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Ajapa Japa: Mantra that protects the performer

Ajapa Japa: Mantra that protects the performer

What is Ajapa Japa?

Ajapa Japa is the combination of two words with opposite meaings. Ajapa is that which is not a Japa; whereas Japa is the repetition of a Mantra. Japa is of three types: Vachika Japa, Upamsu Japa, and Manasa Japa. Vachika Japa is the repetition of mantra with the audible utterance. Upamsu Japa is the repetition with a whispering utterance. Manasa Japa is the repetition with the mental utterance.
 
Ajapa and Japa are antonyms. Any mantra can be chanted or intoned as a Japa. But Ajapa is a different phenomenon. It is the fixing of the awareness on the Japa already happening inside. According to Dhyana Bindu Upanishad and other Yoga-Upanishads, Jiva is constantly chanting the Mantra Sa with incoming breath and Ham with the out-going breath. But a different account is found in Vijnana Bairava Tantra  (verse 155 which was not found in the Original edition) wherein Jiva chants Ham with inhaling and Sa with exhaling. 

This Japa is spontaneously happening with every breath. This Japa is fixing the awareness on the internal rhythm of that natural Japa. From the subjective point of view, it is Ajapa; whereas in an objective point of view it is Japa. Being aware of the Japa that is already intoned into the breath is Ajapa Japa.

Hamsa Mantra

Between two breaths, there is a negligibly minute pause. It is a suspended animation for a split second. If the pause is after inhalation, the chanted Mantra is Hamsa. Obviously, the breath pattern will be Exhale-Inhale-Pause-Exhale-Inhale-Pause. In other words, the pattern is Ham-Sa-Pause-Ham-Sa-Pause. Hence the mantra chanted becomes ‘Hamsa, Hamsa’.

Soham Mantra

Similarly, if the pause is after exhalation, the chanted Mantra is Soham. The breath pattern will be Inhale-Exhale-Pause-Inhale-Exhale-Pause or Sa-Ham-Pause-Sa-Ham-Pause. It becomes ‘Soham, Soham’.

Other patterns 

Consider this pattern: Inhale-Pause-Exhale-Pause or Sa-Pause-Ham-Pause. This is neither Hamsa nor Soham. It is the Japa that Jiva chants during every breath. This is the natural pattern of breathing or Ajapa Japa of all Jivas.

Consider yet another pattern: Inhale-Exhale-Inhale-Exhale. There is no pause in between.  Note that it does not start with Inhale since it is a cyclic pattern. The chanted Mantra here is Hamsohamsohamsa. It is an advanced Ajapa Japa.

Ajapa Japa and Kundalini Awakening

There are two ways in which this Mantra is used for awakening the Kundalini. One method is prolonged mental awareness of the spontaneous process of Ajapa Japa. This method is known as Anusandhana. Another method is the conscious recitation of the Mantra ‘Soham’. This recitation is like a Subjective Japa of any other mantra. There are the will and activity on the part of the performer. Hence initially it is not an Ajapa Japa. By constant repetition for a very long period of time, it becomes a spontaneous repetition. It will become Ajapa Japa in due course. This results in Kundalini awakening.

Initially, Soham and Hamsa matra Japas are not Ajapa Mantra Japa. They become so only on regular practice.

Ajapa Japa in Vijnana Bairava Tantra

Verse 24 of Vijnana Bairava Tantra says, “Para Devi who is the nature of Visarga expresses herself upward in the form of exhalation and downward in the form of inhalation. Fixing the mind steadily on the origin of inhalation and exhalation the supreme state is revealed.”

When we decode this verse, we get this. Para Devi is chanting the Mantra Ha with exhalation and Sa with inhalation. If we fix the mind on the origin of exhalation (the point of suspended animation), we get the Mantra Hamsa. If we fix the mind on the origin of inhalation, we get the Mantra Soham. As a result, the supreme state is revealed.

In Hamsa Mantra, Ha represents Sakthi, Sa represents Siva and M represents Jiva. Hence it is also called Trika Mantra that represents three realities.



Thirunavukkarasu Sivasubramaniam

He has got 40 years of experience in traditional yoga philosophy and practice. He is well versed in Classical Sanskrit and Classical Tamil texts. His other area of proficiency includes Tantra and South Indian Astrology.

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