Build Your Own Sacred Place

Namaste. Welcome.

We are in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall.
We are in the Bhagavan Nityananda Temple.
We are in Shree Muktananda Ashram.
We are participating in satsang via live video stream.

Gurumayi has titled these satsangs “Be in the Temple.”

With Gurumayi’s grace, we have been making the best use of time during this period of lockdown around the world. On the Siddha Yoga path, there are many Siddha Yoga practices. These practices support Siddha Yogis to perform their sadhana with utmost care and to implement their knowledge of the Siddha Yoga teachings in their day-to-day life while maintaining their focus on the experience of the Self and on the goal of liberation.

I have been following the Siddha Yoga path for forty-six years. I first met Baba Muktananda in 1974, and once I received shaktipat from Baba, the purpose of my life became crystal-clear. I knew what I wanted to do, and that was to serve the Siddha Yoga mission.

Growing up, I had learned classical guitar, and so I had a strong connection to music when I first began walking the Siddha Yoga path. But when I decided to dedicate my life to living in the Ashram, I thought I wouldn’t need to play my guitar.

However, once Gurumayi found out that I was a musician and I played the guitar, she encouraged me to continue and requested that I play in many satsangs. You see, one of the main practices on the Siddha Yoga path is chanting. Chanting is also one of the main elements of the Ashram Daily Schedule.

I embraced Gurumayi’s advice, and it gave me the opportunity to learn how to play Siddha Yoga chants and improvise on classical Indian ragas. When I play this music, it naturally draws my mind to savor the pure sound of each note. And this savoring brings my mind and heart into harmony and stillness.

Over the years, I have learned from Gurumayi that chanting, and music in general, has the power to sanctify every activity.

Many years ago, at Gurumayi’s request, I was offering seva on a garden project to beautify the landscape around Lake Nityananda. I wanted to honor Mother Earth as I went about this great work. And I asked Gurumayi how I could do this best.

Gurumayi paused for a moment and looked out toward the horizon. She said, “Chant. Chant mantras to the Goddess, mantras to Bhumi Devi, the Earth.” Over the years that I offered this seva, as I walked and moved about the grounds of Lake Nityananda, I would chant these mantras. Through chanting, I experienced that in addition to the work that was getting accomplished with the plants, trees, water, and soil, I felt a renewed reverence for Mother Earth, and developed a stronger awareness of the divinity in Nature.

The Indian scriptures say music is yoga. Sangeet hai yoga. Music is a path to union with God. This is because all sound—and therefore all music— originally emanated from God. The scriptures state that God created this universe through sound. Therefore, we can follow the sound-vibrations of music back to the source, back to God. Back to the Self.

When we make music and listen to it, our entire being is involved—our physical body, our mind, our emotions, our heart, and our soul. Making music has the power to balance and unite all these aspects of ourselves. Music is such a great support to our Siddha Yoga sadhana. As the Indian scriptures say, music is yoga.

Since I am one of the Siddha Yoga Swamis who has a background in music, I have the opportunity to offer seva with the Siddha Yoga music ensemble in the SYDA Foundation. I cherish offering this seva since I get to observe how Gurumayi sings with every fiber of her being, and how completely she engages with the texture and fabric of the music. When I go into that “music zone” where I feel Gurumayi is, I experience that Gurumayi’s entire being becomes the sound of the chant. This gives me the firm conviction that when I am chanting, my Guru and the chant are one and the same. And as I become absorbed in this divinity, I become one with it too. There is no differentiation between my Guru, the chant, and me as a disciple. We all become one Consciousness, one divine sound.

Oh, how I love music.
Oh, how I love to chant.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the esteemed American poet of the 19th century, said, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Anyone who has the ability to comprehend the melodious language of music knows how music has the power to bring people together, open their hearts, and bring about unity.

Just last Saturday, during a “Be in the Temple” satsang, Shambhavi Christian spoke about “One World: Together at Home,” an initiative sponsored by Global Citizen, a worldwide nonprofit organization, in collaboration with a number of musicians, artists, and other performers. “One World: Together at Home” was put on in support of the efforts of W.H.O., the Worldwide Health Organization, and its purpose was to bring people together in response to the current pandemic. What an initiative! What a feat!

I heard from many Siddha Yogis that they did tune in to watch “One World” shortly after the satsang. They shared with me how much they appreciated the songs they heard, as these songs brought peace to their hearts and gave them hope for the world.

That’s the power of music. That’s the power of coming together with a shared purpose, a shared intention, a shared goal in mind.

Oh, how I love music.
Oh, how I love to chant.

Right now, because of COVID-19, the whole world is going through a challenge—a challenge that is one of a kind. However, as Siddha Yogis, we have learned how to ride every wave with dignity and integrity. We don’t lose heart easily, and that’s because we have the Guru’s grace. We know how to chant. We know how to pray, especially during this horrific time.

We must pray, not just for ourselves but for one another. This is vital, since no one human being by themselves has the strength or the aptitude or the intelligence to bring about the massive positive change that’s needed right now. For the betterment of this world, we must unite.

To overcome this monumental and seemingly insuperable challenge, everyone needs to band together. Every one of us needs to do our part and do it sincerely, carefully, willingly, generously, happily, lovingly, caringly, astutely, sweetly, and altruistically. I am taking the support of the virtues, the sadguna vaibhava, that Gurumayi has taught about. Gurumayi has given us the advice that especially during this time, we must call upon the virtues that we have been studying for many years on the Siddha Yoga path.

Oh, how I love music.
Oh, how I love to chant.

Why am I speaking about music?

Because… during today’s “Be in the Temple” satsang, during this live video stream in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall, we are going to have a sound bath. Yes, I did say “sound bath.” Two Siddha Yoga musicians are calling in to this satsang from India, and they will be singing classical Indian music, including bhajans, which are devotional songs written in the Hindi language.


Following the stirring and melodious performances of the musicians, Swami ji spoke again.

One of the things that I love—and love, and love!—about the Siddha Yoga path is that in every Siddha Yoga satsang, we go from music to music to music. I feel like we are blessed with uninterrupted music of the soul.

Recently, Gurumayi shared with me that she had read an article that spoke about how sand dunes create music. If you pay great attention, you can hear the different sounds the sand dunes make as they sing.

Scientists working with National Geographic have studied the musical notes that tall sand dunes make. When the sands slide on the dunes, the dunes actually vibrate like the string of a violin when you draw the bow across it. There are dozens of sand dunes around the world that make music, creating a wide variety of sounds and melodies.

And of course, all of us have heard how flowing water sings—from the cascades of water streaming out of a spring to the gentle gurgling of a brook, to the constant chorus of a swift river, to the lullaby of gentle waves on the beach.

And then there’s the wind that blows through the trees. Some of you might recall how Gurumayi wrote about this sound in her poem for Mother’s Day 2019 when she described the psithurism of a mother’s emotions.

We are made of dust. We are made of water. So we can hear music, and we can make music.

Technically, each movement we make creates the sound of music. There is no space on this planet where there isn’t music—which means there is music everywhere.

Oh, how I love music.
Oh, how I love to chant.

In the “Be in the Temple” satsang today, in Bhagavan Nityananda’s radiant presence in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall, we have received the gift of a sound bath. We have reflected on Gurumayi’s life-transforming wisdom. We have immersed ourselves in the sacred music of India, and we have joined our voices and hearts in the practice of Siddha Yoga music.

During these trying times that are riddled with many unknowns, we must remember to take refuge in the timeless wisdom of our Guru. When we do so, our minds, hearts, and souls find their essence—and we experience Gurumayi’s Message for this year. Ᾱtmā kī Prashānti. Peacefulness of the Self.

You already know what you need to do. And that is to shelter in grace.