For me there is no more beautiful music than the human voice or birdsong. Sanskrit chanting is something that I have loved for a long time. At the age of 19 I visited a Yoga ashram. Every morning the guests were up at 6am to the meditation room for chanting. Immersing myself in the music, something within me awakened. It was a truly magical stay and I learnt my first long Sanskrit chant which I remember to this day. Much later, in another incarnation, I visited Notre Dame in Paris on a Sunday. It was jam-packed. I closed my eyes and stood there listening to the nuns and monks singing/chanting. Simply divine.
I recently met musician Jo Kelly in Byron Bay, Australia. She has produced a wonderful album of Sacred Chants Chilled Beats – Her label is Cafe Mantra and this release, Peace, is dedicated to Shiva. Essentially the album comprises Jo’s sublime voice mixed with pads and uplifting, gentle percussion. It is absolutely wonderful and if you like chants then you will love this album. Click on image to view album.
This release is particularly auspicious as last Sunday was the annual Hindu festival in celebration of Shiva – is called Shivaratri where devotees chant the names of Shiva for 24hours.
Jo sent me this little note about Shivaratri:
India is a land of many festivals, but Shivaratri has a uniqueness of its own. The message it brings to mankind is one of renunciation and sacrifice. It is the festival of the spiritually oriented, a day dedicated to the contemplation of God and observation of vows and austerities. It is an occasion for introspection, for taking new oaths and for making new sacrifices. Shivaratri is one of the few festivals celebrated all over India. On this day people perform special pujas (ceremonies), and often fast and keep vigil in the night, singing the glories of Shiva or chanting his thousand names. The fasting signifies the need to withdraw from the food of diverse sense objects; the vigil reminds us of the necessity for utmost care and discretion to succeed in spiritual endeavour.
The word ‘Shiva’ has a number of meanings: Beatitude, Bliss, the Absolute, the Auspicious etc. He is the bringer of all that is auspicious, the benefactor of the whole world. He is the ocean of compassion that receives the streams of our bad karmas, the fire of knowledge that burns away the body of our ignorance, transforming us into his deathless ‘Vibhuti’ (ash).
Compassionate Shiva is easily appeased by the smallest sacrifice made by the devotees on the day of Shivaratri. He is pleased with any small offering given with a pure heart. – Aum Namah Shivaya