The Resounding Benefits of Chanting
Part one of a four-part series
At the start of every public meditation program, Shri Anandi Ma leads the group in chanting the Divine Name and explains its many benefits. On the most basic level, chanting increases devotional feelings and brings joy to the chanter. As a bonus, the positive energy generated by the chanting lingers in the physical environment. On a spiritual level, this practice focuses the mind and improves the quality of one’s meditation. Its purifying quality aids in removing obstacles to spiritual growth, and helps us surrender to the higher Self. Given that it stirs the Kundalini energy, chanting by itself it is sufficient to take one to liberation.
Given that it stirs the Kundalini energy, chanting by itself it is sufficient to take one to liberation.
In Brahmanada: Sound, Mantra and Power, Guruji clearly explains how chanting works within us and our environment:
The vibrations, the waves of sound, first affect the Akash (Ether), then the causal body, then it creates an equal effect upon the subtle and gross. When, by the effect of sound, joy is enhanced, then all kinds of tasks become pleasurable, and everything can be accomplished in a better way. It is seen that if melodious music is played while cows are being milked, their quantity is increased. By the sound of music the cobra becomes calm. Deer are tamed by the sound of music. When sound is created, if it is full of feeling, then its effect is more powerful.
When sound is created, if it is full of feeling, then its effect is more powerful.
The mind does not wander, once it has become engrossed in the sound. Just as water mixes in milk, so does the mind mix with the sound which becomes one with the chittakash (space in the mind). By this practice the disciple becomes a person of self-control, indifferent to worldly matters. The mind becomes one with the sound, leaving aside actions and worries of all kinds.
The mind engrossed in the sound does not become attached to sense pleasures, just as the wasp engrossed in sucking juice from the flower does not care for the flower’s scent. The mind soon becomes stable in grasping the sound. Mind, bound with the sound, becomes internal and ceases to wander in the matters of the world. Thus, as an elephant is controlled by an iron rod, so is the mind checked by the sound. The sound is the internal means to entrap the mind, thus serving as a cage to keep the wandering mind within. The sound works as a bridge to connect the individual soul (Jiva) with “Brahma.”
The sound works as a bridge to connect the individual soul (Jiva) with “Brahma.”
Chanting takes many forms. In devotional chanting, we sing the names of God to specific melodies and rhythms that help to calm the mind and open the heart. Mirabhai, a great saint who lived in India 500 years ago, constantly sang of her love for Lord Krishna. The devotion that manifested through her chanting changed the lives of all who heard her and ultimately brought her liberation. In His book, Brahmanada, Guruji says that anyone in great difficulty who ardently repeats the name of Rama is released from his troubles.
Guruji says that anyone in great difficulty who ardently repeats the name of Rama is released from his troubles.
Guruji also taught that chanting the mantra “Aum” is the easiest and most powerful way to increase faith and ensure success on the spiritual path. “The first spiritual effect of the repetition of ‘Aum’ is the ability to observe one’s inner self. Once the repetition of ‘Aum’ raises one’s ability and habit of introspection, it destroys obstacles in the way of spiritual practices and progress.” For this reason, He recommended that we begin any spiritual practices by repeating “Aum” three times.
Chanting can also take the form of repeating mantras. It is a common practice to mentally repeat mantras, as with the mantra given at shaktipat, but at times, on special occasions, we chant this mantra aloud, in unison. This practice is an extremely powerful method for increasing concentration and raising the energy level of the group. At the Vajra Panjar Retreats, during which Shri Anandi Ma and Dileepji give the empowered teachings that Guruji described as the “cream” of his spiritual practices, we learn the Hanuman Chalisa and the Ram Raksha Stotram. These are collections of mantras that are chanted aloud, ideally in a group, for purposes of creating personal and collective protection, healing, peace and joy.
Shri Anandi Ma explains that if we chant the names of God as we cook, the energy of the chanting actually enters the food itself. . .
Chanting can be done anywhere, any time. It is especially beneficial to chant when preparing meals. Shri Anandi Ma explains that if we chant the names of God as we cook, the energy of the chanting actually enters the food itself and changes its quality, so that whoever eats that food receives the benefits. Chanting a prayer before eating also purifies and changes the nature of the food. For this reason, Ma encourages us to chant while we prepare meals, and recommends that we always repeat the “meal prayer” before meals.
We can also benefit by simply listening to recordings of chanting. When a realized being like Guruji or Shri Anandi Ma chants, there is tremendous energy available to us. We have been so blessed to experience “the sound of God.” Through their sankalpa (will), their recordings allow us to receive this sound energy at any time, lifting the energy within ourselves and our environment.
So, whether by chanting alone or in groups, or by experiencing the beautiful voices of our gurus on recordings, or by singing the names of God as we prepare meals, let us all enjoy the fruits of the powerful practice of chanting.
Please share your experiences of chanting in the comment box below.