In sutra 1.29 it is said that the repetition of mantras prevents all the obstacles(antarayas). Chanting is a beautiful tool and practice that activates the Vagus Nerve which is connected with the parasympathetic system, the vagus nerve branches out to smaller nerves located in the brain, the tongue, the heart, the lunges, and the stomach. In moments of stress or discomfort where asana or meditation don’t work, chanting can help you overcome these situations.
In the beginning, you practice mechanically by emphasizing the vibration of the syllabus, after that you start to meditate on the meaning and not on translating the words, that’s why it is better not to practice chanting on your language. This practice crystallizes the meaning in your brain and cultivates understanding. As each chant has it’s own meaning there will be different effects & knowledge that will be gained.
तस्मै श्री गुरुवे नम
Guru devo Maheshwarah
Guru sakshaat para Brahma
tasmai shri guruvay namah
I bow down to Brahma, the force of creation,
To Vishnu, the force of preservation,
To Shiva, the force of destruction and transformation,
To the guru within and the guru beyond the beyond,
I make my offering to the beautiful remover of my darkness, my ignorance.
This is one of my favorite mantras, honoring the Hindu Gods and teachers, Brahma who symbolizes the power of creation, Vishnu who symbolizes the power of conservation, and Shiva, who symbolizes destruction and rebirth. In the yogic tradition, the teacher-guru relationship with the student is very important, and in this mantra, the value of the guru’s teachings is recognized in order for the student to be able to create a relationship with the divine. It is ultimately an expression of gratitude for all spiritual masters and the guidance they give to overcoming ignorance to find enlightenment and awakening.
These three Gods also referred to as the Sacred Trinity, also symbolize the three stages of life and the three elements of the self. So it also refers to the teacher that each of us hides within us, whatever and whoever comes to our lives is our teacher. We make with our decisions and our thoughts the person we have before us. We channel our energy and create our lives. The more connected we are with our inner guru, the closer to correct thoughts and decisions, ever closer to awakening and peace. This particular mantra, therefore, invokes the spiritual teachings that are embodied in oneself, contributing to the connection with the inner tutor of the individual and helping to empower him.
To assist you in the process of learning how to pronounce this chant you can try listening to the following video while chanting and repeating the sentences loudly. After a while, it is recommended that you drop the video and chant on your own using as pronunciation feedback only the vibrations in your head (you should feel each word in your whole brain). Once you have a basic idea of the vibrations & you can remember the chant without any props you can go on to the final step and meditate on the meaning while chanting it.
Our creation is that guru (Brahma-the force of creation); the duration of our lives is that guru (Vishnu-the force of preservation); our trials, tribulations, illnesses, calamities and the death of the body is that guru (devo Maheshwara-the force of destruction or transformation). There is a guru nearby (Guru Sakshat) and a guru that is beyond the beyond (param Brahma). I make my offering (tasmai) to the beautiful (shri) remover of my darkness, my ignorance; (Guru) it is to you I bow and lay down my life (namah).
Audio translation of the Guru Mantra provided by Manorama.