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Hamsa, the Swan

Swans possess a purity, beauty, and elegance that have long inspired saints, sages, and poets. They are revered in Vedic scripture, representing the human soul as well as the quality of discernment. You may read more about their symbolic meaning in an exposition titled The Significance of Hamsa, the Majestic Swan.

The Sanskrit word for swan is hamsa, and hamsa, or so’ham, is one of the mantras of the Siddha Yoga path. The swan is also a visual motif given by Gurumayi during her Message talk for 2019. Visualizing and focusing on the image of the swan is a means to study Gurumayi’s Message for 2019.

This gallery shows the splendor of swans living freely in their natural environments. As you engage with the gallery, remain aware of your breath and reflect on how the images evoke attributes that you wish to connect with in your life.

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As the swan stretches its neck in image 12, I am reminded of humility and fearlessness. The velvety texture and effulgence of the feathers reminds me of purity. I, too, wish to be like the swan, buoyant with virtues and floating easefully on the calm lake of oneness with the Self.

Thornbury, Australia

As I looked through the beautiful swan photos, the various postures and arrangements of the swans and their cygnets gave me great delight. Then I noticed a shift in my perception: I was suddenly seeing the swans through the eyes of the Siddha Yoga students who'd taken the photos. I could feel the sweet love and devotion of their offering. It was such a precious experience of satsang to feel connected to Siddha Yogis from around the world through their vision of nature.

Illinois, United States

These beautiful images remind me of a time in my life when I lived in a city by a lake and became interested in observing wild swans. Whether watching a mother swan teaching her baby swans how to swim in the lake, or seeing a family of swans flying at ease with their straight long necks in the sky, I always recognized their beauty, patience, fearlessness, and grace.
Now, with Gurumayi’s guidance, having had many experiences of the Self, I see myself as a hamsa —a swan—who one day, too, will glide forever in the sky of Consciousness.

Rodez, France

Throughout this year, by the Guru’s grace and guidance, my love for swans has expanded, becoming ever more deeply intimate while at the same time becoming more universal.  Each glimpse here of these magnificent birds carries such grace, deepening their presence in my heart, revealing them to be the embodiment of my heart.

As my head bows in meditation, I feel my body holding as steady as theirs, my neck gracefully bending in homage as they do, even feeling as though each breath is another beat of their strong expansive wings. Hamsa, yes—I am That, the One that appears to float, yet in truth propels itself across this lake of Consciousness with steady strong effort, and yes, pure grace.  

I offer my deepest thanks to Gurumayi for expanding my relationship both with these beautiful birds, and with grace itself, this gift of being alive.

Washington, United States

These images of swans transported me to that childlike wonder created by my mother’s wonderful storytelling. In one of her stories, an act of courage by a lost boy prince is rewarded when he sees two splendorous white swans glide in and land on a lotus-covered lake. He remembers his mother telling him that the sighting of swans heralds auspicious events.
As a child, I was filled with awe and admiration for this landscape of an expansive lake with beautiful swans. It gave rise to the deep longing to be able to see such a scene, a wish I’ve fulfilled on the physical level. However, Gurumayi and the teachings in “The Significance of Hamsa, the Majestic Swan” have given me a much greater fulfillment of that childhood longing.
I know now that I have the opportunity to witness the swan wings of my incoming and outgoing breath take flight during meditation, and then come to rest upon the waters of my mind. Regardless of the waters’ condition, the mantra Hamsa will help me maintain perfect equipoise.

Rozelle, Australia

I spent several years living and serving in the Siddha Yoga Ashram in Liphook in the UK, where there was a beautiful, calm lake. Often a white swan would come and visit the lake.

The swan seemed to visit on auspicious occasions, such as chanting saptahs for Baba’s or Gurumayi’s birthday. On many occasions when I noticed Gurumayi’s shakti very strongly within, I would look to the lake and there the swan would be, visiting again.

After some time, I would know just by my inner awareness of shakti that the swan was on the lake again, and it always was. For me, the swan has truly become a living symbol of the Guru.

Eastbourne, United Kingdom

The invitation to “reflect on how the images evoke attributes that you wish to connect with in your life” was a welcome one, turning my attention from the indisputable beauty of these birds to the subtler lessons that their presence in this world can teach me. The diverse swans in these photos certainly evoke for me the attributes of serenity, acceptance, easefulness, and balance, all of which I treasure and would like to expand in my own life.

As I thought about the Vedic scriptures depicting the swan as embodying “the quality of discernment,” I appreciated how swans propel themselves so gracefully through the water. In that sense, I began to see them as representing the dedicated sadhaka, moving steadily forward with discrimination, determination, and grace toward the ultimate goal.

Illinois, United States