Every two weeks Sannyasin Brahmanathaswami meets with our local members who are interested in sacred music and together they practice singing and learning songs. The scope of the session covers Natchintanai, simple bhajans, stotrams, chants, invocations and long songs. We also do some breathing work and a few sangeetam exercises to help improve our voices. Fourteen-year-old Deepanjali Mardemootoo joined us. She said she was to shy to sing for us, but with a little encouragement we had her even leading our group. She has excellent pitch and a very clear voice.
One of our goals is to help empower everyone to feel confident to sing and lead. We really are not concerned how perfect it is, or if you have the exact tune right. The goal is to cultivate singing to the Gods as a personal sadhana, to include everyone in our gatherings. It’s not about entertainment, it is about bhakti-devotion. We work hard on visualizing what we are singing. Today swami introduced the group to this lovely prayer to Lord Siva.
Sivam, Sivakaram Shaantam
And we started work on another Natchintanai “Shaantam Upa Shaantam”
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Bodhinatha's Latest Upadeshas: "The Difference in Practice of Theism and Monism" (September 3, 2014)
During a puja we're in Theism, to receive the blessings of the Deity. After a puja we can go within our self in meditation, giving up the idea of an external Deity, Monism. Monistic Theism: Advaita Ishvaravada. Advaita means the Monism; Ishvara means the Theism.
In Shum we use two words that relate to that: shumif and dimfi. First, perfect your Theism. Then become a monist. That's called Saiva Siddhanta; one leads to the other.