To quench my quest for meditation, I picked up the book ‘Meditation and Mantras’ by Swami Vishnu Devananda from the bookshelf of Nehra Library, Hisar which was one of the best libraries in India. Although it had a vast collection of books and journals mostly related to agriculture and its allied subjects even though it had a good collection of general books. In 1999, I often visited that library for my research work and sometimes just to pass the time.
I flipped the pages and saw a smiling photo of Swami Sivananda, founder of Divine Life Society. His irresistible smile was full of peace, kindness and compassion. His face was radiating with sheer bliss. Swami Vishnu Devananda had dedicated this book to his master.
To know why saints were always smiling, I got that book issued in my name. After thorough reading, I came to know about different ways of doing meditation as the theory and practical applicability were explained in detail. I was excited to try at least one but was not sure whether I would be doing it for long time or for a brief period just for fun.
I opted for the easiest one - Japa Meditation. It is building up or accumulating power of mantras by repeating them with love and devotion. There are different types of mantras. Saguna mantras (with form) e.g. Om Namah Sivaya, Om Namo Narayanana, Hari Om, nirguna mantras (without form) e.g. OM, abstract mantras e.g. Soham (I am That I am), Aham Brahma Asmi (I am Brahman) and beej mantras e.g. Aim, Hreem were listed. As there are, many paths to the top of a mountain so there are many mantras to God realisation. Which one should I chose? I did not know the correct pronunciation of beej mantras so I could not opt for them. Abstract mantras were abstruse and nirguna mantras were esoteric. I was left with only one option -Saguna mantras. It was easy to concentrate on the image of deity. The author emphasised that neither mantra nor deity once selected can be changed. To maintain good speed one has to stick to one path, one mantra and one deity to avoid spread of his/her energies in exploring all the other alternative paths.
I feared that if I selected a difficult mantra, I might lose interest after some time or might found it hard to chant because of change in responsibilities with time. As I would be bound to one mantra and one deity therefore, I chose the easiest mantra and the simplest of all the deities so that I could stick to it throughout my life.
I fixed an hour for chanting, focusing and meditating on that mantra facing East at the same place. To my surprise, I started having experiences in meditation as mentioned in that book just after a few months. Experiences only assured me that I was moving on the right path but for further progress, I had to ignore them completely. My goal was not the vibrant lights but the Darshan of the deity. According to Divine Life Society, if one does the chanting of mantra 13 crores of times with faith and devotion, the deity manifest itself in front of him/her.
With time, my responsibilities increased and I could not afford to sit for meditation for long hours then I decided to chant the mantra while doing my daily activities like car driving, waiting for business meeting, cooking, walking, swimming and even while moving in an elevator. My hands were busy with the work but my mind was remembering God all the time rather most of the time. I had chanted that mantra crores and crores of times. Yet I had not chanted it 13 crores times!
Constant repetition of God’s name had helped me to put a check on my negative emotions to some extent. I was not satisfied with my progress as they sprang up every now and then. The Nature showered It’s kindness and manifested in the form of Human Guru as Om Swamiji who not only helped in removing my unpleasant emotions but also showed the right divine path. His presence, words and teachings removed the thick dark forest of ignorance and purified me. His grace and presence spiritually elevated me. He is an ocean of bliss, knowledge and compassion. He helped me in lifting my head from the quagmire of worldly maya.
Swami Sivananda says, “The Guru is God Himself manifesting in a personal form to guide the aspirant. Grace of God takes the form of the Guru. To see the Guru is to see God.”
P.S.- 1. If you missed out the story of Kalavati told by Om Swamiji then you can watch it here.
2. Amidst my chanting routine, I never forget to take my daily dose of Pingu, Shaun the Sheep or Chip and Dale to keep the kid inside me alive. ;)
3. Pic was clicked by me at Kishangarh, Rajasthan