Chanting

Ganesha

Chanting

Chanting is known in many spiritual traditions, not just in yoga. The goal is not to be a Mastersinger, but to reach a meditative state through focus on the chanting and through regular repetition of the chants.

Chanting also allows a special approach to the texts and the mantras that have been handed down to us through the millenia

Traditionally, in India, all the major texts (the vedas, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and many others) as well as the mantras had to be learnt by heart and passed on orally from generation to generation, before and even after the introduction of scripture (around 250 B.C.) and the art of printing.

 

 

Mantra collection

Here, you can find a collection of some of my favourite mantras. Hopefully, you will enjoy them as well:

The first mantra is one of the numerous mantras to Ganesha (often recited in order to ask for support for a new project, thus a fitting start for this collection).

Then you will find the teacher-student mantra,

the opening mantra for Aṣtāṅga Vinyāsa Yoga,

the closing mantra for Aṣtāṅga Vinyāsa Yoga, which is also known as the Maṅgala Mantra,

one of the many mantras to Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, 

one of the mantras to the guru,

and one of the many morning mantras for starting the day off in a good way.

Over the coming months I intend to add more mantras.

Support for learning a mantra by heart

For each of the mantras, you shall find a few lines on the origin and the background and transliteration (e.g. the transfer letter by letter of the Devanagari writing into the latin writing, with the help of so-called diacritic characters). If you click on the individual lines, the text in Devanagari (e.g. the main scripture used today to write texts in Sanskrit) and Zoë Slatoff’s translation of the mantra into English will show. You will also for each line find the sound (as best as I am currently able to) in the traditional “call and response” technique. If you intend to learn the mantras, I recommend that you use this initially to have the sounds “diffuse” into your deeper memory. 

Below that, there are two download buttons for PDFs. The first one contains the three versions of the mantra (transliteration, devanagari and English) and maybe some additional information, like help for pronunciation. The second one shows in addition the translation of the individual words and the grammatical construction.

On the right hand side, you can find three ways of chanting the mantra as mp3 files: the first one is just the recitation of text, the other two again follow the traditional “call and response” technique, now for the entire mantra, not just for one line.

The first version of call and response can be helpful to learn the respective text by heart – initially word by word are given and repeated, then the entire line, and finally the entire mantra (or verse, if we are talking about other texts). In the second version, each line is chanted once, and you repeat it.

You are welcome to download the mp3 files. When I learn a new verse or mantra, I switch the mp3 player on endless loop – also here the saying is true “repetition is the mother of learning”.

Without the support of my Sanskrit teacher Zoë Slatoff, this collection would not have been possible. In the English version, I have usually used her translation (with her kind permission) – exceptions are marked.

One more remark: I enjoy chanting, but my pronounciation is far from perfect. On  Zoë’s website, you will find more versions chanted in her voice. There are also of course numerous other websites on chanting and mantras. It must besaid though that in many cases people post chants without sufficient understanding of Sanskrit pronounciation. 

Mantra to Ganesha

Invocation to Ganesha

Ganesha represents the power of a new beginning, growth, also the growth against obstacles, and the joy to realize something new.

In Northern India, he has two consorts – Buddhi, knowledge, and Siddhi, properity. In Hinduism, he is also considered to be Lord of the sciences and of commerce.

There are many mantras to invocate this specific power. This is the one that I personally like best.

vakra-tuṇḍa mahā-kāya

वक्रतुण्ड महाकाय

Gaṇeśa, god with the curved trunk, of great stature,

sūrya-koṭi-samaprabha।

सूर्यकोटिसमप्रभ।

Whose brilliance is equal to ten million suns,

nirvighnaṃ kuru me deva

निर्विघ्नं कुरु मे देव

Grant me freedom from obstacles,

sarva-kāryeṣu sarvadā॥

सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा॥

In all things, at all times.

Teacher Student Mantra

These days, this mantra is often used in general at the beginning of a teaching or of a project.

Originally, it was part of the Taittiriya Upanishad, one of the oldest Upanishads. It is associated with the Yajur Veda and was  probably composed in the sixth or fifth century BCE.

The mantra asks for a successful cooperation between the teacher and the student on the path to the realization of the true nature of knowledge.

It is part of the shanti mantras, the mantras supporting peace.

saha nāv avatu।

स॒ह ना॑ववतु ।

May it protect us both together,

saha nau bhunaktu।

स॒ह नौ॑ भुनक्तु।

May it nourish us both together.

saha vīryaṃ karavāvahai।

स॒ह वी॒॑र्यं करवावहै।

May we work together with vigor.

tejasvi nāv adhītam astu

ते॒ज॒स्वि ना॒वधीतमस्तु

May our study be illuminating.

mā vidviṣāvahai।

मा वि॑द्विषा॒वहै ॥

May we be free from discord.

Oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ॥

ॐ शान्ति॒: शान्ति॒: शान्तिः॥

OM Peace, Peace, Peace!

Opening mantra for Aṣtāṅga Vinyāsa Yoga

Traditionally, the opening mantra is chanted at the beginning of the practice of Aṣtāṅga Vinyāsa Yoga. In class the teacher chants it line by line, and the practitioners sing after her or him (call and response). If you are already practicing Ashtanga Yoga for a while and on your own, you will probably chant it on your own at the beginning of your practice.

The first verse corresponds to the first verse of the Yoga Tāravālī, a text probably dating from between the 12th and the 15th century CE. The original source of the second verse is not known. It is today one of the most well known chants to Patañjali.

vande gurūṇāṃ caraṇāravinde

वन्दे गुरूणां चरणारविन्दे

I bow to the two lotus feet of the gurus,

sandarśita-svātma-sukhāvabodhe ǀ

सन्दर्शितस्वात्मसुखावबोधे।

Through which the understanding of the happiness of my own soul has been revealed.

niḥśreyase jāṅgalikāyamāne

निःश्रेयसे जाङ्गलिकायमाने

My ultimate refuge, acting like a snake doctor,

saṃsāra-hālāhala-mohaśāntyai ‖

संसारहालाहलमोहशान्त्यै॥

For the pacifying of the delusions caused by the poison of cyclic existence.

ābāhu-puruṣākāraṃ

आबाहुपुरुषाकारं

Who has the form of a human from the arms,

śaṅkha-cakrāsi-dhāriṇam ǀ

शङ्खचक्रासिधारिणम्।

Bearing a conch, a discus, and a sword.

sahasra-śirasaṃ śvetaṃ

सहस्रशिरसं श्वेतं

White, with a thousand heads,

praṇamāmi patañjalim ‖

प्रणमामि पतञ्जलिम्॥

I bow to Patañjali.

Closing Mantra of Aṣtāṅga Vinyāsa Yoga, also called Maṅgala Mantra 

maṅgala“ means „luck bearing“. In general, mantras that express good wishes for others are called maṅgala mantras.

This mantra is traditionally chanted at the end of the aṣṭāṅga vinyāsa yoga practice and belongs to the so-called śāntiḥ mantras, the mantras for peace, due to the final line Oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ. The mantra dates from the Ṛg Veda, which is more than 3.000 years old.

svasti prajābhyaḥ paripālayantāṃ

स्वस्ति प्रजाभ्यः परिपालयन्तां
May the rulers of the earth protect the well-being of the people,

 

nyāyena mārgeṇa mahīṃ mahīśāḥ।

न्यायेन मार्गेण महीं महीशाः।
With justice, by means of the right path.

go-brāhmaṇebhyaḥ śubham astu nityaṃ

गोब्राह्मणेभ्यः शुभमस्तु नित्यं
May there always be good fortune for cows, Brahmins and all living beings.

lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantu॥

लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु॥
May all the inhabitants of the world be full of happiness.

Oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ।

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः।
OM peace, peace, peace

Sarasvati Mantra

Invocation to Sarasvati

Sarasvati is the goddess of learning. She is also the protective deity for the sciences and the arts. In India, she is much more the subject of devotion than her male counterpart, Brahma, the creator deity.

Sarasvati is also the deity for speech. The creation of Sanskrit and of the devanāgarī script are attributed to her.

This mantra is one of many which are chanted in her honour.

Sarasvati namas tubhyaṃ

सरस्वति नमस्तुभ्यं

O Sarasvati, salutations to you,

varade kāma-rūpiṇi।

वरदे कामरूपिणि।

O giver of boons, O fulfiller of wishes.

vidyārambaṃ kariṣyāmi

विद्यारम्भं करिष्यामि

I shall start studying,

siddhir bhavatu me sadā॥

सिद्धिर्भवतु मे सदा॥

May success be mine, always.

Guru Stotram

Mantra for the guru

Stotras are a form of devotional poetry, which is often directed to one god. They appeared later than the Vedas, but have a close relationship to them.

This special mantra is dedicated to the guru, the spiritual teacher. Since authentic gurus have become rare in the reality of the 21st century, I recommend that you address the mantra to your inner teacher. When you stand on your mat facing its front, you can always imagine your inner teacher standing in front of you.

gurur brahmā gurur viṣṇuḥ

गुरुर्ब्रह्मा गुरुर्विष्णुः

The guru is Brahmā, God of creation, the guru is Viṣṇu, God of Preservation.

gurur devo maheśvaraḥ।

गुरुर्देवो महेश्वरः।

The guru is Śiva, the God of destruction.

gurur sākṣāt paraṃ brahma

गुरुः साक्षात्परं ब्रह्म

The guru is clearly the Supreme Spirit.

tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ

तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः

I bow to that sacred guru.

tasmai śrī-gurave namaḥ॥

तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः॥

I bow to that sacred guru.

Morning Mantra

Morning Mantra

This mantra is one of many morning mantras, to be chanted at the beginning of the new day in order to appeal to the powers of energies of wealth, wisdom and power in their female form.

karāgre vasate lakṣmī

कराग्रे वसते लक्ष्मी

At the tip of the hand lives Lakṣmī,

 

 

kara-madhye sarasvatī।

करमध्ये सरस्वती।

in the middle of the hand Sarasvatī,

 

kara-mūle sthitā gaurī

करमूले स्थिता गौरी

at the root of the hand, Parvatī [Gauri, name for Parvatī] resides,

 

 

prabhāte kara-darśanam॥

प्रभाते करदर्शनम्॥

looking at the hand at daybreak that is what I see.