My interest in mantra began practically through curiosity of the opening mantra—chanted before Sūrya Namaskār—and the closing mantra—chanted before Śavāsana—in the Ashtanga Yoga tradition. Some of the mantras presented in this blog do not necessarily pertain to the Ashtanga tradition, but were given to me by teachers at various times in my life.
Although the chants we voice in Ashtanga are not by definition Vedic Mantra, in the Vedic chanting tradition of India exists a profound distillation of the feats of human language and mnemonic devices. Just as the Sanskrit language has stood the test of time because of its meticulous rules, so has Vedic mantra been passed down unchanged due to precise methods of instruction and recitation.
This type of mantra hinges on correctness of varṇaḥ (pronunciation), svaraḥ (notes), mātra (duration), balam (emphasis), sāma (continuity), santānaḥ (punctuation).1 It should be made clear that Vedic mantra is not music. In fact, even some mantra in this system that has a more musical character than the others is considered inferior.
Who are you to comment on mantra?
I have no “formal” training or initiation into a chanting tradition, but following the yogic path, I rely on my experience and discernment to make sense of the phenomena presented to me. For this reason, it only made sense to structure these mantras in a format that allows the reader an opportunity to use their own discernment to form an understanding of the text. The mantras are presented as the Sanskrit mantra in Devanagari, a full romanized transliteration, an English translation, and finally a transliteration.
- Intro to Vedic Chanting by Pandit Ub.Ve Sri Rama Ramanuja Achari
Used in translation
- Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary
- Wisdom Library
- Sanskrit Dictionary
- Sanskrit Dictionary.org
- Pandit Ub.Ve Sri Rama Ramanuja Achari. (2013). Introduction to Vedic Chanting.↩