Learning Sanskrit by fresh approach – Lesson No. 90

Learning Sanskrit by fresh approach – Lesson No. 90
संस्कृतभाषायाः नूतनाध्ययनस्य नवतितमः (९०) पाठः ।

Recently a question was posted to me, asking about the famous शान्ति-मन्त्रः “ॐ सहनाववतु” When replying that question, it came to mind that we often tend to chant famous Mantra-s, not being inquisitive of their meaning. This Mantra of course makes an interesting study –

ॐ सह नाववतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु । सह वीर्यं करवावहै । तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु । मा विद्विषावहै ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः !
Exercise 1 Rewrite this सुभाषितम् by breaking conjugations and showing component-words contained in compound words.
स्वाध्यायः १ सन्धि-विच्छेदान् कृत्वा समासानां पदानि च दर्शयित्वा पुनर्लिखतु सुभाषितम् । 

ॐ सह नौ अवतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु । सह वीर्यं करवावहै । तेजस्वि नौ अधीतं अस्तु । मा विद्विषावहै ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ! 

Exercise 2 (a) Identify verbs and participles (verbal derivatives) and paraphrase the related clauses
2 (b) Analyse the clauses, identifying the main parts of speech i.e. subject, object / compliment, conjunctions.

स्वाध्यायः २ (अ) कानि अत्र क्रियापदानि धातुसाधितानि च, के तेषां वाक्यांशानाम् अन्वयाः  ?

२ (आ) कानि अत्र कर्तृपदानि, कर्मपदानि, पूरकानि ? 

२-१ ॐ  OM इति माङ्गलिकं ध्यानम् । OM is an auspicious invocation.
२-२ सह नौ अवतु । क्रियापदम् “अवतु” । अध्याहृतं कर्तृपदम्  “सः” ।  कर्मपदम् “नौ”  ।

May He protect us both.

२-३ सह नौ भुनक्तु । क्रियापदम् “भुनक्तु” । अध्याहृतं कर्तृपदम्  “सः” ।  कर्मपदम् “नौ”  ।

May (He) feed us both.

२-४ सह वीर्यं करवावहै । क्रियापदम् “करवावहै” । अध्याहृतं कर्तृपदम्  “आवाम्” । कर्मपदं “वीर्यम्” ।

May we both display valour together.

२-५ अधीतं नौ तेजस्वि अस्तु । क्रियापदम् “अस्तु” अकर्मकम् । कर्तृपदम्  “अधीतम्” । पूरकम् “तेजस्वि” ।

May learning be brilliant for us.

२-६ मा विद्विषावहै । क्रियापदम् “विद्विषावहै” अकर्मकम् । अध्याहृतं कर्तृपदम्  “आवाम्” ।

May we (never) hate each other.

२-७ शान्तिः (अस्तु) । अध्याहृतं क्रियापदम् “अस्तु” अकर्मकम् । कर्तृपदम्  “शान्तिः” ।

May peace be (with us).

Exercise 3 Decipher the compounds and detail etymology and declensions of all words
स्वाध्यायः ३ समासानां विग्रहान् शब्दानां व्युत्पत्तीः विश्लेषणानि च ददतु ।

३-१ ॐ (= the sacred syllable OM)
३-२ सह (= with, together) इति अव्ययम् ।
३-३ नौ “अस्मद्” (= pronoun of first person for “I, we”) इति उत्तमपुरुषि सर्वनाम । तस्य द्वितीया वा चतुर्थी वा षष्ठी विभक्तिः द्विवचनम् च ।
३-४ अवतु “अव्” १ प (= to protect) इति  धातुः । तस्य आज्ञार्थे प्रथमपुरुषे एकवचनम् ।
३-५ भुनक्तु “भुज्” ७ उ (= to eat, to feed, to sustain) इति धातुः । अत्र परस्मैपदी । तस्य आज्ञार्थे प्रथमपुरुषे एकवचनम् ।
३-६ वीर्यम् “वृ” १, ५, ९ उ (= to choose, to prefer) इति धातुः । तस्मात् विध्यर्थि विशेषणम् (= preferable) तथा भाववाचकं नाम अपि “वीर्य” (= preferability, valour) । अत्र नपुंसकलिङ्गि । तस्य प्रथमा / द्वितीया (अत्र द्वितीया) विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।
३-७ करवावहै “कृ” ८ उ (= to do, to perform) इति धातुः । अत्र आत्मनेपदी । तस्य आज्ञार्थे उत्तमपुरुषे द्विवचनम् ।
३-८ तेजस्वि “तेजस्विन्” (= what has brilliance, brilliant) इति विशेषणम् । अत्र नपुंसकलिङ्गि । तस्य प्रथमा विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।

  • ३-८-१ तेजस् (= brilliance, shine, splendour) इति नपुंसकलिङ्गि नाम । तस्मात् “विन्”-प्रत्ययेन तेजस्विन् ।

३-९ अधीतम् “अधि + इ” १, २ प (= to firmly go to, to acquire, to study) इति धातुः । तस्मात् भूतकालवाचकं विशेषणम् “अधीत” (= what is studied, learning) । अत्र नपुंसकलिङ्गि । तस्य प्रथमा विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।
३-१० अस्तु “अस्” २ प (= to be, to exist) इति धातुः । तस्य आज्ञार्थे प्रथमपुरुषे एकवचनम् ।
३-११ मा (= not) इति अव्ययात्मकं नकारार्थि क्रिया-सहायकम् ।
३-१२ विद्विषावहै “वि + द्विष्” (= to hate) इति धातुः । तस्य आज्ञार्थे उत्तमपुरुषे द्विवचनम् ।
३-१३ शान्तिः “शम्” ४ प (= to pacify) इति धातुः । तस्मात् भाववाचकं स्त्रीलिङ्गि नाम “शान्ति” (= peace) । तस्य प्रथमा विभक्तिः एकवचनम् च ।

Exercise 4 Arrange the सुभाषितम् in prose syntax and give its translation into English
स्वाध्यायः ४ अन्वयान् कृत्वा आङ्ग्ल-भाषायां अनुवादान् ददतु ।

४-१ Literal translation is already detailed at Exercise 2.

४-२ Here is another version from http://gyana.wordpress.com/2008/06/01/

  • OM! May that Brahman protect us both (Teacher & Disciple);
  • May that Brahman nourish us both;
  • May we work in harmony with great vigor;
  • May our study be illuminating and fruitful;
  • May we not hate each other.
  • Om Peace… Peace… Peace…

४-३ The अन्वय of can be

  • अधीतं नौ तेजस्वि अस्तु । = May learning be brilliant (prove enlightening) for us (चतुर्थी विभक्तिः)
  • नौ अधीतं तेजस्वि अस्तु । = May our learning be brilliant (षष्ठी विभक्तिः)

Exercise 5 In what meter is this verse composed ?
स्वाध्यायः ५ अस्य काव्यस्य रचना कस्मिन् वृत्ते अस्ति ?

  • A Mantra has a छन्दः a rhythm of its own ! It is advisable to chant any Mantra with its own rhythm, so that one can get the full benefit from chanting the Mantra. That applies also to chanting ॐ the single-syllable Mantra.

Exercise 6 What type of literary style is used here ?
स्वाध्यायः ६ अस्ति कश्चित् शब्दालङ्कारः वा अर्थालङ्कारः अपि अत्र उपयोजितः ?

१. The word नौ is a declension of the pronoun अस्मद् in द्वितीया वा चतुर्थी वा षष्ठी विभक्तिः 

  • it is used in द्वितीया विभक्तिः in first and second sentences
  • it can be interpreted as being in चतुर्थी वा षष्ठी विभक्तिः as detailed at (४-३)

२ A Mantra is eternally valid statement, to be chanted and also to be meditated upon

Exercise 7 What moral is learnt from this सुभाषितम् ?
स्वाध्यायः ७ अस्मिन् सुभाषिते का नीतिः उपदिष्टास्ति ?

This Mantra is a prayer ! 

Exercise 8 Comments, Notes, Observations, if any.

स्वाध्यायः ८ टिप्पणयः ।
८-१ Original text: श्वेताश्वतरोपनिषत् as mentioned at http://knol.google.com/ by

  • (१) Prof. Dr. phil. habil. Jörn Gruber, Wissenschaftler & poyglotter Schriftsteller and
  • (२) Yogānandin योगानन्दिन् Prof. Dr. – Institut für Yogawissenschaft – योगविद्यापीठ

८-२ The Mantra closes with repetition of शान्तिः three times. That also is significant. To understand the significance I said it to myself, only once ॐ शान्तिः I found the whole charm missed out completely. So, I said again ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ! And of course the utterance was so soothing. The second and third utterances should be slower and slower. Triple repetition really helps the Mantra to settle into the psyche.

Even in Indian musical recitals, rendering of a song is recommended to be closed with such triple repetition of the closing note. By that you can know when the rendering closing and when to clap !

When doing योगासन also, say when doing पश्चिमोत्तानासन extend the bend and the stretch in three steps. By the third step you would have reached the best bend and stretch. Thus, there is deep thinking, logic, experience and a science in triple repetition !

८-३ This Mantra is one of many शान्ति-मन्त्राः Most Upanishad-s have a शान्ति-मन्त्र both at the beginning and at the end. For example श्रीगणपत्यर्वशीर्षम् also known श्रीगणेशोपनिषत् starts with the शान्ति-मन्त्र – “ॐ भद्रं कर्णेभिः श्रुणुयाम देवाः ….” and closes with this शान्ति-मन्त्र – “ॐ सह नाववतु । सह नौ भुनक्तु ।…”

८-३-१Acharya Vinobaji Bhave mentions in his commentary on ईशावास्य that this उपनिषत्  is unique for having opening and closing शान्ति-मन्त्र-s identical That शान्ति-मन्त्र is – ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं …

८-४ The Mantra is eternally valid for any two persons or for any two entities for a positive relationship between them.

It is a prayer for 

  • husband and wife, especially as a part of the wedding ritual, that the new phase in life that they are embarking upon, be blissful in all respects
  • parent and child
  • teacher and disciple as mentioned at (४-२)
  • any two friends
  • lion and the mouse
  • a family or any person entering a new house (There is a custom of conducting a worship पूजा to the वास्तुपुरुष the deity residing at the place. This Mantra is relevant for that worship.)
  • Rather, it can be recited as a part of any worship पूजा ritual
  • even for signing a treaty at the end of battle between two enemies !
    • As such there should be no battles. If at all a battle takes place, it should end with this prayer.
    • Closing a battle with signing a treaty invoking this prayer would ensure that strife will not continue endlessly, as has happened in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Americans and their allies seem to be finding it difficult to withdraw the forces after so many years. Even if American troops have been officially withdrawn from Iraq, bomb-blasts keep happening there !
    • It seems, for the sake of world-peace, people all over the world should start chanting this prayer whole-heartedly !
शुभमस्तु ।


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