Chanting

Kirtan – the Power of Devotional Chanting
(A compilation of edited excerpts from Sri Vasudeva's talks)


Topics

Introduction
Chanting Makes Meditation Easier
Chanting Expresses Grace
The Science Behind Chanting


Introduction

Kirtan, or the chanting of hymns or bhajans, is an ancient practice.  When done in a group it is called "satsang."  Here is a definition of satsang from Wiktionary:

Satsang (Sanskrit sat = true, sanga = company) is in Indian philosophy (1) the company of the "highest truth," (2) the company of a guru, or (3) company with an assembly of persons who listen to, talk about, and assimilate the truth.[1] This typically involves listening to or reading scriptures, reflecting on, discussing and assimilating their meaning, meditating on the source of these words, and bringing their meaning into one’s daily life. Contemporary satsang teachers in the West - frequently coming from the Advaita Vedanta tradition - sometimes mix traditional Eastern knowledge with methods of modern psychology.

In a very general sense, satsang means a spiritual gathering, usually in song - but this is only a partial meaning.  There is a much deeper meaning. 

Here is Guruji's definition:

"When you come to satsang it is a journey to that inner space, it is journey of self-realisation, it is a journey of awareness, it is a journey to our true Self, and it is a journey to God. The very word "satsang" means it is being in the company of that which is eternal. ‘Sat’ means eternal existence and ‘sang’ means in the company, in the gathering. Satsang means 'in the company of the Absolute Reality, the eternal part of us, the part of us that cannot die.'"

There is great value in devotional singing.  Sri Vasudeva teaches that we need to appreciate our time together in a period of retreat where we focus on discipline and focus on freedom:

"It is a time of self reflection where we are challenged to think a little deeply and to reflect upon life and it is a period of chanting. We use the power of sound and music to take us deeper inside to awaken spiritual centres (chakras); it is a period of meditation; and it is a period of co-creating a certain energy space by being together in noble activity.  Just by staying together and keeping our thoughts aligned for a period of time, we begin to feel different. When we wonder why we cannot feel this way at home, we need to reflect that we took the time and the discipline to co-create this field and can do the same anywhere. With diplomacy, tack, honesty, sincerity, compassion and caring, we can create the same anywhere if we have the patience."

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Chanting Makes Meditation Easier
(Sri Vasudeva, 2009)

In singing the mind can become very, very quiet. In singing the heart can be opened up and love can flow out of you. In singing you can feel energy coming from your entire body and healing can take place. In singing you can feel the sound is coming from deep inside that it is flowing through you and your lips without effort. Singing awakens that power inside, especially if you sing with those who have the power.

The sweetest power in the human experience is tapping into the Divine Power inside of you. The power that allows you to manage your thoughts, to open your heart to love unconditionally and to infuse vitality throughout your body is the power of the Divine inside. That is real power. It is not the power that money and possession brings. This is real power, to manage your thoughts, to open your heart, to be compassionate, to be loving and to be forgiving. This is real power, the power to rise above fear, the power to be selfless, the power not to judge and the power to unite in diversity. That is real power. Chanting the mantras awakens this power.


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Chanting Expresses Grace
(Sri Vasudeva, 2010)

If you really get into chanting, you feel you never want to stop because it is such a powerful expression of spiritual energy. When you begin to touch the very Source of your being then you realize it is not just the human that is singing, but singing is a Divine expression, it is an expression of your soul. That great Power inside of you is singing in and through you.

The joy is feeling it can never stop. That is when the mind becomes purer, that is when the heart becomes purer. How can the Divine be expressed in the mind and heart without it becoming pure? The intention in all of this is grace. It is to experience the grace of that inner power. Open your heart, singing from that space of love. Sing to the Divine until you can feel the Divine is singing through you.


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The Science Behind Chanting
(Sri Vasudeva, 2009)

One of the other things I love to do is to use mantras. Mantras are special sounds.  They are sounds with vibrations that transform your energy and awaken the consciousness. They are not just normal sounds. When chanted by those who are more awakened, the mantras become more powerful. The one who chants the mantra is important. A mantra is said to be Chaitanya (alive). We bring the mantra alive the more awakened we are. In the continuous chanting, we tune our energy body, we purify our energy body, and we transform our energy profile. That is why when you sing, you feel different because there is a transformation of energy that takes place and especially when you chant spiritual sounds and you are awakened, a wonderful tuning process takes place in terms of energy. It is like tuning an instrument which plays melodiously and if it is out of tune, what happens? It creates noise.

When you chant, spiritual centres within you become awakened and they begin to manifest their energies. These centres are called chakras. As you begin to sing, energy centres begin to wake up inside of you. This is one of my profound experiences in India as a young person.  The spiritual centres became awakened. In a spiritual environment, it can be amazing what can be awakened within you.

At the very deepest level when you chant, you are touching the Divine. In the science of sound, it said there are four levels of chanting. The deepest level is called Paraa, it is at the Muladara Chakra, you are touching the Divine, and we touch the very root of energy. And as it comes up into the navel area, we can actually feel some kind of power coming up in the sound, that is the Swadishtana and Manipura Chakras, when this begin to be awakened and to vibrate in your singing, you can actually feel energy inside. The mantra takes a new life and it becomes powerful. At that stage it is called Pashanti. Then it comes to the heart area, Anahat Chakra becomes involved and the sound is called Madhyma. All this is happening in the energy body before sounds comes out though the voice. Then the last stage is called Vigari, where it becomes vocal sound. Speech has these different levels.

When you chant and you become more spiritually awakened, you can actually feel this taking place within your being. This happened to me in India, I never had this experience before but finally as the experience grew in me, I could have felt the Divine singing in and through me. It was no longer ‘I’, the human; it was the Divine singing in and through me. All singers who really touch the Divine deep inside, they will tell you that the sound comes from another place.

When you chant, that should be the intention, to experience the power that is singing in and through you. As you do this, the mind becomes quieter, love comes up into your space, power comes up into your space and a connection to the Divine comes up very powerfully at the Paraa level. When you begin to chant, you are tuning up your energy body, and your chakras are opening up.”

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