Last week I attended a 5 day Japa Yajna camp in Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Belgaum. The Ashrama is located inside the Belgaum Fort and presents a picturesque sight. The campus of this Ashrama also includes a House where Swami Vivekananda stayed for 9 days. Truly, a remarkable monument.
Japa Yajna program was conceptulized by Revered Swami Raghaveshanandaji Maharaj, the then president of the Belgaum Ashrama. When I asked him about this initiative, he said he derived the thought from the book, ‘The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’. Having failed to attend the program on previous occasions, I was very determined to go this time. I had a very rewarding experience there.
Japa Yajna program is primarily intended for the devotees who have taken initiation at the Ramakrishna Math centers. Hundreds of devotees take initiation but many of them do not find a conductive atmosphere to practice Sadhana and it is quite possible that many do not understand the significance of the practices. The Japa Yajna seeks to answer the needs of such devotees. It is a program spread over 5 days where the devotees can dedicate themselves to Sadhana fully. Though it is expected that all participants complete 1Lakh Japa, it is not mandatory. I think it is very difficult for many Sadhakas. But irrespective of the number of Japa repetitions, the 5 days spent here at the Ashrama thinking holy thoughts are sure leave a great impression on the participant’s mind.
The devotees are all given accommodation in the Ashrama. In addition to monks, there are many volunteers who offer selfless service and make this program a success. I was particularly impressed by Swami Tadyuktananda who is the program coordinator. He sings most melodiously, moves about in the most humble way, delivers his talk with great depth and speaks with lot of clarity and affection. I very much liked this program and the way in which the Ashrama goes about doing it with so much seriousness and intent.
To just give a overview of the routines, the day starts at 5:30AM in the Ashrama shrine with Vedic Chanting and Stotras and is followed by 1 hour of Japa. Breakfast is taken at 7:30AM and the next session is between 9:00AM and 12:30PM. The next session is between 2:00PM and 4:30PM and is followed by Tea. The last session is from 5:30PM to 8:30PM. The sacred Dhuni fire will be lit on the night of the 4th day. Overall, it is a wonderful program and I highly recommend it.