Learn about the Siddha Yoga Practice of Chanting

by Krishna Haddad

On the Siddha Yoga path, the practice of chanting includes namasankirtana, the musical repetition of the names of God. It also includes svadhyaya, the recitation of sacred texts such as Shri Guru Gita, and singing sacred hymns and mantras as well as devotional songs such as bhajans, abhangas, and qawwalis. All these forms of sacred music ultimately serve the same divine purpose—to lead us to the experience of the inner Self. For this reason, chanting is one of the four core practices on the Siddha Yoga path.

Through the practice of chanting, we are able to get in touch with our inner Self and experience its ecstasy. As we chant sacred syllables set to music, we are drawn to higher levels of awareness. Yet chanting requires no special knowledge or unique skillset. Indeed, chanting is a practice that can be done by anyone.

Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, the Siddha Yoga Guru, teaches about the power of chanting and inspires Siddha Yoga students to participate wholeheartedly in this practice. One of Gurumayi’s teachings is

The name of God is a benevolent force. When you chant the Name, it actually moves through your whole being—purifying you, bestowing grace, and making you sacred.1

With this teaching, Gurumayi guides us to recognize that the texts of Siddha Yoga chants are more than mere words. The sacred syllables of Siddha Yoga chants and mantras are infused with the Guru’s grace and energy. Therefore they are chaitanya, alive with the power of Consciousness. When we chant, we bring our awareness to the divinity that is present within us.

The emphasis the Siddha Yoga Gurus have placed on this practice is evident when you consider the Ashram Daily Schedule, the daily sequence of practices at Siddha Yoga Ashrams around the world that was implemented by Baba Muktananda in the 1960s. In the schedule, chanting appears throughout the day—in the morning, at midday, and in the evening. Chanting weaves in and out of daily activities like a divine thread.

In the course of our regular daily lives, we also chant to send blessings; we chant to mark special occasions; and we chant just for the sake of chanting itself, for the joy of it. We chant to revel in our good fortunes, and during challenging times, we chant to find comfort and become more grounded in the knowledge of the Truth.

The music of the Siddha Yoga path is rooted in Indian traditions, and many chants practiced by Siddha Yogis can be heard throughout India. Siddha Yogis take particular delight, however, in the music that has been written and composed by Gurumayi.

Gurumayi uses musical composition as a vehicle to convey her teachings. She has composed many namasankirtanas and written the words and music for many devotional songs. Gurumayi initiates refinements to the repertoire of Siddha Yoga music, both its composition and the methods and techniques of practice. These refinements make the practice of chanting more easeful and accessible and allow Siddha Yogis to reap ever more benefits from their practice. You can hear much of this music here on the Siddha Yoga path website.

To practice chanting is to engage directly with the essential Siddha Yoga teaching: “Honor your Self, worship your Self, meditate on your Self, God dwells within you as you.” When we chant, we sing words that convey this fundamental truth, and we permeate the atmosphere with musical sound that evokes the experience of that teaching. When we chant, we both contribute to that sound and revel in it. When we chant, we celebrate and recognize our own divine Self.

1Swami Chidvilasananda, Enthusiasm (South Fallsburg, NY: SYDA Foundation, 1997), p. 175.