by Swami Krishnananda
The Name of God, especially when it is given to us in the form of what is known as a mantra, is a power by itself. It has a Shakti of its own, and this is the reason why bhaktas, sages and saints have told us that even a mere repetition of the Name of God has the capacity to produce an effect of its own, though you may not be really meditating, though you may not be in a position to contemplate the actual meaning hidden behind it. The mantra-shakti, or the power of the mantra, arises on account of the fact that is beautifully and scientifically described in a science known as mantra-shastra, which is akin to the science of chemistry in our own ordinary life. Chemical elements act and react upon each other. You know the action between an acid and alkali, for instance. Sometimes the chemical reaction is such that it can produce a tremendous effect. Mantras produce such effect, similar to the reaction of chemical elements, because of the peculiar combination of letters. The mantra-shastra is a secret which tells us that every letter of the alphabet is a condensed form of energy. Sounds are really energy manifest. The sound is not merely an empty form of verbal manifestation, but energy that is made to express itself in a particular shape. And when this packet of energy, this tied up form of force, which is a particular letter of the alphabet, is made to come in contact with another packet of energy called another letter, they collide with each other act upon each other or fuse into each other, so that the utterance of a group of letters, which is the mantra, produces, by the process of permutation and combination of these letters, a new form of energy which gets infused into our system. Because it has arisen from our own mind, thought and the recesses of our being, we get charged with that force, as if we have touched a live electric wire. There is special name given to this science, as gana-shastra, in tantrik parlance. Words are forces, thoughts are things. They are not empty sounds. It is because of the fact that thoughts and expressions are powers by themselves, that the words of saints lake immediate effect. The words that a saint or a sage utters are not empty sounds that he makes. They are forces that are released like atom bombs, and they can manifest themselves in the physical world, and events can take place. That is why people go to a Mahatma for asirvada, or blessings. His words are forces, powers that he releases to take immediate effect, or even a remote effect, as the case may be.
The utterance of a mantra is the release of an energy, not only inside our own personalities, but also in the outer atmosphere of which we form contents. japa sadhana not only brings a transformation in your own inward personality, but also sympathetically produces an equal effect in the society of which you are a part. So japa sadhana is also a social service. It is not merely a personal sadhana, inwardly practised by your own self in your puja room, but it is a great Seva that you do to mankind also. An aura is produced around that sadhaka who takes to japa sadhana honestly and sincerely. You purify not only your nature inwardly but also you purify the atmosphere outside. You become a source of inspiration to people when you actually take to japa sadhana with concentration of mind and with real faith in the efficacy of the practice. God's Name is a wonder. It is a miracle by itself. "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of," said the poet. The prayers that you offer to God are definitely capable of producing the desired result. What works is not your personal strength or your individual thought, but that which your thought is able to rouse into activity and which is omniscient.
Your prayers or the invocations that you make through mantra sadhana or Japa are converted into an impersonal force, which is the power of God, and the miracle is worked by God Himself. You cease to be the ultimate agent of the action. Your agency is only incidental. What really works is something higher than yourself. God Himself seems to be doing sadhana for ourselves. Who can do things in this world other than God? The whole universe is divinity, resplendent, gorgeous in its glory and abundance. We have forgotten that we are an integral part of it. And in japa sadhana, particularly, we try to attune ourselves, attune our inner psychological constitution with that Omnipresent structure of the cosmos which is ishvara shakti, or Divine Will operating. You can appreciate how important japa yoga is. In the Mahabharata, in the Shanti Parva an entire chapter is devoted to this exposition of japa sadhana. Japaka Upakhyana is worth reading. No wonder that Bhagavan refers to this system of yoga as the best, in the Bhagavadgita -yajnanam japayajnosmi.
May I request you, brothers in the spiritual field, to take to this sadhana sincerely, wholeheartedly and stick to it tenaciously. You will see for yourself, that it makes you a different person. You will be surprised how things take shape without your knowing what happens. The atmosphere will slowly change. Prayers are powers, please remember this. It would not be an exaggeration if I say that you will be doing the greatest service to mankind, if you honestly offer prayers to God from the bottom of your heart. God will hear your prayer through His All-Pervading ears; sarvatah panipadam tat samatokshi-siromukham - "everywhere It has ears; everywhere It has eyes", your prayers will be heard, and this would be a service that you do to your own Atman, your soul, for its salvation. Not only that, it will be a great service that you do to humanity itself. May I repeat the request once again, that you take to this sadhana honestly, with intense faith, and you will see wonders, miracles manifesting themselves.