Resounding Benefits of Chanting: Part 3
Let the Voice Ring
One of the joys of human life is in sweet memories. Such memories may cause fountains of joy to spring in the heart, waves of peace to roll in the mind, and the body to get goose bumps. In India, several great saints in the past and even today looked upon the truth of this experience and, through the nectar of devotion, made it a means to realization.
Where can one find more joy than in sweet thoughts of the Creator, of ourselves and of the Universe? Chanting in India is called Nama-smaran, i.e., remembering the name, the name of God. This Smaran, or chanting, can bring such a unique state of joy and peace that, in spite of living in the world of ups and downs under the influence of maya, one is able to transcend this state and be one again with God.
It is said that Smaran, or memory of the Lord, at the time of death will surely liberate the soul. But if during one’s lifetime the habit or practice is lacking, then this won’t be possible. Therefore chant, chant, chant as much as possible during life.
In the language of yoga, chanting is the same as lshwar-pranidhan. For the yogi, this is repeating, chanting, the mantra Aum. By repeating the name (or mantra), the body and mind are purified, and the one who is chanting will gradually inherit the qualities of the one being invoked, God. Finally, both will merge together, all ignorance is removed, and one attains one’s true identity.
For a person who relates to the formless the name to chant is Aum; for the one who relates to the form, it may be the form of the Divine Mother as Durga, Mary, Ambika, Kali, Radha, Sita, etc.; or it may be the Divine Father as Christ, Buddha, Rama, Krishna, Shiva, etc. Through chanting, one sings the glory and greatness of one’s beloved form of the Lord. The same can be obtained just by listening to chanting.
In the Ramayana, Lord Rama has described chanting as the fourth form of bhakti or devotion. The simplicity and significance of chanting is out of the ordinary. It is unique. For puja (worship), mantra-japa, recitation of stotrams, meditation, or for other practices, some rules are to be observed. For example, worship must be done only after bathing; a stable asana is necessary to meditate; specific mantras need to be used before recitations of stotrams, etc. But to sing the name of God, to remember the Lord, there are no rules or regulations. In any condition, whether the body is pure or impure, at any time or place, no sankalpa (statement of intention), no nyasa (dedication) are needed. Simply remember the name, open the heart, and let the voice ring.
Merge yourself in the Lord – this is meditation. Then lose yourself in Him – this is samadhi. In any condition - while walking, waking, sleeping, whether day or night, any time is best for Nama-smaran. Chant so that rivers of tears roll from your eyes out of love for the Lord. As one saint writes, “Oh Lord! Let my eyes always pour tears in your love!”