- Peace Chant from Yajur-Veda
Original Sanskrit Mantra:
Om. Sahanaavavatu. Sahanau bhunaktu. Saha veeryam karavaavahai. Tejasvinaavadheetamastu, maa vidvishaavahai. Om shantih, shantih, shantih.
English Translation of the above Mantra:
Om. May the Supreme Being (Brahman) protect us both [the teacher and the disciple, by revealing to us the true nature of Knowledge]. May He protect us both [by further revealing to us the application of this Knowledge in life]. May we both struggle and strive together [for the acquirement of Knowledge and Wisdom]. May our learning become vitalized and energized [by the power of the Supreme Spirit]. May there be no disharmony between us [the teacher and the disciple]. Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
The second lesson was led by Swami Atmapriyananda. He began with chanting the mantra designed to be chant by the teacher and the disciple at the beginning of each their educational exercise. Having sung the manta Swami explained its meaning. The chant contain the prayer that the Supreme Being protect both of them from any possible obstacles on the way to knowledge and wisdom. The main such obstacle is disharmony between the teacher and the disciple stemming from mutual disrespect.
During the discussion which followed this part of the presentation it turned out that there is a difference between Hindu and Jewish conception of knowledge with respect to the harmony between the teacher and the disciple. While Hindu tradition seems to view disharmony as external obstacle to the body of knowledge which is the fruit of spiritual experience and transcends reason, and which should be handed down properly, Jews conceive the very knowledge as argumentative thus as generating tension and disputation, even disharmony, between the teacher and the disciple. Despite this difference, both traditions allow the process of learning to be innovative and creative. In both traditions it is not only the disciple who learns during the learning process, but the teacher also.
In the discussion there also turned out that Hindu tradition, stresses the uniqueness of every disciple and her/his freedom to choose her/his own guru, being in this respect similar to Christianity.
In the second part of his presentation, Swami Atmarpiyananda was talking about the essential qualifications of the disciple and those of the guru, as these are described in standard Vedanta texts, Vedanta Sara, Vivekachudamani, Shankaracharya’s commentaries on the Upanishads. As regards the former these are: the ability to discriminate between what is changing and what is unchanging, dispassion for both mundane and spiritual enjoyments, so called six treasures, i.e. (i) control of the inner senses, (ii) control of the outer senses, (iii) calmness, (iv) forbearance, (v) faith or conviction, (vi) absorption in higher truths, and, finally, intense yearning for liberation. As regards the latter the essential qualifications are the following: the deep understanding of sacred writ, constant cultivation of higher knowledge, lack of selfish motives, lack of desires, and, finally, compassion for the disciple.
During the following discussion Alon Goshen-Gottstein remarked that contemporary Hindu gurus are much more charity oriented that those from the classical period.
There also emerged a couple of questions which remained open. The most important concerns the nature of knowledge/wisdom to be learned, the problem of merging with the Infinite and with the guru as medium of the Infinite, and the universality of the need for having a teacher.