Om saha navavatu
saha nau bhunaktu
saha viryam karavavahai
tejasvi navadhitam astu
Om shantih shantih shantih
Accept/Protect us both together.
Nourish us both together.
May we work together with great energy.
May our knowledge and strength increase.
May we not resent one another.
Peace, peace, peace.
This invocatory verse, in some form, can be found in both the Taittiriya and the Katha Upanishads, which are both considered mukhya (primary) Upanishads and are embedded within the Krishna Yajurveda. The time of their origination is uncertain, but somewhere around the 1st millenium BCE.
“Let him protect us both, let us exert together; may what we study be well studied, may we not hate.” – Katha Upaniśad
According to the commentary by Sri Sankara, it is chanted for the purpose of removing all faults incurred by the disciple and the preceptor, in the course of receiving and imparting knowledge that may be caused by the disregard for rules due to oversight or excitement.
“May it (the knowledge of Brahman) protect us both. May it make us both enjoy. May we together acquire the capacity for knowledge. May our study be brilliant. May we not hate each other.” – Taittiriya Upaniśad
Sri Sankara states it is chanted to pacify any enmity arising from any fault committed from carelessness by the pupil or the preceptor in the course of obtaining knowledge.
We often chant this mantra in my classes because it serves as a reminder of the sacred nature of the teacher – student relationship. I feel that this mantra encapsulates the essence of our engagement because no matter how hard we try, at the end of the day, we are human beings with the potential for great compassion and also great harm. Through recognizing this, reminding ourselves of this daily, we can strive toward a healthy balanced relationship that avoids negative power dynamics, maintains respect for ourselves and others, and retains independence.