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Re: Japam Vidhi Clarification

From: Mani Varadarajan (
Date: Thu Oct 19 2000 - 11:00:37 PDT

Lakshmi Narayanan writes:
> 1. I have been told by elders from day-1 that while doing Japam (gAyathri or
> moola manthram or any other)
>     that I should cover my hands that are counting with the Utthareeyam. Why is
> it so?
> 2. Could we do japams using beaded mAlai (garland). Any specific rules about
> using sandal wood bead mAlai.

I am a novice in these matters, but here is what I have gathered.
Regarding (1), covering the hands during japam, there appears to be 
two reasons I have inferred, both stemming from the idea that
others should not be aware of how many times (Avartanam) we are  
doing the japam.  The first and obvious reason is humility. We should
not be showing off the degree of our austerity or the greatness of
our resolve.  The second is derived from the belief that when the devas
see someone steadfast in his desire to meditate or perform tapas, they
place countless obstacles in that person's path. This is because such
a devoted person, as he transcends identification with the body, will 
perform fewer sacrifices and therefore give less 'havis' to the devas. 
We read about this happening to many great tapasvis in the past.  Keeping the 
amount of japa to oneself is a measure of protection against this.  
(How devas place obstacles in the path of the mumukshu is beautifully 
described by Sri Sankaracharya in his taittirIya upanishad bhAshya.)

Regarding (2), I really have no answer based on SAstra, but I do know
that I find it much easier to do a large number of gAyatris (such
as 1008) when I use a japa-mAlai.  Elders have advised me to use some
external aid when I am doing 1008 gAyatris so I don't lose count,
and focus more on the counting than the japa itself.  I don't find the 
aroma of sandalwood distracting since I normally do the japa in the 
perumAL sannidhi where the fragrance of incense, sandalwood, paccai 
karpUram, etc., are all already present.

rAmAnuja dAsan

P.S. I was also taught to place my yajnopavItam with brahma-muDi in my hands 
while doing gAyatri-japa.  Apparently this practice is not followed by everyone.


           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
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