Monday, January 14, 2013

aditya hrdayam (heart of the sun) in the house of light

First Kirtan at James' Saraswathipuram home and teaching space,
which vibrates with so much bhakti.
Tomorrow, I'll be singing to the sun--easily part of a typical day here in Mysore, where yoga practice takes all sorts of shapes outside the primary series. Part of what I love about being here is how some oddball yoga-related activities, which seem totally strange outside any yoga-context, seems totally pedestrian.

Classes resume at what I like to call the "house of light," James Boag's residence and teaching space. Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 15, James starts a series of lectures and chanting classes having to do with the Ramayana, particularly the Aditya Hrdayam, a hymn given to Rama, the hero of the Ramayana, to vanquish the 10-headed demon Ravana.

The Aditya Hrdayam has figured somewhat prominently in my life since my first trip to Mysore, over 2 years ago, starting when Lakshmish introduced the chant during the new compulsory chanting classes. Without understanding a word of it, I resonated with the sound of it immediately. My friend Momo was chanting it in his borrowed Mysore home, where I noticed his copy of Guruji's book on Surya Namaskara. I bought my own copy immediately.

The heart of the sun continued to come into my life in varied forms. There was a beautiful animated live storytelling of the Ramayana and a modernized retelling by Ramesh Menon (a great read! He makes the epic so lively!). The way James chanted the hymn sank deep into my memory. I had last-song syndrome of a very different kind. On mornings, when I had time, I would recite it on my own, occasionally sharing it at the start of classes.

And over that time, the heart of the sun was shining its rays on my own life, blasting away darkness, helping me to see things clearly. There has been so much change over the last two years, some serious upheavals, as well as some amazing opportunities.

Though, this will be the first time for me to properly study it, I feel like it has done its job just the way ashtanga works as a practice. Without knowing much about its particulars, I simply embraced the chant, I surrendered to its magic, I let it do its work. Energetically, I feel the benefits of it, how it vibrates when I sing it, how its lessons have somehow been absorbed into my person.

Now, however, time has come to go deeper, to develop a deeper understanding of the text and what it means to my own life.

Between now and end of March, James teaches Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30-12:30. The Aditya Classes will then be followed by classes on the Bhagavad Gita, chapters 4, 5 and 6. More details and directions to the house of light can be found on

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