The Tree of Knowledge




The Tree of Knowledge

Mystic Chants

Mystic chants is a series of sounds that hold the power to touch the very core of one’s being. Five chants, each unique with its own hue.

The Nirvana Shatakam is an outstanding composition by Adi Shankara, embodying the essence of Vairagya. The Guru Paduka Stotram is a devotional tribute in gratitude and praise of the sandals of the Guru. Brahmananda Swarupa (the image of the Creator’s ecstasy) is a consecrated mantra which one can chant throughout the day to connect to guru’s energy and grace. Aum Namah Shivaya, known as the “Maha Mantra” is a very powerful arrangement of sounds. It is the highlight of the Mahashivarathri meditations. Shambho (the auspicious one) is a very gentle and beautiful manifestation of Shiva who readily responds to those who call upon Him.

Vairagya: Literally meaning transparent, Vairagya denotes a state of being that is unbroken or free of all distortions. Just as clear flowing water in the river acquires the colour of the soil beneath, one who is transparent has no colour of his own. Colour is a product of the breaking up of light, the basis of our ability to see. It is only in the state of Vairagya that one can see as it is. The Nirvana Shatakam is a tune that stirs the very depths of one’s being; it has moved many to tears. Composed by Adi Shankara himself, it embodies the very essence of Vairagya. In the guru’s own words, Nirvana is that which is without form:

mano buddhi ahankara chittani naaham
na cha shrotravjihve na cha ghraana netre
na cha vyoma bhumir na tejo na vaayuhu
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

I am not the mind, the intellect, the ego or the memory,
I am not the ears, the skin, the nose or the eyes,
I am not space, not earth, not fire, water or wind,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

na cha prana sangyo na vai pancha vayuhu
na va sapta dhatur na va pancha koshah
na vak pani-padam na chopastha payu
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

I am not the breath, nor the five elements,
I am not matter, nor the 5 sheaths of conciousness
Nor am I the speech, the hands, or the feet,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

na me dvesha ragau na me lobha mohau
na me vai mado naiva matsarya bhavaha
na dharmo na chartho na kamo na mokshaha
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

There is no like or dislike in me, no greed or delusion,
I know not pride or jealousy,
I have no duty, no desire for wealth, lust or liberation,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

na punyam na papam na saukhyam na duhkham
na mantro na tirtham na veda na yajnah
aham bhojanam naiva bhojyam na bhokta
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

No virtue or vice, no pleasure or pain,
I need no mantras, no pilgrimage, no scriptures or rituals,
I am not the experienced, nor the experience itself,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

na me mrtyu shanka na mejati bhedaha
pita naiva me naiva mataa na janmaha
na bandhur na mitram gurur naiva shishyaha
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

I have no fear of death, no caste or creed,
I have no father, no mother, for I was never born,
I am not a relative, nor a friend, nor a teacher nor a student,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

aham nirvikalpo nirakara rupo
vibhut vatcha sarvatra sarvendriyanam
na cha sangatham naiva muktir na meyaha
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

I am devoid of duality, my form is formlessness,
I exist everywhere, pervading all senses,
I am neither attached, neither free nor captive,
I am the form of conciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

Guru Paduka Stotram: The Guru Paduka Stotram is a very powerful rendition of a well-known chant that glorifies the ‘sandals of the Guru’, which are symbolically represented as ‘the boat to help cross the endless ocean of life.’ This chant will enable those who listen to become receptive to the Guru’s Grace. If grace is not available to you or you are not available to grace, it does not matter how much wealth you have, you will not live a beautiful life. A Guru’s grace is not some airy thing that you imagine; it is a very physical presence. It’s as physical as the breeze that you feel. It’s as physical as the sunlight. What you refer to as the Guru is just a certain energy, a certain possibility. It is not the person. A certain person has only become a representative of that energy and that space. If you have to see, it is light that you need, not the light bulb. But right now that particular light bulb happens to be the source of light. So you tend to think “I cannot exist without the light bulb.” On one level it is true. But the nature of the Guru is not limited to time and space. So it is not because you sit next to the light bulb you get the maximum light. You could be a thousand miles away and you may receive more grace than the person who is right now sitting next to that person.

Success will not come to you without grace. Being successful in what you’re doing will not happen without grace. Without the lubricant of grace your machine will not go too far. Everything will be an uphill task in your life. Most human beings do this to themselves because they are so full of themselves. They will not become available to grace. Everything in their life is hard work – education is hard work, going to work is hard work, marriage is one big hard work. But if you become very receptive to grace, you find everything is effortless because you are now a well-lubricated being.

Brahmananda Swarupa: Brahma refers to the creator. The creator has been described as emptiness, as boundlessness, as light, and as darkness. Whatever is the basis of creation, that’s Brahma. And Brahma is Akhila, which means he’s all-pervading. Ananda refers to the blissfulness or ecstasy of the creator. Swarupa is ‘an image’. So, we are talking about an image of the ecstasy of the creator.

The ecstasy of the creator is manifest in so many ways; it comes in the form of a tsunami, a tornado, sunshine, snow, and most of all, absolute stillness. A major part of the creator’s ecstasy is expressed as absolute stillness. Here and there, one planet, one galaxy, little tsunami, little tornado, but a major part of it is stillness. When we invoke a chant like this, this is not just a chant, a certain amount of work has been done on it. It has been kind of consecrated, you can say. The very sound has been consecrated. When we consecrate a sound like this, it has been done with the intention that a large part of you will become stillness but you will retain the liveliness of life around you. A chant can either be used as a key, or it can be used as raiment that you wear. It is clothing that you wear all the time. So this is more like your clothing, this is not a seed. If you keep on chanting, it will be around you. If sufficient involvement goes into it, if it becomes your life’s breath.

It happened with Ram Das. Ram Das was at the time an unrecognized sadhak. He was wandering and, one night, he slept in somebody’s home. In the middle of the night, the owner of the house realized that somebody was chanting, “Ram, Ram, Ram”. The owner was annoyed, as he wanted to sleep. So he went to check on Ram Das, but he found that the saint was fast asleep. But he could still hear the sound of “Ram, Ram, Ram”. Then he slowly went towards Ram Das and the sound emanating from his body. Ram Das’ whole life had been into this so much that even when he slept, the body was just reverberating “Ram, Ram, Ram”. You can make this chant like that, but it takes a lot. Such people, they don’t speak anything else. They won’t utter any other word. If they want to call you, they’ll say, “Ram, Ram.” If they want to give you something, “Ram, Ram.” They won’t say anything else. They do not want to disturb their system with any other sound other than that one chant. Slowly, this sound becomes like a coating, like a shield around them, a cocoon of certain energy, that it reverberates only that. It is a beautiful way of doing things, but how could you do it? How could you reply, “Brahmananda Swarupa,” to everyone? But you could do it for short periods of time. And on certain days, you could take a break from everything, go into silence and just chant through the day. It will make a big difference.

Aum Namah Shivaya: The basic mantra, which is held as the Mahamantra in certain cultures, is Aum Namah Shivaya. ‘Aum Namah Shivaya’ can be practiced in different dimensions. These are known as panchaksharas, which represent the five elements in nature. We may wish to use this mantra as a purificatory process, and at the same time as a foundation, as a base for all meditativeness. Aum Namah Shivaya is not a bad word. You can utter it. The question is just, ‘Are you ready for it?’ It is not about somebody. You’re not calling somebody. You want to dissolve yourself, because Shiva is a destroyer. If you call a destroyer and then you’re hoping that he will save you, it’s a mistake, isn’t it?

Shambho: It is the chant that symbolizes the most auspicious thing that can happen to a person – to realize the highest within yourself. An important aspect of Shiva is called as Shambho. Normally, Shambho, or this aspect of the root energy is worshipped by only people who are in the spiritual path, because the word Shambho means “the auspicious one”. The most auspicious thing that can happen to you is to realize yourself, to reach the highest within yourself. We think, unfortunately, that getting married is auspicious, getting a promotion is auspicious, building a new house is auspicious. The most auspicious thing that can happen to you in your life is that you reach the peak within yourself.

Shambho is the form in which we are able to call him down to us here very easily, in that form he seems to respond to us much better than any other form. In certain systems of yoga, people master the creation of powerful forms. You have heard these kinds of things – Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to feed Kali with his own hands and she used to eat food. This is 100% reality. For a logical, thinking mind this looks like absolute nonsense, isn’t it? He must have been hallucinating. He was not hallucinating; it is just that his consciousness was so crystallized, whatever form he revered was just created right there. So you want Kali, Kali is right there. Anything that you want can be created right there simply because all these forms were established long ago for sadhana. Different yogis, different systems created various forms. There are various beautiful forms and very hideous forms; all kinds of forms people created.

The sound Shambho is very, very significant. In many ways this space is engineered around that sound. The power of this sound and the capability of this sound to liberate a being from one dimension of entanglement and move him to a different state of freedom is something phenomenal, especially because everything that we have done here is engineered around this particular reverberation.

(Extracts from Isha news, Isha Foundation)

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