Sri Kamakoti Mandali  
shrImAtre namaH  
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[Query] My doubt is concerning posture while performing japam. Is posture important? I find it extremely difficult to maintain good posture for long time.

bAhyAbhAsam bhAsamAnam visR^iShTau |
kShobhe kShINe.anuttarAyAm sthitau tAm
vande devIm svAtmasamvittimekAm ||

shrImAtre namaH

There are various approaches to understanding mantra shAshtra and what is stated below is my opinion, not necessarily correct to the core. And, the approach here is of yoga shAstra. The objective of the very first stage of mantra upAsanA is sUkShma sharIra shuddhi, in which the primary objective is the shuddhi of the 72 nADi chakras. An upright posture is thus considered useful during upAsanA, especially in the case of Srividya, which has Kundalini Yoga as its focus.

Apart from the Yoga angle, if seen from the stand point of mantra shAstra alone, siddhAsana etc are prescribed for various types of mantras to attain kShipra siddhi. Asanas change in the case of pushTyAdi ShaT karmas. The vice versa seems to be true as well, as many upAsakas experience spontaneous accomplishment of Asana, mudra and bandha during mantropAsana. As for specific instructions regarding holding the posture, I see a reference in mAtR^kArNava. While describing the purashcharaNa for the 8 kinds of mAlini mantra, there are specific instructions on maintaining a straight and upright posture of the spine and to stay still so as to facilitate the ascent of mAtrikA [kundalini]. Also, there are similar instructions in kubjikA kavacha. I am not very sure which Tantra the kubjikA navAtmeshvara mithuna kavacha belongs to, but this is one of the most
important kavachas taught during the AmnAya nayikA paddhati of shrIkrama. In the pUrva pIThikA of this kavacha, dealing specifically with Kubjika Mantra, Adi nAtha describes the posture required of her upAsaka to be an upright one, immobile and free from kampana. He says, "To invoke the crooked one, the sAdhaka has to be devoid of crookedness, of the body and the mind". One can personally experience the reduction in the blissful sensations, a trademark of upAsana of navaratna kubjikA, when the posture is incorrect or if the body trembles or shakes during japa causing a disturbance. A certain master from Baramulla said, "People run after awakening Kundalini by performing various activities or kriyA-s, whereas stillness of mind and body is the requirement for true awakening".

Maintaining a good posture all through japa would be the ideal way but not at the cost of distraction. Masters teach a certain visualization where the Sahasrara is visualized as being suspended from the skies, creating an upright spine and a sense of effortlessness in maintaining this posture. Rather than focusing on the spine, one can focus on
keeping the crown of the head upright, which automatically fixes the spinal alignment in most cases. Again, any of this should not be at the cost of the actual japa. If one gets tired, experiences painful sensations and longs for a posture change during japa, the quality of such a session would be abysmal. It is rather difficult to hold chakra
dhAraNa, breath and mantra synchronization and the visualization of the deity or yantra simultaneously during japa, and if a strict posture is added, the upAsaka will only run through the japa routine for the sake of it. It is thus best to simply recite a mantra for the said number of times, almost mechanically, without worrying too much
about other things. Only when mantra sharIra is activated, the other practices make more sense. Three Shushka purashcharanas are prescribed on krama path for the mukhya mantras, and this rule seems viable to be generalized for other mantras as well.

samsAre kim Saram?
kamsAreshcharaNakamalaparibhajanam ||