Sanskrit Chanting Class: Classes are conducted in the traditional ‘listen and repeat’ manner called ‘śruti paraṁparā’. Saṁskṛta chanting requires diligence to manifest precision, beauty & fluidity, and typically, feeling comfortable in the groove, requires several visits & some self-study.
Chanting awakens voice, deepens the breath, energizes the body, clears the mind, supports direct insight into recited texts, and enhances one’s holistic sense of yoga practice…
Material recited: Opening & Closing Prayers, Several Traditional Stotras, Yoga Sūtras & Śānti Mantras…
See schedule for times.
वन्दे गुरूणां चरणारविन्दे
vande gurūṇāṁ caraṇāravinde
Gist: Because I want more peace of mind and stability in my life, I am now going to practice yoga as I have learned it from my teacher.
Interpretive: For the peaceful resolution of the deluding nature of repetitive existence, I bow at the Gurus’ lotus feet, and behold the awakened joy of my own Soul; this is the ultimate refuge acting as a shaman for my spiritual enrichment.
प्रणमामि पतञ्जलिम् ‖
praṇamāmi patañjalim ‖
Literal: I respectfully honor Patañjali - a principle proponent of yoga - who has assumed the form of a brilliantly luminous man with thousands of [snake] heads, and who bears a conch, a discus and a sword.
nyāyena mārgeṇa mahīṁ mahīśāḥ |
go-brāhmaṇebhyaḥ śubha-mastu nityaṁ
lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantu ‖
oṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ ‖
न्यायेन मार्गेण महीं महीशाः |
गोब्राह्मणेभ्यः शुभमस्तु नित्यं
लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु ‖
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ‖
Gist: May the merits of my yoga practice [or other such action] benefit the entire world.
Literal: May the leaders of this earth
Protect the welfare of all generations
By keeping to the path of virtue.
May the religious, and all peoples be forever blessed,
May the whole of all the worlds be happy.
Om peace, peace, peace…
Sūrya Namaskāra Prayer
While engaged in worship and life’s works,
May we hear with our ears what is auspicious,
May we see with our eyes what is auspicious,
May our minds & bodies be strong and steady,
So that we may live a life that is admirable to God.
May Indra, lord of heaven, bless us with divine wisdom.
May Pooshan, the nourishing sun, bless us with universal knoweldge.
May Garuda, the divine eagle, and Brhaspati, guru to the gods, bless us.
Om peace, peace, peace…
Guruji recites the Sūrya Namaskāra Prayer
Śaṅkarācārya poster from Mahāraja’s Sanskrit College
, Mysore, India; Krishnamacharya portrait from “Health, Healing and Beyond”; Patañjali image from KYM
Saṁkalpa: wish, intention.
Prior to initiating any ritualistic endeavor such as one’s yoga practice, it is proper and traditional to state what it is that we are about to do and why (saṁkalpa). The first verse of the Ashtanga Opening Prayer includes a saṁkalpa.
The first line states what: We are bowing or surrendering - for our own benefit (ātmanepada) as opposed to an act of worship - to the feet of the guru (the feet represent practical teachings). In other words, we are about to practice yoga as taught to us by our yoga teacher for the purpose of improving our life.
The last line states why: We are doing this in the hopes of making peace with our worldly sufferings (saṁsāra) and ignorance (moha).
This is akin to the proper reason for practicing yoga as stated in the Bhagavad Gita 5.11: i.e. for the purpose of self-purification.
This first verse is from the “Yoga Tārā Vali” by Śaṅkara.
The Closing Prayer or Maṅgala Mantra: Guruji taught us to recite this at the end of our yoga practice - offering the merits of our practice for the benefit of the world. This is akin to the one of the proper reasons for practicing yoga as stated in the Bhagavad Gita’s statement in Ch. 3 v. 20: “for benefiting the state of the word.” In other words, the effort to purify and uplift our own life as stated in the opening prayer, should be done altruistically for the benefit of uplifting and enriching the world.
“Chanting … can be done loudly, softly … or mentally. Chanting softly is a thousand times more effective than chanting loudly, and chanting mentally is a thousand times more effective than chanting softly … If while chanting a verse, the sage who composed it, the meter of which it is composed, and the deity (or principle) which it represents are remembered, then the proclaimed benefits will accrue (Yoga Yāñjavalkya Saṁhitā 2.12 - 2.17).”