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Benefits Of Chanting Prayers In Hinduism

Chanting of prayers in Hinduism is known as Japa and it has innumerable benefits. Here is a look at some of the important benefits of chanting prayers in Hinduism.

Japa and meditation are interrelated. Japa leads to meditation. It is like placing dots in one line: meditation is like joining those dots. Inversely, interrupted meditation is nothing but japa. 

We begin with vocal japa, then comes internal, mental japa which becomes meditation or an unbroken mental flow of thought towards God. Later even this stops and only the artha or the meaning of the word remains. Thus japa leads to meditation and samadhi.

According to Patanjali there are two more benefits of japa: ततः प्रत्यक् चेतनाधिगमोऽप्यन्तरायाभावश्र्च (1.29) ‘From that is gained introspection and destruction of obstacles.’

Sri Ramakrishna has very succinctly defined the introspective mode of mind when he says: ‘Sandhya merges into Gayatri and Gayatri merges into Om.’

Introspection is essentially a process of concentration and turning within. When japa is done with concentration, all other words get merged into the one mantra being chanted, and when this is practiced for a long time, without break and with dedication, mind becomes controlled, indrawn and peaceful. What one gets is described as the व्यवसायात्मिका बुद्धि (Gita, 2:41) by Sri Krishna in the Gita. One gets inner joy. In fact there is no joy outside. All joys are a mere reflection of the joy within which is experienced by japa.

The destruction of obstacles to the path of Yoga is another benefit of japa. Patanjali enumerates nine such obstructions most of which are tamasic and mental. व्याधि-स्त्यान- संशय-प्रमादालस्याविरति-भ्रान्तिदर्शनालब्भूमिकत्वान- वस्थितत्वानिचित्तविक्षेपास्तेऽन्तरायाः (1.30)
‘Disease, languor, doubt, carelessness, laziness, lack of detachment, wrong notions, inability to ascend to higher spiritual levels and to get established there are the obstructions.’

The first one is disease, and interestingly and significantly, even physical illness gets reduced and may even be cured by japa. Doubts disappear, undue attachments get weakened, and one gets a clear understanding of the spiritual path. And a serious aspirant who persists with japa ascends to higher levels on the spiritual ladder and gets established there. According to Patanjali, pain, depression, trembling of the body and irregular respiration may accompany the above mentioned obstructions (1.31). These also are cured by japa.