Ashtanga Opening Mantra

This mantra originates from two separate sources: The Yoga Tārāval of Adi Shankaracharya1 and Hymn to Patañjali2—often chanted prior to chanting the Yoga Sūtras. The first half acknowledges those who have come before us and have cultivated the practices in which can be realized the illusory nature of manifest existence. The second half pays reverence to the mythological form of Patañjali, believed to have been an incarnation of Ādi Śeṣa (transliterated as ādi-, prefix meaning “beginning” or “the first” and śeṣa meaning “residue” or “remainder”), a thousand-headed serpent and a primal being of creation in Hindu mythology. This etymology alludes to the philosophical idea that action leaves behind a “karmic residue” which propagates the necessity for further action and is thus a primal mover in the creation of experiential reality.

The Ashtanga opening mantra is traditionally chanted before practicing Sūrya Namaskār.

Mantra

ॐ वन्दे गुरूणां चरणारविन्दे संदर्शितस्वात्मसुखावबोधे । निःश्रेयसे जाङ्गलिकायमणे संसारहालाहलमोहशान्त्यै ॥ आबाहुपुरुषाकारं शङ्खचक्रासिधारिणम् । सहस्रशिरसं श्वेतं प्रणमामि पतञ्जलिम् ॥

Oṃ vande gurūṇāṁ charaṇāravinde sandarśita svātma sukhāva bodhe । niḥśreyase jāṅgalikāyamāne saṁsāra hālāhala moha śāntyai ॥ ābāhu puruṣākāraṁ śankha cakrāsi dhāriṇam । sahasra śirasaṁ śvetaṁ praṇamāmi patañjalim ॥

Om I worship the Guru’s lotus feet Awakening the happiness of the self revealed. Beyond comparison, acting like the jungle physician To pacify delusion from the poison of existence. Whose upper body has a human form, Whose arms hold a conch, a disc and a sword, Who is crowned by a thousand headed cobra I prostrate before Patañjali.

Transliteration

  • vande वन्दे - I offer my respects, worship
  • gurūṇām गुरूणाम् - masculine genitive plural of guru
  • charaṇa चरण - foot
  • aravinda अरविन्द - lotus
  • saṃ सं - compound, together (completely)
  • darśita दर्शित - shown, perceived
  • svātma स्वात्म - ones true self (root: ātman)
  • sukha सुख - ease, comfort, happiness, pleasure
  • avabodha अवबोध - consciousness, knowledge
  • niḥśreyase निःश्रेयसे - for the greatest welfare, highest benefit
  • jāṅgala जाङ्गल - jungle
  • jāṅgalika जाङ्गलिक - snake charmer
  • kāyamāna कायमान - measurement of the body
  • saṁsāra संसार - the bonds or fetters of the world
  • hālāhala हालाहल - a deadly poison
  • moha मोह - darkness or delusion of mind
  • śāntyai शान्त्यै - for the stopping, alleviation of pain
  • ābā आबा - a term of respectful compellation or mention for a male
  • bāhu बाहु - the whole upper extremity of the body
  • puruṣa पुरुष - person, man
  • ākāra आकार - form, shape, figure
  • śaṅkha शङ्ख - the conch-shell
  • cakra चक्र - a wheel, disc
  • asi असि - a sword
  • dhara धर - holding, bearin>
  • sahasra सहस्र - thousan>
  • śirasa शिरस - on his head
  • śveta श्वेत - white, bright
  • pra प्र - in front, before
  • ṇam णम् - to bow down
  • patañjali पतञ्जलि - Patañjali

Resources

References


  1. Translation: Jois, Pattabhi. (2002). Yoga Mala. North Point Press. pp. 3.
  2. Translation: Iyengar, Geeta.