Sri Ramkrishna Das explains the significance of nama-japa in the sadhana of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga and provides detailed instruction on the method of its practice.
The author discusses in careful detail the many obstacles and difficulties with which the sadhak of this yoga is confronted and points out the way for overcoming them with the help of the Mother’s name.
He writes: ‘Since the Mother and her name are the same Truth and Principle, whenever the sadhak repeats her name, the Mother’s presence remains with him. The difficult sadhana of transformation becomes very easy by doing nama-japa.”
Sri Ramkrishna Das goes on further to describe how the Mother found nama-japa to be indispensable for the transformation of the body. In 1959 the Mother herself said: 1 have also come to realise that for this sadhana of the body, the mantra is essential. Because only japa has a direct action on the body.”
The usefulness and effectiveness of nama-japa have been brought out by the author of this book in a lucid and straightforward manner.
A key to a Light still kept in being’s core, The sun-word of an ancient mystery’s sense, Her name ran murmuring on the lips of men Exalted and sweet like an inspired verse.
“It was during those days in our Ashram when the Mother was giving Blessings daily in the mornings to all the inmates and the visitors present. The number was about a thousand and all used to go in a queue and receive Her Blessings individually the whole function taking nearly an hour One day a young girl who had taken to the Japa of the Mother’s Name as part of her sadhana, found the Mantra MOTHER, MOTHER, MOTHER, repeating itself spontaneously in her heart while she was standing in the queue. There were at least twenty persons ahead of her. Imagine her surprise when she beheld the Mother taking off Her eyes from those in front and looking straight at her who was standing at such a distance! The Call of the Mantra had obviously reached the Mother and She had instantly responded even physically”
“…the Mantra which is chosen for Japa has the necessary power within it and by constant repetition under proper conditions the power can be evoked into operation to effectuate the purpose. The vibrations set up each time the Mantra is repeated go to create, in the subtler atmosphere, the conditions that induce the fulfillment of the object in view. The Divine Name, for instance, has the potency to stamp and mould the consciousness which repeats it into the nature of the Divinity for which the Name stands and prepare it for the reception of the gathering Revelation of the Godhead.”
Nama-Japa in the Yoga of Transformation was written originally for an Indian audience and published in Oriya, one of the Indian languages. Some of the references to family life and society therefore refer specifically to the Indian setting. In the original version the author makes short references to a number of episodes from India’s two great epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, in order to illustrate points in the text. Since Western readers are usually unfamiliar with the wider implications of these stories, most of them have been omitted from this English translation. Throughout this work, the spiritual seeker is referred to as ‘he’ and as ‘the sadhak’, as per convention. This is not intended to imply any discrimination between male and female aspirants.
Except for where the meaning is made clear in the text itself, the meaning of all Sanskrit terms and all English words which have a special usage or significance in Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga may be found in the Glossary.
“There are two paths of Yoga, one of tapasya (discipline), and the other of surrender. The path of tapasya is arduous. Here you rely solely upon yourself you proceed by your own strength. You ascend and achieve according to the measure of your force. There is always the danger of falling down. And once you fall, you lie broken in the abyss and there is hardly a remedy. The other path, the path of surrender, is safe and sure. It is here, however, that the Western people find their difficulty. They have been taught to fear and avoid all that threatens their personal independence. They have imbibed with their mothers’ milk the sense of individuality. And surrender means giving up all that. In other words, you may follow, as Ramakrishna says, either the path of the baby monkey or that of the baby cat. The baby monkey holds to its mother in order to be carried about and it must hold firm, otherwise if it loses its grip, it falls. On the other hand, the baby cat does not hold to its mother, but is held by the mother and has no fear nor responsibility; it has nothing to do but to let the mother hold it and cry ma ma.”
Sri Ramkrishna Das, lovingly and respectfully referred to as ‘Babaji Maharaj’, was born in 1908 in Rayarpur, a small village in the eastern part of Orissa, India. Already at the age of eight he had determined that as soon as he grew up, he would forsake the ordinary way of life and take up the life of a sannyasi in search of the highest Truth and he began to practise nama-japa. His resolve to realise the Divine remained firm even throughout his youth and finally, as a young adult, Babaji left the fold of his family in order to search for his guru. In the depth of his heart burned the aspiration to become the disciple of the greatest living Mahatma (spiritual master) on earth.
Babaji went to Ayodhya, in northern India, and became the disciple and personal attendant of ‘Mauni Baba’, a well-known realised saint. He served his guruji for many years. As part of his intensive yoga practice, Babaji repeated the name of the Lord constantly and as a result received his direct darshan on several occasions. He used to experience an unceasing stream of intense Divine Bliss while practising nama-japa.
While still in Ayodhya, Babaji eventually came into contact with the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He realised that Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga was not merely the culmination of all the various paths of yoga of the past but the beginning of something entirely new, the next step in the evolutionary advance of mankind. Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga does not aim at the transcendence of life, but at the transformation of the entire human nature, turning mind, life and body, into their divine principles, resulting in a divine life here on earth. Babaji recognised that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were the avatars of the present age. Therefore he joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, South-India, in 1945 and lived there for the next fifty-three years.
Babaji practised the Integral Yoga with great concentration and intensity, repeating the Mother’s name continuously. After the Mother’s passing in 1973, Babaji began to contemplate the importance of nama-japa in the Integral Yoga By the light of his own experiences and through the careful study of Mother’s Agenda, the Mother’s chronological record concerning her work of transformation of the body, l3abaji became convinced that the difficult goal of physical transformation was only possible by the constant repetition of the Mother’s name, since only japa has a direct influence on the cells of the body.
From this time onward, Babaji advised (1w many seekers who came to him for guidance In repeat the Mother’s name constantly, with an attitude of surrender and aspiration. He wrote thousands of letters answering the questions of seekers with regard to their sadhana and their daily life-problems and unwaveringly insisted that till should repeat the Mother’s name, by which any type of problem could be overcome.
Babaji left his body on the 8th of November, 1998. A western disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother reports her experience when she saw Babaji for the first time:
“I met Babaji for the first time in the spring of 1984, during my first visit to the Ashram. I was waiting together with a small group of people outside Babaji’s room. Suddenly the door opened and Babaji appeared holding a small green plastic pitcher in his hand. Instantly there was a pin-drop silence. Babaji glanced at the small congregation of people in front of his door and an unimaginably sweet and compassionate smile lit up his face. The moment I saw Babaji I got the ‘goose-bumps’ all over my body and all my body hair seemed to stand on end. Something like an electric current passed through my whole being from the top of my head to my feet and the clear words arose in my mind: This man is all love.”
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