1. When to chant ?
A. During the Brahmamuhurt, the Sattva component is higher than at any other time of the day, and many Yogis (those doing spiritual practice by Path of Yoga) increase their sattvik nature by performing spiritual practice at that time; yet the resultant increase in their Sattva component is a mere 0.0001%. Hence, there is no need to especially wake up early and chant during the Brahmamuhurt. Instead of making great efforts to chant during the Brahmamuhurt, when one is feeling sleepy, it is advisable to select a time best suited to the temperament. Chanting the God’s Name correctly increases the Sattva component by as much as 5% when compared with the 1% increase by chanting when one is feeling sleepy (the sleeping state is Tama predominant).
B. Since God Himself has created time, we cannot say that chanting should not be done at a particular time. We should chant at all times. H.H. Bhaktaraj Maharaj used to say, ‘one should always remember God through our speech’.
2. Where to chant ?
A. Chanting in the temple or a place of worship, chanting using a proper seat etc. helps increase the sattvikta of the seeker by 5 % + .0001 %, whereas chanting God’s Name any and everywhere it increases by 5%. Therefore, the one who chants should not pay attention to his chanting. Chanting in the temple or while on an appropriate seat etc. is essential for most people, since they have a higher proportion of the Raja component. Sitting in one place for sometime helps in reducing the Raja component. Second, since God Himself has created all places, we should chant any and everywhere, even in the toilet !
B. ‘Chanting while performing daily chores is a superior spiritual practice to sitting in one place and chanting. In the former, continuity of spiritual practice is maintained. Besides, chanting continuously while performing worldly tasks takes one beyond the Great Illusion even though surrounded by it. Maintaining communion with God in all circumstances is called Sahajasthiti.’ – H.H. Bhaktaraj Maharaj.
3. Physical states while chanting
A. Exhaustion and boredom
When the body is exhausted, one feels sleepy. When the mind is tired, one feels bored. At such times, we should not force ourself to chant.
According to Bhaktiyog (Path of Devotion), everything is God’s creation. Hence, we can certainly chant even during menses. Since the rise in the Raja component is just 0.0001% during menses, it hardly affects the 5% increase in the sattvik component (which takes place due to chanting).
4. Faith is essential
Mere mechanical pronunciation of mantras does not as amount to chanting. The pronunciation should be such that the seeker gets bestowed with bhav and God’s omnipotence. Patanjali describes only this kind of chanting, done with devotion, as the ‘bhavana of the mantra’. When a substance is repeatedly dipped into a solution, it fully dissolves into that solution. Similarly, when the seeker who chants, is fully engrossed in the contemplation of the mantra, he gradually merges with the mantra. This is the prime objective of chanting.
5. Chanting God’s Name along with the breath
We are alive due to breathing, not due to the ‘Name’. Therefore it is important to concentrate on the breath and synchronise the ‘Name’ with it. The breathing should not be synchronised with the pace of chanting the Name. Those whose chanting takes place spontaneously need not chant the Name along with the breath.
6. Benefits of chanting God’s Name with the breath
A. Living in the present
Concentrating on the breath results in ‘holding onto a specific moment in the present’. Entertaining any other thought amounts to thinking of the past or future. It is important for a seeker to always remain in the present and that is why, it is necessary to concentrate on the breath.
B. Continuous chanting
Concentrating on respiration which is a continuous physiological activity, facilitates continuous chanting.
7. Chanting should be accompanied by righteous behaviour
The seeker must complement his chanting with righteous behaviour or else his spiritual practice will be wasted in nullifying the effects of his sins. Moreover, he will not progress spiritually. For example, by abusing once we waste 30 malas of chanting and 500 malas are wasted if we accept a bribe.
8. Day-to-day life and continuous chanting
Many people think that continuous chanting will hinder their daily activities. They wonder how it would be possible to converse with others, work in an office, cross the road without meeting with an accident etc. when the mind is engrossed in chanting. These doubts are ill-founded. While crossing the road, we watch out for traffic on all sides, hear the sounds of cars etc. besides continuing to converse with others or think. Despite doing all this simultaneously, we are able to cross the road safely. In the same manner, we can efficiently perform other activities while chanting.
9. How to increase chanting stepwise ?
Chanting may be increased step wise in the following manner. Depending on the seeker’s level, it may require six months to two years to progress from one step to the next.
A. Everyday, we should chant at least three malas or chant for ten minutes.
B. We should chant when we are idle.
C. We should chant while performing physical activities such as bathing, cooking, walking, travelling in a bus or train etc.
D. We should chant while performing activities that involve the mind such as reading a newspaper, watching television etc., which are not important in day to day life.
E. We should chant while performing important mental tasks such as reading or writing official papers, which are important in day-today life.
F. We should chant while conversing with others. In stages 5 and 6, chanting does not refer to oral chanting, but implies concentration on the breath or on the Bliss experienced while chanting. Once this happens, chanting continues even during sleep, that is, it occurs continuously all through the day.
10. Restrictions to the chanting of the Gayatri mantra
Reciting the Gayatri mantra is a spiritual practice of the Tejtattva (Absolute Fire Principle). Directly undertaking spiritual practice of the Tejtattva before that of the Pruthvitattva (Absolute Earth Principle) may result in distress. It would be like trying to graduate before clearing the matriculate examination ! However, if the Guru has recommended chanting of the Gayatri mantra, we should certainly chant the mantra.