Ans. All Ved Mantras have a poetic composition (syntax) with specified musical notes. When a Mantra is recited acoustic vibrations surpassing ultrasonic frequencies are produced. These waves travel in an "extra-sensory telepathic medium" enveloping the cosmos and interact with the thought processes of all living beings. In order to strengthen the intensity of these waves, the Gayatri Mantra is recited in course of Yagya -Havan, on auspicious occasions and at the beginning of all religious ceremonies. Three different types of musical (phonetic) compositions are mentioned for the Gayatri Mantra in the Veda s. The one specified in the Yajur veda is recommended for the masses.
Ans. During the routine , solo Jap, the Mantra is pronounced in such a way that although there is a slight movement of lips, larynx and tongue, it produces a resonance inaudible to anyone except the worshipper. In a mass the Mantra is pronounced loudly in unison.
Ans. Illiterate persons who cannot utter Gayatri Mantra correctly, can perform Jap of Panchakshari Gayatri "Om bhoor Bhuvaha Swaha." If they cannot utter even these words correctly, they can perform Jap of "Hari Om Tat-Sat." This also serves the purpose of Panchakshari Gayatri Mantra .
Ans. Brahm Muhoort i.e. an hour before sunrise in the morning, and just before sunset in the evening to an hour thereafter bring forth maximum result. During day Upasana may be carried out any time according to one's convenience. Although a fixed routine in timings is recommended yet it is not mandatory. As a matter of fact, mental Jap may be carried on even while walking, travelling or lying on the bed. (The movements of lips, vocal chord and tongue are forbidden in the latter case.)
Ans. Sages had advised Jap during the day-time for two reasons. One: the nights are meant exclusively for rest. Any activity during the night (including Upasana ) is likely to affect one's health .
Two: since Sun is the deity of Gayatri , the radiations from the Sun are readily obtained from sunlight during day. Nevertheless, Upasana during the night is not a taboo. One may choose his own convenient time for Jap without any apprehension regarding the procedure.
Ans. One may perform Jap even while walking or without taking a bath or during other physical activities. On such occasions, however, it should only be a mental process without movement of lips, larynx and tongue. Instead of taking the help of a rosary, a clock may be used for keeping a count.
Ans. As regards contemplation on the meaning of Mantra during the Jap, it is recommended that one should only meditate on the deity during Jap. The practical difficulty in thinking about meaning of Mantra at the time of Jap is that it takes time to form imaginary pictures in accordance with the meaning of every word and during this time Jap cannot be interrupted. Jap should be continuous, uninterrupted and non-stop like the flow of oil. Of course, the meaning of Gayatri Mantra should be thoroughly understood. If it is sought to form imaginary pictures of the meanings of different words, this can conveniently be done at some other time but not with Jap.
Ans. It is more appropriate to sit in front of an altar after taking bath, wearing clean clothes and perform worship in the morning with due salutations and reverence. It keeps the mind happily steady and helps in its concentration. But when duty hours are odd, a person is sick or where it is not possible to arrange for water, one can perform mental Jap without the help of Mala. Scriptures recommend cleanliness of body and clothes as a pre-requisite for any religious practice or worship. Since a routine of wearing freshly-washed clothes during each session of Upasana , is to be maintained, one is advised to be clad only in a two-piece garment, one each for covering the upper and lower parts of the body e.g. Dhoti - Dupatta. However, for protection against cold an additional under-garment can be worn.
Though the pundits prescribe cleanliness of body and clothes, it is not considered mandatory for all occasions. Situations may arise when the worshipper finds it difficult to adhere to this rule strictly. Under such circumstances, one should not discontinue the routine of worship. Otherwise, the aspirant is totally deprived of even the partial benefit. Besides cleanliness, the objective of these preparatory rituals is to help the worshipper in getting rid of lethargy. A sick or weak person may wash his arms, feet and face, or if possible wipe the body with a wet cloth.
Woollen or silken clothes do not absorb dirt and perspiration to the extent cotton wears do. Nevertheless, these too require cleaning at certain intervals. Since, now-a-days silk is obtained by boiling live silk worms, silk wears are no longer considered appropriate for a spiritual practice. These are not recommended for Upasana . The same holds true for animal hides. The ancient sages used hides of animals who died a natural death. This is no longer true. Animals are being killed for their hides. Now-a-days a variety of other floor-spreads (woollens, synthetics) are available ,which may be used; and cleaned by washing or through exposure to sun from time to time.
Ans. Those believing in Divinity 'with form' (Sakar) are advised to concentrate on an idol or picture of Gayatri , whereas those having faith in formless God (Nirakar) may concentrate in the central, part of the sun, all the while imagining that the ethereal solar energy is permeating and purifying the trio of, physical (Sthool) subtle (Sooksham) and causal (Karan) bodies of the Sadhak). During Upasana , it is necessary to concentrate one's thoughts exclusively on the deity. Persistent attempts should be made to restrain thoughts from wandering. Extraneous thoughts should not be allowed to enter the mind .
Ans. Spiritual tradition in India considers Gayatri as the most powerful medium for invocation of Savita, the omnipresent cosmic energy of God operating the natural functions in the animate beings (flora and fauna) and in the inanimate objects (e.g. as fission and fusion, magnetism and gravity in planets and stars). Since this energy is manifestly (visibly) received all over this planet through solar (and invisible stellar) radiations, it is logical to consider the Sun as the representative of Savita. Experience shows that there is maximum absorption of this energy at dawn.
While meditating on the rising Sun, the devotee has the advantage of interacting with Savita with each of his/her three bodies. The physical body (Sthul Sharir) is conceptualised as being purified by permeation of solar energy through the millions of pores in the body. The process of conceptualization as Savita interacting with the subtle body (Sukcham sharir), purifies the "Ideosphere" and deeply meditating about integrating one's individual identity with the cosmic existence of Savita, the devotee interacts through the causal Body (Karan Sharir). (Ref. Upasana Ke Do Charan - Jap Aur Dhyan).
Ans. Regularity in morning and evening Gayatri Upasana must be strictly adhered to. Although total involvement and concentration are essential ingredients of Upasana , this alone is not enough. For keeping good health , one is required to perform a minimum amount of manual labour to digest and assimilate the meals taken during the day. Likewise, to reap the fruits of worship, it is essential to adopt Upasana and Sadhana simultaneously.
To integrate Upasana , and Sadhana one is required to instill maximum degree of faith (Nistha) in Upasana . Nistha is reflected as steadfastness in keeping one's words and maintaining discipline and regularity in habits. Incorporation of Nistha in Sadhana enhances steadfastness, which in turn provides strength to the inherent power of resolution and sufficient spiritual strength. The cumulative effect of these attributes helps and inspires the Sadhak in adopting a strict self-discipline which is called Tapascharya. For Anusthan s, these attributes are particularly essential. If these attributes are incorporated in the day to day routine of worship the level of Sadhana rises to that of an Anusthan .
Ans. It requires five hundred thousand Japs a year at the rate of 15 Malas per day. Sadhana of this type is known as an Abhiyan Sadhana . Although this number is achievable simply by 15 cycles of Mala each day, it is customary to supplement it with two 'Laghu Anusthan s' of twenty four thousand Japs each during Navratari which falls in the month of Chaitra (15th March to 15th April )and Ashwin (15th August to 15th Sept.). Even otherwise, this practice is commonly followed by all Sadhaks. Additional Sadhana during Navratris (nine auspicious days occurring twice a year) further adds to the benefits of Abhiyan Sadhana .
Ans. The basic rules of Abhiyan Sadhana are given hereunder:-
(a) The time of commencement: All days are considered auspicious for initiating a good work. However, for this purpose a Parva (religious auspicious period) would be the best choice. Amongst the auspicious festivals, one may choose days like Basant Panchami, Guru Poornima, Gayatri Jayanti etc. As regards of "Tithis", Panchami, Ekadashi and Poornima are considered auspicious and amongst the days, Ravivar, (Sunday) Guru var (Thursday) are the best suited.
(b) Self control (Samyam): Involvement in Upasana should be a gradual process. In the beginning one attempts to adopt regularity in practice by doing a minimum number of Malas each day at a fixed convenient time. The same is true about other restrictions of self- control. In the beginning one may follow these on Thursdays. Later, if it is possible to adopt these self-controls for longer periods, greater benefits accrue. The basic rules of the Sadhana are the same as for any other Anusthan . Fasting (Half or full day), abstention from sex, self service , Titikcha (Tolerance of heat and cold of natural weather cycles with minimum necessities) are adopted at least on Thursdays. During any form of fasting, mentioned earlier, refraining from unnecessary chattering and abstention from sex are must.
(c) Fasting : For food, liquid diets like milk, buttermilk, fruit juices etc. are the best. Otherwise, one may depend on vegetables. Even if this much is not possible only one meal may be taken each day. It should, however, be free of salt and sugar (Aswad vrat).
(d) Keeping silent : One aspect of control on tongue is through the control on taste. The other is by balanced and cultured speech. To adopt it, one has to get rid of the old habits of intemperate utterances. Maintenance of silence creates the ground for the change in speech habits. For a working man, it is difficult to keep quiet throughout the day. Nevertheless, it should not be difficult to find out two hours in the morning or at any other convenient time during the day for keeping silent. During the duration of silence, one should do an introspection (Manan) to identify one's weaknesses, vices and bad habits and think of ways to get rid of them. The void thus created should be planned to be filled with good constructive habits (Chintan). Thus, refraining from speech does not simply mean keeping quiet anywhere. Seclusion is also necessary, where no communication is needed even through signs and gestures. (e) Sex abstinence : Amongst all physical activities of entertainment, overindulgence in sex has the most disastrous consequences. One has to pay heavily for the sexual acts during which vital life force is drained out of the human body, making one progressively weaker spiritually. On Thursdays, therefore, it is advised not only to refrain from sex but also avoid thoughts and actions arousing sexual impulse.
The above five principles are adopted on Thursdays only symbolically. The objective is to train oneself in self-control in day to day living so that one may ultimately persevere to follow them throughout life .
Ans. Tap is meant for conservation of life -force and utilising it for elevation of soul to higher levels of consciousness. The three outlets through which about 80% of this vital force continues to leak out of human body are: indulgence in delicious food, intemperate utterances and sexual distractions and actions. The moment these are controlled, the doors to progress open.
Self-control, however, does not simply mean control on sensory organs and the thought process. The field of self-control encompasses control on misuse of all types of resources. For instance, one is advised to utilize each and every moment of life judiciously right from leaving the bed in the morning till one falls asleep. Other self-controls are maintenance of balance in physical labour, honest earnings i.e. taking a livelihood based on just and lawful means of production and expenditure of earnings for noble purposes. Amongst all these, control on sensory organs is of prime importance.
Ans. Akhand Jap is performed on special auspicious occasions like Gayatri Jayanti, Guru Poornima, Vasant Panchami etc. There are two ways of doing it. It may be performed either for twenty-four hours or between sunrise and sun-set. During the visibility of the sun (day-time) a vocal mass chanting with rosary may be performed.
The time of beginning and end of an Akhand Jap should be the same in the forenoon and afternoon. When it is meant for twenty-four hours, the period involved includes a day and night in equal proportion. Traditions permit a vocal chanting during the day and mental Jap in the night. Wherever this procedure can be conveniently adhered to, it may be adopted. Otherwise, mental Jap is generally more convenient for the sake of uniformity. Dhoop-Deep should be kept continuously burning during the period of Jap.
Ans. If one is required to go to toilet in between a sessions, the Jap can be resumed after cleaning of hands and feet. Taking bath after each such disruption is not necessary. On sneezing, passing of wind, yawning etc., purification is achieved by taking three Aachmans.
Ans. On such occasions, although regular chanting of Mantra with rosary and standard rituals are forbidden, mental Jap and meditation may be done. The objective is two-fold. On the one hand, it protects the devotee from mental and physical exertion, On the other, a quarantine (Sootak) has to follow this rule. Members of such families should avoid touching the idols of the deity, rosary, implements of Sadhana etc. and do only mental recitations of the Mantra.
Ans. While undergoing menstrual cycles, women are both mentally and physically under exertion. Besides, they are unable to maintain the required degree of physical cleanliness. As such, they are recommended to do mental Jap only. This rule is also applicable to other states of cleanliness (when there are discharges through sweat, nose, eyes, boils etc.). Proper cleanliness is a pre-requisite for any spiritual exercise.
Ans. 1. For Jap, select a secluded, noiseless place beneath a tree, in a temple, or at the bank of a river.
2. Be seated in an upright position with crossed-legs (Sukhasan) or on a raised platform if there is some discomfort on sitting on ground. For sitting use a cotton or woollen spread. Animal hides are prohibited. Let the spine be straight and relaxed. Now keep the left hand on the palm turned upwards on the right lap.
3. Hold the rosary in the right hand so that it hangs like a garland across the bridge formed by joining the thumb and ring finger.
4. Keeping the elbow of the right hand on the palm of the left hand and the arm in a vertical position, turn the beads of the rosary inwards (towards yourself) with the help of middle finger-beginning from the main knot (Brahma Granthi). (Use of little finger and index finger is forbidden).
5. On completion of each cycle of rosary, turn it backwards so that the main knot is not crossed, i.e. the Jap in the rosary is "unidirectional". It can be done with the help of same fingers which are used for turning the rosary. Keep the body still. There is no harm in changing position if discomfort is felt after some time.
6. Pronounce the Mantra in whispers, so that it is audible to you only.
7. If there is difficulty in using a rosary, fixed time for Jap may be maintained with the help of a clock.
As far as practicable, uniformity of fixed time, duration and place should be maintained.
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