The mantra “Om Shanti”, the deep foundation of the Hindu spiritual tradition, has meaning far beyond a simple translation of “Peace”. This chant is more than a mere utterance—it is a cosmic invocation, a harmonious appeal to the universe, summoning peace on multiple planes of existence.
In this article, LotusBuddhas will explain to you the meaning behind this seemingly simple phrase, and its wonderful benefits if you diligently recite it.
Meaning of the Om Shanti mantra
Om Shanti mantra is a crucial element of the yogic tradition, deeply embedded in its historical and philosophical framework, originating from ancient India. This mantra is a compound of two Sanskrit terms: ‘Om’ and ‘Shanti.’ It is a complex amalgamation of individual elements, each carrying its own significance, combining to form a deep, holistic expression of peace.
- “Om”: sometimes spelled “Aum,” is considered the primordial sound, the cosmic vibration from which all existence emerged. According to the Mandukya Upanishad, it encompasses all states of consciousness. The ‘A’ stands for the waking state (jagrata), the ‘U’ signifies the dreaming state (swapna), and the ‘M’ represents the deep sleep state (sushupti). The silence following the utterance of “Om” symbolizes turiya, or the fourth state of consciousness, transcending the typical states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep. This silence is the pure state of consciousness, representing the Ultimate Reality, or Brahman, in Hindu philosophy.
- “Shanti”: is a Sanskrit word that translates directly to “peace” in English. Yet, its interpretation within the context of this mantra goes beyond mere absence of conflict or disturbance. It suggests an overarching tranquility, harmony, and serenity permeating all levels of one’s being. When chanted thrice, it is often understood as a wish for peace in three realms: the physical (adhibhautika), the divine or natural (adhidevika), and the spiritual or self (adhyatmika).
Hence, when combined into the mantra “Om Shanti,” the meaning transcends the literal interpretation of “cosmic peace.” It communicates a desire for peace and harmony at every level of existence—within oneself, in the physical world, and in the entire cosmos. It embodies the philosophical underpinnings of Eastern spiritual traditions that perceive the interconnectedness of all beings and all states of existence.
Therefore, the repetition of the “Om Shanti” mantra serves as both a spiritual exercise and a powerful affirmation, guiding individuals towards achieving inner tranquility, promoting universal peace, and fostering a deep sense of unity with the cosmos. It epitomizes a pathway towards self-realization and spiritual enlightenment, as advocated by ancient Hindu philosophy.
Om Shanti meaning in Yoga
Chanting of “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti” in yoga practice encompasses a deep and complex spiritual philosophy. The term is often used to denote peace or tranquility, but within the realm of yoga and meditation, it signifies much more, addressing three forms of disturbances or conflicts prevalent in the universe—adhi-daivikam (related to the divine), adhi-bhautikam (related to the world), and adhyatmikam (related to the self).
- Adhi-daivikam: This refers to disruptions that are beyond our control, often deemed as “godsent” or divinely ordained. These encompass natural calamities such as storms, earthquakes, or diseases, and other events that we cannot predict or prevent. The first utterance of “shanti” in the mantra is an invocation of peace from these uncontrollable disturbances, acknowledging that there are forces beyond our immediate sphere of influence and control.
- Adhi-bhautikam: This category pertains to disturbances arising from our interactions with the world around us. This could include disruptions from background noises, people, or any external factors that disturb our peace of mind. Here, the second invocation of “shanti” is a plea for tranquility from these worldly disturbances, a call for calm amidst the chaos of our external environment.
- Adhyatmikam: The third and perhaps the most profound disturbance is from within us, pertaining to our mind, body and spirit. This internal discord is often linked to our emotions such as anger, jealousy, greed, and hatred. These disturbances originate from our ego and attachments, causing a ripple in our inner peace. The third “shanti” in the mantra seeks divine intervention to replace these negative emotions with peace, detachment, love, and tranquility, thereby focusing on self-transformation.
Hence, “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti” as chanted in yoga is a comprehensive call for peace from all these three types of disturbances. Each utterance of “shanti” targets a different source of conflict, thereby creating a holistic approach towards peace and serenity. Attaining this threefold peace enables individuals to focus on their spiritual growth without being deterred by external or internal disruptions. It facilitates a deeper connection with one’s soul, paving the path to enlightenment.
How to Pronounce “Om Shanti”
Pronouncing “Om Shanti” correctly involves understanding the phonetic subtleties of the Sanskrit language from which it originates. Here is a breakdown of the pronunciation of the “Om Shanti” mantra:
- Om: This sacred syllable is often pronounced incorrectly as ‘om’ when in actuality, it is more appropriately vocalized as ‘Aum.’ It consists of three sounds: ‘A,’ ‘U,’ and ‘M.’
- ‘A’: This is an open vowel, pronounced like the ‘u’ in the English word ‘but’ or ‘sun.’
- ‘U’: This sound is akin to the English pronunciation of ‘oo’ as in ‘moon.’
- ‘M’: This is a nasalized close vowel, similar to the ‘ng’ sound at the end of the English word ‘song.’ It should be noted that the ‘m’ sound is not pronounced distinctly, but it extends and gradually fades into silence.
Thus, the “Om” in “Om Shanti” is pronounced as ‘AUM,’ where ‘AU’ is vocalized as a single sound, not two separate vowels. The entire syllable should be chanted in one smooth, continuous sound with the ‘A’ and ‘U’ part making up about two-thirds of the chant, and the ‘M’ sound constituting the final one-third.
- Shanti: The word “Shanti” is composed of two syllables: ‘shan’ and ‘ti.’
- ‘Shan’: The ‘sh’ is pronounced as in the English word ‘shun.’ The ‘a’ in ‘shan’ is a short vowel, pronounced like the ‘u’ in ‘bush.’ The ‘n’ is nasalized, as in the English word ‘song.’
- ‘Ti’: The ‘t’ is a soft dental t, pronounced with the tongue touching the upper teeth, and the ‘i’ is pronounced like the ‘ee’ in ‘see.’
Hence, “Shanti” is pronounced ‘Shun-tee,’ but with a softer ‘t’ sound.
“Om Shanti” is pronounced ‘AUM Shun-tee’ in English phonetic terms. This pronunciation is intended to preserve the mantra’s spiritual significance and its vibrational quality, connecting the chanter to universal consciousness and the call for peace. You have to remember that each repetition of ‘Shanti’ should be distinct and clear, emphasizing the plea for peace on multiple levels of existence.
Benefits of chanting Om Shanti mantra
The practice of chanting the “Om Shanti” mantra carries a multitude of benefits—many of which have been recognized by both spiritual seekers and scientists alike. These benefits permeate all aspects of an individual’s being, including their physical, mental and spiritual selves.
- Promotion of physical wellbeing: On a physiological level, the vibration produced by chanting “Om” can have a soothing effect on the nervous system. This calming impact can slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure, and reduce the production of stress hormones. The repetition of the chant aids in inducing a state of relaxation, potentially contributing to improved sleep and increased immunity.
- Mental and emotional health: The chant’s meditative nature can greatly enhance mental wellbeing. It helps clear the mind, reduce anxiety, and promote emotional stability. Many practitioners report increased focus and clarity, as well as an enhanced capacity for empathy and compassion—valuable traits that can improve interpersonal relationships.
- Spiritual growth: In the spiritual realm, chanting “Om Shanti” can be a powerful tool for self-realization. The mantra’s vibrations are said to resonate with the natural frequency of the universe, facilitating a deeper connection between the self and the cosmos. This can cultivate a sense of peace and unity, dissolving the illusion of separateness that often causes suffering.
- Enhancement of pranic energy: According to yogic traditions, regular chanting of “Om Shanti” can stimulate and balance the chakras, or the energy centers within the human body. This can lead to the optimal flow of prana, or life force, improving overall vitality and spiritual energy.
- Attunement with universal peace: As the mantra calls for peace at all levels of existence, its regular recitation fosters an environment of harmony and non-violence. By repeatedly affirming peace, individuals can contribute to a collective consciousness promoting universal peace, fostering an atmosphere of love and understanding.
Chanting of the “Om Shanti” mantra serves as a holistic practice enhancing overall wellbeing. It stands not only as a spiritual tool but also as a conduit for health, peace and unity. It’s a testament to ancient wisdom, a practice that seeks to integrate the individual’s consciousness with the universal, promoting a more balanced, enlightened existence.
How to chant Om Shanti mantra
Chanting the Om Shanti mantra is a spiritual practice that requires mindfulness, focus and reverence. Here is a step-by-step guide to assist you in this deeply spiritual exercise:
- Find a calm space: Choose a quiet and comfortable location where you will not be disturbed. The environment plays a critical role in setting the mood for meditation.
- Sit comfortably: Once you’ve found your space, sit in a relaxed, comfortable posture. You can choose the traditional cross-legged position or simply sit in a chair—what’s important is that your spine is straight, and you are comfortable.
- Close your eyes and relax: Close your eyes gently and take a few moments to calm your mind. Pay attention to your breath, and notice its natural rhythm. This act of focusing on your breath helps you to become present and relaxed.
- Begin the chant: Begin chanting the mantra softly. The “Om” syllable is typically elongated, with the “O” sound constituting two-thirds of the pronunciation, while the “m” sound makes up the final one-third. The syllable should be voiced smoothly, transitioning from the “O” to the “m” as one seamless sound. Following “Om,” pronounce “Shanti” clearly and distinctly. The ‘a’ in Shanti is pronounced like the ‘u’ in ‘bush,’ the ‘n’ is nasal, and the ‘t’ is pronounced with the tongue touching the upper palate, slightly softer than the English ‘t.’ Repeat the word “Shanti” three times.
- Feel the resonance: As you chant, feel the vibration of the mantra in your body, especially at the point between your eyebrows—this area is known as the ‘third eye’ in spiritual parlance.
- Repeat the mantra: Repeat the chanting for as long as you are comfortable. This could range from a few minutes to much longer. The repetition is an essential part of the process, as it helps to deepen your focus and introspection.
- Meditate on the meaning: As you chant, meditate on the profound meaning of the mantra. “Om” represents the primordial sound of the universe, and “Shanti” calls for peace at all levels of existence. As you focus on the meaning, you will find a sense of calm enveloping you.
- Complete the chant: To conclude, take a deep breath in and as you exhale, gradually silence the mantra. Allow the silence to settle in. Observe the peace and calm within and carry that mindfulness into your daily activities.
Benefits of chanting the “Om Shanti” mantra are manifold, but LotusBuddhas would like to remind you that as with any spiritual practice, regularity is key. It is not perfection, but sincerity in your approach and commitment to integrating this practice into your daily life.
Om Shanti mantra for meditation
In addition to being used in Yoga, the Om Shanti mantra is also used as a powerful tool, serving as a sound representation of peace and tranquility in the practice of meditation. The mantra can be used as a focal point, helping practitioners tap into their focus and steer the mind away from distractions.
- Preparation: The initial step involves preparing the physical space and mental mindset for meditation. The physical environment should be serene and free from disturbances. On a personal level, practitioners should sit comfortably, preferably in a cross-legged position, with the spine erect.
- Focus on breath: Before commencing the mantra, it’s advisable to spend a few moments focusing on the breath. This awareness brings the mind into the present moment, laying the groundwork for effective mantra meditation.
- Chanting the mantra: Begin chanting the mantra audibly or silently, depending on your comfort level. The ‘Om’ syllable is typically elongated, and the ‘Shanti’ is repeated three times in succession. Each repetition of ‘Shanti’ represents a plea for peace on a different plane—peace within oneself (adhyatmikam), peace with the world around us (adhi-bhautikam), and peace from divine disturbances (adhi-daivikam).
- Meditative silence: After a period of chanting, transition into silent meditation, maintaining the focus on the vibrations or echoes of the mantra in the mind. This silence is as much a part of the meditation as the chanting itself.
- Conscious awareness: While meditating, gently bring your awareness to the meaning of the mantra. ‘Om’ signifies the universal vibration, and ‘Shanti’ represents peace. By focusing on the mantra’s essence, you connect with the peace of the universe and instill it within yourself.
- Gradual completion: Conclude the meditation by gradually reducing the internal repetition of the mantra, transitioning into a period of silent awareness. It’s crucial to end the practice slowly, allowing the mind to absorb the effects of the meditation.
If you want to connect with the universe, LotusBuddhas recommends integrating the Om Shanti mantra into meditation practice, you can deepen sense of inner peace, harness greater focus and foster spiritual growth. The regular practice of this mantra meditation promotes tranquility not just on a personal level, but also in relation to the world and the cosmos—reflecting the holistic peace that the Om Shanti mantra embodies.