Om Swami ji often closes his sessions with this powerful Sanskrit prayer:
‘Putnam idam, purnama adah, purnaat purnam udiyachyste
Purnasya purnam aadaya purnam eva aavshishyste
Om Shantih Shantih Shantih’
Many of us have heard this prayer before and sometimes, the words just skim over the surface of our consciousness. However, Swami ji advises us to read each word mindfully. When I tried this approach, I was blown away by the very first word, purnam.
Normally we translate purnam as full, or complete but it also means perfect. When something is complete, it is also perfect. At least, that is my interpretation. Using this meaning, the simple prayer becomes a very powerful message. Let us read it mindfully, phrase by phrase.
This is perfect.
Whatever is within us is perfect. We are the product of millions of years of evolution and each step in the evolution process has made us more aware of our perfection. We are the most advanced human beings on earth, to date.
When I look within, I see that I am perfect. Sure, I have my faults, but I also have my good qualities. I am impatient, sometimes I get angry very quickly. However, I am also quick to forgive and to forget. Sometimes, I am self centred, but I am also willing to go to any length to help others. In short, I am a mixture of negatives and positives, just like everyone else. I am perfectly suited for my role in life, just like everyone else.
The world is a beautiful tapestry with everyone playing individual roles perfectly. Everything works in harmony, with different qualities balancing each other out.
That is perfect
The world of nature outside us is perfect. Sometimes, when we see things very closely we see what appear to be imperfections, but everything balances out.
I walked in the forest with my wife recently; everything was perfect and there was an air of deep tranquility. Trees had shed their leaves, as they reduced their surface area to prepare for the coming winter. The leaves were becoming mulch, and would eventually become fertilizer for the future growth of the forest. In nature, nothing is wasted. The waste products from one species become food for another species and everything is in perfect harmony.
I read in a book that a forest is a perfect eco-system. Some predators feed on grass eating animals, and this reduces soil erosion, keeping the river banks safe. The predators themselves
are food for other predators. Dead animals become food for insects and microbes. Everything is perfect in the cycle of nature.
It is not all that different in a human settlement, an eco-system on its own. Everyone has a specialized function and all functions are needed for society to continue. We need engineers, scientists, accountants, home makers, teachers, writers, politicians and sanitation workers, to name just a few. If the sanitation workers go on strike for a day, cities come to a standstill. If the internet goes down, so many things come to a stop. Every part of this eco-system is important; every human being is important.
We see a lot of violence and cruelty in this world but we also have peace and compassion. We have repression in some parts but freedom in other parts. Everything balances out and planet earth continues to function. It is a perfect world, just as there other perfect worlds in space.
Look at the sky on a clear night. It is populated with planets, stars and galaxies, creating immense beauty. The planet Saturn looks so beautiful even in a small telescope, with its layers of rings, tilted at just the right angle for easy viewing. The other planets are equally beautiful, including Jupiter with its satellites and Venus with its impenetrable clouds.
Every part of the outside world is perfect, it functions perfectly as a whole.
Purnaat purnam udachyate
From perfection, perfection alone arises.
To me, this is the killer line in this beautiful prayer. When two perfect human beings come together, they can procreate to produce a perfect human being because, from perfection, only perfection can arise. It is a beautiful process, besides being very enjoyable.
It is this process of creation that sustains the universe.
Purnasya purnam aadaya purnam eva aavshishyte
When perfection is taken out from something perfect, what remains is also perfect.
I take this line to mean that every part of creation is perfect. Even the smallest portion of creation is as perfect as the whole.
The tiny atom is the building block of matter. It consists of a proton with electrons swirling around it as well as dozens of other particles. Is it not just a replica of our solar system with the sun, the planets and countless other particles? The solar system, itself, is replicated on a larger scale in other systems of stars and nebulae. The entire system is perfect, just like the tiny atom.
Om Shantih Shantih, Shantih.
Om, peace, peace, and peace.
The letter Om is a symbol of the primordial sound that created the universe, and it is found in many cultures. In Christianity it becomes Amen, the Muslims call it Ameen. It is the root word for many power words like omniscient and omnipotent.
It is also part of Swamiji’s name who is indeed a symbol of perfection. He has led a perfect life as a dutiful son, a student, a businessman, and a sanyasi. He has made millions and given it away.
Om also symbolizes the three states of consciousness :wakefulness, sleep and deep sleep. When all the three states are at peace, we know that everything is perfect.