Dussheraa, 12th October, 2005
Veda ghoSha at Dharmakshetra on 12th Nov. 2005
Sai sankalpa has it that Veda chanting be given first priority during Swami’s darshan at Sai Kulwant Hall. Swami’s Grace ensured that veda-students of Maharashtra chanted Veda for 15 minutes in His Divine presence on the last aashaadhii ekaadashii day. Encouraged by this loving gesture on Swami’s part, more students are now gravitating towards learning Veda. The possibility of chanting in Swami’s presence again on the next aashaadhii [Friday, 7th July 2006] is too tempting to ignore. Let’s all make a concerted, heartfelt effort. May Swami Grace us with many more opportunities.
Towards this end, Dharmakshetra has scheduled “Veda ghoSha” by samithis of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai & Panvel on Saturday, the 12th November 2005 at 6:00 pm for about 30 to 40 mins; i.e. at the beginning of global akhanda bhajan.
To ensure that all of us speak God’s mantras with one united voice, two rehearsals on the previous two Sundays are scheduled from 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm. On 30th Oct at Sai Prem, Vashi… and Dharmakshetra rehearsal on 6th Nov. Trained veda-chanters from Mumbai, Navi Mumbai & Panvel are taking part in these rehearsals.
The rehearsal-chanting-sequence will be:
Please attend the rehearsals so that our mantras be meticulous & melodious. Please pour your heartfelt Love in this saadhanaa. Let us all experience Sai in the veda-vibrations.
O Sai ! Let us realize our inherent amrtatvam! Let’s be firmly fixed in that realization! May our bodies be firm & fit; quick & eager for sevaa. May our tongues speak loving-words; dripping with the sweetness of honey. May our ears hear many many sweet & spiritually-charged words.[liberal translation from shikshaa valli… “jihvaa me madhumattamaa” etc.]
OM ! Let’s become stronger together! Let’s enjoy together! Let’s undertake difficult tasks like brave ones! Let’s make our spiritual-sevaa-aura-glow spread everywhere! Let’s not harbour ill-feelings towards each other! Let’s DO it !!! OM ! shaantiH, shaantiH, shaantiH ! [translation of sahanaa vavatu, sahanau bhunaktu… with a bit of poetic license!]
General instructions for Veda chanting
Same start & same end
Unification is required as different samithis are using different mantras to start & end. For one voice, we shall start with one single OM and end with one single OM.
The starting sequence is:  OM !  gaNaanaa-aan-tvaa gaNapatigm havaamahe…………….;  praNo devii sarasvatii……  two namaHs, shrii gurubhyo namaH, hariHi OM ….
 saaiishvaraaya vidmahe satyadevaaya dhiimahi…
The ending mantras are:  sarve bhavantu sukhinaH….  svasti prajaabhyaH paripaalayantaam … … … three times lokaaH samastaaH sukhino bhavantu ….  OM !
Listen ! Listen !! Listen !!!
Contrary to popular belief, keen listening is more important during Veda chanting. Perfect pronunciation automatically follows. Quite difficult to believe, but true. Some team members chant at their own speed without being aware that the neighbour has fallen slightly behind. Listening to our team members will ensure that we chant in perfect sync.
When the teacher is correctly re-explaining a wrongly chanted svara, some students are chanting in a low humming voice together with the teacher. They are not listening. If they did in the first place, the mistake would not happen. Even if the student feels he is perfect enough to hum alongwith the teacher, the other students get distracted, affecting their concentration.
Keen listening is a must. Close your eyes and listen. It appears odd. Initial discomfort is felt. Nevertheless, this enables the mind to focus all the divergent energy channels going out to all the ten indriiyas into one singular-concentrated-energy-channel going only to the ear.
Breath Control & Pause
yasya nishvasitam vedaaH says the shruti. It means “God breathes in and out the veda mantras” Consequently, we must chant with proper and full breathing. At all full stops, a full pause must be taken with a proper breath intake to ensure vibrancy in the succeeding mantra. Not taking a proper breath means one will jump ahead of the chanting leader, and the leader might have to skip a word to catch up with the discordant chanter. Those with naturally loud volumes should avoid “jumping ahead” especially as they will affect the entire group. They should wait for the leader to chant the first akshara at the beginning of the sentence and catch up by chanting the second akshara in sync.
Technical Pause: One must have a short pause before akaara series vowels in the beginning of a word occuring in the middle of a sentence. As per shikshaa shaastra [science of pronunciation] the line must be chanted with sandhi rules. Example 1: akaara, [shrt pause] ukaara makaara, [shrt pause] iti. Ex 2: niShkalo niranjano nirvikalpo niraakhyaatash-shuddho deva, [shrt pause] eko naaraayanNaH. Ex 3: tasmaa-aadashvaa, [s.p.] ajaayanta. Ex. 4 : saadhyaa, [s.p.] riShayashcha ye. Ex 5 : saashanaanashane, [s.p.] abhi. One could put a comma at those places in the devanaagarii text as a self-reminder that: “I have to pause here”.
Avoid jhatkaa while chanting
Some students tend to give a jhatkaa [sudden, short explosive raising of volume] when chanting the lower / high pitched svaras. Some seniors with traditional training also commit this mistake. This author also did it till it was pointed out to him. The volume must be smooth and even throughout. Too loud volume cannot be sustained without running out of breath [before the actual full stop]. Too soft volume is considered a fault. The ending mantras are chanted with higher pitch and volume as they are special [ashiirvaada, lokaaH samastaaH, etc.]
Don’t make short vowels long
Normally short vowels are pronounced short. There exists a small allowance for those occuring at the end of a sentence. They may be chanted long. This does not mean that ALL those short endings should be chanted long. An “allowance” is like a little grace mark. It cannot become the “rule”. There are occasions when “prachodayaat” occurring at the end of all gaayatriis is pronounced “prachodayaat-i ” or “prachodayaat-u ” or “prachodayaat-a ” Now “prachodayaat” is not a short vowel ending. It is a no vowel ending. This is not an example of the above allowance, but incorrect pronunciation. The vowel sound at the end of the “dayaat” must be cut off.
Shiva-shakti method of chanting
If proper co-ordination is achieved at our rehearsals, we may chant each line alternating between ladies and gents. This gives a special flavour and gives a well rounded listening experience. The standard beginning mantras upto “saaiishvaraaya vidmahe…. prachodayaat” will be chanted by both ladies and gents. First line of shaanti paaTha beginning with “bhadram karNebhiH” will be chanted by ladies. Second line “bhadram pashyemaakshabhiH” by gents… and so on… The standard ending mantras “sarve bhavantu sukhinaH” onwards will be chanted again by both ladies and gents. This gives “punch” to a line as all get a “breather” before the next line.
Dharmakshetra chanting: next date
The 1st of January 2006 happens to be a Sunday and the Christian new year. If the majority does commit to make it to Dharmakshetra on that date, we propose the next chanting session on the occasion of the new year.
Further chanting selections
The currently five samithi groups taking part may select one suukta with a time bound commitment. Each samithi selects a different suukta for svaadhyaaya. The same may be presented for chanting at the end of the study period… say three to six months, depending on the portion.
Proposed are:  gaNapati suukta,  naasadaasiit suukta;  hiraNyagarbha suukta;  devii suukta; and  shrii suukta. Others not mentioned may be selected, if one is so inclined. Audio and text will be made available.
Saama gaana singers specialization
Swami has said “Among the vedas, I am the saama veda” [bhagavadgiitaa 10:22] It means the most difficult to master is the saama veda, which is also the most elevating for the listener. Singers with a natural knack of mimicking the tune may volunteer to learn saama veda songs. Even among braamhaNas, the saama vedis just sing the saama songs at the ending puurNaahutii, which sort of “climaxes” a yaaga. We are looking for singers who are willing to specialize and learn at home from audio provided. The saama veda has very few teachers left. We need to revive this tradition.