Saturday, December 20, 2008

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti

How does God protect us?A Vedanta sadhaka recites the Shanti mantras every day. In those mantrasthere are prayers to the Gods for protection from the various obstacles thatcould arise from (1)natural forces like earthquake, floods, etc., (2) bodily(and mental) ailments and (3) other elements inimical to us like thieves, wildanimals, etc. A life that is free from such afflictions is ideal for sadhana. But, owing to the past karma of the aspirant, troubles do come, taking one orthe other of the forms mentioned above. It is with a view to seek protectionfrom these difficulties and a smooth progress in sadhana that the scriptureshave handed down to us the Shanti mantras to be chanted every day.There is a nice verse that talks about how the Gods protect us:Na devaa daNDamAdAya rakShanti pashupaalavat Yam hi rakShitumicchanti buddhyA samyojayanti tam (source not known)A cowherd tends the cows with a stick in hand. This is not the way of theGods. When the Divinities will to protect someone, they do it by blessing himwith the appropriate intellect to handle the situation.When one prays 'Dhiyo yo naH prachodayAt', 'impel our intellects with theright thoughts', it is this kind of protection that is prayed for. For, rightthinking is essential both to take preventive measures and also to handle asituation by taking corrective action.In the Brahmasutra bhashya (III.ii.41) the scriptural view of the role of Godin man's actions and reaping the fruits thereof is mentioned:(quote)This view is proved by the circumstance of scripture representing theLord not only as the giver of fruits but also as the causal agent with referenceto all actions whether good or evil. Compare the passage, Kau. Up. III, 8, 'Hemakes him whom he wishes to lead up from these worlds do a good deed; and thesame makes him whom he wishes to lead down from these worlds do a bad deed.' Thesame is said in the Bhagavadgîtâ (VII, 21), 'Whichever divine form a devoteewishes to worship with faith, to that form I render his faith steady. Holdingthat faith he strives to propitiate the deity and obtains from it the benefitshe desires, as ordained by me.'All Vedânta-texts moreover declare that the Lord is the only cause of allcreation. And his creating all creatures in forms and conditions correspondingto--and retributive of--their former deeds, is just what entitles us to call theLord the cause of all fruits of actions. And as the Lord has regard to the meritand demerit of the souls…..(unquote)Some 'Peace Chants', Shanti PaaTha-s are given below:Om ! May He protect us both together; may He nourish us both together;May we work conjointly with great energy,May our study be vigorous and effective;May we not mutually dispute (or may we not hate any).Om ! Let there be Peace in me !Let there be Peace in my environment !Let there be Peace in the forces that act on me !(Om! Saha naavavatu…etc. chanted at the beginning of the Taittiriya Upanishad)Om. May Brahman protect us both! May Brahman bestow upon us both the fruit ofKnowledge! May we both obtain the energy to acquire Knowledge! May what we bothstudy reveal the Truth! May we cherish no ill feeling toward each other!Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!Harih Om.May Mitra be propitious unto us! May Varuna be propitious unto us! May Aryamanbe propitious unto us! May Indra and Brihaspati be propitious unto us! MayVishnu, of wide strides, be propitious unto us!Salutation to Brahman! Salutation to Thee, O Vayu! Thou indeed art the visibleBrahman. Thee indeed I shall proclaim as the visible Brahman. Thee indeed, OVayu, I shall proclaim as the right. Thee indeed I shall proclaim as the true.May It protect me! May It protect the teacher! May It protect me! May It protectthe teacher!Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!Om! O gods, may we hear auspicious words with the ears; while engaged insacrifices, may we see auspicious things with the eyes; while praising the godswith steady limbs, may we enjoy a life that is beneficial to the gods.May Indra of ancient fame be auspicious to us; may the supremely rich (orall-knowing) PUsHaa (god of the earth) be propitious to us; may GaruDa, thedestroyer of evil, be well disposed towards us; may BRhaspati ensure ourwelfare.Om. Peace! Peace! Peace!

(Posted on the advaitin list by a dear friend and a learned scholar of advaita)

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