Om Sahana Vavatu-Shanti Mantra Meaning with Explanation

ॐ सह नाववतु। 
सह नौ भुनक्तु।
सह वीर्यं करवावहै।
तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै॥
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः

This prayer beautifully encapsulates the sacred relationship between teacher and student, invoking blessings for mutual protection, nourishment, and effort in pursuing knowledge. The aspiration for luminous knowledge and the absence of hate further emphasize their harmonious bond. Finally, the invocation for peace, repeated thrice, invokes the divine for tranquility in their journey of learning and growth.

This revered Shanti mantra, commonly recited at the outset of the Brahmanadavalli and Bhruguvalli sections of the Taittiriya Upanishad and in the Kathopanishad, holds immense significance in the Vedic tradition. Chanting to invoke peace before the commencement of the teaching-learning process underscores the necessity of inner tranquility for effective education.

Though the specific Rishi and Chhandas for this mantra are not known, according to Sri Sayanacharya’s commentary, the divinity addressed here is Brahman, the ultimate reality.

Word meanings

ॐ सह नाववतु। सह नौ भुनक्तु। सह वीर्यं करवावहै। तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै॥ ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः

Om Sah Nāvavatu. Saha Nau Bhunaktu. Saha Vīryam Karavāvahai. Tejasvi Nāvadhītamastu Mā Vidviṣāvahai. Om Shāntiḥ Shāntiḥ Shāntiḥ.

  • सह – together 
  • नौ – both of us (the teacher and the student) 
  • अवतु – protect
  • सह – together 
  • नौ – both of us (the teacher and the student) 
  • भुनक्तु – nourish
  • सह – together 
  • वीर्यं – effort 
  • करवावहै – let us do
  • तेजस्वि – luminous 
  • नौ – both of us 
  • अधीतम् – that which has been learnt 
  • अस्तु – let it be 
  • मा – not 
  • विद्विषावहै – shall hate each other
  • ओं – O Brahman! 
  • शान्तिः –(may there be) peace 
  • शान्तिः – peace 
  • शान्तिः – peace


May we both (the teacher and the student) be protected together. May we both (the teacher and the student) be nourished together. May we both put in effort (to achieve the purpose of education). May our knowledge be luminous. May we both not hate each other. Prayers to Brahman/Pure Consciousness for peace, peace & peace.


This mantra is a joint utterance by the teacher and the student. It has five insightful sentences. Let us consider them one by one.

सह नाववतु (Om Sah Nāvavatu): Protection of the teacher and the student

Initially, both the teacher and the student seek protection. According to Sri Sayanacharya, the protection of the teacher refers to being free from laziness in teaching and ensuring complete dedication in preparing and delivering the class. 

Protection of the student entails grasping the teachings without misunderstanding or non-understanding (अप्रतिपत्ति-विप्रतिपत्ति-रहित-ग्रहणम् ) and avoiding inattentiveness that leads to incorrect comprehension.

सह नौ भुनक्तु (Saha Nau Bhunaktu): Nourishment of the teacher and the student

Sri Sayanacharya explains that the nourishment of the student involves (उपदिष्टार्थग्रहणेन अविद्यानिवृत्ति:) removing avidya through understanding the teachings, ensuring intellectual enrichment with correct knowledge. 

Similarly, the nourishment of the teacher is depicted as (अविद्यानिवृत्तिं पश्यन् आचार्यः परितुष्यति) the satisfaction gained from witnessing the student’s avidya being dispelled through the proper grasp of the teachings. 

The first two lines of the mantra serve as prayers to Brahman, seeking such protection and nourishment for both teacher and student.

सह वीर्यं करवावहै (Saha Vīryam Karavāvahai): Putting in effort to achieve the purpose of education

The teacher and the student pray for the strength and determination (वीर्यम्) required to achieve their respective goals. 

Described by Sri Sayanacharya as the capacity to fulfill one’s purpose (स्वप्रयोजनसामर्थ्यम्), this resolve signifies their commitment to take action towards their objectives. 

While seeking protection and nourishment through prayer is essential, they recognize the importance of proactive efforts in realizing their aspirations. Hence, the third sentence serves as a declaration of their determination to play their roles effectively in the pursuit of knowledge.

तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु मा विद्विषावहै (Tejasvi Nāvadhītamastu Mā Vidviṣāvahai): May the knowledge be luminous and may we not hate each other

There are two parts here – तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु and मा विद्विषावहै.

Part 1 – “May our joint learning be luminous” (तेजस्वि नावधीतमस्तु नौ अधीतम्) signifies the shared journey of learning between the teacher and the student. It is significant that the mantra indicates “joint learning”—that the teacher also learns along with the student in the teaching process.

The term “तेजस्वि” suggests self-illumination (स्वार्थप्रकाशकम्) of knowledge, implying that understanding unfolds gradually over time, beyond the immediate teacher-student interaction. 

Educationalists agree that knowledge cannot be entirely revealed through the time-bound teaching-learning interaction between students and teachers. According to a Sanskrit saying, ‘One-quarter of knowledge is obtained from the teacher, one-quarter by the student with his own intellect, one-quarter from fellow students and the final quarter in the course of time.’

This acknowledges that only a portion of knowledge is imparted directly, with the rest emerging through personal reflection, interaction with peers, and lifelong learning. It reflects a humble yet determined resolve to pursue knowledge persistently until its complete revelation.

The final quarter seems to indicate the term तेजस्वि. May knowledge reveal itself in due course. This is a humble yet firm resolve that the teacher and the student jointly express.

There is humility because both the teacher and the student are aware that knowledge will eventually reveal itself in its entirety. Firm resolve is necessary because the lifelong pursuit of knowledge alone will reveal itself in its entirety.

Both the teacher and the student affirm their commitment to a life-long, dedicated pursuit of knowledge until it reveals itself.

Part 2 – “May we not hate each other” (मा विद्विषावहै) emphasizes the importance of mutual respect and harmony between the teacher and the student. This sentiment is essential for fostering a conducive learning environment where both parties can collaborate effectively towards their educational goals. It underscores the significance of cultivating a positive and supportive relationship built on trust, understanding, and empathy, essential for pursuing knowledge and personal growth.

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्ति: Om Peace! Peace! Peace!

The repetition of the word “peace” three times in the mantra symbolizes the quest for peace at three essential levels: within oneself, in relationships with others, and harmony with the universe. Complete peace necessitates alignment and tranquility across these dimensions, achievable through intention and action. Individuals can foster harmony and well-being by expressing the aspiration for peace at each level and actively working towards it.

In today’s world, where education often prioritizes material success over holistic development, this mantra is a timeless reminder of the values of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and the diligent pursuit of knowledge. Rooted in friendship and resolve, it illuminates a path towards a more balanced and fulfilling life, guiding individuals towards greater fulfillment and collective harmony.

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We, a group of youths born into Hindu families, were raised in the rich culture of Vedic Sanatan Dharma, embracing its cultures and traditions. Post-graduation, recognizing the immense value of our Sanatan Dharma for humanity, we initiated the "Why Hindu" project. With guidance from our elders, we aim to create awareness about Hindu Dharma, delve into Vedic scripture, explore Vedic mantras, and elucidate the significance of festivals. Through this endeavor, we strive to share the profound teachings of our heritage, fostering understanding and appreciation for the timeless principles of Sanatan Dharma.

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