Isha Upanisad: Peace-Invocation

Shanti Paath

Om Purna-madah purna-midam purnat purnam udacyate
Purnasya purna-madaya purna-meva vasisyate
Om Shantih! Shantih! Shantih!
- (Isha Upanisad)

Fullness in reality is Brahman
Fullness appears from Fullness; Fullness fills Fullness
In Fullness, Fullness is ever established,
Fullness is awareness, ever existing fullness

The American poet Annie Sexton speaks the same in a different note, says,

Then the well spoke to me
It said; abundance is scooped from abundance yet abundance remains


Isha represents the “I” or the Energy and Sha stands for completeness or fullness. Thus Isha symbolises full silence. Silence rules all over. This is how the invocation commences with fullness or That is Full. The fullness is being invoked here. It is a state of full awareness and not at all concerned with states of waking, sleeping and dreaming. 
Peace invocation, apparently on surface looks like a statement of paradox to the worldly people. Generally people believe that every cause has an effect. In the world; no great changes take place before the coming into being of their cause viz the cosmic element, and changes like anger, despondency and joy do not manifest in the behaviour without proper cause.

The present invocation is a simple statement about the Absolute Truth, the Primeval, All-pervading and the Eternal. S/he is the First Person, beyond cause and effect. So S/he is full with all fullness and this fullness is never exhausted and remains ever the same.
It is the mind alone which is the cause of all objects in this world; the three worlds exist because of the mind-stuff. When the mind vanishes, the world vanishes too. It is evident that diversity is created by mental modifications and ceases with its end. The creator is the mind. All thoughts are inherent in the mind. The object of perception is inherent in the preceptor. In reality there exists neither the objective universe, nor the perceiving self, nor perception as such, nor void nor inertness; but the Only One that is the Cosmic Consciousness.

The common man in everyday life observes a different pattern. He understands that if something is taken out of some other thing, there arises a cause and this cause is responsible for a change to create an effort. A tree grows out of a seed but the seed has to change and fructify in order to come out with plant, flowers and fruits. This is cause- effect theory. Cause is the seed and effect is the growing tree.

Here in this case, there is no such activity. Hence, the confusion. There is no cause; no effect as the Vedic belief is that the creation is not an act of production but a projection of the First Cause. From the infinite, only the Infinite emerges and exists in it as Infinite; hence the world has never been created, never born, has no beginning and no end. It emerges out of the same. The creation of the world has no cause; and so no beginning or end. It does not exist even now; how can it reach destruction?

Truth exists and there exists nothing but Truth. Truth is all in all and is all-pervading, the Prime Cause, the First Cause. In the Vedic tradition, every definition in this regard proceeds from effect to cause. God is the effective cause; S/he is cause of all causes and the Primary Cause, the Material and the efficient cause. The personality of Godhead is complete and perfect. As S/he is totally complete, everything emanates from Him/Her and as such the phenomenal worlds are perfectly equipped as complete.  It remains a complete whole. Whatever comes out of it also remains as a complete whole and the complete whole remains as such all complete in Itself. The world we see with our eyes and senses is simply a very small part of Totality. It is not complete without the Total and individual count. It is this totality that permeates the whole universe. The seer addresses It as Energy, Consciousness. It has no physical form. Everything is permeated by It and nothing permeates It. 

In Vedic tradition, a pure prayer means complete dedication and total surrender to the Omnipotent God. It is possible only when the ego of self is raised to merge with the greater Ego of Eternity. The soul so exalted realises that all sentient beings are one in relation to Pure Awareness - all beings are part of the same whole, the one whole. Then how come that grief may befall on them! So after every prayer or invocation, there is a systematically adopted tendency to call for peace thrice; peace being our essential nature and akin to happiness and Bliss. 

We call for peace thrice - peace from all possible sources of obstacles: 

1- Adhibhautic (worldly afflictions)
2- Adhidaivik (theological) and
3- Adhyatmik (metaphysical). We pray for peace for the obstacles that come from unseen sources, known sources and from sources arising from within ourselves.  

Previous: Preface to the Upanishads  
Next : Isha Upanisad: Shloka 1


More by :  Dr. R. K. Lahri

Top | Hinduism

Views: 3832      Comments: 4

Comment ...i bow in gratitude to Dr. Lahiri Ji. Several of my parental elders had memorized partly or in full the slokes of the Bhagwat Gita. i failed miserable....at least now, having understood and imbibed the cosmology vide Lahiri Ji's interpretation, can now venture to the divinity by at least understanding and memorizing the complete slokes of IsoPnishad. My Pranam!!!!

25-Apr-2022 23:56 PM

Comment reverence , gratitude with folded hands .
thank you

sharad rochlaney
13-Sep-2019 08:12 AM

Comment great work sir.Today's youth are misguided by our present education system, our vedas and upnishads are true source of knowledge, one must teach these things during school times.western culture has completely destroyed our age-old traditions, but thanks to people like you who are trying to burn that fire alive.

som dubey
22-Mar-2013 13:14 PM

Comment I like this commentary...I finally understood the meaning of this shloka which I recited like a parrot before. Thanks very much.

BK Ahuja
15-Jan-2011 15:03 PM

Name *

Email ID

Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.