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What is the significance of the Asana for doing Japa or Sadhana?

Are there different asanas for different types of sadhanas? Is it different for the Vaishnavs and Shakti path? Is there a particular direction in which an Asana should be kept for doing Japa or Sadhana? Is it different for men and women? And finally can one wash his or her Asana? And how does one maintain the same?

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What is the significance of the Asana for doing Japa or Sadhana?

The significance is that

Bhumau mantro na siddhati, meaning one can not attain siddhi of mantra if japa is done on the earth (without asana).Reference: Shiva-Gita 16/39/41.

Are there different asanas for different types of sadhanas?

Yes, According to Shiva-Gita (16/39/41)

kamabala-asana is suitable for all siddhis, skin of black deer for Mukti, Skin of tiger for Moksha and Shri (Wealth), kushasana for Jnana, lef-made asana for recovery from diseases,asana made by cloth for getting Lakshmi (wealth). One should not sit on stone or wood while doing japa.

Tantra-Saara further clarifies :

for kamya karma, kambala-asana is advised and red kambala asana is the best.

As per the Sammohana-Tantra:

asana made by cotton, blanket, cloth, skin of tiger, lion or deer incresaes knowledge and bestows good luck.

The Prana-Toshini Tantra says

Asana made by silk, animal-skin, sara-leaf, taala-leaf, blanket,wood are good.For Jnana-siddhi one should use skin of black deer and for Mukti tiger skin.The householders should NOT use black deer skin. Asana of clothes cures disease and of blanket removes suffering. The asana made of cloth alone harms tapasya.(So it should be used with other asanas).

The Sammohana-Tantra reads

For santi-Karama, White blanket is advised, coloured (chitra-vichitra) for fulfilling all types of desies, kusha ashana for paustaka-karma and any blanket asana for removing suffering. Asana of 'veta' is advised for gaining wealth (sri-vriddhi).

Any animal skin must be without any hair on it.

According to the quitations used by Upendrakumar Das in his Sastramulak Bharatiya Saktisadhana (page 803) from different Tantras

deer-skin over kushasana and cloth asana on that deer skin--in this way an asana four fingers high and two hands length is called sukhasana.It gives siddhi for regular japa.

gaja-charma for stambhana, mahisha-charma for maarana, mesha-charma for uchchaatana, khargi-charma for vashikarana, jamvuka-charma for vidveshana are advissed as asanas.

Is it different for the Vaishnavs and Shakti path?

For Tripura-Devi mantra, Sammohana-Tantra prescribes red blanket asana. No other specification I could get for Vishnu or Shakti mantra. Upendrakumar Das quotes

dharmarthakaamamokshaaptis chailajinakushottare meaning one can attain dharma, artha, kama and moksha using cloth, deerskin and kusha asanas together.

Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath used to give both Vishnu and Shakti mantras and advised His devotees to used red and black (chitrita) blanket asana by the way.

Is there a particular direction in which an Asana should be kept for doing Japa or Sadhana?

The Puja-paddhati book by Shyamacharan Kaviratna suggests that for Vishnu mantra, one should face towards east and for Shiva/Shakti mantra towards North

Is it different for men and women?

Asanas are not mentioned differently.But mantra or sadhana can of course vary.That is to be decided by one's guru.

And finally can one wash his or her Asana? And how does one maintain the same?

Asana of blanket does not become impure even if touched by semen or dead body.For purifying for any other reason, keeping it in open air or under the sun or moon is enough.(Angira-Smriti).

For maintaining the asana given by Guru or obtained at the time of diksha, one can stich it to another piece of blanket or cloth, according to Sri Sitaramdas Omkarnath.

Your questions do not seem to be linked with posture. However, according tomSri Sitaramdas Omkarnath. padmasana,siddhasana or sahaja-asana(one's most comfortable posture) are advised.According to Upendrakumar Das, swastikasana is also good.

Reference : Omkarnath Rachanavali,Mahamilan Math, vol 7, page 324-329.

Thanks for your queries.

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The tag you added is for Yoga-Asana. But your question seems to be about seats.

I am answering for both.

Seats:

Manufactured seats, like those made of wool, Kusha etc, are needed.

Seats made of wool, blanket etc are good to use. On the other hand, seats made of wood etc should be abandoned.

VamshAshmadharanidArutrinapallavanirmitam |
VarjayedAsanam dhimAn dAridryavyAdhidukkhadam ||

The wise must reject seats (for Japa Dhyana purpose) made of bamboo, stone, earth, wood, grass and leaves. The reason is, these seats are giver of poverty, misery and diseases.

Tulakambala vastrAnAm simha vyAghra mrigAjinam |
Kalpayed Asanam dhimAn soubhAgya jyAna vriddhidam ||

The wise person must use seats which are made of wool, blanket, cloth, tiger-skin and deer-skin. These types of seat give good fortune and knowledge.

KulArnava Tantram 15.33,34

Most people in today's time use the seats made of Kusha or wool. Seats made of deer-skin etc are of course illegal to be used now.

Yogic posture (Asana):

This is also required to attain success in mantra japa and allied activities like PUjA, DhyAna etc.

Padmaswastika virAdisvAsaneshupavishya cha |
JapArchanAdikam kuryAd anyathA nishphalam bhavet ||

One must perform Japa-PujA and other such spiritual activities only while being seated in one of the Yogic postures like Padma Asana, Swastika Asana, Vira Asana etc. Otherwise the acts do not bear any fruits

Verse 35.

The book Nityotsava states that before starting the worship the devotee must secure his position in Padma Asana.

Swami Sivananda also advises his disciples in the same way:

Select any Mantra or Name of God, preferably that given to you by your Guru, and repeat it from 108 to 1,080 times daily (one to ten malas).

Always keep your Guru-Mantra a secret. Never disclose it to anyone.

It is better to stick to one Mantra only. See Lord Krishna in Rama, Shiva, Durga, Gayatri and in everyone.

Get up at 4a.m. and do Japa for two hours. The early morning period (Brahmamuhurta) and dusk is the most favourable time for Japa and meditation. This is when Sattva (purity or steadiness) is predominant.

Take a bath or wash your hands, feet, face and mouth before sitting for Japa in the morning. At other times this is not absolutely necessary. Do Japa whenever you have leisure, at the three junctions of the day - morning, noon and evening - and before going to bed.

Face east or north during the practice. This enhances the efficacy of the Japa. Sit on a deer skin or rug. Spread a piece of cloth over it. This conserves body-electricity.

Sit in a separate meditation room or in any suitable place, such as a temple, on a river bank or under a banyan or peepul tree. Maintain a steady pose. Attain mastery of the posture. You must be able to sit in Padmasana, Siddhasana or Sukhasana for three hours at a strech.

Should we always use an Asana in Puja-Japa etc?

Yes, we must. To stress on the fact, Lord Shiva in Gauri YAmala Tantram says:

Salile yadi krvita devatAnAm prapujanam |
TathApyAsana Asino notthitantu tathAchAret ||

Even if worship is done in water, one should do it while being seated upon on an Asana; never worship by getting up from the Asana.

Needless to say, in water, we can not use a seat. It has to be mentally imagined. But Asana is a must in all circumstances. And, to emphasize on that the above verse is being said.

Asanas that are good to be used and the benefits in using them:

Already mentioned previously. Here are a few more verses from Sammohana Tantram:

VastrAsane vyAdhinAshah kambale dukkha-nAshanam ||

Use of Vastra-asana destroys diseases and use of blanket made Asana leads to destruction of misery.

KushAsane bhaved Ayur mokshah syAd vyAghracharmAni |
ajine cha bhavet putri kamabale siddhiruttama ||
ShAntike dhavalah proktah sarvvArthashchitra-kambale |
SyAt poushtike tu kausheyam kambale dukkhamochanam |

Using Kusha Asana increases lifespan; using tiger-skin made Asana gives liberation; Deer-skin made Asana is a giver of progeny and blanket-made Asana gives excellent Siddhis.

Different Asanas for different deities?

Yes, see the following Gandharva Tantram verses:

Kambalam charmaja chailam mahAmAyA-prapujane ||
PrashastamAsanam proktam kAmAkhyAyAs tathaiva cha |
TripurAyAshcha rudrasya vishnoshchApi kushAsanam ||
TrinAsane yasohAnih pallave chitta-vibhramah |
YathoktamasAnam kuryAt sarva-siddhi-pradAyakam ||
Na yatheshtosano bhuyAt pujAkarmani sAdhakam ||

In worship of MahAmAyA and KAmAkhyA, seats made of blanket, leather and Chaila (clothes made) are prescribed. And, in worship of TripurA, Rudra and Vishnu, Kusha Asana is auspicious. Grass-made seats bestow destruction of fame and those made of leaves give rise to delusion in mind. The devotee must thus select the most appropriate seats. And, the choice must not be based on one's whims.

The Gauri YAmala Tantram, Sammohana Tantram and Gandharva Tantram's verses are all quoted in Shakta Ananda Tarangini's 5th Chapter, under the section "Asana Nirnaya".

  • Okay but Shivananda is correct isn't it? the S is not the dental-S @UdayKrishna – Rickross Mar 7 at 6:07
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    Okay I am changing it @UdayKrishna – Rickross Mar 7 at 6:10
  • 'The tag you added is for Yoga-Asana'-- this tag was not there when i first saw this Q.Probably added by some enthusiasist while editing who does not know the difference between asana and yoga-asana.:) – user17294 Mar 7 at 11:19

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