TEACHERS

Sonali Ambasankar

Sonali Ambasankar has been a committed student of Swamini Brahmaprajnananda Saraswati. She has learnt Vedic Chanting and Stotram Chanting from Swamini Brahmaprajnananda Saraswati. She is a trained Hindustani Classical Vocalist (studied for close to 11 years) and continues to learn the advanced nuances of music from her music teacher and some music composers in Mumbai. She has learnt Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s krittis from Darshana Sowmya (Dayananda Sisters). She is currently teaching Music and Sanskrit Stotram Chanting to students offline and online across different countries. In addition, she does live and recorded musical offerings in the form of devotional bhajans and kirtans.

Her most musically inspirational moment of truth was when she visited a temple in Alandi, Pune. The head pujari (priest) was singing in praise of the deity while doing alankara to the vigraha, deity. There was nothing else more sweet to listen to, than that musical offering. The words didn’t matter, the technicalities didn’t matter. Whether he was doing the exact rendering of the song didn’t matter. All that mattered was the surrender in the voice, the bhāva in the way the song was sung, the sweetness of the voice, sung right from the heart, the entire gabhara of the temple filled with nothing but the svara-s, the bhāva of the pujari’s voice and the silence in between the words, all leading to the experience of oneness, harmony, shanti and laya to tears of happiness. That has been the most heart touching, inspirational, mesmerising and enlightening musical moment for her. ‘This is what my music is for’ she says. Since then she has endeavoured to sing in this manner, not adhering to the typical manner of singing bhajans and kirtans. She focusses on her music being full of bhāva, and being a meditative experience, without being loud, blaring and noisy.  Her voice is an honest, straight from the heart, bhāva filled voice, listening to which one can relax and dive into a surrendering peaceful musical meditation. She especially loves to sing in front of any deity.

As regards her other professional qualifications, she has a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a special focus on Marketing Research and Insights. Because of her experience in the consumer insights field and her understanding of Vedanta, she has a good psychological understanding of situations and people and focuses on dealing with everyone with empathy and sensitivity. She has worked for close to 10 years in the corporate sector within and outside India. Post that she decided to take a break to pursue her Vedanta studies, music and be a hands-on mother to her 2 sons.

To get in touch for Stotram Chanting and Music classes or devotional music programmes, do write to sonali@discoveratma.com  or whatsapp on 0091 98230 35333.

Rashmi Kaikini

Rashmi Kaikini is a homemaker from South Kanara, now settled in Mumbai, with a diploma in Electronic and Communication Engineering, Karnataka Board. Having worked as a tutor for a few years she developed a keen interest in yoga and meditations. She attended and learnt from various spiritual programs and techniques. Rashmi discovered that these did not address the basic human dissatisfaction nor did they give an answer to the struggle with conflicts of life. Her search continued until she was blessed to learn traditionally and directly from my Guru, Swamini Brahmaprajnananda Saraswatiji from whom she has been learning Vedanta for the past 4 years.

She enjoys meditating, cooking, listening to music, visiting temples and spending time with family. She has contributed some years in teaching yoga and bhajans to the children in slums which was very fulfilling. The greatest privilege of being a homemaker is the availability of time and she makes the most of it. Rashmi recognises that she is blessed to have made a choice to study Vedanta.

Performing puja since her early years, she has learnt the different variations and also learnt the nuances from Swamini Brahmaprajnananda. She enjoys performing puja. She says, “ The very capacity to offer to the one who has blessed me with everything makes me very humble. I enjoy decorating the murti with colourful and fragrant flowers, offer variety of fruits and cook naivedyam. I feel very abundant and satisfied.  I feel that Isvara does not judge me and accepts anything I offer to him with devotion. So, I am totally free to be just me with Isvara.”

Rashmi is happy to teach the knowledge of how to do a sixteen step puja and the accompanying chants.

To learn, please contact her at rashmi@discoveratma.com.

Feedback from students learning with Sonali Ambasankar:

Bede Clifford, 63

Sydney Australia.

My name is Bede Clifford. I am a 63 year old man who has had trouble learning Sanskrit. I have a problem with dyslexia so I need be able to read from the left to the right.

My lessons till now have consisted of learning how to make very specific sounds and where in the mouth to make them and how to make them. Sonali is very patient and picks up when I am making the sounds in the wrong way. Then we keep making the sounds until I can make them in the right way. 🙂

More and more I can recognize the distinct sounds that make up the Sanskrit language.

This is the first time I have enjoyed Sanskrit because I am being taught exactly at the place I need to be taught. From this place, I can experience improving. I am not overwhelmed due to the language and am now enjoying the learning process.

She is the most wonderful  Sanskrit teacher I have ever encountered. I highly recommend her.

Smita Gadkari, 58

Pune, India

I have been very fortunate to find a talented Stotram Chanting teacher like Sonali, just when I was looking for someone. She also has a melodious and clear voice which makes it even more interesting. She is very very sharp and particular about the finer naunces of the Sanskrit pronunciations. She has worked very hard on me, as I had not learnt Sanskrit in school. It’s been more than 3 years and we have come a long way. Chanting definitely improves your clarity of speech and also in appreciating and understanding the beautiful language that Sanskrit is.

John Diaz-Viaggio, 31

Sydney, Australia

I would highly recommend Sonali to anyone who is looking to learn the art of chanting Sanskrit stotrams from an experienced teacher. She is very comfortable with English and has a good understanding of Sanskrit. Before my chanting lessons with Sonali I had never come across Sanskrit before and at first it seemed very daunting but Sonali made the lessons very simple and enjoyable. Through her patience, attention to detail, gentle approach and other teaching methods I was able to quickly learn the stotrams and apply it to my daily chanting. For me, learning to chant has now become a simple and enjoyable experience. She is constantly going above and beyond to make sure that I am progressing in each lesson. If you are searching for a professional chanting teacher who offers a simple and warm approach then you will love working with Sonali.

I have already recommended her to my family members who are now all enjoying her lessons.

Sunitha Suresh, 48

Mumbai, India

Om. I have been learning to chant Sanskrit stotram from Sonali since the past 8 months. She has been very encouraging and with great patience, has taught me the second chapter in Bhagavad Gita and is now teaching me the Lalitha Sahasranamam.

She makes you very comfortable and is willing to repeat the verses as many times as required to help you understand and repeat it. She ensures that you have the recordings of the verses to help you practice and in her quiet way inspires you to do your ‘homework’ as well. I have got over my fear of chanting thanks to her. Her grasp of the language and the clarity of pronunciation make her a master at what she does. Not to forget the beautiful and melodious voice that she is blessed with. I am grateful to her for her tireless effort and dedication.

Dileep Arya, 27

Hyderabad, Mumbai

I am Dileep and Sonali ji has been teaching me stotram chanting from past 1 year. I would like to share few words about my beautiful journey .

I was a novice before I started chanting, I have no knowledge of Sanskrit words, swaras etc . Thankfully I met Sonali ji . Sonali ji is a brilliant teacher  I would like to share few things about her and our chanting class .

1) Sonali ji makes sure I chant each letter as it is supposed to be , sometimes there are few lines where we encounter typical tongue twisters. Sonali ji handles such situations brilliantly ,she is very patient and  she loops through each word a lot of times slowly till I chant without any error . This in turn has helped me increase my listening skills and speaking skills and focus as well.

2) Lot of emphasis is on Bhakti is in the class . The orientation is that we are offering our chanting to Isvara .

3) Classes begin on time, class timing is decided as per convenience.

4)Post each class, recordings of the verses done are sent by her which are a great help to make sure that the chanting is done correctly.

5)I have now learnt to chant the Vishnu Sahasranama , Dakshinamurti Strotram, Aditya Hridayam and Lalitasahasranama . Now I can chant them correctly .

6) it was my dream to chant stotrams as an offering to Isvara and Sonali ji made it possible

7) There is a lot of focus on Practice/Revision as well .

8)As a student I am very happy and satisfied with the learning method and I am looking forward to continue learning more stotrams.

I am very thankful to Sonali ji , never in life I imagined that I could chant Sanskrit stotrams. Thanks

A student, 36

Mumbai, India

Having grown up in a South Indian household, I have had the privilege of hearing some popular chants in our house on our tape recorder. What they meant I didn’t know but I only knew their title and the name of the singer. Over the years as I left home, I missed that connection and no more heard them. So when Sonali said that she would teach Sanskrit shoklas, I immediately jumped at the opportunity.

Sonali is a patient teacher. I have never learnt Sanskrit in school and it is a complex language but she always makes it simple and easy. She repeats the shoklas till I get it right.

One other thing that I really like about her is that her quest for learning is continuous and that has blessed her with knowledge about the Sanskrit language and different shoklas and the correct way of chanting it. If you learn chanting under her guidance, you will definitely learn it the right way with the right intonation, reciting in the right way and it will bring positive effects to your life.

Bina Nangia, 62

New Delhi, India

It has been a journey of self-discovery, since many years. When I understood the importance of chanting mantras in this journey, I wanted to learn chanting. But try as I would, it never happened.

Then with isvara kripa and my karma phala, I found Sonali Ambasankar, a teacher for Stotram chanting.

She was the one I was looking for. Sonali is meticulous in her approach. She maintains regularity, discipline and helps to learn chanting easily.

Within 4 months, I was able to learn the Dakshinamurti  stotram and Aditya hridaya stotram.

She is now teaching me how to chant the shlokas of the Bhagavad Gita, and I love every bit of it.

Bless her always!!!!