The Importance of Peace: Part 1 – The Meaning of Shanti
Peace = Shanti = ??
Peace is hard to come by in today’s fast-paced internet culture. In Sanskrit, peace is known as ‘Shanti‘. But what does Shanti mean? And why is it chanted three times at the end of rituals?
More than relaxation
One will notice that the youth of today shun the idea of peace, preferring to fervently seek and pray for adventure and achievement. With Facebook and Twitter and MySpace sending minute by minute updates of what everyone we know is up to 24 hrs a day, it is almost as if peace is obsolete!
There is nothing wrong with seeking adventure. Our horizons are broadened daily as globalisation continues and its an exciting world out there. There is much that we can learn from others. But let’s not drive out peace!
One of the misconceptions is that people limit the definition of peace to contentment, relaxation (a lack of stress), and a feeling of certainty. But it is much more than this!
The ancient Jewish people understood the idea of peace well. The closest Hebrew word for peace is ‘Shalom’. A better definition of Shalom is ‘God’s Peace’.
What does this mean? I take it to mean the feeling one has in the direct presence of God. Can you imagine this? Most people would guess that it means total surrender, complete satisfaction, a feeling of security and bliss.
This idea is getting us closer to the Hindu concept of Shanti.
The Hindus like to do everything big. Think of huge sanskrit texts and doctrines on philosophy and society, epic allegorical histories not to mention a sprawling pantheon of deities!
We take a similar approach to peace. With such a vast cosmology, one needs a broad spectrum of peace for every type of sentient being.
In explaining this, have you ever thought of why the word Shanti is always recited 3 times at the end of pujas and havans?
I will leave you to ponder it until the next part is published!
Coming soon – Part 2 – Why we chant Shanti 3 times.