By Sangeetha Saran
One of the Bhakti Yoga practices espoused in the Bhagavata Purana is the practice of Japa or mantra repetition. Bhakti Yoga practice comprises a comprehensive system for obtaining oneness with God through longing and devotion. The underlying intention of all nine of the Bhakti Yoga practices enumerated in the Bhagavata Purana is to help the devotee remain firmly and constantly in touch with his or her chosen Guru or deity. This practice of remaining connected to one’s chosen form of the divine is known as “Ishta Deva” in Sanskrit.
When a Yogi or Yogini seeks spiritual initiation from a Guru, the uncoiling of the divine energy residing in the spiritual seeker is often awakened through an enlivened mantra from that Guru’s lineage. This enlivened mantra is said to vibrate with the very essence of the divinity of God that resides in the hearts of all human beings. The Kundalini Shakti is awakened both through the longing of the devotee and the intention or sankalpa of the Guru he or she has chosen. The karma and readiness of an individual to receive Shaktipat initiation is also a factor in the strength of the awakening of the Kundalini Shakti energy.
With the Guru’s permission and grace, the Kundalini Shakti is awakened from her slumber at the base of the Yoga practitioner’s spine. Quite often, the chanting of an enlivened mantra from the Guru’s lineage purifies the energy pathways throughout the devotee’s physical, mental and emotional bodies. This purification allows the divine energy to arise and start her ascent up the Shushumna Nadi, which is the energy meridian that runs up the spinal column. When she reaches and penetrates the Crown Chakra at the top of the head, great bliss and wisdom arises in the devotee.
The Bhakti Yoga practice of Japa or mantra repetition is a very powerful way for the devotee to remain energetically connected to his or her Guru. It is also highly portable. One can repeat a mantra without detection in all sorts of situations. The vibrations of the syllables of the mantra, particularly a mantra that was given to a Yogi or Yogini by his or her teacher, will have a powerful cleansing and nourishing effect on the awakened Kundalini Shakti. The repetition of the mantra (practice of japa) will also help a Bhakti Yogi to remain firmly rooted in the awareness and remembrance of his or her Guru and the Guru’s teachings.
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