Everything under the sun

SunflowerI have been chanting the Gayatri mantra for the last few weeks.

Om Bhur Bhuvaha Swaha
Om Tatsavitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi
Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat Om

It is quite long but well worth the time.

When I chant it, I get a feeling of universality and peace I’ve not experienced before in my mantra activities.  A specialist in Eastern antiquities I met last week told me that it is a prayer to the Sun and that made sense to me.   In another ‘find’, I came across a reference to this mantra in a rendition of a Vedic myth (about Varaha, incidentally), saying that it is a meditation on the ‘impersonal nature of existence’.

While chanting it today, it struck me that the Sun is indeed impersonal with its gifts.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, when the Sun shines its light bathes us all.  As Tess Durbyfield said in Thomas Hardy’s novel:

“….the sun do shine on the just and the unjust alike…” Continue reading

40 Days and 40 Nights

100_0613A while ago I completed a 40 day practice of the mantra of Varaha, the avatar of Vishnu who fought the demon to rescue the Earth (see ‘Down on the Beach’).

I posted before about 40 days (‘Running the Numbers’) and despite continued research I have not found out why it’s 40.  This timespan comes up in other spiritual traditions: 40 days of Lent, 40 days of rains that preceded the great flood.  Maybe there are more examples.

It seems an unintuitive figure. 

It has no obvious link to any cosmological or natural cycle.  Why wouldn’t it be 30?  One cycle of the moon? Just as I can find no reason, beyond the natty and pleasing presence of an endless series of 9’s, for the 108 beads on a mala and 108 recitations of a mantra, I can find no reason for the 40.

Opinion will have to do then.

Continue reading