Friday, August 11, 2006
Mantra "Sahanavavatu" -part 5-
Aum Shanti, Shanti, Shantihi
Hence, the last sentence translates to ‘peace, peace, peace.’ This peace is often translated as peace from the past, peace in the present, and peace for the future.
What is peace from the past? Basically it refers to our memories of the past. Past has already passed, but what remains from the past is our memory. When we review our memories we often have thoughts like, ‘this person is bad, this person cheated me, this person hurt me, etc’. This is all the content of our memory – full of violence, not peace. Hence we need to remove all such thoughts in order to consciously keep the memory good to promote peace. Let us forget those things that are bad and remember those that give us peace.
In this moment, let us do everything in peace. That is the second step. We eat for peace, we learn for peace, and every activity we perform is for the sake of peace. Our interaction with people has to give us and others peace. This is peace in the present.
The third peace is peace in the future. All of our planning we do now is for the future. Our activities are the seeds we sow not only for us but for future generations. We may not think of it so deeply but we should realize that with our selfishness, greed and jealousy, we may be sowing the seeds of violence in the future. This mantra reminds us that all such planning are not for any other purpose but for peace.
So peace is the path and the goal. When peace envelopes everything, it is the definition of Aum.
This is the full meaning of the mantra. We are not praying for anything or asking for any favors; it is simply a peace chant. In nature there is always peace, but as human beings we lose peace and destroy it. To preserve the peace of creation, man has immense responsibility. We have forgotten that responsibility. With this mantra we are trying to remember what we are doing and trying to achieve in yoga. We are on a journey where knowledge is nourishment. Let us be conscious that whatever we learn should become energy that we pass on to others without any ego. It is a reminder for us, our duty, and our mission. We are not praying for anything so it is not directed at any particular God. Hence, we start class everyday with this mantra to remind us of the journey we are creating.
Additional feature of this mantra is that it is said in dual number. In English language it is the same way in many other languages we have singular and plural number only. But in Sanskrit there are singular, plural and in between there is another number called dual number. This mantra is given in dual number. This is to indicate that the mantra is chanted between student and teacher and the relationship between student and the teacher is very intimate and one to one. It is always that way tat the student has a very sincere question and the teacher only addresses to student in total oneness in communication. It also does not mean that there were not many students with each teacher. Though there were many students the relationship between student and the teacher is always one to one. This is indicated in Upanishad that it is like a conduit where one end is the student and other end is the teacher. The flow between them is the knowledge and it is flowing from teacher to the student like the perennial river, called Saraswati. It is the gradient which facilitates the flow and neither the teacher gives and nor the student takes. Humble approach of the student can only create such gradient and flow happens if the teacher thinks he is one, such a teacher will then cease to be a spiritual teacher. In the Indian philosophy there is no other relationship is as intimate and as important as the relationship between teacher and the student. They are two sides of the same coin.
Let us try to maintain these ideas in all our classes where we attend and later on while we give the practices to others.
Posted by Ayça Gürelman at 1:00 PM