“Darling children, to gain concentration in this age of materialism (Kali Yuga), bhajan is easier than meditation. By loud singing, other distracting sounds will be overcome and concentration will be achieved. Bhajan, concentration and meditation, this is the progression. In fact, constant remembrance of God is meditation. Children, bhajan sung with one-pointedness, will benefit the singer, the listener and also Mother Nature. Such songs will awaken the listeners minds in due course… Bhajan is a spiritual discipline aimed at concentrating the mind on one’s Beloved Deity. Through that one-pointedness, one can merge in the Divine Being and experience the Bliss of one’s True Self.” – Mata Amritanandamayi Devi
Ramana Maharshi on Japa
So long as you think you are name and form, you can’t escape name and form in Japa also. When you realise you are not name and form, then name and form will drop of themselves. No other effort is necessary. Japa or Dhyana will naturally and as a matter of course lead to it. What is now regarded as the means, Japa, will then be found to be the goal. Name and God are not different. This is clearly shown in the teachings of Namdev:
The Name permeates densely the sky and the lowest regions and the entire universe. Who can tell to what depths in the nether regions and to what height in the heavens it extends. The ignorant undergo the 84 lakhs (8.4 million) of species of births, not knowing the essence of things. Namdev says the Name is immortal. Forms are innumerable, but the Name is all that.
The Name itself is Form. There is no distinction between Name and Form. God became manifest and assumed Name and Form. Hence the Name the Vedas established. Beware there is no Mantra beyond the Name. Those who say otherwise are ignorant. Namdev says the Name is Keshava (God) Himself. This is known only to the loving devotees of the Lord.
The all pervading nature of the Name can only be understood when one recognises one’s own ‘I’. When one’s own name is not recognised, it is impossible to get the all-pervading Name. When one knows oneself, then one finds the Name everywhere. To see the Name as different from the Named creates illusion. Namdev says, ‘Ask the Saints’.
No one can realise the Name by practice of knowledge, meditation or austerity. Surrender yourself first at the feet of the Guru and learn to know that ‘I’ myself is that Name. After finding the source of that ‘I’ merge your individuality in that oneness which is self-existent and devoid of all duality. That which pervades beyond dvaita (duality) and dvaitatita (that which is beyond duality), that Name has come into the three worlds. The Name is Parabrahman itself where there is no action arising out of duality.
The same idea is also found in the Bible: ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God’.
Question: So the true name of God will ultimately be revealed by Self-enquiry?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Since you yourself are the form of the Japa, if you know your own nature by enquiring who you are, what a wonder it will be! The Japa which was previously going on with effort will then continue untiringly and effortlessly in the Heart.