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Shanti mantra explained by Sw, Anukoolananda

Mantra : Oṁ Saha nāvavatu, saha nau bhunaktu, Saha vīryam karavāvahai, Tejasvi nāvadhītamastu, Mā vidviṣāvahai, Oṁ Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ, Shāntiḥ
Swamiji said that reciting and understanding these mantras protects us and these help one go across the ‘Bhavsagar’.

He said mantra did not have any magic but our efforts on the mantra which make it effective. First step was to know and second to understand. For instance I know satellites exist but unless I know their operations, I cannot implement same way for the mantra. Then thirdly to put the mantra into practice, unless we do not practice, it does not benefit us. He gave example that suppose one wanted to control body weight so knowing the ways was not enough but to put into practice. Doing consistently was needed and with that we become Mantra itself.
So Janna, Samahjna, Prayatn, banna were the steps to master the mantra.
(Shivam Dhyatwat, Shivam Bhavet) In Hinduism , we just do not recite prayer but invoke the God to manifest inside us. Through mantra the Bhagwan, manifests in us.
The mantra Oṁ Saha nāvavatu… is not a prayer of teacher to student, it is a prayer we do together at the beginning of all activities to gain knowledge. Gaining of knowledge is Gyan Yajna as Krishna says in Bhagvad Gita in fourth chapter. In the fire of knowledge, we burn or offer our ignorance. Everyday we are performing this Gyan Yajna in our classrooms with teacher and student as participants. ‘Sah’ word is repeated in every phrase of the mantra which means together.
The first quality acquired by teacher and student is reverence for knowledge. May this knowledge protest us, says the mantra. As human beings, we are capable of knowing . The classroom where this Gyan Yajna takes place, teacher is prostrated by the student. Swamiji exhorted all the teachers of CDC to impart this understanding of mantra to all students so that it protects us. He further said that if I create this reverence for knowledge, students feel blessed to come to class.
The second phrase of mantra is ‘saha nau bhunaktu’ which means nourish us. May this knowledge strengthen us. Unless we internalize the food, it will never nourish us. So we must internalize the mantra.
The sign of having known the mantra was that it transforms us. If we are educated, there should be difference in our lives which comes only by practise.
The third phrase of mantra Saha vīryam karavāvahai means that put in efforts to energise. May this mantra energise us. A classroom is not a war zone but a worship zone and both teacher and student have to put in efforts. He gave example of Swami Tejomayananda who has read over 500 books on jokes to tell people, to make his subject understandable in classrooms.
Swamiji gave a very nice example of gurudev Swami Chinmayananda when he was seen practicing ball dance alone in his room at 5.30 am by his attendant when he had gone to give him cuppa of morning coffee. Everyone realized it when in the evening class, Gurudev gave example of ball dance of a couple when both the partners hang on to each other lest they fall. He used this reference to explain the concept of attachment. That is the commitment of a teacher to the student.
Bhagwad Gita says yen ken prakaren manah krishnen Niveshyet, which means in whatever way possible, embedding that knowledge in the student by a teacher should be his motive. There must be creativity shown by teacher in classroom. The favorite teacher becomes favorite subject of student as well, has been proven many a times. Today’s generation is Harry Potter generation, so we have to make our points, using such interesting characters so that the students become willing to hear us.
The fourth phrase Tejasvi nāvadhītamastu means may we be endowed with Tejas (brightness). One who has smile on face is bright. Continuous attention is required. It has to be continuous like flow of oil from teacher to student. Tejas of mind is medha Shakti, the power of memory. Even if it is your money but if not in hand or accessible, it is of no use, same way is knowledge. If not in memory, it cant be used when desired.
So Alertness leads to discovery which inturn leads to invention. We must take our children to the level of becoming inventors where they become contributors to the society. Mind requires training then only stamina can be built which is needed to sustain strength for longer period. Concentration needs to be enhanced so that one may keep one’s mind focused on one subject. This comes by training our mind through Japa ( the mental exercise). Gayatri Mantra has immediate power to make our mind brilliant. ‘Purashcharna’is repeating mantra lakhs of times as the letters in the mantra so Gayatri Purashcharna would mean 24 lakh times chanting. Through mantra it is prayed that may I be endowed with excellence. Geniuses are made in the country which all teachers must strive at. Citing a joke, he said once a man went to a village and asked if great people were born in a village to which a villager replied, only babies are born.
Mind also engages our emotions like love, the fuel of enthusiasm does not come without love. Courage and patience are needed to accomplish anything ‘Sauraj’ and ‘dheeraj’as said in Vivechan gita. Lord Ram says these are the two wheels of my chariot with which I will win over Ravana.
The last phrase Mā vidviṣāvahai means that may we not have any sense of misunderstanding, enmity with my teachers / students. It is in the conduit of love, concern and care that knowledge can be transferred from teacher to students. A teacher, a doctor, an Astrologer and a Pujari must never be moved by the spirit of profit.
Compiled by Radhika Nagrath

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