Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu translation:
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all”. – translation by Sharon Gannon Jivamukti Yoga.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu meaning on syllables:
- Lokah means realm, location, all universes existing now;
- Samastah means all sentient beings sharing that same location;
- Sukhino means free from suffering, centered in happiness and joy;
- Bhav represents the divine mood or state of unified existence;
- Antu means it must be so, may it be so. The Sanskrit word „antu” it is used at the ending here and transforms this amazing mantra into a powerful pledge, like in „I promise to do that”).
It also could be understood to translate into the more familiar western, “Do onto others as you would have done onto you.”
This beautiful Shanti mantra reminds us that we are not separate and independent beings. We are interconnected with all living beings in the universe. We cannot achieve true happiness if we cause unhappiness to other living beings, nor we can be free if we deprive others of their freedom.
This soothing mantra speaks to ahimsa or non-violence. Ahimsa is part of the eight-limbed path of yoga as put forth by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Ahimsa is a multidimensional concept, inspired by the premise that all sentient beings have the seed of the divine spiritual healing energy. Hence, to hurt another sentient being is to hurt oneself.
In fact, Patanjali leads off the Yamas (ethical laws) with ahimsa, stating that „in the presence of one firmly established in non-violence, all hostilities cease.” To fully live peacefully, your thoughts, words, and actions towards others must also be peaceful.
When you start to consider that we (living beings) are all connected in some way, shape, or form, you will then open up to respecting that intricate web of life and no longer wish to cause any type of harm to the world around you.
While there is much to be said about the choices of food, clothing, shelter, transportation, etc. that we make daily, it is only when realizing how your present actions immediately impact the world around you that true change can begin to take place.
Chanting this peaceful mantra reminds us of this unique connection and taps into a greater compassion for all living beings.
Although this mantra does not appear in any of the existent Veda sakhas, it is an expression of the universal spirit that we find therein. This pacifying mantra is frequently recited near the closing of a meditation or a spiritual practice. Furthermore, this soothing mantra can be chanted daily as a reminder that we are connected to all beings and our happiness is another’s and vice versa.
Let’s take a look at what context it appears in and what meaning it carries.
The complete sloka lyrics in Sanskrit:
svasti prajabhyam paripalayantham nyayeana margena mahim maheesah
gobrahmanebhya shubamsthu nityam lokah samastha sukhino bhavanthu
May there be well-being to the people;
May the kings rule the earth along the right path;
May the cattle and the Brahmins have wellbeing forever;
May all the beings in all the worlds become happy;
Peace, peace, and peace be everywhere!
The sloka is an invocation for harmony and blessings for all of the creation. In ancient days the social structure and form of government differed from ours in many ways, that is why we need not take the literal meaning of this sloka, but the essence. The most important aspect of the mantra is that the practitioner does not pray only for his clan or nation but for the whole world.
This mantra also calls us to look mindfully at our thoughts, words, and actions. Are we truly contributing to the happiness of all beings? What does that look like in our lives and how can we expand it with love?
While chanting lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu mantra next time, let us try to feel deeply for all living beings, and make a resolve to live in this selfless spirit.
May peace and harmony prevail.