The first time I heard a Kundalini yoga mantra I was stunned.
The words—in Gurmukhi, from Northern India—sounded so unfamiliar that I felt as if I’d entered another world. In a way I had—I had entered the world of mantra, and soon I would discover that this “sound current” would speak to my heart in a profound way.
Since that first Kundalini class six years ago, I’ve fallen in love with the sounds and the meanings behind the Gurmukhi mantras I learned in class and later in teacher training. I’ve chanted dozens of 40-day sets (most for 11 minutes each, but some for longer time periods), sometimes (but not always) in the amrit vela—the two-and-a-half hours before dawn, which is when committed Kundalini practitioners do their morning sadhana, or spiritual practice.
I never imagined I could love chanting, and yet, I’ve found the practice to be calming and personal—even when I’m chanting with dozens of other yogis.
When I first began chanting mantras I was worried that my voice wasn’t good enough. I soon learned that voice has nothing to do with it—chanting is about devotion. If one practices mantra with an open heart, the sense of peace that can be experienced is quite extraordinary.
Below is a sampling of oft-used mantras one may hear at a Kundalini yoga class. (Spelling varies a bit, from source to source.) There are dozens and dozens more—in Kundalini yoga there seems to be a mantra or meditation for just about everything. Some examples include: healing, anger, fear, depression, victory, prosperity and peace. There is even a “Meditation to Prevent Freaking Out!”
Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo
This mantra—used to “Tune In”—opens every Kundalini yoga class. The words mean “I honor (or bow to) the Infinite Wisdom, I honor the teacher within.” The mantra is chanted three times.
“Ardas Bhaee Amar Das Guru, Amar Das Guru, Ardas Bhaee, Ram Das Guru,
Ram Das Guru, Ram Das Guru, Sachee Sahee.” This is a prayer mantra—said to combine mind, body and soul to answer one’s deepest prayer.
Aad Guray Nameh
“Aad Guray Nameh, Jugaad Guray Nameh, Sat Guray Nameh, Siri Guru Dav-vay Nameh.”
This mantra is for guidance and protection and is often chanted three times following the opening mantra (Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo).
Ek Ong Kar
The Creator and the Creation are one.
Sa Ta Na Ma
The sounds of the mantra are used in a meditation practice called Kirtan Kriya and mean: birth, life, death, rebirth. As each sound is chanted in a particular ratio (two minutes out loud, two minutes whisper, four minutes silently, two minutes whisper, two minutes out loud, then sit silently for one minute) the thumb tip is touched to the tip of each finger beginning with the index. With each sound the practitioner also envisions an L shaped form of light entering through the crown chakra and exiting through the third eye. Researchers have studied this kriya and found improvement in memory function with regular practice.
Har (pronounced H-U-D) simply means God, Divine, or Creative Infinity. There are several prosperity meditations in which the word is repeated to attract abundance.
Used to greet, as a parting mantra, or chanted silently on the inhale and exhale, it means “I am truth,” “Truth is my identity” or “Truth is my essence.” It’s chanted one to three times, at the end of each class—much like Om is used in many other yoga traditions.
This beautiful word means “undying” and is chanted when an individual passes on. It is said to help carry the soul on its journey, helping the spirit to let go of earthly ties.
Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung
A mantra for healing the self, others, the planet or whatever is in need of healing. There are many beautiful recordings to go with this and other mantras. (My favorite “Ra Ma Da Sa” is by well-known sacred chant artist Snatam Kaur.)
Wahe means awe. Guru, of course, is the teacher who leads us from darkness to light. Together, this means something along the lines of, “Wow! I’m totally blissed out and in complete ecstatic awe of the Divine!” In fact, instead of saying “Wow, that’s awesome,” Kundalini yogis might just say, “Wahe Guru!”
- The Aquarian Teacher, Level I Instructor Textbook
- PMC US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
- 3 New Ways Kirtan Kriya Helps Keep Your Brain Sharp
- Kirtan Kriya Brain effects
- Kirtan Kriya meditation shows promise in research of memory function
Author: Kathryn E. Livingston
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Flickr/Darla دارلا Hueske