A Guide to Common Chants
A starting point for translations, historical information, and pronunciation tips for common chants.
The Primal Shabda
Om, actually pronounced "Aum," is an affirmation of the Divine Presence that is the universe and is similar to the Hebrew "Amen." There are many ways of chanting Aum, but this is an approach that will initiate you as a Shabda Yogi, one who pursues the path of sound toward wholeness and higher states of consciousness.
2. Lokah Samastha
A Chant for Wholeness
Lokah samastha sukhino bhavanthu.
May this world be established with a sense of
well-being and happiness.
Being Illuminated by Sacred Sound
Om bhur bhuvas svaha
Thath savithur varaynyam
Bhargo dheyvasya dhimahih
We worship the word (shabda) that is present in the
earth, the heavens, and that which is beyond. By
meditating on this glorious power that gives us life,
we ask that our minds and hearts be illuminated.
4. Om Namah Shivaaya
Om Namah Shivaaya, Namah Shivaaya, Nama Shiva
I bow to Lord Shiva, the peaceful one who is the
embodiment of all that is cause by the universe.
5. Bija Mantras
In the “seed” (bija) mantras each seed is conceived of as the sound-form of a particular Hindu deity, and each deity is in turn a particular aspect of the Absolute (Brahman). It’s said that just as a great tree resides in within the seed, so does a god or goddess reside in each bija. When we chant the bijas, we identify each syllable with the divine energy they represent.
Curve the tip of your tongue up and back, and place it
on the rear section of the upper palate to pronounce a
sound like the word alum without the initial
Base of the spine
Place the upper set of teeth on the inner section of
your lower lip and begin with a breathy consonant to
imitate the sound of a fast car. Pronounce the mantra
Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of the front
section of the upper palate, roll the r as in
Spanish, and pronounce the mantra like the first part
of the word rumble.
Inhale audibly through your mouth, and pronounce the
word hum (as in humming); allow the breath to
extend beyond the resolution of the consonant.
Solar Plexus and Heart Area
Inhale noiselessly through your mouth, and pronounce
the sound like the word yum (as in yummy);
allow the sound along with your breath to fill your
mouth and throat cavity.
Inhale audibly through your nostrils, and direct the
stream of air to the point between your eyebrows.
Pronounce the sound along with your exhalation as a
subtly audible whisper, allowing the sound and breath
to resonate in the cranial area.
Point between the eyebrows
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