Day 12 on Use Your Voice: Mantras & Chants ‘ of “Silence & Sound” Chapter
of Remembering Series
[Listen to the audio here]
How I fell in love with chanting
My chanting journey begins with “Om Mani padme hum” where we chant when my grandparents passed away as a part of the ritual. Since young, seeing how my parents chant this whenever we ask for protection or for blessings, I was merely following what was told without deeper understanding of the meaning behind and why is it important.
The first time I started to chant in Sanskrit thanks to Jason Milne who taught us to sing in “Gayatri” Mantra during the Vira Retreat Ladakh Expedition in 2018, hosted by Jin & Stanzin with Kunzang assisted. And then, I experience my second Kirtan in Parmath Nieketan, Rishikesh during my solo journey in India. It was very energised after each kirtan experience and so I realised the significant of chanting in India. Since then, I am in love with chanting.
The Gayatri Mantra in Sanskrit:
Om bhur bhuvah svah tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.
The Gayatri Mantra Translated:
The eternal, earth, air, heaven
That glory, that resplendence of the sun
May we contemplate the brilliance of that light
May the sun inspire our minds.
*Translation by Douglas Brooks
Entering the use of our voice in mantras and chants
PS: The following content is based on what I have learned from James D’Angelo’s book: “The Healing Power of the Human Voice: Mantras, Chants, and Seed Sounds for Health and Harmony”.
Understanding ways to use our voice as a tool for healing:
- Toning is the repetition of single sounds or syllabus, including natural sounds.
- Mantra in Sanskrit means “that which protects and purifies the mind” (mind represents the thoughts and the feelings) which is repetitive in a steady rhythm, it can to be sounded inwardly or out loud. No tone is needed.
- Chanting is a form of singing repetitive short phrases of tones of some sacred text, which is done as part of a ritual.
In the previous post on our natural sounds and how we incorporate our voice in practices like silence and meditation, movement, visualization and touch, we learned that toning can be done slowly and rhythmically. Either standing up, sitting upright or lying down. Best with palms up as if receiving or held at the heart or in prayer position. The other kind of toning are introduced as chakra toning and toning the organs of the body.
Sounding out mantras to expand and elevate our state of consciousness. It is said to purify for the clarity of the mind and for the relaxation and healing of the physical body.
A recommend duration is 5 to 10 minutes with a medium to loud volume. Find a tone that is not too high for a solid resonance. Elongate each vowel and consonant, especially lengthen the final M. Slowly diminishing the volume and allowing the sound to enter the consciousness in silence.
Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism
OM AUM RAUM
Related to the Latin word ‘omnes’ translates as ‘everything or all’. Mayans recognize OM sound link O with the higher consciousness and M with the Earth. Similar to Hindus beliefs on the symbolisation of the beginning and the end of creation. So as the ancient Greek ‘Alpha’ as the first and ‘OMega’ as the last.
Translation: May you live in the peace of the Universal sound.
Translation: I am That.
OM MANI PADME HUM
Translation: Hail, the jewel (mani) in the lotus (padme). Om addresses the universal sound as the Creator being; Hum addresses our individual self, a finite spark of the universal consciousness.
Consists of 2 sacred sounds which is a name for the supreme being. AH sound is a sound where many religions referring to the Godhead. According Mayans, L consonant is the essence of vibration. Allah is a the combination the 2 sounds. Sufi tradition chants ALLAH HUU.
Translation: From the Hebrew Halleluyah, Praise ye Yahweh. Praise ye the Lord.
(AHL-LAY-LOO-YAH) is comparable to the ALLAH in repeating use of the highly vibratory sound of L. Its threefold vowel sequence directs to the heart (AH), throat (AY) and belly (OO). Y sound is link with Yahweh which is the central toning of the heart in Tantra Yoga.
A mantra connects to the sun and its energy. Accompanies with its prayer “Father Sun, give me strength”, standing in the direction of the sun.
In India, the singing of mantra is called a bhajan, often in a form of kirtana where it is sung in a group. For the Indian tribes in North America, they chant to be one with the chant with drums and rattle-type instruments, sitting or standing in circle, holding hands. There is also a version where it is a group collective improvised singing where each express their own sounds in circle.
SRI RAM (SHREE RAHM)
Translation: Honour and Victory to Rama. And adds the universal OM.
(Arapaho chant depicting wolves’ mating calls)
(Chippewa welcoming song)
Sharing some of my favourites who chant or sing: Ajeet Kaur ⋄ Snatam Kaur ⋄ Mirabai Ceiba ⋄ Jai-Jagdeesh ⋄ Sam Garrett ⋄ Imme Ooi.
You may listen to chanting on this playlist: