The Woodstock Opening Address

By Sri Swami Satchidananda

My Beloved Brothers and Sisters:
I am overwhelmed with joy to see the entire youth of America gathered here in the name of the fine art of music. In fact, through the music, we can work wonders. Music is a celestial sound and it is the sound that controls the whole universe, not atomic vibrations. Sound energy, sound power, is much, much greater than any other power in this world. And, one thing I would very much wish you all to remember is that with sound, we can make—and at the same time, break. Even in the war-field, to make the tender heart an animal, sound is used. Without that war band, that terrific sound, man will not become animal to kill his own brethren. So, that proves that you can break with sound, and if we care, we can make also.

So I am very happy to see that we are all here gathered to create some sounds—to find that peace and joy through the celestial music. And I am really very much honored for having been given this opportunity of opening this great, great music Festival. I should have come a little earlier to do that job, but as you all know, thousands of brothers and sisters are on the way and it’s not that easy to reach here.

Woodstock festival opening address

by Sri Swami Satchidananda | Click play button to listen

America leads the whole world in several ways. Very recently, when I was in the East, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi met me and asked me what’s happening in America. and I said, “America is becoming a whole. America is helping everybody in the material field, but the time has come for America to help the whole world with spirituality also.” And, that’s why from the length and breadth, we see people—thousands of people, yoga-minded, spiritual-minded. The whole of last month I was in Hawaii and I was on the West Coast and witnessed it again.

So, let all our actions, and all our arts, express Yoga. Through that sacred art of music, let us find peace that will pervade all over the globe. Often we hear groups of people shouting, “Fight for Peace.” I still don’t understand how they are going to fight and then find peace. Therefore, let us not fight for peace, but let us find peace within ourselves first.

And the future of the whole world is in your hands. You can make or break. But, you are really here to make the world and not to break it. I am seeing it. There is a dynamic manpower here. The hearts are meeting. Just yesterday I was in Princeton, at Stony Brook in a monastery, where about two hundred or three hundred Catholic monks and nuns met and they asked me to talk to them under the heading of “East and West—One Heart.” Here, I really wonder whether I am in the East or West. If these pictures or the films are going to be shown in India, they would certainly never believe that this is taken in America. For here, the East has come into the West. And with all my heart, I wish a great, great success in this music Festival to pave the way for many more festivals in many other parts of this country.

But the entire success is in your hands, not in the hands of a few organizers. Naturally, they have come forward to do some job. I have met them. I admire them. But still, in your hands, the success lies. The entire world is going to watch this. The entire world is going to know that what the American youth can do to the humanity. So, every one of you should be responsible for the success of this Festival.

And, before I conclude my talk, I would like you all to join me and our group here in repeating a very simple chant. As I was reminding you of the sound power, there are certain mystical sounds which the Sanskrit terminology says are the bijakshara, or the “seed words.” We are going to use three seed words, or the mystic words, to formulate the chants. And if you all join wholeheartedly, after the chant we are going to have at least one whole minute of absolute silence. Not even the cameras will click at that time. And in that silent period, that one minute of silence, you are going to feel the great, great power of that sound and the wonderful peace that it can bring in you and into the whole world. Let us have a sample of that now. The words will be: “Hari” is one word. “OM” is another word. The first chant will have these two words, “Hari OM Hari OM, Hari Hari Hari OM.” The second line will be “Hari OM, Hari OM, Hari Hari OM.”

There will be another chant afterwards: just one word, “Ram.” We’ll be repeating: “Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama Rama Ram.” It’s a sample. It’s very easy to follow with everybody and we’ll have a gentle clapping also. So, now we’ll begin in a slow rhythm and gradually build it up. Now I will request all of my friends to join me. We will repeat the line once, then allow you to follow. (The entire festival then chanted the “Hari Om” chant together.)

Thank you all very much. And once again let me express my sincere wish and prayers for the success and peace of this celebration. Thank you.