Thursday, August 03, 2006
Mantra "Sahanavavatu" -part 1-
Aum Sahanavavatu saha nau bhunaktu saha veeryam karavavahai
Tejaswi nava dheeta visvishavahai
Aum Shanti, Shanti, Shantihih
- Mantra from ‘Bhrugu Valli of Taittariya Upanishad” of the Krishna Yajur Veda
Although many mistakenly call this short, yet powerful, mantra a prayer, it is not one, because we do not actually pray for anything in it. In Sanskrit it is properly known as a ‘shanti mantra,’ or a peace chant.
There are five steps in this peace chant:
1. Sahanaavavatu means may we both be protected. The emphasis of this first word is protection.
2. Sahanau bunaktu means may we both be nourished. The emphasis continues to bunaktu, or nourishment.
3. Sahaveryam Karavavahai means may our activity become energetic. The key here is energy.
4. Tejaswi Naava dheeta mastu means let there be radiance.
5. Maa Vid Vishavahai means let there not be hatred.
When the mantra is translated the five major steps that are outlined are protection, nourishment, energy, radiance, and no hatred. Although these ideas fit well next to each other, it is difficult to see how they are truly integrated. Let us examine this integration and applicability to our lives through the example of the journey of a tree from a seed.
In every seed a tree is safely concealed, so every seed has a potential tree. As long as the tree is inside the seed, it is very safe. The tree resides in the seed, along with its fruits, in an unmanifested manner. As long as the tree is inside this seed, it is of no use. So, the tree must manifest its inner potential. This is what Swami Vivekananda expresses as the purpose of yoga in the epoch statement, “Each soul is potentially divine and the goal (of life) is to manifest divinity by controlling nature internal and external. When a tree starts its journey within the seed, it is imperative for the tree to have the proper direction and discipline.
Although every seed has a tree, how many seeds actually produce the trees? In most cases, the journey of the tree ends without any external manifestation. This is the law of life. Many seeds do not even get to the field, some do not get into the soil, and yet others are crushed. Very few have the fortune of making the journey possible, so they need to be taken care of.
When the tree starts its journey from the seed and the tree is very small, there are many dangers: an animal can eat away at the sapling or a person can step on it. It was safe when it was inside the seed but as it begins sprouting out, there are all kinds of difficulties awaiting it. Now the manifestation of the tree has begun externally. When we see small plant as such, we try to protect it by putting a fence around it. Hence, the first step in the journey is to protect the tree. First the seed provides this protection and then we do. This is parallel to the beginning of the journey of yoga and philosophy. In the beginning we are interested in learning about yoga and philosophy. Once we begin to manifest this internal desire into an external practice, we begin facing the hurdles and difficulties of nurturing such a new desire. We run into discouraging situations and obstacles on our path that require us to protect this desire and practice as it manifests. If somebody wants to sincerely learn something, we should not discourage the education, but, rather, encourage it. This is the first idea of the mantra, ‘may we (our interest) be protected.’
to be continued...
Posted by Ayça Gürelman at 3:58 PM