Over the last couple of years I have been practising every couple of weeks with my colleagues Shumon Chakarborty on the Tabla and Sulekh Ruperell on the Harmonium to tune some of our ancient Mantra’s in our traditional Raag styles. I selected the Mantra’s from the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Gita and various Shastras. Sulekh who is a music teacher from Finchley helped to identify the Raga’s to my singing styles for each Mantra and notated those Mantra’s in the Raag sargam’s. For instance the Gayatri Mantra being the most ancient supreme Vedic Mantra aligned to Raag Bhairavi which is also the oldest Raag, (Saam Veda of at least circa 4th Millennia BCE of the Saraswati Indus Civilisation period).
Saam Veda is the world’s original literary authority on the 7 musical-notes, the 7 Swars: 1.Madhyam, 2.Gaddhar, 3.Rishabh, 4.Shadja, 5.Nishad, 6.Dhaivata, 7.Pancham. Then there are 7 main Syllabic Metres: 1.Gayatri 8×3=24, 2.Ushnik 7×4=28, 3.Anushtup 8×4=32, 4.Brihati 9×4=36, 5.Pankti 10×4=40, 6.Trishtup 11×4=44, 7.Jagati 12×4=48. These metres were the original Raag systems and of course they developed further and across the world but the above fundamentals of Saam Veda remain eternal Sanaatan.
My initial reason for this project was to attract our youth to the Mantra’s with the help of different musical tunes rather than the traditional more monotone recitations and thus arouse their interest in these ancient spiritual revelations and also as a by-product their learning of the Sanskrit language. Several of the Mantra’s are ‘universal’ in their nature for the well-being and peace for all, and therefore are worth advancing for good deeds, good words, and good thoughts; the ‘thought-patterns’ of the Mantra’s, in my own experience, carry powerful vibrations into the Rita the law that upholds the order of our universe for a positive impact on our lives and the world generally.
For this project I have compiled 15 tracks in the form of a basic home-puja from lighting a jyoti to the offering of Prasad at a typical Hindu home-shrine and finishing off with Hanuman Chalisa and then the Vishnu Aarti. I hope to produce a CD of it all which people can use to first learn and then create their own Mantra puja’s further, tailored to their personal beliefs. This set of 15 tracks will take time to record but last month I did do a dummy version of the Hanuman Chalisa track at a Recording Studio in Delhi. So here it is as a starter, certainly not of any professional standard, more like a basic home version yet but probably ok to share – save for getting used to my voice!
Anil Bhanot OBE