|Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati (Ramamurti S. Mishra, MD) my teacher's guru|
|My beloved teacher, Swami Sivananda Sarasvati|
Reasons for learning Sanskrit through chanting, according to Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati:
- You learn Sanskrit naturally and effortlessly.
- You enter your being through discipline of meditation, relaxation and concentration.
- You experience natural unity and integrity with the world.
- You receive natural and holistic healing, unifying body, mind and spirit.
- By the radiation of natural health on all levels you help others in the same direction.
- You experience the integrity of all world languages through the vibration of Sanskrit language with chanting.
- You enter into meditation in a natural way.
- You experience natural and spontaneous revelation of freedom and enlightenment, the light of natural awareness.
The Sanskrit language, known as “The mother of all tongues” is one of the oldest known languages, if not the oldest, on our planet. The written alphabet is called “devanāgari”. It is said that the language derived from the cities of the devas, “the shining ones” (“nagar” is the word for city). Each letter was derived from an icon of one of the many diverse Goddesses. The great Devi created 50 subforms of herself, the mātrikas or “little mothers” whose names are still recited daily by devout shakti worshippers. Each letter has its own meditative quality and vṛtti (perturbation of the natural mind) associated with it.
Because each phenome in the Sanskrit language has its own vibrational quality, with the proper pronunciation one can attain states of mastery- theoretically even if you did not know the actual meaning of the words! This idea has another level of importance, because if the language is mispronounced one can inadvertently be bringing in unwanted vibratory energies. For example, “the pigeon”... rājakapotāsana... the word “rāja” means king or sovereign. Leave off the long “a” and the word becomes “raja”- which translates as either pollen of flowers or menstrual excrement! Properly pronounced it really translates as “the royal pigeon pose”. When one is teaching [yoga] one can be adding to this energy of excellence through the correct pronunciation of Sanskrit.
In 1786 Sir William Jones, one of the first people to seriously study the language outside of India had this to say about it:
The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong, indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists.My personal experience of studying and chanting Sanskrit is that it charges the brain, balances the nervous system, creates new neural pathways and improves memory.
This short video is from an introductory Sanskrit class for yoga teachers that I taught at Living Room Yoga in St. Petersburg, FL several years ago. The actual devanagari letters are below so you can chant along.