow the Final Liberation (Moksha).
  • 3. Both with and without expectation: The bijas like rhim are suffixed to Om and are followed by the other letters in the mantra.

C. Some important bijamantras

The Deity The
The Deity
Om Brahman, God,
the Vedas
bhruum Kshatajokshita
rham Kalaratri soum Devi, Varun
rhim Girija,
sphim Pralayagni
klim Maya (the Great,
Illusion), shakti
(The Primal
Energy), Kama,
sphem Kalagni
shrim Lakshmi, Kamala,
strim Vadhu,
aam Anant, Vinayak,
svaha Agnivallabha
krum Svaha, Kalpini hum Kalkuta Durga
krom Krodhish huum Rudrarakini
gloum Bhumi rhuum Vaivasvat
tham tham
tham tham
Mahakal houm Shiva
prim Ghorakshi rhoum Dakini
plaim Vetal kshroum Narsinha
phat Vidyujjivha    

D. Bijamantras according to the Devnagari alphabets

The Deity The
The Deity
am Shrikantha,
aam Anant, Vinayak,
im Chandra,
Rudra, Garjini
iim Trimurti,
Vedmata*, Gayatri,
um Shankar
uum Madhusudan,
rum Trivikram,
ruum Bhayankari
lrum Shidhar,
lruum Kamla, Rushikesh,
em Marut, Vanhi,
aim Sarasvati, Vijaya
Yoni, Veda*
om Trayodashi
Vasudev, Gayatri
oum Jvalini,
am Som,
aha Rati, Suyash,
kam Mahakali,
kham Akash, Tapini
gam Ganga, Ganesh,
gham Varun,
nham Bhairav, Kameshi,
cham Vadhu, Chandrama,
Kulavati, Jvalamukhi
cham Sadashiv, Vilasini,
jam Nandi, Bhogada,
jham Gruha, Dravini yam Vidyunmukha
tam Pruthvi, Marut tham Vanhi, Kapali
dam Bhivakra, Yogini,
dham Yadnyesh,Vighnesh,
Malini, Guru
nam Prahari tam Varahi,
tham Bhadrakali, Dandi dam Dhara
dham Shankhini, Dhanesh nam Jvalini, Sinhanadi
pam Kalaratri pham Pralayagni,
bam Kledini, Tapini,
bham Klinna, Bahurupi
mam Kali, Matangamalini,
yam Vayu, Sthiratma
ram Agni, Krodhini,
lam Shakra, Amruta,
vam Varun sham Kama, Shubhaga,
sham Suryatma sam Sammoha, Brahmi,
ham Shiva, Yogavaktra lam Pruthvi, Vyapini
ksham Nrusinha, Kalajivha    

* The first sound of all the four Vedas has created the bija im or aim.

‘The Shakta Tantra quotes not only the Names of various deities like Vishnupriya, Dhumrabhairavi, Rudrashakini, Vidyujjivha, Kalpini, Agnivallabha, Ghorakshi, Kalaratri, Urdhvakeshi, Durga, Lokamata, etc. but also the independent bijas for their worship. The Shaiva Tantra mentions the forms of Shiva such as Varan Chand, Jvalamukh, Raktadanshtra, Asitang, Valayamukh, Vidyunmukh, Kapali, Kapardi, Mahakal, Dhumradhvaja, etc. and also gives the respective bijas which fulfill varied objectives.’(7)

E. Bijamantras of the five cosmic elements (panchamahabhutas)

  • 1. Pruthvi (absolute earth) : lam
  • 2. Apa (absolute water) : vam
  • 3. Tej (absolute fire) : ram
  • 4. Vayu (absolute air) : yam
  • 5. Akash (absolute ether) : ham, kham

F. Bijamantras practised with worldly expectation (sakam) [according to the Bijanighantu text]

The Objective The bijamantra
1. Acquisition of knowledge aim
2. Acquisition of worldly happiness rhim
3. Achieving the impossible am
4. Longevity dram
5. Acquisition of good health and
    prevention of untimely death
Om jum saha
6. Progress and prosperity in all spheres soum
7. Fulfillment of wishes Klim
8. Successful completion of actions
9. Satisfaction, Serenity rhom
10. Winning debates lhim
11. Hatred (Dvesh) Hum
12. Hindering others progress tam tam
13. Killing (maran) khem khem
14. Hypnotising (sammohan) blrum
15. Controlling someone else’s mind
16. Attraction (akarshan) voushat

G. Bijamantras which cure disease

1. Chakras, bijamantras and organs

The chakra The
The organ
1. Muladhar lam, lrum The anus
2. Svadhishthan vam The sex organs
3. Manipur ram, rum The organs of digestion
4. Anahat yam The heart and lungs
5. Vishuddha ham The organs of speech
6. Adnya Om The nervous system (mind and intellect)

Information about the association of the chakras with various organs and the appropriate bijamantras for them is given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 38 – Kundaliniyoga (Path of Activation of Spiritual Energy)’. The bijamantras purify the chakras and channels (nadis) and make the organs disease free.

2. Diseases of organs and bijamantras: The bijamantras which are useful in the diseases of certain organs are given below:

Rhaam : Diseases of the chest, heart, respiratory tract and brain
Rhim : Diseases of the nose, throat and palate
Rhum : Diseases of the liver, spleen, intestines, stomach
  and uterus
Rhaim : Diseases of the kidneys, urinary bladder
Rhoum : Diseases of the anus and organs of digestion
Rham : Disorders of the chest and throat.

H. The four social classes (varnas) and bijamantras

  • 1. Brahman : rhim
  • 2. Kshatriya : shrim
  • 3. Vaishya : klim
  • 4. Shudra : aim

I. The three components (trigunas) and bijamantras: The bijas s, r and t correspond to the sattva, raja and tama components respectively.

4.7 The bijakshar

‘This is a terminology from the Tantrik path. In all tantrik methods there is a tendency to consolidate the mantras into a single letter. The mantras which are consolidated using the Sanskrut letters shrim, rhim, klim, etc. are called bijakshars. Just as powerful subatomic particles are produced as a result of the disintegration of a substance so also it is believed that the bijakshar contains energy equivalent to millions of subatomic particles. In the science of Tantra, bijakshars are used to make a yantra, mantra or a tantra immensely powerful and mysterious. The Shabdasiddhanta of Mimansak advocates the concept of various presiding deities of the bijakshars and states that a bijakshar mantra is eternal. The meaning lies in the word, not in the one who understands it.

Writing bijakshars like shrim, rhim, klim, rhoum, svaha, etc. is an art in itself. Intense spiritual practice and the knowledge of control over the usage of words is essential to write, utter and put them into practice. Perhaps scripts of the perfected ones (siddhas) came into being only to be able to write down the bijakshars. Ten rules have been prescribed for writing them. The length and breadth of every bijakshar has special significance. Only by writing down a bijakshar is its mystery, purity and secrecy revealed. It is said that a mantra without the conjunction of bijakshars becomes devoid of meaning and power.’(8)


Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh. Publishers: Pandit Mahadevshastri Joshi, Secretary, Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal, 410 Shanivar Peth, Pune 411 030.
Vol. 1 and 2: Second edition           Vol. 3 to 10: First edition
1. Vol. 6, Pg. 648     2. Vol. 4, Pg. 5
3. Vol. 6, Pg. 187     4. Vol. 4, Pg. 5
5. Vol. 6, Pg. 649     6. Vol. 6, Pg. 186-187
7. Vol. 6, Pg. 187     8. Vol. 6, Pg. 187-188


Why is chanting The Lord’s Name superior to meditation?


1. Asans (postures), pranayam and chanting

Asans and pranayam are spiritual practices to be performed by the physical body whereas chanting is to be performed by the subtle body. The spiritual practice of the subtle body cannot be performed well with the physical body but that of the physical body can be performed well with the subtle body. Hence, in comparison to pranayam and asans chanting is a superior spiritual practice.

2. Ritualistic worship (karmakand) and chanting

Is waking up at the auspicious time of the Brahmamuhurt, that is 3 a.m. and purifying oneself by bathing, taking a sattvik diet (rich in the sattva component), fasting, observing seclusion during menses, not touching others during worship, observing the rites of childbirth and mourning (soyar-sutak), going to temples, etc. all necessary for spiritual practice? The answer to this is that for those performing spiritual practice according to the stage of ritualistic worship (karmakand) these things are necessary but for those performing mental worship (upasanakand) that is chanting, which is at a higher level, these things are not at all necessary, as the benefit derived from them is very little and short lasting, for instance by going to the temple the sattva component is increased by 0.0001% for only 15 minutes, by touching a woman during her menses the raja component of the one touching her is raised by 0.0001% for just 15 minutes. As against this the sattva component of the one chanting, is raised by 5% during chanting. Hence these points have no value with respect to the one performing mental worship, that is continuous chanting.

3. The sacrificial fire (yadnya) and the sacrificial fire of chanting The Lord’s Name (japayadnya)

One has to suffer for twelve years the sins acquired by killing living organisms during a sacrificial fire (yadnya) and has to undergo penance for it by incantation, etc. Such a sin is not acquired during the course of chanting as the sacrificial fire of chanting (japayadnya) is considered to be sattvik (sattva predominant) and non-violent. Hence considering the sacrificial fire of chanting to be superior to the various ritualistic sacrifices in ritualistic worship, Manu says,

ये पाकयज्ञाश्चत्‍वारो विधियज्ञसमन्‍विता: ।
सर्वे ते जपयज्ञस्‍य कलां नार्हन्‍ति षोडशीम्‌ ।। (मनुस्‍मृति २.८६)

The meaning: The four ritualistic sacrifices [namely Vaishvadev, Balikarma, Nityashraddha and offering food to guests (Atithibhojan)] do not match even the 16th grade of the sacrificial fire of chanting (japayadnya).

In this context, Lord Krushna (Shrimadbhagvadgita 10:25) says, “यज्ञानां जपयज्ञोऽस्‍मि ।” which means `Among the yadnyas I am the japayadnya. That is, the sacrificial fire of chanting is superior to them all.’

The table below compares the proportion of sins and merits in a sacrificial fire (yadnya) incorporating killing of living organisms and that in a dacoity.

The act Merits % Sins %
1. A sacrificial fire (yadnya) 99.5 0.5
2. Distributing money acquired by
    dacoity among the poor
10 90
3. Keeping the money acquired through
    dacoity for oneself
0 100

4. Action (karma), chanting of The Lord’s Name and God

‘Rather than offering an action performed unto God, chanting whilst performing it is more appropriate. However considering that actions themselves are performed by God, that is due to God’s wish or that everything occurs on account of divine destiny is the best.’

– Saint

5. The results of action and chanting The Lord’s Name

When chanting is going on, ego is absent. The actions which take place then are only acts (kriya) as there is no intention in them. Hence one does not have to undergo the result of such actions. When chanting stops, ‘ego’ manifests and then the Law of Karma becomes applicable.

6. Meditation and chanting

Sadhak : Out of the spiritual practices of meditation and chanting,
  which is superior?
Baba(Saint) : Chanting is superior due to the following reasons.
  • 1. Continuity of spiritual practice: Meditation [superconscious state (samadhi)] is not continuous but chanting can occur continuously. In order to blend with The Infinite Principle continuous spiritual practice is essential.
  • 2. The true ‘waking state’ [Self-realisation (Atmanubhuti)]: The seeker comes to the waking state from the state of meditation since there is an attraction to the gross dimension. On the contrary the one chanting is continuously in the ‘waking state’, that is in a way he is in a continuous state of meditation!
  • 3. Attraction to the gross dimension: Attraction to the gross dimension is due to impressions on the subconscious mind. During meditation there is only suppression and not annihilation of the tendencies of the subconscious mind. However with chanting annihilation occurs to a major extent.
  • 4. Surfacing of subtle thoughts: Keeping the mind thoughtless means not paying attention to the outside or inside. This is incorrect as in this state subtle impressions do surface at sometime or the other. However, when one concentrates on the Name, subtle impressions do not surface. Hence, chanting The Lord’s Name is superior to a thoughtless mind.
  • 5. Spiritual experiences and the spiritual level: The spiritual experiences in meditation are not indicative of one’s spiritual level whereas those in chanting The Lord’s Name are indicative of it.
  • 6. True and false spiritual experiences: The spiritual experiences obtained through chanting are real as the one chanting has blended with the Name. On the other hand the experience of the null state obtained in meditation is illusory as here only dissolution of the mind has occurred.
  • 7. The corpse-like state (mrutavastha) and the state of divine consciousness (chaitanyavastha): Meditation gives the experience of the corpse-like state while with chanting one gets the experience of divine consciousness (chaitanya).
  • 8. Ego: In the Path of Meditation (Dhyanyoga) the ego persists due to subtle thoughts like ‘I do meditation’, ‘I returned to the waking state from the superconscious state (samadhi)’, etc. However in chanting, due to the spiritual emotion that the Guru is instrumental in getting the chanting done through oneself, not only does the ego of spiritual practice not develop, on the contrary it undergoes dissolution.
  • 9. The artificial and the natural states: Meditation is an artificial state whereas through chanting of The Lord’s Name the natural state of communion with God (sahajavastha) is attained.’ (1)
  • 10. Chanting The Lord’s Name – The supreme spiritual practice: See point ‘9’.

7. The thoughtless state and chanting

See point ‘6.4’.

8. Devotional songs (bhajans) and chanting The Lord’s Name

Instead of singing songs from movies, it is better to sing devotional songs as they have divine consciousness (chaitanya) in them. Among the devotional songs it is better to sing those written by saints as they contain a greater amount of divine consciousness. Even if this be true, they are composed of many words and notes. According to the fundamental principle in Spirituality one has to go from many to one and from one to the zero (null state) with one’s spiritual practice. Since there is only one word and one note in The Lord’s Name, it has more divine consciousness. Hence instead of devotional songs, chanting The Lord’s Name is more appropriate. The word bhajan originated from bhaj + n; ‘bhaj’ means devotion (bhakti) and ‘n’ signifies continuity. Thus its real meaning is continuous devotion.

The type of spiritual practice Benefits %
1. Chanting The Lord’s Name 100
2. Singing devotional songs 1
3. Listening to devotional songs 0.5

9. Path of Knowledge (Dnyanyoga), Path of Action (Karmayoga), Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga) and Path of Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga)

If one wants to blend with Brahman, The Infinite Supreme God then one has to do continuous and infinite spiritual practice, that is for twenty-four hours. The study of the Vedas, Upanishads, etc. done according to the Path of Knowledge cannot be done constantly. Neither concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyan), tratak and pranayam according to the Path of Action nor the worship of God, singing devotional songs, devotional discourses (kirtans), undertaking pilgrimages, etc. according to the Path of Devotion can be performed for twenty-four hours. Besides worldly people have to undertake spiritual practice fulfilling all responsibilities such as looking after their home, children, profession, etc. With this background the continuity in spiritual practice, that is for twenty-four hours is possible only with chanting.

उत्तमा सहजावस्‍था मध्‍यमा ध्‍यानधारणा ।
अधमा तत्त्‍वचिंताच मंत्रचिंताऽधमाधम: ।।

The meaning: The natural state of communion with God (sahajavastha) achieved by continuous chanting is the best form of spiritual practice. Concentration and meditation and moderate, contemplation on spiritual principles, that is Path of Knowledge is inferior and the Path of Mantra is still inferior with regard to spiritual practice.

10. The spiritual level of a seeker, spiritual practice and some of its effects

Points 1 – 4 are in relation to spiritual practice while 5 – 7 are its effects.

  The spiritual level of the seeker %
40 50 60
1. Minimum spiritual practice Chanting in
Vaikhari mode
Satsang Satseva
2. Duration of time in a day (%) when
    spiritual practice can be done
30 30 50
3. Sacrifice % of the body, mind and
    wealth (100% sacrifice of all one’s
10 30 30
4. Spiritual love for others (priti) % 2 20 30
5. Faith % 10 20 30
6. Importance of spiritual practice for
    reduction in ego %
10 20 70
7. Grace of the Guru % 30 30 70

11. Relative importance of various spiritual practices with and without chanting

Spiritual practice Importance % Importance if it is
with chanting %
1. Some sacrifice of mind.
    Chanting in Vaikhari mode of
5 Chanting is present.
2. Satsang (Holy company)
    A. Company of seekers
    B. Company of saints
3. Service to some extent by body
    A. Service to satsang of
    B. Service of saints




4. Some sacrifice of wealth
    A. For satsang of seekers
    B. For saints’ mission
5. More offering of body, mind
    and wealth [for spread of the
    Absolute Truth (Sat)]
    A. For satsang of seekers
    B. For saints’ mission
Chanting is present
6. Spread of Absolute Truth
    A. Before Guruprapti*
    B. After Guruprapti*
Chanting is present

* Guruprapti = Acceptance of a seeker as disciple by Guru

From the above table one will realise why saints rebuke if one does service without chanting The Lord’s Name. As a disciple, Saint would not serve His Guru if His chanting was not going on, as He thought, “If chanting is not going on then one is impure and in such a state how can one serve the Guru?” A disciple of Saint served Him without chanting for nearly twenty years. Hence Maharaj made him chant in seclusion for one year, without speaking to anyone.

12. The importance of various types of spiritual practice in seekers of 40% spiritual level with reference to generation of spiritual emotion

Types of spiritual practice The generation of spiritual
emotion (bhav) %
1. Chanting (in the Vaikhari mode of speech) 2
2. Satsang [company of The Truth (without
3. Service of The Absolute Truth (without
4. Sacrifice for The Absolute Truth 50
5. Obeying the Guru’s orders 10
6. Spiritual love for others (priti) 10
7. Others 8
Total 100

* If service of the Absolute Truth is done along with chanting then 30% spiritual emotion is generated and consequently the proportion of other types of spiritual practices is reduced.

13. Path of Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga) and the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga)

The path of Yoga Importance
Spiritual level of the
seeker who can
perform the spiritual
1. Path of Chanting The Lord’s Name
    A. Chanting with effort
5 40
2. Path of Guru’s Grace
    A. Spiritual love for others (priti)
    B. Remaining in the company of the
        Guru while chanting
    C. Obedience
    D. Service of The Absolute Truth
         (Guru) along with chanting
    E. Sacrifice (offering one’s body
        mind and wealth to the Guru






Obedience is doing only what one is told whereas service to the Guru implies perceiving what Guru would like and doing accordingly. Hence serving the Guru is superior to obeying His orders. Total sacrifice of one’s belongings is the greatest as thereafter there is no separate existence for a disciple.

14. The stance of a spectator (sakshibhav) and chanting The Lord’s Name

‘Instead of observing everything as a spectator, chanting The Lord’s Name is more important since in the stage of a spectator duality (dvait) persists whereas with chanting, the seeker can go towards non-duality (advait)’. – Saint

15. Realising that ‘everything occurs due to God’s wish’ (Ishvarechcha) and chanting while working

Experiencing that everything occurs due to God’s wish is more important than chanting while working.

16. The proportion of purification of various bodies with various paths of spiritual practice

The table below gives the proportion of purification of various bodies with spiritual practice done by oneself and on recommendation by the Guru, the duration required for the purification and the obstacles in the spiritual practice.

  The bodies
Physical Vital
Mental Causal
Yrs P.B.*
Yrs P.B.*
Yrs P.B.*
Yrs P.B.*
1. Spiritual
    practice done
    with one’s
    own intellect
A. Types                    
    1. Asans 20 10 7 10 5 10 2 10 1 10
    2. Pranayam 20 6 30 8 10 8 2 8 1 8
    3. Karmayoga 20 10 30 7 50 8 50 10 20 10
    4. Dhyanyoga 20 6 30 7 60 8 40 8 20 8
    5. Dnyanyoga 20 5 30 6 60 7 60 8 50 8
    6. Bhaktiyoga 20 5 30 6 60 7 50 7 20 7
    7. Namsankir
20 5 30 7 70 8 60 8 30 8
B. The obstacles
     in spiritual
     practice %
     (total 100%)
2 2 5 11 80
2. The Spiritual
    by the Guru
A. Types                    
    1. Shaktipat
20 4 30 5 20 5 10 5 2 5
    2. Gurukrupa
20 2 30 2 100 3 100 4 100 5
B. The obstacles
     in spiritual
     practice %
     (total 30%)
1 1 2 3 23

* P.B. = purification of bodies

The following points will be clear from the above table.

  • 1. Mere asans and pranayam are insufficient to make spiritual progress. They only purify the physical body and the vital energy body (prandeha). This purification can occur by following other paths of spiritual practice as well. Hence, asans and pranayam are not given special importance. However they are useful in worldly life to those who are unable to follow other paths atleast to make the physical body healthy. There is no connection between purification of the body and the destiny to be experienced by it. However purification increases the tolerance of the body to face its destiny.
  • 2. Since spiritual practice through any path of Yoga purifies the physical body and the vital energy body (prandeha) upto a maximum of 20% and 30% respectively, without surrendering those bodies, one cannot attain heaven or the regions beyond. To attain heaven each body should be atleast 50% pure. Hence inspite of offering the benefit of His severe austerities Sage Vishvamitra could not send the crown prince of Ayodhya, Satyavrat (Trishanku of the subsequent period) to heaven.
  • 3. If one undertakes the spiritual practice recommended by the Guru then the obstacles encountered in spiritual practice are less. This also helps one to make fast spiritual progress.
  • 4. If one does spiritual practice using one’s own intellect then the maximum spiritual progress that one can make is only 50% to 70%.
  • 5. No matter what spiritual path one follows, other than the Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga) no path can purify the mental, causal and supracausal bodies 100%. Consequently none of these paths have the capacity to make one attain the Final Liberation (Moksha).

Although the table shows that the Paths of Knowledge and Devotion are superior to the Path of Action, it does not mean that one should not use it for spiritual progress. Each one should use that spiritual practice which is essential and best suited for one’s spiritual progress, depending upon one’s spiritual level.

17. A gross comparison of the stages of progress in the various paths of Yoga recommended by the Guru or followed with one’s own intellect

The word Gross is used because it is not always by rule that if one can do something, or achieve in doing something, means he has reached a particular level, e.g. even if one sits in ‘asan’ for 2 hrs., he might have not reached a level of 50% (ordinary person’s spiritual level is 20%). On the contrary, if one sits for half an hour for chanting the Lord’s Name (as spiritual practice) he might have reached a level of 50%. If one sits only in asan for half an hour, chances of reaching spiritual level of 50% are less.

  1. Path of Action (Karmayoga) 2. The posi-
tion of the
chakras in
and Shakt-
3. Path of
Physical Psycho-
Asan Tratak Pran-
A. Spiritual
    level %
40   5
50   30
55           Swadhish-
60 30
1 hr Aram-
  Manipur Shubhech
cha or
65          Anahat Vicharana
70 1
an action
and sacrifice
of the result
of that
Vishuddha Tanuma
nas, Sansh
lishthata or
80 min.
3 hrs
3 hrs
ti moun
  Adnya Sattvapatti
85       Maha
90     Nishp
95           Sahasrar Padartha
[The final
B. The spi-
 ritual prac-
 tice done
 with one’s
  1. Max.
30 30 30 30 50 30 60
  2. The min
   number of
   for spiri-
   tual prog-
10 9 8 10 10 5 8
C. If spiri-
tual practice
as recomm-
ended by
the Guru is
 1. The max
 % [Final
  = 100%]
80 80 90 85 90 100 100
 2. The dur-
 ation requ-
 ired to
 attain spiri-
 tual level
 of 80 %*

* No rebirth after attaining this spiritual level.

  4. The superconscious state
5. Path
6. Path of
The Lord’s
7. Path of
Patanjali Shankar-
A. Spiritual
     level %
40         Vaikhari
mode of
50   Savitarka        
55           Guruprapti
60   Savichar Unmani   Madhyama
mode of
Offering of
the body
and mind
70 Turya
Sanand Manon
of the eight
tvik bhav
during the
ritual of
mode of
Offering of
wealth and
the sub-
80 Turyatit Sasmit Aman
  Offering of
85       Sarshti
90 Bhagvat
There is
generation of
the eight
  Offering of
the doership
(ego, ‘I’ness)
95   Prakru
[(The Final
Turyaga Sayujya
Para mode
of speech
Blending of
the Guru and
B. The spi-
 ritual prac-
 tice done
 with one’s
  1. Max.
60 60 60 60 70 Spiritual
practice is
not done as
per one’s
own intellect
  2. The min
   number of
   for spiri-
   tual prog-
8 8 8 7 8 Spiritual
practice is
not done as
per one’s
own intellect
C. If spiri-
tual practice
as recomm-
ended by
the Guru is
 1. The max
 % [Final
  = 100%]
100 100 100 100 100 100
 2. The dur-
 ation requ-
 ired to
 attain spiri-
 tual level
 of 80 %*

* No rebirth after attaining this spiritual level.


How can one prevent other thoughts from occurring while chanting?


1. Appropriate time for chanting

  • 1. At Brahmamuhurt, (the auspicious time at dawn) the sattva component is more than at any other time of the day. Many yogis increase their sattva component through spiritual practice at that time. However the resultant increase in the sattva component is just 0.0001%. Hence there is no need to specially wake up at dawn and chant at the Brahmamuhurt. Rather than chanting with great effort at the Brahmamuhurt when one is sleepy, it is advisable for a seeker to choose a time according to his temperament, when chanting will occur at its best. Chanting The Lord’s Name raises the sattva component by as much as 5% compared to the mere 1% increase by chanting done when one is sleepy (as sleep is tama predominant).
  • 2. Since The Lord Himself has created time one cannot say that chanting should not be done at a particular time. One should chant at all times. In this regard Vaman Pandit says –

        ‘Chant The Lord’s Name when performing all worldly chores including walking, working, eating and sexual activity with complete disregard of what others might say.’

2. Where should one chant?

  • 1. Chanting in the temple, chanting using the proper seat, etc. increases the seeker’s sattva component by just 5% + 0.0001% for just 15 minutes whereas continuous chanting done anywhere increases it by 5% ; hence, the seeker chanting The Lord’s Name instead of paying attention to external things must concentrate on whether chanting is continuous or not.

        However chanting in a temple or a place of worship, taking a proper seat is necessary for the majority as they have a higher proportion of the raja component. Sitting in one place for sometime helps in reducing the raja component. Also since God Himself has created all places one can chant anywhere, even in the toilet.

  • 2. ‘Chanting when performing daily activities, is superior to chanting done seated in one place. In the former, continuity of spiritual practice is maintained. Besides, a person chanting continuously when performing worldly tasks, is beyond the Great Illusion (Maya) inspite of living in it. Maintaining communion with God in all circumstances is called sahajsthiti.’ – Saint
  • 3. ‘Due to the energy of saints, chanting is spontaneous when one is in Their company. At that time one does not harbour the spiritual emotion that ‘I am chanting’, that is there is no ego about spiritual practice.’- Saint

3. The constitution of the body

Changing the chanting according to one’s constitution proves to be beneficial. Some examples of this are given below.

  • 1. Low blood pressure: Rapid chanting of a rajasik (raja predominant) Name of a deity with a rajasik temperament, for instance Shri Janardanaya namaha (श्री जनार्दनाय नम: ।).

        High blood pressure: Slow chanting of a sattvik (sattva predominant) Name of a deity with a sattvik temperament, for instance Shri Ganeshaya namaha (श्री गणेशाय नम: ।).

  • 2. Exhaustion and boredom: One feels sleepy when one is exhausted and bored when the mind is fatigued. At such times one should not chant with great effort.
  • 3. Menses: According to the Path of Devotion since the menstrual cycle too is God’s creation one can certainly chant even during menses. Since during menses the rise in the raja component is just 0.0001% it hardly affects the 5% increase in the sattva component generated by chanting.

4. The pronunciation

With appropriate pronunciation one can obtain benefits from the effect of that sound (nad) on the akash (absolute ether) element. This point is further illustrated in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 10 – Path of Mantra (Mantrayoga); point 5. Pronunciation and its importance’.

5. Faith is necessary

‘Mere mechanical pronunciation of mantras is not deemed as chanting. The pronunciation should be such that the seeker should get endowed with divine emotion and divine power. Patanjali describes only such chanting as the emotion of a mantra. Just as dipping a substance in a solution time and again gives it a coating of that solution, so also with ceaseless emotion of the meaning of the mantra, the one chanting it should gradually merge with the mantra. This is the main motive of chanting.

Shri Guru meets that seeker chanting the Name of The Lord who has an intense yearning for His vision. The seeker then asks, ‘Although Your Name destroys suffering why do I undergo it inspite of chanting ? ‘Then Shri Guru responds “If one undergoes suffering inspite of chanting the Name which has the capacity to reduce suffering then how can one say it destroys suffering ?

Should one tell a sorry tale despite worshipping Him, that is Shri Guru, then determination is probably lacking and that makes one suffer. – Shri Gurucharitra 2:22

So chant the Name of the Lord with faith; then your suffering will be overcome.” This means that one needs to have faith that Shri Sadguru will definitely uplift one no matter what one is. This itself is termed as complete surrender.

मामेव ये प्रपद्यन्‍ते मायामेतां तरन्‍ति ते ।। – श्रीमद्‌भगवद्‌गीता ७:१४

The meaning: Those who surrender unto Me alone are able to cross this Great Illusion (Maya). Initially while chanting one does not have faith. If that is present it is sufficient. However when chanting, once The Lord’s Name culminates into faith, then whether one chants or not, it does not make any difference as by then all actions represent chanting. Yet due to the earlier impression one chants till one breathes one’s last. The only difference now is that the artificiality of chanting is lost and it occurs quite naturally. Then one acquires the knowledge of the Vedas.

        The one who has excellent qualities is really the ideal man
        Many people wander in search of him.- Shri Dasbodh 12.10.29

– H. H. Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon

6. Chanting with spiritual emotion (bhav)

If one chants with devotion, it helps in making an imprint of devotion on the subconscious mind. Hence in the Path of Devotion one is asked to chant the Name of the benevolent deity (ishtadevata). As against this in some paths one is asked to chant meaningless letters like lam, tam, etc. Due to this not only does one acquire the other benefits of chanting but also since no impression of devotion is made on the subconscious mind ‘spiritual progress which means removal of all impressions from the subconscious mind’ can be achieved more easily. However, for a seeker in the primary stage to prevent boredom, chanting The Lord’s Name with devotion and spiritual emotion (bhav) proves to be beneficial.

7. The efforts to be made to prevent other thoughts from invading the mind

Just as sugar has sweetness as its quality, so also the nature of the mind is to think continuously or to harbour a certain emotion arising from some thought. In the beginning when chanting, everyone gets various thoughts due to the impressions from previous births. They are mainly due to doubts about chanting as well as due to the impressions on the subconscious mind. They can be reduced with the help of the following methods. One should bear in mind that to achieve concentration is the target and not the tool.

7.1 Practice

Other thoughts gradually decrease with practice.

7.2 Chanting with inspiration

Normally one gets more thoughts during inspiration since the thoughts in the atmosphere enter the mind through the breath. To prevent this one should chant with concentration during inspiration. (See point ‘9. Respiration and chanting’.)

7.3 Autosuggestions

Autosuggestions such as, ‘When my mind starts wandering while chanting I will become aware of it and will be able to concentrate on chanting’ should be given in a hypnotic trance or should be thought of 15-20 times before going to bed at night. This reduces the wandering of the mind considerably if done for four to six weeks.

7.4 Remembering the deity or the Guru

One should think of the deity or the Guru in the beginning and off and on during chanting. Due to the devotion unto Them, the wandering of the mind reduces considerably.

7.5 Factors required for continuous chanting

When chanting with effort in the Vaikhari mode of speech (vani) several thoughts cross one’s mind due to the countless impressions of the previous births. These thoughts are related to the impulses arising from the five sense organs or the subconscious mind [Refer ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 36 – Path of Meditation (Dhyanyoga)’]. The following factors help in promoting continuous chanting.

  • A. Pratyahar (introversion): Pratyahar means restraining contact of the senses with sense objects, for instance when the eyes are closed their contact with scenes is obviated; hence external stimuli do not reach the mind through the five sense organs. When this is achieved the mind does not get thoughts about them.
  • B. External satsang (holy company): At a satsang one gets more thoughts about Spirituality; consequently other thoughts decrease.
  • C. Spiritual love (priti) for others: This reduces pondering over one’s own problems.
  • D. Chanting (internal satsang): Just as one thorn is removed with another so also the thought of chanting reduces other thoughts.
  • E. Faith (shraddha): The greater the faith in the Name the better is the chanting. When one has doubts about the Name, chanting decreases.
  • F. Service of the Absolute Truth (Satseva): Due to concentration on the thought of service while carrying out service of the Absolute Truth and also due to the benefit of being in satsang ‘one either thinks about service or continues chanting’.
  • G. Sacrifice: The more the possessions the more one thinks about them. This encompasses everything, one’s family, relatives, wealth, etc. One does not think about something which one does not possess or desire. Hence, the more sacrifice one is able to make the less are the thoughts that one gets.
  • H. Reduction in the ego: The greater the ego the more one thinks about oneself. The lesser it is, the more one can contemplate on chanting.
  • I. Obeying the Guru’s orders: Obeying the Guru’s orders assists the dissolution of the intellect.
  • J. The Guru’s grace: One cannot restrain completely thoughts generated in the mind merely with one’s own efforts. The Guru’s grace is the only means to achieve this end.

    The following table illustrates the spiritual level at which the above factors can be achieved by a seeker and their comparative importance.

  Minimum spiritual level
% of the seeker for
whom it is possible
1. Pratyahar (introversion) 40 10
2. External satsang (company of the Truth) 50 10
3. Spiritual love for others (priti) 50 10
4. Chanting (internal satsang) 40 30
5. Faith (shraddha) 50 50
6. Service of the Absolute Truth
60 50
7. Sacrifice 70 50
8. Reduction in the ego 50 70
9. Obeying the Guru’s orders 80 80
10. Efforts for the acquisition of
      the Guru’s grace
60 100

    In a way faith, reduction in ego and acquiring the Guru’s grace are the targets and the others are the tools.

Day-to-day life and continuous chanting: Many people feel that by continuously chanting The Lord’s Name, day-to-day life will become difficult. They wonder as to how it is possible ‘to converse with others, work in an office, cross the road without meeting with an accident, etc.’, when the mind is engrossed in chanting. These doubts are ill-founded. Usually when crossing the road, though one looks out for traffic on all sides, hears the sound of cars, etc. conversation with others or thinking continues and one can still cross the road without meeting with an accident. Similarly, one can also perform all activities inspite of chanting.

    ‘I do not feel that thinking of God can obstruct any work. When chanting is being done by the conscious mind that is with effort, performance of daily activities may become difficult; but later, when chanting is done automatically by the subconscious mind there is no obstruction to one’s work, instead one is able to hear the ‘Name’ with the stance of a spectator (sakshibhav). This implies that there are two things happening at the same time – hearing the ‘Name’ as an observer and chanting. Similarly, it also becomes possible to perform daily activities and to chant at the same time. When one keeps the subtlest aspect of God (His Name) in mind, one is automatically able to pay attention to other matters. If one believes that God is The Creator of everything, then it is self-evident that everything happens according to His wish. So, if one chants and contemplates on Him while performing His work, how can there be any obstacle in that work ? On the contrary, if one thinks of Him continuously He too will continuously keep watch over oneself. So, chant while you work.’ (1)

8. The method of stopping chanting of other Names

  • A. If one has been chanting the Name of some deity, before meeting the Guru and thereafter the Guru advises to chant another Name, then due to the divine consciousness (chaitanya) in the Name imparted by the Guru, the Name chanted earlier automatically stops after sometime. Until this happens one should also make conscious efforts to stop it.
  • B. Even though one realises the importance of the family deity’s Name, one has to make efforts for atleast five to six months to stop chanting the other Names since one remembers the earlier Names which one is so used to chanting. There is no need to fear that if one stops the Name chanted previously then that deity will be enraged. On the contrary the former deity too gets appeased, since one is doing the appropriate spiritual practice.
  • C. One should start chanting the Name of the family deity or that imparted by the Guru along with the old one. After sometime one will experience Bliss due to the new Name. Hence, that Name itself will continue.

9. Respiration and chanting

9.1 Combining chanting with the breath

One remains alive due to breathing, not due to the Name. Therefore, it is important to concentrate on the breath and synchronise the Name with it. Breathing should not be synchronised with the pace of the chanting.

9.2 The benefits of combining chanting with the breath

  • A. Reduction in undesirable thoughts: Nowadays the environment is polluted (with undesirable thoughts), which causes psychological problems as these undesirable thoughts enter the mind with the breath. Other thoughts too enter the mind along with them. When one synchronises chanting with breathing, the proportion of such thoughts gets reduced and one gets a unique experience of Bliss.
  • B. Living in the present: Concentrating on the breath results in grappling with the particular moment of the present. On the other hand, entertaining any other thought amounts to thinking of the past or the future. Since it is important for a seeker to always remain in the present it is necessary to concentrate on the breath.
  • C. Continuous chanting: Since respiration continues for twenty-four hours it facilitates continuous chanting.
  • D. Progress towards non-duality (advait): When chanting, even though one gets a vision of God due to the spiritual emotion (bhav), duality persists. Contrary to this, when chanting is done along with the respiration, due to devotion unto The Lord’s Name there is no vision of God, but the seeker who chants progresses towards non-duality (advait) right away, that is blends with The Lord’s Name.

9.3 Indicators of progress

As attachment to the physical body decreases, rituals like bathing, sandhya automatically decrease. Also as the attitudes of the mind diminish, chanting, etc. automatically decrease. Hence in the further stage of chanting along with respiration, chanting automatically ceases and the concentration remains only on the respiration. At that time one observes the respiration with the stance of a spectator and gradually is aware of only one’s existence.’ (2)

10. The duration

One may commence by chanting for five minutes and increase it by a minute, periodically. Later, chanting occurs for several hours and finally occurs continuously.

11. Chanting accompanied by righteous behaviour

This is referred to as chanting without the ten sins; without the sixty-four sins, etc. Behaviour contrary to the raja-tama constitution means behaviour without sins. In the Padma Puran, the Sanatkumars have narrated to Sage Narad the ten sins associated with chanting as given below.

  • A. Criticising holy men.
  • B. Considering the Names, forms and qualities of (deities such as) Vishnu and Shiva to be distinct from one another.
  • C. Disobeying the Gurus.
  • D. Criticising holy texts such as the Vedas, Shastras (scriptures), Purans, etc.
  • E. Considering the glory of The Lord’s Name to be a mere exaggeration, in order to create a liking for chanting.
  • F. Performing bad deeds in the Name of God.
  • G. Considering holy actions such as vowed religious observances (vrat), offerings (dan), sacrificial fires (yadnyas) to be equivalent to the chanting of The Lord’s Name.
  • H. Earnestly preaching about chanting of The Lord’s Name to one who has no spiritual emotion (bhav), faith or any desire to listen to spiritual discourses.
  • I. Not having faith in The Lord’s Name despite realising its glory.
  • J. Getting engrossed in defects such as egoism, selfcentredness, etc.

The above ten sins are prohibited in chanting. The seeker should avoid them. Otherwise his spiritual practice is wasted in nullifying them and spiritual progress is blocked, for instance thirty malas of chanting are wasted with one abuse, 500 malas are wasted with the acceptance of a bribe.

12. Chanting over a prolonged period, constantly and devotedly

‘The chanting as described in the Yogasutras should be done over a prolonged period, constantly and devotedly. Gurudev Ranade has given the meaning of these three tenets as follows: Prolonged period means as long as one lives, constantly means without wasting even a single breath and devotedly means with spiritual emotion.’(3)

13. Increasing chanting stepwise

Chanting may be increased stepwise in the following way. For every step, depending on the seeker’s spiritual level one may require a period of six months to two years.

  • A. One should chant atleast three turns of the mala or do chanting for ten minutes daily.
  • B. One should chant when one is idle.
  • C. One should chant when performing physical activities such as bathing, cooking, walking, travelling in a bus or train, etc. The day-to-day chores are done by force of habit. One does not need to think while performing them. This makes it possible to chant during physical activity.
  • D. One should chant while performing mental activities which are not important in day-to-day life, like reading the newspaper, watching television, etc. Such tasks are done by the eyes. Hence at such times one can chant mentally.
  • E. One should chant while performing mental tasks which are important in day-to-day life, like reading or writing official papers. When doing such tasks the eyes, intellect and hands are active so one can chant mentally.
  • F. One should chant when conversing with others.

How one can chant continuously when performing any other activity will be clear from the following discussion. Each one can focus one’s attention on eight things (ashtavadhani). These eight points of concentration are through the five sense organs (1. ears, 2. skin, 3. eyes, 4. tongue and 5. nose which are referred to as the external sense organs), 6. conscious mind, 7. subconscious mind (chitta) and 8. intellect (these three are the internal sense organs). The organs perform their respective functions, for instance if an individual is crossing a road then he looks at the traffic around, listens to the sound of vehicles, becomes aware of some odour on the road or of being touched by someone, all at the same time. Thus while the sense organs are operational an individual thinks of some task, intellectually takes a decision about that task and is simultaneously reminded of another task to be performed. In this way, every individual possesses the eight-fold concentration in the subconscious mind. Since every organ can perform its own function, when reading the newspaper the eyes and intellect function while the mind chants. In stages 5 and 6 chanting does not refer to verbal chanting but symbolises the Bliss experienced while breathing or chanting The Lord’s Name. Once this occurs, chanting continues even in sleep, that is it occurs continuously for twenty-four hours.

14. Some restrictions

A. The Gayatri mantra: The Gayatri mantra is a spiritual practice of the tej (absolute fire) element whereas chanting the Name of the family deity is that of the pruthvi (absolute earth) element. If one performs the spiritual practice of the tej element before that of the pruthvi element, it could result in distress. This is like appearing for a graduation examination directly without clearing the matriculation examination. However if the Guru has recommended the Gayatri mantra then one should certainly chant it.

B. Women chanting with the usage of Om: Refer ‘Prefixing Shri or Om to the Name’.

15. The Name imparted by the Guru is more important than the Guru’s speech

Dr. Jayant Balaji Athavale: Sometimes instead of listening to Your speech my concentration turns towards chanting. If this happens there may be inattention to a certain task one might have been asked to do. To avoid this should I stop chanting the Name and instead listen to what You are saying?

Baba: While paying attention to chanting the Name one need not pay attention to anything else because these things are from the gross dimension whereas the Name is associated with the God (Purush) principle.’ (4)

16. The possible losses from chanting and the remedies

The seeker in the primary stage becomes vain that ‘since I am chanting The Lord’s Name, I am more evolved than those who do not’. This loss is possible in all seekers and to prevent it one should constantly harbour the spiritual emotion that ‘without the grace of the Guru or The Lord, I will not be able to chant The Lord’s Name’.

Distress caused to a seeker due to chanting of the wrong Name and due to distressing energy: See ‘The effects of Names of certain deities’.

17. Signs of progress

17.1 The sacrificial fire of chanting The Lord’s Name (Namayadnya) rather than the routine sacrificial fire (yadnya)

Ultimately all sacrificial fires (yadnyas) get converted into the sacrificial fire of chanting (Namayadnya). The conversion of the routine sacrificial fire into that of chanting The Lord’s Name implies that one has blended with one’s soul principle (atma). If such a seeker does not perform any sacrificial fire it does not matter at all. Since the sacrificial fire of chanting is a manifestation of The Lord, it is termed as superior devotion (parabhakti). Superior devotion is devotion consisting of love akin to that of the wives of the cowherds (gopis) unto The Lord. It is also termed as the non-Vedic spiritual practice of love. That plane is such that, in it non-parabhakti spiritual practice such as a sacrificial fire proves to be an obstacle, a blemish. Also since one is overwhelmed with devotion one has no consciousness of one’s body and blends with the inner Bliss.

17.2 How to recognise progress?

‘A seeker asked, “When doing spiritual practice how can one make out how far away one is from The Lord?” Shri Maharaj replied, “When one sits down to chant, thoughts regarding worldly problems create turmoil in the mind. On the other hand when performing worldly activities if chanting creates a fervour in the mind then one may conclude that one is not far from God.” (5)

17.3 A vision of God

A. A word, touch, form, taste, odour and its energy coexist. Hence if chanting (the word) increases then one gets a vision of God (Sarup Mukti).

    ‘When a seeker does chanting observing the regulations of the Path of Devotion, irrespective of what Name he chants, he gets a vision of that very deity or incarnation for whom he has intense devotion in his antahkaran. Thus even after completing thirteen crores of chanting of Rama one may get a vision of Datta, Krushna, etc.’(6)

    At first, during chanting one gets a vision of God (darshan) during meditation and experiences Bliss. Then, when this yearning becomes intense one gets a vision in a dream and acquires The Lord’s blessings. Later one gets the actual vision in the waking state. The waking state is sattvik (sattva predominant), the dream state is rajasik (raja predominant) and the state of meditation is tamasik (tama predominant) in nature. Hence devotion should get transformed into obtaining the vision of the manifest form (sagun darshan) in the waking state. The meditative state of a seeker is more sattvik than the waking state of an average person. However, in case of a seeker the meditative state which gives the corpse-like experience (mrutavastha) is tamasik in nature as compared to the waking state experienced in the natural state of communion with God (sahajsthiti) which is sattvik in nature.

B. The qualities (energy) of the deity which has granted a vision (darshan) are imbibed in the seeker.

C. There is a oneness with the deity granting the vision (Sayujya Mukti): If one is a highly evolved seeker then one experiences the unmanifest (nirgun) along with the vision of the manifest that is one’s devotion or mission after Self-realisation (dnyanottar bhakti or karma) commences in its true sense and one starts blending with The Supreme Brahman (Parabrahman).

17.4 Turyavastha

As long as one experiences the states of waking, dream and deep sleep during chanting, chanting does not occur in its real form as these three states belong to the intellect. Only when these states come to an end through chanting, that is only when one enters the fourth state (turya) which is beyond these three, does one experience that ‘I am Brahman’. This is called the natural state of communion with God (sahajavastha) or Liberation from the cycles of birth and death (jivanmukti).

17.5 Chanting after Liberation (Mukti)

One should chant with the conviction that one will realise God in this very birth. After Self-realisation chanting becomes one’s second nature. It occurs automatically, like respiration. This is termed by Saint Tukaram Maharaj as ‘when there is devotion unto Liberation chanting of the Name of Lord Narayan occurs continuously’.

17.6 According to the mode of speech (vani)

See table ‘Comparison of chanting in the four modes of speech’.


Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh. Publishers: Pandit Mahadevshastri Joshi, Secretary, Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal, 410 Shanivar Peth, Pune 411 030.
Vol. 1 and 2: Second edition           Vol. 3 to 10: First edition
3. Vol. 5, Pg. 36

5,6. Shri. Brahmachaitanya Maharaj Gondavlekar Yanchi Pravachane. Publisher: R. B. Ghanekar, Secretary: Shri Sadguru Brahmachaitanya Maharaj Gondavlekar (sansthan), Chaitanyopasana, Post Gondavale Budruk 415 509, Taluka Man, District Satara.


Why does a japamala consist of 108 beads?



1. The effects of Names of certain deities

1.1 Deities at a higher spiritual level

If a seeker at the level of the pruthvi (absolute earth) element suddenly commences chanting of the tej (absolute fire) element then he feels uncomfortable since he does not have the potential to tolerate the radiance (tej) generated by it.

1.2 Deities worthy of worship and those unworthy of worship

Chant the Name of any of the forms of Lord Vishnu such as Narayan, Keshav, etc., Shiva or Ganapati, for one minute. Then chant that of either Prajapati or Brahma for a minute. Note whether you feel pleasant or distressed with each chanting, only then read further.

At a satsang (spiritual meeting ) after chanting ‘Shankar’ 12 out of 30 people felt pleasant and none experienced distress. Contrary to this, after chanting ‘Prajapati’ 6 people felt good while 3 experienced distress, that is developed a headache, felt like stopping the chanting, etc.

At another satsang after chanting ‘Narayan’, 4 out of 28 people felt pleasant and none experienced distress. As against this, after chanting ‘Prajapati’ none felt pleasant and 3 experienced discomfort.

At yet another satsang after chanting ‘Keshav’, 5 out of 22 felt pleasant and none experienced distress. In contrast, after chanting ‘Brahma’ none felt pleasant and 5 experienced discomfort.

Since everyone is not capable of giving answers in the subtle dimension, all cannot participate in such experiments. The point to be emphasized here is that through various experiments one thing is proven repeatedly and that is, that usually chanting of Vishnu, Shiva and Ganapati does not cause distress as is the case with Prajapati or Brahma. Hence Vishnu, Shiva and Ganapati are worthy of worship while Prajapati and Brahma are not. Thus temples of Prajapati and Brahma are mostly not constructed. One may thus conclude that no one worships Prajapati and Brahma since they are responsible for our creation and our entrappment in the Great Illusion (Maya)!

1.3 Superior and subordinate deities

Chant the Name of Vishnu, Shiva or Ganapati for one minute. Then chant Yaksha (demigods), Gandharva (celestial male singer), Kinnar (celestial musician) or names of Apsaras (celestial beauties) like Menaka, Rambha, Urvashi, Tilottama, etc. for one minute. First note whether one feels pleasant or uncomfortable with the chanting, only then proceed.

At one satsang (spiritual meeting) 20 out of 35 people felt pleasant after chanting ‘Shankar’ and none were distressed. Contrary to this, after chanting ‘Yaksha’ only one felt pleasant and 6 were distressed.

At another satsang 21 out of 41 felt pleasant after chanting ‘Vishnu’ and only one felt a little distressed. As against this after chanting the names of the celestial beauties Menaka, Rambha, Urvashi, Tilottama, etc. no one felt pleasant. Instead 10 of them experienced distress (though 24 out of the 41 were males)!

Since all cannot get answers in the subtle dimension everybody at the satsang cannot participate in such experiments. Yet from this it is clear why Vishnu, Shiva, Ganapati, etc. are called superior deities and Yakshas, Gandharvas, Kinnars, Apsaras, etc. are called subordinate deities. Since worship of subordinate deities can cause distress due to their excessive manifest energy their temples also are not constructed.

1.4 The obstacle of distressing energy

If one is affected by distressing energy such as spirits, black magic (karni), etc. then initially one may experience discomfort even with appropriate chanting. This is so because the seeker chanting, himself becomes a sort of battlefield for both, the pleasant energy generated by chanting and the distressing energy. However, the distress caused by the distressing energy gradually decreases with chanting the Name of the family deity (kuladevata) or that given by the Guru and then stops altogether.

1.5 Time and deities

Some seekers may experience distress if they chant the Name of a deity or a presiding deity other than the deity of the day or the presiding deity of that date (tithi). However, this difference will be obvious only after a seeker who has made substantial spiritual progress, experiments by chanting in this way.

A. Days of the week and deities

Monday (Somvar): Shiva (Som means the Moon) Tuesday: Parvati / Lakshmi
Wednesday: Pandurang Thursday: Datta
Friday: Parvati / Lakshmi Saturday: Maruti
Sunday (Ravivar): Ravi (means Surya, the Sun deity)  

B. The dates (tithis) and their respective presiding deities

1. Pratipada (1st) Agnidev (The
deity of fire)
2. Dvitiya (2nd) Brahma (The
deity of origin)
3. Trutiya (3rd) Gouri 4. Chaturthi Ganesh
5. Panchami Sarpa (The
6. Shashthi (6th) Kartikswami
7. Saptami (7th) Surya (Sun) 8. Ashtami (8th) Bhairav (Shiva)
9. Navami (9th) Durga 10. Dashami (10th) Antak [Yamaraj
(The deity of
11. Ekadashi (11th) Vishvedev 12. Dvadashi (12th) Hari (Vishnu)
13. Trayodashi (13th) Kamadev 14. Chaturdashi (14th) Pitar (ancestors)
15. Pournima (full
      moon day)
16. Amavasya (new
      moon day)
Pitar (ancestors)

    If instead of the presiding deity of that date (tithi) one worships the presiding deity of another date then the benefit obtained is less, for instance if instead of Agnidev (the deity of fire) one worships other deities on the first day (pratipada) of the Hindu lunar calendar then the percentage of the benefit obtained is as follows.

The deity Proportion of
the benefit
obtained %
The deity
Proportion of
the benefit
obtained %
1. Agnidev (The
    deity of fire)
100 9. Durga 70
2. Brahma 40 10. Antak
3. Gouri 70 11. Vishvedev 70
4. Ganesh 40 12. Hari
5. Sarpa
    (The serpant)
70 13. Kamadev 70
6. Kartikswami 40 14. Shiva 40
7. Surya 70 15. Chandra
8. Bhairav
40 16. Pitar

2. The method of chanting the deity’s Name

When addressing someone instead of simply using his name, one refers to him respectfully as Shri. (Mr.), Smt. (Mrs.) etc. Similarly, one should chant the Name of the family deity in a way which expresses respect for the same. Shri should prefix the Name of the family deity, the Name that follows should be in dative case (chaturthi pratyay) and should conclude with namaha. For instance, if the family deity is Ganesh then ‘Shri Ganeshaya namaha (श्री गणेशाय नम: ।)’, if it is Bhavani, then ‘Shri Bhavanimatayai namaha (श्री भवानीमातायै नम: ।) or Shri Bhavanidevyai namaha (श्री भवानीदेव्‍यै  नम: ।)’. Since it is difficult to pronounce ‘Shri Bhavanyai namaha’ one can say matayai or devyai. The table below shows how the dative case should be affixed to the word. The affix means ‘to’, that is (obeisance) to Ganapati, to the deity, etc.

For greater details refer ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 10 -Path of Mantra (Mantrayoga), point 2. Parts of a mantra’.

  The Name The affix
Other examples
The masculine gender
1. Ending in ‘a’ Rama Ramaya Narayanaya, Ganeshaya,
2. Ending in ‘i’ Hari Haraye Marutaye (Maruti), Agnaye
(Agni), Ravaye (Ravi)
3. Ending in ‘u’ Vishnu Vishnave Gurave (Guru), Bhanave
4. Ending in ‘ru’ Pitru Pitre  
5. Others Hanumat Hanumate  
The feminine gender
1. Ending in ‘a’ Durga Durgayai Umayai, Ramayai
2. Ending in ‘i’ Parvati Parvatyai Sarasvatyai
3. Ending in ‘u’ Dhenu Dhenvai/
4. Ending in ‘ru’ Matru Matre  

2.1 Prefixing Shri or Om to the Name

Generally Shri or Om is prefixed to the Name. The importance of this prefix is given in ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 10 – Path of Mantra (Mantrayoga) point 2.- Parts of a mantra’. The comparison of Shri and Om is given in the following table.

  Shri Omkar (Om)
1. Meaning Divine Energy
(Shakti), Beauty,
virtues, etc.
The unmanifest
2. The level (%) of a seeker who
     may use it
20-60* 30-70
3. Possibility of distress due to
    the energy generated by the
    pronunciation or remembrance
    of the prefix %
0 2**
4. Commonly prefixed to the
    Name of which deity
Almost all

* Beyond a spiritual level of 60% one concentrates on Bliss (Anand) instead of the word.

** For creation of the manifest (sagun, the Great Illusion) from the unmanifest (nirgun, Brahman) tremendous energy is required. Such energy is generated by Om. Hence, repeating (chanting) of Om by one whose spiritual level is not adequate to do so can cause physical distress such as hyperacidity, a rise in the body temperature, etc. or psychological distress like restlessness.

Women should not chant Om. The frequencies emanating from Om generate a lot of energy (heat) in the body. This does not affect the male reproductive organs as they lie outside the body cavity. However, in case of women this heat can affect the reproductive organs as they lie within the abdominal cavity. Thus women may experience distress. They may suffer from excessive menstrual flow, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, infertility, etc. Hence, it is advisable for women not to prefix Om to the Name unless otherwise recommended by the Guru; for example they may chant ‘Namaha Shivaya (नम: शिवाय)’ instead of ‘Om namaha Shivaya (ॐ नम: शिवाय)’. Otherwise they should use Shri as a prefix.

3. The speed of chanting

A seeker with a tamasik (tama predominant) temperament should chant fast while one with a rajasik (raja predominant) temperament and sattvik (sattva predominant) temperament should do so slowly. Until a seeker in the primary stage begins to like chanting, he should chant changing the tune, rhythm and rate of chanting in order to avoid feeling bored. A seeker in the advanced stage should chant with one tune, rhythm and rate and gradually decrease the speed of chanting to facilitate keeping the mind in a thoughtless state. By extending the Om if it is present in one’s japa, the speed of chanting decreases. Chanting very fast too stops the chanting and the mind becomes thoughtless. One should gradually prolong the period of pronunciation of The Lord’s Name each time, so that if chanting is occurring twenty times in a minute, it is reduced to fifteen times, later to ten times and so on.

4. The stage of the seeker and the mode of speech (vani)

A. The primary stage:

  • The Vaikhari mode of speech
  • Writing The Lord’s Name: This should be done every morning and evening for atleast ten minutes and on Sundays and holidays for atleast half an hour to one hour.
  • Chanting with a mala (rosary): If one chants with the help of a mala (rosary) then one should do at least three turns (malas) per day. If the chanting is less, then to know the reduction in the number of malas, one should count their number. If substantial chanting occurs then there is no need to count the malas.

B. The intermediate stage: Madhyama and Pashyanti modes of speech

C. The advanced stage: Pashyanti and Para modes of speech

Whether one chants in the Vaikhari, Madhyama, Pashyanti or Para mode of speech is not important. One should chant with that mode of speech with which the wandering of the mind is minimised. Information on these four modes of speech is given in table ‘Comparison of chanting in the four modes of speech’.

5. Keeping a count of the chanting

The methods of counting the chanting are as follows:

  • A. The mala of beads: Information about the mala (rosary) is given below under point ‘6. The japamala (rosary)’.
  • B. The mala of fingers (karamala): The joints of the fingers of the right hand used to count chanting constitute the mala of fingers (karamala). The method of counting chanting is as follows:Start by counting 1 on the middle joint of the ring finger. Then count 2 at the base of the ring finger, three, four and five on the joints of the little finger in the ascending order, six on the upper joint of the ring finger, seven on the upper joint of the middle finger and eight, nine and ten on the joints of the index finger in the descending order. Once one reaches the base of the index finger one should reverse the order while counting till one reaches the middle joint of the ring finger. In this forward and reversed order, chanting occurs twenty times. In the mala of fingers (karamala) the base of the index finger should be considered as the merubead (merumani) and should not be crossed. So also the lower two joints of the middle finger should not be touched.’ (1) When chanting using the mala of fingers some joints are not to be touched as the mudras resulting from their touch can reduce one’s concentration. [Refer ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 30 – Asan, Bandha, Mudra’.]
  • C. Counting machines: Nowadays counting machines are used to count chanting wherein a button is pressed, each time one chants. Electronic counters are also becoming popular. However since they are made of stainless steel the sattva component generated in them on account of chanting and the benefit derived by the seeker thereby is far less than that generated in a mala used for the same purpose.

6. The japamala (rosary)

6.1 The number of beads

The Hindu mala (rosary) usually consists of 108 beads in addition to the merubead. In some sects however the number of beads vary, for instance in the Shaiva sect the mala has 32 beads. According to some holy texts the mala should have only 9 beads and one should count 108 with 12 of its turns.

The mala of alphabets (akshamala) is made of rudraksha beads. It is composed of 51 alphabets from the Devanagari script from ‘a’(अ) to ‘ksh’(क्ष). Here ‘a’(अ) to ‘l’(ळ) are counted on the ordinary beads and ‘ksh’ on the merubead. When chanting with this, first one starts in the natural order from ‘a’ to ‘l’ and then backwards from ‘l’ to ‘a’.

A. The number of beads depending on the motive:

1. Spiritual progress : 27
2. Thousands of mahapurashcharans : 100
3. Attainment of the Final Liberation (Moksha) : 25
4. Acquisition of wealth : 30
5. Fulfillment of all one’s desires : 108
6. Acquisition of distressing energy (Aghori vidya) : 30

B. The meaning of 108 beads in the mala:

  • ‘Desire, anger, greed, attachment, pride and envy are the six defects or foes of the soul (shadripu). Often more than one defect is dominant at a time. Sometimes even two defects can be dominant. Thus one derives six permutations of a defect, for instance desire, desire-anger, desire-greed, desire-attachment, desire-pride, desire-envy, etc. Thus from the six defects, thirty-six permutations are obtained. These thirty-six permutations have either sattva, raja or tama, as their predominant component, for instance desire-anger-sattva, desire-anger-raja, desire-anger-tama. Thus 36×3=108 permutations are obtained. Every bead in the mala is a representative of such a permutation. The merubead (merumani) maintains its separate existence inspite of being with the rest. Thus finally the mala consists of 109 beads. The spiritual emotions developed in every bead are generated from the nine types of devotion (navavidha bhakti).’ (2)
  • The four parts (charans) of each of the twenty-seven lunar asterisms (nakshatras) that is 27 x 4 equals one hundred and eight. These are represented by 108 beads in the mala. This reminds one of the fact that the Vedic teachings have to be propagated to these 108 places.
  • The beads symbolize the 108 sensate foci in our body.
  • They represent the 108 Upanishads.
  • The Names of Vishnu and Shiva in the Mahabharat are also 108.
  • The major psychiatric illnesses according to the Ayurveda too are 108.
  • The number of the deities of knowledge and the various sciences (vidyas) is 108 as well.
  • In the tenth kand of the text Shatpath Brahman it is said that one sanvatsar has 10,800 auspicious moments (muhurts). The Rugveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda also have the same number of couplets. (The Atharvaveda is considered inferior to the other three Vedas. Hence it is not discussed here.) The life span of man in the Kaliyug is hundred years. If 10,800 is divided by 100 the result is 108. Thus the 108 beads in the mala indicate the 108 auspicious moments (muhurts) in a year and also the couplets of the three Vedas.
  • An average person breathes 21,600 times a day. If a seeker gives half these breaths to worldly activities then he should devote atleast the remaining half, that is 10,800 breaths to spiritual practice. So, chanting of a minimum of 100 turns (malas) of a mala consisting of 108 beads should be done everyday.
  • ‘The author of Ankavidya, S.H.Joshi has illustrated the scientific relationship between numbers and actions. Zero refers to the inactive, formless and attributeless Brahman whereas, 1 indicates the non-dualistic state of Brahman. S.H. Joshi while elucidating the concept further says, each number has its own importance. The 108 beads of the mala also have a significance. The sun when traversing the twelve zodiac signs completes a polar circle which is known as a ‘vrutta’. The vrutta has 360 degrees. If one converts the degrees of the revolution into kalas one gets 360 x 60 = 2,16,000 kalas. The sun remains in the northern hemisphere for six months and in the southern for the remaining six. Thus one obtains the figure of 1,08,000 in each part. From another angle it is considered that there are 60 ghatkas from one sunrise to the other. One ghatka consists of 60 pals and each of the 60 pals amounts to 60 vipals. Thus 60 ghatkas amount to 2,16,000 vipals. If these are divided between day and night then one arrives at the number 1,08,000. To establish a relationship between time and numbers, the three zeros of the figure 1,08,000 may have been deleted and the figure of 108 may probably have been used for the japamala.’

6.2 The types of beads in a mala

A. According to the deity: The mala should consist of beads which have the ability to attract pure (most subtle) particles of the deity whose Name is being chanted, for instance rudraksha beads for chanting the Name of Lord Shiva and tulsi beads for chanting the Name of Lord Vishnu.

B. According to the motive: Beads predominating in sattva, raja, tama are chosen according to the motive.

  • Spiritual progress : According to the sect – tulsi (Vishnu), rudraksha (Shiva), pearls or corals (Shakti), gold (Lakshmi), red sandalwood [raktachandan] (Tripuradevi), ivory (Ganesh).
  • Taravidya: Conch
  • Begetting a son: Fruits of a tree called ‘Putrajiva’.
  • Acquisition of wealth: Corals
  • Fulfillment of desires: Silver
  • Nullification of sins: Blades of grass (kushagranthi)
  • Acquisition of the mantra of attracting others: Ivory
  • Destruction of enemies (completion of the undertaken task, acquisition of wealth): Padmaksha
  • Distressing (Aghori) energy: Bones

C. The merubead: This is the main bead of the mala. Why this bead is not crossed while chanting is given in point ‘6.4 A’. The merubead which remains steady without being included in the counting unlike the other beads, is associated with the following: the constellation of seven stars (the Saptarshi) which revolves between the North Pole (Dhruva) and the South Pole (Dhruvas). The centre of this revolution which is steady is called sumeru. Hence, the merubead which is excluded in the counting of chanting is also known as the sumeru.

6.3 The thread and the Brahmagath (gath = knot)

Since the red thread is said to bestow all the supernatural powers (siddhis) three rounds of it are recommended for tying the beads of a mala. The merubead is tied in the middle of the mala with the Brahmagath. The beads should be separated by a knot so that they do not strike each other.

6.4 The principles of using the mala

using japamala

A. One should not traverse the merubead

Why does one reverse the mala after reaching the merubead (merumani)?

‘To forget the act of chanting !’ – Saint

Just as from the seeker’s point of view, it is important for the central Sushumna channel to be functional rather than the left sided Ida or the right sided Pingala, so also, it is incorrect for a seeker to use the mala in only one direction. The Sushumna channel is between the Ida and Pingala channels, and likewise the merubead is between the opposite directional rotations of the mala.

If one happens to cross the merubead by mistake, one should practise pranayam six times as a penance.

B. The mala should be drawn towards oneself

Observe what one experiences when the mala is pushed away from oneself as against drawing it to oneself. A majority experience distress. The reason being that when drawing the mala towards oneself the vital energy, pranvayu is active while when pushing it away the vital energy, samanvayu is active. More Bliss (Anand) is experienced when the pranvayu is active in comparison to the samanvayu. [More details on these vital energies are given in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 35 – Pranayam’.]

C. According to the motive: Chanting is done with the mala held in the right hand as given below:

  • 1. As spiritual practiceA. The mala should be placed on the middle joint of the middle finger and the beads should be drawn with the thumb towards oneself. The index finger should not touch the mala.

    B. The mala may also be placed on the ring finger with the tips of the ring finger and thumb touching each other. The mala should then be drawn with the middle finger.

  • 2. To acquire supernatural powers of Uchchatan and Utsahan from the Path of Tantra: The mala is placed on the ring finger and drawn with the thumb.

6.5 Performing sanskars (spiritual rites) on the mala [malasanskar]

These sanskars (rites) are performed only to charge a new mala before use.‘The mala should be placed on a leaf of the holy fig tree (pimpal) or a copper plate (if the leaf is not available) after sprinkling water purified with grassblades (kushodak), a mixture of five things namely milk, curd, butter, urine and dung of the cow (panchagavya), etc. on it. Then 50 alphabets (matrukas) Om (ॐ), rhim (ह्रीं|), am (अं), am (आं), im (इं), im (ईं), um (उं), um (ऊं), rum (ऋं), rum (ऋं), lrum (लृं), lrum (लृं), em (एं), aim (ऐं), aum (ओं), oum (औं), am (अं), aha (अ:), kam (कं), kham (खं), gam (गं), gham (घं), nham (ङं), cham (चं), cham (छं), jam (जं), jham (झं), yam (ञं), tam (टं), tham (ठं), dam (डं), dham (ढं), nam (णं), tam (तं), tham (थं), dam (दं), dham (धं), nam (नं), pam (पं), pham (फं), bam (बं), bham (भं), mam (मं), yan (यं), ram (रं), lam (लं), vam (वं), sham (शं), sham (षं), sam (सं), ham (हं) and ksham (क्षं)’ are pronounced aloud (nyas) placing the right hand over the mala. Then the priest performs the sanskars (rites) with ‘sadyojatadi (सद्योजातादि०)’ mantras. Should a priest be unavailable then the sanskars should be performed chanting the mantras of the benevolent deity (ishtadevata). An offering of five things viz. sandalwood paste (gandha), flowers, incense (dhup), a lit lamp (dip) and an offering of food (naivedya) is made in that order, amidst chanting of those mantras.

It is a custom to perform a similar sanskar on the mala worn around the neck.

If such elaborate sanskars are not feasible then the mala may be washed with panchagavya and later sandalwood paste should be applied to it. The mantra of the benevolent deity (ishtadevata) should be chanted ten times on each bead and a hundred times on the merubead and should be followed by the five-fold ritual of worship (panchopchar puja) of the mala. The mala is then ready for use.’ (3)

6.6 The ritual of accepting a mala (japamalagrahanvidhi)

The mala is purified by washing it with panchagavya. Then its invocation (pranpratishtha) and worship is done. Since the mala is associated with Righteousness (Dharma), money (artha), desire (kama) and the Final Liberation (Moksha) during the worship, one should pray for success in achieving them. A new mala should be procured from the Guru. As is the custom, prior to this, one should worship the Guru.

6.7 Donning the mala

‘At places such as Pandharpur a special ritual of ‘donning the mala’ is performed. Only a tulsi mala is used for this purpose. The Guru or chief of the group gives the oath of following the traditional restrictions and code of conduct such as prohibition of wine, meat, adultery and coveting others’ wealth, following the religious observance of Ekadashi, going on a pilgrimage to Pandharpur, reading the Haripath, adorning a tilak on the forehead, etc. One is now known as a malkari’ (one wearing the mala). If the mala happens to break and fall then one does not partake of food till it is replaced.’ (4)

6.8 Practical suggestions about using a japamala (rosary)

  • A. As far as possible one should use one’s own mala (rosary). Mostly each one’s chanting is different. Hence, if all use the same mala the frequencies developed in it can even prove distressing to some.
  • B. One should use only one mala. With use, pleasant vibrations develop in it and consequently the charged mala facilitates concentration.
  • C. If one is recommended the chanting of two or three Names for spiritual reasons then one should chant with the same mala. Due to chanting of those Names frequencies essential for oneself develop in that mala and prove beneficial to the individual.
  • D. Prior to commencement of chanting, holy water should be sprinkled on the mala (prokshan) and then it should be worshipped ritualistically (puja) or obeisance (namaskar) should be offered to it.
  • E. One should take care to see that the beads do not strike each other while chanting. Hence they should have a knot in between them. According to the scriptures, if a sound is generated by the striking of the beads with each other then the chanting is said to be futile.
  • F. To avoid loss of energy from the mala it should either be kept with the other materials of ritualistic worship (puja), in a box or a steel cup (vati) or should be worn around the neck. If a mala is worn then depending on its length, it can have an effect on a particular chakra. The mala with 108 beads generally reaches the navel, so it can have an effect on the Manipur chakra. If a mala of 32 beads is worn then it encircles the neck and hence has an effect on the Vishuddha chakra.    The scriptures say that the mala used for chanting should not be worn. The motive behind this being that since no one can remain sattvik (sattva predominant) throughout the day if the mala is worn, the sattva component generated in it due to chanting will be destroyed. In order to prevent this the seeker in the primary stage should not wear the japamala. If worn it will only serve psychologically to remind him that ‘one should behave in a sattvik manner’. For a progressed seeker whether the mala is worn or not, does not matter at all.
  • G. A bag shaped like a cow’s face (gomukhi): It is said that after obtaining a new japamala it should not be shown even to the Guru who gives it. It is just to emphasise the point that it should not be shown to anybody that the above statement is made. Similarly if chanting is done keeping the mala exposed then the result of the chanting is said to be taken away by spirits, ghosts, demons, etc. Due to this fear many a seeker using a japamala either chants in isolation or chant inserting the right hand holding the mala in a small silk bag having a length and breadth of 20 cms and shaped like the face of a cow. This bag is called a gomukhi.
  • H. The slip and fall of the mala: ‘If when chanting, the mala slips and falls from the hand it is considered to be a bad omen. If this happens one should perform pranayam as a penance six times.
  • I. The breaking of the mala: Should the beads of the mala fall apart while chanting, it is considered an omen of disaster and one should perform the chanting of Mahamrutyunjay japa to ward off the obstacle. Although there are stringent rules for the amount of chanting to be done, generally forty thousand is the amount advocated. However, if the thread of the mala is found to be weak then using one’s judgement one may reduce the chanting.

6.9 The exchange of a mala

One cannot gift a mala used by oneself to someone else. However a Guru can give it to His disciple. A mala can also be kept as a memento of a departed soul. A mala acquired from a Guru who has renounced His body or a mala which is a memento of a dead person cannot be used for chanting.’(5) One should not use the Guru’s japamala as, if kept unused for a longer period one can derive maximum benefit whereas if used the sattva component in it gets reduced faster. One should not use someone else’s japamala since it is charged with the frequencies of his deity of worship and to charge it with one’s own chanting would take time.

6.10 The japamala (rosary) in certain sects

A. Jain

  • 1. Name: Japamala
  • 2. Number of beads: 108
  • 3. Material of the beads: Sandalwood, thread, gold, silver, marble, gomed (a precious stone), vegetable seeds.
  • 4. Colour: The colours of the mala correspond to the colours donned by the saintly men (tirthankars).

B. Sikh

  • 1. Name: Simarani
  • 2. Number of beads: 108
  • 3. Motive: There are 108 quotes of the Guru in the religious text ‘Shri Guru Grantha Sahib’

From the seeker’s point of view the importance of the number of beads, the types and the sanskars on the mala is just 0.0001% whereas chanting with spiritual emotion (bhav) is 100% important.


Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh. Publishers: Pandit Mahadevshastri Joshi, Secretary, Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal, 410 Shanivar Peth, Pune 411 030.
Vol. 1 and 2: Second edition           Vol. 3 to 10: First edition
1. Vol. 2, Pg. 104, 105

Shastra Ase Sangate. First edition, fifth reprint – October 94, Vedavani Publications, Kolhapur 416 010.
3. Pg. 24,25
4. Pg. 25
5. Pg. 25, 26


Why should one chant Name of benevolent deity based on the trigunas in oneself?


1. Chanting the Name given by the Guru

Refer point 3.7 and ‘Science of Spirituality : Vol. 4 – Path of Guru’s Grace (Gurukrupayoga), point – Gurumantra’.

1.1 The name given by the parents and that given by the Guru

  • A. The name given by the parents is for the physical body, that is Prakruti whereas that (The Lord’s Name) given by the Guru is in accordance with the God principle.
  • B. Impressions made on oneself make one feel that the name given by one’s parents is one’s own. Similarly one should make oneself feel that The Lord’s Name given by the Guru is one’s own, through impressions of the Name, (that is by chanting).
  • C. The Name given by the Guru indicates that one belongs to someone (the Guru principle). Forgetting the name given by one’s parents, one should feel The Lord’s Name to be one’s own.
  • D. The son carries forth the name of his parents, while a disciple carries forward the one given by his Guru. 

2. The family deity (kuladevata)

If one does not come across a real Guru then one should chant the Name of the family deity (kuladevata), that is the female family deity (kuladevi) or the male family deity (kuladev).

2.1 Origin and meaning

The word kula means the Muladhar chakra, energy or kundalini (spiritual energy). Kuladevata means the deity with the worship of which the Muladhar chakra is activated, that is spiritual progress commences. Deity (devata) refers to both the male deity (dev) or the female deity (devi).

2.2 The history

Worship of the family deity began in the post-Vedic and pre-Puranic period. The illustrious example of one who made spiritual and worldly progress through the spiritual practice of the family deity is Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.

2.3 The importance

  • A. When one is suffering from a major illness, one does not take medicines according to one’s fancy. For that, one needs to consult an authority in that field, that is a physician and to take medicines according to his advice. Similarly, to recover from the great illness of being entangled in the vast ocean of worldly life, that is to make spiritual progress, one needs to practise Spirituality under the guidance of a spiritually evolved person. However, there are very few such saints in society. 97% of the so-called Gurus are fake. Hence, the query remains as to which Name one should chant. The Lord however has provided us with an excellent solution. He has given each one of us a birth in a family (kula) appropriate for one’s spiritual progress.
  • B. When one falls ill one consults one’s family physician since he knows all about one’s constitution and illnesses. Similarly, when one has to get some work done in an office rather quickly, one contacts an acquaintance working there. In the same way, out of the thirty-three crores of deities our family deity is the closest to us, the one who will respond to our call and will make us progress spiritually.
  • C. When all the principles in the universe are imbibed into the subtle body, the practice of Spirituality is said to be complete. Just as the cow is the only animal which has the ability to attract the frequencies of all the deities in the universe (that is why it is said that there are thirty-three crores of deities in the cow’s abdomen.); so also only chanting of the family deity’s Name has the potential to attract all principles in the universe and increase them all upto 30%. Contrary to this, chanting of the Names of deities like Vishnu, Shiva, Ganapati, Lakshmi, etc. increases only that particular principle in which one is deficient. This is akin to taking vitamin A, B, etc. as a supplement to reduce the deficiency of that vitamin in the body. The Name of the family deity is like a general tonic which contains all the required minerals and vitamins.
  • D. The family deity (kuladevata) being the deity of the pruthvi (absolute earth) element, one does not experience any ill effects if one begins its spiritual practice. However, one may suffer ill effects if one directly commences the spiritual practice of the tej (absolute fire) element, (for instance chanting the Gayatri mantra). This does not happen with the worship of the family deity (kuladevata).
  • E. Since the family deity is the deity associated with the pruthvi (absolute earth) element one gets the spiritual experience of fragrance, the characteristic feature of the pruthvi element, within a few months to years of its worship. This enhances one’s faith in spiritual practice rather quickly. Contrary to this if one performs spiritual practice of the tej (absolute fire) element then one gets a vision only after several years of spiritual practice. Since the intensity and duration of spiritual practice in most people is less they do not get spiritual experiences of the subtle elements fast. Hence there is a possibility of their abandoning their spiritual practice midway.
  • F.   The Guru is the mother, the Guru is the father,
           the Guru is our kuladevata.
           In the most difficult times,
           He always protects us in every way.
           The body, speech and mind, I offer at the Guru’s feet.
           Eknath surrenders to Lord Janardan and considers
           His Guru to be Lord Janardan Himself.
– Saint Eknath                                       


  • G. The wrath of the family deity: At times, inspite of being intelligent when a student does not study, his teacher reprimands him. Akin to this, if a person has the potential to progress spiritually and yet does not do any spiritual practice then the family deity expresses its wrath. Since the individual is unable to perceive this, the deity creates obstacles in his worldly life. Since he is unable to resolve them despite maximum efforts the individual seeks guidance from a saint who then recommends worship of the family deity. Once this worship is begun, the deity removes these obstacles and even facilitates his spiritual practice.
  • 2.4 Which Name should one chant, that of the male family deity (kuladev) or the female family deity (kuladevi)

    • A. If one has only a male family deity then His Name should be chanted whereas if one has only a female family deity then Her Name should be chanted.
    • B. If one has both a male and a female family deity, the Name of the female deity should be chanted for the following reasons.1. Children are more demanding with the mother because the mother fulfills their demands faster. The female family deity too is appeased faster than the male deity.

      2. The female family deity is more closely associated with the pruthvi (absolute earth) element than the male family deity.

      3. The Name imparted by the Paratpar Guru is 100% conducive for one’s progress whereas that of the female family deity is 30% and that of the male family deity is only 25% conducive. (Refer point 9. The matching of various Names to the frequencies of various deities and their ability to unite with The Supreme God.)

    • C. If one’s family deity is of the nature of Ganesh panchayatan (five deities in which Ganesh is the main deity) or Vishnu panchayatan, etc. then one should consider the main deity in the panchayatan, Ganesh, Vishnu, etc. to be the family deity.
    • D. If one does not know the family deity then one should try to trace it from the elders in the family, people of the same surname, distant relatives, villagers, priests, etc. If one does not get information then one should either chant the Name of one’s favourite deity or ‘Shri kuladevatayai namaha (श्री कुलदेवतायै नम: ।)’. Once this is completed one comes across someone who tells the Name of one’s family deity. For the majority mere chanting of ‘Shri kuladevatayai namaha’ proves difficult as there is no conceptualisation of the form of the deity. As against this, since one is aware of the form of one’s favourite deity chanting its Name becomes easier.
    • E. Which Name should one chant, that of the family deity of the in-laws or that of the parents?     Usually after marriage a woman’s name changes. A woman leaves everyone at her home and comes to her in-laws. In a way, it is considered to be her rebirth. Hence, after marriage a woman should chant the Name of the family deity of her in-laws. However, if a woman has been chanting a specific deity’s Name since childhood and if she is a progressed seeker then she may continue to chant the same. This also holds good if a Guru has imparted a Name to her before marriage.

    2.5 The results

    Once the chanting of the Name of the family deity is completed the Guru Himself comes into the seeker’s life and blesses him with a Gurumantra.

    3. The favourite deity (ishtadevata)

    The deity which is responsible for spiritual progress such as the family deity or the deity whose Name is given by the Guru as Gurumantra for chanting, is known as the benevolent deity (ishtadevata). Despite this being so, most consider the deity bestowing worldly benefits or the deity of one’s liking as the benevolent deity. If one does not know the Name of one’s family deity then one should chant the Name of one’s favourite deity. The reasons for liking a particular deity are as follows:

    • A. In the previous birth one’s spiritual practice of that particular deity has probably remained incomplete.
    • B. Impressions about that particular deity have been created in the mind during childhood probably by listening to stories about it, etc. Since the deity is one’s favourite its chanting or spiritual practice is carried out wholeheartedly.

    Once this chanting reaches a certain level one comes across someone who reveals the Name of one’s family deity or the Guru Himself enters the seeker’s life and bestows a Gurumantra upon him. If one has a doubt as to which Name of the favourite deity one should chant then one should choose it using the following guidelines.

    3.1 The element in the seeker and that in the alphabets of the Name

    In India we have various deities, each one with a number of Names, for instance ‘Vishnu sahasranam’ quotes a thousand Names of Lord Vishnu. According to the alphabets in it the Name is related to either of the five cosmic elements (panchamahabhutas), that is pruthvi (absolute earth), apa (absolute water), tej (absolute fire), vayu (absolute air) and akash (absolute ether). Keeping this in mind one should chant the Name with alphabets matching one’s own element. The table under point ‘3.2’ illustrates the elements in various alphabets.

    3.2 The three components (trigunas) in the seeker and the Name

    The Name of the benevolent deity (ishtadevata) which should be chanted depends upon the sattva, raja and tama components in the seeker and in the Name of the deity. The method of recognising which component – sattva, raja, or tama predominates in a seeker is given in a table in ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 26 – Man’.

    The following table provides information on the elements and components present in some alphabets.

    The alphabets The element The
    The effect of pronunciation
    A. Vowels Akash
    Sattva The air escapes through the
    nose gently, producing a
    resonant note. Sound (nad) is
    the feature of the ether element.
    B. Consonants      
       1. Nh-yan-n-n-m Akash Sattva  
       2. Gh-jh-dh-dh-bh Vayu
    (absolute air)
    Raja When the letters are being
    pronounced the air escapes in a
    greater quantity like the blowing
    of wind (vayu)
       3. G-j-d-d-b Tej
    (absolute fire)
    Raja When the letters are being
    pronounced, more energy [rad-
    iance (tej)] is generated.
       4. Kh-ch-th-th-ph Apa
    Tama The pronounciation of the letters
    is like the sound of flowing
    water (apa).
       5. K-ch-t-t-p Pruthvi
    Tama When pronouncing these letters
    a sound akin to that produced
    by a forceful impact on a hard
    object (pruthvi) is produced.

    3.3 Selecting the deity according to the three components (trigunas) in the seeker and the deities

    When selecting the deity, according to the three components (trigunas) the following points may be considered.

    • A. Generally, one of the components is predominant in a deity, for instance tama in Lord Shiva, sattva in Lord Vishnu, etc.
    • B. A particular component is more manifest in a particular form of a deity, for instance the tama component is more in the Name of Ganapati as Vighnahar while the sattva component is more in His Name as Vidyapati.1. The primary seeker: According to one’s temperament whether sattvik, rajasik or tamasik (predominantly sattva, raja or tama respectively) a seeker should choose the Name of a deity which matches his temperament. A seeker finds it easier to chant a Name which matches his temperament, for instance a seeker with a tamasik temperament should choose Lord Shiva, whereas one with a sattvik temperament should choose Lord Vishnu, for chanting.

      2. The progressed seeker: A seeker with a rajasik or a tamasik temperament should chant that Name of the favourite deity contrary to his constitution because the aim in the advanced stage is to destroy the respective temperament and to increase the sattvik temperament, for instance a seeker with a rajasik temperament should chant the Name of Vishnu with a sattvik temperament. A seeker with a sattvik temperament however should chant the Name of Vishnu with a sattvik temperament.

    3.4 The appropriate Name of the chosen deity

    • A. The primary seeker : When chanting the Name of one’s favourite deity (ishtadevata) out of all the Names one should select the Name matching one’s constitution. A seeker finds it easier to chant such a Name; for instance if a seeker with a tamasik temperament has Shiva as the favourite deity he should chant ‘Namaha Shivaya (नम: शिवाय ।)’ but a seeker with a rajasik temperament with Shiva as the favourite deity should chant ‘Rudraya namaha (रुद्राय नम: ।)’. Some other examples of appropriate chanting of the favourite deity are given in the following table.
      The favourite
      The predominant component
      in the seeker
      sattva raja tama
      1. Shiva Namaha
      2. Vishnu Shri
      3. Ganapati Shri
      4. Devi
    • B. The progressed seeker (with a spiritual level of more than 40%): A seeker with a rajasik or tamasik temperament should chant that Name of the favourite deity contrary to his constitution, for instance if Shiva happens to be his favourite deity a seeker with a tamasik temperament should chant ‘Rudraya namaha (रुद्राय नम: ।)’ whereas one with a rajasik temperament should chant ‘Namaha Shivaya (नम: शिवाय ।)’. Usually a progressed seeker does not have a tamasik (tama predominant) temperament. A seeker with a sattvik (sattva predominant) temperament however should chant the Name with a sattvik temperament only. A few more examples of Names of the favourite deity essential for chanting, in a progressed seeker are given in the following table.
      The favourite
      The predominant component
      in the seeker
      sattva raja tama
      1. Shiva Namaha
      2. Vishnu Shri
      3. Ganapati Shri
      4. Devi

    3.5 Gender differences in the alphabets

    • A. The alphabets with a masculine gender: Vowels have a masculine gender. When pronouncing a vowel no impact occurs within the oral cavity though it assumes various shapes and the vowel is pronounced accordingly, for instance when saying ‘a’ the mouth becomes wide open whereas when uttering ‘u’ it becomes tubular. All these vowels are termed masculine according to the science of Spirituality because they do not require the support of other alphabets. They are complete by themselves. The Absolute Being (Purush, Brahman) is complete by Himself but the Great Illusion (Prakruti, Maya) is not, as it requires the Absolute Being (Brahman) to attain Absoluteness (Purnatva).
    • B. The alphabets with a feminine gender: Consonants have a feminine gender. Consonants become complete with the help of the vowels, for instance the consonant k (क). k (क्‌) + a (अ) = k (क).According to another school of thought low notes (rhasva) of vowels are masculine while the high ones (dirgha) are feminine.

      Once the gender differences of the alphabets are understood, one can choose a japa or mantra with appropriate alphabets, for instance for chanting of the Name of the female deity to occur smoothly alphabets of the feminine gender are better suited. From the therapeutic angle, chanting a japa or a mantra with alphabets of the feminine gender is more beneficial to homosexual males.

    3.6 The pulse rate

    • A. The primary seeker: One should chant a Name which does not alter the pulse rate. When the pulse rate does not change one can conclude that, that Name matches the temperament consisting of the three components (trigunas) of the seeker.
    • B. The progressed seeker: One should chant a Name which decreases the pulse rate. A decrease in the pulse rate signifies the conversion of rajasik (raja predominant) temperament to sattvik (sattva predominant) and that of sattvik temperament to one beyond the three components (trigunatit).

    3.7 The Name of one’s favourite deity and that recommended by the Guru

    One should chant the Name imparted by the Guru for the following reasons.

    • A. One does not understand which Name is best suited for one’s own spiritual progress. Only the Guru is capable of providing this guidance.
    • B. Chanting the Name of one’s favourite deity helps only to raise one’s sattvik nature. The Gurumantra however can take one upto the unmanifest state (nirgun), that is beyond the three components (trigunatit).
    • C. The Gurumantra does not contain mere letters but has spiritual knowledge (dnyan), divine consciousness (chaitanya) and the Guru’s blessings. Hence spiritual progress is faster. This Name containing divine consciousness is called a sabija or a divine mantra. However, one has to practise Spirituality to obtain the ultimate result by chanting the sabija mantra.
    • D. Due to faith in the Guru, one chants the Gurumantra with greater faith than the mantra decided upon by oneself. Also when remembering the Guru one tends to chant the Name given by Him and thus one’s chanting increases.
    • E. When one chants the Name of one’s favourite deity atleast some amount of ego accompanies it. On the contrary, when chanting the Name recommended by the Guru there is no ego.

    4. Other deities

    4.1 Fulfillment of desires

    If one wishes to chant the Name of a deity to fulfill a specific desire, then a deity whose qualities match one’s desires should be appropriately selected, for instance if one wants wisdom or knowledge, one should chant the Name of Ganesh or Sarasvati. Details about this are given in point ‘The worldly (sakam) and non-worldly (nishkam) motives’.

    4.2 Overcoming spiritual obstacles

    The following table illustrates which deity is useful for a particular problem. If the deficiency of vital energy (pranshakti) is the cause of impairment of functioning of an organ, then the Name of the deity to be chanted, as its possible remedy is given in point ‘As a therapy’.

    The spiritual factors The spiritual
    factors due to
    destiny %
    The spiritual
    factors due to
    wilful action
    The remedy
    (spiritual practice)
    1. Destiny 50 8* Worship of the female
    / male family deity
    2. Distressing energies 4 2.50  
       A. Possession 1 1 Worship of Hanuman,
    Kali, Durga, etc.**
       B. Black magic 1 0.75  
       C. Ancestors’ subtle
    1 0.50 Mild problem: Worship
    of Datta, e.g. ritualistic
    worship (puja), chant-
    ing, going to the temple
    Severe problem:
    Tripindi shraddha,
    Narayan Nagbali
       D. Problems arising
            from planets
    1 0.25 Varies according to
    the planets
    3. Plesant energies 6 1.60  
       A. The family deity
    5 0.75 Following the family
    traditions of spiritual
    practice (kulachar)
       B. The Village deity
    0.10 (very rare) Traditional ritualistic
    worship of the village
    deity (Gramadevata)
       C. The deity of a
    0.25 0.1 Ritualistic worship
    (puja), sacrificial fire
    (hom), etc.
       D. The deity of a
    0.65 0.75 The rituals of
    Udakshant etc.
    4. Associated with
        spiritual energy in
        the body
    1.50 0.75  
       A. Obstacles in the
            channels (nadis)
    1 (very rare) Bijakshar mantras
       B. Deficiency of
            vital energy
    0.5 0.75 Worship of Superior
    deities like Shiva,
    Vishnu, Ganapati,
    Lakshmi, Parvati, etc.
    and the company of
    5. Miscellaneous 3.50 2.15  
       A. Food, clothing
    1 0.25 Avoidance of specific
    items of food, etc.
       B. Time 0.75   Continuing one’s
    spiritual practice
       C. Collective sins
            and merits
    0.75   Turning others towards
    spiritual practice
       D. Remaining 1 1.9 According to the cause
    Total (80 =) *** 65 15  

    * One has to undergo the result of severe sins and merits in this birth itself.

    ** Visiting a sorcerer (mantrik) or bhagat may yield quick results. But the problem can recur. As against this, if the worship of Hanuman, Kali, etc. is done, though recovery is slow, there is an increase in energy due to the spiritual practice and there is no recurrence. Should the problem be mild, one can overcome it with one’s own spiritual practice. If severe, besides visiting a sorcerer (mantrik) or bhagat one should also do one’s own spiritual practice.

    *** In the life of an average person 20% problems are due to psychological and/or physical factors, 30% due to spiritual and psychological and/or physical factors and the remaining 50% are purely due to spiritual causes. Thus with spiritual practice 80% events in life are either resolved or one acquires the strength to tolerate them, (that is destiny).

    5. Chanting the Names of various deities

    Usually chanting the Name of the family deity alone is sufficient. However, if someone happens to be suffering due to spiritual factors then as a remedy some saints advise chanting the Name of some other deity alongwith that of the family deity.


    • A. One does not get bored of chanting.
    • B. Various qualities of different deities get imprinted on the mind.


    • A. Chanting Names of various deities goes against the basic doctrine of Spirituality of traversing from ‘Many to One’.
    • B. Faith in only one deity does not develop quickly.

    6. The Name of the Guru

    ‘The Name given by the Guru is more important than the Guru Himself’. This will be clear from the following.

    • A. Just as the saying ‘Rama’s Name is mightier than Rama Himself’ goes, the Name given by the Guru is more valuable since the Guru comprises of both, the manifest (sagun) and the unmanifest (nirgun) principles while the Name imparted by Him has only the unmanifest principle.
    • B. The Guru’s physical body cannot remain perpetually. Finally when the Guru renounces it, the disciples are aggrieved. Contrary to this, the Name imparted by the Guru constantly accompanies one, even from one birth to another.
    • C. Instead of the faith that the Guru will give something, one needs to develop the faith that The Lord’s Name will give everything. Having more faith in the Guru than in one’s parents, money and intellect is the first stage in spiritual practice while conviction in the Name is the last. It is only because of faith in The Lord’s Name that it is possible to progress towards the unmanifest (nirgun). One can blend with the living Guru, The Lord’s Name which is in a way formless, and the unmanifest, formless Brahman, step by step.
    • D. Faith in the manifest (sagun), duality (dvait) lies in the Guru whereas that leading to the unmanifest (nirgun), non-duality (advait) lies in The Lord’s Name. Hence, one must pay more attention to the Name given by the Guru instead of the matter spoken by Him.’ (2) The Guru’s Name has the manifest principle (saguntattva), that is energy, whereas The Lord’s Name imparted by Him (Guru) has more of the unmanifest (nirgun) principle.
    • E. The Name imparted by the Guru is itself the Guru principle (Gurutattva), that is the Guru’s energy. With that energy one can overcome obstacles and make spiritual progress. As against this, the Name of the Guru, (that is the Guru Himself) is Shiva (The Supreme Brahman). Blending with it is the target not the tool.
    • F. The Name imparted by the Guru is more important than the Guru’s Name, as it is given by the Guru Himself.
    • G. Remembering the Guru (Gurusmaran) and the Guru Himself are not distinct from each other. Remembering the Name given by the Guru is itself the manifest form of the Guru and attaining the Final Liberation (Moksha) is the Guru’s unmanifest form. Hence,     ‘He who remembers the Guru dearly is worthy of worship in all the three regions (trilokas)’.

            Only that disciple who drinks the nectar (amrut) of the manifest form becomes immortal *. – Shri Gurucharitra 3 : 260

            * Immortal means the unmanifest.

    In point D. above, the Guru’s Name refers to His manifest form. In comparison to this, The Lord’s Name imparted by the Guru is unmanifest. The Name given by the Guru as in point G is manifest in comparison with the final libration (moksha).

    7. The Names of saints

    First chant the name ‘Chile’ for two minutes and then chant the Name of any deity which one has not chanted before, for instance the male family deity (kuladev), the female family deity (kuladevi) or any other deity for two minutes. Note the experiences on both the occasions and then read further.

    At a satsang (spiritual meeting) the participants had the following experiences on chanting Chile and Haridra.

      Felt plesant Felt distressed Felt nothing Total
    1. Chile 0 11 33 44
    2. Haridra 30 1 13 44

    Chile is the name of a Maharashtrian saint who had many supernatural powers (siddhis). He renounced his body around 1980. Haridra is one of the Names of Lord Ganapati.

    This experiment shows that one should not chant the Name of saints like Swami Samarth, Saibaba, Gajanan Maharaj, etc. This will be more clear from the following points.

    • A. No saint has recommended the chanting of his own Name or that of another. For instance, Saint Tukaram Maharaj has not advised the chanting of Saint Dnyaneshvar’s Name.
    • B. Since times immemorial our history records no instance where a temple of a saint has been constructed. Only temples of deities have been erected. Nowadays however, the wrong trend of building temples of saints has set in.
    • C. Since the law of creation, sustenance and dissolution is applicable to saints as well, their energy persists only for a limited period of a few hundred years. Thereafter they are unable to respond to one’s call. As against this, the deities are eternally present from the creation of the universe till its dissolution.
    • D. Saints at the spiritual level (70%) of Energy (Shakti) are born to carry out a particular mission and to accomplish that they possess manifest energy. So if their Names are chanted then the manifest energy may cause distress to a few. Contrary to this, since a deity mostly has unmanifest energy, chanting its Name does not cause any distress. Besides a seeker does not want energy, he wants Bliss (Anand) and Serenity (Shanti).[Saints at spiritual levels of 80% and 90% can impart spiritual experiences of Bliss and Serenity respectively.]

    8. Sectarian chanting

    • A. According to the fundamental principle of Spirituality there are as many temperaments as there are people and a corresponding number of paths of Spirituality. Just as a physician does not prescribe the same medicine to all his patients, it is not appropriate for all to chant the same Name. Hence, the practice of giving the same Name to everyone as done in some sects, is unsound.
    • B. In the book, ‘Shri Brahmachaitanya Gondavlekar Maharaj Yanchi Pravachane’ chanting of Shrirama is recommended. The saints from the Varkari sect advise chanting of the mantra ‘Rama Krushna Hari (राम कृष्‍ण हरि)’. After reading the ‘Ganapati Atharvashirsha’ one feels like chanting the Name of Lord Ganesh. Thus, confusion ensues as to which Name to chant. Here, the point to be noted is that in Spirituality the implied meaning is more important than the literal one. Hence instead of taking the literal meaning as Shrirama, Rama Krushna Hari or Ganapati, one should realise that the implied meaning is, ‘The Lord’s Name’.
    • C. For a saint at a very high level to advise chanting of the same Name to everyone like Saint Gondavlekar Maharaj who preached the chanting of Shrirama, is appropriate since there is that much potential in His resolve (sankalpa). However, after the passing away of such great saints the practice of advising the same Name to everyone as the Name of that sect, is wrong.
    • D. ‘Spiritual practice in a sect amounts only to spiritual practice of the mind, and not of the embodied soul (jiva).’ – Saint

    9. The matching of various Names to the frequencies of the various bodies and their ability to unite with The Supreme God

    Each of the four bodies – the physical, subtle, causal (karan) and supracausal (mahakaran) have frequencies of their own. Chanting becomes easy when the frequencies of the Name match those of all the bodies and also equalise the frequencies of all four bodies with one another. Though the Name has the ability to unite one with The Supreme God, the intention of the one imparting it has an even greater ability to do so. Both these points will become clear from the following table.

    The Deity’s Name Matching with the
    frequencies of the
    bodies (sheaths) %
    Ability to unite
    with the Supreme
    God %
    1. One’s favourite deity 30 2
    2. The male family deity
    60 25
    3. The female family deity
    70 30
    4. The name imparted by
        the Guru
    80 70
    5. The name imparted by
        the Sadguru
    90 90
    6. The name imparted by
        Supreme (Paratpar)
    100 100