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What is real japa (automatic recitation) in Kashmir Shaivism

What is real japa (automatic recitation) in Kashmir Shaivism

japa Jun 28, 2023

In this excerpt from the Manual for Self Realization: 112 Meditations of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, verses 155 – 156, Swami Lakshmanjoo reveals what japa (repetition of a sacred word) really means and how to do it successfully.

“Japa is automatic recitation of breath. It is available to everybody, 24 hours a day.” ~Swami Lakshmanjoo

Listen to the audio below and read along with the transcript to learn more…

Japa is automatic recitation of breath. It is available to everybody, 24 hours a day.  ~Swami Lakshmanjoo

सकारेण बहिर्याति

हकारेण विशेत्पुनः ।

हंसहंसेत्यमुं मन्त्रं

जीवो जपति नित्यशः ॥१५५।।

sakāreṇa bahiryāti

hakāreṇa viśetpunaḥ /

haṁsahaṁsetyamuṁ mantraṁ

jīvo japati nityaśaḥ //155-2

By [breathing] out, he utters ‘sa’; by [breathing] in, he utters ‘ha’. In the same way, he recites the mantra of ‘haṁsa’, i.e., ‘so’haṁ’, ‘so’haṁ’, ‘so’haṁ’. This ajapa gāyatrī is always existing for him, day and night.

षट् शतानि दिवा रात्रौ

सहस्राण्येकविंशतिः ।

जपो देव्याः समुद्दिष्टः

प्राणस्यान्ते सुदुर्लभः ॥१५६॥

ṣaṭ śatāni divā rātrau

sahasrāṇyekaviṁśatiḥ /

japo devyāḥ samuddiṣṭaḥ

prāṇasyānte sudurlabhaḥ // 156 //

And this japa is . . . this automatic recitation of breath in twenty-four hours takes place twenty-one thousand and six hundred times–śaṭ śatāni, six hundred, divā rātrau, in the day and night, sahasrāṇi ekaviṁśati, and twenty-one thousand. Twenty-one thousand and six hundred times, this [automatic] recitation is done, in twenty-four hours.385

Japo devyāḥ samuddiṣṭaḥ, and this recitation of the supreme energy is available to everybody. Prāṇasyānte sudurlabhaḥ, but, when it is being recited the way I have taught to You, O Devī (I mean, to give it more time and less space), then it is sudurlabhaḥ, it is very durlabha386 (prāṇasyānte sudurlabhaḥ), i.e., this japa.

DEVOTEE: What is “prāṇasyānte”?

SWAMIJI: Prāṇasyānte means, when the breath is disconnected with one tuṭi. Prāṇasyānte means “on the tuṭi of prāṇa.

We have classified the space of [one normal] breath in sixteen tuṭis. One tuṭi is two finger spaces and one quarter. And, in these thirty-six finger spaces, there are sixteen tuṭis. Prāṇasyānte means, when one tuṭi is abolished. When [one] tuṭi is shortened, when [one] tuṭi is lessened, only fifteen tuṭis are there, then that japa is durlabha. So, when you breathe in a lengthy way, then it is durlabha japa. Otherwise, everybody recites for twenty-four hours and nothing has happened, nothing is happening. But, when you breathe in fifteen tuṭis only, [when] you give it more duration of time and less space, then it will be real japa. And afterwards, what you have to do? You have to lessen again another tuṭi. Go on with fourteen tuṭis, and afterwards, only on thirteen tuṭis. Lessen the span of space. That is real japa. And then you will see, after one or two weeks, you will be born anew, you will get some substantial progress. That is real japa.387 Otherwise, everybody is breathing in and out, day and night–like asses, dogs, bears, beasts.


385 Among all humans.

386 ‘Rare’ or ‘difficult to obtain’.

387 This practice is described in more detail in Self Realization in Kashmir Shaivism, 2.42-43, and also in the Tantrāloka, 7th āhnika.

All Content is subject to Copyright © John Hughes.


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