Svadhyaya: The Recitation of Scriptural Texts

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When I first heard Shri Guru Gita, I listened with a mix of awe and frustration as the Siddha Yogis recited the Sanskrit syllables that I thought I could never learn.

When I read Baba’s words about the power of svadhyaya to grant a person the grace to realize one’s own divinity, I vowed to learn to pronounce the words. I listened and read along with a recording two or three times a day until I mastered the pronunciation and memorized all 182 verses.

I also took to heart and applied in my daily life as many of the teachings contained in Shri Guru Gita as I could.

I opened up to the idea of everything being the Self. Then one morning I opened my mouth to chant and felt myself singing to the Self. As I continued to sing, I became aware that That which was truly alive within me was powering my singing. I experienced the Self singing to the Self! My being inwardly cried out, “This is heaven!” as ripples of bliss ran through me.

a Siddha Yogi from Virginia, USA

When I first began to practice Siddha Yoga, Shri Guru Gita seemed to be a beautiful but rather long text and I had some difficulty in pronouncing the Sanskrit words. Encouraged by another Siddha Yogi who shared with me the sweet and profound experiences he'd had in reciting Shri Guru Gita, I continued to persist with my practice.

Just two months later I began to receive the fruits of my practice. My mind became very quiet and focused while reciting the text, and the words flowed easily. At the end of each recitation I began to slip into deep meditation. Most important of all, I have noticed that whenever I recite Shri Guru Gita, my day is transformed: my body is more alert, I feel more joyful and light, and I experience love.

That is the greatness of the Siddha Yoga practices and the fruit of Gurumayi’s grace. I feel so grateful for these blessings.

a Siddha Yogi from Font Romeu, France

Lately, part of my practice of reciting Shri Guru Gita has included reading a paragraph of Baba's introduction to svadhyaya in The Nectar of Chanting before I begin.
Each time, Baba's words resound as a sweet and powerful blessing for my practice that day. Svadhyaya has been such a treasure in my life, particularly this year. It leads me to exhilarating and insightful moments of inner satsang!

I am so grateful.

a Siddha Yogi from New York, USA

Last month I participated in the Pilgrimage to the Heart Retreat at Gurudev Siddha Peeth. Early each morning, I practiced svadhyaya. Then, before the first rays of dawn began to brush the horizon and while the twinkling stars were still visible, I would stand out in the huge grassy field, Dakshin Kashi, and look up at the sky, experiencing the bliss of my practice.
Day by day, as I practiced svadhyaya, I felt my entire being become completely saturated with shakti, with love. I continue to experience the sweet grace of svadhyaya, and feel deep gratitude that this practice is an essential part of the Siddha Yoga path.

a Siddha Yogi from West Vancouver, Canada

I will always remember the first time I was introduced to svadhyaya. I was new to the Siddha Yoga path and the spiritual practices, and yearned for the experience of devotion. One morning, in the pure stillness of the Ashram, I heard the sweetest voice singing a melodious chant. It was a tape of Baba chanting Shri Guru Gita. Something ancient, soft, and filled with the certainty of God welled up inside of me. Tears filled my eyes. Baba’s voice was saturated in pure devotion.
From that moment on, I loved Shri Guru Gita. I began to chant this sacred text every morning in my apartment. I chanted fully and allowed my heart to relax into the exquisite peace I was beginning to experience. The sun seemed brighter, the air warmer, and challenges seemed easier to resolve. Today, I find myself humming Shri Guru Gita to myself in so many day-to-day situations, and I smile to myself. I have found devotion through the practice of svadhyaya.

a Siddha Yogi from Pennsylvania, USA

For me, chanting Shri Guru Gita is the most precious gift on the Siddha Yoga path. For about 18 years I have chanted it every morning, and the verses permeate my memory and fill me with great sweetness.

Very often as I move through my day, I notice my mind repeating a few verses; I consciously follow the verses, and if I am alone, I sing them.

One day, while visiting a secluded garden in the Blue Mountains, I lay down on the grass and looked up at the sky through the canopy of leaves. One of the verses of Shri Guru Gita came up, and I let the verse flow through my mind. I felt the presence of Gurumayi—in the sound of the verse, in my mind chanting the verse, in the trees, and the soft grass beneath my body. They were all one composite unit.

For me, Shri Guru Gita is the Guru in the form of words, and it is full of the rasa of oneness.

a Siddha Yogi from Sydney, Australia

As I practice svadhyaya, my mind and senses feel very calm. I feel steadfast in my whole being, as if I have been purified by the recitation.

When I practice svadhyaya with the awareness of the supreme Self that exists within me, and I offer the recitation to that supreme Self, then I really feel happiness and satisfaction.

a Siddha Yogi from Pune, India

I was so inspired by the posts on svadhyaya that I took some time to contemplate and make an intention for practicing it regularly. I invoked grace at the beginning of my contemplation, then closed my eyes. I visualized Shri Gurumayi sitting on her chair and myself sitting in front of her on the floor, with my hands in namaskar. I bowed and prayed for her guidance. The answer that I heard loud and clear was, "Svadhyaya--keep it going!"

Thank you, Gurumayi, for your grace and guidance. Your teachings light my path and give me direction for my journey.

I will keep the practice of svadhyaya going!

a Gurukula student in Gurudev Siddha Peeth.

As a Gurukula student in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, one of my favorite practices is reciting Shri Guru Gita every day as part of the Ashram daily schedule. In reciting it regularly, I have discovered that it has become a part of myself. While reciting Shri Guru Gita, I find myself experiencing my own being fully. I am in my heart, and I am praying from the heart. This recitation gives me a feeling of contentment which I experience throughout the day.

It is naturally powerful to recite Shri Guru Gita here in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, but I have also found that wherever I am in the world, reciting this text takes me to the experience of the Self.

I feel grateful that I have the blessings of my Guru to remain steadfast in reciting Shri Guru Gita daily. Thank you, Baba and Gurumayi, for giving us this way to bathe in the nectar of svadhyaya every day.

a Gurukula student in Gurudev Siddha Peeth

Every Sunday, rain or shine, for the last 27 years, my husband and I have recited Shri Guru Gita. I have noticed that when I start preparing for the recitation with three rounds of Surya Namaskar, I settle into my body, and feel more mentally alert and empowered. Then it is easy to maintain an upward-flowing posture and steady breathing as I chant. Focusing on the meaning and correct pronunciation returns me to an experience of my own divinity, the divinity underlying everything, and my love for the Guru.

At the end we like to meditate for 15 minutes and this time is truly exquisite. It's as if the effort we make with the recitation opens the door to a direct experience of Gurumayi's Message. Then the day sparkles, and what might otherwise appear ordinary becomes extraordinary.

We are very grateful to Baba for this gift, and to Gurumayi for sustaining and expanding this beautiful practice for all of us.

a Siddha Yogi from Virginia, USA

After reading Baba’s words, “Svadhyaya is, in fact, a way to study yourself,” I asked myself how I am increasing my understanding of my divine nature as I recite and study the sacred texts.

It occurred to me that each of the sacred texts that I recite strikes a familiar chord within me, a long-forgotten celestial sound that touches me with divine grace. As these different vibrations course through my being, I am more and more able to focus on the light of the Self. Inner peace and serenity increase little by little with each recitation, and my mind becomes more of a friend to me.

Thank you, Gurumayi. Thank you, Baba.

a Siddha Yogi from New York, USA

Lately, my work schedule has been very full, and I have not had as much time for svadhyaya on weekday mornings as I would like. One way, however, that I am able to continue my practice fairly consistently is by reciting a portion of Shri Guru Gita before I go to work. I dedicate 10 to 20 minutes to this, paying careful attention to the sounds and meanings of the verses. Then I sit quietly for a few more moments, resting in the afterglow of my practice. And on weekends, when I have more time, I’m able to recite the full text.

I have found that this regular weekday practice, even though shorter than I would like, still has a very strong effect on my energy and clarity of mind, and I experience its benefits throughout the day.

a Siddha Yogi from New Jersey, USA

Last year, I participated in the Pilgrimage to the Heart Retreat in Gurudev Siddha Peeth. After reading this post, I contemplated how the practice of svadhyaya in the daily schedule of the Ashram had supported and enriched my retreat experience.

The recitation of Shri Guru Gita, Shri Shiva Mahimna Stotram, Shri Rudram, and Shri Vishnu Sahasranama shed a distinctive and unique light on my journey within, like complementary beams that illumined my path and revealed inner treasures and growth opportunities.

Whenever my attention dwindled or my body complained, a subtle inner power pushed me beyond my outward resistance, and thus, I allowed myself to settle in the space of the Heart.

When I returned home, the steady practice of svadhyaya strengthened my sadhana, and added new colors to my daily life palette.

Thank you!

a Siddha Yogi from Buenos Aires, Argentina

Recently, I felt inspired to recite Shri Guru Gita to support my goal of immersion in the inner Self. Interestingly, my practice was not what one would call “smooth sailing.” I found my mind wandering, I had a hard time sitting upright, and I even wanted to get up many times. But I kept noticing, readjusting, and refocusing my attention on the sounds of the mantras and melodies.

As I sat for meditation afterwards, I realized that reciting Shri Guru Gita had been supporting my intention. I felt I had been purified and was able to give my attention more fully to God.

I am thankful for the transformative power of svadhyaya.

a Siddha Yogi from California , USA

Svadhyaya is my favorite practice. We recite Shri Guru Gita at home every day. It is a blissful practice that dissolves my thoughts and gives me a serene state. The recitation of Shi Guru Gita leads me naturally into meditation and gives me the power to experience the inner Self.

I carry a copy of Shri Guru Gita in my sack, and I refresh my practice by reciting it in different places—on the mountains, near lakes and rivers, and in holy places. I am grateful for the practice of svadhyaya.

a Siddha Yogi from Pune, India

I feel that my daily practice of svadhyaya helps me to stay healthy, fresh, and able to fulfill my duties.
Thank you to Baba Muktananda for introducing me to svadhyaya. Because of this practice, I feel purified, and I am better able to focus on sadhana.

a Siddha Yogi from Maputo, Mozambique

I loved reading that svadhyaya is a way of studying myself. Recently, as I recite Shri Guru Gita, I notice that my awareness becomes more subtle, more penetrating. This refined awareness leads me to experience the effect of the syllables within me, the way the sound moves through my being, and the way changes in the melody bring different rasas and energies to the recitation.

I am also aware of the way my posture supports my experience. As I subtly release and refresh my posture throughout the recitation, a sweet joy flows through me.

As I immerse myself in this powerful practice, I am filled with wonder and gratitude.

Thank you, Baba, for making these texts accessible to us. Thank you, Gurumayi, for guiding us in our study and practice of svadhyaya.

a Siddha Yogi from Melbourne, Australia

What I wish to share is that svadhyaya is a great friend. This practice continually supports me, keeping me centered and balanced.

a Siddha Yogi from New Jersey, USA

Thank you for this informative posting. I have no doubt that the practice of svadhyaya is powerful and purifying. I experience this almost every time that I recite Shri Guru Gita. The more carefully I focus on the pronunciation and meaning of the text as I recite it, the more I find my mind being drawn into meditation at the conclusion of the recitation. At such times, I can sit in silence for quite some time, with a still mind and powerful vibrations of blissful energy pulsing through my body. This always feels like such a blessing.

a sevite in Shree Muktananda Ashram