2500 BC, somewhere in central India. The Guru began where he had left off. He translated the Shanti Mantra thus:
ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदम् पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते |
पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ||
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ||
“That’ absolute reality, Brahman, is infinite and complete. ‘This’ world of visible phenomenon, is also infinite and complete. ‘This’ world has manifested out of ‘That’. If ‘This‘ is taken away, ‘That’ still remains infinite and complete.
Om! Peace! Peace! Peace!”
The young students appeared perplexed. How is this possible? Deduction should always result in reduction. This statement is Impossible.
The Guru explains
Guru smiled; wisdom lit on his face. “Don’t get puzzled, dear students. Actually, it is not so difficult to understand. Let me give you an example. Visualize a rope lying in a corner of a very dimly lit room. Most likely, we will mistake it for a snake. But when it is brightly lit, the rope is quite visible. We know it is not a snake. The snake is an illusion. As long as one is ignorant of the reality, one will believe illusion to be real. The illusion (snake) arises out of the reality (rope ). When the illusion is gone the reality still remains. The difference between illusion and reality is ignorance.”
“Vedānta, [highest wisdom of the Vedas], propounds that as soon as the truth is revealed we see that there is no snake but only rope. The snake disappears. This world of ours, Samsara, with plurality, names and forms is like the illusory snake, resting on the sub-stratum of that absolute reality, Paramātmā or Brahman like the rope. We perceive this world through forms, sounds, smells, tastes and touch. We believe the world of plurality to be the real. This is an illusion. In our everyday experience nothing stays permanent, it keeps changing continuously. Many things are created and disappear, periodically. The illusion of permanency exits because of our ignorance of the reality. The illusion arises out of the reality, which is hidden from us because of our ignorance. Illusion of Samsara exists only as long as there is ignorance. This falsity dissolves back into reality, the rope, when the light of knowledge falls on it. The light which reveals the ‘truth’ is the light of self-awareness, called Atma-bodha or Atma Gyan [awareness of self] in scriptures.”
The Guru paused a while in contemplative silence.
Revealing of the ultimate truth
“The venerable Rishi [seer, perceptor] who revealed this mantra to us must have been exceptionally divine visionary, because the Mantrā reveals the ultimate divine reality in such a short and beautiful verse. Rishi instructs that the final goal of human life is to strive for self-realization. ‘This’ self is the same as ‘That’ Paramātmā, the indivisible, absolute reality. We are Brahman. We always were, we always will be. Like in our example there was only the rope. This world, like the snake, appears as an illusion because of ignorance. It is gone the moment we realize reality. This realization can only happen in the light of self-awareness, by knowing who we are. That should be the goal of our life. This mantra is a jewel amongst Shanti Mantras.”
“Do you comprehend the mantra? Are you clear now?” asked the Guru.
“I bow to you to you, my venerable guru, I am clear in my mind and feeling very blissful.” said the boy
“Well then, meditate on Brahman. Let us now pray together and invoke three fold peace [Adhidaivic, Adhibhautic, Aadhyatmic], Om shanti, shanti, shanti”