Chanting for a Good Cause
Sisters Anita(9) and Neha(6) Ramasastry, have recorded a CD titled “Sri Vishnu Sahasranama for Children by Sastry Sisters.” This CD is a collection of 7 hard-to-pronounce Sanskrit slokas (verses) including the Vishnu Sahasranama (the thousand names of Vishnu), one of the most significant hymns in Hinduism. The slokas are chanted to veena, flute, conch, and bell music in the background.
Anita and Neha learnt the slokas under the tutelage of Jnanamoorthy Bhat, the priest at the Sri Krishna Brundavanam temple in Woodland Hills, CA. Two events contributed to this remarkable achievement. Mildly exasperated by the noisy kids at the temple, Bhat came up with the excellent idea of starting a sloka class, so that the energies of the kids could be suitable diverted. Around the same time, mom Savitha Ramasastry, who happens to be an accomplished classical singer, noticed that her 6-year-old was chanting along to a recording of M.S.Subbalakshmi’s Vishnu Sahasranamam and keeping perfect time. The entire family enrolled in the sloka session. “It is a family outing,” says dad Partha. “We all learn the slokas and end the evening with a sumptuous dinner at the temple.”
He adds, “The sounds of the slokas are believed to improve concentration, attention span, neural retention, and memory, particularly in children.”
The CD was recorded in a friend’s studio in Irvine with all the expenses being borne by the family. “We want to promote Hindu culture and heritage among NRI children,” explains Partha. The two sisters and their family have also launched a website called http://sastrysisters.com to educate the public about the importance and benefits of learning the verses. The CD can also be purchased at the site for $11 and all proceeds go to charity.
The Lalitha Sahasranamam is the next project of the talented sisters, who take Karnatik vocal lessons from guru Sankari Senthilkumar. Other CDs based on Indian cultural themes are also planned.