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The Sublime Sound of Salvation!

12 Apr

The Sublime Sound of Salvation!

~ insights on nhAdha (chants and mantras)

 

🙏 Namaskaram. Recently Swamy came across a WhatsApp share (forwarded, of course!) that went gaga about the ‘mathematical insights’ of Vedas. Here’s an excerpt…

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Till I came across this posting, I was unaware of the significance of Rudram, Chamakam. High school students will greatly benefit from memorising  these, to help them in their study of Mathematics. If we  take a look at this excerpt from Chamakam of the Rudra Namaka Chamaka, we will get to know the mathematical genius in the Vedas.

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By now, it’s quite obvious to anyone other than the exclusive (and downright abusive, needless to say, especially when it comes to any aspect of this very ancient culture) non-pseudo-secular pretentious intellectual blabbermouths that there are many dimensions and layers to pretty much anything in this ancient culture, which manages to thrive even after several destructive invasions and even more destructive rule by cringe-worthy politicos, post a hard fought and won (with nary a bloodshed – especially on the invaders’ side) independence.  Even the common citizens who weren’t privileged enough to go to branded scholastic institutions and work really hard daily to eke out a living in this unforgiving ultra-competitive success obsessed society know this, though they don’t get screen time on any media to speak about it. 

Swamy is no vedic expert, but as a voracious (at least once upon a time, reignited again recently, but more like carbureted than fuel-injected) reader, reasonably prolific writer (no formally published work yet, but plenty of 100% agmark original content on various social media platforms – including this one) and seeker (of Truth, not anything connected with mere survival, at least not anymore), he sure knows a thing or two about the breadth and depth of this culture (we never aspired for the height of greatness, hence no invasions by us to spread our culture anywhere else). So, here’s some insight that might be helpful in comprehending the essence of this newfound vedic insight (one of the many, obviously), than merely going gaga over it (which itself is a fundamental problem, as such marvelling and social sharing is so superficial that the same person will end up sharing in the same groups the same thing, sooner than later, without actually gaining any insight whatsoever)…

VedicChanting

Vedas are essentially ‘sounds that were/are heard,‘ referred to as Sruti or Shruthi in SanAthana DharmA. Here’s a simple explanation from the ISKCON website. 

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Hinduism has no single scripture but many. They include the Vedas and their corollaries sometimes called collectively “the Vedic scriptures.”

There are two main divisions:

shruti – that which is heard (revealed truth)

smriti – that which is remembered (realised truth)

Sanskrit is the language of most canonical texts, but many subsidiary texts are written in the vernacular.

Shruti is canonical, consisting of revelation and unquestionable truth, and is considered eternal. It refers mainly to the Vedas themselves.

Smriti is supplementary and may change over time. It is authoritative only to the extent that it conforms to the bedrock of shruti.

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In a certain state of meditation, the sages / yogis of ancient times simply heard these sounds – most probably within themselves, than from anywhere outside. 

Then they started chanting those sounds, as they heard them (without any intellectual interpretation), observed certain outcomes and then started teaching the chanting of Shruthi to others. That’s why, even today, in this so-called digital yuga, students learn vedas through repetitive recitals and not by reading books and vomiting what’s read in exams (though printed and digital versions are certainly available now for reference – primarily for the armchair scholars and SoMe sharers).

In SanAtana Dharma (not to be confused with Hinduism, which is categorised as a religion – something done on purpose by the invaders), which is the core spiritual foundation of the ancient BhArath / Sindhu civilization, the Creator had been defined in many ways. While ancient scriptures such as the Upanishads (which too are part of the Vedas, but were crafted by humans, thereby belonging to the Smriti category) define the Creator aka God as Nirghuna Brahmam ~ நிர்குண பிரம்மம், i.e., an entity without form or attributes / characteristics. The same entity is worshipped in many forms as well, which is known as Saguna brahmam ~ சகுண பிரம்மம். 

Dhyanalinga2.jpgSince this is a Mukthi focused culture, anything and everything that aids one towards the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle, were effectively utilised by the seekers. This includes devices (YantrA), chants (MantrA), methods or techniques (TantrA), processes (KriyA, for example) and even Gods. This is quite possibly the only culture where the technology to craft one’s own version of God was in practice, which is known as PratishthA aka consecration. There are a few practitioners of this ancient God-making craft even now, such as Swamy’s Guru Sadhguru, who has created divine forms such as the DhyAnalinga and Devi Linga Bhairavi. This is the reason why everything from a plain-looking uncarved stone to tree to cow to many a phenomenally intrinsic idols being worshipped as God here, even today. The divine is also defined as pure light (exemplified by historical Realised Masters such as VaLLaLAr ~ வள்ளலார்) and also as pure Sound, i.e. NhAdha Brahmam ~ நாத பிரம்மம். 

In essence, the internal comprehension of everything in existence as a manifest form of the unmanifest divine by many a yogi / siddha / saint has led to that realisation being reflected in the various means and paths towards self-realisation. The fortunate people of BhArathavarsha never had any qualms about following one path or another, knowing full well that all of them lead to the realisation of the same Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al) and the ultimate liberation. Heck, we even had many a non-believer amidst the sea of believers, from time to time, whose philosophy too is available for anyone interested. And the best part is, they weren’t hunted or annihilated but simply allowed to co-exist in the same society!

Recently, scientists have arrived at conclusion (though in reality, nothing is ever conclusive – especially when it comes to science) that the entire existence is nothing but sound. Or vibrations / reverberation, to be precise. This is essentially science acknowledging what spirituality said a loooooong time ago. Anyway, when we say the entire existence is just sound, the essential question that will arise in our intellectual mind is, ‘then how come there are so many different forms – including humans, each of which is so vastly different from everything else in existence?‘ 

JBD_09M17-1.jpg

Now, each sound is said to have a form associated with it. This is the fundamental principle of NhAdha Yoga & Mantra Yoga. By reciting a certain sound, at a certain time, for a certain number of times, one can realise the form associated with that sound. This is why Devi UpAsakars ~ தேவி உபாஸகர் get darshan of Devi by chanting her Mantra, while devotees of Adiyogi Shiva get darshan of MahAdEva by chanting his moola mantra, and so on. Lord SubrahmaNya (or Muruga, ShaNmukha, KArthikEya, etc) in the form of BAla DhaNdAyudhapANi (பால தண்டாயுதபாணி) at Kumaramalai (குமரமலை) is Swamy’s kula dheivam (குல தெய்வம்). Created by Lord ShivA for the specific purpose of leading the Deva army (as it’s General) to annihilate the AsurAs, he is considered and worshipped as the form of the moola mantrA of creation itself, i.e. AUM, the supreme sound of all sounds.  

Since there are various mantrAs (a mantrA is essentially a collection or sequence of sounds, organised for a specific purpose, and associated with a specific divine form) for each deity, the darshans of the deity by the individuals who perform Mantra yoga or NhAdha yoga also vary accordingly. 

Om Swami, a young contemporary – living – Realised Master, has written about how the diligent practice of Mantra yoga led him to the actual darshan of Devi, in his autobiography “If Truth Be Told.” He now teaches the ancient practice of Mantra yOga to seekers. Swamy’s master Sadhguru had got the experience of the divine as NhAdha Brahmam at KAnti SarOvar, a lake located above (and beyond) KEdhArnAth, which is where Adiyogi Shiva is said to have transmitted his yogic Wisdom to Devi Shakthi, in absolute intimacy (the 112 ways to Realisation taught by him are available in ‘VignAna Bhairava TantrA). This experience happened much later than his actual enlightenment experience at ChAmundi Hills near Mysuru. 

Vedas, which are essentially a very structured way of chanting pure sound, the way it is in nature, and thereby resonating with the reverberations in creation in a certain way, can be considered as a method to define the nature of the divine, which is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. So when someone chants Sri Rudram ~ ஸ்ரீ ருத்ரம், what’s actually happening is the definition of the form of the divine as RudrA, in all its glory. 

And there’s a specific reason why vedas are in Sanskrit and not any other ancient language (e.g. Thamizh, which happens to be Swamy’s mother tongue, in which he writes classical hymns / poetry). Sanskrit is a language that’s entirely based on, and – needless to say – crafted from, sound. The syllables of Sanskrit are said to have emerged from Lord ShivA’s Damaru ~ உடுக்கை, which was listened to by his ever present companion NandhikEswara. This too has been mentioned by another contemporary Master Swami SukhabOdhAnanda (of ‘மனசே ரிலாக்ஸ் ப்ளீஸ்’ fame – he’s a disciple of Swami ChinmayAnanda) in one of his books. 

Anyway, the point is, both vedas and mantrAs being in Sanskrit is quite simply because the foundation of all of these is sound – in a multitude of variations, of course. Oh btw, there’s another very ancient language that’s spoken by rishis, yogis and Siddhars of yore, known as SandhyA bAsha ~ ஸந்த்யா பாஷை, which could even be dated before the advent of sanskrit or possibly a contemporary one to sanskrit. This language was quite possibly much closer in tune with the vibrations in nature and doesn’t seem to have a script. Without any active practitioners – at least in the limited field of perception of contemporary humans – it is not known to be known to anyone now. 

ClassicalMusicThose who follow any form of classical music know about the various precise measurements that make sound enchanting, and even purposeful beyond mere enchantment (e.g.: Music therapy). With this context, if one looks at the mathematical precision / definitions in vedas, it’s quite easy to comprehend that it is simply yet another way / method to define the form of the divine, and thereby the Creator, creation, existence, et al, through precise measurements, expressed as sound. 

From now on, whenever you chant a mantrA such as AUM Namah ShivAya or GAyathri, you may inherently be aware that it’s nothing but a nondescript creation’s (ahem, that would be you – on a cosmic scale!) feeble attempt to depict the form that’s associated with that mantrA, i.e. NhAdha / Sound. Just keep aside whatever you think you know, i.e. the intellectual aspect or acquired knowledge, and simply resonate with the sound of the mantrA, so you may realise the real purpose of that mantrA, whatever it is that you’ve been initiated into or have learnt to chant.

Fun Fact 1: In either Nhamakham ~ நமகம் or Chamakham ~ ச்சமகம் (as mentioned in the beginning, Swamy is a vedic illiterate, so his lack of knowledge in such nuances of vedas may kindly be forgiven), pretty much each chant or stanza will end with a mEh ~ மே. There’s an enchanting background tale about this (all ancient tales in this culture are not only enchanting, but have a deeper aspect of the Truth, well hidden beneath the superficial sheath if the tale itself). When Daksha PrajApathi was annihilated by VeerabadhrA (a fierce form created by Lord ShivA, with a single hair from his matted locks, for the sole purpose of destroying DakshA and his acolytes), post his insult of Lord ShivA (by refusing to invite him to his yagnA and refusing to offer the Ahuthi that’s due to him, which resulted in Devi Shakthi, in the form of of Sati – DakshA’s daughter, committing Atma hathyA and leaving her mortal form), he was beheaded by Lord VeerabadhrA. When he realised his unforgivable mortal error and surrendered to the Lord seeking salvation, he was revived back to life by Lord MahEswara who is the ocean of benevolent Grace, but with a goat’s head. Since goats are known to communicate with the sound mEh (மே), it’s believed that in this particular chant by him, worshipping the MahAdEva (God of Gods), every stanza ends with the basic sound of a goat! 

Fun Fact 2: Swamy has written and published (on Social Media, naturally) more than 230 hymns written in classical Thamizh, collectively known as Dhinam Oru Padhigam ~ தினம் ஒரு பதிகம், so far. In his experience, these hymns are written through him than by him. And invariably all of them come with a tune as well. Neither a trained musician nor a qualified poet, it’s truly an enchanting experience for Swamy to not just write these hymns down but also to sing them without having any idea about their musical nuances, i.e. rAga, thALa, et al. In a way, that too is an experience of being in resonance with sound, i.e. NhAdhabrahmA, without actually realising the nuances of it!

May the Grace of NhAdhabrahmA be with you for a purposeful Life, overflowing with resonant Joy. ShambhO. 

149c5-ad3c94c2-334c-499b-8d29-69ee802d7645Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

உயிர்மெய் (Tamil posts by Swamy) https://swamyuyirmei.wordpress.com/
Swamystery (#ThinkOpposite blog posts by Swamy) https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/
SwamyQuote (quotes by Swamy) https://swamyray.wordpress.com/

What’s In A 1000 Names ~ musings on Sahasranamam!

2 Mar
What’s In A 1000 Names!

~ musings on Sahasranamam (LalithA & VishNu)

A recent share by a family member on conducting ‘VishNu SahasranhAmam PArAyaNam‘ session at their home triggered an interesting discussion thread. Sharing it here, which hopefully offers some enchanting insights into two of the most popular Sahasranhamam sthothrams, i.e. LalithA SahasranhAmam (1000 sacred names of DEvi LalithA ParamEswari) and VishNu SahasrahAmam (1000 sacred names of Lord MahAVishNu).
‘Vishnu SahasranhAmam’ (விஷ்ணு சஹஸ்ரநாமம் ~ 1000 sacred names of Lord MahAVishNu) chanting for Swamy was initiated by his Upa Guru Sohamanandaji, during the ChAr DhAm yAtrA (YamunOtri-GangOtri-KEdArnAth-BadhrinAth). 👣

A daily practice at many Vaishnavite households (along with the ubiquitous SuprabhAtham), Vishnnu SahasranhAmam chanting continues to happen at SwamyHome, which, per religious / social norms (and spiritual practices, needless to say) is a Shaivite household (with the help of ‘பெரிய எழுத்து’ ~ bold letters edition by Giri Trading Agency, of course) every Saturday, after the daily chanting for Lord SkandhaGurunhAthan (Swamy’s Kuladheivam [குலதெய்வம்] ~ worshipped in the form of VEl [வேல்]). 😌 On Fridays, it’s the turn of Sri LalithA Sahasranhamam (ஸ்ரீ லலிதா சஹஸ்ரநாமம்), needless to say 🔥🙏

Incidentally, ‘ஸ்ரீ லலிதா சஹஸ்ரநாமம்’ (Sri LalithA SahasranhAmam) is said to have been chanted by Lord Hayagreevar (ஹயக்ரீவர் ~ Horse-faced Lord), who is an amsam or manifestation of Lord VishNu (not an avatAr, like Sri RAmA or Sri KrishNA). So it’s essentially a sthOthram by the elder brother praising younger sister (who was given away in marriage to Adiyogi ShivA)🙌, which is practically unheard of, but truly awesome. For those on the path of ShAktham (சாக்தம் [அ] சக்தி வழிபாடு [அ] தேவி உபாசனை ~ worship of the supreme reality as Shakthi, i.e. Mother or DEvi), it’s the child praising its mother, as all three primary Gods (and their consorts as well) are said to be created by the Divine Mother, for the sake of creation, with specific responsibilities, viz. Creation (Lord BrahmA), Sustenance (Lord MahAVishNu) and Transformation / Salvation (Lord ShivA).

The place where Lord Hayagreevar is believed to have chanted LalithA Sahasranhamam is enroute to Mount KailAsh, along the trekking path from the base camp. 👣

Swamy’s Upa Guru Sohamanandaji is a DEvi upAsakar (the form worshipped by him is DEvi ChinnaMasthA ~ தேவி சின்னமஸ்தா), so he has naturally started chanting LalithA Sahasranhamam during the trek to KailAsh (he was part of the same Isha SacredWalks group as Swamy, but hasn’t yet become Swamy’s Upa Guru, then), while crossing a particular spot. A Buddhist Monk who was going the other way stopped for a moment and told him “Horse face God chanted it here,” and pointed to some form of identification at that spot. 🙌 ShambhO 🙏

However, the origin of LalithA Sahasranhamam is said to be DEvi herself 🔥, since it’s practically impossible for any other being in creation to express Adi ParAshakthi’s (ஆதி பராசக்தி) magnificence in full🙏. With the possible exception of her other half, of course! 😂

Naturally, there’s an enchanting sthOthram on DEvi by none other than Lord ShivA himself, which is known as ‘Soundharyalahari’ (சௌந்தர்யலஹரி), which is essentially a husband’s praise of the enchanting beauty and virtues of his wife, with intimate details about her physique, mind, nature, etc.

The version of Soundharyalahari sthOthram that we’ve now is said to be an abridged edition, offered to us by Jagadguru Adi ShankarAchArya ✍

According to mythical lore, when the Jagadguru had the privilege of listening to the entire hymn (while having the darshan of அம்மையப்பன், obviously), he wanted to naturally share it with humanity. But when he was leaving KailAsh with the entire hymn (in which form is unknown, but that’s just a trivial detail), NandhikEswara (நந்திகேஸ்வரர்) apparently intercepted him and removed a whole bunch of verses that are considered too privy to be shared with anyone else. That makes Lord Nandhi the first censor board official! 😂🙏🙌
Here’s an(other) enchanting tale about VishNu Sahasranamam…

A lot of devotees know that VishNu Sahasranamam was chanted by Bheeshma PithAmah (பீஷ்ம பிதாமஹர்) while waiting to leave his body at an auspicious time (there’s a tale related to the actual event – of his inability to leave, despite his boon – which is covered well in the insightful Ratha Sapthami video by ஆலயம் செல்வீர் ~ Aalayam Selveer YouTube channel).
But only after the chanting was completed by Bheeshmar, everyone present there realised the significance of the hymn and regretted that no one recorded it for posterity. So, Lord KrishNa himself offered them the solution.
The Lord, the eighth avatAr (incarnation) of MahAVishNu, pointed out that since SahAdEvA (or NakulA, not sure which one, but most likely the former, who is an expert in many ShAstrAs, including Astrology, which alludes to him being the chosen one) is the one wearing a Spatikha mAla (ஸ்படிக மணிமாலை), he should be able to recall the hymn, in its entirety.

Spatikha apparently has memory that enables it to absorb nhAdha (sound / vibrations), which is the insight one can gain from this. 😇 Our limited knowledge is only about the cooling property of the gem. That’s how we ended up getting the enchanting VishNu Sahasranamam sthOthram. 🙏
So, is it any surprise that most (all!) those who do Vedic chanting and chanting of hymns regularly wear Spatikha mAla, in addition to RudrAksha mAla (whose purpose is vastly different)! 🤔🤘

Disclaimer: Swamy is just a seeker on the spiritual path, blessed to be guided by the Grace of a Guru (Realised Master) and experiential wisdom of a Upa Guru, and never claimed to be an expert on SanAthana Dharma. So, if you know more about these Sahasranamam chants, kindly share as comment and Swamy would be glad to learn.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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