Ajapa has been practiced for ages by men and women, children and old, bhkatas and non-bhaktas, by practitioners of different paths under different names.
In a way, it is considered to be the most easy. continuous play of breath spans from the birth of a child till the death of him as an old man. For this method, no psecial apparatus, kriya or discipline is required. Hence on one side it is very easy while on the same hand it is very mysterious too. Its a sadhana or practice of swabhav or nature. As this sadhana is natural so is its fruit which establishes one the self.
It is said Baudhcharyas use it, Nath yogis use it, Nanak gave King Shivnath many sermons/ instructions on it. First was the name of Ram, second was Om and then was Ajpa gayatri, Hamsah. As per Vaidiks Hamsa Vidya; as Pauranics Atma Mantra and as per Tantriks Pran Yajna, all represent the same thing. Sadaashiv, Brhama, Narada, Vashishtha, Dhruv and Prahlad practiced the ajapa.
First inhalation of the child is called Birth and last one is called Death and whatever is in-between is called Life. Humans loose consciousness of the self and keep moving between the two nadis of Ida and Pingla at the behest of kaal. If the basic unconscious state towards self is removed, breath will also not remain.
As per Yogis, the process of Yog has nine(09) obstructions. All these are special state of chitt or mind, namely Disease, Doubt, Weakness of the self, Lethargy of body and mind, Craving for any thing, False or illusive knowledge, non achievement of state of samadhi or not to establish in it even when opportunity arises, agitation of mind, pain, shivering of body and heavy breathing on non realization of desire and Satyaan.
Cause of breath is agitation of the mind. In 24 hours, a human being takes 21,600 breaths. That which comes out with the sound of ‘Ham’ is called Prashwas or exhale and that which goes inside with Sah is called inhalation. A jiva keeps on chanting this ‘Hamsa’ mantra continuously through breath. We can convert this ‘Hamsa’ mantra into ‘Soham’ with power of our practice. The crooked movement of Ida and Pingla is converted to saral or simple movement in the Sushumana when the door to knowledge of the self opens. As more and more pran moves from Ida and Pingla to Sushumana, more and more knowledge dawns. The closed path to mindless pure knowledge starts to open. Without entering Sushumana, upward movement is not achieved and without achieving it conjectures (vikalp) and in the absence of state of mind/ chit is not achieved. This upward movement only is called Kumbhak by the yogis. Actually in kumbhak there is no movement. It points towards change of the crooked movement to simple movement of pran. At the end of which one experiences motionless state. In the worldly language what people talk as trade of pran-apan, is called Hamsa mantra by the Yogis.
Pran attracts apan and Apan attracts pran. Each one can not exist without the other. Natural movement of both is in the opposite direction. This opposing movement is acquired by loosing the equanimity or balance between the two opposing pranas. Till that balance is achieved peace can not prevail. Between these opposing movement of pran and apan, a jeeva keeps rising and falling. Yogis main aim to achieve this balance.
In this movement are the two directions, one is called Kaal or time and other is called Desh or space. A normal human being breathes 15 times in a minute and through a distance of 12 fingers from the tip of the nose. More the distance from the nose tip more the outward movement of the mind is experienced. By controlled life style, this movement is decreased and outward movement of the mind is checked.
As the number of breathes becomes more than 15, mind becomes more and more extrovert. Only with practice and control it can be reduced. This is time representation of the 2nd opposing movement.
As we start reducing one the other also starts reducing. Both are inter connected. As breath length reduces by ‘1’ finger number of breaths reduce by 1.25 (this is by equating 15 breaths per minute with 12 fingers distance, 15/12 = 1.25, therefore 1.25 number of breaths = 1 finger length). By the time this finger length approaches ‘0’, the number of breaths also approach ‘0’. At that moment one attain the perfect Kumbhak and Paramhamsa state and transcends all the five elements. As pran becomes static, mind acquires non-indulgence and anand is experienced. After this powers of speech, farsightedness, power to move in space, annihilation of shadow etc are acquired. Even Nirvana is at hand, this is the principle of the scriptures.
Removal of outward movement of the pran is the real purpose of any spiritual practice. Whatever enhances its outward movement has to be renounced.
As per Acharyas, ‘Ham’ represents Tat and ‘Sah’ represents You/ Tvam also called Khechari Beej(seed). Space in the heart of every jeeva carries Linga Sharir. In it takes the movement of the Hamsa.
When a Jivatma leaves its Jeevatva then it is nothing but Paramatma, which is the goal of Soham. Sadhak who meditates on Atma, for him ‘H’ kaar is an easier way to achieve parambhaav.
As per another lineage Hamsa represents Vyashti Turiya and Paramhamsa sound represents Smashti turiya or paramatma. By amalgamation or joining of the two i.e. Vyashti turiya and Smashti Turiya, Hamsa yoga is realized. This is ajpa tattva.
As per the line of thinking depending upon the sadhaks/ Practitioners intellect and power of his practice, meaning of the practice changes. It can be understood as 1-low intellect; 2-middle level intellect and 3-Sharp level of intellect.
for low level practitioners; H-kaar is Purusha and S-kaar is Prakriti and their union is Hamsa.
for middle level practitioners; H -kaar is Apan and S-kaar is Pran and their union is Hamsa.
for sharp level practitioners; H-kaar is Jeeva and S-kaar is Shakti and their union is Hamsa.
The low level practitioners use Palate and lips for japa, they utilize body oriented processes as their chit is not purified.
The medium level practitioners chit is more purified, they visualize ajpa’s Sah as pran and Ham as apan. This is continuously happening in body. Thus they realize this continuous ajpa mantra.
The third level of sadhak, their chitt is very purified because of listening and contemplation. Aham represents jiva, who is witness to various states like awakened etc. But as per them ‘S-kaar’ represents Shakti. This shakti, infact, is synonymous with Parmeshwar in the whole world. Hence in worldly sense Aham itself is actually Parmatama represented by Sah. This is the meaning of Ajpa. Many techniques are explained to achieve which we will discuss in the next article……..(translated from the book Bhartiya Sanskriti and Sadhana Part – I by Gopinath Kaviraj ji).