Peace is one of the core human values that our nation has stood for, and is one of main reasons why this civilization has been a continuous one, and stood the tests of time for many millennia, inspite of facing invasions and plunders.
In our present day war torn world, Peace assumes great significance, and is often seen in the context of “War and Peace”. International Peace Day which is observed on 21st September every year is therefore also observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence.
Peace however need not be just seen as ‘absence of war’, but stands for a host of other qualities like equanimity, amity, harmony, tranquility, calmness, accord, friendship, silence, non-violence and innumerable other synonyms.
The most common and often used word for Peace in this land is Shanti. There exist many mantras that are chanted for one’s well-being and the well-being of the world.
There is a common Shanti mantra that is recited namely,
Mantras ending with Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
We also often hear many chants ending with Shanti being chanted three times, in the sequence.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
There are a plethora of such mantras in our scriptures. Few of them being,
Shanti Path Mantra
There is also another category of Mantra, known as Shanti Path Mantra, which is a mantra prayer to lead us on a path to Peace. This mantra being,
In Bali, Indonesia
The people of Bali island, Indonesia, greet each other with words, “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om”.
Why should Shanti be chanted 3 times?
The Indian ethos speaks of three levels of peace, and the three times we chant, is for each of these levels.
- Inner Peace
- Peace in the Society
- Peace in the World
This level of peace pertains to the mind. We are often plagued by worries, desires, and innumerable other thoughts, which disturbs our inner peace, even though we may be apparently peaceful outside. There are inner battles raging on within us all the time. Many times these inner wars spill over, and is reflected in our actions and words in our immediate environment.
We often hear the cries, “I want Peace, I want Peace……” On a lighter note, it is advised, “Remove I, Remove Want and what will remain is Peace”. Here “I” stands for ego and “Want” for desires, the twin enemies of Peace.
In Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna speaks of nishkama karma, i.e “actions performed without desire for fruits”, in this context of inner peace. The relevant sloka being,
Bhagavad Gita Upadesha
Krishna also explains that, highest state of Inner Peace is one of the marks of an enlightened, in whom all the activities of mind has ceased, and who rests in a perpetual state of Shanti. Hence, Aman, meaning “mindless”, is another word used to refer to Peace, Shanti.
More on Krishna and Bhagavad Gita in our trilogy Historical Krishna.
Inner peace is important and is directly linked to the next level of peace.
Peace in the Society
Peace in our society encompasses Peace in our family, friends and workplace. When a society lives in Peace with one another and also Nature, then the prosperity of a nation is guaranteed. The efforts made to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all are also ways to ensure Peace in the society and the nation.
Peace in the World
The third level is Peace between nations, and in the whole world, which is most important.
Today, the World is One Global Family. The world is flat – so say some. The earth is physically round as we know.
And by relationships it is deep.
“Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – one world family”, has been an oft used Indian phrase, through the ages, and which can be only realized in its true sense, only when there is Peace in the whole world.
Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – a Global Family
Vishva Shanti or World Peace is another Indian concept which aims for Peace in the whole world. If any part of the world is affected, then in a way Peace in other parts suffer. If something is going to affect India, it will affect the world too.
Off late, relationships between the countries have been mired by wars, conflicts, terrorism, global warming, economic meltdown and natural calamities which has affected World Peace.
The different nations of the world need to live harmoniously with each other and also with Nature, so that we can have World Peace, Vishva Shanti.
Vishva Shanti is also one of the pillars of Buddhism, which the Buddha propounded. The Buddhist built symbols of World Peace are the different Peace Pagodas that have been established throughout the world. A pagoda is a type of Stupa which symbolizes a common cause and provides a place for gathering and worship towards this common cause.
A few Japanese Buddhist monks in 20th century undertook a mission to set an example for world peace by establishing Peace Pagodas throughout the world.
The Japanese World Peace Pagoda at Rumassala, Sri Lanka
The World Peace Pagoda at Pokhara, Nepal
One such Peace Pagoda is the Vishva Shanti Stupa at Rajgir, in Bihar, built by Japanese Buddhist monks. Vishwa Shanti Stupa is the tallest peace Pagoda in the world, standing 400 meters tall.
Vishwa Shanti Stupa built by the Japanese at Rajgir, Bihar
We have been fortunate enough to visit the World Peace Pagodas in southern Sri Lanka, at Rumassala and at Pokhara in Nepal.
More on Peace Pagodas in our book – Indo-Japan A Connect Over Millennia.
International Peace Day
21st September has been declared as International Peace Day by the United Nations. The logo of Peace day has a dove carrying an olive branch, which are symbols of Peace that have been derived from the story of Noah’s ark. A dove was released by Noah after the flood in order to find land; it came back carrying a freshly plucked olive leaf a sign of life after the Flood.
In the present day world however, it is manmade calamities that threaten World Peace, more that natural calamities.
International Peace Day is devoted to promoting Vishva Shanti, World Peace, by strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among nations and peoples.