A History of Simran Practice in the Sant Tradition (Path of the Masters), By James Bean
The Many Names of the Nameless God (Anami)
The Nameless God has been given many names over the centuries. There are countless Divine names used as mantras or sacred words of Remembrance in various schools of spirituality. In Dadu Panth, that sacred name of God at the highest level is Satya-Raam. The name Raam was very frequently mentioned in the hymns of Guru Kabir, Sant Namdev, and other classic Sants of India. Some receive a single Name, others a longer Guru Mantra phrase. Some are given "The Five Names" (panch naam) consisting of five holy names of God. These are revealed at the time of Initiation into Sant Mat or Shabd Yoga meditation. These same five names have been used for centuries in certain branches of Sant Mat connected with Kabir and Sant Dharam Das, Sant Dariya Sahib, Sant Tulsi Sahib, and Sant Radhasoami Sahib. Others have been given five Sufi names of God at the time of Initiation into Surat Shabd Yoga meditation. These five Sufi or Islamic names have the same essential meaning as the five Indian names used in some forms of Sant Mat, and, as with the Indian names, also correspond to five basic inner regions. (In one of the Jewish Gnostic paths of antiquity, a group known as the Sethians, there was also a five-named or panch naam mantra approach, only with five Hebrew names that have been found in Coptic texts of Egypt. Those were associated with certain heavenly regions: Harmoz-el, Oroia-el, Daveithai, El-eleth, and another word meaning, the "Self-Begotten One".) Others are given the name of the Most High God RADHASOAMI (Rad-Da-Swam-e, "Soul-Lord" or "Lord of the Soul"), associated with the Eighth Plane, to use in simran practice along one's journey though all of the various states and stages within during meditation. A few Sant Mat lineages use a two-syllabled sacred word revealed at the time of Initiation, and it represents a name for the Soundless One.
In the classic bhajans and banis of the Sants of India appear numerous names of God. One can read verses exhorting devotees to repeat many names of the Nameless, Soundless, Formless One:
"Repeat the Name of Raam".
"Repeat the Name of Radhaswami".
"Repeat the Name of Hari".
"Repeat the Name of Govinda".
"Repeat the Name of Vitthala".
"Repeat the Name of Allah".
"Repeat the Name of HOO (HU)".
Many names have used by various Sants: Param-Atma, Hari, Alakh, Allah, Raam or Rama, Rahim, Agam, Purushotama, Khuda, Gobind, Panduranga, Pandhari, Vitthala, Narayana, Vitthoba, Sat Purusha,
etc... Some of these names are used by Hindu paths too, and have different meanings. As Sant Dariya Sahib once said:
"Consider the four meanings of Ram,
The first Ram (1) is our inner self.
Parashu-ram (2) is said to be the second one.
The third one lived in Dasharath's (3) home.
The fourth Ram is the Primeval Sat Purush (4)
Call Him (Sat Purush) Ram or call Him Naam,
Ram and Naam are one.
Both are mutually indistinguishable;
Satguru's Sound Current reveals this wisdom."
- The Life Principle that pervades everywhere, permeating, witin all.
- Parashu-ram, the son of Sage Jamadagni, is regarded as the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
- Ancient king of Ayodhya, the father of Ram. Rama: the seventh incarnation of Vishnu and the hero of the great epic Ramayana (Adventures of Rama).
- The Nirguna or Formless Raam, All-Spirit. ("Dariya Sahib, Saint of Bihar", K.N. Upadhyaya, Mystics of the East Series)
For the Sants of the East, all names of the One God represent the Nameless, Formless (Nirguna) God of Love and Compassion Who is Timeless (Akal), Spirit, and Eternal (Sat).
The True Spirit of Simran Practice is Bhakti
"Simran" is a term which means "Remembrance", the spiritual practice of remembering or being mindful of God by repeating his Name. Devotees sing or chant various names for God. Higher spiritually, and more "within" is the practice of "manas jap", the mental repetition of God's name or names "with the tongue of thought" -- in other words, chanting names of God within one's mind. The Sants have always placed much greater emphasis upon mental Simran over vocal chant.
There is however, more to Simran than the repeating of sacred names. Simran must be approached with the right attitude, the right spirit, for one's intent determines how successful the practice will be, and what effect it will have upon one's consciousness. Simran has never
been intended to be a dry or lifeless mantra practice. The path of the Sants is a Bhakti path, a path of love and devotion for the Supreme Being. Thus, the true Masters have always instructed their students to repeat God's Name with love and devotion, as a lover calling out to one's Beloved, the Lord of Love.
Keep your mind ever engrossed in the Name of the Lord
As the lover's mind is ever engrossed in his Beloved.
He never forgets her for a single moment --
Through day and night he remembers her.
Happiness rests in ever-repeated simran,
Sorrow and suffering is removed by simran.
Kabir declares with utmost force and clarity:
Practice this simran and be one with the Lord.
(Kabir -- The Great Mystic, by Isaac A. Ezekiel)
What, then, is the practice of the Name? It is a form of interior prayer by which a person learns to keep his or her attention always in the Lord, in every circumstance and situation, at all moments, through day and night. It is a form of inner remembrance that leads
to a heightened awareness beyond the limitations of the physical world and the portals of death.
Through meditation on the Name, or Naam Bhakti, one learns to draw one's attention away from the outer world.
Always be in rapport with the Lord
And enjoy true contentment --
This is the state of ineffable serenity.
There is no peace except in the Name of the Lord --
Meditate on it with one-pointed attention.
Experience the state of super-consciousness
Where the Lord's love surges
And you will see your own form
In each particle of the creation.
0 Nama, the Lord will make
The pupil of your eye his home,
And your eye will expand
To contain the entire universe.
(Saint Namdev, Mystics of the East Series)
The Simran of God's Name Will Lead One to the True Name: The Sound of God
The repetition of the holy Names is the truest spiritual technique. An uninterrupted inner repetition of the holy Names given by the living Master has to be practiced daily with love, devotion, and one-
pointed attention. One thereby transcends one's body and is transported to the realms of Light.
The repetition develops into an ever-going spontaneous process, and one catches the unceasing inner Music which takes one to its Source, and reveals God face to face. One is, therefore, exhorted to search daily for the Source of this Unstruck Music. Whatever one does and wherever one happens to be, one is asked to be a sacrifice unto His Name and to have ardent longing to behold Him and hear His voice.
Sant Dadu Dayal
From within, the indwelling Lord Himself
"The repetition of My Name alone
is true; all else is delusion."
The Name, the essential Truth of the
three worlds, alone is efficacious.
With discrimination, repeat it exclusively
day and night, 0 mind.
At every breath be devoted to it, and
thy Beloved will meet thee one day.
Repetition is the path leading to bliss;
thus hath the Master explained.
Be dedicated to God moment by moment,
even if thou art to lose thy life.
No other way is there to support
Who is that ill-fated one preaching some
Without the Name, tell me, where can
one find a foothold? asketh Dadu.
Let not the Name be separated for
a moment from within thy heart,
Millions have been purified by
repeating God's Name alone.
Be dedicated to God while the body
is in good condition,
Else later on, when the body and mind
are worn out, thou shalt repent,
The whole world is full of poison; rarely
someone is free from it, 0 Dadu.
He alone will be free from poison
who is steeped in the Name
of the Supreme Lord.
Repeat the Name with the pang of
separation, and sing its glory with
love and devotion.
Fix thy mind in repetition with joy and
dedication, 0 Dadu.
While speaking or listening, giving
or taking, eating or drinking,
Repeat the Name of God at all times,
0 Dadu, thus shalt the self rest
in the inner lotus.
(Encyclopedia of Saints of India, Volume 25: Sant Dadu Dayal)