In attempting to understand the Asthanga opening and closing chants, I’ve no doubt massively over-simplify the nuanced and complex meaning of the original sanskrit, but as I have been unable to find a translation in plain-speaking language that I might use in explaining it to my friends and students, well, I’ve come up with my own.
Opening chant – English alphabet Opening chant – traditional translation
vande gurūṇāṁ caraṇāravinde I bow to the lotus feet of the great teacher
saṁdarśita-svātma-sukha-avabodhe Who uncovers our true individual being, awakening bliss
niḥśreyase jāṅgali-kāyamāne Like the jungle healer who brings great wellbeing
saṁsāra-hālāhala-moha-śāntyai Dispelling the poison of conditioned existence
ābāhu-puruṣākāraṁ The upper body having human form
śaṅkha-cakra-asi-dhāriṇam Holding a conch, discus and sword
sahasra-śirasaṁ śvetaṁ Having 1000 branching heads of white (or light)
praṇamāmi patañjalim I bow to Patanjali
Opening Chant – my personal translation (which I arrived at having studied the meanings behind the symbols mentioned in the original text)
I’m grateful to all the Gurus for showing me how happy I can be if I practice yoga, find my inner self and realise that all the difficulties of life that I experience through my ego, don’t actually matter.
I’m thankful to Patanjali, for reminding us of the infinity of time and light, the divinity of sound and how to discriminate reality from illusion.
Closing chant – English alphabet Closing chant – traditional translation
swasti-prajābhyaḥ paripāla-yantāṁ May the rulers of the earth keep to the path of virtue
nyāyena mārgeṇa mahīṁ mahīśāḥ For protecting the welfare of all generations.
go-brāhmaṇebhyaḥ śubha-mastu nityaṁ May the religious, and all peoples be forever blessed,
lokāḥ samastāḥ sukhino bhavantu May the whole of all the worlds be happy.
oṁ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ Om peace, peace, peace…
Closing Chant – My personal translation
I give my practice to the universe, in the hope that my positive energy will influence world leaders to make virtuous decisions to protect the future of everyone.
World peace and Universal happiness. Yeah.
Ok so it may be a tad flippant, but it helps me to find modern meaning in this ancient practice and I hope it helps some of you too (please no sanskrit scholar haters – I’m sorry if I’ve made a right hash of it!)
Peace and Love. xxx