Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu (translated as ”may all beings be happy and free”), a Sanskrit mantra, is one of the most popular chants in yoga classes. This Shanti mantra is not a traditional veda sakhas, however, it expresses the universal spirit found within all beings.
This chant calling for the freedom and happiness of all beings, for the world and the universe, it’s a call to personal responsibility. The chant encourages one to go beyond his own identity and his small world, to identify with the entire universe and all its beings since the Being is the same in all creatures.
I think it is beautiful and regularly meditate on it – wishing good things to people and recognising that our own actions, words, and thoughts have an impact on everyone.
This mantra does not appear in any of the existent written Vedas (collection of sacred hymns) as this tradition is information passed down through the generations by word of mouth, that is not written down. The mantra has been popularised this century by Mata Amrtanandamayi Devi (simply known as Amma – “Mother”), the hugging saint of Kerala, India, and also forms the last part of the Ashtanga Yoga (a system of yoga transmitted to the modern world by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois) closing mantra.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu mantra meaning and translation:
“May all beings be happy and free from suffering. And may the thoughts, words, and actions in my own life in some way contribute to that happiness and that freedom for all.”
A word by word translation of May All Beings Be Happy And Free song:
- Lokah – The location of all universes (realms) existing now;
- Samastah – All beings living in this location;
- Sukhino – Centered in happiness, joy and free from all suffering
- Bhav – The divine state of union;
- Antu – It must be so or may it be so.
This compassion mantra transcends the calculating intellect and awakens a feeling of love and sweetness, gradually melting away the hard walls we have built around our hearts.
The exploration of compassion has really grown in western culture because of increased enlightenment and awareness from the east. Every major authentic spiritual tradition agrees that compassion and love are the most important qualities for protecting and sustaining life.
Compassion is a big word that is often trivialized. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down dogmatic, political, ideological and religious boundaries. Compassion allows you to be with suffering without getting overwhelmed, without running away, and without pretending that it doesn’t exist.
Research suggests that acts of compassion activate the “pleasure centers” of the brain. Additionally, compassion is associated with decreased anxiety and increased overall well-being. Latest studies also indicate that compassion makes us healthier and happier.
Most of us have been conditioned to be selective about our compassion. We may be able to express some degree of compassion to our friends and family but are unconcerned about those who don’t look like us, live on the other side of the world, or speak a different language.
The challenge is to recognize the basic commonality between all humans. Consider that everyone you meet (or don’t meet) wants to be happy. Everyone has a consciousness and a mind, and everyone has a heartbeat and body. Everyone wants to be healthy. Everyone has fears. Everyone has dreams. Everyone wants to be loved.
”Someone without compassion can’t be happy because they’re cut off from others and can’t relate to the world. We need to have compassion, too, for the Earth, our mother.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The most valuable aspect of this Sanskrit mantra is that the practitioner does not pray only for his community or nation but for the whole world or, more precisely, the whole universe. While chanting Om lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu next time, try to feel deeply for all living sentient beings, and live in this selfless spirit.
Once you have chanted the mantra at least 3 times (or more), it’s important to sit, meditate and feel the silence for a few moments. It is extraordinary how clear your thoughts are when you have practiced this simple mantra.