Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Chant for Protection

Last week, we began our Kirtan Circle with a chant to Ganesha that I learned from my teacher, David Newman. David, also known as Durga Das, which means "Servant to the Divine Mother," is shown in the video above leading a group in the chanting of this same mantra, "Jai Ganesha." 

Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of hinduism, embodies the quality of the divine that can remove obstacles and is an excellent choice for embarking on any new endeavor--such as launching a new Kirtan circle. In the days following the first meeting of our new Kirtan chanting group, I realized how even more appropriate this particular mantra was for the days our world was living through. The sanskrit text for this chant is:

   Jai Ganesha! Jai Ganesha! Jai Ganesha Pahiman
   Sri Ganesha! Sri Ganesha! Sri Ganesha Rakshamam
   Gung Ganapataye Namo Namah 

And the meaning, in English, is roughly: 

    Hail Ganesha, the One who saves us.
    Venerable Ganesha, the One who protects us.
    I bow in reverence to the name Ganapati, the name of Ganesha. 

In this period of great upheaval and turmoil in the world, it is good to have the opportunity to sing with others to God. It is good, and comforting, to seek safety and protection in the divine that is always with us. Although the chants in traditional Kirtan are made to Hindu deities and the religion could not be more foreign to me, I have been greatly moved by the practice of Kirtan and no longer doubt the power of this particular form of worship.

Although Kirtan does not come from the tradition I was raised in, and I still know very little about it, I have found that the practice speaks directly to my heart, bypassing my brain and making it unnecesary to fully understand the stories or theology behind the songs. God has many faces and many names and, in the final analysis, my own beliefs are only a vague approximation of the true ultimate reality that is beyond any human comprehension. Keeping this in mind has been a great help as I have found myself swept away by this powerful devotional practice from a tradition not my own.

Tonight we meet again for Kirtan and we will offer our chant to Ganesha, asking for God's protection and grace, for ourselves and for all around the world who are living through these tumultuous times.

Peace be with you,



  1. Tonight at 5:30! More details on the studio website here: