I am unable to carry out my regular religious ablutions at proper times, owing to my circumstances, as well as my laziness. Will it have any effect if I do not do it in proper time? Can Gayatri Mantra be recited without performance of Sandhya Vandanam?

Whatever you do will certainly have their effects. Unless you are a Gayatri-upasak, you should not chant the Gayatri Mantra as and when you wish. You can chant it as many times as you wish with proper purity, and following the appropriate guidelines prescribed for it in our Scriptures.

What are the do’s and don'ts to perform Japa of the mantra given by the Guru? Can it be chanted all times, irrespective of the location and dress code (i.e. in office attire wearing shoes etc.)?

The “Rama” Nama and Mahamantra have no rules. You can chant it any number of times, any place, any time of the day and in any state.

Other mantras may have their own restrictions and have to be chanted as instructed by the Guru.

I have heard that it is necessary to have a Guru initiate one into the Mantra, without which chanting of any mantra is futile. How true is it?

For any mantra, a Guru is a must. For Rama Nama and the Mahamantra, you can start chanting even without a Guru. When you are accepted by a Guru, you can take formal initiation from him and continue. For all other mantras, one can recite it only after proper initiation.

When I chant any Mantra, some thoughts run in the back of my mind simultaneously. The moment I realize this happening, the thoughts cease and Japa seems to resume. Now, who is chanting the Mantra and who gets the thoughts? Are both one and the same person?

When the force of air is mild, we call it breeze. When it blows with great force, we call it a storm. In the same way, when the mind imagines, it is called ‘manas’. When it thinks, it is called ‘intellect’.

It is the same person who chants the Mantra as well as gets those thoughts. The phenomenon that you experience is because of the fact that the mind operates at different levels.

It is also the same reason why people perform acts like ‘ashtavadanam’ (performing eight non-connected activities at the same time) etc.

Is both meditation upon self and chanting the name of Krishna/Rama or Ganesha produce the same effect?

Chanting continuously in the mind, without a gap of even a microsecond – that is meditation.

Can we chant mantras like ‘Om Namo Narayana’ etc. in the place of Maha Mantra? What impact does it make on our spiritual life?

You can chant any Divine Name of the Lord.

Each Mantra has its own merits and demerits The Maha Mantra has been prescribed in the Shastras as t he means of liberation in this Yuga.

When you chant a mantra, it reverberates with the cosmic and energizes it.

Many Mahans and saints including Sri Chaitanya Maha Prabhu and all his devotees have chanted the Maha Mantra and are still chanting it till date, all over the world. Hence the cosmic is filled with the power of this Name. Thus, by chanting this Mantra, one gets to see the results very soon.

In addition to being a Mantra, this is also a Nama. So, there are absolutely no restrictions to chant this Nama.

That is why Maha Mantra is advocated for liberation.

From whom can one take initiation? Is initiation taken only after marriage?

Initiation should be taken from someone who has attained siddhi in that particular mantra. There is no relationship between initiation and marriage.

Sometimes I start chanting or writing the Mantras without taking bath. Is this allowed? How do I quit this habit?

If you are chanting the Mahamantra, it is harmless. You are not allowed to chant the other Mantras without taking bath. Instead of changing your bathing habit, change over to the Mahamantra. That will prove good for you.

Is chanting while doing work considered as meaningful chanting ? Since most of the days , I am continuously doing house chores one after the other, I don’t get time to sit and do ‘Japa’. But if we chant while doing house chores, does it have same effect ?

Yes. It is definitely great. The Gopis did exactly that way.

Although I have been initiated into the Mahamantra, is it okay if I also chant other Divine Names sometimes like Rama Nama or Arunachala Siva? Or should I chant only the Mahamantra?

The Mantra initiated by the Guru contains a special power. That is the reason why it is recommended that one chant it incessantly. That being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong in chanting any Divine Name of God.

What is the experience connected with chanting Mantras? When does one get mantra siddhi?

Each Mantra has its own Siddhi. One is said to attain Mantra Siddhi when he is able to see the deity pertaining to his Mantra, by incessant chanting of the Mantra.

I read somewhere that it is an offense to preach the glories of the holy name of the Lord to the faithless. Then what is the way to get the faithless to chant?

There are scriptures. The same scriptures also state that one should follow the words of the Guru without any doubts or questions and act accordingly. Going by that rule, all our masters starting from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu are crying aloud to make the people chant the Holy Name to have them liberated! So we take that path.

Every rule has an exception too!

I chant mantras like’Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya’ and ‘Om Namo Narayanaya’. Do you recommend that the ‘Hare Rama..’ mantra is better and I chant that instead?

You can chant the ‘Hare Rama ..’ Mantra in addition to all the mantras you are currently chanting, whenever you get time.

While there is no doubt in my mind that Nama chanting is the surest way in kaliyuga for liberation, sometimes i get frustrated when i see the suffering around me. We stay in Maharashtra, where we read about farmers committing suicide every single day. Around us there are so many slums where people consider themselves lucky when they are able to get two square meals a day. I understand that "Nama Prachar" is the main motto of our mission, can we not do some sort of service for these people?

A tree is infected with some pests. One way of combating pests is to spray pesticides on the leaves and fruits. The other, more efficient way is to treat it at the root. Social service is akin to the former whereas spiritual transformation (by way of Chanting the Nama) is like treating at the root.

Is "only chanting of a mantra (Guru mantra or Mahamantra ) sufficient for self realization?

Yes.

I performed ‘Girivalam’ at Tiruvannamalai this Sivaratri. I chanted Rama Nama all the while, though the fellow-devotees asked me to chant the Shiva mantra. Am I right in doing what I did?

You can chant the ‘Rama’ mantra to any deity. In fact, Lord Siva Himself chants the ‘Rama’ mantra all the time. Hence you are absolutely right in chanting the Rama mantra. Can anyone else be so gullible as Him?

How many times can the Moola Mantra be recited every day? Is there a restriction?

There is no limit on the number of times the Moola Mantra can be repeated everyday.

I am writing ‘Ram Nam' and it has solved many problems of mine and fulfilled many desires. But one crucial desire of mine alone is not getting fulfilled. Why is this happening?

That may be because Lord Rama feels that if this particular desire of yours gets fulfilled, it may create problems in the future. With a human mind, it is impossible to know what would happen in future, but one thing, you can be certain: Lord Rama is always right.

Sri Swamiji initiated me into a Mantra. Which one should I chant? That Mantra or the Maha Mantra?

Chant both.

Amongst all the Names of God which is the greatest? Different people give different Namas.

Any Divine Nama is precious. According to Kali Santarana Upanishad, the ‘Hare Rama..’ Mahamantra is capable of giving deliverance in this Kali Yuga.

What is the effect of writing 'Ram Naam'?Is desire fulfilled if I write 'Ram Naam' ?

Absolutely! Why harbour any doubt regarding that?

What's the shortest mantra of the Almighty?

"Rama"

One person chants Rama Nama for a while and stops. He soon passes away. Will the chanted Nama be carried over to his next birth?

When one chants Rama Nama, then where is the question of rebirth?

One person is writing Ram Naam continuously with full devotion and concentration, praying for a wish to get fulfilled. On the other hand, another person is writing Ram Naam continuously without any devotion. Who will get benefited?

Both of them will get benefited. While the person who writes with love and devotion will be able to savor the result better, it is undeniable fact that the other person also will get the benefits.