What does SHANTI mean

The word ‘shanti’ is a commonly used Sanskrit word. It is used by people, who do not even know Sanskrit, as it is present in almost every Indian language. The widely used meaning of the word ‘shanti’ is peace, but it is necessary to see the other meanings and the origins of this word. This is a Sanskrit word. Sanskrit is a classical language like Greek, Latin, and Persian. And in Sanskrit, as in most classical languages, most words are derived from a stem or root.  


The word ‘shanti’ is derived from the root word shama, which means tranquillity, calmness, rest, equanimity, quietude, quietism, absence of passion, abstraction from external objects through intense meditation, peace, peace with, tranquilisation, pacification, allayment, alleviation, cessation, extinction, absence of passion or excitement, impotence, alleviation or cure of disease, convalescence, final happiness, emancipation from all the illusions of existence, indifference, apathy, the hand, imprecation, malediction, of a king of the Nandivegas, of a son of Andhaka, of a son of Dharma Sutra, and of a divine female. When the suffix ktin is added to shama, the word ‘shanti’ is derived. 


‘Shanti’ means tranquillity, peace, quiet, calmness of mind, absence of passion, averting of pain, indifference to objects of pleasure or pain, alleviation of evil or pain, cessation, abatement, extinction, a pause, breach, interruption, any expiatory or propitiatory rite for averting evil or calamity, welfare, prosperity, good fortune, ease, comfort, happiness, bliss, destruction, end, eternal rest, death, tranquillity personified, daughter of Shraddha, wife of Atharvan, daughter of Daksha, wife of Dharma, of a son of Indra, Indra in the tenth manvantara or the tenth era of  Manu, of a son of Vishnu and Dakshina, of a son of Krishna and Kalindi, of a rishi, of a son of Angirasa, of a disciple of Bhuti, of a son of Nila, of the father of Sushanti, of an Arhat of the Jains, of a Chakravarti of the Jains, of a teacher in Buddhism, a quality or state of mind, knowledge, stoicism, tranquillity of devotion, complete fixing of the mind on the subject of meditation or worship, auspiciousness, felicity, rest, repose, preliminary ceremonies to avert inauspicious accidents at any religious celebration, remission, cessation of hostility, stop, consolation, solace, settlement of differences, reconciliation, appeasement of hunger, exculpation or absolution from blame, Goddess Durga, preservation, daughter of Kardama, a god, author and master of the Atharva Samhita, a son of Tamasa, the Indra of the gods Sudhaman and Viruddhas, a part of Hari, a divine goddess, one of the four fruits of pranayama, the ruin of sins of the departed ancestors and cognates, Vedic mantras, auspicious or good time according to astrology, satisfaction upon enjoying sense-objects, and one of the gopis accompanying Radha.


‘Shanti’ also denotes a Vedic prayer for the removal of sufferings caused by one’s body and mind, the other living beings, and natural forces. These Vedic prayers are also called shanti mantras and are chanted to ensure the proper completion of the study, teaching, writing, or other task at hand. Much importance is given to the attainment of peace in spiritual life. Though the ultimate goal of all spiritual traditions is attaining shanti, some amount of shanti in terms of the contentment of mind is necessary to start any spiritual practice.


Author is Editor Prabuddha Bharata.

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This article was first published in the November 2018 issue of Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of The Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. This article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata. I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. Cost is Rs 180/ for one year, Rs 475/ for three years, Rs 2100/ for twenty years. To subscribe http://advaitaashrama.org/pbSubscription

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