Vedic Chanting

Vedic Chanting Book

Vedic Chanting Book

Vedic Chanting is the chanting in Sanskrit of mantras and passages from the Vedas and Upanishads. It is a particular form of chanting, which has been preserved virtually unchanged through thousands of years, by adherence to the form (the rules) and direct transmission from teacher to student. It is a wonderful and profound practice that connects us in a direct way to the origins of yoga. Sanskrit is an amazing language, rich with layers of meaning. Every sound has significance – just listening to the sounds can produce beneficial effects, producing them even more so. Experience this wonderful practice for yourself!

Monthly Monday morning Vedic Chanting Group
10am – 12.30 pm at 11 Briavels Grove, BS6 5JJ.
For this group you need some experience of Vedic chanting and a commitment to attend regularly. Cost £25.00 per session, payable in advance.
Dates up to Summer 2020:
10 February, 16 March, 20 April, 18 May, 15 June, 6 July.

Learning Vedic Chanting one-to-one over Skype
I teach vedic chanting to people all over the world via Skype. 
Price for a one-hour class is £37 for a one-off class, £32 if lessons are taken monthly, £27 if the frequency of lessons is two a month or greater.
Or have a half-hour lesson for £22. Includes mp3 recordings emailed to practice with, and annotated chant sheets provided.

Workshops and Courses – I am available to teach workshops throughout the UK and further afield.  Anything from 1 hour to a 10 hour ‘Introduction to Vedic Chanting’ course, please contact me to discuss your requirements.


About my training to teach Vedic Chanting

Sarah Waterfield receiving her Vedic Chant teaching certificate from Radha Sundararajan, October 2013, Park Place, UK. Photo by Li Backstrom

Sarah Waterfield receiving her Vedic Chant teaching certificate from Radha Sundararajan, October 2013, Park Place, UK. Photo by Li Backstrom.

In 2013 I qualified as a teacher of Vedic Chanting, after a 2 year in-depth Vedic Chant Teacher Training course. The course consisted of 4 modules, each of 10 days. Each day was a full and intensive programme of learning chanting the traditional oral way, learning the meanings of the chants and learning to read and write the Sanskrit script. Syllabus included various beginners chants up to chapters 1 and 3 of taittiriya-upanisat.

My teacher was Radha Sundararajan from Chennai in South India. At the time she was a lead teacher within the KHYF (Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation), and had previously been director of chanting at KYM (Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram). Both organisations are in Chennai. Radha now teaches independently in India and all over the world.

Radha was a student of TKV Desikachar for some 25 years. TKV Desikachar studied with his own father, T Krishnamacharya, for some 30 years. 

Post-graduate training with Radha Sundararajan

Since graduating in 2013 I have regular (on average twice-monthly) teaching from Radha over Skype. In addition I have completed the following seminars with Radha:

  • May 2014 – Park Place, UK – all the suktams
  • January 2015 – Chennai, India – brahmanandavalli, 3 suktams
  • October 2015 – Park Place, UK – suktams, sarvagunasampanna-mantrah
  • May 2016 – Wicken, UK – aruna prasnah
  • October 2016 – Lendrick Lodge, Scotland – rajasuya-mantrah, rudranamaskara-mantrah, bhagavad gita chapters 1,4,6
  • January 2017 – Chennai, India – mahanarayana-upanisat
  • October 2017 – Wyboston, UK – Patanjali Yoga sutra chapters 1 & 2
  • May 2018 – Liege, Belgium (Advanced seminar) – taittiriyaranyake dvitiyah prapathaka ‘saha vai devananam’
  • January 2019 – Chennai, India – a complete study of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra
  • May 2019 – Buggenhout, Belgium – Isa-upanisat, kena-upanisat
  • May 2019 – Liege, Belgium (Advanced seminar) – taittiriyaranyake dvitiyah prapathaka ‘saha vai devananam’

About Vedic Chanting

There are many aspects to Vedic Chanting, and so many reasons to practise it. Here are some:

  • If you are a yoga teacher or have any interest in the ancient philosophy of the Vedas, from which yoga came (the ‘sanatana dharma’ – eternal teaching), then Vedic chanting will illuminate your understanding. Chanting the texts brings them alive and their many layers of meaning become apparent. Through chanting we have a direct, physical experience of the yoga philosophy and begin to understand the concepts on a deeper level than through the mind. This has certainly been my experience.
  • General benefits to the individual who is chanting – TKV Desikachar says, “Mantras are powerful sounds which, when pronounced in the right manner and with the right intention produce specific vibrations within our body. These vibrations have the ability to positively influence our psychological state, thereby improving physical, mental and emotional health. Vedic mantras have been used for many years in India as a means of personal development and spiritual transformation.”
  • Specific benefits to the individual chanting – TKV Desikachar says, “different mantras can also be used to bring about specific therapeutic effects in its practioners. For instance, certain mantras… can have energising effects while others can have a relaxing effect.” We can use the chants like this, to help ourselves and also to benefit others, either to chant to another person while they listen, or to have a particular person or situation in mind as you are chanting.
  • Benefits to others – in addition to the above, some chants are intended for particular situations and can be used as such, for example to bring peace to particular situations, to other people, or to nature, to the wider world, to bring health, etc.
  • The nature of the Sanskrit language – is that the sounds do not just have a meaning, they are that meaning. The vibrations of the sound are the vibrations of the object or concept. So for example, chanting the Sanskrit word for peace will bring about peace. Chanting the word for trust and faith will increase those qualities within yourself (or others if you are directing the chant to them). Chanting for health will bring about health.
  • Concentration, meditation – the process of learning chanting is called adhyayanam (meaning to go towards your inner self). Adhyayanam involves  the teacher chanting, the student listening and then reproducing as exactly as possible what they have just heard. This requires the student to listen with full attention. Distractions of the mind are reduced and concentration is enhanced. The mind learns to be ‘one-pointed’. Thus chanting is, “not only a tool in meditation but also a meditative process in itself.”  (TKV Desikachar)
  • Transcendence – for the brief moments of perfect attention of the mind, one becomes the chant and the sense of the individual self disappears. That transcendent experience is beautifully grounded and held by the structure of the Sanskrit language, the difficulty of learning the chanting and the rigour that is needed to do so.
  • Chanting in a group – this has to be experienced!
  • Connection to something greater than the individual self – TKV Desikachar again, from the cd Pilgrimage of Sound, “In the highly artificial and industrialised urban society, modern man years to reach out to a source which brings him back close to nature and its secrets. Since his links are global and with his communication systems his words travel speedily, he doesn’t find time to be in tune with the slow unfolding of one little flower in front of him. Mantra is a symbol of the unfolding process in creation. Therefore reciting a mantra can connect modern man back to the creative forces of nature. It could be the support that helps him move on his path. A mantra is not a mystical formula, but that knowledge which has been there, long before mankind came into existence. To believe in this knowledge is not part of a religion, but a reminder of the very source of mankind, that can give him clarity to visualise and come into contact with his true self.”

Vedic chanting can seem difficult at first.  Initially it is not possible for us to pronounce the unfamiliar sounds correctly, and there seems so much to learn. But like any practice that brings great rewards, it is worth persevering, and we improve with practice. The rewards are great, for us as individuals, and hopefully for others too.

Listen to some mantras: