Sacred Chant Translations
This page is currently a work in progress! Come back soon for more.
Typically in my Sacred Sunday classes, I break out the harmonium and maybe even a couple of singing bowls and we do some chanting. Often we'll chant up front for a bit, and for a longer period of time at the end of class as a natural pre-cursor to some silent meditation.
Most of the chants are in Sanskrit, the mother language of yoga, and some are in Gurmukhi or Punjabi depending on the lineage.
The beautiful thing about chanting in a language that is not your native tongue is that you don't get mentally caught up in the words. Their divine connection and vibration are much more available to us when the brain stays out of the way and the heart can simply receive the good vibes and send the signals wherever the chanter needs to be uplifted, healed, protected, and reminded of his/her divinity.
I put these translations together as a reference so that you can check in when you're curious. It's fun to see which mantras you seem to really respond to and find out what they mean!
Om Gam Ganapatayei Namaha
om gum gone-a-pot-tie-yay nom-uh-ha
I bow to Ganapati, remover of obstacles
Ganesh and Ganapati are names for the same deity. "Gam" is the bija or seed sound - shorthand, if you will, for invoking this energy. Ganesh is the elephant-headed deity known as the "remover of obstacles". Traditionally, chanting the name(s) of Ganapati is done at the beginning of a new endeavor to ask that the path ahead be laid for the highest good of the traveler. We cannot tell Ganesh what we perceive to be in the path, only the Divine knows the perfect path for our individual souls. Sometimes the perfect obstacle may appear so that the traveler learns a valuable lesson in how to navigate it.
Om bhur bhuva svah
om boor boovah swaha
tat savitur varenyam
tot sa-vee-toor vuh-rain-yum
bhargo devasya dhimahi
bargo day-voss-yah dee-mah-he
dhiyo yonah prachodayat
dee-yo yo-nah prah-cho dah-yot
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)
Om Namah Shivaya
om nah-mah shee-vy-yuh
Om and salutations to the auspicious one or
I bow to the true teacher that lives within
Om Shrim Maha Lakshmiyei Swaha
om shreem mah-hah lock-shmee-yay swa-ha
Om and salutations to the great Goddess Lakshmi
Chanting to Lakshmi is an act of gratitude for all the forms of abundance we have and continue to receive in our lives. It opens up the heart space and increases our "band width" for manifesting both spiritual and material wealth, loveliness, harmony and kindness.
Sa Ta Na Ma
just like it sounds.
Birth, Sustenance, Dissolution, Rebirth
Also referred to as the "Kirtan Kriya" in the Kundalini tradition, this mantra clears negative energy from old memories and thought patterns, and generally clears out lower vibrating emotions. The end result is a re-calibrating of the brain that brings about balance, calm, peace and deeper understanding. Enhance the effects of the mantra by using the hand mudras for each syllable:
SA - thumb to index finger
TA - thumb to middle finger
NA - thumb to ring finger
MA - thumb to pinky finger
Hari Om Tat Sat
ha dee om tot sot
Divinity as made manifest, Sacred Divine of ALL that is...
This is the absolute truth of all that is.
The "r" in "Hari" is pronounced as a soft "d". "Tat" is a mantra of Shiva, which reinforces the unchangingness of our true nature while cutting away the maya that we are anything but Divine. "Sat" is absolute truth, and also a mantra of Vishnu, the gift of sustaining truth.