सामवेदीयः शान्तिमन्त्रः ॐ आप्यायन्तु …

ॐ आप्यायन्तु ममाङ्गानि वाक्प्राणश्चक्षुः श्रोत्रमथो बलमिन्द्रियाणि च सर्वाणि । सर्वम् ब्रह्मौपनिषदम् माऽहं ब्रह्म निराकुर्यां मा मा ब्रह्म निराकरोदनिराकरणमस्त्वनिराकरणम् मेऽस्तु । तदात्मनि निरते य उपनिषत्सु धर्मास्ते मयि सन्तु ते मयि सन्तु ॥ ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Above text is copy-pasted from this page. This text appeals to be an interesting example of how a Sanskrit passage can be uttered and understood, even if there would be no punctuation marks. This will become clear by first doing पदच्छेद as usual. 

पदच्छेदैः :- ॐ आप्यायन्तु मम अङ्गानि वाक् प्राणः चक्षुः श्रोत्रम् अथ उ बलम् इन्द्रियाणि च सर्वाणि । सर्वम् ब्रह्म औपनिषदम् मा अहं ब्रह्म निराकुर्याम् मा मा ब्रह्म निराकरोत् अनिराकरणम् अस्तु अनिराकरणम् मे अस्तु । तत् आत्मनि निरते ये उपनिषत्सु धर्माः ते मयि सन्तु ते मयि सन्तु ॥ ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

॥ ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

In the text as above, there are a couple of full-stops in the text starting from ॐ आप्यायन्तु until सन्तु ते मयि सन्तु. 

  • Actually there are 5 distinct sentences in the text सर्वम् ब्रह्मौपनिषदम् माऽहं ब्रह्म निराकुर्यां मा मा ब्रह्म निराकरोदनिराकरणमस्त्वनिराकरणम् मेऽस्तु 
    1. सर्वम् ब्रह्मौपनिषदम्
    2. माऽहं ब्रह्म निराकुर्याम् 
    3. मा मा ब्रह्म निराकरोत् 
    4.  अनिराकरणमस्तु 
    5. अनिराकरणं मेऽस्तु 
  • 2 sentences in तदात्मनि निरते य उपनिषत्सु धर्मास्ते मयि सन्तु ते मयि सन्तु
    1. तदात्मनि निरते य उपनिषत्सु धर्मास्ते मयि सन्तु Actually there are two clauses here, which should also be made distinct
      • तदात्मनि निरते य उपनिषत्सु धर्माः is an adjectival sub-clause, qualifying the pronoun ते in
      • ते मयि सन्तु the main clause.
    2. ते मयि सन्तु

Since sentences are thus distinct, अन्वय of the mantra becomes –

  1. मम अङ्गानि बलम् आप्यायन्तु 
    • (मम अङ्गानि इति) वाक् प्राणः चक्षुः श्रोत्रम् अथ उ सर्वाणि च इन्द्रियाणि ।
  2. सर्वम् ब्रह्म औपनिषदम् (भवति) 
  3. अहं ब्रह्म मा निराकुर्याम्
  4. ब्रह्म मा मा निराकरोत्
  5. अनिराकरणम् अस्तु
  6. अनिराकरणम् मे अस्तु ।
  7. तत् आत्मनि निरते 
    • उपनिषत्सु ये धर्माः
    • ते मयि सन्तु
  8. ते मयि सन्तु
  9. ॥ ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

Translation as given on the page linked here is as follows :- 

OM may my organs, speech, Prana, eyes and ears be nourished and be well, so should all (my) senses become strong. Upanishad says all this (world) is Brahman. I don’t reject Brahman, may Brahma not reject me. Let there be no rejection, let there be no rejection at all in me, let me be concentrated on Self, all those ways of righteous living told in Upanishads be in me! Be in me, OM Peace, Peace, Peace.

We can explore interpretation by ourselves by study of all the sentences and of words therein.

1.0 ॐ 

  • (1.1) In Apte’s dictionary ओम् ind. 1 The sacred syllable om, uttered as a holy exclamation at the beginning and end of a reading of the Vedas, or previous to the commencement of a prayer or sacred work. -2 As a particle it implies (a) solemn affirmation and respectful assent (so be it, amen !); (b) assent or acceptance (yes, all right); ओमित्युच्यताममात्यः Māl.6; ओमित्युक्तवतो$थ शार्ङ्गिण इति Śi. 1.75; द्वितीयश्चेदोमिति ब्रूमः S. D.1; (c) command; (d) auspiciousness; (e) removal or warding off. -3 Brahman. [This word first appears in the Upaniṣads as a mystic monosyllable, and is regarded as the object of the most profound religious meditation. In the Maṇḍūkya Upaniṣad it is said that this syllable is all what has been, that which is and is to be; that all is om, only om. Literally analysed, omis taken to be made up of three letters or quarters; the letter a is Vaiśvānara, the spirit of waking souls in the waking world; u is Taijasa, the spirit of dreaming souls in the world of dreams; and m is Prajñā, the spirit of sleeping and un-dreaming souls; and the whole om is said to be unknowable, unspeakable, into which the whole world passes away, blessed above duality; (for further account see Gough’s Upaniṣads pp.69-73). In later times om came to be used as a mystic name for the Hindu triad, representing the union of the three gods a (Viṣṇu), u (Śiva), and m (Brahmā). It is usually called Praṇava or Ekakṣaram; cf. अकारो विष्णुरुद्दिष्ट उकारस्तु महेश्वरः । मकारेणोच्यते ब्रह्मा प्रणवेन त्रयो मताः ॥ -Comp. -कारः 1 the sacred syllable ओम्; त्रिमात्रमोकारं त्रिमात्रमोंकारं वा विदधति Mbh.VIII.2.89. -2 the exclamation ओम्, or pronunciation of the same; प्राणायामैस्त्रिभिः पूतस्तत ओंकारमर्हति Ms.2.75. -3 (fig.) commencement; एष तावदोंकारः Mv.1; B. R.3.78. -रा N. of a Buddhist śakti (personification of divine energy).
  • (1.2) No dictionary can give ‘meaning’ of Om. One has to experience it oneself, maybe, experience it best by ॐ-कार-ध्यानम्, which is said to be benevolent and beneficent in many ways. 

2.0 मम अङ्गानि बलम् आप्यायन्तु :- Here the word, which merits study is आप्यायन्तु 

2.1 आप्यायन्तु :- I have not understood grammar of this word, except that this is लोटि (आज्ञार्थे) प्रथमपुरुषे बहुवचनम् Imperative Third person Plural. It is closely related to or is from धातुः आप्. 

  • आप् 5. P., rarely 1 P. (आप्नोति or आपति, आप, आपत्, आप्स्यति, आप्तुम्, आप्त) 1 To obtain, attain, get; स शान्तिमाप्नोति न कामकामी Bg.2.7; 3.2; 3.19. पुत्रमेवंगुणोपेतं चक्रवर्तिनमाप्नुहि Ś.1.12; अनुद्योगेन तैलानि तिलेभ्यो नाप्तुमर्हति H. Pr.25; शतं क्रतूनामपविध्नमाप सः R.3.38; so फलम्, कीर्तिम्, सुखम् &c. -2 To reach, go to; overtake, meet, fall in with; शबरीमापतुर्वने Bk.6.59. -3 To pervade, occupy, enter into. -4 To undergo, suffer, meet with; दिष्टान्तमा- प्स्यति भवान् R.9.79; Ms.8.188. -5 To equal. -pass. (आप्यते) 1 To be reached, found, met with, obtained &c. -2 To arrive at one’s end or aim. -3 To become filled. -Caus. (आपयति) 1 To cause to reach or obtain. -2 To cause any one to feel or perceive. -3 To hit.
  • बलम् आप्यायन्तु = may attain strength.

2.2 (मम अङ्गानि इति) वाक् प्राणः चक्षुः श्रोत्रम् अथ उ सर्वाणि च इन्द्रियाणि

  • This is like a sub-clause detailing what all is included in मम अङ्गानि. What all is included are वाक् प्राणः चक्षुः श्रोत्रम् अथ उ सर्वाणि च इन्द्रियाणि. Rather मम अङ्गानि बलम् आप्यायन्तु means 
    • मम वाक् बलम् आप्यायतु :- Here वाक् is itself to be considered inclusive of all its four stages परा, पश्यन्ती,  मध्यमा and वैखरी.
    • मम प्राणः बलम् आप्यायतु :- प्राणः can be considered to be inclusive of all voluntary organs, so all systems such as respiration, blood-circulation, digestion, excretion and also functions of the brain. It comes to mind that though all these functions are designed to keep working voluntarily by themselves, their functioning can be strengthened by प्राणायाम. Wow ! मम प्राणः बलम् आप्यायतु would then mean “may I become adept at प्राणायाम and may I practice it diligently !” Do we know of any cultural system in the world, to have evolved a system, akin to प्राणायाम ? The whole world ought to be forever indebted to Rishis and Munis for having evolved प्राणायाम. Only प्राणायाम makes the prayer मम प्राणः बलम् आप्यायतु not just wishful, but practically possible. 
    • मम चक्षू बलम् आप्यायतः :- Since eyes are two, I have changed the verb to dual and have made it आप्यायतः. In योगासन-s there is one क्रिया known as सूर्यस्नानम्. One should stare at the morning sun. That would strengthen the eyesight and also get the D vitamin. Is it not a pity that deficiency of D vitamin is a growing malady ? This prayer मम चक्षू बलम् आप्यायतः seems to underscore the importance of practicing सूर्यस्नानम् diligently. 
      • The word चक्षुः need not be understood to mean only those eyes, by which we see. It can be considered inclusive of the eye of the mind अन्तश्चक्षुः / मनश्चक्षुः That also should become strong. We should pray for faculties of the mind also to be strong. Often times we see people so much focused on some problem, which they might be investigating, that they become blissfully unaware of anything happening around. I would say that to be intense meditation. Even when Archimedes was taking bath, his mind became excited by experiencing buoyancy. He was seeing crystal clear, the solution to the problem of proving the trickery of the crown not being of pure gold. All scientists are experts in deep meditation. They are sages. They are poets. They see what even the sun does not see. Such is the strength of their अन्तश्चक्षुः / मनश्चक्षुः. This sentence मम चक्षू बलम् आप्यायतः can be changed to singular मम चक्षुः बलम् आप्यायतु to pray for every चक्षुः including अन्तश्चक्षुः / मनश्चक्षुः to be strong.
    • मम श्रोत्रे बलम् आप्यायतः :- Here also I have changed the verb to dual and have made it आप्यायतः. I do not know of any exercise, which would make ears or the hearing faculty stronger. But this prayer “May my ears be stronger” does not pray just for the hearing faculty to be stronger. It includes more strength of grasping whatever the precept teaches and also grasping the knowledge contained in the श्रुति-s, the Vedas. To grasp the knowledge in the Vedas the grasping capacity needs to be strong, because that knowledge is so benevolent, individually and for the whole mankind, anytime, anywhere. 
    • The words अथ उ seem to be here in the manner of interjection “and oh !”
    • मम सर्वाणि इन्द्रियाणि बलम् आप्यायन्तु :- All religions advocate being prayerful. What strength being prayerful can attain is possibly best stated in the prayer मूकं करोति वाचालं पङ्गुं लङ्घयते गिरिम् । यत्कृपा तमहं वन्दे परमानन्दमाधवम् ॥ By the strength of being prayerful, a dumb person will become verbose, a lame person will scale a mountain. I bow to the One who is abode of sweetness and of ecstasy and whose grace can make such impossible things possible.
      •  It is said that different mantras have the power to resolve different problems of even routine life. For example a mantra कार्तवीर्योऽर्जुनो नाम वीरबाहुः सहस्रवान् । यस्य स्मरणमात्रेण गतं लुप्तं च लभ्यते ॥ is said to have the power that its recitation can help finding things misplaced or lost. I guess, intense recitation of this mantra ॐ आप्यायन्तु ममाङ्गानि वाक्प्राणश्चक्षुः श्रोत्रमथो बलमिन्द्रियाणि च सर्वाणि । can be effective remedy for all physical handicaps and/or mental challenges.
    • It appeals to be some sweetness of the ऋषि, who composed this mantra, in his putting in the interjection अथो (and oh !). Having enumerated वाक्प्राणश्चक्षुः श्रोत्रम् the interjection अथो is as if the ऋषि became mindful that the prayer should be all inclusive, should include all faculties. So he extended the prayer by adding इन्द्रियाणि च सर्वाणि. The word इन्द्रियाणि would be inclusive of both ज्ञानेन्द्रियाणि and कर्मेन्द्रियाणि.
    • The word इन्द्रियाणि is better interpreted as “faculties” instead of its common interpretation as “organs”. This thought also brings to mind the detailing in the thirteenth chapter in गीता. After denoting the body as क्षेत्रम् in 13’1 (इदं शरीरं कौन्तेय क्षेत्रमित्यभिधीयते) as many as 31 faculties of क्षेत्रम् are detailed in महाभूतान्यहङ्कारो बुद्धिरव्यक्तमेव च । इन्द्रियाणि दशैकं च पञ्च चेन्द्रियगोचराः (13’5) इच्छाद्वेषः सुखं दुःखं संघातश्चेतना धृतिः । एतत्क्षेत्रं समासेन सविकारमुदाहृतम् (13’6) It seems that ऋषिः of this mantra summarizes them all, takes a pause at the interjection and extends the enumeration to add इन्द्रियाणि च सर्वाणि. Isn’t that very thoughtful ? That is what a mantra is supposed to be, thoughtful, thought-provoking. 
    • I am left wondering why the objective word बलम् is so far away from the verb आप्यायन्तु. Why could the composition not be ॐ आप्यायन्तु बलं ममाङ्गानि वाक्प्राणश्चक्षुः श्रोत्रमथो इन्द्रियाणि च सर्वाणि ।

3.0 सर्वम् ब्रह्म औपनिषदम् । मा अहं ब्रह्म निराकुर्याम् । मा मा ब्रह्म निराकरोत् ⇒ I guess it is good to take these three sentences together for one obvious reason that they all have the word ब्रह्म. But before going into the meanings of the sentences, we need to decipher the words औपनिषदम् निराकुर्याम् मा मा निराकरोत् 

  • औपनिषदम् ⇒ By grammar and etymology, the word is derived from उपनिषत्. Its derivation is similar to the derivation of द्रौपदी from द्रुपद, द्रौपदी being daughter (offspring अपत्यम्) of द्रुपद. Noun or adjective connoting the offspring is derived by वृद्धि of first vowel in the noun connoting the parent. In case of द्रुपद ⇒ द्रौपदी, the first vowel in द्रुपद is उ. Its वृद्धि is औ. Between उपनिषत् and औपनिषदम् also, उ has become औ. उपनिषत् is parental, औपनिषदम् is offspring. औपनिषदम् is what belongs to उपनिषत्. 
  • निराकुर्याम् ⇒ (निः + आ + कृ = निराकृ) इति धातुः । तस्य विधिलिङि उत्तमपुरुषे एकवचनम् । 
    • निष्कृ = undo, remove
    • निराकृ = undo totally, dismantle, remove totally, eliminate, discard, reject 
  • मा ⇒ There are two मा-s. One is द्वितीया विभक्तिः एकवचनम् of pronoun अस्मद्.
  • मा निराकरोत् ⇒ The second मा ind. A particle of prohibition (rarely of negation) can be read as being associated with निराकरोत् i.e. लङि उत्तमपुरुषे एकवचनम् of निराकृ. 
  • मा मा निराकरोत् ⇒ with doubling of मा can also be read as ardent prayer, “certainly not” 
  • These sentences sound like statements in Logic, one hypothesis followed by another and then leading to the third. 
    • सर्वम् ब्रह्म औपनिषदम् = Entire ब्रह्म is औपनिषदम्. Entire ब्रह्म is, as has been detailed in (every other) उपनिषत्.
    • मा अहं ब्रह्म निराकुर्याम् = I would not deny ब्रह्म
    • मा मा ब्रह्म निराकरोत् = May it not be that ब्रह्म denied me. 

4.0 अनिराकरणम् अस्तु । अनिराकरणम् मे अस्तु । ⇒ The word अनिराकरणम् merits deliberation. 

  • अनिराकरणम् is antonym of निराकरणम्, where निराकरणम् is abstract noun from निराकृ. So निराकरणम् would mean elimination, rejection, denial. Then अनिराकरणम् would mean non-elimination, non-rejection, non-denial i.e. retention, acceptance, reception.
  • Acceptance, total acceptance would be bonding योग.  
  • The word मे has two connotations,
    • by चतुर्थी विभक्तिः (मह्यम् / मे) “for me’ i.e. for my benevolence. Hence “May the acceptance, bonding, योग be for my benevolence.”
    • by षष्ठी विभक्तिः (मम / मे) ‘of me’. Hence “May the acceptance, bonding, योग be of me” i.e. “May there be my acceptance, bonding, योग. 
  • अनिराकरणम् अस्तु । अनिराकरणम् मे अस्तु = May there be acceptance, bonding, योग. May there be acceptance, bonding, योग of me, for my benevolence. 

5.0 तदात्मनि निरते ये उपनिषत्सु धर्माः ते मयि सन्तु । ते मयि सन्तु । ⇒

  • Here तदात्मनि निरते has two connotations
    1. Considering तदात्मनि as a compound word it can be deciphered as सः आत्मा इति तदात्मा । तस्मिन्निति तदात्मनि ।
      • Then with सतिसप्तमी-प्रयोगः inherent तस्मिन् आत्मनि निरते it would mean यदा सः आत्मा निरतः (भवति) तदा अथवा यथा सः आत्मा निरतः (भवति) तथा  = as and when the soul is engrossed
    2. Actually पदच्छेदः of तदात्मनि was done as तत् आत्मनि. Hence the sentence read तत् आत्मनि निरते ये उपनिषत्सु धर्माः ते मयि सन्तु  There can be an alternative syntax as तत् ये धर्माः उपनिषत्सु ते आत्मनि निरते मयि सन्तु । In such syntax,
      1. तत्  = Hence
      2. ये धर्माः उपनिषत्सु = Those codes of conduct as are advocated in the Upanishads
      3. ते आत्मनि निरते मयि सन्तु = “May they reside in myself engrossed in the Self”.


6.0 ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः = I should copy-paste what has been discussed on this in the previous posts. This ending recitation ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः is certainly meaningful.

  • Why to utter the word शान्तिः thrice ?
  • What should the translation of ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः be ?
  • We shall have this शान्तिमन्त्रः again and again. When detailing it under शुक्लयजुर्वेदीयः शान्तिमन्त्रः the translation emerged as “May fulfillment be there ! May contentment be there !! May peace be there !!!”. 
  • My friend Mr. Vijay Kane made another charming proposition. Since man prays for peace by elimination of त्रिताप-s, saying शान्तिः thrice would be for peace from आधिदैविक ताप, आधिभौतिक ताप, आध्यात्मिक ताप.  
  • How all-inclusive, how all-pervasive, how comprehensive, how universal this end-note ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः is !!!
  • Shouldn’t we practice reciting it with what all focus we can bring into its recitation ?

Overall Meaning :-

  1. ॐ OM
  2. आप्यायन्तु ममाङ्गानि वाक्प्राणश्चक्षुः श्रोत्रमथो बलमिन्द्रियाणि च सर्वाणि । May all my faculties speech, breath, eyesight, hearing faculty and oh, all my organs, attain strength.
  3. सर्वम् ब्रह्मौपनिषदम् माऽहं ब्रह्म निराकुर्यां मा मा ब्रह्म निराकरोत् Entire Brahman has been delineated in the Upanishads. May I never deny Brahman. May not ever Brahman deny me.
  4. अनिराकरणमस्त्वनिराकरणम् मेऽस्तु = May there be acceptance, association, Yoga (with the Supreme). May there be my acceptance, association, Yoga (with the Supreme) benevolent for me.   
  5. तदात्मनि निरते य उपनिषत्सु धर्मास्ते मयि सन्तु ते मयि सन्तु = May the codes of conduct as delineated in the Upanishads be in me, with myself engrossed in the Self. May they be in me.
  6. ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः = May there be fulfillment ! May there be contentment ! May there be Peace !! May there not be any of the त्रिताप-s.

Some deliberations :-

  1. Main grammatical subject in this शान्तिमन्त्र is I, First Person Singular. The subject I can be anyone.
  2. The subject being I, the मन्त्र is to be recited, meditated upon by oneself.
  3. The two sentences माऽहं ब्रह्म निराकुर्यां and मा मा ब्रह्म निराकरोत् seem to seek an endearing mutuality with the Brahman.
  4. Then the two repetitions, first अनिराकरणमस्तु अनिराकरणम् मेऽस्तु and next धर्मास्ते मयि सन्तु ते मयि सन्तु seem to seek that the prayer may percolate deep down in the psyche. Isn’t that the result to be sought of a meditative prayer ?
  5. I often come across pronouncements of courses on meditation. This शान्तिमन्त्र has, in its composition itself, the technique of meditation inbuilt !

शुभमस्तु ।


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