Time is the most precious commodity
It is virtually indisputable that of the rare commodities a person could waste, time is the most precious. A sadhak living the lifestyle of a busy student or corporate persona must indeed carefully ration their time.
In this regard, I would like to present a modest help for those practising mantra yogis who find it difficult to incorporate a fixed time for japa in an unpredictable routine.
The ‘Easy’ Thousand
There is a short cut which is prescribed in scripture – if one cannot complete a full 1000 recitations of any mantra during an ongoing daily routine, then one is permitted to chant exactly 333 as an equivalent. This is known as the Easy Thousand.
Why does this work? First, like a teacher excusing a student from a rare indiscretion, know that for Vedic mantras and practices, the Devas are all-knowing and merciful in excusing the dedicated aspirant from exceptional circumstances. Secondly, it is noteworthy that 333 sums to 9 – a symbolic figure for infinity (read the prior post on Why 108? for more information). Therefore, it may be considered a sanctified count. In practical terms, it is a shade below half-way; thus freeing up more than enough time from meditation practices for the sadhak to complete whatever extraordinary duty they may have to.
When, where and how
Remember: this technique should be used on that rare occasion when one interrupts their usual nityakarmas due to some one-off time management difficulty. Straight after japa one should mentally prostrate themselves before the deity of the mantra and apologise for taking such a shortcut.
On the other hand, for a beginner of mantra japa moving to an intermediate level and looking to increase their count beyond 108x to a new plateau, chanting 333x daily is an easy stepping stone to 1000x later on.
This post continues from the prior article on Tratak – click here to read.
The benefits are many
The point of tratak is to ultimately still the mind and use the resulting concentration to access soul power within.
Aside from improved focus, mental acuity and memory, other notable benefits are:
- Precognition. One may experience such heightened levels of perception that your observation skills border on precognition. IE – you can almost read someone’s thoughts or know what they are about to say before they say it. This occurs because the mind is usually attempting to process more information from your 5 senses continuously than is usually possible. Most of the time it must ‘delete’ the majority of this information flowing in and just focus on the relevant details. With the practice of tratak, one starts to delete less and absorb more.
- Influence. Your powers of influence improve as you can no only ‘read’ people better, your added awareness and mental acuity give rise to greater levels of confidence. In combination these two factors allow you to improve your oration abilities, stick to the strength of your convictions and therefore much more easily influence others.
- Siddhis. The advanced practitioner of tratak can reach the stage where their cognitive abilities can access the subtle realms of existence and channel divine power to manifest siddhis (when used in conjunction with mantras); the easiest being clairvoyance, remote vision, psychic communication, etc.
The mind and body are related
Scientists have begun to explore the concept of the mind-body connection. This means that one’s actions and the positioning of one’s physical body has a direct influence on your mental state. Very simply, if you act depressed, you will feel depressed. If you act enthusiastic and full of energy, you will feel that way.
The idea is known as physiology.
How can we leverage this with mantras?
I have already written on pranayama – click here to read the prior article. This is to control the breath in order to rein-in the mind.
Let us take this idea one step further: given the linkage between mind and body, any mental sadhana can also be accompanied by a physical one.
This is powerful idea. Increasing levels of mental discipline will also self-perpetuate physical discipline and vice versa. Think about it!
A new 40 day challenge
I am hopeful that many of you at least attempted to maintain some idea of longer-term sadhana post Navaratri. It is an important discipline to maintain.
Those of you who benefited will undoubtedly want more! Now I propose that those readers interested in gaining a big boost to their physical vitality combine a mantra sadhana with a physical one: hit the gym or run, or do some exercise in direct proportion to the time you spend meditating.
As your physical strength and endurance grows, so will your concentration and determination to do more toward your spiritual path. The reverse is also true.
Even the ancient Rishis knew this! Many of them are well known for their epic travels across India and abroad – they knew the value of movement and physical exercise. Those that did not undoubtedly practised physical forms of yoga. A healthy body is directly conducive to a healthy mind!
Is there really a downside to this??
The downside is of course that you sacrifice your time in order to do so. It will require you to sacrifice sleep to wake up that 15-30mins earlier in order to work out or exercise before bathing and beginning your sadhana. But is this really a sacrifice given the benefits?
In the modern era, everyone knows that consistent exercise can stave off a great many illnesses and ailments. Over time, it is undoubted that your lifespan will increase due to the dedicated effort to exercise in earlier periods.
Do not miss this opportunity; start now and try it for 40 days!
Is the spirit willing but the flesh weak? Mantras can help!
For those interested but lacking motivation, I would recommend reading my prior post on using the four Agni devatas to generate the passion and enthusiasm you are looking for! Click here.
Day 3 of Kandha Sashti
In the prior posts, mantras and potential sadhanas were presented to the reader.
But what are the benefits and attributes of praying to Lord Skanda over the Kandha Sashti period?
There are 6 main boons provided by Skanda:
1. Wisdom and Intelligence. The young Skanda is said to have initiated his own father Shiva into the secrets of the Pranava mantra – Om! You can be blessed with such spiritual wisdom and intelligence when praying to Him.
2. Powers of Attraction. Along with Sri Krishna, Skanda is known as an extremely attractive and charismatic God to His devotees. Praying to him as the all attracting one will allow one to gain the blessings of a magnetic personality.
3. Courage and strength. Skanda is known as the God of War – a fierce warrior ready to do battles against the demons within and without. Pray to Him for courage in your day to day life and help in making big bold decisions.
4. Peace. Peace is a scarce commodity in these days and times. Allow yourself to become a channel of Skanda’s peace.
5. Self-control. One cannot lead without setting an example to your co-workers and subordinates. Master yourself and gain discipline by praying to Skanda for help.
6. Moksha. Skanda is known as a deity with the full authority of Heaven to deliver aspirants to Moksha (release from birth and death). The true spiritual aspirant will have this as the ultimate goal and sole purpose of their prayers.
How do you know…?
Aspirants who have spent a long time practising mantras often ask how one knows that they are making progress.
This is an incredibly difficult question to answer and almost entirely subjective. However, there are some basic common traits for those moving from beginner to intermediate:
- When praying, a flower falls from a picture of a guru or deity. This can happen during a puja or yagnya, at home or in a temple. Your prayers or at least your basic wishes will generally be fulfilled.
- Dawn dreams. I have written a prior post on interpreting such dreams – see my blog for details.
- Siddhis begin to appear. This is particularly true of Ganesha bhaktas (devotees) and mantra sadhaks. Memory improves, one is so in-synch with someone during conversations that you read their mind to complete conversations. Your power of influence over others improves.
Planetary transitions have similar effects
Others feel more confident, empowered, as if everything in life is going their way. Whilst certainly a clear sign of blessings taking effect, such feelings are difficult to distinguish from favourable planetary movements.
Don’t take the easy way out!
The practice of worshipping demons, ghosts and lesser devatas (demigods) is rife even today in India and abroad.
The ‘benefits’ of such practices, if one may call it a benefit, is that the practitioner gains quick siddhis as very little sincerity or devotion is required. The downside however is one enters a binding contract with potentially negative consequences!
Self control is better than controlling other beings
There are various forms of known Tantric practices out there which can instruct one on how to gain the control of ghosts and demons to do your bidding.
This is highly undesirable for a number of reasons. If one is weak-minded enough to choose such a simplistic path to their goals, it is undoubted they can become corrupted by such power.
Moreover, there are more serious consequences: the captive spirit must be continually satisfied by your oblations and prayers. They are sustained in this way. If or when this ceases, some may turn violent and inflict mental and physical harm to the captor.
Lessor deities are a step up but still not the ideal
Similar practices exist to gain the favour of the Gandharvas (divine musicians), Apsaras (divine dancers) and Yakshas (divine artists).
There is extreme temptation for one to seek sensory satisfaction from these deities. However, the level and duration of the benefits are always in proportion to the level of deity you summon.
Once the benefits wear off, one will only waste time in performing yet another sadhana for further benefits.
Pray to the highest Gods
The higher Gods, those that offer Moksha as the end-goal are indeed the most desirable for a number of reasons; not least because Moksha should be the aim of all beings!
- Any siddhis and blessings gained are permanent, at least across a lifetime. If one had certain benefits in a prior life it is very easy for the aspirant to re-create the benefits in the current.
- Blessings will never have negative effects; everything that happens is for righteous and ultimately beneficial reasons.
- They offer protection at all times to their devotees.
- Partial sadhanas still yield partial benefits if incomplete or done incorrectly by accident.
- The benefits are broad and not just what you pray for. For example, one praying for fame will also see a proportional level of wealth, not just one or the other.
- Even more importantly than the prior point, peace always accompanies a blessing.
- Devotion (Bhakti) trumps all when it comes to pleasing the deity.
Look at your own life in understanding this idea. Is it not true that nothing worth having is ever easy to attain?
Day 1 of Kandha Sashti
There are many ways to benefit from Skanda’s grace during Kandha Sashti, including fasting and japa.
Japa is the focus of this blog. In starting a coherent plan of action for Kandha Sashti, two paths are suggested (which are in reality not mutually exclusive).
1. Recite the Kandha Sashti Kavach 36x per day for 6 days. A lighter version of this sadhana is to recite it 6 times per day, totalling 36x by Sashti.
2. Chant malas of Om Saravanabhavaya Namaha. Attempt at Laghu Anusthan – ie 27,000 counts. This is equivalent to 4,500 times per day or about 42 malas.
There are many meditations on Skanda
One take time over Kandha Sashti to meditate on the various attributes of Skanda – the contrasting themes of his extreme benevolence to devotees and playful nature relative to his reputation as the God of War and master strategist.
Kandha Sashti is around the corner
Kandha Sashti is an festival of incredible power, commemorating Skanda’s battle with and destruction of the demon Sura Padman. It runs from October 27 to November 01.
Focused activity through this period is very fruitful; particularly when one is attempting to calm a malevolent Mars in a horoscope, attempting to speed up their search for a life partner or building their pro-active leadership attributes.
Access unlimited power through Skanda!
Skanda was born from the third eye of Shiva. He is therefore a deity of fiery passion and activity. Skanda carries the Vel, a weapon given to him by his mother Parvati. The Vel symbolises unlimited power – both in terms of creation and destruction.
Skanda is an all-encompassing deity and all benefits can be received from Him; just ask! Wish-fulfilment of noble wants and needs can be achieved over this period.
Mantras for Kandha Sashti
The absolute essential practice over this period to gain real benefits is reciting or listening to the Kandha Sashti Kavach, a powerful stotra to Skanda. It is said that one who recites the stotra 36x daily will be invincible.
The power of a bhakta of Skanda is particularly visible in the workplace as they dominate and lead from the front.
Night 5/6 of Navaratri
Navaratri is quickly progressing! Use this golden time to gain the grace of the Divine Feminine or Devi!
Laghu Anusthan is the preferable method
A popular sadhana (undertaking of religious practices for a fixed period) is to chant a number of malas (rosaries’) of a given mantra over the 9 days of Navaratri. 27 malas (or 108×27) over 9 days is considered a short form of sadhana (called a laghu anusthan – find out more by clicking here).
Whilst the time for the full 9 day sadhana has passed, the period of Navaratri is so powerful that the Devi will give you the partial benefit without observing such a strict regime.
The 40 day challenge awaits YOU!
Let’s go one step further – I challenge everyone reading this post who are interested to take part in a small challenge. This is particularly useful for those people that either felt that they have no time to embark on such a journey, those that feel that the conditions of sadhana are too strict, and those that just dont know how!
Step 1: Choose a mantra
Step 2: Estimate how much time/how many times you can chant this mantra DAILY – not once a week or a month. The routine must be daily and without break.
Step 3: HALVE the number that you decided above. Why? Let’s be realistic and avoid excuses!
Step 4: Begin IMMEDIATELY!
Fine print: OK, so there’s no such thing as a free lunch! Forgive me for inserting this clause into the ‘contract’ above, but please add this one thing to your sadhana: Pray for those that are struggling to even start, to find a way!
Start chanting NOW to see dramatic and miraculous positive changes in your life! Life does not wait, does not inform you of what’s around the corner and does not consult you before changes are made. Neither should you.
What to chant?
Three key mantras were given in my prior post (click here to see it) – but again, lets not use this as an excuse to not start. Chant ANY mantra you choose, any number of times for significant and immediate benefits! Just be regular, sincere and focused in your prayer and the Devi will take care of the rest!
Inject some momentum into your Life with the Gayatri
Adding the Gayatri Maha Mantra to your daily routine is a powerful technology to enhance your mantra sadhanas.
As detailed in my post here (click for details) the Gayatri is the root of all Vedic knowledge, as embodied by the force behind the Sun. Knowledge is power; chant the Gayatri to gain ground on the path toward your goals.
Time rich, money poor? Its the Attack of Lack!
Unless you are already on your perfect career path with a role you love, a fulfilling purpose and more than satisfactory salary, you’re one of the many who feel the Attack of Lack. What is this? Quite simply, its the mental effects of never feeling as if your needs are taken care of in terms of material abundance.
Sadguru Sant Keshavadas of Bangalore recommends such a combination to bring prosperity and auspiciousness into your career or business.
“Om Bhur Bhuvah Suvaha
Tat Savitur Vare-enyam*
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
* and ^. It is vital that there is correct pronunciation on these two words. They are not chanted as read!
As seen above, Shreem is tagged onto the end of the mantra. Sadguru Keshavadas recommends chanting this version with devotion and focus every Friday for 3 months to see success. The number of chants is proportional to your own level of need; there are no limits.