Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo (or the Adi Mantra) are the words we chant more than any other at each Sat Nam Fest. More than just a way to start our practice, the Adi Mantra connects us to the universal insights of the community of Kundalini teachers and students – otherwise known as the golden chain.
When explaining the purpose of chanting the Adi Mantra to new students, I say it is like plugging in to the amazing electrical grid of Kundalini yogis – taking that power from across infinite time and space, and applying it to your practice at this moment and place in time. Pretty auspicious, eh?
But when Kundalini is still new to you (and even if it is not), fitting another complicated mantra within your limited time for personal practice may not really be a priority. But I hope this information helps you to reconsider that notion and chant three rounds of Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo before you practice. You will not regret it…
So what does Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo really mean?
Sacred words often have multiple meanings, and that is certainly the case for the Adi Mantra. It is a mantra that both protects us and connects us to the highest source of wisdom. There are many ways to translate it, but one is, “I bow to the All-That-Is. I bow to the Divine Wisdom within myself.” In a past Spirit Voyage blog post, Ramdesh Kaur encapsulates beautifully all the elements of the Adi Mantra.
Why is it so important to chant the mantra before practicing?
This mantra refines the energy around and within us. As noted by Elizabeth Gurmukh in a Spirit Voyage blog post a few years ago, “Make it a point next time to really listen to your own voice as you chant, to understand that by doing so you are ‘tuning in’ to a particular frequency where the deepest understanding of Kundalini kriya and meditation has been coded so that we might benefit most profoundly from this practice.”
What is the Golden Chain and how does it relate to me?
The Golden Chain is a way of describing the energetic link that exists between a teacher, their teacher, their teacher’s teacher and so on back into history. When a Kundalini yoga teacher teaches, the first thing they do is connect with the Golden Chain and invite their wisdom in to teach through them. Yogi Bhajan called the Golden Chain, “the law of the soul connected and projected with the mind.” Ramdesh Kaur goes deeper on this topic here.
There is a beautiful meditation that you can do on your own that uses a variation on the Adi Mantra called the Complete Adi Mantra for Individual. Chanting the words, ONG NAMO, GUROO DAYV NAMO, GUROO DAYV NAMO, GUROO DAYVAA, repeatedly on one breath is very powerful. The meditation is published in the Aquarian Teacher Level 1 Manual and is available online here. Jai-Jagdeesh also has a beautiful version of this complete Adi mantra on her album, I Am Thine.
Why do I love the Adi Mantra?
I love its balance between the community and the individual. By chanting this mantra you have the support and wisdom of generations of yogis, but it also reinforces the depth of the inner wisdom within each of us.
By chanting the Adi Mantra every time you practice, you remind yourself that you are your own greatest teacher. What empowering words, but they are often so hard to remember in the midst of stress and routine.
Explore this beautiful mantra for yourself! Here are some performances of Ong Namo and discussions on the mantra to inspire you further:
Ajeet at Sat Nam Fest East 2013:
Ashana at Sat Nam Fest West 2014: