Dear friends,

I wanted to share this with you for a long time already, but I just did not have the time or opportunity to do so until now.  Today, I can finally share with you one of my favorite texts and chants.  My problem now is that I don’t know how to introduce it without writing a very long text, so I will try to be very concise, but one good option for you might be to simply ignore my short introduction and just listen to the chant while reading the translation and open your heart to the powerful lyricism of this ancient spirituality.

But for those of you interested in the context, here is my short intro.

For years now, I have been fascinated with by one school of Hindu philosophy called Vedanta.  That school has two main sub-branches, a non-dualistic or “Advaita” one and one dualistic “Dvaita” one.  Being an Orthodox Christians, my own beliefs are much closer to the latter, but I find the former no less fascinating.  The following chant, the Prayerful glorification of the Spiritual Teacher or Guru Stotram, has been written by Adi Shankara, an Indian philosopher in the late 700s, who is considered as one of the key figures in the development of Advaita Vedanta.  This chant is excerpted from the Guru-Gita and consists of a conversation between the Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati.

I would ask you not to get stuck on the specifics of this text, which is a modern translation of the original Sanskrit, and not to over-intellecutalize it.  I would ask to to listen to the chant with your heart and try to feel the “spirit”, the phronema, which it radiates.  As for the stillness and peace this chant radiates, it reminds of of Orthodox monastic services.

[Theological sidebar: It is my highly subjective opinion that Hinduism and, especially Vedanta, is the highest form of spirituality mankind has achieved without the benefit of revelation (rishis are not, imho, comparable to the Prophets of Israel) and, even more so, without the awareness of the Incarnation.  Since Christianity is based on the revelation of the prophets and the Incarnation of Christ, there are many irreconcilable dogmatic differences between the two religions.  But in terms of ethos, of mindset, of the central role of asceticism, devotion, prayer and mystical mediation, I find Orthodoxy much closer to the religions of India than to the western forms of Christianity.  Texts very similar to the Guru Stotram can be found in the canons of Menaion or Oktoechos of the Orthodox Church as well as in many Akathistos.  The big difference is, of course, that Orthodox devotions and meditations are entirely Christ-centric and that not being non-dualistic like Advaita Vedanta, Orthodoxy would never impart divine-like characteristics to any human being, teacher or cleric.]

I would like to share two very different version of this chant with you:

The following is the version of Guru Stotram chanted by Swami Atmananda:


and this version is the US musician Jai Uttal:

Both are quite beautiful, each one in their own way.  I often listen to the first version of Swami Atmananda when I feel sad, distressed or anxious.  It helps me move away from my immediate pains.  Try it!

Finally, please find below the transliteration and translation of this text.

Enjoy!

The Saker

PS: to those who might be shocked that I, as a Christian, would have anything positive to say about religion often considered as polytheistic, I would reply that the reality is much more complex and that while some branches of Hinduism are polytheistic, others are not.  If interested, please see here and here.  I also agree with this video.
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GURU STOTRAM
(Prayerful glorification of the Spiritual Teacher)
Transliteration, Word-Meanings and Translation by Swami Atmananda

1.
Akhand-Mandalakaram vyaptam yena characharam.
Tatpadam darshitam yena tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
Akhand – unfragmented; Mandalakaram – one infinite whole; vyaptam – pervades; yena – by which; characharam – movable & immovable; Tadpadam – That state; darshitam – has shown; yena – by whom; tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – guru, teacher; Namah – my salutations.

My Salutations to that Guru who revealed to me that Truth, which is unfragmented, infinite, timeless divinity, and which pervades the entire universe – movable or unmovable.

2.
Agyan timir-andhasya Gyananjan Shalakaya.
Chakshur-oonmeelitam yena tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
Agyan – Ignorance; timir – cataract; andhasya – blinded; Gyananjan – medicinal collyrium; Shalakaya – collyrium stick; Chakshur – my eyes; oonmilitam – opened; yena – by whom; tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – Guru; Namah – my salutations.

My Salutations to that reverential teacher, who opened my eyes, by applying the divine collyrium of self-knowledge in my eyes, which had got blinded by the cataract of ignorance.

3.
Gurur-Brahma Gurur-Vishnu Gurur-Devo Maheshwarah.
Guru-sakshat Para-Brahma tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
Gurur – Guru; Brahma – Creator; Gurur – Guru; Vishnu – Sustainer; Gurur – Guru; Devo – the divine; Maheshwarah – the Destroyer; Guru Sakshat – the Guru is verily; Para-Brahma – the transcendental divinity (which is the very basis of all the three); tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – Guru; Namah – my salutations.

Guru himself is the creator, sustainer and the destroyer. He is verily the very transcendental divinity, (the timeless life-principle, which is the very essence of the creator etc.) My reverential salutations to that glorious teacher.

4.
Sthavaram jangamam vyaptam yat kinchit sacharacharam.
Tatpadam darshitam yena tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
Sthavaram – animate; Jangamam – inanimate; Vyaptam – pervades; yat – that which;
kinchit – every vee-bit; sacharacharam; inclusive of everything movable or immovable; Tadpadam – That state; darshitam – has shown; yena – by whom; tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – guru, teacher; Namah – my salutations.

My Salutations to that reverential teacher, who revealed to me that which pervades everything in this world, whether animate-inanimate, or movable-immovable.

5.
Chinmayam Vyapi yat-sarvam trailokyam sacharacharam.
Tatpadam darshitam yena tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
Chinmayam – The self-effulgent diviity; Vyapi – pervades ; yat – that which; sarvam – everything; trailokyam – the three worlds; sacharacharam – inclisive of everything which is movable or immovable; Tadpadam – That state; darshitam – has shown; yena – by whom; tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – guru, teacher; Namah – my salutations.

My salutations to that glorious Guru, who revealed to me that self-effulgent divinity (the pure unconditioned consciousness) which pervades all the three worlds, with all its movable and immovable objects.

6.
Sarva-Shruti shiro-ratna virajit-padambujah.
Vedantambuja Suryo yah tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
Sarva-Shruti – Of all Vedas; Shiro-ratna – crown jewel; virajit-padambujah – abide at his lotus feet; Vedantambuja – the lotus of vedanta; Suryo – sun; yah – he who; tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – Guru; Namah – my salutations.

My Salutations to that reverential teacher, who is like a sun for the blossoming up of the lotus like mantras of upanishads; and at whose lotus feet lie the beautiful flowers, symbolizing the best of jewels of vedas.

7.
Chaitanya Shashwatah shanto vyomatito niranjanah.
Bindunaad kalatitah tasmai shri Gurave Namah.
Chaitanya – Consciousness; Shashwatah – eternal; Shanto – of the very nature of peace; vyomatito – transcending space (& time); niranjanah – taintless; Bindu – the concept of zero; Naad – the primordial sound; kala – parts; atitah – transcending; tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – Guru; Namah – my salutations.

My Salutations to that reverential teacher, who is verily the eternal consciousness, which is of the nature of peace. He transcends space (& time), the concept of zero, the primordial sound and all parts.

8.
Gyanshakti-samaroodhah tattwamala vibhooshitah.
Bhukti-mukti -pradata cha tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
Gurur – Guru; Brahma – Creator; Gurur – Guru; Vishnu – Sustainer; Gurur – Guru; Devo – the divine; Maheshwarah – the Destroyer; Guru Sakshat – the Guru is verily; Para-Brahma – the transcendental divinity (which is the very basis of all the three); tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – Guru; Namah – my salutations.

My Salutations to that glorious Gurudev, who is established in Knowledge and Power, who is adorned with the garland-of -Knowledge and who grants both worldly prosperity and spiritual liberation.

9.
Aneka-janma-sampraptah-karma-bandha-vidahine.
Atma-gyan-pradanen tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
Aneka – Of many; Janma – births; sampraptah – accumulated; karma-bandha – the bondage of action; vidahine – burns down; Atma-Gyana – The Self-Knowledge; pradanena – by imparting; tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – Guru; Namah – my salutations.

My Salutations to that reverential teacher who by imparting the Self-Knowledge, has burnt away the very bondage of actions in a whiff, which had even though taken infinite lives to accumulate.

10.
Shoshanam bhavsindhoshcha gyapanam saarsampadah.
Guroh-padodakam samyak tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
Shoshanam – drying up; Bhava-sindhosh-cha – the endless sea of seeking; Gyapanam – by enlightening me about the; saarsampadah – the true wealth; Guroh – of the guru; padodakam – the water left behind after washing the feet; samyak – fully; tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – Guru; Namah – my salutations.

Even by the very sipping of the charanamruta (the water with which the feet of guru are washed), we get blessed by the eternal wealth (of liberating knowledge), and which dries up the endless ocean of seeking & the subsequent sorrows. My Salutations to the lotus-feet of that glorious Gurudev.

11.
Na Guror-adhikam tattvam na Guror-adhikam tapah.
Tattva-gyanat-param nasti tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
Na – There is no; Guror – than Guru; adhikam – higher; tattvam – truth; na – there is no; Guror – than Guru; adhikam – higher; tapah – penance; Tattva-gyanat-param – higher than the knowledge of truth imparted by the guru; nasti – does not exist; tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – Guru; Namah – my salutations.

There is no higher truth than the Guru, no higher penance than (service to) the Guru, and there is nothing higher than Realisation of the Knowledge of the truth imparted by the Guru. My salutations to such a Gurudev, who is himself that very timeless truth (and who has taken up a form to bless his disciples like us with real knowledge).

12.
Man-naathah Shri Jagan-nathah Mat-guru-shri jagad-guruhu.
Mad-atma sarva-bhutatma tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
Man-naathah – My Lord; Shri Jagan-naathah – is the Lord of the universe; mat-guru – My teacher; Shri-Jagad-Guruhu – is the Teacher of the entire universe; Mad-atma –My Self; Sarva-bhutama – is the Self of all; tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – Guru; Namah – my salutations.

My Lord is the Lord of Universe; My teacher is the teacher of the entire universe; and my Self is the Self of all. My salutations at the lotus-feet of such a Guru, who has revealed such knowledge to me.

13.
Gurur-adir-anadish-cha Guruh-param-daivatam.
Guroh-parataram nasti tasmai Shri Gurave Namah.
Gurur – Guru; adir – is the beginning of the universe; anadish – yet, he himself is without any beginning; Guruh – Guru ; param-daivatam – the highest diety; Guroh – than the Guru; parataram – higher; nasti – does not exist; tasmai – to that; Shri – glorious; Guruve – Guru; Namah – my salutations.

The Guru is the beginning of the Universe, yet he himself is without a beginning, the Guru is the highest deity, and there is none higher than the Guru. My reverential salutations at the lotus-feet of such a Gurudev.

14.
Tvameva mata cha pita tvameva
tvameva bandhushcha sakha tvameva.
Tvameva vidya dravinam tvameva
tvameva sarvam mama-dev-deva.
Tvameva – You alone; Mata – the mother; cha – and; pita-tvameva – you alone are the father; tvameva – You alone; bandushcha – are the brother, and; sakha tvameva – you alone are my friend; Tvameva-vidya – You alone are the knowledge; dravinam tvameva – you are the wealth; tvameva sarvam – you are everything for me; mama- dev-deva – O My ultimate God

O God! You alone are my mother, my father, my brother, and my friend. You alone are the knowledge, my real wealth. You are everything for me. You are verily my God alone.

The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world