Definition - What does Japa mean?

Japa is an ancient practice in which a mantra or the name of a deity is recited either silently or aloud. The Sanskrit word is derived from the root, jap, meaning "to repeat quietly and internally."

Japa yoga combines yoga with japa. It is believed that practicing Japa yoga removes the impurities of the mind, destroys sins and ultimately results in samadhi, or communion with God, when practiced regularly.

Yogapedia explains Japa

Japa engages the mind spiritually and leads the practitioner to a deep meditative state. Japa meditation can be done as manas meditation, vachak meditation or kirtan meditation. In manas meditation, the mantra is chanted within the mind. In vachak meditation, the mantra is uttered in a low voice. In kirtan meditation, the mantra is musically chanted.

The following is an example of a japa meditation session:

  • Bathe or wash the face, hands and feet before settling down.
  • Assume a comfortable seated posture, preferably padmasana or sukhasana.
  • Face east or north.
  • Begin with a prayer to focus the mind.
  • Pronounce the mantra with clarity and repeat it at an even pace.
  • Use a mala to keep a count of the repetitions. Malas generally consist 108, 54 or 27 beads and a meru, or an additional bead that symbolizes highest Truth. Japa can be performed without a mala as well.
Likhita japa, which refers to the writing of a mantra, may also be practiced.

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