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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Udgīthā Vidyā

Udgīthā is a Sanskrit word referring to the chanting of the Sāma Veda by the Brahmin (Sk. brāhmana) priest known as the Udgāt and, by extension, especially when the word vidyā (“science” or “wisdom”) is added, to the science of chanting or of resonant sounds. A well-known Sanskrit Mantra found in the Udgītha section of the Bhadāranyaka Upaniad (3rd Brāhmama, 1st Adhyāya) and frequently used by theosophists is:

Asatomā sad gamaya, From the unreal, lead me to the real,

Tamasomā jyotir gamaya, From darkness, lead me to light,

Mtyor māmrd gamaya. From death, lead me to immortality.

This mantra is usually prefaced by the sacred syllable “om” and completed with “om, śanti, śanti, śanti.”

The philosophy of the udg…tha, as found in that Upaniad, teaches the law of harmony in music by which the Devas that are enmeshed in matter become liberated. By practicing this chant, the Upaniad says, humans can themselves become liberated. It is possible that the reference to devas is symbolical and the hidden meaning in this context might be to those divine tendencies, symbolized by light (which the word “deva,” from the root div, “shine”, implies), which are inherent in human beings.

R.W.B.

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