By Devakinanda Pasupuleti
Ashtottaram 40) OṀ ŚĀNṪIBHŨMYAI NAMAH:
Ashtottaram 40: OṀ (AUM)-`SAAN-ṪI-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA
ॐ शान्तिभूम्यै नमः
(Śānṫih: Peace, calmness, repose, tranquility)
Shanti means peace in body, peace in mind, peace in speech or spirit. A non-conflicting mind is a peaceful mind. The reason India shows aggression now against neighboring bullies is for self-protection and not to lose independence again, just like we did for 1000 years to foreign invaders.
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There is no Hindu who does not end his worship (pooja) with ‘OM śhāntih’, ‘OM śhāntih’, ‘OM śhāntih’. After elaborate rituals to Gods, priests recite Shānti mantras and svasti (praying for auspiciousness). It is a natural tendency for human beings to desire peace. Nobody wants chaos, calamities, famines, wars, or nowadays, terrorisms. It is but natural for human beings to react with the fear of the unknown when eerie unnatural incidents take place.
Right from the most ancient times, they have tried to forestall such happenings that might follow, with appropriate propitiatory rites (called śhāntis by the Hindu scriptures) in advance. Derived from the root ‘sam’ (means to appease), the word śhānti means a rite that can offset or reduce the evil effects prognosticated by bad omens.
Though this word has not been found in the Ṛigveda in this sense, it does find a prominent place in the Atharvaṇaveda, the Taittirīya Saṃhita and the Aitareya Brāhmaṇa. No matter how much wealth, and material possessions one might have, the person without śānti (mental tranquility) experiences hell in his life. In our Sanātana Dharma, only our ancient sages realized the importance of peace among humans as well as animals. That’s why they have incorporated Śhānti mantras in our daily prayers and religious services.
We repeat ‘OM Śhāntih’ thrice, at the end of our worship. If we look at this deeply and spiritually, we can understand the meaning and purpose behind this. The first time is in desiring peace for that individual and for his family, friends, relatives, and the community he lives in. The second time when we pray is wishing for peace for the entire country. The third and last time when we pray is wishing for peace for the entire world. It shows our intense desire for global peace in contrast to other religions and nations which engage in wars and terrorism.
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We can also see this from a different angle. First time for mental peace, second time peace from nature’s calamities, and the third time from bad omens, diseases, etc. Whatever it may be, we pray for world peace and we include everyone irrespective of race, creed, religion, or country; we do not exclude even an insect.
So, in many ways we pray to God for peace and we can proudly say that our land is the ‘Śhānti Bhūmi’.