The Sweetness of Chanting

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59. Sakala-buvana-srstih

kalpitasesapustir,

Nikhila-nigama-drstih

sampadam vyarthadrstih;

Avaguna-parimarstis

tat-padarthaika-drstir,

Bhava-guna-paramestir

moksa-margaika-drstih.                       (missing the diacritical marks)

(May the divine glance of the Guru ever dwell upon me.  It creates all worlds.  It brings all nourishment.  It has the viewpoint of all holy scriptures.  It regards wealth as useless.  It removes faults.  It remains focused on the Ultimate.  It is the highest ruler of the three gunas,  which constitute the world.  Its only goal is (to lead others on) the path of liberation.)

If you’ve ever read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, you might remember her ranting on and on about the early morning chant called the Guru Gita.  It’s one of my favorite parts of her book, because I, too, have felt the weight of those 182 verses.  And yet, I’ve been chanting those verses on and off for more than thirty years.

Only last week, on another quiet COVID-19 Sunday morning, we finished our regular meditation and decided we might as well chant the Guru Gita.  

What a fortunate decision!  With nowhere to go, and nobody around to distract me, I sank into the familiar chant as if sinking into a warm, fragrant bath.  The Sanskrit tasted good in my mouth, like ripe, juicy fruit.  It felt like coming home. Why had it taken me four months of social isolation to start chanting? I wondered.

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Later, I recalled something that (I think) was said by  Swami Muktananda. If your mind is too agitated for meditation, chant instead.

Chanting was what brought me into Siddha Yoga.  I still choose to listen to kirtan with Alexa or Spotify.  If the chant sticks in my head (I’m susceptible to ear worms), I don’t mind because the continuous repetition of names of the Divine is preferable to pop lyrics.

In Gilbert’s memoir, she solves her battle with the Guru Gita by dedicating it to her nephew.  The corona virus seems to have reopened a path for me.

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