A peace invocation is a physical utterance of a thought current pertaining to selfless pray for the “PEACE” of the world beings. It comes under the category of prayers, but being selfless by nature and the goal being world peace, it has a charisma of its own. In relation to vēdic lore, a peace invocation is generally uttered before and after a hymn. This is to first rectify the mind of the utterer from any impure thoughts of selfishness and later, to remind him again that the hymn that was just uttered was for the sake of world-peace and not for a selfish motive. The double add-on of these invocations before and after the hymns is a grand way of training the minds of disciples into the “Way of SERVICE”.
PEACE is an English word that which is close to the Sanskrit word “Śāṃti“. ‘Śaṃ‘ is the root word for Śāṃti, which means “Tranquility“. The same word is the root word for the lord of dissolution – “Śaṃbhu” or “Śaṃkara“. Anything that has no disturbance, or ripples of any sort, can be said to be in the state of tranquility and thus peaceful. But, does it mean everything should stand STILL? Any being will be tranquil only when its true nature is being followed. Say, a tiger has to hunt and eat. If one curbs its freedom to hunt, it will be in a state of agitation. But, when its free to hunt, it follows its own nature and thus is said to be tranquil. This tranquility is an undercurrent of the pains and pleasures (some times it gets hurt and some times it starves) that it experiences in the process of following its nature (of hunting). Similarly, imagine you are hungry. Though the hunger is a feeling of discomfort, still we are in state of tranquility as long as we feel the “hunger” regularly. If this is disturbed and we loose the sensation of hunger, even though the discomfort is gone, we will be more afraid and disturbed and we run to doctors. In this way, we can see how PEACE or TRANQUILITY is different from the binaries of happiness and sadness that hovers our mind. So, a PEACE invocation is uttered to achieve and maintain this “NATURAL ORDER” of things, also known as “DHARMA“.
A vēdic hymn is addressed to some or the other aspects of the LORD, in the capacity of a deity, and when a peace invocation is associated with it, the uttered aspects of the hymn will be bestowed without disturbing the “Natural Order”.
So, a peace invocation acts as a rail track, that is built away from the city traffic, that brings in the wagon of lord’s blessings to the destination, without disturbing anyone or anything on its way.
OM is known as Praṇavaṃ, in Sanskrit. It is the sacred of all the known mantras, is what the elders say. The implication is that, it is the birth place of all the mantras. How so? Praṇavaṃ does not mean the sound that we utter through our vocals as – ‘OOOOO….MMMMM….’, but it is the principle and cause, that is behind this utterance. When you contemplate on how you are uttering and “why” you are uttering, you will come to realize that the cause for the act of uttering lies deep inside and is verily your-self. Imagine waves of an ocean. If waves are the uttered ‘OOOOOO…..MMMMM’, then the ocean is the real ‘OM’ that lies as undercurrent. That is why, ‘OM’ is sacred.
So, this ‘OM’ is attached at the start of any mantra to suggest that the whole mantra, is like a flower that bloomed from a bud which is the OM. So, here itself lies a key of ONE-GOD. When the mantra objectifies a deity, Om stands as the subjective ONENESS.
The Three Endings:
All of the vēdic invocations end with a three times repetition of the word ŚĀṂTI/PEACE:
“OM —- ŚĀṂTI —- ŚĀṂTI —- ŚĀṂTIḤ “
The three times utterance of the word PEACE is to associate the invocation with the three fundamental planes of existence: Plane of Physical (Bhu), Plane of Mind (Bhuvaḥ) and Plane of LIGHTS or SELF (Suvaḥ). A plane of existence, in relation to a being, is nothing but the “ZONE” in which “WE” exist. If you think about it, we have MATTER, MIND/FORCE that governs and steers this matter, and LIFE Aspect that sustains these both. Thus, these TRIO have to be in TRANQUIL states, so as to receive the benefits of an invocation. This is the reason for uttering the three times PEACE at the END of any invocation.
Om Tacchaṃ Yōrā Vṛṇīmahē
Gātuṃ Yajñāyā Gātuṃ Yajñapatayē
Daivī Svastirastunaḥ Svastirmānuṣēbhyaḥ
Ūrdhvaṃ Jigātu Bhēṣajaṃ
Śaṃ Nō Astu Dvipadē Śaṃ Catuṣpadē
OM —- ŚĀṂTI —- ŚĀṂTI —- ŚĀṂTIḤ
We pray to the lord ALMIGHTY, for the eternal PEACE. We sing (Gātuṃ) the glory of the DIVINE DRAMA (YAJÑA) of this creation and the ONE who is “THE Lord” of that drama (YAJÑAPATI). May the embodiment of LIGHT (Daivī) bestow the health/natural order (SVASTI) to all the beings of MIND (Manuṣya – progeny of MANU). Let the PEACE be bestowed on vertical beings (Ūrdhvaṃ and hence humans). May the PEACE be bestowed on Bipeds (Dvipadē) and Quadrupeds (Catuṣpadē)- i.e., birds and animals.
Thus we can see that this invocation is for the welfare of not only humans, but all the beings of the world. In uttering the terms like “Yajña” and “Yajña Puruṣa”, it is being hinted that all the creation and the beings there in, are products of a DRAMA. Yajña – means an act of sacrifice. Because GOD does not get anything back from creating this creation, it is a selfless sacrificial ACT and hence called YAJÑA. Because, HE is the performer of this drama, he is called YAJÑA PURUṢA. In this selfless act, we have to imitate GOD so as to “Become HIM or God realized”. This is the reason, we imbibe the selflessness into our invocation and thus we are praying from the depths of our hearts, for the PEACE of “ALL the beings” of the creation. That is to say, we are requesting the LORD to modify the roles of his DRAMA, so that each role has an element of eternal PEACE!
We have thus explored the elements of a peace invocation with an example. All other peace invocations follow similar structure. For example, the invocation “Om Samno Mitrassam Varunaha …..” or “Om Asatoma Satgamaya ….”, etc., invoke the idea of universal tranquility in the minds of those who utter and in the minds of those who hear, leading to the end result of WORLD PEACE.