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no chanting, please!

i don’t chant. and i don’t chant with kids.

i’ve had it out with a lot of people on this one. many of whom contend that devotion (bhakti) is an inextricable part of yoga.

well, i agree. but i still don’t chant.

why? because i’m jewish and my god isn’t the same god that is being invoked in most sanskrit chants. who says that in order for me to practice bhakti, i have to do it to hindu gods? isn’t a jew praying to her own god daily, passionately, mindfully, practicing devotion?

and there’s an even bigger reason why i don’t chant with children.

i believe there is a lot of power in words…especially in prayers. and you can either (a) believe there is power in words (hence, chanting) or (b) words mean nothing (so, why chant?). assuming you are in camp “a”, then you agree that chants are powerful…otherwise, why bother? and then what makes them powerful? that they are invoking gods (or manifestations of gods) that are meant to help us get through life’s challenges.

i’ve never heard a sanskrit chant to hashem (the jewish god), or jesus, or allah. and that’s why i will never impose one devotion’s idea of “prayer” on a child. parents who raise their children with a particular faith are not sending their kids to yoga to pray to a foreign god who is manifested in a different faith.

let’s put this in more westernized terms. no offense, but as a jew, if i were to come home from elementary school singing “jesus is lord, jesus is king,”  you can be darn sure the school would hear about it from my parents. with all due respect and deference to jesus, he simply isn’t my god.

people always tell me they’re just chants. songs. the words aren’t what matter. what???? the words are all that matters. otherwise, chanting is a vacuous exercise in singing. let’s just sing.

other people tell me that parents (and i) are closed-minded if we don’t want our children chanting. let’s talk about closed-minded. who says that your faith is more appropriate than mine? mine says i only have devotion to one god. everyone with religious conviction other than hinduism is thereby closed-minded? i’m closed-minded because i believe in one god and his name is not shiva, or lakshmi, or durga, or…jesus?

if i want to chant with kids, i’ll do it in english, so that they understand each and every word they are saying. so that the words are powerful and meaningful and meant to be what they are meant to be…devotion to goodness, greatness, and the perfection of the universe around us.


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It is an uplifting, noncompetitive, mind-expanding, and fun way for children to build strength, spirit, and self-esteem.

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