Music & Mantra Monday: Kali Durge Namoh Namah

Kali Durge Namoh Namah

Welcome to a new series here on Om Fairy! Music & Mantra Monday will feature a song, a mantra, or a playlist every Monday with a little about why it resonated with me. I’m kicking off the series with a blend of song and mantra that I learned from Girish during my yoga teacher training.

If you want to listen to the songs and mantras featured in this series, follow this playlist on Spotify or find it on Google Play. I’ve added a few things I’ll be talking about in the coming weeks, and over time I’ll continue to add to this playlist.

I wasn’t always keen on mantra. Ironic, since I named my site Om Fairy. Mantra seemed a mix of public singing and religion, neither of which I felt comfortable with. When the mantra portion came around during my yoga teacher training, I didn’t think I was going to come out much changed from the experience, even though I did already enjoy this album by Girish, who was to be our instructor. Maybe that placed the seed for being more open to the experience.

As we started out we covered more about sound and the science behind how we respond to it (as an aside, Girish has since written a book, Music and Mantras, which covers a lot of what we talked about that day and more). Then we got to the chanting part. While I was familiar with some of the deities in Hinduism back then, I didn’t have much depth of knowledge, so I went into these chants with no real preconceived notions of what to expect, not to mention I wasn’t terribly excited by the prospect of singing.

That day we did two chants – this one to Kali, and another to Ganesha. We chanted for 5 minutes and then we simply paused and took in the experience. At the time I knew Ganesha was the benevolent, much-loved elephant-headed god who removed obstacles. Some form of chant to him was even performed before my wedding. I knew Kali had a ring of skulls around her neck and was generally depicted killing someone.

As I chanted the Kali mantra, it felt good. It resonated with me. I felt calm. As I sat with my eyes closed, everything was still. I didn’t see any colors or movement as I often do. A straight line of white appeared across the top of my inner vision, and it faded to black very symmetrically.

Then onto Ganesha. It was not what I expected. For some reason my mind started to focus on death, and my reactions to losing my loved ones. The emotions came on so strong that I wanted to quit chanting and leave. All this was very odd given that no one in my family was sick or had recently passed. When we finished the chant I was at a bit of a loss, because I wasn’t certain how I could feel so awful after chanting to this happy-go-lucky deity.

I didn’t focus too much on the second part, instead, I began to dive into learning more about Kali. I kept with her mantra for a while. Of course, I discovered the various aspects of her. Destructive, unable to be stopped from killing everything in her path, but also a symbol for the dissolution that must come before something new is born.

A few years later, as I looked back on this experience, it dawned on me that at some point, this mantra quit resonating with me, so I dropped it and moved on to another that did. As I reflected on life, I remembered how at odds I felt with the idea percolating inside of me that I wanted to teach yoga. At the time of my teacher training, I was doing it for my personal practice, planning to search for another product marketing job after taking a break. Kali, a spirit of dissolution and destruction, was an energy that was much needed in my life at the time to finally come to the point of saying, “That life is not for me.” As I found my way into this new reality, Courtney-as-a-yoga-“teacher”, and settled further into what felt right, the need for the energies associated with Kali fell away, as did my resonance with this mantra.

In short, this is the mantra that opened me to the idea of chanting, that started my chanting practice, and that took me down the path of learning more about sound, Sanskrit, and the stories behind the deities. So even if it’s not the mantra I’m currently sitting with, it will always hold a very special place in my heart.

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