Martha Moore Benson is a lawyer, herbalist, yoga teacher and Ayurveda practitioner, but her primary focus shifted to Veda recitation when she heard authentic Veda mantras and experienced love at first sound. 

“You want your Karma to catch up with you? Plan a trip to India,” says Martha Moore Benson. Born and raised in the USA, Martha has always felt an affinity with the divine. She was raised in a religious, spiritual family and developed a strong relationship with Jesus as a child. While she still feels close to Jesus, she now places Krishna next to him as well since she is a long time Kriya Yoga initiate. 

Martha is a trained attorney and practised law for many years but wasn’t satisfied working in law. She longed to discover her true purpose in life and decided to pursue practices that involved the study and application of nature both within and without. This led her to study herbs, Ayurveda, Yoga and, Veda she’s a graduate of the Southwest School of Botanical Medicine (she’s a clinical herbalist), she’s a certified Yoga Teacher (RYT 500), she has studied with stalwarts of Ayurveda like Dr Vasant Lad, Dr Claudia Welch and Dr Robert Svoboda, she has authored two books and she’s a practitioner member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA-USA). 

At present, Martha is studying Veda recitation with Shantalaji and feels that this is her primary focus. “I am a dedicated student of Shantala and I am passionate about preserving and disseminating the knowledge of the Vedas. I want to be an authentic voice for Vedic wisdom. I feel all my spiritual practices are leading me to the one essential ultimate truth.

The unity that underlies all religions and all spiritual practices it’s about being in tune with and in alignment with my true nature and true self. To be in sync and in rhythm with my true Dharma,” says Martha. 

Talking to Martha, I’m impressed and humbled by how much she has accomplished in her lifetime despite the challenges she faced. Here are excerpts from our conversation:

Finding Veda, Reciting Veda

Martha Moore Benson: I found out about Veda Studies during the pandemic. One of my Sanskrit teachers was offering online classes and one of the women in the group was Shantala’s student. She told us about Shantala and the work being done at Veda Studies. I was so enthralled by this and wanted to find out more so I listened to Shantala’s recitations of the Veda. It was love at first sound (laughs). I knew immediately that I had to learn Veda from this teacher and the fact that she is from the Mysore lineage and is aligned with the Challakere Brothers was just perfect. I’ve known about this lineage since 1999 when I was initiated in Kriya yoga and one of the Swamis was listening to cassettes of the Challakere Brothers. Listening to those recordings awakened something in me and I’m thrilled to be learning Veda from a teacher that belongs to the same lineage. 

Reciting Veda has enhanced all my spiritual  practices. I was initiated into Kriya Yoga in 1999 but I have been exposed to and have been practising yoga since the 1970s. I also practise Ayurveda and reciting Veda has enriched these practices. Suśruta, the author of the Suśrutasaṃhitā even mentioned in this ancient Ayurvedic text that a student should study as many allied sciences as possible to truly understand the true import of Ayurveda.  Our understanding is deepened by exploring the intersections of Indic Knowledge Systems. The Veda-s inform all of these studies. Reciting Veda creates a kind of gap, a silence, a space where all the pieces of the puzzle come together. It opens up an avenue for us to access all this knowledge in a more intuitive and visionary manner. 

There are different modes of knowledge that one can acquire through the Vedas. Reciting Veda opens up access to increased intuition, vision, insight and other superior modes of knowledge besides knowledge based on the intellect, reason and the senses — it is a very subtle practice that stills and sharpens the mind and gives the ability to look at topics from new perspectives. I have been practising yoga for many  years and reciting Veda  has taken my spiritual exploration to a whole new level. It has established a new rhythm in my life, a new way of being and seeing reality. What’s amazing is just how timeless this wisdom is. I love that about India’s ancient knowledge systems, they’re really something that cannot be touched by time.

Veda Phonetics: Practice and You Can….

Martha Moore Benson: Yes, I did find the phonetics challenging at first but I just love the subject so much so I didn’t mind putting in the effort and commitment to get it right. The sounds called out to me and even though getting them right was an effort, it was a joyous effort. We just have to keep practising and listening carefully and then repeating, a lot (laughs). When you practise with love and devotion, anything is possible. 

I love Sanskrit. It is the language of vibrations and its frequencies resonate with me. Shantala, her lineage and the Veda Studies community are all contributors to ensuring we recite well and correctly. She is very generous with her knowledge and all the learning she received from the Challakere Brothers. The Veda Studies student community is all about collaboration and authentic learning. We all learn from each other. There is no competition, there is only collaboration. In a study environment like that, students are inspired to learn. 

For the Love of India

Martha Moore Benson: I have been to India three times and each time it affected me in different ways but always in good ways. Of course, I did fall sick at times and at times, I felt like I was going to die (laughs) especially being in taxis in the mountains of the North. That terrain is so tricky but somehow, we always got to every place we wanted to be at safely. In 1999, I visited India with a Kriya Yoga Swami and went to the Karar Ashram (Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri) in Puri, the Ramakrishna Mission in Kolkata and other pilgrimage sites . On my second trip to India with another Kriya Yoga Swami,  I visited Badrinath, Gangotri, Haridwar and Rishikesh and that was a mind bending and life changing experience! My third trip was in 2013, when I went to the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad. Each trip was fascinating and going to India always feels like going home to me. It’s very real and very raw. 

I will be going to India again this year and I’m excited because it will be with the Veda Studies team for Shantala’s first Veda retreat in India. We will be visiting the ancient temple town of Hampi, and I am really looking forward to that. 

The Power of Spiritual Healing

Martha Moore Benson: My spiritual practices, especially Veda recitation helped me navigate one of the most challenging times of my life. In 2019 I lost my right kidney to a high grade, aggressive form of cancer and in 2022 tumours were found in my left kidney. I sequestered myself alone in my home in Arizona and I told my husband that I truly believed this condition could be healed and reversed. 

I was doing various things to heal myself and I focused a lot on Veda recitation, especially the Rudram and Veda mantras for health and well-being. The Vedas promise that when we call on the devatas , they will come and I truly felt this promise fulfilled during this phase of my life. I felt their collaboration with me and their healing power. When I returned to another specialist they had prepared me for the worst but during surgery they found that the tumours were no longer there. My doctor told me to keep doing whatever I was doing. The fact is, I was doing many things to heal my body but I truly believe that my recitation of the Veda played a big role in this healing process. The Vedas  have given me this continued gift of life and my journey continues. 

Indica Veda Studies Teacher Training Programme
Martha Moore Benson: Being a part of the first Indica Veda Studies Teacher Training Programme was an energising and electrifying experience. To be able to delve deeper into Veda, its practice and theory, to get feedback on such a nuanced level, to get to practice with the Challakere brothers it was a priceless and rare experience. I am a living testimony to the healing power of the Veda-s and this programme has given me the confidence and the skill required to sharpen and refine my practice and to teach others. I feel blessed to have been a part of the TTC group and to study with a living tradition that follows the correct rules and recites so accurately. 

The Veda-s are the source text and the basis of all yoga. It is the world’s oldest spiritual literature and its oldest oral tradition. We’re going back to the source when we practise Veda. I have many of Dr Kashyap’s books on Veda and I have immersed myself in that ocean of knowledge. 

The Veda-s are not just a collection of books or collections about rituals. They are sonic and mystical revelations and symbolic, coded high-calibre poetry that help the practitioner to grow and evolve psychologically and spiritually. Reciting Veda helps us to realise our full spiritual potential. Dr Svoboda summarised the value of reciting Veda very beautifully during one of his talks. He said that when we recite Veda, we collaborate with the deities and invite them to live through us. With our love and devotion, we keep the essence of the Veda alive. I agree with Dr Svoboda completely and  I think that’s the best reason to continue practising. 

To find out more about Martha, visit her website at