Last week I completed a forty day sadhana, or spiritual practise, chanting the So Purkh mantra, a Sikh Gurbani prayer, eleven times a day, every day.
So Purkh was given by Guru Ram Das (the fourth Sikh guru) to women, as a prayer of dedication, healing and bringing forth the masculine at all levels – both internally and externally, personal and collective, through the vibrational intention of the sacred Gurmukhi language.
I discovered the power of mantra over a year ago, initially during Kundalini yoga classes and then I went on to recite the Bhand Jammee-ai on and off during the summer months, which took me on a beautiful journey for the divine feminine, during a period of time that mustering forgiveness and loving support was necessary. Some evenings my daughter would join me; she would set up our cushions and a few crystals in anticipation, hurry me along to sit and sometimes we would cover our hair. We chanted along with support from a wonderful Kundalini teacher based in Leeds, Roisin Kiernan.
After this brief period of time I drifted away from Kundalini yoga as a practise, but I hadn’t forgotten the joy of mantra, and this opportunity dropped in at a perfect time.
Chanting the So Purkh mantra
My 40 day journey with So Purkh began one day after the Solstice weekend in the northern hemisphere.
In Sanskrit, the word mantra मन्त्र means ‘instrument of thought’ or ‘to think’. Mantras are sacred utterances, born out of the tantric traditions of ancient India. In Sikhism in particular, mantras are used as a tool for transcending the material world and aligning with the voice of god.
My intention was to send loving energy to a handful of men I know who need it, each in very different ways; and to create a sacred space for inner journeying, with the hope of strengthening my own heart. These intentions were offered with sincerity and without expectation.
My props were a cushion to sit on, my notebook containing the words which I wrote down phonetically in English, and of course the recording. I used the version recorded by well-known Sikh Kirtan singer Satkirin Kaur Khalsa, which includes 11 recitations over 31 minutes.
Over the forty day period, as I chanted each evening, I began to observe subtle changes in my energy field. The So Purkh dedication creates a space for women to sit in our primal energy – the energy of ‘Being’; we vibrate the intention of these powerful sounds, fabricating energetic pathways of healing love and dedication out in to the ether.
Some evenings I lit a candle and placed crystals around me; occasionally I burnt frankincense. Mostly I just sat.
To be able to use my being, my voice, my energetic vibration as a vessel for omitting loving intention has felt gently empowering. I noticed at times that my small ego would start to think about outcomes every so often… ‘what will I manifest for myself?’, ‘how will this benefit me?’ she asked. I observed the thought pattern with patience and self-love. Observance is all that is required.
After each dedication, I would rest in silence for a few moments in order to anchor the energy build up around me, then I would write a few brief notes in my journal.
The first week involved extremes of resistance (my back hurts, this is too hard, I can’t pronounce the words, I’m too hot… ), along with brief flashes of power and a feeling of expansiveness. Would I manage 40 days? Will I keep going? Yes, I think so…
On more than one occasion I sobbed throughout the entire 30 minutes. It became difficult to get the words out and I had to whisper through my tears. Was So Purkh weeding out my own fragility? Was it healing my wounds too?
I kept going, because what else can a person do?
On day 9 I wore a tightly fixed turban and felt very different – my focus was sharper, my words more pronounced. I felt the sounds and vibrations on the roof of my mouth and across my lips. My mind drifted over memories of karmic bonds. An argument breaking out after a night out during my university days. An obscure snippet of conversation in an Italian deli during my twenties. Almost forgotten incidents. Strength began to override past resentments and regrets. I looked back on times when I was deliberately submissive, to the detriment not only of myself but also to the men around me who were just as inexperienced and immature as I was. I sent compassion to those memories.
On day 11 I felt the magical light of consciousness radiate through my being for the entire day. I saw a huge rainbow and some beautiful waterlilies during a short walk near my house. I felt untouchable, completely in flow. Within a few days of experiencing this glimpse of bliss, I felt pain creeping back in and I entered another period of agonising ego death – another ‘dark night’ – which lasted for over a week. I pushed through it with the help of caring friends, rest, and of course this daily mantra. It eventually passed and I felt a sense of relief. Sometimes I wonder how much more of this I can take. But in moments of wisdom I know that that’s the wrong question to ask.
In the final week or so I noticed that my 3D experience has manifested in to a series of energetic battles. Without even noticing the significance, I dropped down in to my physical self completely and engaged in arguments, complaints, battles of will that had been bubbling away for a few months. I don’t think it mattered who was in the right or wrong in each of these scenarios, but from a cosmic perspective, perhaps these tensions needed to come to a head. On day 37 in particular I found some inner fire and became unusually forthright with my words. For a few hours afterwards I wondered if it was too much, whether went too far. I know this is because I’m not yet completely at ease with my ability to set boundaries or verbalise my preferences. It felt unfamiliar and scary to assert myself in this way. But playing the role of the passive, agreeable victim no longer feels comfortable either; my inner wisdom told me that these minor dramas were all very necessary.