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Japa is the name of the mediation a Krishna devotee does while using beads. A string of beads has 108 beads on it and the complete Hare Krishna mantra (link to our webpage here) is chanted on each bead. When you complete 108 beads you have done 1 round, which usually takes about 7 minutes. Devotees who have taken first level vows chant 16 rounds or more every day. That is 108×16 = 1726 mantras each day. If done properly this is a powerful meditation that purifies the heart and mind, and awakens love for Krishna. Mostly we don’t chant properly and therein lies the problem. Mahatma Prabhu offers a pointed and humorous reminder to help us do better.
From The Japa Workshop by Mahatma das
1. To Do List Japa – Meditating on your to do and shopping lists, sometimes adding and deleting items between mantras. This may also include mentally balancing your checkbook or mentally going over which bills you have to pay. Caution: This process can cause you to lament about how many bills you have to pay, and thus changing your prayers from “Oh Lord, please engage me in your service,” to “Oh Lord, please add a few more zeroes to the end of my bank balance.”
2. I Hate Him Japa – While chanting, meditating on who hurt you, how badly you were hurt, how much you hate that person, and what you’ll do to get back at him. By the end of 16 rounds your hatred has increased tenfold and you have developed excellent plans and strategies to take revenge.
3. I am Right Japa – Meditating while chanting on how right you are and how wrong someone else is, and with every mantra you become more convinced how right you are. Also know as “Pump Your Ego Japa. ”
4. Watering the Weeds Japa – Chanting so poorly that by the time you finish you feel disgusted, depressed and miserable. Gone are the days of “Chant and Be Happy.” Now it is, “Chant and Be Miserable.”
5. Beat the Clock Japa – You chant as fast as possible in an attempt to get those bothersome rounds over with, sometimes trying to break your previous record of one round in 3 minutes 59 seconds – which was formerly thought to be humanly impossible – until you proved it could be done if one is intensely motivated to get his chanting over with as soon as possible!
6. Robot Japa – You chant like a robot. Chanting while totally disconnected from the mood of the mantra. You sometimes wish another devotee or a robot could chant your rounds for you.
7. Firing Blank Mantras Japa – Krsna’s name is chanted, but your mind and heart are somewhere else – and so is He. The sound Krsna comes out of your mouth, but because there is no consciousness, it is like firing blank mantras.
8. Killing Time Japa – Chanting, but thinking of things to entertain yourself with while you chant so you won’t be so bored just listening to the mantra. In this way you kill time while chanting and thus make chanting 16 rounds quite tolerable by making it much less painful than usual.
9. Creative Japa – Using japa as a time for brainstorming, thus doing some creative thinking, generating new ideas, and finding solutions to your problems. It is useful to have a pen and paper handy to write down your ideas. Although you may get very few rounds done, and you won’t get the nectar of the name – you have spent the past two hours in a such a high degree of passion that you will definitely have a long list of good ideas. (But is it really a good idea to ruin your japa to get some good ideas?)
10. Novocain Japa – Your heart is so numbed that you feel absolutely nothing when you chant.
11. Driving Japa – Chanting while distracted by the task of driving, sometimes accompanied by cursing at people who cut you off (i.e. the anti-trnad api sunicena mantra). Of course, the reason you chant while driving is that you get up late.
12. No Japa, Japa – While holding your beads you converse with another devotee, moving your beads as you talk. In this way you sometimes finish a so-called round or two by the end of the conversation. (Oh God, help us!)
13. Prajalpa Japa – You chant a few mantras and then speak a few words of prajalpa (gossip) to your friend. You chant a few more mantras and then listen as they speak some prajalpa to you. Then you respond with some even more juicy gossip. This process often continues for the entire japa session.
14. Call and Response Japa – You talk to someone, and while listening to you they chant japa. Then they reply and while listening to them you chant japa.
15. Reading Japa – Reading and chanting at the same time. (Note: This would not be a problem if you had two or more heads.)
16. Left Hand Japa – Chanting japa while doing something with your left hand (cleaning, cooking, tinkering, organizing, washing your car, etc.). This is very useful for developing left arm strength.
17. Bubblegum Japa – Chanting in a way that sounds like you are chewing bubble gum while chanting Hare Krsna.
18. New Mantra Japa – Chanting a new form of the Hare Krsna mantra, such as “here kitty, kitty, here kitty, kitty,” or “nish, nish, ram, ram, ari, ari.”
19. Entertainment Japa – Chanting while watching TV or a movie. Note: watching TV while not chanting, but chanting during the commercials is also no good! (And, Krsna conscious video is also included in TV Japa.)
20. Internet Japa – A few mantras and a few emails, sometimes chanting and reading at the same time. Inevitably, the beads get put on the table and the right hand lands on the keyboard.
21. Window Shopping Japa – Chanting while window shopping (this commonly happens when making the attempt to knock out some rounds while in the shopping mall).
22. Boredom Japa – You are so bored while chanting that you feel like killing yourself.
23. Relaxing Japa – Lying down or relaxing in a hammock while chanting (often accompanied by coconut water in your left hand).
24. Slumber Japa – Taking advantage of japa to get a good nap. Another variety of “Slumber Japa” is trying to fight off sleep, but continually failing. This is also known as “Dive Bomb Japa” due to the head constantly rising and falling (diving).
25. Bitter Medicine Japa – Your experience of the holy name is like bitter medicine and your face turns in disgust as you chant.
26. Painful Japa – Your mind is so out of control that it is painful to try to control it. Thus, the expression on your face while chanting appears similar to the expression of a person with a knife in their back (or a person with severe constipation).
27. Shaking Japa – (Also known as “Ants in Your Pants Japa”) – You chant as if you were a toy monkey that was just wound up.
28. Radar Japa – Looking around at anything and everything – and everybody – while chanting.
29. Audio Japa – Chanting japa while listening to a lecture, kirtan, song, or the radio. This is especially challenging while listening to the radio (unless, of course, it is one of your favorite songs or some juicy news).
30. Sightseeing Japa – Walking or driving and chanting while doing some serious sightseeing.
31. Shopping Japa – Nish, nish, ram, ram, ari, ari-ing your way through the supermarket or mall.
32. Apathy Japa – Chanting with absolutely no desire or enthusiasm to chant.