I was very lucky to have had this amazing spiritual practice right under my nose in my years growing up in India. I went to many of my mother’s chanting classes, because I was drawn to this practice. Sometimes, I stayed away when I felt judged, possibly most by myself. Wearing jeans, listening to ‘western music’, studying Engineering, not always wanting to wear a bindi on my forehead. It didn’t seem congruent with this other path.
There were all these rules to follow, sometimes tacit, sometimes explicitly demanded. I return to this practice now, because of the realization that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. The essence of chanting overpowers any associated dogma. It is not about clothes, appearance and least of all, not about religion. We can have a chanting practice and continue or even grow our chosen spiritual path, interests or faith.
The rules to observe are those that form the very essence of chanting – pronunciation, rhythm, intonation and most importantly – intention. These are the rules I will absolutely honour and preserve.