In the most simplified definition, Vedic Chant refers to chanting of the Vedas. It is that but it is also much more.
Sound, Vibration, Meditation, Listening, Revelation and Transformation are the words that come to mind when describing the experience of Vedic chant.
Another word for Vedic chanting is Adhyayanam – adhi means inward and ayanam means movement /journey.
Vedic chant is precisely that – it is about listening as well as making sound – it is a meditative journey inward. The destination is your own Self.
Again starting with simplest of definitions, the word Vedas is derived from the root vid – which means simply to “to know”.
This is where it gets interesting.
Another definition of Veda in Sanskrit is “Pratyaksena anumanena va yastupayo na budhyate enam vindanti vedena tasmat vedasya vedata.” Translated it means: “What one is not able to understand through direct perception or inference one understands thru Veda and that is called Veda”. ”
What does that mean?
It means – and it is by no means simple in any way - that in addition to encompassing those things that can be learnt by direct human efforts it also includes those which we are not accessible to us by our usual way of learning. Love can be described in many ways – many words but without the experience of it one simply cannot know it – and when we know it we only know facets of it. To know something in its entirety – to experience it is possible through Vedic chant. The experience delivers the knowing.
It is not clear exactly when the Vedas originated but they are thought to be thousands of years old. The Vedas were originally heard by the great sages in deep stages of meditation and passed on orally to disciples.
Therefore they are referred to as sruti (“what is heard”) as opposed to other spiritual texts, which are called smrti (“what is remembered”). These heard sounds were complied by a sage named Vyasa into four books – Rg Veda, Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda and Sama Veda.
THE VEDIC TEXTS?
People often ask is chanting like singing or like music. While it is a common misconception, the answer is No.
Music and singing are beautiful, inspirational and also can be divine but they are not Vedic chant.
Vedic chant has rules for a reason.
It is not an expression of emotion as so very often music or singing is.
It is a meditation – in that meditation emotions and other things may arise but it is because of the sounds/vibrations.
We are not imposing our thoughts and emotions on the chant – the chant is lifting out the emotions, thoughts, devotion – this will occur differently for each person.
The chant, sounds, vibrations have an intelligence of their own beyond human intelligence – this is why they are healing. This is why they are not music.
There is humility and control as well as surrender of yourself – when you follow the rules of Vedic chanting instead of singing.
You are not bigger than the sound. The sound is the perfect healer, the perfect teacher if you allow it.