Japa, Devotional Chanting, and Mantra


Blessings! I have a question about Japa practice. Is it best to chant the same mantra all the time. To find one that resonates within and chant only that. I find that I tend to want to chant certain mantras at certain times.

Om Guru.

—carrie, usa


Dear Carrie,

The terms japa, chanting, and mantra have different meanings. I thought to explain these differences before answering your question more specifically.

Japa means a continuous saying (out loud or mentally) of one of the names of God or Guru. Usually it is very short such as “Hare Krishna” or “Sri Ram, Jai Ram” – something like that.

For people on our path, Swami Kriyananda has recommended a very simple but powerful one for us to use: “Om Guru!”

A chant is a prayer or an affirmation set to music, such as “Door of my heart, open wide I keep for Thee…” or “Lord, I am Thine, be Thou mine!”

A mantra is a set of words (sounds), generally in Sanskrit, which contains specific powers or very high sound vibrations. An example would be “Hong-Sau” which is used in connection with observing the breath, in Yogananda’s path of Kriya Yoga.

Now to specifically answer your question: It is probably best for you to do that which seems to be helping you most at any particular time. However, switching around a lot might have the “down-side” of not letting you go really deep into any one japa phrase.

Certainly with chanting it’s fine to sing a chant which resonates with how you are feeling or what you are needing in your life at that time.