Shanti Patha – A Song for All Times
[00:00:48] The Manifesto of the Process of the Vedic Worldview
[00:00:48] I’d like to spend a few moments talking about a little song that many meditators have learned from our tradition called Shanti Patha. Shanti, S-H-A-N-T-I, it means peace. And Patha, which is really P-A-T-H-A, but that final A is generally swallowed when speaking in conversational Sanskrit, Shanti Patha.
[00:01:15] And that is that sound, which, when expressed, it comes straight from the Veda, by the way, it’s part of Rig Veda, Shanti Patha, and it goes like this, I’ll speak at first and then I’ll sing it…
[00:01:28] Saha-nav-avatu. Saha-nau-bhu-naktu. Saha-vir-yam-kara-va-vahai. Tejas-vi-nav-adhitam-astu. Ma-vidvi-sha-vahai.
[00:01:49] And now I’ll sing it. Saha Nav Avatu. Saha Nau Bhunaktu. Saha Viryam Karavavahai. Tejasvi Nav Adhitam Astu. Ma Vidvishavahai.
[00:02:09] And now for its translation, and we’re going to give it, it’s broader translation, which is the kind of easiest way of understanding it.
[00:02:19] Saha Nav Avatu — let us be together. We’ll comment on it later. Let us be together.
[00:02:27] Saha Nau Bhunaktu — let us eat together.
[00:02:34] Saha Viryam Karavavahai — let us be vital together, experiencing the truth of life.
[00:02:43] Tejasvi Nav Adhitam Astu — never shall we denounce anyone.
[00:02:49] Ma Vidvishavahai — never entertain negativity.
[00:02:54] Jai Guru Deva.
[00:02:56] Now, this Shanti Patha is a traditional chant, which is made, expressed, intoned at the beginnings of meetings in India, not just by Vedic Meditators, but indeed, one could hear it, you could walk by a school in the morning and hear school children singing this, prior to the commencement of the day.
[00:03:19] It is basically the manifesto of the process of the Vedic worldview.
[00:03:26] Saha Nav Avatu—Let Us Be Together
[00:03:26] Now let’s go into it in some depth, and see what it all means.
[00:03:31] Saha Nav Avatu—let us be together. Let us be together.
[00:03:36] So being, being, in this case, is not just’ be present in the same room together,’ although of course, that’s always a delight, to have a gathering of people, a gathering of consciousnesses, but it is also literal. Let us Be together. That is, let us experience Being.
[00:03:59] Being is that field of consciousness, which all of us share, the one shared experience that is transcendent. Transcendental means it is a consciousness state in which no thought is occurring. There’s no adulteration of the consciousness state by the phenomenology of thinking.
[00:04:21] We all know, as Vedic meditators, how to get to that state. We close our eyes innocently, let our mind pick up the mantra, or sound, that we use to meditate with, and then through that effortless process, our mind settles down to more and more charming layers of the quieter levels of the mind, transcending, which the mind experiences moments of complete silence, and yet conscious.
[00:04:47] Be Conscious Without Thoughts
[00:04:47] To be conscious without thought. There is a deep implication in this. The deep implication is simply this, that consciousness ordinarily will always seek some experience that’s better than whatever it’s experiencing now. If I’m sitting in a room and I’m conscious, I’m going to find my consciousness filling with thoughts.
[00:05:11] And these are all thoughts about what? How I could make things better if actions could occur from these thoughts. How can I experience something better than what I’m experiencing right now?
[00:05:22] And so it may be, you’re sitting in front of the television with the remote in your hand, “I think I’ll press a button and make the channel change,” or “I think I’ll click on something on my telephone, and check out somebody’s Instagram,” or “I think I’ll get some tasks done because I know that on the yonder side of getting the task achieved, I’ll feel better,” or, “I may even ruminate in problems because if I can not untangle the knot, there’s a promise of joy in untangling the knot. I reach a resolution. Either resolution toward action, or resolution toward let everything go and let it be.”
[00:06:01] And so like that, the mind, whenever conscious, ordinarily, is looking for experiences that it can have that are an improvement on the existing state.
[00:06:13] Bliss: The Supreme Inner Contentedness
[00:06:13] “How can I have an improvement on my existing state? I’m experiencing something, but could there be something more. Let me check that out.” And then thoughts come, and then, either actions are engaged in or not, but thinking is the primary activity of the consciousness field, except in transcendence.
[00:06:33] In transcendence, though the mind is conscious, it’s found not thinking. And from this, we can only make one inference, and inference is a very valid means of gaining knowledge. The inference of consciousness being awake and aware, capable of thinking, but choosing not to think. And what is that inference?
[00:06:57] Bliss, B-L-I-S-S, only supreme, inner contentedness can explain why consciousness doesn’t think in transcendence. It’s because consciousness is aware that this is the most supremely contented state, and it can’t even contemplate the possibility of anything being better than this.
[00:07:24] And so this supreme, inner contentedness, the bliss, the Samadhi as we say in Sanskrit, the Ananda. Ananda is bliss. This is not blissfulness like waves of happiness. No, this is supreme, inner silent contentedness, Being.
[00:07:41] Saha Nav Avatu — let us, all of us, Be together. And this is the Vedic ideal. Let’s transcend before we commence our day. Before we commence our day, let’s go into the deep inner silence.
[00:07:58] Saha Nau Bhunaktu—Let Us Eat Together
[00:07:58] Saha Nau Bhunaktu — let us eat together. What’s this eating together thing? Well, for one thing, anthropologically, it is one of the traits that we’ve noticed in the human condition.
[00:08:10] From anthropologists’ earliest studies of human behavior, as humanity grew from being little critters that ran round like a lot of other little critters, finally got upright, became upright bipedal anthropods with a frontal cortex, one of the times where we brought together our thoughts, our joys, our experiences, and had shared experience, was during eating.
[00:08:44] So eating together means having shared experience. This is what eating together infers.
[00:08:51] And so we have, “Let us be together,” that is experienced transcendence, “Let us eat together,” and it’s not literally eating like, we all have to sit around eating things, although it wouldn’t hurt to enjoy some food together, and we look for those opportunities as well.
[00:09:07] But eat together means to take in through the five senses, all of that, together, and have shared experience, together. Commentary, together about what we’re experiencing.
[00:09:19] We’re looking for unity points. We’re looking for unity points. What are the points of unity? What is it that we, as human beings, consider to be the unifying factors of our existential state, our existence?
[00:09:35] Saha Viryam Karavavahai—Let Us Be Vital Together
[00:09:35] We could go into all the things that we experience that are different. “You experienced that. You have different thoughts about that than what I have,” and so on, but this is an appeal to find unity, unity within humanity. And so, Let us eat together, Let us be vital together. Let’s engage together in activity. Let’s engage together in activity.
[00:10:00] Cooperative enterprise, this is the human condition. This is what explains the best of what humans are really good at, which is cooperative enterprise. The way in which, over an entire planet, we can and do cooperate in all kinds of ways that bring about the common good.
[00:10:24] And so then that’s that Saha Viryam Karavavahai — Let us be vital together. Let us, in the last part of that phrase, is radiating light, radiating the truth of life.
[00:10:38] And we arrive at, what is light compared with dark? Light and dark, these things are contrasting. That which is sustainably true, versus that which is not sustainably true. Because there are truths that are temporary, and there are truths that are more sustainable than others.
[00:10:58] And so then radiating the light of life and truth after being vital together, this is some of the ideals of our Vedic worldview.
[00:11:07] Tejasvi Nav Adhitam Astu—Never Shall We Denounce Anyone
[00:11:07] And then Tejasvi Nav Adhitam Astu — never shall we denounce anyone, but this is a way of translating it. I’ll give you the literal translation. Tejasvi Nav, Tejas means fire. Tejasvi Nav — let us not put anyone in fire.
[00:11:25] Putting people into fire, what does that mean? To use our fine consciousness to push people down. We have very powerful conscious and, if we get together and decide to put somebody in fire, then we can create a monster out of someone who may have simply acted from their own consciousness state, which may not be quite as sophisticated as our own.
[00:11:50] Somebody who, obedient to the way things work, simply behaved according to their consciousness state. To put them in fire is to push them down to be that low. And to be as low as we seem sometimes, in our worst condition as humans, we like to gang up and have a little bit of a gang approach to pushing someone down.
[00:12:14] And this is considered in the Vedic worldview, not constructive. It’s not life-supporting, not constructive. So don’t put anyone in fire.
[00:12:24] Tejasvi Nav Adhitam Astu — let’s not put anyone in the fire.
[00:12:29] Ma Vidvishavahai—Never Entertain Negativity
[00:12:29] Ma Vidvishavahai. Ma Vidvishavahai means, in fact, while we’re at it, let’s not entertain negativity at all. Let’s look for that which is constructive. Let’s look for that which is growth. Let’s look for the evolutionary theme and the progression of time.
[00:12:50] As time goes by, we could spend our time looking at, from a negative point of view, a kind of nihilistic point of view. “Everything’s getting worse. Everything’s a flop. Everything’s a failure. There’s nothing worth living for anymore.” And this kind of nihilistic viewpoint is also not considered constructive from the Vedic perspective.
[00:13:14] Let’s look at where evolution has occurred. Let’s let our attention emphasize on that. And, of course, this doesn’t mean that we ignore where action needs to occur. We’re very dynamically involved from Saha Viryam Karavavahai.
[00:13:30] Let us be vital together doing what? Doing all of that, that needs to be done, to make things more evolutionary, more sophisticated, to make things more elegant, to give everyone the opportunity to have shared experience at the highest level of humanity.
[00:13:48] This is our truth to the world. But in the process of doing that, we’re not going to find it extra productive simply to be negative about what didn’t work to be negative about people and so on and so forth.
[00:14:02] Let’s not use our fine constructive consciousness, our creative intelligence, and turn it into destructive intelligence. Let’s keep our creative intelligence creative. Ma Vidvishavahai.
[00:14:14] So this is the basis of our beautiful little tune that sometimes we find ourselves singing at the commencement of a meal. Sometimes we find ourselves singing at the commencement of a meeting and so on.
[00:14:28] It’s our opportunity to express the Vedic manifesto. The Vedic manifesto. Saha Nav Avatu, Saha Nau Bhunaktu, Saha Viryam Karavavahai, Tejasvi Nav Adhitam Astu, Ma Vidvishavahai.
[00:14:45] Jai Guru Deva.