The Significance of Shri Guru Gita on the Siddha Yoga Path
A Letter from Swami Shantananda

August 22, 2013

Dear Siddha Yogis,

Namaste.
Namaste.
Namaste.

I have a very special invitation for you to participate in a Siddha Yoga teaching and learning event entitled:

Shri Guru Gita Recitation Satsang
Live Audio Stream from Shree Muktananda Ashram

A treasure-house of wisdom and spiritual power, Shri Guru Gita—Sanskrit for “Song of the Guru”—is a scripture to be studied and a mantra to be repeated.

Gurumayi Chidvilasananda’s Message for 2013 is Mantra Japa. I know that many of you have explored Gurumayi’s Message and discovered ways to put it into practice. The benefits of mantra japa are immeasurable.

Baba Muktananda, in his introduction to The Nectar of Chanting, 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 swadhyaya, 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, that 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 the Guru, the power of the Guru’s grace, the importance of devotion and service to the Guru, and the ways 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:

verse 133 of Shri Guru Gita

Even one letter of the Guru Gita is a supreme mantra.
One should repeat it.

In 2006, at Gurumayi’s request, a team of sevites in the SYDA Foundation was assigned to conduct research on the scriptural origins of Shri Guru Gita and its history on the Siddha Yoga path, for the Siddha Yoga legacy. Since that time, sevites on this team have consulted scholars both in India and worldwide, researched extant versions of Shri Guru Gita, found rare source materials, studied and compared numerous scriptural texts, and interviewed Indian devotees who met Baba in the 1950s and '60s. Their research has resulted in one of the most comprehensive and detailed studies of the scriptural origins of Shri Guru Gita ever created.

The Indian scriptures contain several versions of Shri Guru Gita. One of the sources of this text is identified in the final lines of the version recited on the Siddha Yoga path:

last line of Shri Guru Gita

Thus ends the Guru Gita, which occurs in the dialogue between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in the latter portion of
Shri Skanda Purana.

The 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 Guru Charitra, a sixteenth-century text on the life of Lord Dattatreya. This text includes a version of Shri Guru Gita attributed to the 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 Guru Charitra to create the version of Shri Guru Gita recited on the Siddha Yoga path.

On January 7, 1972, Baba established the recitation of Shri Guru Gita as part of the Ashram Daily Schedule in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, the first Siddha Yoga Ashram in India. On that occasion Baba 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 satsangs and 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 swadhyaya. 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 devotees 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 devotees’ 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 deepen one’s sadhana:

Invokes grace
Nurtures devotion
Quiets the mind
Strengthens and frees the breath
Purifies the intellect and emotions
Increases concentration
Grants protection

On September 1, in the Shri Guru Gita Recitation Satsang Live Audio Stream from Shree Muktananda Ashram, become immersed in the sacred sounds of Shri Guru Gita! Relish the ambrosia of mantra japa and recognize its transforming power in your life!

Warm regards,

signature

Swami Shantananda
Siddha Yoga Meditation Teacher

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A major shift in my sadhana has taken place since the Shri Guru Gita Recitation Satsang this summer. I am now regularly chanting Shri Guru Gita. My early years of Siddha Yoga practice were spent offering seva in the ashram kitchen. We heard Shri Guru Gita over the speakers every day, but never went because we were cooking breakfast at that time.

In the years that followed, I had never regularly participated in the chanting of Shri Guru Gita. That all changed after the live audio stream. It was very powerful and moving for me. I told my wife after the event that I wanted to chant with her once a week from that point on. I am happy to say that I have kept to that commitment. And I am enjoying the practice! What a wonderful gift it has been to engage in this essential Siddha Yoga practice fully for the first time in over thirty years.

a Siddha Yogi from California, USA

I fell in serious love with Shri Guru Gita at the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Oakland in the mid-1990s. There was a seven-hour saptah of the chant, which I never want to forget. I had just begun my sadhana, and attempting to recite the text felt intimidating and lengthy (to say the least). I just couldn't sit still. By the end (with pauses, of course) I was resting in complete serenity and couldn't wait to chant it again. What's really great is I still feel that way now, only more so! Shri Guru Gita is extremely powerful.

a Siddha Yogi from New York, USA

While reading Swami Shantananda's letter, I was struck by how fortunate we are to be able to chant all the sacred texts that are available to us on the Siddha Yoga path. These texts from the scriptures have not always been widely known. Sacred texts like Shri Guru Gita, Shri Rudram, Kundalini Stavah, and Shiva Mahimna Stotram are gems. They used to be hidden in ancient texts and in a variety of scriptural renderings, and were accessible only to a few. It was Baba who brought these scriptures to us out of his compassion and his wish for us to experience what they describe: our own true nature—conscious and blissful and one with all creation.

Thank you, Baba, for your compassion. Thank you, Gurumayi, for guiding us towards the experience of our own true nature.

a Siddha Yogi from Vienna, Austria

Shri Guru Gita has provided me protection many times over the years when I've needed it most. I chanted Shri Guru Gita every day when a loved one was going through a serious illness and facing death. I felt that I was enveloped by grace. It was an amazing feeling that everything is perfect, and that I was being cared for by God. Even though I was about to lose my closest friend, I felt that I was not alone. I felt protected by the Guru's love.

Thank you, Bade Baba, Baba, and Gurumayi, for showing me that your loving presence is with me at all times.

a Siddha Yogi from Hawaii, USA

I realize, every time a devotee's heart leaps with joy at the thought of all the blessings the world will receive on September 1, in that moment, blessings flow out to the world from the heart of the devotee!

Thank you, Gurumayi, for giving us the opportunity to bless the world as we wait in joyful anticipation for September 1, 2013.

a Siddha Yogi from New York, USA

Initially, when I started reciting Shri Guru Gita, I did so very occasionally. I found it hard to make enough time in my day. However, I loved this practice so much that I kept praying to be shown how I could fit the repetition of this holy scripture into my daily practices.

Then one day, about ten years ago, I was inspired to read Shri Guru Gita silently to myself each morning. This has become a regular practice. It takes me about twenty minutes. I don't always get to the very end, but hardly a day goes by that I don't read at least some verses. On the days when life is too busy for even a few verses, I remind myself that even one letter, one verse of Shri Guru Gita is a holy mantra. Over the years, this daily reading has become a most precious time, where I sit with my beloved Shri Guru.

a Siddha Yogi from California, USA

From the time the upcoming Shri Guru Gita Recitation Satsang was announced, I've been having an amazing experience. I've been noticing that my mind has been spontaneously repeating the verses of this sacred mantra, pretty much all the time. I even noticed this taking place in my dream state.

Reciting Shri Guru Gita has always been the Siddha Yoga practice that I perform most regularly, almost daily. Since the announcement of the upcoming event, I've increased my attention on study and practice of this scripture.

I always experience blessings from the recitation of Shri Guru Gita—sometimes incredible bliss, sometimes tears of gratitude and devotion welling up. At other times, I notice that my mind is rested and I feel centered throughout the day.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for these wondrous gifts.

a Siddha Yogi from New York, USA

Thank you, Gurumayi, for giving us the opportunity to recite Shri Guru Gita with all the Siddha Yogis throughout the world. What a wonderful, auspicious event it will be! I am waiting for it eagerly.

a Siddha Yogi from Gandhinagar, India

Like so many Siddha Yoga devotees around the world, I am feeling excited, grateful, and blessed at the prospect of participating in such a powerful practice with the global sangham. It feels like a truly historical event on this great path for all of us to be able to recite Shri Guru Gita together on the same day, wherever we are. I know the blessings will be enormous, for the world and for each of us.

This special event is also part of the wonderful way in which the SYDA Foundation has been using the Internet to bring us together. The Siddha Yoga path website has become such a great support for the worldwide sangham.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for giving us this avenue to stay connected to you, to your teachings, and to the Siddha Yoga legacy.

a Siddha Yogi from Bogotá, Colombia

I was fascinated to read in Swami Shantananda's letter about the research project that Gurumayi initiated on the origins and history of Shri Guru Gita. I've long appreciated the spiritual power and resonance of reciting a text with such ancient roots, but what was new to me was learning about the specific ways in which Baba and Gurumayi have made Shri Guru Gita into such a vibrant and deeply meaningful component of Siddha Yoga sadhana.

Thank you, Swamiji, for giving us these new insights into our Siddha Yoga legacy.

a Siddha Yogi from Hamburg, Germany

This event feels so momentous! It thrills me to think of the tremendous benefit we'll be invoking for the whole world on September 1 as we unite our voices with Siddha Yogis everywhere in the recitation of Shri Guru Gita.

a sevite in Shree Muktananda Ashram

As I read Swami Shantananda's letter, it reminded me of a very strong experience I had of the power of this sacred text. I was still fairly new on the Siddha Yoga path, and in a very challenging position at work. The Siddha Yoga meditation center in my area was very close to my home, and I began attending the morning recitations of Shri Guru Gita three times a week.

The power of reciting Shri Guru Gita with this kind of discipline and dedication, in the company of fellow devotees, and with the added blessing of a half-hour meditation following the recitation, granted me great rewards in that challenging time: steadiness of mind, dispassion, increased energy throughout the day, patience with my colleagues, and contentment.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for focusing our attention once again on this "treasure-house of wisdom" that is always available to each of us.

a Siddha Yogi from Illinois, USA

On the first day of my first visit to Gurudev Siddha Peeth, I was initiated into the Siddha Yoga path through the recitation of Shri Guru Gita. It was the greatest experience of my life. I felt that my Master had waited for me and at that moment took me under her protection. Since then, the recitation of Shri Guru Gita has been my principal practice to know my Self.

It was great prasad for us to witness Bade Baba's abhishek at Shree Muktananda Ashram, and now even more prasad is coming on the Siddha Yoga path website.

a Siddha Yogi from Cuttack, India

I received Swami Shantananda's letter as a hymn of praise in honor of Shri Guru Gita.

a Siddha Yogi from Connecticut, USA

A few weeks ago, I was in the emergency department of the local hospital experiencing a very rapid heartbeat. All during the time this was happening, I was silently repeating the mantra and was remaining calm and centered. The doctors had tried various techniques to get the heart to settle but without success. They were getting ready to give me an injection to stop the heart for a few seconds and "reset" it. They said it would be like dying for a few seconds. If I was going to die, I wanted to die listening to Shri Guru Gita.

I had brought the CD of Shri Guru Gita with me to the hospital. I asked for a few minutes to put it on and listen to it before they gave me the injection. I listened to the opening mantras and then as the Guru Gita itself started, there was a sudden shift, and my heart spontaneously reverted to its normal rhythm. No injection was necessary.

It could not have been more evident to me how Shri Guru Gita carries within it the Guru's immense grace and protection. 

a Siddha Yogi from Port Macquarie, Australia

I am beyond excited to offer the recitation of Shri Guru Gita with everyone all around the world. I have chanted Shri Guru Gita at the shores of Loch Lomond, on mountain tops all over the Earth, and in all the Siddha Yoga Ashrams and centers that I have been to. And now, I am being given the opportunity to chant from my very sweet home with the entire Siddha Yoga sangham. This is simply amazing. I await the first of September with joy, zeal, focus, and great anticipation.

Just knowing that this blessed event is about to occur has brought me deeper and deeper within myself.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for offering this to all of us and to the world. What a beautiful, deep, healing event!  

a Siddha Yogi from New Mexico, USA

What a nice surprise to wake up and see Swami Shantananda's letter on the significance of Shri Guru Gita! Reading and rereading it filled me with joy and wonder. The scriptural history, Baba's recitation of it in Suki, what Baba said about the Guru Gita when he introduced it at Sri Gurudev Ashram, some of the countless benefits of reciting it—all of these open my heart to sweet gratitude and peace. What profoundly stirring words!

Swamiji’s letter also reminded me of something Gurumayi wrote in her book My Lord Loves a Pure Heart. In the chapter, "Freedom from Anger: Part One," Gurumayi teaches: "Each recitation of the Guru Gita will put an end to one cell of anger in your body. It really does. It purifies your whole system." This teaching has been a profound blessing in my life.

Gurumayi continues to lead us to experience and live in our own pure heart. What a gift to us and the world we live in!

a Siddha Yogi from California, USA

Starting my day with reading this letter about the sacred text, Shri Guru Gita, warms my soul and leads me into a deep reflection on the grace that this path, this Guru, and this text have brought me over the past 21 years.

As I read these words from Swami Shantananda, I immediately felt aligned with the whole Siddha Yoga sangham across the globe. I am profoundly grateful for our sweet efforts in the practices—such as swadhyaya—for the great benefit of our own selves, as well as the upliftment of all humanity.

Also, as I read the letter, I had flashes of the many places I have recited this sacred text—in various Siddha Yoga Ashrams and centers, on Siddha Yoga teaching tours, in the many homes I have lived in or visited, and also in nature, on beaches or under a tree.

Thank you, Gurumayi, for this grand and enormously valuable opportunity to dive even deeper into this most precious gift.

a Siddha Yogi from California, USA

Recently, my wife and I took a week's vacation and we chanted Shri Guru Gita every morning outdoors, surrounded by beautiful woods. This daily practice made each day a golden day, whether it ended up being sunny or raining, warm or cold. Beginning each day by chanting Shri Guru Gita was enough to create the peace and harmony that we sought by taking time off from work; the rest of the day felt like an added bonus.

a Siddha Yogi from Paris, France

Swami Shantananda's letter speaks to me of love—the profound love with which Baba and Gurumayi take care of their disciples by creating a daily practice of chanting Shri Guru Gita and continually honing our practice through refinements. What else other than love could motivate the Guru to put so much time and attention and focus on helping us attain all that Shri Guru Gita has to offer? When I chant Shri Guru Gita, I experience that love.

a Siddha Yogi from Ohio, USA

When Swami Shantananda describes the Shri Guru Gita Recitation Satsang on September 1 as "a Siddha Yoga teaching and learning event," I am reminded of how much reciting this hymn has already taught me in the three decades since it entered my life.

One of the earliest lessons that the recitation of Shri Guru Gita taught me was to stretch my limits of focus and discipline just by chanting all those unfamiliar syllables all the way through. Over the years I have also learned of its power to instill serenity, for I often descend into deep meditation at its conclusion. Most precious to me is that by learning to recite Shri Guru Gita, I have learned an ancient, resonant, sustaining way to praise my Guru.

I’ve come to realize that every recitation of this sacred hymn is "a teaching and learning event."

a Siddha Yogi from Oregon, USA

After reading Swami Shantananda’s marvelous letter, how could you not want to recite Shri Guru Gita whenever you have a chance?! Recitation of Shri Guru Gita is mantra japa. Recitation of Shri Guru Gita is a love song dedicated to the Guru. What a sublime confluence of practices!

I am looking forward with enormous anticipation and joy to the Shri Guru Gita Recitation Satsang on September 1!

Thank you for streaming it live on the Siddha Yoga path website.

a Siddha Yogi from Toronto, Canada