Saturday, 13 August 2011

Gayatri Mantra 1008 times.

This from Ramaswami on FB this morning

Saturday is Raksha Bandhan affirming the bondage between a sister and a brother. It is also the annual vedic day, when one rededicates to the study of vedas. It is affirmed by a 1008 japa of the Gayatri mantra on the following day (Sunday).

I reciting the gayatri mantra 1008 times last year, here's the blog post I wrote that morning on how I approached it and how it went, just in case it's something you'd like to consider for tomorrow.


OK, a very quick post on this in case someone on the other side of the Atlantic ,waking up soon, might feel like doing this today.

I saw this yesterday in one of Ramaswami's status updates

"On the full moon day (today) during this Shravana month(aug15/Sep15) many in India who have bee initiated into vedic studies do a ceremony restarting the vedic studiess. The following day one sits down and does 1008 japa of the famous Gayatri mantra, after doing 10 times of mantra pranayama."

I've been practicing mantra meditation since the course last month, usually fifteen minutes to half an hour but had been considering a longer sit. I worked it out, 108 gayatrii's would take around fifteen minutes, that means what, well over two hours, strewth.

Then again, on the course Ramaswami chanted the Sury Namaskara mantra from Yajur Veda, it took 2hrs and we would do a Sun salute after each of the 32 sections. I thought that if the course had been this month then Ramaswami would perhaps have invited us to practice the gayatri japam in the mantra and meditation class to give us a little taste of the experience of a longer mantra meditation session.

So this morning I got up at 5am, did half an hour of asana, 10 rounds of Nadi Shodana with the full pranayama mantra followed by the 1008 gayatri's. Actually it went quite quickly, I had to stand up and walk around for five minutes in the middle and needed to change posture a couple of times but otherwise it was quite pleasant.

The hardest thing for me was the mantra. I'm used to saying the pranayama mantra forty odd times a day which contains the gayatrii mantra in the middle although in a slightly different form. I kept mixing up the beginning (where it differs slightly) or I would forget to stop and keep on going half way through the full pranayama mantra before I realized. Helped keep me focused though.

I want to write more about mantra meditation but need to get off to work and am too mellowed out to write much anyway.

But if your tempted, and your taking today as you day off practice for moon day then here's the gayatrii mantra

Aum Bhur Bhuvah Swah, Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi, Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat

or you might prefer this transliteration

Om bhur bhuvah svah
tat-savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah pracodayat

A link to a site with the mantra's meaning, word by word here or perhaps this one here

and another site that seems to detail the full gayatrii japam ritual, here.

A quick note on counting. I used my 108 bead mala, going round nine times then an the extra 36 on my 36 bead wrist mala. I used japanese Go stones to mark each time around the mala, Curious to know how it's normally counted.

Let me know if you give it a go and how it went.


I've been reflecting on this a little since yesterday. Two hours, two hours! Actually it was more like two and a quarter, that's a long sit. In the past I've sat mainly for forty minutes, very occasionally fifty at a time. Some day's I sat for forty, did a kind of walking meditation for ten minutes and then sat again for another forty. Many years ago I sat in the Zen'ish tradition but for the last few years I've practiced Vipassana. The Zen was too long ago for me to comment on now except to say forty minutes can seem a long time attempting to keep the mind empty whether holding thoughts at bay or letting them float on through.

Vipassana though, funny, but for all my blogging about asana I've never really wanted to write about my meditation. In the last year or so I've been questioning my Vipassana practice, perhaps in a similar way to how I've been questioning ashtanga. Coming from an analytical, philosophical background (Psych's seem to be drawn to it too as well as those in search of free therapy ) Vipassana seems ideal, don't fight the thoughts, push them away or ignore them as they float by, mentally note them instead, make them the objects of your meditation, the aches that come up, the emotions, the dominant thoughts,note em all, more grist to the mill (over simplification, i know but roll with me here).

Of course this is bad practice, your not supposed to get sucked into them but keep an objectivity, just be present. Hard though , so easy to get suckered into analyzing everything, there's that potentiality in the practice that can lead to a tendency, just as in Ashtanga there is the potentiality to end up getting wrapped up in the next pose, next sequence, to focus too much on the asana. Again bad practice perhaps but not surprising so many of us end up in that tendency. What draws us to the practice, whether Vipassana or Ashtanga can be the very same thing which leads us astray.

Vinyasa Krama seemed a calmer practice, seemed somehow more what I needed than perhaps what I wanted at the time. I recognized it but still thought I needed an ashtanga practice. Somebody compared it to an addiction recently, yep, I can see that. I don't think I would ever have got into Yoga if I had started with Vinyasa Krama, not with my character and yet now it's the only way I want to practice.

And Mantra meditation, not convinced at all when Ramaswami introduced it into the course. Basically, the idea is that you recite a mantra in your head, don't worry about the meaning but just focus on the sound and keep bringing the mind back to that. I've worked on breath meditation, bringing the mind back to the breath, it's kind of a warm up in Vipassana and Jana, it's similar. And that's it. That's it? No noting, is there no more, nope, just keep bringing the mind gently back to the sound of the mantra, perhaps focus on the third eye, but that's pretty much the practice as I understand it.

I've been doing that for fifteen minutes, in the morning, half hour in the evening but had felt a little unsatisfied, still kind of felt like a warm up. It took a month. Last week It finally started to sink in, quite a profound peace, a stillness. And yesterday two hours bringing the mind back to a mantra, focus, concentration, one pointedness you can see where it's going. A mantra, so much easier than the breath or was it that I'd preceded it with the pranayama and some asana. Is there something to Mr Patanjali after all, asana, pranayama, meditation, prepare the mind for meditation, then go ahead and meditate.

I'm not dissing Vipassana, not in the slightest but perhaps it's not best suited to me, and perhaps for the very reasons I'm drawn to it.



  1. Dear Grimmly,

    Handful of questions :)

    1. I checked one of the links ( in your post, is it almost the same as pranayama mantra I'm currently learning from Ramaswami's site? Did he tell anything about this on the TTC?

    2. I's a pitty that the Complete Book does not cover mantras, I mean the texts.
    I found another post on your main blog, this one:

    There is a picture from a Pranayama Mantra, could you tell me from which book is that?

    Many thanks!

  2. One more thing :)

    "This from Ramaswami on FB"
    Is this Ramaswami's own FB page? I checked that but found the last post back from 8th of July.

  3. Hi K.

    Ok, here we go
    1. The pranayama mantra has the gayatri mantra in the middle. there seem to be slightly different forms of the gayatri though, sometimes more om's than others. For the gayatri mantram tomorrow, the 1008 my understanding is that you do the shorter version. This one...
    Om bhur bhuvah svah
    tat-savitur varenyam
    bhargo devasya dhimahi
    dhiyo yo nah pracodayat

    2. YES, a real pity about the lack of mantras in the book. I'd love to have a booklet with all the mantras on the CD or Ramaswami's website. there were a few of them handed out on the course, a few others I managed to google. I'll try and make a collection up and put them on the chanting page at the top of the blog. This may take a little while, be a nice project.

    The picture you mention, I think it might come from one of Mohan's books but I'm not sure which one, have a feeling i came across it once in a library. Either way it was the only one, would have been nice if there was a book with them formatted like that.

    3.Ramaswami FB. I was referring to the Vinyasa Krama group on Facebook that we set up after the courses, started as just a handful of us who were on the course that year but now there are over a hundred members. I've sent you an invite. Ramaswami occasionally posts a little something on there, sometimes you get a preview of a snippet from his upcoming newsletter.

    Thanks for the questions, always welcome.

  4. Grimmly,

    How do you compare VK to Ashtanga? Do you practice both to compliment the practice? For instance does VK add more flexibility than Ashtanga?

  5. Dear Grimmly,

    You are an inspiration for the home practioner! Thank you!! Can you give some advice on starting the VK practice at home? Which sequence would be good to start with? I have been doing Yoga for about a year and a half and Ashtanga for about six months. Souled love to add VK to an evening practice and do Ashtanga in the morning. Thanks for the advice.

  6. How to compare Vinyasa karma and Ashtanga, big question Anon. At the moment I feel like saying, VK is like being at the wheel of a convertible, driving along country roads on a pleasant summers day. Having just finished practising Ashtanga 2nd series for the first time in a month... Ashtanga it feels more like being hit by a truck.

    But more seriously. Vk is as flexible as you want it to be. You choose the sequence, subroutines, postures depending on what you feel you need to practice that day. A lot of responsibility there not to just pick the easy stuff, not to just play to your strengths. The pace is slower than ashtanga, inhalations, exhalations are longer, you spend longer in postures and more time building them up, working up towards the more challenging postures within a practice ( see my last couple of posts on leading up to Leg behind head and kapo). The main difference perhaps is that Vinyasa Krama is an integrated practice the asana along with pranayama are preparation for meditation.

    Ashtanga , within the mornings practice anyway is an end in itself and you pretty much have to fit yourself to the series your working on. Obviously still some room to manoeuvre in that, up to a point you can dictate the pace and which postures you have want to give more attention to . At the moment Ashtanga feels more of a discipline than vinyasa karma. I can just breeze onto the VK mat but Ashtanga takes and act of will, a girding of the loins : )

    I've missed practicing Ashtanga in the morning recently, love vinyasa karma, the calmness I feel all day after practicing it but miss the discipline of ashtanga it seem to give a different kind of focus to the day, grounds it in a different way. Feels more like tapas.

  7. Thank you BW. NSo you already have your Ashtanga in the mornin so have had your asana fix for the day and are probably ok taking it easy in the evening. I'd start with the On your feet sequence, whether the full version from the book or my shorter ten minute version ( there's a video on my subroutines and sequences blog - link at the top of the blog ). If you do the short version of that, I call it 10 minute tadasana sequence then perhaps you could try on long paschimottanasana, longer than the usual ashtang version and with long slow inhalations and exhalations. Then the usual ashtanga counterpose. Ramaswami recommends some shoulder stand prep poses (find them in the middle of the supine videos) then a five minute shoulder stand, perhaps urdhva danurasana as a counter then headstand for ten minutes and another five minute shoulder stand and a light backbend counter. That would be around half an hour. You might want to add maha mudra ( find it under asymmetric - sorry on m iPad can't link at the moment) and then a lotus posture at the end. That would be the core vinyasa Krama practice, the postures Krishnamacharya recommended we do every day.

    Another way to explore the book would be to do do a few sury's to loosen up then look at the seated sequence. It's not so long and is familiar to an ashtangi. A different approach though, nice and slow. It's perhaps my favourite sequence. Finish with some inversions.


    A lshort tadasana and then some of the asymmetric subroutines, perhaps the first couple on both sides then switch to finishing.

    The sequences are kind of self contained, each subroutine tends to include foreward bends, twists, backbends etc so you can look at the first few subroutines from any of the sequences, just don't feel you need to do the whole sequence, just take it slow.

    Will do some posts on this very topic.

    Hope that helps, gives you something to be going on with.

  8. Oh yeah....What about Breathing in VK? Is Ujayii breathing the same as ashtanga and if not how does the breathing differ? This is so important I am sure.

  9. Yep good old fashioned ujaii, no 'breathing with sound' confusion here. Ramaswami walked around the room coming up behind you to make sure he could hear your ujaii strongly. Long long inhalations and exhalations, lots of bandha work too.