Turning the mala while chanting the Swaminarayan mantra has a very powerful effect. Scientists have demonstrated that mantra chanting is the best way to pacify the mind.
Dr Hebert Benson of Harvard University investigated the effect of chanting mantra on the mind. He concluded that 20 minutes of chanting mantra in the morning and evening revitalized and stabilized the mind like eight hours of sound sleep. Chanting mantra also reduces one’s blood pressure, regularizes one’s pulse and revitalizes the entire body.
Yogiji Maharaj used to invoke mantra chanting at every opportunity – praying for people’s health, relief from difficult circumstances and in other situations.
Pradakshina is circumambulation of the murtis laid out in one’s puja, while turning the rosary and chanting the Swaminarayan mantra. It symbolizes that by keeping God at the centre and focal point of one’s life all problems are resolved. Every step symbolizes that we should remember God in every activity.
In the Mahabharat, the main message is that whenever God was kept at the centre of any situation success was attained. For example, when the Pandavs participated in the gambling without Shri Krishna’s consent, they suffered. While in the war, they kept Shri Krishna at the forefront, and succeeded.
While performing pradakshina, one must strengthen one’s resolve to keep God and guru at the centre of one’s life.
Dandvats, or prostrations, symbolize the total surrenderance of oneself to God and guru. It reflects our servitude to them.
Scientists have also shown that when a person becomes angry, body physiology and chemistry becomes imbalanced. Prostrations help to restore this imbalance. That is why, Bhagwan Swaminarayan instructs in the Vachanamrut, “If angers arises, perform prostrations and seek forgiveness as atonement.” Thus, prostrations reflect humility and help to control anger.
While performing dandvats, one can also express one’s prayers to God.
READING THE SHIKSHAPATRI
Shikshapatri is our moral codebook of life. Every gadget has an instruction manual. If one ignores it and uses the gadget inappropriately, then it leads to problems.
Rules control every aspect of human life. For example, if traffic rules are not observed, accidents occur.
Similarly, to ensure our life is free from mishaps, Bhagwan Swaminarayan has specified niyams – codes of conduct – that must be observed. These niyams are contained in the Shikshapatri, which one should read daily. Bhagwan Swaminarayan has instructed in the Vachanamrut that “a day on which one does not read the Shikshapatri, one should fast.” Thus, he has emphasized its importance.
Analyzing the lives of great sadhus and devotees reveals that they do not lapse in observing the niyams specified by God.
Pramukh Swami Maharaj re-inforced the importance of nitya puja, “If it is possible to live without air, then it is possible to live without performing nitya puja. Nitya puja is food for our atma. By worshipping and remembering God and guru in the morning, then they will certainly remember us throughout the day. They will steer our life.”
Even amid a busy schedule, Pramukh Swami Maharaj daily performed nitya puja. And today, Mahant Swami Maharaj devoutly performs nitya puja in the early morning. It shows how much importance they place on nitya puja.
Some people say that they do not have time to perform puja. To them, Pramukh Swami Maharaj questions, “How do you get time to eat? If you cannot spare 15–20 minutes for God, who has generously granted you 24 hours, there is nobody more ungrateful than you.”
So, by overcoming one’s laziness and performing nitya puja, one can experience the divine bliss of daily meeting God and guru.
After performing nitya puja one should offer respect to one’s parents by offering panchang pranam.