Letter 120

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23rd May, 1947
This morning at 8 o’clock, an ochre-robed person asked, “Swami, for controlling the mind, which of the two is better, performing japa of the ajapa mantra or of Omkar? Please tell me which is more useful?”

Bhagavan replied as follows: “What is your idea of ajapa? Will it be ajapa if you go on repeating aloud ‘soham, soham’? Ajapa means to know that japa which goes on involuntarily without being uttered through the mouth. Without knowing the real meaning of that japa, people think that it means repeating with the mouth the words ‘soham, soham’ lakhs of times, counting them on the fingers or on a string of beads. Before beginning a japa, ‘pranayame viniyogah’ is prescribed. That means, first do pranayama (regulating of breath) and then begin repeating the mantra.

Pranayama means first closing the mouth, doesn’t it? If, by stopping the breath, the five elements in the body are bound down and controlled what remains is the real Self. That Self will by itself be repeating always ‘aham, aham’. That is ajapa.

To know that aspect is ‘ajapa’. How could that which is repeated by mouth be ajapa? The vision of the real Self which performs japa of its own accord involuntarily and in a never ending stream like the flowing down continuously of ghee is ajapa, Gayatri and everything. At the time of the upanayanam itself, pranayama is taught by anganyasa, karanyasa and other methods of stopping the breathing, and people are asked to understand that ajapa by practice with suitable accompaniments. Without thinking of it, people talk of ajapa.

It is the same thing in regard to Omkar. Om is all pervading and complete by itself. How can one do japa of that word with the voice? The sutra is always there: ‘Omityekaksharam brahma adviteeyam sanatanam’ (Om is the indivisible and primordial Brahman). Without understanding that elementary thing, big books have been written stating the number of times each name should be repeated, such as so many thousands for Ganapati in mooladhara and for other chakras, so many thousands for Brahma, so many for Vishnu and Sadasiva. If you know who it is that is doing japa you will know what this japa is. If you search and try to find out who it is that is doing japa, that japa itself becomes the Self.”

Another person asked, “Is there no benefit at all in doing japa with the mouth?” “Who said no? That will be the means for chitta suddhi (purifying the mind). As the japa is done repeatedly the effort ripens and sooner or later leads to the right path. Good or bad, whatever is done, never goes to waste. Only the differences and the merits and demerits of each will have to be told, looking to the stage of development of the person concerned,” said Bhagavan. His “Upadesa Saram” itself is an authority on the subject.

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