Tune into the sacred, heart-opening potential of devotional chanting and allow your whole being to embrace the good vibrations. Yoga and philosophy teacher and kirtan musician Radha Rani explains how we can understand sacred verses and merge with the frequencies of the universe.
We are all vibration. Solid matter doesn’t actually exist; according to quantum physics we are all just energy vibrating at different frequencies. Sound is one of the most powerful tools we have. Language for us helps us to communicate, but on a deeper, more primitive level we have sound that affects us in strong ways. Throughout the ages we have used song. The intoning of sound to reach one another, just as the song of the whale calls to each other across the oceans, we too have called to each other. Ancient tribes all over the world have used song or intoning as a means of communication that’s far more important in their culture than speech.
The Japanese scientist Masaru Emoto noted what happened to water when music was played. Different sounds produced different effects, and literally changed the shape of water molecules. The most clear and beautiful shapes were those made by pure intention, such as the words of love and peace, classical music and prayers. Sound is such a clear and strong vibration and wondrously creates resonance. Resonance is when a vibration is made through sound, which produces vibrations in surrounding objects of the same natural frequencies. For example, when you play a D on the A string of a violin, the D string vibrates.
The most sacred sounds in the world, according to yogic philosophies, are said to be mantras. They affect you on a cellular level. Even if you do not understand their meaning in a literal sense, your body begins to open up to this higher vibration of energy. They are part of the practice of Bhakti Yoga, which is thought to be the short-cut to merging with the Divine, Loving Awareness or Super Consciousness. The Sanskrit language was derived from the very sounds of nature and is recorded back to the early part of the second millennium BCE in the Rigveda. These sacred sounds and vibrations were realised by the ancient Rishis (great knowers or meditators who heard the song of the earth and the stars and began reciting them). They were then recorded in the Vedas – the ancient texts comprised of a large collection of hymns, incantations (Samhitas) and theological and spiritual philosophical discussions in the Brahmanas and Upanishads. Even The Bhagavad Gita was comprised in a lyrical way, the literal translation being The Song of the Spirit. These sacred verses have been passed down through the ages, mostly from guru to disciple through verbal recitation. By the time they make their way to us, they have been translated, however many of the nuances of the language have been lost, so to dwell on them in a literal sense can detract from the meaning and the actual experience of Vedic verses. Knowing the literal translation takes us back into the intellect rather than the heart. Mantras have been used as a way of freeing the mind of the patterning of consciousness and opening the heart.
So how do we use mantras? There are a few ways of experiencing mantras; one is to listen and let your body absorb the sound vibrations of the mantra. A more powerful way is to sound them out, and the most powerful way is to intone them silently inside. By saying a mantra you are literally tuning yourself to resonate at the same vibrational frequency as Divine Consciousness, or the specific deity associated with that mantra – the divine qualities present in all of us, or the healing power or intention of that mantra. Eventually, as you come to resonate at the same frequency as the mantra, they say in Sufism: “You stop doing the mantra, and the mantra starts doing you.”
The greatest teacher of the Hare Krishna mantra is Lord Caitanya, the incarnation of Krishna who appeared 500 years ago in India, and stated: “It cleans the heart of all the dirt accumulated for many lifetimes and puts out the fire of material life, of repeated birth and death.” According to the Vedic literature, we experience difficulties in life only because we have lost touch with our original, pure consciousness. Mantras help us to fast track into that loving vibration of Our True Nature.
From my experience, the energy in a room is completely transformed when a mantra has been chanted. The focus and intention or drishti and dharana of the practitioners in a space become collective with the sound of Aum. The intention of the mantra unfolds and the vibrations bring a calming, soothing quality to all.
In yoga practice, my experience is heightened by the use of mantra and I often feel that the practice has not really begun or been completed without the use of mantra. So why aren’t more yoga teachers using mantras? Because they are tricky things to say and repeat and there is a level of fear around them. Yet all of the students I have had, even those who have shied away from repeating mantras or wanted to run from the room screaming when they first heard them, have grown to love and respect them, even crave them. Another issue we have in the West is that we have taken these sacred sounds and modernised them. This is a great way to bring them into our present world, a testament to the mantras themselves that we want to embrace them in this way, but the message and intonation of how they should be sounded out sometimes gets lost.
With my recently released album Mantra: the Sounds of Akhanda Yoga, I have tried to keep to a simple and clear way of intoning the mantras that I was taught in the ashram in Rishikesh northern India – Anand Prakash Ashram. I am not Indian so they are not in any way perfect, but hopefully easy for the Western ear to pick up and begin to learn. This project began as a way to create a learning tool to teach mantra to those going through our Akhanda Yoga Teacher trainings on the Gold Coast, but has grown beyond that so to be enjoyed by all those wishing to deepen their practice of yoga and tune their inner vibrations. Working with Tone Wonderland of Wilsons Creek, who has worked with Deva Premal and Mitten, we looked at trying to bring the timeless quality of these ancient mantras into this album. This collection of mantras is one that everyone could easily learn, and these mantras are some of the most powerful I know.
We could all benefit from more mantra, so just begin with Om (Aum), the most profound and well-known. Om is said to be the sound of the very universe itself.
Radha Rani teaches yoga and philosophy on Akhanda Yoga Teacher Trainings and has released two albums. She has a great love of yogic philosophy and focuses on the more meditative and bhakti (devotional) side of yoga. Radha regularly leads kirtans, singing and playing her harmonium.
You can buy Radha Rani’s latest album, Mantra – Sounds of Akhanda Yoga, at www.cdbaby.com/radharani or on itunes