The spiritual practice of chanting is very simple. Chanting God’s Name helps in alleviating physical and psychological ailments, increasing concentration, reducing sorrow, nullifying all sins, and is useful even after death. Chanting helps to purify the conscious as well as the sub-conscious mind.
1. Benefits of chanting in relation to spiritual practice
A. Remembrance and meditation take place
Remembrance and meditation are possible through chanting. Shri Shankaracharya writes in His text ‘VishnusahastraNamabhashya’ –
मनसा वाग्रे सङ्कल्पयत्यथ वाचा व्याहरति । यद्धि मनसा ध्यायति तद्वाचा वदति ।
इति श्रुतिभ्यां स्मरणं ध्यानं च नामसङ्कीर्तनेऽन्तर्भूतम् ।
Meaning: Man makes a resolve mentally and then through his speech, he spells it out. In meditation, whatever comes to him through his mind, he speaks.
Thus, the lines above prove that remembrance and meditation are a part of Namasankirtan (Singing praises, glory of God or chanting God’s Name).
Clarification : We remember God in our mind and hence chant. While chanting, remembrance of God takes place naturally.
B. Introvert attitude
When we start developing an introvert attitude (from being an extrovert), it means we are progressing. By chanting, our inclination towards the materialistic world reduces considerably and we begin to delve within ourselves. This helps us in developing an introvert attitude.
2. Purification of subconscious mind through chanting
A. The radiant energy of God’s Name
destroys the impressions in the subconscious mind
Just as the sun destroys faeces as well as its odour, the radiance generated by chanting God’s Name destroys the internal impurities.
– H.H. Bhaktaraj Maharaj
B. Developing a liking for chanting
and purification of the subconscious mind
According to psychology, chanting God’s Name and that of a worldly object are quite similar. When a mother utters or hears her son’s name, numerous emotions arise in her subconscious mind. These could be motherly affection, happiness, worry, aspirations etc. This is because all emotions associated with the name of the object, that is, the son, co-exist. The memory of or hearing that name constantly activates the emotions. This is spontaneous and is a powerful driving force in a mother’s life. Sometimes, due to this very force a mother is prepared to sacrifice everything for her son.
The psychological response in chanting God’s Name is the same. When we chant His Name, we have some emotion or image about God, consciously or unconsciously. We also have some notion about His qualities. We know from discussions that we benefit from God’s grace and that chanting His Name is the tool to acquire the grace. Hence, the bhav (Spiritual emotion) that we are chanting God’s Name, who has distinguished qualities, accompanies God’s Name. Due to this very bhav, emotions such as respect, love and devotion for God, fear of wrong actions etc. go on increasing progressively; while emotions, on the other hand, keep diminishing. Thus, gradually the subconscious mind gets purified.
C. Decrease in old impressions
When chanting is going on, the conscious mind does not accept the impulses coming from the centres of the subconscious mind, such as desire and instinct centre, like and dislike centre, temperamental characteristics and the intellect centre. When this continues for long, gradually the old impressions in these centres start decreasing.
D. New impressions do not develop
So long as chanting goes on, new impressions about other things do not develop on the subconscious mind. Chanting God’s Name is perhaps the best way in a conscious state to prevent new impressions from developing in the subconscious mind. (In the states of dharana [Concentration], dhyan [Meditation] and samadhi [A superconscious state of meditative union with the Absolute God Principle] too, impressions about other things do not get created on the subconscious mind).
E. Process of elimination of desires by chanting
When there is dehabuddhi (Body-awareness), desires exist. Also, the reason for our dissatisfaction and moroseness is the consciousness that we are this ‘body’ and the constant use of our sense and motor organs. However, with chanting, the mind is less distracted by the attractions outside.
When this straying of the mind reduces, automatically the desires lose strength. Later, the mind gets engrossed in chanting God’s Name. Instead of satisfying desires, the mind gets absorbed in chanting. Thus, the desires reduce and eventually fade away. Since desires are subtle in nature, they require subtle means to eliminate them, that is, God’s Name.
F. Spiritual experience – God gives a reply that
after chanting, internal thoughts are expelled and get destroyed
While chanting on 15th and 16th January 2004, I started blabbering with the impression that some event was taking place. I asked God (through the subtle) ‘What is happening?’ He replied ‘Your condition now is like that of a drunkard. You are blabbering from within just as a drunkard does. Since you are chanting at the same time, the internal thoughts which are being expelled are getting destroyed’. After chanting I felt rejuvenated.
– Mrs. Shruti Nitin Sahakari, Ponda, Goa
3. Purification of speech
Worldly talk diverts the speech from purifying the subconscious mind and makes it impure. To purify it, we should chant God’s Name. – H.H. Bhaktaraj Maharaj