Tag Archives: Sanskrit

Chant Loudly – Everyone Benefits – by Pooja Erica Andersen

Pooja_Erica_AndersenAre you joining us for the Ashram’s birthday Japathon!?  The phone conference call is Saturday September 28 at 10:00 am Eastern Time, beginning with Swami Nirmalananda’s talk followed by a group japa session. With technology to connect us, physical distance doesn’t stand in the way of our coming together in celebration. This event may end up being the largest group of Svaroopis chanting together to date. You won’t want to miss it!

In her talk January 27, Swamiji discussed two types of japa, loud and silent (click here to listen to the audio).  “The mind we are saddled with is stupid. To make it worse we allow it think all kinds of foolish futile thoughts. That is why I insist on discipline and good habits, and that is why japa has such an important place.”  She followed this with, “There are two kinds of japa: loud and silent. In meditation when you are doing japa in solitude the japa is mental.  While in a group chant, you chant loudly and everyone around benefits.”

I love this last statement.  “…chant loudly and everyone around benefits.”   In every Master Yoga and Ashram training or event we chant.  We repeat mantra together aloud as a group. If you have had this experience, think back on it.  How did you benefit?  Did it appear to you that those around you benefitted?

I find coming together with other Svaroopis for japa or to chant is amazing. The chant is so alive.  It’s like a river of Grace that arrives to flow on and deliver me to my Self, right alongside everyone I am chanting with.  It’s so sweet, so joyful and so easy.  Frankly, because of reciprocal adaptation, even if I sat in the group chant and didn’t say a word, that river of Grace would sweep me up into it.  Amazing!

The group chant has 3 unique stages for me:

Stage 1:  The Introduction

In the moments before the chant begins, the attention of the group tends to be scattered. Individuals may be fiddling around with propping or chatting amongst themselves.   Then the leader of the chant provides instruction about the mantra, the individual Sanskrit words along with their pronunciations and meanings.  She or he also tells us whether to chant in unison with them, or in call-and-response (where the leader chants a line and the group repeats it back).

As I practice the Sanskrit pronunciations before we start, the words feel cumbersome and awkward in my mouth.  Everything feels a bit chaotic.  Instruments may be tuning up, like harmonium, tabla (drum) and string instruments (tamboura, guitar, sitar, etc.).  Often, simple percussion instruments are handed out to the group to play along.  Sometimes I will take a simple rattle to play along, but most of the time I don’t as drumming or playing an instrument can distract my attention during the chant.

Stage 2: The Chant

As the chant starts, the group begins to follow the directions of the chant leader.  Other noises quiet, and movement settles down.  The chaos starts to subside, replaced by consistency.   It may take several minutes for the group to get into the groove, but their focus starts to narrow in on the mantra, melody and rhythm. For me, the effort of pronouncing the words falls away and the chant begins to flow through my mouth.

The words of the chant seem to dance through the air in a repetitive sequence. As phrases repeat themselves, it can feel more like they differ than stay the same.  I notice that although I am saying possibly the same line many times, each time I say it, it offers me a different angle in which to view the expression.

Through the chant, I have many opportunities to touch the mantra and feel it penetrate through me.  The opportunity to be absorbed into the chant is deepened and widened through the experience others are having.    I drink in their sound as they float in the same river of Grace as me.  The space around us shifts to something new, something timeless, something pure and Divine.  The chant carries me, along with those around me, into the awareness of the Divine.

Stage 3: The Divine

This is a full place.  This space I feel complete in. There is nothing separate from me.  It’s infinite and timeless.  My deep yearning becomes satisfied. As I recall this experience right now I well up with tears thinking about how special this state, space, place, or knowing is.

When the chanting ends, I open my eyes and look around, I see that each of the individuals around me have changed.  Their expressions radiate this Divine place.  Their presence reinforces the reality of what I am experiencing.

I feel a deep sense of gratitude for everyone in the group.  The space around me has shifted into a sacred space and I feel honored to be in it.  There is no longer chaos, only a sense that all that is, is as it should be.

Swamiji’s also said, “When you’re chanting aloud, the sound of the mantra, which is the sound of consciousness, crystalizes into words vibrating with the wholeness of consciousness, with the integrated force of consciousness.” I perceive this as what I have referred to as a flowing river of Grace.

Our chant this weekend is a group chant without music, called “japa.”  In our Japathon!, we chant because we are celebrating the birth of the Ashram.  Of course, all births are blessed, as life is a gift.  But the Svaroopaâ practices and the Ashram were birthed and they exist to support us in the knowing of our own inherit Divinity.  The river of Grace runs through our practice to saturate us with the knowing of the Self.  How special is that?

As we each chant together, from whatever towns we are in, across the world, we will be allowing that Grace to flow through us — for everyone to benefit.  How could you miss the opportunity to be a part of such a Divine event?

Year-Long Programmes Galore

by Rukmini Abbruzzi

RudraI Am “Siva is beginning soon, a foundational course in consciousness, with no prerequisites.  Everyone is welcomed to experience Swamiji’s magical mix of classical teaching stories, psychology and yogic practices, along with the tangible Grace that reveals your own Divinity to you.

Join Swamiji’s FREE Intro call October 16 from 7:00-8:30 pm (Eastern Time).  Click here to get the phone codes.

And (DRUMROLL PLEASE), announcing the title for 2014’s new year-long programme:

Guru & Self
Kamal and Swamiji  Ganeshpuri, IndiaYou need a Guru, yoga says, repeatedly emphasizing this in the ancient texts.  Why?  Explore the mystery of the Guru with Swami Nirmalananda as she explains the pivotal importance of the Guru in our Shaktipat tradition and illumines the secrets hidden in the traditional ceremonies and practices.   Learn how your Guru serves you as a teacher, as a guide, as a mentor, as a role model, as an exemplar and as a mirror in which you see your Self.

Your stories and experiences are an integral part of this course, through the group discussions with Swamiji.  She helps you discover how to serve as an agent of Grace, uplifting others through your sharings, while deepening your understanding of your own experiences.  With each personal story, Swamiji offers teachings and insights that enhance your inner blossoming.  Extra phone conference calls are included in the schedule so you find a time that works for you.

Two enrollment options are available:

Option #1 — monthly teaching articles, audio recordings by Swamiji, and phone conference calls (about 2 weeks apart)

Option #2 — monthly teaching articles, audio recordings by Swamiji, and phone conference calls PLUS a weekend retreat Oct 24-26 2014

Prerequisite:  Shaktipat Retreat OR Shishya Membership

Eligible yogis may join Swamiji on a FREE Intro call, March 15 from 4:00-5:30 pm (Eastern Time).  Click here to enroll and get the phone codes.

What’s New–Plants & People

by Sharada Macdonald

Comings & Goings

Many of you have already noticed that I have a new name (Sharada). Now, I now have a new title at Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram, too: Business Administration Manager. This new name, just like my new Sanskrit name, is to make the outside match the inside. I started at SVA as an assistant helping out with the Amaya® Yoga Products and Downingtown Yoga Meditation Center.

Working at the Ashram every day, I saw how much Swamiji did (and continues to do) to serve Baba by supporting and serving all of us. Her dedication opened me to want to do anything I can to support her vision and mission of Svaroopa® Vidya Ashram. Every time I have seen her (every single time!), she is working to serve and support us. So, any time I could do more, I did. And being steeped in the flow of Grace makes doing anything easy! As SVA has continued to grow, I’ve been blessed with many new opportunities to serve Swamiji, the teachings and you. This new title names these specific ways that I am so blessed to serve.

As spring continues to unfold into the promise of summer, I am pleased to welcome a new gardener to SVA, Greg Hesselton. It’s easy to see how much he loves the earth—I have yet to see Greg (whose first day at the Ashram was on his birthday!) in shoes. Sweet & gentle, he appreciates the beauty of the native flora & fauna. He even asked if we could leave flowering weeds an extra day or two before pulling them so the bees could enjoy them. A camp counselor who lives in a minimal cabin for half of the year, Greg spends his mornings with camp kids and most afternoons caring for the Ashram grounds. Thank you, Greg!

Veggie Garden

Surprise! Wintered-over carrots

Surprise! Wintered-over carrots

Greg, who I mentioned above, has spent the last two weeks preparing the three raised garden beds that went in last year and has been planting baby veggies in them (more on that soon including a picture of Swamiji with a wagon!). Deep gratitude goes out to Dean Cilley, who helped build the beds, planted seeds and cared for last year’s veggies. Dean’s agricultural background and care has resulted in lots of delicious Ashram-shakti-filled veggies last year and—surprise!—a crop of recently discovered wintered-over carrots that were planted last fall. Much to the Ashram residents’ and chefs’ delight, they will be ready to harvest and enjoy soon! Thank you, Dean!


Now, here’s that picture of Swamiji with a wagon that I promised:

Swamiji loads the wagon with baby veggies.

Swamiji loads the wagon with baby veggies.

Baby veggies in their new home

Baby veggies in their new home

Swamiji sent me an email last week asking if we could play hooky for an hour or two and go get baby veggies from Jane’s Flower Patch (“Isn’t that a cute name?” Swamiji remarked. “She has 27 different kinds of vegetable starts!”). Swamiji and I pulled a wagon in between the rows of plants, and Swamiji loaded it with zucchini, yellow squash, green & yellow bell peppers, onions, a jalapeno and a banana pepper, Early Girl and Roma tomatoes, basil, flatleaf & curly parsley, cilantro, green & red lettuces, and swiss chard. Finally, Swamiji selected marigolds to ring the beds (in addition to being holy in India, they keep away pests and bunnies). You’re not playing hooky if you don’t get a treat, so we ended our veggie trip with a mango water ice (a Mid-Atlantic delicacy) and took the babies home for Greg to plant.

Now that Greg has finished planting all the baby veggies, he will build a fence around the raised beds to protect them from critters. Stayed tuned for pictures of the fence and Ashram harvest later this year!

I Do the Sound Editing. Posted on February 23, 2011 by Svaroopa Vidya Ashram

I have to admit that I was a little intimidated at first when Swamiji asked me to take on Sound Editing. I think that is how most of us respond to new things! But, I knew that I absolutely love listening to her teachings and that I have been wanting to learn more Sanskrit. I also knew that I’d be able to hear things over and over and over again…….which brought me the hope that I would maybe solidify and embody the teachings.

For a long time, I’ve had the goal to improve my listening skills, my focus on sound, words and content. I have to say that after just a week of doing the sound editing, I’m already noticing many changes in my everyday interactions. It’s calmed my mind quite a bit. Instead of having other thoughts spinning around in my head, I’m noticing that after doing a few hours of sound editing that the verses are spinning around and around. It’s such a nice change of thought!

In sound editing, I listen, look for and remove throat clearing, lip smacking, sneezing, coughing and other noises in the background. We use a program on the computer that shows the sound waves as time progresses. It is so neat to see what sounds look like! I’m also listening for redundancy. So, not only am I focusing on sounds, but I’m listening to the content. Swamiji has recording down to a pure science, which is a relief – I’m so grateful that she knows how to express and enunciate the teachings clearly.

When I sit to do the sound editing, I wrap my meditation shawl around my shoulders, settle into my seat, and if it is a Guru Gita verse, I open up my chanting book to the right page. Each time I do edits, it gets easier and faster, just like anything that one does over and over. I am not intimidated at all anymore….in fact, all of the verses are working their magic on me. For that, I am so grateful.