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Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu

Dear Friend,

I hope you are enjoying the longer days and warmer weather, and that you feel well and are able to relish the moments of joy and beauty of life. If we look a bit closer we may discover that every moment is such a moment, if we only see it for what it is, an expression of life in its fullest. Easier said than done! We are all, including myself, living mostly within the constructs of the mind which continuously generates thoughts, ideas, opinions, and many other concepts about everything. We tend to get so identified with these contents and rarely just look out into the world to see it as it is, without superimposing the content of the mind onto it.

Well... that's what yoga is for :)

This month I would like to explain a bit about the chant we do at the end of every practice, some of you have asked me about it and I think it needs some clarification. It's important that we always understand why we're doing things in yoga and avoid doing things mechanically or automatically, or even follow instructions blindly.The chant is called: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu and it is the last part of the Mangala Mantra (Mangala means auspicious) that comes from a very ancient Indian scripture called Rigveda. The full chant is often used as a closing chant for a practice session, mostly used in the Ashtanga-Vinyasa tradition, and is part of a group of Vedic chants called shanti path or peace chants, which are specific mantras meant to invoke peace, harmony and happiness.

The full Mangala Mantra

swasti-prajābhyaḥ paripālayantāṁ

nyāyena mārgeṇa mahīṁ mahīśāḥ

gobrāhmaṇebhyaḥ śubhamastu nityaṁ

lokāḥ samastā sukhino bhavantu

oṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ 

The translation is:

May the leaders of the world protect the earth in every way by the path of just virtue,

and may this country be free from disturbances.

May those who know the real nature of things be free from fear and enjoy perpetual joy.

May the rains fall on time, and may the earth yield its produce in abundance. 

May all being everywhere be happy and free.

Om peace, peace, peace

(The last part represents the core-essence of the mantra)

The idea is to try to generate a sincere intention or wish, from deep within the heart, that all beings everywhere be happy, be free, and enjoy a good life full of peace and harmony. At the same time, we also want to set an intention that our thoughts, words, and actions will contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.

When we chant this mantra with the right intention we plant a seed within us, one that later needs to be watered and nurtured, the seed of compassion, a reminder that our relationships with all beings and things should be mutually beneficial if we ourselves desire happiness. No true or lasting happiness can come from causing unhappiness to others. No true or lasting freedom can come from depriving others of their freedom.

This is also a good practice for alleviating the negative impact of the false sense of "I" (asmita), what is often referred to in Western psychology as ego. It is our default settings that make us constantly crave things that serve our own immediate urges and desires. Everything we experience in the world is received in this context - what am I getting from it, how does it benefit me.

When we take a moment at the end of a yoga practice that most of us are doing to improve our own life, and get into a mind set in which we are intentionally sharing these benefits that yoga brings us with others and don't hold on to them exclusively for ourselves, we create a new pattern of thinking that slowly turns into a second nature. We then start receiving real joy and fulfilment from sharing with others, from giving, from being generous and kind. As we continue expanding these mindsets, we begin to feel more and more that we live in abundance instead of scarcity, that there is enough good in the world for everyone and there is no need to fight for our share or be afraid to lose anything that we have.

Important to mention that this is working only on the level of intention and is meant to transform the way we perceive the world around us and ourselves within it, it is not a claim about reality which is clearly not abundant for everyone as there are many beings in the world that live in true scarcity, destitute and terror.

Mantras (or chants) intend to work on a few levels:

  • The meaning of the words in the chant is there to shift patterns of thinking and feeling and help create new ones that serve us better.

  • They also work as rituals, not in a religious way (although they can become that too), but rather as symbolic ways of creating a sense of importance to what we're doing, to make our practice feel more special or even sacred, to infuse profound fulfilment to it.

  • They also work on a purely sonic level, creating sound vibrations that have an effect on our nervous system, somewhat similar to what singing does. Sanskrit is a language of chanting, the sounds of its syllables are meant to create these special vibrations. Can't say for sure what effects these vibrations have, but most people can feel some effect or another, it's worthwhile to pay attention to it.

One last thing about this mantra as well as all mantras that are ending with three shanti's, which are the Shanti Paths (peace chants). The word shanti, as most of you know, means peace. We chant it three times in this tradition to wish for peace from the outer circles to the most inner circles of beings in our life:

  1. All beings everywhere

  2. Our circle of beings (family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, pets, etc..)

  3. Ourselves

(In other traditions it can refer to body, breath and mind)

It could be very useful to set the specific destination of each shanti before you chant it out loud!

You are very welcome to chant with me at the end of our practice, you can also feel very comfortable to just sit quietly and be present. It's really not meant to be taken too seriously but rather be a little thing we do to bring our practice to closure and move back into the outer world with a heart that is a little bit more open.

Here is the chant in audio format if you want to practice it a bit, although this specific one is a bit different tone wise than the way I was taught to chant it:

If you find yourself curious about these kinds of topics - join a workshop, a retreat, or any other event on offer.

Looking forward to sharing yoga with you in June.

Wishing everyone peace and happiness,


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