When you listen closely to the sound of the breath during meditation, you may notice the syllables ‘Hum’ and ‘Sa’ as the natural inhaled and exhaled breath sounds.
The word ‘Humsa’ / ‘Hamsa’ in Sanskrit means ‘Swan’. In Vedic philosophy, the Swan is closely associated with Saraswati – goddess of knowledge, wisdom and the arts. She is also the goddess of speech, and is therefore invoked as one who resides within the ‘Vishuddha‘ or throat chakra. Her name means ‘one who flows’; her nature is to bring this awareness of ‘rasa’ or the ‘essence of all knowledge’ in to the world.
The festival of ‘Basant Panchami‘ is dedicated to the invocation and worship of Goddess Saraswati. Perhaps a beautiful way to honour her is to open to ‘rasa’. Rather than cling to ‘set in stone’ ideas of right and wrong, look for that which lies beyond these polar opposite constructs as well.
The Swan symbolises the rising energy of prana or life force that seeks to ascend through the experience of life. The serpent of the Kundalini energy rises along with the inner Swan, creating the ascent of a ‘feathered serpent’ as the experience of awakening to the Self.
The Swan or ‘Hamsa‘ is known for its elegance and refinement. In the Vedic texts, ‘Hamsa’ is given an important place as a symbol of knowledge. Therefore the title of ‘Paramahansa’ or ‘Supreme Swan’ for one who is awakened in the different realms.
The following is the Hamsa Gayatri Mantra, or the mantra of the Swan that is one of twenty four Gayatri Mantras.
Om Hamsa Hamsaaya Vidmahe
Tanno Hamsa Prachodayaath.
|| Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||
May we realise the Swan of the inner Self. May we meditate upon Paramahamsa, the Supreme Swan.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
You can recite this on days that are specifically for the worship of Goddess Saraswati, or even as part of your regular meditative and chanting practice.
In Pranayama practice, the word Ham-sa is heard in the sounds of the natural breath. One such practice is to inhale through the right nostril and focus on the natural sound of the breath as ‘Hum’, and exhale through the left nostril focusing on the natural sound of the breath as ‘Sa’.
Bringing awareness to these sounds of the breath is a precious meditative practice.
With Love and Peace,
Sai Ganesh Nagpal
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