Navaratri or the Nine Nights of Durgā as a time for Mantra Sādhana

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The nine-night long Navaratri, an important occasion in India, is celebrated as a time to honour the Divine Feminine, especially the Goddess Durgā within the Indian tradition. It will commence today Thursday 21st September 2017, the first day of the month of Aśvin, according to the Hindu calendar. During this time the primary focus is Durgā manifesting through three primary aspects of the Divine Feminine.

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Learning to Chant the Four Chapters of the Yoga Sūtra

Learning to Chant the Four Chapters of the Yoga Sūtra

This post is a kind of addendum to a longer post last August on ‘The strength, depth and potential of Krishnamacharya’s teachings around practice Sādhana“. In this post I talked about the long term development and refinement of the different aspects that constitute a Yoga practice.

These many different aspects of formal practice fell into two general groups:

  • Firstly Bahya Aṅga Sādhana through Haṭha Yoga and the practice of Kriyā, Āsana, Mudrā, Prāṇāyāma and Bandha
  • Secondly Antar Aṅga Sādhana through Rāja Yoga and the practice of Dhyānam and Bhakti Adhyayanam or the chanting of the Veda or Jñāna Adhyayanam or the chanting of the Yoga Sūtra

In this post I also used the analogy of raising a family and how to accommodate the “the emerging of other issues we have to contend with, such as the impact on our time, energy and priorities around additional commitments”.

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Experiencing the Yoga Sūtra through Chanting

Experiencing the Yoga Sūtra through Chanting

Over two years ago I offered a short post around Making a start in learning to Chant the Yoga Sūtra, an extract from which is quoted below:

“Mostly we come across the teachings of the Yoga Sūtra through a group class situation or by coming across a book. This is fine as a starting point, however longer term the Yoga Sūtra needs to permeate from the inside rather than just be read and thought about from the outside.

A good starting point for initiating this psychic process is to learn how to chant as a process in itself and then how to chant the Yoga Sūtra specifically. As well as offering a deepening of contact with those special Bhāvana that arise from Chanting, this can also be extremely helpful for the memory processes involved.

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Kayena Vāca – Yoga Sūtra Chanting Closing Prayer with Translation

Yoga Sūtra Chanting Closing Prayer

This post follows on from yesterday’s post introducing the use of and intention within the practice of closing chants that follow the study of chanting, or the study of associated Yoga texts. Traditionally chant practice or textual study was also preceded with an invocatory passage to help forge a link between the chanters, what is about to be chanted and its purport, as well as setting a context for study.

Thus each area of study that the teacher and student were about to venture into was preceded by an appropriate Dhyānam Ślokam, or set of verses that specifically linked the chanters with that particular area of study or practice. Therefore the opening verses would differ according to whether the focus was Veda Chanting, the Upaniṣat, the Bhagavad Gītā, the Yoga Sūtra, etc.

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Even these days the influence of Krishnamacharya’s teachings……

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Picture courtesy of KYM Archives

Even these days, the influence of Krishnamacharya’s teachings around Yoga are primarily known through his exacting teaching of Āsana. This has also been mainly experienced in the West with the developmental work of his early students, such as through the choreographical artistry in the work of Pattabhi Jois or through the geometrical precision in the work of BKS Iyengar.

However this area of Āsana teaching, though itself multifaceted and hugely influential, if disproportionately predominant within Yoga today, only reveals one aspect of the many dimensions of practice expressed within his teaching. This teaching evolved and refined over 70 years, from his return from his long stay around the borders of Nepal and Tibet in 1919, to his death in 1989

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Śānti Pataḥ – Saha Nāvavatu with Translation

Desikachar and Paul Chanting in 1999

Śānti Pataḥ – Saha Nāvavatu with Translation

I have been teaching a Practitioner Training Group this weekend with a textual focus around the teachings of the Upaniṣat, especially the Taittirīya Upaniṣat Chapters 2 and 3.

Traditionally textual study or chanting practice was preceded and ended with a Śānti Pataḥ or invocatory passage to help forge a link between the chanters, what is chanted and its purport, as well as setting a context for textual study.

So it felt appropriate to include Saha Nāvavatu for our study together, as it is the opening invocation for the Taittirīya Upaniṣat Chapters 2 and 3, as well as for other Upaniṣat such as the Kaṭha and the Nārāyaṇa Upaniṣat.

This chant is where the teacher and the pupil chant together asking for harmonious co-operation within a context of keen and vigorous exploration of what is and especially what isn’t the self and the non-self. A topic fraught with potential resistances and self-illusion.

saha nāvavatu |
Together may we be protected

saha nau bhunaktu |
Together may we enjoy our studies

saha vīryaṃ karavāvahai |
Together may we work vigorously

tejasvi nāvadhītamastu mā vidviṣāvahai ||
Let our study together be fiery (to illuminate) and
(because of this) may we not hate (each other).

om śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ ||

View or download this post with a translation plus Chant Notations in Devanāgarī and Romanised Saṃskṛta.

To Download or Listen to a recording
From my personal library of recordings from my studies with my teacher TKV Desikachar recorded by one of his senior chant students Sujaya Sridhar.

Making a start in learning to Chant the Yoga Sūtra

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Mostly we come across the teachings of the Yoga Sūtra through a group class situation or by coming across a book.

This is fine as a starting point, however longer term the Yoga Sūtra needs to permeate from the inside rather than just be read and thought about from the outside.

A good starting point for initiating this psychic process is to learn how to chant as a process in itself and then how to chant the Yoga Sūtra specifically.

read more