Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop called “Wisdom of the Heart” led by the amazing Jai-Jagdeesh at the studio where I teach, Aquarian Yoga Center in Montclair, NJ. There are so many things I could say about this beautiful event, but for now I’ll just focus on how Jai-Jagdeesh encouraged all of us to sing out and her gorgeous version of the mantra “Aad Guray Nameh.”
When I first started chanting and singing in Kundalini Yoga classes, I was reserved and quiet. I had my reasons: the mantras were unfamiliar; I’m a shy person by nature; and I don’t have a good singing voice. Slowly over time, I grew bolder. It helped to sing beside people who shared my lack of vocal talent, and it helped to accumulate moments of boldness when I experienced how intense and all-encompassing singing and chanting with all my heart can be. In her workshop, Jai-Jagdeesh urged everyone to skip over the tentativeness and go for it. She said whatever sounds we made — wrong key, wrong word — were not only okay but perfect. She also told a great story about Yogi Bhajan’s singing voice.
According to Jai-Jagdeesh, many people described Yogi Bhajan’s singing voice as “interesting.” This was clearly a euphemism. One day, a professional opera singer visited the ashram where Yogi Bhajan lived. After listening to him chant one morning in sadhana, she approached him and asked if he realized he was singing in the wrong key. He responded, “I’m not singing in the wrong key. I’m singing in my key.”
Empowered by Jai-Jagdeesh’s encouragement and this story, we all sang out (some in our own keys) many mantras for the heart and moving through obstacles. For me, the high point of these was the Meditation for Protection and Projection of the Heart (from the book Yoga and Mantras for a Whole Heart), which uses the “Aad Guray Nameh” mantra. In its entirety, the mantra is “Aad Guray Nameh, Jugad Guray Nameh, Sat Guray Nameh, Siri Guru Dayvay Nameh.” It means: I bow to the primal wisdom; I bow to the wisdom throughout the ages, I bow to the true wisdom; I bow to the great divine wisdom. With her divine voice and evocative melody, Jai-Jagdeesh guided us through, and I found a new favorite song.
I highly recommend any of Jai-Jagdeesh’s music, especially “Aad Guray Nameh” on her “I Am Thine” album. Sing along with her and be bold in your own key!