Forty-five years ago, on Friday, January 7, 1972, in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, Baba Muktananda inaugurated the daily recitation of Shri Guru Gita as a morning practice in the Ashram Daily Schedule. Each year Siddha Yogis honor this anniversary as an important day in the history of the Siddha Yoga path.
Shri Guru Gita—Sanskrit for “Song of the Guru”—is a scripture to be studied and a mantra to be repeated. In the introduction to The Nectar of Chanting, Baba describes the 182 verses of Shri Guru Gita as “one long mantra” and extols it as “the one indispensable text” of the Siddha Yoga path. Baba teaches that reciting Shri Guru Gita is a form of svadhyaya, study of the Self. The recitation of Shri Guru Gita is an immersion in sacred sounds and a form of mantra japa.
Shri Guru Gita is a hymn, composed in traditional Sanskrit verse forms, which describes a dialogue between Lord Shiva, the primordial Guru, and Goddess Parvati, his consort and disciple. In this dialogue, Lord Shiva expounds on the nature of Shri Guru, the power of the Guru’s grace, the importance of devotion and service to the Guru, and the ways that the Guru leads the disciple to the knowledge of the Self.
Lord Shiva praises the greatness of this hymn by referring to it as “mantraraja,” literally, “king of mantras,” a supreme mantra—in verses 52, 61, 107, and 133. In verse 133 the Lord says:
Even one letter of the Guru Gita is a supreme mantra.
One should repeat it.
There are several versions of Shri Guru Gita found in different scriptures of India. One of the sources of this text is identified in the final lines of the version recited on the Siddha Yoga path:
Thus ends the Guru Gita, which occurs in the dialogue between
Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in the latter portion of
Shri Skanda Purana.
Shri Skanda Purana is one of India’s ancient books, containing stories, philosophical teachings, hymns, and guidance on how to live a virtuous life. Verses in Shri Guru Gita have also been found in older scriptures, including certain Upanishads and Tantras. Historically, more than four hundred verses have been found among the various versions of Shri Guru Gita.
In 1951, while Baba was performing sadhana in Suki, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, he read the Guru Charitra, a sixteenth-century text on the life of Lord Dattatreya. This text includes a version of Shri Guru Gita attributed to Shri Skanda Purana. Baba was immediately drawn to the depth and beauty of this scripture and began reciting it. Baba subsequently included additional verses from this section of the Guru Charitra to create the version of Shri Guru Gita recited on the Siddha Yoga path.
On January 7, 1972, when Baba established the recitation of Shri Guru Gita as part of the Ashram Daily Schedule, he said:
Just today, we have started reciting Shri Guru Gita in the morning…. It bestows all powers and realizations…. The name of this Ashram is Shree Gurudev Ashram, it is dedicated to Gurudev, and we chant Shri Guru Gita ... because the Guru is our supreme deity.
Gurumayi has taught Siddha Yogis how to deepen their understanding, practice, and experience of Shri Guru Gita. For over three decades Gurumayi has given teachings about this sacred text in satsang and in Shaktipat Intensives, and has guided scholars and Siddha Yoga meditation teachers in conducting workshops and courses on Shri Guru Gita. Gurumayi has instructed students in refining their pronunciation, posture, and breathing in order to strengthen their practice of svadhyaya. Gurumayi has also introduced musical refinements to the recitation of Shri Guru Gita to support students in sustaining their focus and singing with cohesive unity.
Gurumayi has recited Shri Guru Gita with Siddha Yogis and new seekers in many countries, awakening the love for this scripture in thousands of hearts. In Siddha Yoga Ashrams, Shri Guru Gita is established as a morning practice within the Ashram Daily Schedule; in Siddha Yoga meditation centers and in Siddha Yogis’ homes, it is recited at different times throughout the day and week. At this very moment, somewhere in the world, blessings are being invoked by the recitation of Shri Guru Gita.
I am delighted and grateful that the SYDA Foundation has published translations of Shri Guru Gita from Sanskrit into 15 other languages. This has made it possible for people of many different nationalities to study and recite this sacred text. Stories abound of how people have received blessings from Shri Guru Gita and how this practice has deepened their sadhana. What is stated in Shri Guru Gita is most certainly true—through the recitation of this sacred text, one attains the four goals of life: dharma (righteousness), artha (wealth), kama (pleasure), and moksha (liberation).
From my own study, contemplation, and experience, and from what I have heard from other Siddha Yogis who recite Shri Guru Gita with regularity, this practice has countless benefits. Here are a few of the benefits that further one’s sadhana:
Quiets the mind
Strengthens and frees the breath
Purifies the intellect and emotions
In honor of this forty-fifth anniversary, relish the ambrosia of mantra japa and become immersed in the sacred sounds of Shri Guru Gita. Recognize its transforming power in your life.