The word shloka means ‘song’ and originates from the root śru or ‘hear’. A shloka is generally a couplet of Sanskrit verse, especially one in which each line contains sixteen syllables. Shlokas, which are repeated to aid concentration in meditation, originate in the Vedic period. Indians have used the science of sacred sound for centuries to aid humans who seek to communicate with the divine spirit within themselves and the universe.
Recent research into the effects of chanting has discovered a variety of benefits, including the effect of raising the level of vibration of the individual practicing the chant. This makes the practitioner gain peace, feel calm, and become more centered, allowing the person to channel the positive energy received in various ways.
Five key elements of chanting that make it beneficial:
Robert Gass, author of Chanting: Discovering Spirit in Sound, throws light on five key elements of chanting that give it its powerful and universally appealing benefits. Gass attributes the first two characteristics as common to all types of music. These are:
- Associating a musical piece with one’s memories that are built over a period of time gives the musical piece an ever-deepening level of meaning.
- Entrainment, in which the body and mind are sub-consciously induced to align (or vibrate) with a melody or rhythm to which it is exposed. For example, says Gass, “If you’re in a room and there’s a heavy drum beat, your body will almost involuntarily start to move.”
The next three, according to Gass, are unique only to chanting, especially the chanting of shlokas.
- The effect of breath while chanting. Research shows that a chanter’s respiration rate slows from the normal 12 to 15 breaths per minute to between five and eight breaths per minute, which is considered optimal for mind-body health.
- The audible sonic effect is produced while chanting. This reflects the pleasurable sensations and healing effects of extended vowel sounds typical of sacred chants, like shlokas.
- The ultimate ‘intent’ of the person chanting. The desire to be close to God plays an important role.
It is a synergy of the above five characteristics, says Gass, that gives chanting the various powers that have been attributed to it.
The many benefits of chanting Shloka:
Researchers have found that chanting, either done in solitary or in a group, has profound physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Highlighted below are a few of the many benefits that shloka chanting can bring.
- Chanting can sharpen the intellect
Chanting shlokas can indirectly help keep the mind alert and sharpen the intellect. The brain requires more oxygen than any other organ in the body, and an adequate supply of oxygen is essential for the brain to function efficiently.
- Since chanting of shlokas is accompanied by systematic rhythmic deep breathing, it brings in an added supply of oxygen, which helps sharpen focus, improve concentration, and make a person more enthusiastic. To gain the full benefit of shlokas, the ideal timings are the Prabhat sandhya (morning) and Satyam sandhya (evening).
- Chanting can help in healing
The rhythmic up-and-down vibration created by chanting shlokas creates a melodious effect in the body known as the Neuro-linguistic effect (NLE). The Neuro-linguistic effect on the body is possible even if the person chanting does not know the meaning of the shloka. Another effect is the Psycho-linguistic effect (PLE), which occurs when one knows the meaning of what one is chanting.
- Research conducted by Professor Dr. T. Temple Tutler of Cleveland University, USA, shows that the NLE and PLE effects together release certain chemicals which can work towards curing various ailments affecting the body. Chanting also helps release beneficial endorphins, which act as a pain reliever in the body, and boosts the body’s natural metabolic process.
- Chanting can help in stress management.
Chanting shlokas daily lowers blood pressure, normalizes heart beat rate, brain wave pattern, and adrenalin levels, and even reduces high cholesterol levels. Doctors observing these health benefits advise their patients to chant shlokas daily. For those unable to chant, doctors advise listening to shlokas being chanted, as this, too, can have a positive effect on the body.
- However, shloka chanting should be done in a melodious pattern and never in a harsh or hurried fashion. Experts recommend that the Gayatri Mantra be chanted at the range of 4 – 8 numbers per minute, the Om Namo Narayanaaya at 38 -62, and the Om Namah Shivaya at the 42 – 68 range per minute.
- Chanting can energize the brain.
Researchers have discovered that thought-energy waves created by the chanting process can help energize the brain. At any given point, the human mind has myriad vibrations riding in and through the subconscious mind. On the other hand, the chanting process starts a powerful vibration that begins to override all the other smaller vibrations.
- This ultimately begins to calm the brain, which in turn is energized. “This is the reason why our ancestors used to get up early and start the day with the purifying power of shlokas,” says noted singer, composer, and Indian film music director Shankar Mahadevan. “Chanting, being a part of their daily ritual, kept their body, mind, and soul healthy.”
Make shloka chanting a part of your everyday life:
Making shloka chanting a part of your everyday life will bring immense benefits on all levels. Being a spiritual energy form manifested in words, shlokas use ancient affirmations to bring about positive changes in your life.
21 Shlokas, including Sri Venkateswara Suprabhatam and Gayatri Mantra, are included in the Devotional pack taught by expert teachers online.
The devotional pack also contains a self-learning Online Music Book (OM Book), two months of online access, and unlimited practice with recording tools. For those interested in singing, the Academy offers online singing classes for Hindustani, Classical, and Bollywood film songs. You can also learn to play Indian instruments like the tabla and flute online in the comfort of your home.
7 Must Chant Morning Prayers For Hindus
Hinduism, also known as the Sanatan Dharma, is one of the greatest and finest of ancient religions. Its mythological stories and religious books have mentioned that one should be closer to God to attain Moksha. Being close to God will also make our life peaceful and will keep us away from negative happenings. Know about seven must-chant morning prayers for Hindus.
So how to be close to God? God cannot be seen. He cannot be touched, and he can only be felt. Then how is it possible for us to be close to him? Worship him! Worshiping him will enable us to attain spiritual satisfaction, positive energy, and a peaceful mind.
It is believed that the first thing you see on waking up determines how good or bad your day will be. Our palms are said to have the presence of three Goddesses. Lakshmi(Goddess of prosperity) lives in the tip of the palm, Saraswathi(Goddess of knowledge and power) lives in its middle, and Gowri(Goddess of life) lives at its base. Hence, as soon as you wake up you are supposed to see your palm and recite the following mantra.
Karagre vasathu Lakshmi, Karamadhye Saraswathi,
Karamoole sthitha Gowri, Prabhate Kaa Darshanam.
कराग्रे वसतु लक्ष्मी, करमध्ये सरस्वती, करमूले स्थितः गौरी, प्रभाते का दर्शनम.
Next, comes the prayer to mother earth. Before we step our foot on the ground, we need to ask her pardon.
Samudhra vasanedevi, parvatha sthana mandithe,
Vishnu pathni namasthubhyam pada sparsamkshamasva mae.
समुद्रा वसने देवी, पर्वथा स्थान मंडिते, विष्णु पत्नी नमस्तुभ्यं पड़ा स्पर्शाम क्षमस्व मए.
Before we start our daily activities, we should pray to the Gods responsible for our birth. This mantra means we request God to make things auspicious for us.
Brahme muhurte chotthaya chintayedatmano hitam
Smaranam vasudevasya kuryat kalimalapaharam
ब्रह्म मुहूर्ते चोथाय चिंतायेदात्मनो हितम स्मरणम वासुदेवस्य कुर्यात कलिमलापहरम
Worship the creation and the existence. May the sages, Sanathkumara, Sanaka, SanathaNA, Aasuri and Pingala, Let the seven musical notes and let those seven nether worlds, make this morning great for me.
Santhkumara, sanaka, Sananthana, Sanathano apyasoori pingalow cha,
Saptha swara, saptha rasa thaani, Kurvanthu sarve mama suprabatham.
संतकुमारा, सनका, सनन्तना, संगठनो प्यसुरी पिंगलो च,
सप्तः स्वरा, सप्तः रसा ठानी, कुर्वंतु सर्वे मां सुप्रभातम.
Let the seven oceans, Seven mountains, Seven sages, seven forests, Seven Islands and Seven Lokas, make this morning great to me.
Satharnva Saptha kulachalascha,
Saptharshayo dweepa pavanani saptha,
Bhooradhi kruthwa, bhuvanai saptha,
Kurvanthu mama suprabhatham.
सथारणवा सप्तः कुलाचलाश्चा, सप्तर्षयो द्वीप पवननि सप्तः,
भूऱाधि कृत्वा, भुवनै सप्तः, कुर्वंतु मां सुप्रभातम.
Then we should worship the Sun – the cause of existence and source of energy. Before reciting this mantra we need to face towards the East. We need to worship him for long life, wealth and intelligence.
Bhano, bhaskara Marthanda, Chanda rasmai, divakara,
Ayur, arogyam, budhim, sree yamscha dehi mae.
बहनो, भास्कर मारठंडा, चंदा रस्मी, दिवाकर, अय्यर, आरोग्यम, बुद्धिम, श्री यमश्चा देहि मए.
Then comes the prayer to bring in harmony of the mind, body and spirit. In this prayer, we promise God that we will work with vigor and maintain peace.
Saha veerya karava vahai,
Sahana navathu.Sahanou bunakthu. Saha veerya karavavahai.
Tejaswinaa vadheedamasthu maa vidwishavahaii.
Om shanthi, shanthi, shanthi.
सहा वीर्य करावा है, सहना नावथु.सहनौ भुनक्तु. सहा वीर्य करवावहै.
तेजस्विना वधीदामस्तु माँ विद्विषावही. ॐ शांति, शांति, शांति.
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