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ASATO MA SAD-GAMAYA
TAMASO MA JYOTIR-GAMAYA
MRITYOR-MA AMRTAM GAMAYA
OM SHANTI SHANTI SHANTIHI
Asatoma Sadgamaya is a Shanti Mantra (Mantra of peace), that originated in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Similar to other Shanti Mantras, it is believed that the recitation of these verses bring peace.
ASAT Falsehood (the unreal)
SAD (SAT) Truth (reality)
GAMAYA To move (to lead towards)
TAMAS Darkness (ignorance)
JYOTI Light/flame (purity)
The full meaning is as below:
From ignorance, lead me to truth;
From darkness, lead me to light;
From death, lead me to immortality
Om peace, peace, peace
It is a mantra which is implying that the seeker understands finally that there is no peace or happiness in anything material. That anything material will forever be transient and will forever bring suffering. The realization of this Truth is what would lead the seeker towards the light of Self Realization.
The ultimate TRUTH, according to Advaita Vedanta (Vedic Hindu philosophy), must always be true. It should be true in the past, in the present as well as in the future. If something does not exist in all these three periods of time, it does not truly exist. So it is not ultimately real. Thus, truth, existence and reality are one and the same. That reality, Vedanta says, is what we call God.
The universe and its things are in a constant state of change. So, according to Vedanta, we cannot call this world ultimately real. It is not ultimately true. Ultimately, it does not exist. It may seem real, but it is not. Such a thing is called ASAT (un-real).
Through this mantra the seeker says he/she understands the finite nature of all the objects of the world, and he wants the Guru (teacher) to guide him/her from the ASAT (un-real/ignorance) to the SAT (reality).
The seeker is asking to be awakened to his Infinite, Timeless, and Eternal nature.