Mantra with Feeling

From Conversations on the Science of Yoga – Bhakti Yoga Book 4, In the Presence of Bhakti

Is it necessary to have feelings when practising mantra?

Swami Niranjanananda: How can one even think of practising mantra without bhava, without the quality of feeling? To think of any action or thought without emotion is hypocritical. When one is angry or feels frightened, is it without bhava? When one is under stress, is it without bhava? Any mental state, whether it is hatred, jealousy, frustration, anxiety, stress or passion, cannot exist without bhava, the associated feeling.

There has to be passion in mantra. In the beginning of mantra practice, the mantra is repeated mechanically as one does not know how to connect with the bhava. However, when one knows how, then by combining the mantra with the bhava, the energy of the mantra intensifies. That potency has the capacity to invoke God in a physical form in front of the bhakta, which means it can change any rule in creation. Mantra per formed with bhava has the potential and capacity to make God take a physical body and appear. Mantra is so powerful that it has the capacity to command God to give darshan. Even God is subject to the power of the mantra. It is not the human mind that makes Him or Her appear. It is this declaration of God in the form of mantra, and God is bound by that declaration. There fore, if God can accept the supremacy of the mantra, can not the power of mantra change every kind of natural law? Those who have practised mantra with bhava have been able to perfect this quality and realize the full potency of the mantra.

Mantra will become fruitful only when bhava is associated with it. Just as a feeling is associated with a state of anger, jealousy, stress and tension, or with what one eats and drinks, or with a friend or enemy, similarly, a feeling is associated with a mantra. How then is it possible to keep the practice of mantra separate from the feeling associated with the mantra? It is not logical. Therefore, whenever one practises a mantra as part of mantra sadhana, or sings kirtan, one should also try to project the emotion associated with the mantra into it. Then when one chants or sings the mantra one is able to channel the emotions with full control, and that is quite an achievement for any human being.

Normally, logic follows a predetermined path and emotion follows a different path. Many times emotions cloud logic, and many times logic can suppress an emotion. However, when they complement each other, logic becomes an experience and emotion becomes an insight which gives wisdom. Therefore, one should try to feel the emotion of the mantra when repeating it. That is the real practice of mantra.

Mechanical repetition occurs in the first stage of mantra practice to stop the natural dissipation of the mind. Once the dissipation stops, then to awaken the state of consciousness and to experience the transformed condition inherent in the mantra, the bhava, the emotion, has to be added. Mechanical repetition of mantra is recommended in the first stage to create a pattern of mind and develop an awareness of the mantra for longer periods of time. When one is able to do that, then, in the second stage, the component of emotion should be added to the mantra and the result will be beneficial and uplifting.