If you’ve ever done any chanting in your yoga excursions, you know the powerful effect it can have. It makes you feel awesome! It comes out of a tradition of devotion–Bhakti Yoga. There are lots of other practices besides chanting in the Bhakti limb on the Eight Limbed Tree of Yoga. There are fire ceremonies, pujas, poetry dedicated to the Divine, simple songs, known as bhajans, Sacred dance, and meditations on your chosen diety–your ista devata. It’s all about immersing yourself in the emotion of love toward your Divine Beloved, the highest, most wondrous essence of Life itself.
I’ve been chanting the names of God that I learned from the Integral Yogis since I started studying Yoga in 1973. I was immediately attracted to the way the Sanksrit sounded, and the way it felt when I sang the holy mantras. I begged a travelling swami to record the “Suddha Shakti” chants for me, and I began chanting them night and day, it got me so high! Chanting took me out of my ego, and out of my limited mind into a place of trancendence. And as a newbie, I found it was easier to settle down with chanting, than with meditation.
In the 70’s I was writing songs and traveling with my all-female band, Ira Gobu. We did mostly original material, and when I got into yoga, my songs began to reflect my new-found devotion to my Guru, Swami Satchidananda. I released an album of original songs, titled Water My Soul dedicated to him back in 1989 and recently had it re-digitized–a 25th-anniversary re-issue– so we can now enjoy it on CD!
There are so many artists and Yogis doing sacred chants and devotional bhajans these days. I’m a big fan of Jai Uttal, Krishna Das, Sean Johnson, Deva Premal, Wah!–there are too many to mention. I recently went to Bhakti Fest in Madison, Wisconsin, and got to enjoy hearing Sean Johnson live–it was awesome. I’d love to hear from you what your favorites are! I really want to get back to making music more prominent in my life, so I’m working on a new album. You can hear some of the tracks on Soundcloud at https://soundcloud.com/meerakerr/tracks. Most of them are free to download.
Before he left his body, Swami Satchidananda, asked me to create a CD of continuous chanting of OM, with piano accompaniment. I was deeply honored that my teacher asked me to do something for him! I initially recorded just piano and voice, but later added singing bowls, a gong, and a synthesizer. It’s soothing to listen to when you’re having a massage, doing your yoga practice, or in the background when you’re working. If you’d like to envelop yourself in the vibration of OM, the cosmic hum of the universe, Omniscient Om is now available at CD BABY.
Whether you enjoy just listening to devotional music or you want to get in the act and do some chanting yourself, I encourage you to make Bhakti Yoga part of your Yoga practice. Om Shanthi.