The Mother Divine
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The other day, a swami from an ashram in the neighbourhood, told me: “I have been enjoying Naam Samkirtan in the Naam Mandir. And that’s because it’s just Hari Naam I have had in my head these days.”

“I see!” I said paying attention.

Swamiji continued. “I realised you just can’t have the thoughts of samsara in your head and hope to have Naam as well. Samsara or Naam, you can have only one … you got to choose,” he said pulling his shawl around his shoulders.

This did not appear so profound when he said it. In fact it seemed pretty clear that this isn’t possible. Not everyone can reach a state where samsaric thoughts can be eliminated. But the more I thought about it, the more it dawned on me, that what Swamiji said came from a deep insight. He had been singing Naam for years, such an obvious thing may not have been so obvious after all.

I began to think.

Usual sadhaka, of course an amateur one, gets into Naam or Japa without much concentration and hopes to bring the desired concentration to the act eventually. Years pass but the concentration does not come. There are some good days of course, on which a sort of divine ecstasy or a trance-like bliss is experienced, but those are exceptions; on most other days, it’s business as usual –mechanical effort, no concentration! Most come to accept that state!

Now, let’s think. As Swamiji said, what should happen if one strongly thought that it’s “either/ or” – samsara or Japa/ Naam, both aren’t possible. Well, in that case either we would just give up. Or succeed in having Naam alone.

Many admit that auto-suggestion plays an important role especially in setting the stage for Dhyana, Naam or Japa. If the initial vibration at the beginning is a robust one, it carries itself into the Dhyana, Japa or Naam proper, tuning it in the prevailing mental condition. 

Whatever is the state of the mind in the beginning of your the Dhyana, Japa or Naam, it gives a tonality to the nature of the Dhyana, Japa or Naam to come.

If one is restless, the sadhana undertaken is restless too.

If one is blissful at the point of taking up the asana, the sadhana is blissful too.
An orientation, a pre-emptive mind setting sets the momentum for the Dhyana, Japa or Naam to come. No wonder, the pranaam and shuchi rituals precede Japa, one does not get into Japa or even a puja directly. And what Swamiji said can well be a part of this orientation. Setting up mental condition of concentration on Hari alone.

For a sadhaka, to start with the assumption that samsaric thoughts will always hang about is to destroy the possibility of having a clean slate for the Dhyana, Japa or Naam right at the outset.

A greater part of preparing for Japa or Naam involves creating a clear space in the mind to begin with. Thus, if one actually thought that the samsaric thoughts are most unwelcome, only Hari is welcome, one would will the samsaric thoughts to depart. This willing, this setting up of a kind of volition can go a long way in establishing concentration right at the outset, at the very beginning of sadhana rather than later, as days and years roll by.

What is the mantra mechanism essentially?

We know it’s repetition. And whatever we repeat is a mantra by default.

Vitthal Ramanuja Maharaj once spoke to us of a very amusing episode. He had had a disciple from Rajasthan who came for initiation. The initiation was over and Maharaj was instructing him about the protocol and underlining the mantra for him.

‘Your mantra is Guru, got it?’ He said.

‘Hukum,’ said the Rajasthani disciple. (Hukum is a way of saying Yes, my Lord!)

‘It has two syllables, Gu and Ru…got it?’


‘You will never forget this mantra…’


‘Try to repeat this mantra all the time.’


And no matter what Maharaj said, this disciple had only one thing to say ‘Hukum.’

Finally, Maharaj asked him, ‘so you got your mantra?’

‘Hukum,’ he said.

‘Oh God! Why are you going on and on just saying Hukum Hukum Hukum?’ Maharaj said exasperated. ‘Hukum is not your mantra… Guru is!” Maharaj roared.

So that’s how it is. Mantra Japa is about repeating some sacred syllables. But we are already repeating something subconsciously, so we already have a mantra. It’s difficult to put a new one there.

In general, there are two wrong mantras which we need to eliminate if we wish to do the right mantra.

First is aardra which means repeating miseries to oneself… I don't have this, I am ill-treated, my lot is cursed etc. etc We have to remove this aardra, the brooding on miseries. Because brooding of any kind is a sort of mantra. And as the Law of Attraction and Secret of Rhonda Byrne will have it, if we are brooding on miseries, miseries will come again.

Second is raudra. This is mentally repeating anger. We keep recalling anger of past events. We have to stop that. Otherwise we are likely to feel the heat of anger more that the desirable sved of the sattvic rapture.

Once both aardra and raudra are overcome and these two wrong mantras are gone, our true mantra stabilises. Not until then. Because you can’t overwrite on a page that’s already inked and hope it will be read.

So as Swamiji said, ‘samsaric thoughts will always be there, I can’t help it’ may have become our mantra. We got to replace it.

May God remove all our subconscious mantras, so that we may repeat that which we ought to … Hari’s Name alone!

Raj Supe (Kinkar Vishwashreyananda)