Guiding Light: Shanti Mantram

Guiding Light: Shanti Mantram

Prof S AinavoluUpdated: Tuesday, April 23, 2024, 06:50 PM IST
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Shanti is peace, and at a higher level it is serenity. Mantram is what needs to be reflected upon while repeating it frequently, in a given tone and intonation. The very vyutpatti of the word Mantram is ‘mananat trayate iti mantrah’, the one that saves when repeated in the mind.

Originally the Veda was one, and continuous. It was not in written form but was transmitted from generation to generation through heard/memorised form (Shruti/Smriti). During the onset of Kaliyuga, Sage Krishnadwaipayana who is well known as ‘Veda’ Vyasa divided Veda into four parts and given each part to one of his main disciples. The four parts came to be known as Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharvana vedas. Each of this was given to Paila, Vaishampayana, Jaimini, and Angirasa rishis respectively.

Each of the above Vedas focus on certain aspect and the practitioners who typically spend twelve and more years in Gurukul system often imbibe the content and also the process thoroughly. Rig veda that contains descriptive ‘Rik’s define the boundary, and framework. The Yajur focuses on the ‘application’ in terms of performing Yagya etc. Sama specialises in singing of the Riks. Often it is said that in the Sama tradition families even the general speech is mellifluous, and soothing. Atharvana is closer to realities of life, and offers many mitigation measures for common problems. To advocate, promote, and encourage peace, Shanti Mantras are there in different parts of the Vedic literature. These are recited on occasions to bring in the peace vibes and ensure that ecosystem is cleansed of the negativity.

One of the well-known Shanti mantram is ‘asatoma sadgamaya, tamasoma jyotirgamaya, mrutyorma amrutangamaya’. First one gets translated to ‘take me from untruth to truth’. Many of the deeds of this world have first ‘corruption’ in untruth. Liars damage manythings and one lie leads to many lies. Tamas is murkiness and darkness. The next prayer is for moving self from darkness to light. Light is wisdom, light is wisdom filled existence, and hence the prayer. Third is moving from mrutyu (death/damaging) situation to ‘amrut’ (indestructible). This means may we reach permanence state, and pure ‘Atman’ situation. Here one realises the depth of life and breadth of its spreading. Hence, Shanti Mantras are apt prayers for a sustainable world.

Prof S Ainavolu is a Mumbai-based teacher of tradition and management. He is with VPSM. Views are personal. https://www.ainavolu.in/blog

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