Mental japa is nothing but introspection. In order for it to be effective, however, you must know the power in every mantra. Those who suffer from mental dullness and want to brighten their intellect should practise Gayatri japa. At first this japa was said to be for brahmins only, not even ladies could recite it. But now it is accepted as a suitable mantra for all. Gayatri is the oldest of all mantras. You can find it in the ancient books. The times for doing this japa are at dawn, noon and dusk. You can also practise it together with nadi shodhana pranayama.
There are many Gayatris. Brahma Gayatri has its parallel in every religion. There is also Surya Gayatri which is good for skin diseases, allergic dermatitis, leucodermal patches etc. Then there is Rudra Gayatri and Vishnu Gayatri. You invoke the gods through these mantras. They are objective experiences, not subjective. All this is explained in the Mahanarayana Upanishad.
Another mantra which is very powerful is the 32 names of Durga. It has cured and solved many difficult problems which have perplexed even me. Beginners will take 5 minutes to do one round of this japa, but later on it takes about 3 to 4 minutes. It is never done verbally, mentally or in whispers. You have to chant it loudly and pronounce each name clearly.
Then there is the Mrityunjaya mantra. One mala takes 15 minutes. It can be chanted aloud or repeated mentally. Except for the Durga Path, all mantras can be done mentally and verbally as convenient for you. Devi Atharva Sheersham is the only japa to be written and not repeated. However, it is only written when there is Satavisha Nakshatra, Bhauma Vara and Amavasya, which comes only once in many years. So long as the Nakshatra goes on, you must do the japa in writing, and it is very beneficial.
In the Mrityunjaya japa you can imagine the third eye of Lord Shiva. It adds a little to the Mrityunjaya japa and makes it Mahamrityunjaya mantra. You have to know its method from an expert. If there is any disease or you fear that you are going to meet with an accident, this mantra is very good.
Shiva gave one mantra called Ramtarak mantra: Sri Ram Jaya Ram. It was the mantra of Samartha Guru Ramdas. By this japa you can remove factors which disturb peace in the home and quarrels between family members.
There are many more mantras which can be recited at particular times for removing difficulties. After mantra repetition, if you practise meditation, you will definitely find a great improvement. It will be easier to enter into meditation, because by the practice of japa, tensions, fears and doubts automatically subside.
If you say, I worship the sun and recite Gayatri, therefore, I will not recite the Vishnu mantra, this is not faith but intellectual confusion. If you worship many gods and recite many mantras, you are doing more justice to your inner personality which is full of conflicts. It is better if you give a variety of mantra recitations to your mind and keep it occupied.
When a man suffers from many ailments, he is always conscious of them. His son is sick, there is trouble in the job, dissatisfaction in married life, so his whole energy is wasted in brooding over these things. I ask such people to do the Durga Path, Gayatri japa, Mrityunjaya japa, Ram Nam japa and recitation of the Gita. You may argue that you believe in one god and not in many gods, but is your faith strong? Will it give relief from the tensions of life? I know the truth behind many gods. I am not advocating faith, I am advocating that which is best for you.
When college boys come to me and complain of certain diseases, I ask them to read Hanuman Chalisa. The results are very positive. After reading it, a change comes in them, in their body and mind. Many people come to me and ask about the marriage of their daughters. I prescribe Katayani mantra japa. Mental or subjective changes come about in the girl thereby. It is controversial how it happens, but the results are positive.
Many people complain of quarrels in the house, the wife does not listen, the in-laws cause trouble. If you fear that you have many enemies, do the Devikavach path. This japa brings about a subjective change in the practitioner. Whether he is freed from the idea that he has enemies or whether the mental vibrations change the idea of the other party, one does not know. But I am very clear about this – holy, loving and peace-making thoughts travel, and evil thoughts also travel. If you think ill of a person for 15 days, he will develop suspicion of you. If you think well of a person, he will develop trust in you. Therefore, by japa mantras, your bhavanas also travel and it works.
So remember these important points in japa. First, japa has a devata. Do not doubt or try to reason. You have no authority to deny this unless you can logically prove that it is not so. Second, the mantra can be awakened. Third, by awakening the mantra, we can fulfil our desires. After the mantra provides you with peace and prosperity, can you forget God? No, bhakti grows slowly. People come to me with selfish desires. I realize their difficulties. But after their difficulties are solved, they develop attachment for me.
1963, Mumbai, India