The Vedas are India’s most ancient and sacred teachings, an oral tradition that was first written down about three thousand years ago. They were chanted and memorised and passed on from generation to generation, and used to be the preserve of men of particular castes.
Towards the end of his life, however, the great yogi T Krishnamacharya felt that the art of Vedic chanting was in danger of becoming extinct as India became more modernised, and that it should therefore be taught to any who were sincere in their desire to learn.
Since then it has been taught by teachers in his tradition, both as an art and discipline, and as a practice which can bring many of the benefits that yoga brings – it can make people feel better, healthier, happier, more positive, more at peace with themselves and the world. It is used extensively for healing, having proved to be extremely helpful in cases of stuttering and other speech impediments, for example, but also for many others, suffering from all kinds of problems and none.
You do not have to be able to sing! Only three notes are used. Chanting from the Veda-s is the most wonderful thing to do. The sound takes us to silence, the silence of the heart. It is a meditative discipline – indeed, Krishnamacharya used to say that it was the most suitable meditation for people in this distracted age. It makes us feel calmer but also stronger, more joyful and more positive.
Modern science is at last finding explanations for what people knew experientially thousands of years ago: the neuroscience of singing shows that when we sing our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways. It fires up the right temporal lobe of our brain, releasing endorphins that make us smarter, healthier, happier and more creative. When we sing with other people this effect is amplified.
The Veda-s are the great teachings on which all the classical Indian philosophies, including yoga, were based. When we chant them, we connect not only with our own heart, but also with people going back over thousands of years.
I love it for the way it makes me feel, and also because sometimes, when I feel that I can do nothing else – not asana (bodily postures), not pranayama (breathing exercises), not meditation – I can still chant.
I am not teaching chanting in groups at the moment. However, you can learn very well individually over the internet with Zoom, which can be downloaded free. I charge £35 for an hour’s class.
I am also planning two courses, both of which will run weekly for seven weeks. One will be an Introduction to Sanskrit and Mantra, and will cost £50. The other will be an Introduction to Vedic Chanting. It will cost £50 plus £35 for an individual class, and two books will be needed.
Please contact me if you are interested in any of these possibilities.
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