A common question especially in Indians

Q: Is there no benefit at all in doing japa with the mouth?

Sri Ramana Maharshi :

Who said there is no benefit?
Such japa will be the means for chitta suddhi [purifying the mind].
As the japa is done repeatedly the effort ripens and sooner or later leads to the right path.
Good or bad, whatever is done never goes to waste.

Only the differences and the merits and demerits of each will have to be told, looking to the stage of development of the person concerned.

Q: Is not mental japa better than oral japa?

Sri Ramana Maharshi:

Oral japa consists of sounds.
The sounds arise from thoughts,
for one must think before one expresses the thoughts in words.

The thoughts are form the mind.
Therefore mental japa is better than oral japa.

Q: Should we not contemplate the japa and repeat it orally also?

Sri Ramana Maharshi :

When the japa becomes mental,
where is the need for the sounds?

Japa, becoming mental, becomes contemplation.
Dhyana, contemplation and mental japa are the same.

When thoughts cease to be promiscuous and one thought persists to the exclusion of all others,
it is said to be contemplation.

The object of japa or dhyana is the exclusion of several thoughts and confining oneself to one single thought.

Then that thought too vanishes
into its source – absolute consciousness.

The mind engages in japa and then sinks into its own source.

~ From Be as you are book Of Ramana maharshi

Actually, it is a lot more complex than that. There is something like an awakened mantra. That is super charged. That takes over and the path is shortened

I saw a man in DC receive a super charged mantra and he immediately started receiving completed mantra. He was born and raised in America and he and his parents neither had any Indian language knowledge.
He spoke in Sanskrit verses for about 1-2 hours. Constantly.

What happened? The charged mantra took over him. He merely surrendered

So this is an example of Maha yoga – awakening of shakti.

But there are other methods also. Only a Guru can know all of them

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