There are different genres of scriptural texts in Sanatana Dharma. Each one of those focuses on transforming us in different ways. The Puranic scriptures kindle our emotions. They tap into our imagination and enable us to build Bhakti. The Itihasas — Mahabharata and Ramayana — encourage us to learn the art of living.

Similarly, the texts designated as Upanishads concentrate on imparting different kinds of knowledge. They help us set our spiritual goals and assist us in naming our experiences. Cause, when we don’t understand the significance of an occurrence, we may even consider a Divine Vision as a mere hallucination.

The Shanthi Mantras

While the Upanishads feed our intelligence, they aren’t free from the issues caused by intellectual knowledge. Too much information makes a person restless and fidgety. In the long run, such a person knows a lot and may even give profound discourses. Yet, the same knowledge that ought to fill them with peace does the reverse. So, the sages of yore devised some preparatory steps to handle that.

Before reading the knowledge-oriented Upanishads or any intellectual information for that matter, the sages advised the chanting of the Shanthi Mantras or the Mantras for Peace. In ancient times, everyone religiously recited these before studying or performing worldly activities. Mindful chanting of these simple yet powerful mantras can calm us and improve our focus. In turn, that aids us in retaining awareness in the current moment.

The Three Shanthi-s

Almost all Shanthi Mantras conclude with Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthihi. In that phrase, the sacred syllable Om has a plethora of meanings. In the current context, it is a reference to the Formless Divine. In this post, our focus is on the three utterances of Shanthi at the end of these mantras.

The Three Shanthi-s is a prayer to handle Taapa Traya or The Burning Three. In other words, these three Shanthi-s support our efforts to rise above suffering and restlessness caused by three types of afflictions. According to the Shiva Purana 1.18, those are:

  1. Adhyathmika (Adhi Athmika): Here, Adhi (आधि) means mental anxiety, and Athmika means from within me. So, these are afflictions caused by diseases of our body and mind. The restlessness caused by information overload fits in here as well.
  2. Adhi Bhautika: Bhautika denotes the material world. Hence, this refers to sufferings due to our environment and surroundings. It also includes anxieties caused by people and animals around us.
  3. Adhi Daivika: Daivika signifies the Divine or Nature. These are the miseries caused by natural calamities like storms, pandemics, and so on.

The Shanthi Panchakam

The texts of the Upanishadic genre contain many beautiful peace chants. Out of those, five are handpicked and collectively known as the Shanthi Panchakam or the Pancha Shanthi. That means the five peace chants literally.

There are 108 traditional Upanishads. Each of those is attached to one of the five key Vedic scriptures — Rig, Sama, Shukla Yajur, Krishna Yajur, and Atharva. Traditionally, each one of these groups has a specific Shanthi Mantra assigned to it.

1. The Shanthi Mantra of Shukla Yajur Veda

There are nineteen traditional Upanishads attached to the Shukla Yajur Veda. The Shanthi Mantra for these appears in the Ishavasya Upanishad (invocation). As follows:

ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदम् पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते |
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ||
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ||

oṃ pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamidam
pūrṇāt pūrṇamudacyate
pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ

Om! That [Divine] is Complete,
This [person here] is Complete,
From That Complete
Has emerged This Complete.
Even if This Complete is removed
From That Complete,
That Complete Still Remains.
Om Peace Peace Peace.

2. The Shanthi Mantra of Krishna Yajur Veda

There are thirty-two traditional Upanishads attached to the Krishna Yajur Veda. The Shanthi Mantra for these is found in the Taitriya Upanishad (2.1). As follows:

ॐ सह नाववतु ।
सह नौ भुनक्तु ।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै ।
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु ।
मा विद्विषावहै॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः॥

oṃ saha nāvavatu
saha nau bhunaktu
saha vīryaṃ karavāvahai
tejasvi nāvadhītamastu
mā vidviṣāvahai
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ

Om! May the Divine protect us [Guru and Disciple],
May the Divine help us relish [in the learnings],
May we work with vigor,
May it [our study] fill us with brilliance,
May there be no hostility towards each other.
Om Peace Peace Peace.

3. The Shanthi Mantra of Rig Veda

There are ten traditional Upanishads attached to the Rig Veda. The Shanthi Mantra for these appears in the Aitareya Upanishad (invocation). As follows:

ॐ वाङ् मे मनसि प्रतिष्ठिता
मनो मे वाचि प्रतिष्ठित-मावीरावीर्म एधि ।
वेदस्य म आणिस्थः
श्रुतं मे मा प्रहासीरनेनाधीतेनाहोरात्रान्
संदधाम्यृतम् वदिष्यामि सत्यं वदिष्यामि तन्मामवतु
तद्वक्तारमवत्ववतु मामवतु वक्तारमवतु वक्तारम्॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः॥

oṃ vāṅ me manasi pratiṣṭhitā
mano me vāci pratiṣṭhita-māvīrāvīrma edhi
vedasya ma āṇisthaḥ
śrutaṃ me mā
saṃdadhāmyṛtam vadiṣyāmi
satyaṃ vadiṣyāmi tanmāmavatu
tadvaktāramavatvavatu māmavatu
vaktāramavatu vaktāram
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ

Om! May my speech be steadfast in my mind,
May my mind be steadfast in my speech.
Manifest! May there be a manifestation
Of the lynchpin [essence] of the Vedas.
May the heard [knowlegde] not abandon me
Which This [Me] has studied day and night.
I will Speak about the Divine Law,
Speak about the Truth.
May that [the Truth] protect me.
May that protect the Speaker [Teacher].
May That [the Divine] protect me.
May That protect the Speaker [Teacher].
Om Peace Peace Peace.

4. The Shanthi Mantra of Sama Veda

There are sixteen traditional Upanishads attached to the Sama Veda. The Shanthi Mantra for these appears in the Chandogya Upanishad (invocation). As follows:

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

Oṃ āpyāyantu mamāṅgāni vākprāṇaścakṣuḥ
śrotramatho balamindriyāṇi ca sarvāṇi
sarvam brahmaupaniṣadam mā’haṃ brahma
nirākuryāṃ mā mā brahma
nirākaroda nirākaraṇamastva nirākaraṇam me’stu
tadātmani nirate ya upaniṣatsu dharmāste
mayi santu te mayi santu
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ

Om! May my limbs, speech, Prana [life force], eyes,
ears, and the power of all senses be well developed.
The Upanishads reveal the Brahman.
May I never deny the Brahman,
May the Brahman never disown me.
Let there be no rejection by the Formless,
Let there be no rejection from my side.
May the Upanishadic Dharmas shine in me
Who is intent on knowing Me.
Om Peace Peace Peace.

5. The Shanthi Mantra of Atharva Veda

There are thirty-one traditional Upanishads attached to the Atharva Veda. The Shanthi Mantra for these appears in the Mundaka Upanishad (invocation). As follows:

ॐ भद्रं कर्णेभिः श्रुणुयाम देवाः।
भद्रं पश्येमाक्षभिर्यजत्राः
व्यशेम देवहितम् यदायुः।
स्वस्ति न इन्द्रो वृद्धश्रवाः।
स्वस्ति नः पूषा विश्ववेदाः।
स्वस्ति नस्तार्क्ष्यो अरिष्टनेमिः।
स्वस्ति नो बृहस्पतिर्दधातु॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः॥

oṃ bhadraṃ karṇebhiḥ śruṇuyāma devāḥ
bhadraṃ paśyemākṣabhiryajatrāḥ
vyaśema devahitam yadāyuḥ
svasti na indro vṛddhaśravāḥ
svasti naḥ pūṣā viśvavedāḥ
svasti nastārkṣyo ariṣṭanemiḥ
svasti no bṛhaspatirdadhātu
oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ

Om! Gods, May our ears hear the Auspicious.
Those Worthy of Worship,
May our eyes see the Auspicious.
With our limbs steady and bodies praying,
May we attain the assigned Gods [for each mantra]
Within the duration of our lives.
May Indra [the rain god] of ancient fame
Bestow well-being on us.
May the all-knowing Pushan [a solar deity]
Bestow well-being on us.
May Taarksya [a horse-like being in Rig Veda],
Known as Arishta Nemi [a wheel’s protective rim],
Bestow well-being on us.
May Brihaspati [the master of speech]
Bestow well-being on us.
Om Peace Peace Peace.

Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthi-hi