Saturday, October 30, 2010

Divine Souls I : Swami Suryapada (Chayanna)

Starting with this post is a new series of posts which will feature some of the Divine Souls which have spearheaded the Art of Living movement and have been a pillar of support to millions around the world . They have shown by example, how to live life to the fullest. Living a life of high moral and spiritual values, they have brought smiles to millions of homes, and made a difference to the society through their service. In addition to their biography I would also add a bit of my own experiences with them wherever applicable.

The choice of whom to write about first is a most difficult one, because all the names which come to my mind are  so unique and commanding in their own respect, that it becomes virtually impossible to choose. However, I have to start somewhere so I decided to write on Swami Suryapada.

The first time I went for a Satsang conducted by Swami Suryapada (belovedly also called as Chayanna), the definition of Satsang was changed in my mind. It was about two years ago in Bangalore that I went for his first Satsang, till then I had myself some experience of Singing in Satsangs. But sitting there in the hot sun at 1 pm, singing Shiva-Shiva-Hara-Hara I forgot the world and experienced so deep a peek into my own inner self that when I came out of it, I realised that the Satsang was over. Then after that I have attended numerous Satsangs conducted by him. First a brief introduction:

Swami Suryapaji (Chayanna) in one of his lively moods.

Born in Karnataka in Southern India, Swami Suryapada ji completed his Master’s Degree in Physics from the Bangalore University in India. He served at the prestigious R.V College of Engineering in Bangalore, India as Head of the Department in Physics until 1995. After taking Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as his Guru he became full time teacher with the Art of Living Foundation.
An embodiment of Knowledge and Seva, Swamiji has a very deep understanding of the Upanishads, Bhagvad Gita, Ashtavakra Gita, Patanjali Yoga Sutras and the like.
He has travelled extensively around the world, from USA to Taiwan, from New Zealand to Germany, taking the knowledge of spiritual values and sharing his expansive presence with sincere seekers. He takes the Advanced Meditation Course of the Art of Living Foundation.

Just as in the video above, He starts the Satsang with a powerful chanting which has an immediate calming effect for the mind and slowly leads the satsang to a pinnacle where even the most insensitive person will feel touched by the grace of his singing. Deep meditative experiences during his Satang is a regular phenomenon and people feel refreshed after attending his Satsangs. 

Swami Suryapada's style is most unique as he does not sing the latest bhajan in vogue, but sticks to the simple tunes based on pure Ragas which will have the most powerful affect in an individual's consiousness. He has a very deep knowledge of the effect different sounds have on the mind of the listener, basically what effect a Raga has? Ragas are a collection of notes (ascending and descending) with a particular emphasis on some . Invented by ancient rishis and improvised by thousands of prolific musicians over thousand of years, different Ragas when used effectively, colours the mind with a particular emotion from which to slip into meditaion becomes very easy, and Swamiji through the years has mastered the  Art of Satsang. 

Swami Suryapada Playing the Harmonium.

Leading through devotion.

Also commendable is his efforts to make popular the old wiritings of various Kannada saints like Purandara Dasa, Kanaka Dasa, Basavanna etc. Bhajans like Bhagya da Lakshmi Baramma, Dasanagu Visheshanagu, Uma Katyayani Gauri etc have again started to be heard even by non Kannadigas, all credit goes to Swami Suryapadji's efforts to popularise them and also explain the meanings and expose the deep wisdom hidden in these devotional songs. In the video below he sings Dasanagu Visheshanagu.

Dasanagu Visheshanagu

The meaning of this song is very beautiful, I will try to explain with my limited understanding of Kannada..
It speaks about how the Body takes birth again and again , eighty lakh lifetimes have u spent... come and gone .... now the only way out is to become a disciple. He says "Become a disciple, a servant and then you will become SPECIAL ! "

Kannadigas who can explain in detail plz do so in the comments, I will put it up here :)

Jai Gurudev.


vishwa said...

good one Vivek. i am his great fan. wish some more lyrics pour in

Pankaj A. Desai said...

Listened to "Dasanagu' after so long and today Swamiji's rendition was a hair-raising experience..

I have never attended his satsang before, I only wait for that opportunity now..

Thank you,again..
Jai Gurudev!

Rti said...

Really wonderful writing about Swamijis Satsangs, heard him for the first time two months back in New Jersey, he completely redefined the meaning of Satsang, devotional singing for me. Wish we get to hear more Kannada Bhajans from him may be in Bangalore.
--Bethlehem PA

janaki sabapathy said...

The first time i really felt vibrations was on hearing Swamjis Satsang.I enjoy his satsangs immensly.It takes me to the heighest peak of happiness,bliss and ecstacy.

Vandana Daftari said...

Beautifully described ..! Anna as I call him is Ocean of Devotion, Wisdom, Humility..His presence speaks for itself.. N his soul stirring singing takes me to a different realm .. Grateful

Prajakta Patil said...

Swamiji can I get lyrics of Uma Katyayani bhajan?

Raghavendra said...

Jai Gurudev Vivekji,

I landed up here while searching for lyrics Uma Katyayani. Its very good article about our beloved Chayanna!

There is a special AMP course with Chayanna in the holy place Kateel, Mangalore. I thought you would be interested in that. The course is from 1st October to 4th October. Please inspire others to join this.

For more info visit:

Jai GuruDev

Aari said...

His satsang is really intoxicating... I love the way he sings...specially Bhagyad laxmi baramma.....

Shwetha Patil said...

Really good article .....recently I did my course with chayanna's presence. He is purandara Dasa only. I felt like this after hearing dasanagu song by him. I felt like God comes to him to listen that song from him. No words to explain...need to feel that.

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