Yoga Synergy Chant

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, verses 47-48:

Aum

kar-ma-ne-eva-di-ka-ras-te

maa pal-eshu kadaa-cha-na

maa kar-ma-pala-hey-tur-bhur

maa te san-go ‘stwa-kar-ma-ni

yoga-sthah ku-ru kar-ma-ni

san-gam tyak-tsva danam-jaya

sid-dya-sid-yoh samo bhu-tva

sa-ma-tvam yoga uch-ya-te

Aum

Your sphere of influence is with your actions alone

But never in the fruits or results of your actions

Don’t let your motive to act be because of the fruits or results of your actions

But at the same time don’t become selfishly attached to inaction or laziness

When practicing yoga, perform your actions

Having abandoned attachment to worldly desires and wishes

And become equally content with success or failure

Yoga is said to be that state of equanimity or even-mindedness

The Power of Sound

Energy is never lost and spiritual energy, like physical energy, obey laws. By doing mantra practice we set forces into motion that will always produce a positive result. In our quick-fix world this may take a bit longer than expected, and create results that are not necessarily what we envisioned or expected, but the energy we create through this practice will always have an enriching outcome. It is a powerful mental tool to use in our life, not only to set us free from conditioned mental habits, but for general well-being too.  Mantras can help us feel more peaceful or more energized. It can help us cope with physical illness and even assist with physical healing. It can help us deal with difficult circumstances and help make our wildest dreams come true. Mantra is, simply put, a dynamic, individual, non-violent way to approach any condition we wish to change, and can be described as ancient formulas of divine sound.

The word ‘mantra’ comes from the sanskrit words manas, or mind and trai, ‘to protect’ or ‘to set free from’. The literal meaning is therefore: ‘to set free from the mind’. Written in sanskrit, an energy-based language opposed to other languages that are meaning-based, mantras work with specific energy vibrations and their translations often seem odd or non-sensical. It is therefore not important to know the specific meaning of the words we are chanting, but to understand the energy the mantra holds and creates.

Om, the seed sound of the 6th chakra where masculine and feminine energies meet at the brow, and as such, represent a joining of will and sound, is commonly used as the start for mantras of all kinds.

Repeating mantras with or without a counting device is known as japa. There are 108 beads in a mala or counting device that looks like a beaded necklace and can be used as such. A mala is used when one wants to chant a mantra for a specific number of times without focusing on the count, but instead on the sound and intention of the mantra. The bead at the end of a mala is usually bigger and is called the meru. It is said to contain the accumulated power of the mantra that is performed. When repeating more than one mala during japa one reverses the action of counting the beads when the meru is reached. One should never count or cross over the meru when counting.

Simply put: sound has the power to transform your life.

** If you are interested in learning more about mantras, their meaning and application, then check out the books and CDs of Thomas Ashley-Farrand.

The Remover of Obstacles

Before embarking on any important endeavour, Hindus call on Ganesha (also known as Ganapati) to clear the path of any obstacles and to ensure the success of their new venture. Ganesha is the elephant-head god, and Hindu mythology is filled with beautiful stories of him. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati and is said to have a sweet tooth.

Chanting the following mantra: “Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha” helps to clear obstacles and is a good mantra to use in conjunction with other mantras. Chanting this mantra will remove whatever obstacle or barrier there may be. It can also help you resolve inner conflicts that you may be projecting onto external situations.

A  lovely bhajan to sing is the following:

Ganesha Sharanam Sharanam Ganesha (x2)

Gum Gum Ganapati Sharanam Ganesha (x2)

Ganesha Sharanam Sharanam Ganesha (x2)

Gum Gum Ganapati Sharanam Ganesha (x2)

Jai Ganesha Jaia Jaia Ganapata (x2)

The Sound of Truth

The following is a wonderful story that manages to capture a medley of truths:

A devoted meditator, after years of practising a particular mantra, attained adequate insight to begin teaching. After teaching for a couple of years, he learned about a famous hermit living nearby and decided to pay him a visit.

The hermit lived alone on an island in the middle of a lake, so the meditator hired a man with a boat to row him to the island. The meditator was eager to learn more about the old hermit, and as they shared some tea the meditator asked him about his spiritual practice. The old man said he had no spiritual practice, except for a mantra, which he repeated all the time to himself. The meditator was pleased: the hermit was using the same mantra he used himself, but when the hermit spoke the mantra aloud, the meditator was horrified!

“What’s wrong?” asked the hermit.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m afraid you’ve wasted your whole life! You are pronouncing the mantra incorrectly!”

“Oh, dear! That is terrible. How should I say it?”

The meditator gave the correct pronunciation, and the old hermit was very grateful, asking to be left alone so he could start practising right away. On the way back across the lake the meditator was pondering the sad fate of the hermit.

“It’s so fortunate that I came along. At least he will have a little time to practise correctly before he dies.” Just then, the meditator noticed that the boatman was looking quite shocked, and turned to see the hermit standing respectfully on the water, next to the boat.

“Excuse me, please. I hate to bother you, but I’ve forgotten the correct pronunciation again. Would you please repeat it for me?”

“You obviously don’t need it,” stammered the meditator; but the old man persisted in his polite request until the meditator relented and told him again the way he thought the mantra should be pronounced.

The old hermit was saying the mantra very carefully, slowly, over and over, as he walked across the surface of the water back to the island.

 

Songs of Devotion

We all have a different notion of what spirit is and define God in many different ways. Part of Bhakti Yoga is to sing bhajans or songs of devotion. These songs are sung during kirtan and is done through call-and-response singing. Kirtan is an offering or gift that we make to God who has given us everything. Through the power of sound we express our needs, prayers, and yearnings while celebrating our connection with the Divine. The chants or songs, are personal prayers and when we allow ourselves freedom from expectations, inhibitions or self-judgement, we encounter the Divine in a way that defies description. Jai Uttal calls kirtan “food for the spirit, a life raft of song”.

Satsang is similar to kirtan, but may also explore chanting, meditation, discussion and lecture. On my recent trip to India I was very privileged to attend a satsang with Prem Baba at the Sacha Dham Ashram in Laxman Juhla, Rishikesh. Prem Baba is from Brazil and is a spiritual master of the Sacha lineage in India, as well as a shaman. On the first morning of the International Yoga Festival I sat at a table having breakfast where a very bubbly Australian girl couldn’t stop talking about Prem Baba and the daily satsang sessions he leads. Not wanting to miss this unexpected opportunity, I asked if I could tag along later that day, and that is how I found myself in a room packed with spiritual hippies radiating love. We engaged in the singing of the most beautiful bhajans that filled the room and my heart with love and connection with the Divine, until Prem Baba joined us for his daily “lecture”. He speaks Portuguese, but the translator managed to make a flawless translation that was not only quick and fluent, but reflected a deep understanding and connection with the words that were spoken by the guru.

Prem Baba works to build bridges between spirituality and psychology, East and West. He mixes satsang with meditation, music and chanting in a rigorous, but practical form of psycho-spiritual work he calls “O Caminho do Coracao” or “The Path of the Heart”, which allows one to go beyond fear and ego to love and compassion. The aim is to awaken God in people so that they recognize and experience their true radiant nature. Being in his presence is truly to experience pure love.

After his lecture, which really is simply a response to a question he gets asked, devotees lined up to offer him gifts and receive his blessing. Long lines kept snaking towards him, yet he never got tired or impatient, gracefully accepting even the more unconventional gifts such as the shirt of a man who took it off on the spot. Young children, of which there were many, excitedly skipped over to also bathe in his love and receive a blessing. Time got suspended in the room that overlooks the beauty of the Ganges, and when I left three hours later, it felt as if I were floating.

Om Sharavana Bhavaya Namaha

Om Sharavana Bhavaya Namaha is my “good-luck” mantra that I will carry on my lips and in my heart during my travels in India. It is a mantra that can be chanted to bring good fortune and a desired outcome for the activities we are involved in.

A variety of opposing words are used to describe India, and because of that, it is most probably best to discover it for myself. It would certainly be interesting to see which words I will choose afterwards to capture the essence of this experience. And I do think that India is, above all else, an experience.

Everything I could organise for my ten days in Rajastan before meeting up with friends at the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh, I have. My final lists have been written. My paperwork is in order. My suitcase is gaping and my bedroom looks like a tornado hit it. . . So, I guess, I am almost ready to go. I am both excited and nervous: two conditions that always play havoc with my mind and digestion just before each travelling adventure I have ever been on, so it is familiar and reassuring.

As I depart, I pray that I will remember to keep an open mind and not to judge others from my own value system, to trust that the Universe will bless each step I take and keep me safe, and that I will meet kind and generous people everywhere I go, so that I can experience India through their eyes as well.

Om Sharavana Bhavaya Namaha . . .