If you’ve ever been to India, chances are that you’ve heard Vedic chants. You may have dismissed them as cultural or religious music. Vedic chants stand apart as something else. They are spiritual and cultural, but also much more. People have been using Vedic chants for 1000’s of years to focus intellect, control anxiety, heal illness and much more. 

Vedic Chants – The Power of Mantras

Unfortunately, most of the western world has forgotten lessons from our past. We (modern westerners) feeling that breaking science is more powerful than 1000’s of years of wisdom. Consider this; modern science is less than a 100 year old. Vedic Chants (as one example) were formed over 7000 years ago. Are we really that much smarter today? Can we explain or improve a system that took 1000’s of years to develop in a few decades?

Are Vedic chants A ritualistic practice that has lost relevance? Not at all. Chanting still remains a sought-after psychosomatic route to physical and intellectual wellness. Regular chanting of mantras is believed to wipe out fear, anger and depression, and help relieve disorders of the respiratory, digestive, reproductive, circulatory, speech, intellectual and cognitive systems. Vedic chanting is said to help develop one’s mental powers and strength, ease stress, and take one to a higher level of consciousness. Chanting also improves one’s memory and power of concentration, so crucial if one wants to be an achiever.

Vedic chanting is said to help develop one’s mental powers and strength, ease stress, and take one to a higher level of consciousness

It seems incredible that mere chanting can bring about these tremendous changes. But a chant does not work in mysterious ways. “Think of this. On the physical level, voicing a chant in the prescribed way impacts the abdominal area (from where the chant notes are raised), the lungs, the circulatory system and so on,” explains Radha Sundararajan, director of chanting, Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram. Now, research is being done at places such as the Brahmvarchas Shodh Sansthan, a research centre for integration of science and spirituality in Haridwar on how exactly a chant works. Chants have been analysed to be energy-based sounds and voicing a word or a sound produces a physical vibration. Chants thus create thought-energy waves, and the organism vibrates in tune with the energy and spiritual appeal of a chant.

Scientists say that when a mantra is chanted rhythmically, it creates a neuro-linguistic effect. Such an effect occurs even if the meaning of the mantra is not known. “You just need to have a good ear, stay true to the punctuation’s, pauses, pronunciation, notation, length and the force of the chant and repeat it over and over again. The transformation happens step by step, over a period of time,” says Menaka Desikachar, senior exponent and former director of vedic chanting at KYM.

Listening to mantras regulates blood pressure, the heart rate, brain waves and the adrenaline level. But, remember, just like regular medicines, there are specific chants for specific purposes.

“But knowing the meaning of what you are chanting tunes your mind towards reaching your goal,” says Usha Sundar, director of the Vedic Chanting division, Viniyoga Healing Foundation (VHF). Scientists call this the Psycho-linguistic effect (PLE). Research done by professor Dr. T. Temple Tutler of Cleveland University in the U.S., has revealed that NLE and PLE effects are due to the production and spread of chemicals in the brain, which have a calming and curative effect on the body. “Some patients come in such a disorganized state that they are not able to be part of a healing program; so we ask them to just listen to a particular chant, after which they become composed and do the asanas and say the chanting,” says Dr. N. Chandrasekhar, VHF, where chanting is incorporated into yogasana-based healing programs.

Chanting eventually makes us meditate. Meditation requires focus, which is difficult to achieve. But, when you chant with concentration, the mind gets focused. “Sometimes, during the course of chanting, I end up in a meditative state without realizing it,” says K. Geetha, a yoga teacher, who has taken to chanting. This is probably why chanting is so good for kids. “It synchronizes the body, mind, voice and breath, creating inner harmony, which paves the way for spiritual awakening”.

Chanting synchronizes the body, mind, voice and breath, creating inner harmony

There are scores of people who have discovered that chanting can take you on a path that leads to a higher plane of well-being: Like businessman K. Ramesh, who managed to kick alcohol, smoking and overcome the urge to overeat, following a daily dose of chanting for over a year. Like Shiva, a young boy with Down’s syndrome who no longer drools or behaves in a disoriented manner. Like Shanthi, whose asthma is under control. Like Uma, who has got over menstrual irregularities. Like Kamakshi, who has chanted her way out of chronic depression.

Why wouldn’t anyone try it?