By Vidya Pradhan
For Hindus, the single syllable “OM”, repeated the right way, represents the creation of the universe and the sum of all existence. Om is a mantra, a hymn( shloka) or phrase that is supposed to raise consciousness when recited over and over. Mantras have power and meaning independent of the understanding of the person chanting them if chanted the right way, so say the scriptures. Nina Patel has experienced this for herself.
A management professional working in the field of public relations, Nina found the need for comfort during a transitional period in her life when she moved to Houston after an arranged marriage. As a child, she had learnt mantras from her grandmother when visiting India. In Houston, she found herself chanting those shlokas to help her through a period of adjustment. “Unlike meditation, there is no need to find a quiet place and free time to recite mantras. I even chanted mantras throughout the birth of my second child,” says Nina.
Then Nina’s grandmother in India passed away and Nina felt tremendous sorrow and regret that her children had not had a chance to meet the wonderful woman who had been such a source of inspiration to her. When her father went to India for the funeral ceremonies, Nina asked for her grandmother’s chanting beads. Using them to continue her chanting brought her some measure of peace. She began teaching her children the mantras she had learnt and soon found a significant difference in their attitudes and emotions. The mantras helped her children to calm down and become more reflective.
“When I chanted with my grandmother’s beads I felt I was receiving a message from her that I should create a Mantra CD,” says Nina. She started researching the science behind chanting mantras and found a specialist named Thomas Ashley-Farrand. Unlike the Hindu priests she first met, he was able to communicate the meaning and science of mantras and the difference it makes to the body in a simple way in English.
“Once I vocalized my desire to make the CD to the universe it all came together,” says Nina. “It only took 9 months from an idea to a complete CD. I started working with one of the most famous mantra experts who happened to live in Houston named Chandrakantha Courtney. I explained to her that I wanted to introduce some fusion elements and make it accessible to kids. I used a royalty-free website from Norway which has beautiful Indian fusion music and had Chandrakantha do the background singing for the chants.”
The result is a lovely CD with many of the well-known mantras in melodious versions. Here is a sample.
Since the enunciation and pronunciation of the mantras are paramount, Nina collaborated with Chandrakantha to make sure she got it right. “Being a Sanskrit expert, she made sure I was true to the legacy of mantras and maintained their integrity. I have just put a 21st century twist to them,” adds Nina.
Nina has left her mainstream job and now devotes herself to the cause of promoting mantras. Her CD has received terrific responses, especially from non-Indian kids. Nina herself teaches mantras to kids on weekends.
The Mantra CD is called Mantras for my children..and yours. Another CD aimed at mothers is in the works. “I am researching specific mantras and affirmations for mothers,” says Nina. Surprisingly, help and support is more forthcoming from non-Indians. “It is almost a dying art for Indians,” regrets Nina. “There is so much more interest in the Western community. Are we losing our traditions?”
The CD is currently available on Nina’s website. From August 3rd onwards, the CD will be available for purchase on Amazon and Target.com via Cdbaby. As Nina puts it, “This way, I can focus more on PR and marketing (you know, the fun stuff) and less time stuffing CDs in the middle of the night.”
The CD, which costs 14.99 on Nina’s website now, will be sold at these new distributors from $15.98-18.98 + tax and shipping, if applicable. 10% of the CD profits will continue to go towards Vibha, a non-profit organization helping kids in India.
If you purchase the CD right away, Nina can include a gift card with a message if your CD is a gift for someone and sign the CD. Just make a note during the paypal payment process or email her at email@example.com with your special instructions.