There's Something About Sanskrit

Honestly, I never thought I would get too heavily into the whole yogic chanting thing.

I've tried praying and singing in languages other than English before—most intensely in Portuguese as part of the Santo Daime church—but ultimately I find it frustrating and feel like it just adds another layer of separation and symbolism between me and my direct understanding of god.

Sanskrit, however, is different.

Unlike English—where I usually strive for clarity and precision (hey, I'm trying)—with Sanskrit I'm not too concerned about parsing the exact meaning of the words. The definitions are a slippery thing anyway and open to wide interpretation. Just look at how many translations there are of Patanjali's Sutras (currently Amazon returns 1,973 results).

Rather, I feel that the Sanskrit words—which seem to roll off the tongue and create a tangible resonance in the body are—unlike English words which seem designed to engage the logical mind and stay locked there—more of a vessel for intent, rather than cold hard information. Sanskrit naturally goes beyond the ego and straight into the soul, into the heart. Poetry in any language strives for the same effect—and some poetry is so good that it succeeds—but Sanskrit is born from that place.

They say Italian (or maybe French?) is the language of love, but I think it's Sanskrit.

As for practicing chanting, I'm no expert and have never had any formal instruction, but what I try to do is to recite the words from that soul-place, from the heart, and to listen to what comes out and trust that my soul already knows how to pronounce these ancient words and knows just the right rhythm and melody to make them come alive for me.

So let your heart guide you.


And sing.

Here's one of my favourites:

asato ma sadgamayatamaso ma jyotirgamayamrtyorma amrtam gamaya

Lead me from illusion to truth.Lead me from darkness to light.Lead me from death to immortality.

(Brhadaranyaka Upanishad — I.iii.28)