Japa (Sanskrit: जप) is a spiritual discipline involving the repetition of Mantras and meditation or name of a divine God or power. The mantra or name may be spoken softly, enough for the practitioner to hear it, or it may be spoken purely within the reciter’s mind. Japa may be performed while sitting in a meditation posture. The practice of repetitive prayer is present in varied forms within most religions in the religions of India, generally give more emphasis to it as a specific discipline.
As a Mantras for meditation practice, Japa is usually done with the use of a Japamala. A Japa mala is a necklace of beads used for counting the mantra or Naam japa, as it is spoken or thought. Commonly a mala consists 108 (The number 108 is considered sacred by several Eastern religions and cults, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, connected yoga and dharma based practices. In Sikhism all numbers, weekdays, months etc. are equally auspicious or inauspicious. The individual numbers 1, 0, and 8 represent One thing, Nothing, and Everything (infinity). Some people claim 108 represents the ultimate reality of the universe as being (paradoxically) simultaneously one, emptiness, and infinite.) beads and a larger head bead, sometimes called the Guru (Meru) bead. Upon reaching this bead, the mala is turned in the hand and the count begins back again, the head bead isn’t passed.( Simply Reversed )
There are 12 planets and 9 constellations and together they produce 12 X 9 = 108 different types of vibrations(positive or negative) which have a considerable effect on the earth and human mind. To get these vibrations it is advised to chant any mantra for 108 times.
Within Hindu traditions, Vaishnava devotees commonly chant on beads made from the Tulsi plant (Holy Basil), held as a sacred manifestation of Tulsidevi; whereas Shaivas use Rudraksha beads. The japa mala generally consists 108 beads, which have a great significance in both traditions. Commonly people do not wear japa beads around their neck, some practitioners prefer to carry them in a bead-bag in order to keep them clean.This process of performing japa practitioner (called the “Sadhak”) into the mantra practice is called the Mantra Upasana. A qualified guru (called Upasaka) undertake to examin the practitioners body and determines body and mind passageways (called the “Nadi”) that are clogged. After that a program called Mantra Upasana is indoctrinated into the practitioner. As the japa progresses the Nadi’s are cleared in a certain sequence leading to a healthy body and mind.
Purpose of Japa Mantra Meditation?
The Aim, or Purpose of japa may vary from person to person, depending on the mantra involved and the religious philosophy of the practitioner ( Sadhak ). In both Buddhist and Hindu traditions mantras are given to aspirants by their Guru, after some form of initiation. Their goal would be Bhakti, Nirvana, Moksha , or Simple personal communion with a divine power as if in a prayer.