Self-Realization through Yoga Meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra

Home Site Map Mantra use Mantra/Brain  OM/AUM Soham Maranatha 




Mantra Japa and Ajapa-Japa
by Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati 

Japa means repeating or remembering mantra,
 and Ajapa-Japa means constant awareness.

Contents of this web page
Stabilizing the mind 
Constant remembrance of mantra 
Japa and Ajapa-Japa 
Choice of mantras 

See also these web pages:
How to use a mantra 
Mantra, brain, and word 
Japa and Ajapa-japa 
Soham mantra 
OM and 7 levels of consciousness 
7 methods of practicing OM 


A key to stabilizing the mind

Many students of meditation and spiritual life complain of a noisy mind, out of control senses, and emotional challenges. One of the most significant, single suggestions of the ancient sages is the use of mantra japa, or sacred word to focus the mind. No amount of intellectualizing will convince you of this. It must be practiced for the benefits to be experienced.


Constant remembrance of mantra

Regardless of what mantra you use, one of the most important principles is the practice of constant remembrance. By cultivating such a steady awareness many benefits come:

  • One who practices mantra japa in this way will find that the challenges and stressors of daily life are not nearly as disturbing.

  • The mantra gives a place of refuge, an oasis in which the mind can rest.

  • It is not escape, denial, or repression, but a tranquil companion.

  • The objects of the senses begin to lose their control over actions.

  • The incoming streams of negative thoughts, emotions, and desires from the unconscious mind attenuate, or become weaker. 

  • The mantra japa gradually becomes a best friend of the mind.

  • Mantra japa leads one in the direction of deeper meditations, and subtler spiritual experiences.


Japa and Ajapa-Japa

Japa means repeating or remembering the mantra, and Ajapa-Japa means constant awareness. The letter A in front of the word Japa means without. Thus, Ajapa-Japa is the practice of Japa without the mental effort normally needed to repeat the mantra. In other words, it has begun to come naturally, turning into a constant awareness. The practice of constant remembrance evolves in stages:

  • At first, you intentionally repeat the syllables of the mantra internally, as if you are talking to yourself in your mind. You allow the inner sound to come at whatever speed feels comfortable to the mind. Sometimes it is very slow, as if the mind were wading through a vat of honey. At other times it is very fast, as if flying through the sky without restraint.

  • With practice, the mantra japa is repeated automatically, like a song that you have heard many times, which just comes on its own. (Some practitioners consider this automatic repeating to be the meaning of Ajapa-Japa, though there is a subtler meaning, as described below.)

  • Gradually, you merely remember the mantra with attention drawn to it. It is more like noticing what is already happening, rather than causing it to happen. It is somewhat like the attention stance of listening rather than speaking, though you might not literally hear the sound.

  • In time, the feeling of the mantra is there, even when the sound or remembering of the syllables is not there. For example, sometimes people will say, "OM, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti," where the word Shanti means peace or tranquility. During the remembering of the word there may be two things--the word and the feeling of peace or tranquility. When the syllables fade away, the feeling may still be there; this is remembrance of the feeling of the mantra.

  • As the practice evolves, there comes a pervasive awareness of the mantra, subtler than both the syllables and any surface level meaning or definition. This constant awareness is the meaning of Ajapa-Japa of the mantra.


Choice of mantras

There are many mantras, words, or compact prayers that can be used for Japa and Ajapa-Japa. Virtually all of the meditation traditions, spiritual lineages, and religions have mantra in one form or another.

  • Some words have specific meaning, while others are seed syllables having only feeling, not literal, word-for-word definitions.

  • Some have religious significance, while others are completely non-sectarian.

  • Some have very subtle effects on energy, while others are more like positive affirmations given to train the conscious mind.

Whatever mantra, word, or syllables are used, useful benefits will come from the practice of Japa and Ajapa-Japa. Here are three mantras described elsewhere in this website:

For a greater understanding of mantra use in general, see this article on the website:



This site is devoted to presenting the ancient Self-Realization path of the Tradition of the Himalayan masters in simple, understandable and beneficial ways, while not compromising quality or depth. The goal of our sadhana or practices is the highest Joy that comes from the Realization in direct experience of the center of consciousness, the Self, the Atman or Purusha, which is one and the same with the Absolute Reality. This Self-Realization comes through Yoga meditation of the Yoga Sutras, the contemplative insight of Advaita Vedanta, and the intense devotion of Samaya Sri Vidya Tantra, the three of which complement one another like fingers on a hand. We employ the classical approaches of Raja, Jnana, Karma, and Bhakti Yoga, as well as Hatha, Kriya, Kundalini, Laya, Mantra, Nada, Siddha, and Tantra Yoga. Meditation, contemplation, mantra and prayer finally converge into a unified force directed towards the final stage, piercing the pearl of wisdom called bindu, leading to the Absolute.







Yoga Nidra Meditation CD by Swami Jnaneshvara
Yoga Nidra CD
Swami Jnaneshvara