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Counting and concentration in Gayathri japam...

From: P.B. Anand (
Date: Thu Aug 26 1999 - 08:42:20 PDT

Dear Bhagavathas :

Greetings on this great day of avani avittam. Last year, 
I remember, there was a query about counting 1008 for 
gayathri japam (which this year is tomorrow) and keeping 
the concentration . I am sure a similar query may arise 
on many such occasions concerning meditation. Some times 
instead of concentrating on the Lord and his kalyana 
gunas, the mind is entirely busy remembering whether it 
is 254th or 255th time that the manthram concerned is 
being recited. So the tension between concentration on 
the Lord (one of the main dimensions of meditation in the 
first place) and the counting of chanting/recitation is 
a real one.

Our acharyal have gifted us with several solutions and 
adiyen has one more suggestion as a solution for this 
problem and it is my pleasure to share this with all. 

This method is based on time calculation. Each of us may 
take different amount of time to chant Gayathri manthram 
say 10 times (because of our breathing rhythm, the speed 
of speech - uchharanai - we are used to and the amount of 
time we are willing to allocate for such purposes, your 
own plans for that morning or later that day and so on).  
Therefore, this method requires us to find unit time 
i.e., time taken for one chanting. Then the total time 
can be easily calculated.

Steps involved :
A. Finding the average time taken for chanting 10 times :

Before proceeding with the 1008 gayathri japam I suggest 
that you take three attempts and time each attempt. A 
stop watch is ideal but even an ordinary watch will do. 
Take the watch and note the number of seconds it takes 
for you to complete 10 recitations of gayathri in your 
normal speed. Repeat this procedure two more times (but 
not immediately - give a few minutes gap). Best would be 
to time the Gayathri japam portion of today's evening 
sandhyavandanam or tomorrow morning's sandhya vandanam 
and use these also as samples. 

Once you have the three sample timings, from that you can 
work out the average time it takes for chanting 10 times. 
Let us say the first time, it has taken 44 seconds to 
complete chanting Gayathri japam 10 times; on second 
attempt it has taken 49 seconds; and on third time it has 
taken 46 seconds. The average is thus roughly 46 seconds. 

B. Scaling up :

So for chanting 1000 times for this person it would take 
4600 seconds or roughly 76 minutes. Add a factor of 
safety depending on your own experiences. Let us say this 
person added 4 minutes as factor of safety.
 Total is thus 80 minutes.

C. Proceeding with 1008 japam :

Once the total time is known, the mind is free from 
counting and can concentrate on the Lord and leave the 
counting to time and rhythm. Set a stop watch or an alarm 
for the total time and on you go...

This method can work not only for Gayathri for any japam 
(including kamokarsheeth we did today).

If you use this method, as a symbol of gratitude please 
add some amount of your choice to the dakshinai you are 
sending to the kainkaryakal/acharyal of your choice (for 
using the sankalpam etc. today, for instance, in NA send 
your cheques to Prof. Dileepan as Sriman Sadagopan has 
already suggested; if in India, send it to the 
Koorttalwan kainkaryam that is being planned as Sriman 
Velukkudi swamy has suggested).

Emberumanaar thiruvadigale saranam
P.B. Anand