Japa is a spiritual/religious practice involving mental or oral repetitions of some words or mantra. Japa is widely practised by the Hindus. Many of them practise Japa with their breathing. In Ramayana, we see Hanuman used to japa Rama Chandra’s name.
In this article we’ll make a collection of Swami Vivekananda‘s quotes and comments on Japa. Related articles are listed at the bottom of this page.
What is Japa?
Excerpt from a lecture delivered on 8 July 1895, later published in Inspired Talks—[Source]
Japa is repeating the Holy Name; through this the devotee rises to the Infinite. This boat of sacrifice and ceremonies is very frail, we need more than that to know Brahman, which alone is freedom. Liberty is nothing more than destruction of ignorance, and that can only go when we know Brahman. It is not necessary to go through all these ceremonials to reach the meaning of the Vedanta. Repeating Om is enough.[Source]
Japa questions and answers
From Complete Works, Volume V—
Q.—Sometimes one gets tired of Japa (repetition of the Mantra). Should one continue it or read some good book instead?
A. —One gets tired of Japa for two reasons. Sometimes one’s brain is fatigued, sometimes it is the result of idleness. If the former, then one should give up Japa for the time being, for persistence in it at the time results in seeing hallucinations, or in lunacy etc. But if the latter, the mind should be forced to continue Japa.
Q.—Sometimes sitting at Japa one gets joy at first, but then one seems to be disinclined to continue the Japa owing to that joy. Should it be continued then?
A.—Yes, that joy is a hindrance to spiritual practice, its name being Rasâsvâdana (tasting of the sweetness). One must rise above that.
Q.—Is it good to practice Japa for a long time, though the mind may be wandering?
A.—Yes. As some people break a wild horse by always keeping his seat on his back.
Swami Vivekananda’s quotes and comments on Japa
- If a man has unflinching devotion to the Guru, spiritual practices — meditation, Japa, and so forth — come quite naturally; one need not struggle for them.[Source]
- Is prayer a magic formula, by repeating which, even if you do not work hard, you gain miraculous results? No. All have to work hard; all have to reach the depths of that infinite Energy. Behind the poor, behind the rich, there is the same infinite Energy. It is not that one man works hard, and another by repeating a few words achieves results. This universe is a constant prayer. If you take prayer in this sense, I am with you. Words are not necessary. Better is silent prayer.[Source]
- Ishvara is the Atman as seen or grasped by mind. His highest name is Om; so repeat it, meditate on it, and think of all its wonderful nature and attributes. Repeating the Om continually is the only true worship. It is not a word, it is God Himself.[Source]
- Practice Pranayama or the suspending, restraining, and controlling of the breath, mentally repeating the word Om as you inhale and exhale the breath. Words charged with spirit have wonderful power.[Source]
- Repeating the names of God has wonderful power.[Source]
- Tapas means literally “to burn”. It is a kind of penance to “heat” the higher nature. It is sometimes in the form of a sunrise to sunset vow, such as repeating Om all day incessantly. These actions will produce a certain power that you can convert into any form you wish, spiritual or material. This idea of Tapas penetrates the whole of Hindu religion. The Hindus even say that God made Tapas to create the world. It is a mental instrument with which to do everything. “Everything in the three worlds can be caught by Tapas.”.[Source]
- The first duty of the child, after his initiation, is to take a bath, and then to worship; and his worship consists of this breathing and meditating and repeating of a certain name.[Source]
- The name of God is greater than God.[Source]
- You must go on with your Japa whatever direction the mind takes.[Source]