Is it necessary to chant the mantra aloud or can it be chanted in the mind?
Mantras basically, and that includes the Gayatri Mantra, have a certain sound effect apart from the meaning.
So, when you chant the mantra aloud, the vibrations of the mantra not only help us, they also help people who are around, whether they believe in it or don’t. It has nothing to do with this belief or that belief–it’s to do with the vibrations of the mantra.
Even if you chant silently–it has an effect on your own self. Gradually, your own self is so purified that you begin to help others, but that is an indirect effect.
Directly chanting the mantra audibly can help and affect people and other living beings that are around us.
As far as, meditation is concerned, chanting that is called Japa, is divided into three kinds–one, is the loud Japa or the loud chanting and then, there is the chanting where only the lip moves and then, there is the chanting in the mind.
While sleeping, you will dream that you wake up and see that you are chanting the mantra in there. This is not waking up in the real sense. I mean it is a kind of a dream in which you wake up and realise you are chanting the mantra.
The student, the aspirant or the practitioner starts first with the loud chanting. When the mantra has been properly memorised and chanted perfectly, he graduates to chanting silently in his mind. Here, he sits down quietly and chants it by only moving his lips for the purpose of meditation where the effect is to be felt in the inner psyche, in one’s inner being.
Now, chanting in the mind affects the Prana. It makes the Prana run in the proper naadi, co-ordinates the Prana that is dissipated otherwise, brings it together in one place and helps by settling down the thought processes.
Further, when this kind of chanting becomes a habit; let’s put it this way, when the mind continues to chant, even when you are engaged in other activities, whether going in the bus, sitting in the car, deep inside, the mantra is going on and on and on.
And, the next stage is, even when you are asleep, the mantra is being chanted deep down. While sleeping, you will dream that you wake up and see that you are chanting the mantra in there. This is not waking up in the real sense. I mean it is a kind of a dream in which you wake up and realise you are chanting the mantra.
Now, this kind of automatic Japa, which is continuous 24-hour Japa that goes on and on nonstop is known as AjapaJapa–Japa without Japa. When this takes place, the student or practitioner or the yogi has attained all the sidhi or power or capacities associated with the mantra.