“One of my goals in life is to do the slowest Primary Series anywhere… rather than the quickest”. Richard Freeman

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

August 2012 Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami-Divine Mother (Sakthi) Chants

Dear Yoga Friend:

I am in Los Angeles, teaching a 200 hr Vinyasakrama Yoga Program at
Loyola Marymount University. Again I am fortunate to have a compact
but very yoga dedicated and talented group of participants coming from
different places, regions and countries..Brazil, Mexico, Lithuania,
UK, Australia. We are into the fourth week. The program is scheduled
to conclude on Aug 11th 2012. It also affords me a chance to  meet
many  friends in LA -David Hurwitz, Ross Smith, Sarah Mata, Lisa
Leeman, Arun Deva, Dr Chris
Chapple, Amparo Denney, Maxine Mills and several others.
In August I will be teaching a two day workshop on
Pranayama and Vinyasa Krama - August 16 - 17th - 9:30 am - 12:30 pm &
2- 5:30 pm
at Ananda Ashram in Munroe New York.
http://www.ananda-ashram-yoga-teacher-training.com/

DIVINE MOTHER (SAKTHI)CHANTS.

With the end of summer, the festive season starts in India. Ganesa
Chaturti, Krishna Janmashtami, the ten day Dasara and then Deepavali
all happening during the rest of the calender year. Festivity is
always associated with devotional fervor.

Patanjali recognizes the importance of devotion to the Divine in his
Yogasutras. While considerable emphasis is placed on individual effort
for all levels of yogis, the importance of taking divine help and
guidance is emphasized with equal vigor. Iswarapranidhana in three
different contexts emphasizes this aspect. Whether one is a born yogi
as in the Samadhi pada or the entry level yogi attempting Kriya Yoga
or the lifelong Ashtanga Yogi in Sadhana Pada all can benefit from
this aspect of Yoga immensely. He also includes Swadhyaya or study and
chants in both Kriya Yoga and Ashtanga Yoga for both spiritual
knowledge and communion with one's favorite deity or Ishtadevata.
Patanjali includes meditation as per one's own religious disposition
as a powerful practice even for the Samadhi yogi in the sutra
"yetabhimata dhyanad va" Some of the commentators like Sadasiva
Brahmendra following the traditional line, interpret yetabhimata as
following one of the six traditional methods of worship in India. Adi
Sankara who wrote several outstanding works in Sanskrit on the six
deities is hailed as "Shanmata sthapanacharya" or the one who
formalized the six matas or religious denominations, which are as
follows

1, Ganapathya or worship of Ganapathi/Ganesa 2. Kaumara or worship of
Subrahmanya or Muruga as more popularly known in South India 3. Saura
or worship of Sun 4. Vaishnava or worship of Vishnu and His many
avataras such as Rama and Krishna 5. Saiva or worship of Siva and 6.
Saakta or worship of Sakti or Divine Mother. This is a great help to
many Yogis who have no problem with God and religion. Another
expression used in Yoga and elsewhere in the vedas is Svadhyaya and
the conventional interpretation is that of chanting vedas, and the
benefit according to Patanjali is communion with one's own deity
(ishtadevata). Iswarapranidhana also is the term used by Patanjali on
three different occasions giving considerable importance to Bhakti or
devotion. Sri Krishnamacharya was foremost an exceptional Bhakti Yogi.
He would interpret "Iswarapranidhanat va" as "Iswarapranidhanat eva"
indicating that devotion was a superior path. Hence while there is
considerable scope for individual effort in Yoga, one with Bhakti
appears to command considerable advantage in the path of Yoga.

The worship of Divine Mother as sakthi is a very popular devotional
practice. There are several works on Sakthi that are very popular. One
of them is Lalita Sahasranama

Lalita Sahasranama (1000 names of Lalita) is a sacred Hindu text for
the worshippers of the Goddess Lalita Devi, i.e. The Divine Mother, in
the form of her power,Shakti. Lalita is the Goddess of bliss, an
epithet for Shiva's wife Goddess Parvati. Etymologically, "Lalita"
means "She Who Plays". In the root form (vyutpatti), the word "Lalita"
means "spontaneous" from which the meaning "easy" is derived and from
there the word implicitly extends to "play". It is supposedly one of
the most complete stotras which can be recited for complete salvation


The names are organised as in a hymn or stotra. This work occurs in
the Brahmanda Purana. It is a dialogue between Hayagriva, an (avatar)
of Mahavishnu.Hayagriva is the god of learning and knowledge and the
great sage Agastya. The temple atThirumeyachur,near Kumbakonam is said
to be the place where sage Agastya was initiated into this
sahasranama.
The slokas are organised in such a way that Devi is described from
"Head to Feet" also  popularly known as kesadi-padanta-varnana. This
kind of worship is said to enormously help in meditation.

Lalita Sahasranama is held as a sacred text for the worship of the
Divine Mother It is one of the principal texts of Shakti worshippers.
Lalita Sahasranama names the various attributes of the Divine Mother,
and all these names are organised in the form of a hymn. This
Sahasranama is used in various modes for the worship of the Divine
Mother. Some of the modes of worship are parayana or recitation,
archana or individual offering for each name,homa or fire offering,
etc.

Usually, in a sahasranamam, if the same name repeats, the commentators
use their scholarship and inspiration to give different meanings to
different occurrences of the same name (this practise occurs also in
Jewish Talmudic commentary). Lalita sahasranama has the unique
distinction, among all the sahasranamas, of not repeating even a
single name. Further, in order to maintain the metre, sahasranamas use
the artifice of adding words like tu, api, ca, and hi, just fillers.
The Lalita Sahasranama however does not make any use of such auxiliary
conjunctions and is therefore unique in being a pure enumeration of
holy names that meet the metrical, poetical and mystic requirements of
a sahasranama solely by their order throughout the text.

Lalita Sahasranama is a very popular chant. Many people  worship
Sakthi as the Supreme Creatrix, Universal Mother, Her Majesty above
all other devatas including the Trinity of devas, Brahma, Vishnu and
Siva. Many chant the Sahasranama every day in the morning and or more
frequently at dusk. Popular days for the Lalita Sahasranama chants are
Fridays, Tuesdays and especially the Full Moon.

As I have mentioned many times, I recited this and had this work
recorded in 1982 by Sangeetha which can be got on line from the
following link

http://www.sangeethamusic.com/album-details.php?album_id=1552

I find one can also play/listen to it from the following link

http://www.muzigle.com/track/sri-lalitha-sahasranama-stotram-4

Another important Sakthi work is Devi Mahatmayam from a purana called
Markandeya Purana. This Sanskrit work has been translated into many
languages including Tamil. Popularly known as Chandi and also Durga
Sapta Sati as it contains 700 Slokas, it is recited regularly
especially during the Dasra/Navaratri festivals in early Fall.

The Devī Māhātmya slokas are from chapters 81-93 of the Mārkandeya
Purana, one of the early Sanskrit Puranas, which is a set of stories
being related by the sage Markandeya to Jaimini and his students (who
are in the form of birds). The thirteen chapters of Devi Māhātmyam are
divided into three charitas or episodes.

The narrative of Devi Mahatmyam presents a dispossessed king, a
merchant betrayed by his family, and a sage whose teachings lead them
both beyond existential suffering. The sage instructs by recounting
three different epic battles between the Devi, the supreme Mother and
various demonic adversaries (the three tales being governed by,
respectively, Mahakali (Chapter 1), Mahalakshmi (Chapters 2-4) and
Mahasaraswati (Chapters 5-13). Most famous is the story of Mahishasura
Mardini - Devi as "Slayer of the Buffalo Demon" - personification of
Tamas and a tale known almost universally in India.

It takes about three hours to chant it in its entirity. I had this
recorded by Sangeetha in the mid-eighties. Here is the link for
download
http://www.sangeethamusic.com/album-details.php?album_id=1513
I find that this volume, one can play/listen from the following link
http://www.muzigle.com/home#!album/devi-mahathmyam-2
Mooka Panchasati, a five hundred verse work by Mook Kavi, is another
beautiful work . Written in unuasual Sanskrit meters, it is an
exceptional work of Sanskrit beautySri Muka Panchashati was composed
by Sri Muka Sankarendra Saraswati, the 20th Acharya to adorn Sri
Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. The acharya was the son of one Vidyavati, an
astrologer and astronomer. He was a congenital deaf-mute. But through
the grace of Goddess Kamakshi he gained the power of speech. On
knowing this attainment of speech by Mooka because of the grace of
Devi, the then Acharya of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, Sri Vidyaghana,
sent for the boy's parents and told them of his intention of giving
sanyasa to the boy and, with their consent, gave sanyasa to the boy
and ordained him as his successor in the Kamakoti Math. Vikramaditya
Sakari of Ujjain, Matrugupta, some time king of Kashmir, and
Pravarasena, who succeeded Matrugupta on the throne, all considered it
a rare privilege to serve at the feet of this great Acharya. Muka
Sankara is the author of Muka Panchasati, a lyrical outburst of poetry
on Kamakshi, The brilliance of the work is said to be rivaled only by
Lila Suka's Krishna Karnamrta. He attained mukti at a village near
Godavari on full moon day in the month of Sravana of the cyclic year
Dhatu (437 AD). Some consider him as the avatara of Kalidasa an
outstanding Sanskrit poet, himself a great devotee of Sakti.

I chanted this beautiful work in the mid-eighties and played a few
slokas to the Paramcharya of Kanch Mutt. He listened intently to
different portions for almost half an hour and blessed me with a shawl
and himself released it at the Kanchi Mutt on the Dasara day, the day
of victory for Devi. It was a red-letter day for me. The recording is
available on line from Sangeetha

http://www.sangeethamusic.com/album-details.php?album_id=1596
The following link can be used to listen/play the album

http://www.muzigle.com/album/mooka-panchashathi

Another chant I did which is dedicated to Durga is Durga Sahasranamam
in early 2000. It is in the form of a stotra. It is from
Skandamahapurana and again is chanted during the Navaratrri/ Dasara
time. It is again a beautiful piece. You can listen to it . Here is
the link
http://www.muzigle.com/album/sri-durga-sahasranamam
The Sun is worshiped in the female form in the name of Gayatri. In
this volume many Gayatri meter mantras and also the Saharanama of
Gayatri Devi can be found, This was recorded in 2002 Here is a link

http://music.raag.fm/Sanskrit/songs-21251-Gayathri_Sahasranama-Srivatsa_Ramaswami

To listen to  my other albums, about 20, you may open the following
link and search for Srivatsa Ramaswami

http://www.muzigle.com/track/

With best wishes
Sincerely
Srivatsa Ramaswami

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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