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While engaging in prayer with recitation of slokas on a particular Deity,
whether the mind should be centred(concentrate)  on the script (text) or the meaning of the verse  or the form of Deity?

With respects
T R Vasudevan

ANSWER: Dear T. R. Vasudevan,

Thank you for your question.

A saintly sadhu named Gopesh Maharaj, who was then living in Vrindavan, told me many years ago that one should at least understand the words you recite. Over the years since then I have become convinced that this is true, for the words of a sacred text, the meaning of the words, help orient the mind toward Reality. We should try to visualize what the text is saying as vividly as possible.

However, recitation with devotion, even without comprehension, is also beneficial. In this case visualizing the living presence of the deity during recitation is very good. Focusing on the sound of the mantras with the faith that the sacred sounds, being the deity in the form of vibration, have the power to transform consciousness, is also beneficial.

Best wishes,

Brother William

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Respected Sir,
Of the following  Meditation   practice , how do one choose the best option
a) Observing the breath
b) Mental recitation of the Mantra
c) focussing attention  in  to comprehend /  listen to  the cosmic sound  to feel the vibration
d) comprehending the deity  exclusively  in the spiritual heart in silence   

Can all the above be included in the practice on a time scale of 40 minutes for effective results?

With respects,
T R Vasudevan

Dear T R Vasudevan,

Thank you for your follow-up question.

Be very clear that the purpose of meditation is total identification with the deity. This shift in identity typically happens in stages from gross to subtle. At first (by which I mean when you are feeling very separate from the deity, and this stage may recur many times in one life) you focus on the deity's form, identifying each of your organs of action (karmendriya) and organs of knowledge (jānendriya) with the deity's. So, at this stage your attention is focused on visualizing the deity's form. The next stage is affirmation that the deity is none other than Sat-Chit-Ānanda, the source of your mind. You merge yourself in that as ghee gets merged in the homa fire. The Tantras teach ritual techniques called bhūta-śuddhi and nyāsa that accomplish this very directly. But if you understand that the purpose is identification with the deity, even simple visualization of the living, conscious form of the deity with love and faith is enough.

Mental repetition of mantra occurs throughout. Observing the breath can be a good way to calm the mind in preparation for the above meditation. You can do all this in a practice of 40-60 minutes. Sincerity is the one essential thing, as Sri Ramakrishna used to say.

Best wishes,

Brother William


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William Schindler, a.k.a. Brother William


I can answer questions about Vedanta philosophy, Patanjali Yoga philosophy and practice, Tantra, Bhagavad-Gita, Upanishads, Vivekachudamani (Shankara`s Crest-jewel of Spritual Discrimination), Advaita (non-dualism), the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda tradition, Goddess worship, meditation practice, Hindu monasticism (sannyasa), and Sanskrit.


I've been studying and practicing Vedanta and Tantra since 1969.

I'm the founder and spiritual director of Ashram West, a gay spiritual community based on traditional Hindu Tantra. I have been a member of the Vedanta Society of Southern California since 1969.


I hold a B.A. in Sanskrit (UC Berkeley 1975) and an M.A. in clinical psychology (Antioch University 1986).

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