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shrImAtre namaH  
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Japa at Night


[Query] Can we do japa during nights when evil spirits are active? Can we do yoga at night? Can we do pranayam when air conditioner is on?

shrImAtre namaH

namAmi yAminInAthalekhAla~MkR^itakuntalAm |
bhavAnIM bhavasantApanirvApaNasudhAnadIm ||

One can and should certainly do Japa not only at night but all the time. Sri Nambudari Appa always told us, "Don't perform Japa when you are not breathing and enjoy the silence beyond vAk and artha. All other times, Japa cannot be forsaken". The same is illustrated by the famous yAmaLokti:

shuchirvApyashuchirvA.api gacChan tiShThan svapannapi |
mantraikasharaNo vidvAn manasApi sadA smaran ||

Whether one is physically clean or not, or is walking, talking, eating, sleeping, a true upAsaka should never stop reciting his mUla mantra. Various rules of deha, sthAna shuddhi etc. apply only to the first two modes of japa which are vAchika and upAmshu. These rules do not apply for mAnasika japa, the superior among the three. Also, that the above verse is true only for mAnasika japa is stated clearly by AdinAtha as he says: manasApi sadA smaran. Also, the charyA of the upAsaka discussed here is of the one whose attitude is mainly spiritual [mokShakAma] as for laukika prayogas, mAnasika japa is not prescribed by the Tantras.

That apart, the shAstra itself prescribes worship of certain deities during the night. mahAvArAhI is one such deity as also ucChiShTa gaNapati, vanadurgA, guptagopAla, nIlakubjA, j~nAnasarasvatI etc. For a tAnrika, there is nothing evil or good. There is only what is unfavorable and what is favorable. The whole objective of Tantra is to change what is unfavorable, irrespective of whether the force is internal or external.

Similarly, yogAbhyAsa can be performed at night. Certain mudrAs, bandhAs and kriyAs can be performed only during the night. Great masters always prescribe prANa samyama and practice of kriyAs during night as it is easier to attain laya or balance due to the general tone down of the prapancha vyApAra outside, which has an impeccable internal effect. However, the practice should be abandoned between 2 to 3 am for various reasons especially by the one who aims towards shukra samskaraNa. In my lineage, kriyAs are never performed during the day. One should seek advice from Sadguru as the exact process would differ from one system to another.

Ideal place for kriyA or prANAyAma is certainly a picturesque place somewhere in the Kashmir valley filled with pure air. Snap…coming back to real world, that never happens, does it? So, to make best use of whatever is possible, try to practice in an open place or at least with the window open. I sometimes have the AC on and off other times and I have not seen that interfere with the practice. I did find the air to be dry in the place I live which certainly affected the quality of kriyAs as the air should be somewhat snighdha or else kriyA is not smooth. If the air is dry and a lot of kriyA is done during the night, it can have some undesirable effects and parAvasthA is not achievable. I then got a humidifier which seems to have done a lot of good. What works for one does not work for another and what does not work now can work later. Try, experiment, and sincere efforts always attract guidance from the lady. The key is to keep the practice going and the practice will refine itself in due course.

AdhAramArutanirodhavashena yeShAm
sindUrara~njitasarojaguNanukAri |
dIptaM hR^idi sphurati devi vapustvadIyam
dhyAyanti tAniha samIhitasiddhasAdhyAH ||