Acharyaji, Thanks for all.
In the initial phase all the initiated ones are asked to do chanting 108 times without being given with the detailed methodology of application. In my personal experience, no Guru tells how to use mantra in our body across the energy-centers (chakras). Why?
For that matter even advanced stage sadhakas don’t know how to use mantra effectively with the count of 108. Request you to consider revealing some of the secrets here or may be when TSV practitioners gather in the meet again.
The previous question was centering around the emotion of chanting being a personal affair with the God… A God, who is just imagined or projected by the mind. And then particularly WHY 108? Yours is bit different. I shall elaborate the methodology and process of application only to TSV interactive practitioners not here however I would like to add more generic points about ‘why 108’ and what if one doesn’t use it.
Your God – Projection of mind NOT the experience!
When experienced – God would seem like a single name given to all sorts of contradiction. The God is not personality yet He is. God is not the world yet it is every spec of it! He is formless yet in all forms! He is time and space yet beyond it! God is light and God is darkness both at the same time! God speaks and yet he does not have mouth! He walks but no feet! God is here but not accessible! God is the one who is asking question and God is the one who is answering it! God is all the experiencer, the experienced and experience! Only God is.. nothing else exists.. neither You nor I!
Now this ultimate experience defies all logic.. such description is beyond sense perceptions. It sounds nothing else but utopia.. yet this is somewhat the essence of Vedas. The collection of wisdom of noble seers who have tried to describe their experience of Brahman (God or The Ultimate Truth).
But can we begin with this?
When one starts the journey in spirituality one mostly needs an anchor for keeping the mind focused and the image and name of a revered superhuman personality, a mystical figure (projected or real), Lotus feet of your Guru, the son of God or even known incarnation of God himself comes handy. Use of the name and figure (Nama-Roopa) is suggested to the seekers in the beginning to train themselves for longer periods of contemplation.
We pick up with something making sense to our senses. Rama comes handy. Krishna becomes the door. Radha becomes the channel. Shiva, Jesus, Waheguru, Ganesha, Durga, Bala, Kali, Tara, Shodashi, Sharada, Saraswati, Lalita.. all have equal capacity to take us beyond. The only goal of that ‘personal love affair’ with the personified God through mantra or otherwise is to silence the mind, drop the accumulated knowledge and prejudice, cultivate openness and more importantly dilute our egos so much so that we become one with the experience.
Why a particular number is to be adhered to?
I am presenting yet another simplified version.
Having understood that chanting is a spiritual practice… When someone is given a mantra or a method he is also given. A discipline.. discipline to ensure that you spend an optimum minimum time in one stretch (or sitting) to be able to affect your being and psyche. Objective of spiritual practice is of energizing your body, taming your senses, calming your mind and readying yourself for deeper experiences much more than just a temporary superficial ‘break’ from the routine. So a number!
Chanting is a spiritual practice.. not the personal affair. Once again I say personal affair or friendship can be with a known, experienced entity.. not with imagination. Through the practice of chanting you try to know God. This a ‘practice’, a ‘method’… Expect it to come with some guidelines. Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains decided upon the number 108, Islamic tradition is of 99, Ba’hai has it of 95. Only Christians seem to be bit divided here (so many fragments and churches there!) on the number yet it is fixed for each tradition between 18 to 100 (mostly they chose a number above 30 and close to 50 though).
Time spent in the chanting is important!
A mantra is a tool to achieve this calming of mind and yet keeping it alert and open. It takes time to calm your mind and that is why some minimum number of times you need to repeat and contemplate upon it. For example when you are chanting ‘Hare Krishna.. mahamantra” you can keep a watch and observe how many seconds does it take to chant it 12 times. It will take around I can tell you if you do it at a moderate speed with concentration it shall take around 75 seconds.. You may call it coincidence but then this number.. So chanting it 108 times will take around 11 minutes. Here you are! This compulsion of 108 is engaging you in contemplation for approximately 11 minutes.. which is minimum required time of any practice (tool) to work on you. These 11 minutes of staying with a sound (mantra) will bring about the changes in mind and your orientation towards self.
If a mantra is small – the recitation or chanting laps are definitely increased by the Master. Lets say if we have ‘Namah Shivay..” then we will have to have minimum of 5 rounds of 108 to be of some value. There are numbers associated with every anusthaan (spiritual application of energy for any of the purushartha) as well e.g. when mahamrityunjaya mantra is to taken up for faster and easier dissolution of negative energies it is advised to be done not once or twice but 125000 times! Similarly there are other mantras (although i don’t give them) for different purposes and number of chants are also different for each one of them. For what? – Just to create the desired effect.
So for the uninitiated (who is not yet aware of chakras, nadis, granthis, vayus, tattvas, pranas, deities, bejas, vrittis, grace, protection, Guru etc.) there is no point making a fuss about numbers.. just ensuring minimum of 11 minutes practice in one stretch is good. Be it in chanting a mantra or any other centering technique of focusing on breath or staring at a stable flame.
Enough of numbers.. (laughs)
Blessings from Masters..
– Ach. Agyaatdarshan Anand Nath