“mananat trayate iti mantrah”, continuous repetition, contemplation and recollection of a word or statement, (either in prose or poetic form), which protects us and yields beneficial results is a Mantra.

In short, Mantras are like affirmations, the former are in the verse form and are in Sanskrit, whereas the latter are mostly in English, which we translate into our respective mother tongues for the sake of convenience, since God, the Para Brahman, as we all know and believe is Omni-linguist. Unlike affirmations, which are mostly kept to oneself and not shared with anyone until the desired result is bestowed, Mantras chanted in groups yield best results. By continuously focusing on chanting of the Mantra or on the affirmation, signals are transmitted to the brain ascertaining such and such thing to happen and the mind in turn creates patterns of energy coalescing with the innate vibratory pattern of the universe thus increasing the probabilities to attract and materialize the desired thing or event. The keywords and sounds dramatically reveal new vistas of insight and energy within us, which in turn helps us to gain access to the cosmic powers.

All the religions in the world have some special phrases or verses charged with power that enables to create peace, fulfill a wish, or bestow prosperity upon the person concerned or upon the society as a whole. Power of the words  , in all its four forms, is realized and recognized universally, whether uttered aloud or silently. Its effects are believed to be immediate and substantial if chanted or uttered sincerely, especially in chorus; hence the need for Satsangs, the collective prayers.

Chanting verses and mantras for personal progress or benefit is quite common. Nevertheless, we being a constituent part of the society, enjoying all the privileges provided by Nature and the Government, are under an obligation to contribute our humble share to it – at both micro and macro levels i.e. starting with the self and family, gradually embracing the entire world, and living up to or true to the adage ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – the entire world is nothing but a family.

The first step in this direction is the chanting of the long forgotten Mantra invoking Universal peace:

“Saha nav avatu, saha nau bhunaktu,
Saha viryam karavavahi: tejasvi nav adhi
Tam astu: ma vidvisavahai; aum santih, santih, santih.”

The literal meaning of it is: “May He protect us both; may He be pleased with us both; May we work together with vigour; May our study make us illumined; May there be no dislike between us. Aum, Peace, Peace, Peace.”

In its etymological sense, the mantra means:
“Let us all stay together united,
Let us share equally and enjoy partaking of food together,
Let us together enjoy the comforts and amenities of life,
Let us work together uniting our vital energy for the welfare of humanity,
Let our learning be full-fledged blessing us with joy and enlightenment,
Let us never poison our life and soul by hating and despising each other,
Let humanity flourish, let peace prevail everywhere.
Some interpret ‘Peace’ uttered for three times as
Om! Let there be Peace in me!
Let there be Peace in my environment!
Let there be Peace in the forces that act on me!”

In ancient times, in Gurukuls the Guru used to make the students chant the above mantra at end of the lesson. Here ‘both’ refers to the teacher and the student. (This verse is found in Rig Veda, Katha Upanishad, Shvetashvatara Upanishad and is the first verse in Brahmananda Valli, the second chapter of Taitteriya Upanishad)
Generally, it is recited together with the following mantra at the beginning and end of religious rituals and discourses and at auspicious occasions invoking peace unto the world:
Om asato ma sadgamaya – Lead us from the unreal to the real
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya – Lead us from darkness to light
Mrutyormaa amritam gamaya – Lead us from death to immortality
Om shanti, shanti, shanti – Om peace, peace, peace.
Till a few decades ago, the senior members or the family head used to perform rituals daily, strictly following the injunctions of the scriptures, and in the end they used to chant this mantra aloud which naturally was passed on to the next generation. Besides, there used to be festive occasions almost every month (many of which are no longer followed) where the family chanted this in chorus. But gradually the hectic schedule of the working parents, tight school hours, and lastly (I wonder, if primarily!!) the ‘idiot box’ leave little scope and time for elaborate puja. However, this mantra, which hardly takes less than a minute to chant, should be adapted into our lives, for it is indubitably a harbinger of peace to the family and to the society, at large.
According to great historiographers like R.C.Majumdar, Alberuni et al, and some philosophers, gross neglect of this fundamental mantra in both words and deeds, has been the reason that led the Indians into dreadful and dismal situations. Once this Mula Mantra was again adapted in their lives, there began accession towards progress. In the process of progress and declension, the Indians have almost forgotten this Mula Mantra. Thus, though it went into oblivion in the place of its origin, surprisingly people in many parts of the world are patronising and ardently chanting these Mantras. Indian priest Rajan Zed opened the US Senate on July 12, 2007 with a Sanskrit prayer. Vedic hymns in Sanskrit were chanted at the kick-start of Commonwealth Games 2010 on 30 October 2009, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth. On 6th September 2003, President of the Republic of South Africa Thabo Mbeki, addressing the Durban University students, said, “Sangachhdwam, Samvadadwam…,’ which calls upon humanity to be united to have a common speech and a common mind.

The complete verse is:
Om sangachadhvam sam vadadhvam – Let us come together, talk together
Sam vo manamsi janatam – Let our minds be in harmony
Deva bhagam yatha purve – Let our prayer be Common
Samjanana upasate – Common be our end
Samani va akutih samana hridayani vah
Samanamastu vo mano yatha vah susahasati – Let there be oneness in your resolutions, hearts and minds; Let the strength to live with mutual co-operation be firm in you all. (Rig Veda 10 – 191:2)

So, is it not high time that our children and we understand the profundity of this verse and make it a habit to chant together in the morning, at night and/or on any occasion?

Jain dharma kaa maulik itihaas, Vol 4 (Hindi) by Sri Acharya Hasimalji Maharaj
Indian Ethos And Values In Management By Sri Sankar