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Prayers before Japa
Helpful prayers to the Chanting Beads before Japa:
(1) Shri Nama-mala-grahana-mantra (upon taking one's beads):
"His form bent in three places, His hands bent over the holes of His flute, the son of Nanda Maharaja Lord Krishna stands resplendent amidst a circle of gopis." The Verse is as follows:
(2) Shri Nama-mala-grahana-mantra (on taking the beads for the purpose of japa [japarthe]):
avighnam kuru male tvam
shri radha-krishnayor dasyam
dehi male tu prarthaye
"O Mala, please destroy inauspiciousness in my chanting of the holy name of Lord Gaura-Hari and grant me the position of service to Nityananda-Gauranga and Radha-Krishna. This is all I pray, O Mala."
namaiva parama gatih
namnah parataram nasti
tasman nama upasmahe
"The Holy Name is a beautiful transcendental touchstone--it is the supreme goal. There is nothing higher than the Holy Name. I therefore worship the Holy Name."
(3) Shri Nama-mala-samarpana-mantra (consecrating the mala); traditionally, Vaishnavas first offer Krishna everything they use, including their neck beads, japa beads, etc. I don't know that this is intended here though.
"The sacrifice of the name is the highest yajna, which destroys the contamination of Kali-yuga. In order to please Lord Shri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, I offer this sacrifice of the holy name."
(4) Shri Nama-mala-sthapana-mantra (establishing the beads):
chaitanyaya namo namah
"The holy name is the saviour of the fallen. Oh, please deliver this lowest of men. Obeisances again and again unto Shri Gauranga
Mahaprabhu and unto Shri Shri Radha-Krishna."
tvam male sarva-devanam
tena satyena me siddhim
dehi matar namo 'stu te
"O Mala, among all of the gods, you are considered the bestower of all perfection. By dint of this fact, O Mother, please grant me perfection. Obeisances unto you!"
Note about Japa Beads:
ASTOTTARA SATAIH PURVA PANCASADBHIS TU MADHYAMA
KANYASI PANCA VINSATYA PARIMANAM VIDHIYATE
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 17/73 from VARAHA PURANA)
The Japa beads which have 108 seeds are said to be of he topmost quality. The beads which have 50 seeds are said to be of medium quality. The beads which have 20 seeds are said to be of the lowest quality.
TULASI KASTHA GHATITAIR MANIBHIR JAPA MALIKA
SARVA KARMANI SARVESAM IPSITARTHA PHALA PRADA
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 17/112 from NARADA PANCARATRA)
One should understand that Japa beads made out of Tulasi wood seeds is said to be fulfilling all kinds of desires in every activity or function.
TULASI SAMBHAVA YA TU SA MOKSAM TANUTE'CIRAT
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 17/113 from GAUTAMIYA TANTRA)
The mala which is made out of Tulasi wood seeds is said to be certainly rewarding liberation and devotion.
ANAMA MADHYAM AKRAMYA JAPAM KURYAT TU MANASAM
MADHYAMA MADHYAM AKRAMYA JAPAM KURYAD UPANSUKAM
TARJANIM TU SAMAKRAMYA JAPAM NAIVA TU KARAYET
EKAIKA MANIM ANGUSTHENA AKARSAN PRAJAPEN MANUM
MERAU TU LANGHITE DEVI NA MANTRA PHALA BHAG BHAVET
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 17/114,115 from SIVA AGAMA)
Keeping the beads on the mid of one's ring finger, one should chant in murmuring sound. One should not keep beads on the pointing inger and chant japa. Chanting japa with the pointing finger has been rejected. One by one, putting the beads inwards and chanting japa is recommended. Oh dear wife, one should not jump over the head of japa beads.
How to chant on the fingers if one does not have Japa beads Anguli Japa:
TATRA ANGULI JAPAM KURVAN SANGUSTHA ANGULIBHIR JAPET
ANGUSTHENA VINA KARMA KRTAM TAD APHALAM BHAVET
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 17/116 from SIVA AGAMA)
If one chants japa on the fingers, he should chant also using the thumb. Chanting japa without using the thumb does not give any success.
KANISTHA ANAMIKA MADHYA CATURTHI TARJANI MATA
TISRO'NGULYAS TRIPARVAH SYUR MADHYAMA CA EKA PARVIKA
PARVA DVAYAM MADHYAMAYA JAPAKALE VIVARJAYET
EVAM MERUM VIJANIYAD BRAHMANA DUSITAM SVAYAM
ARABHYAN ANAMIKA MADHYAT PRADAKSINAM ANUKRAMAT
TARJANI MULA PARYANTAM KRAMAT DASASU PARVASU
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 17/117,118,119)
Chanting on the fingers, namely the ring finger, the middle finger or the fourth finger are accepted for chanting japa. On these three fingers, there are three parts to be used, and one part of the midfinger, all together ten, to chant japa. This means that one should reject using the first two parts of the midfinger to chant japa. Brahma has stated that the first two parts of the midfinger are said to be the Meru or head of the beads, and he has himself rejected to use it. One should start from the middle of the ring finger and carry on in a clockwise until the pointing finger's root and thus altogether they become ten. One should hold his fingers together and chant japa.
RABHYAN ANAMIKA MULAT PARIVARTET VAI KRAMAT
TARJANI MADHYA PARYANTAM JAPED DASASU PARVASU
(HARI BHAKTI VILASA 17/122 from GAUTAMIYA TANTRA)
Beginning from the middle of the ring finger and continuing clockwise to the root of the pointing finger and chanting japa in this way numbering ten.