Each sadhana is a precise system combining mantra, yantra, and additional implements and rituals or using sometimes predominantly one of these. Each sadhana has a precisely defined purpose. Different sadhanas are used to acquire specific knowledge, to acquire control over specific energy of the manifestation (shakti). You can thus find, for example, specific sadhanas for each Maha Vidhyas (10 aspects of the Divine Feminine, also named the 10 great cosmic powers, corresponding with highest levels of consciousness). But you can also find sadhanas used more for acquiring the control over more basic energy, healing, lower siddhis (minor paranormal abilities), material comfort, etc.
The sadhanas are thus used in magical and spiritual processes. Tantrics from India and from Tibet are famous in having all kind of specific abilities, these abilities are the result of the use of this process of sadhana. If the sadhana is done properly, in accordance to the rules that goes with it, the ability, the knowledge, the shakti will be acquired without any doubt. In this sense, it can be described as a kind of “scientific” process, in the sense that it is a process that can be verified by each and every person who will go through it.
Description of the different instructions for the mantra sadhana
What to do at the beginning?
It’s important before starting to prepare mentally for the sadhana, traditionally it takes often the form of an offering prayer, we can express this under the form of the act of consecration. The act of consecration is a reminder to develop the awareness that we are not doing this practice for our own little ego even if it will help us individually to improve, harmonize but rather that this ultimately will help us the grow in consciousness and at the same time help other to open up, all individual consciousness being ultimately One. This is beautifully expressed in the Mahayana tradition of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition under the vow of the Boddhisatvas, to constantly offer all spiritual efforts to the enlightenment of all beings.
Method of Japa- mantra repetition
The method of practice is simple: repetition of the received mantra. The mantra repetition helps to calm the mind, to direct it towards concentration and meditation. The mantra helps to purify the body, mind and energies from its residues. The repetition can be done in three ways:
The use of the mala
In most spiritual traditions, the japa repetition, the repetition of the sacred words (names of God, mantra,…) will be supported by the use of a rosary, a mala. It’s not indispensable but after being accustomed to the mantra it can increase the effects. The mala symbolizes the cycles of nature, everything evolves through cycles . Each rosary is composed by a precise number of beads, corresponding with symbolic number proper to each tradition. By using those specific numbers of repetition of the mantra, the effects gets more integrated, the use of the mala increases generally the focus of the mind, it creates a certain rhythm in the repetition. In the tantric tradition an mala of 108 beads is usually used, which are toped by the so called sumeru bead which besides other significances notifies the sadhaka when a cycle has finished. the specific choice of material, either sandal wood, rudraksha seeds, crystal etc is determined by the specific mantra. This mala that is used for sadhana is not worn as an adornment but kept for the sadhana alone.
In the the Indian tradition there is a specific way of holding the mala: the mala is held in the right hand, supported on a loop created by the tips of the thumb and ring finger the mala is rotated using the middle finger, while the index, and small fingers are never to touch the mala.
Once a complete cycle has been completed the mala is turned in the hand so the sumeru bead is never crossed, were we to number the beads from 1 to 108, this would mean that we go through the beads from 1 to 108 and then turn the mala and go from 108 to 1.
Candle or oil lamp to support the sadhana
The tantric tradition insists often on the presence of a burning flame during the practice of japa. It’s the simplest aspect of a ritual of offering, the offering of light, you find this in most traditions, it constitutes the fuel of the sadhana. The ritual acts are a support of the meditation to attune with our inner mandala, (yantra), to recreate harmony in our being and open up to our true nature.
The body position: Most of the sadhana will be practice on the ground, in sitting position. The yogic tradition has described several sitting postures that helps the process of meditation: padmasana, siddhasana, svastikasana, vajrasana, virasana,… It’s important that the body is relaxed but that the back is straight to allow the flow of energy.
Meditation blanket: The tantric sadhana often requires the use of a blanket of meditation with a color ritualistically corresponding to the sadhana performed, it ensures the proper accumulation of the energy.
What to do at the end?
Dedication of the practice : in order to fully integrated the fruit of the sadhana, the various tantric traditions advised to dedicate it at the end of the practice, most often by the use of a mantra.
According to the tradition, there will be also different ways of finishing the practice, some ritual elements can be suggested to conclude the sadhana, it helps to integrate harmoniously the effects of the practice, one such ritualistic element, which is essential and one of the rules of the tantric sadhana is the lifting of the corner of the blanket off of the ground, putting the head to the ground in supplication, and wiping some of the dust off of the floor and applying it to the head. This develops humbleness, and integrates the sadhana in a non-egoic manner.
Bramha Sadhana - Das Digpal Sadhana