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Nama Japam or Nama Sankeertanam is the japa (repetition) or Sankirtana of nama (name) of the Almighty. This is one of the time-tested, easiest ways of Bhakti yoga. The devotee chooses Ishta-deva or Ishta devata (Sanskrit iṣṭa-deva(tā), literally "cherished divinity" from iṣṭa "desired, liked, cherished" and devatā "godhead, divinity," or deva "deity") and picks up a name of the Ishta deva to repeatedly chant the name vocally or in mind anytime, anywhere. Devotees can form a group and do sankeertanam or singing together of name of the Almighty. Bhajans are one way of singing the glories of Almighty, thereby contemplating only on the Almighty. Nama Japa, Sankeertanam, Bhajans all result only in one thing. Nama sankeertanam, helps the devotees identify themselves with their deity of adoration, ultimately resulting in culmination into Paramatman.
Many Hindu scriptures and philosophers could portend the difficulties people will face, to evolve spiritually in Kali yuga. For Kali yuga, this is the best, or the simplest way of God Realization. The prevailing situations and surroundings we are in, do not help us to meditate peacefully, do the yogas as enshrined in the spiritual scriptures. Hence Nama Japam is the ultimate, and simplest way of seeing Almighty in us and in everything.
Adi Sankaracharya, the Advaita enlightened master, in verse 27 of his hymn, Bhaja Govindam, said that the Gita and Vishnu sahasranama should be chanted and the form of the Lord of Lakshmi-Narayana should always be meditated on. He also said that the Sahasranama bestowed all noble virtues on those who chanted it.
The Almighty has mentioned in Srimad Bhagawad Gita, that He resides in the hearts of those who chant and sing His namas.
Of all namas of the Almighty, Rama nama is considered to be ideal for nama japam.
Shiva (Purusha) and Shakthi (Prakriti) are the manifestations of one Antharyami. Of all the many Avatars or avatāra (Devanagari अवतार, Sanskrit) of Vishnu, the maryadha purushothama, Sri Rama's name, had remainined easy and beautiful source for spiritual enlightenment or moksha (Sanskrit: मोक्ष mokṣa) or mukti (Sanskrit: मुक्ति).
Rama's name is more potent than Rama Himself had been exemplified in many instances of great devotees' lives.
Valmiki, just by repeatedly uttering 'Ma-Ra' (not even Ra-ma), could create the greatest epic Ramayanam. Hanuman, just by doing Rama nama japam could cross seas, fight rakshasas, monsters, carry Sanjeevani parvatham, could save Rama and Lakshmana from Mahiravana, could become Chiranjeevin. Hanuman, Samarth Ramdas, Tulasidas, Kabirdas, Thyagaraja, Ramadasu, Sai Baba, Papa Ramdas, Gandhi, Yogi Ramsuratkumar are some of the greatest devotees who believed in Sri Rama Japam and could do wonders on their own right, speaks volumes on Nama Japam.
Though the Almighty has thousands of names (sahasranama), Rama nama japam is ideal for everyone. The name Ra-ma is combination of MaheshwaRA-MAheshwari, denoting one Almighty, who is Ardhanarishvara (Sanskrit: अर्धनारीश्वर, Ardhanārīśvara), who is the single entity of Shiva (Purusha) and Shakthi (Prakriti), one who pervades everything—Antharyami.
Purusha (absolute consciousness) / Maheshwa'Ra', initiates the living-beings to use the life force Prakriti (absolute energy) / 'Ma'heshwari. During inhalation and exhalation, both Shiva and Shakthi are in union, or co-exist, so life exists. When we do Rama nama japam, we do Pranayama, or conscious breathing, focussing on 'Ra-ma' (Inhalation/Exhalation), leading to God-realization.
- In Brhad-visnu-sahasranama-stotra, Uttara-khanda, Padma Purana 72.335, Lord Shiva addressed his wife, Parvati:
- sri rama rama rameti rame rame manorame; sahasra nama tat tulyam rama nama varanane
- "O Varanana (lovely-faced woman), I chant the holy name of Rama, Rama, Rama and thus constantly enjoy this beautiful sound. This holy name of Ramachandra is equal to one thousand holy names of Lord Vishnu."
- Neem Karoli Baba encouraged the constant repetition of "Ram" in order to become closer to God, saying "By taking the name of Ram, everything is accomplished."
- "People do not know what the Name of God can do. Those who repeat it constantly alone know its power. It can purify our mind completely... The Name can take us to the summit of spiritual experience." — Papa Ramdas
- Papa Ramdas initiated Yogi Ramsuratkumar into the holy mantra : " Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram ", by pronouncing it thrice in his ears. Yogi Ramsuratkumar often refers to this instance as his "death", since from this moment on, his ego no longer existed, and he had a profound spiritual experience.
- Kalachand Vidyalankar initiated the practice of Nam Sankirtan in East Bengal Now, Bangladesh into the holy mantra : " Om Jai Ram Jai Sri Ram ", and popularized it among the people belonged to so called lower casts during 17th century. He opined, during Nam Gaan, personal ego no longer exist, and people may get a profound spiritual pleasure.
- Yogi Ramsuratkumar states "This beggar learnt at the feet of Swami Ramdas the divine name of Rama, and beg, beg all of you not to forget the divine name Rama. Whatever you do, wherever you are, be like Anjaneya -Maruthi thinking of Rama and doing your actions in this world. Live in the world and the problems will be there. If we are remembering the Divine name, we are psychologically sound. May be, we may feel a little some of the problems. Even then the intensity with which we feel if we don't have faith in God is much more than a man of faith - a man who remembers the name of Rama. So this beggar is always begging, begging for food, begging for clothes, begging that you should compose songs on this beggar, build a house for me - a cottage for me - this thing - that thing - so many things. But this beggar will beg of you this also, and you are always giving what this beggar has begged. So this beggar begs please don't forget the name of God. This Divine name has been always of great help to all in the world. You read Kabir, Tulsi, Sur, Appar Swamy, Manickavasaga Swamy - how they emphasized Namasivaya. Don't forget it - this is your heart - this is your soul. Whether it be Om Namasivaya or Om Namo Narayana whether Rama, Siva or Krishna whatever name you choose, whatever form you choose doesn't matter."
- Sri Muralidhara swamiji believes that Nama Kirtan (singing the name of the Lord) is the easiest way to perform Bhakti and attain liberation in this Kali Yuga. Srimad Bhagavatam and many other scriptures in Sanatana Dharma advocate this as the simplest means to attain the Lord. Scriptures say, “While mental repetition of the Divine Names leads to the good of the individual, chanting the Divine Names loudly purifies the chanter, the listener and the very place where the chanting is done.” In keeping with the Kali Santarana Upanishad, Sri Swamiji advocates the Singing of the Maha Mantra as the only way to overcome the ills of worldly existence and attain divine bliss.