Om shanti shanti shanti

shanti in devanagari

If you have a unicode font installed in your browser you’ll be able to see the mantra with diacritics here: Oṃ śānti śānti śānti. Without diacritics it’s Om shanti shanti shanti.

Sometimes it’s chanted as “Om shanti om” or simply as “om shanti.”

Below I explain the meaning of both “Om” and “shanti.”

Om (Oṃ)

Like many mantras, this one begins with “Om”. Om has no meaning, and its origins are lost in the mists of time. Om is considered to be the primeval sound, the sound of the universe, the sound from which all other sounds are formed.

In the Brahminical tradition, from where Buddhism undoubtedly obtained mantra practice, Om is not just the universal sound, but the sound of the universe itself. For example in the (non-Buddhist) Mandukya Upanishad, it is said:

Om! — This syllable is this whole world.

Its further explanation is: —
The past, the present, the future — everything is just the word Om.

And whatever else that transcends threefold time — that, too, is just the word Om.

Om is therefore a sound symbolizing reality. It represents everything in the universe, past, present, and future. It even represents everything that is outside of those three times. It therefore represents both the mundane world of time in which the mind normally functions, and the world as perceived by the mind that is awakened and that experiences the world timelessly. It represents both enlightenment and non-enlightenment.

See also:

You could regard Om as being the equivalent of white light, in which all of the colors of the rainbow can be found.

One Sanskrit-English dictionary says the following:

“A word of solemn affirmation and respectful assent , sometimes translated by ‘yes, verily, so be it’ (and in this sense compared with Amen); it is placed at the commencement of most Hindu works, and as a sacred exclamation may be uttered at the beginning and end of a reading of the Vedas or previously to any prayer; it is also regarded as a particle of auspicious salutation [Hail!];

Om appears first in the Upanishads as a mystic monosyllable, and is there set forth as the object of profound religious meditation, the highest spiritual efficacy being attributed not only to the whole word but also to the three sounds A, U, M, of which it consists.”

It’s worth bearing in mind that Sanskrit was the language not only of later Buddhism, but of the Hindu and pre-Hindu Vedic traditions as well. In Buddhist texts, as far as I’m aware, Oṃ is never seen as being comprised of A-U-M. Jayarava has an excellent, if (for the casual reader) rather detailed, article on this on his blog.

Shanti (Śānti)

Shanti (Pali: Santi) simply means “peace”. It’s a beautiful meaning and also a very beautiful sound. The shanti is repeated three times, as are many chants in Buddhism. In Buddhism as well as in Hinduism the threefold Shanti is generally interpreted as meaning the Threefold Peace in body, speech, and mind (i.e. peace in the entirety of one’s being).

Hindu teachings typically end with the words Om shanti shanti shanti as an invocation of peace, and the mantra is also used to conclude some Buddhist devotional ceremonies.

Wildmind has created a YouTube video of the mantra. If you like the mantra, please give the video a thumbs-up after listening.

Or click below to listen to an MP3 version:

Pronunciation notes:

  • o is pronounced like o in ore
  • The ṃ in Oṃ serves to nasalize the preceding “o”, so that it sounds like the vowel in the French word bon
  • ā is pronounced as a in father
  • i in speech is pronounced like i in mill, but in chanting is pronounced like ee in bee

Peace in Buddhist practice

Simply knowing that the word “shanti” means “peace” doesn’t get us very far. We need to learn how to cultivate peace in our lives. Meditation — especially mindfulness meditation and lovingkindness meditation — is a simple tool for helping us find peace.

In Buddhist practice śānti, or peace, primarily means inner rather than outer peace. Through practice it’s possible to cultivate a still mind even in surroundings that are anything but tranquil.

It’s definitely helpful to have peaceful surroundings for the development of meditative states of mind, but if one cultivates a mind that is completely nonreactive then it’s possible to peacefully accept the presence of noise and bustle around us.

In the long-term, however, some external quiet is well-nigh indispensable for the arising of deep mental tranquility, and so meditators frequently seek out quiet places for their practice.

To say that inner peace is what’s important doesn’t mean of course that we can be internally peaceful and yet caught up in all kinds of arguments and fights. It simply means that it’s not possible for us to be in harmony with others unless we’ve learned to develop harmony within our own minds.

Śānti, or inner peace, arises when the mind has let go of both grasping and aversion. For this reason the Buddhist path of practice is known in Pali as “santimagga” (Sanskrit: śāntimarga) or The Path of Peace, as expressed in the famous Dhammapada verse, “Santimaggam eva br?haya” — Cultivate this very Path of Peace.

See also:

Peace as the goal of practice

“Santi” is commonly used in the Pali texts as a synonym for Nirvana, the goal of Buddhist practice. Meditation and other Buddhist practices can therefore be thought of as the “Path to Peace.” Nirvana is the ultimate in inner peace, and literally means the complete extinction of inner turmoil.

Peace and lovingkindness

Shanti and metta (lovingkindness), or lovingkindness, are closely associated. In another verse from the Dhammapada, the Buddha says:

Mettāvihārā yo bhikkhu
pasanno Buddhasāsane
Adhigacche padaṃ santaṃ
saṅkhārāpasamaṃ sukhaṃ
(Verse 368)

Which means:

The monk who dwells in loving-kindness,
who trusts in the Buddha’s Teaching,
attains to that state of peace,
the blissful fading away of conditioned mental states.

Lovingkindness helps us to still the mind by letting go of conflict. As I’m sure we’re all aware, our hostile or defensive reactions to others are a major source of inner turmoil, and the cultivation of lovingkindness helps us to be more compassionate and less reactive. The “blissful fading away of conditioned things” refers to the mind becoming purified of the delusion, aversion, and grasping tendencies that distort our view of the world and prevent us from experiencing true happiness.

Peace is the essence of the spiritual life

In yet another Dhammapada verse, the Buddha says that it’s by practicing peace, rather than by adopting the clothing, trappings, or lifestyle associated with “being religious” that one lives a truly spiritual life:

Alaṅkato ce’pi samaṃ careyya
Santo danto niyato brahmacārī
Sabbesu bhūtesu nidhāya daṇḍaṃ
So brāhmaṇo so samaṇo sa bhikkhu.
(Verse 142)

Which means,

Though well-dressed [i.e. not wearing the rags of a religious practitioner],
If he should live in peace, with restraint and self-control, living with pure ethics,
Laying aside violence towards all living beings,
He indeed is a holy one, a renunciate, a member of the spiritual community.

Taking peace into the world.

Living ethically is also both an expression of a peaceful state of being and a path to peace. In Buddhist ethical practice, this means abstaining from actions that cause harm to oneself or others. In other words, in Buddhist practice we cultivate inner peace but also take peace into the world by practicing lovingkindness and compassion, and by living ethically.

The bare minimum is trying to avoid causing physical harm through direct physical actions or through encouraging others to cause harm (the reason that I, and many other Buddhists, are vegetarians). This is the basis of the First Precept of Buddhism, which can also be expressed as practicing lovingkindness.

All the other Buddhist ethical precepts — not taking that which is not freely given; avoiding sexual misconduct; avoiding misleading speech; and avoiding intoxication — are ways of living out the first precept.

These Buddhist precepts are a key component of the Śāntimarga, or “Path of Peace.”

95 Comments. Leave new

  • T. S. Tawanda
    May 19, 2007 4:04 pm

    I was interested in “Shanti” because I just saw the movie “music and lyrics” on dvd. And one of the main characters would say “shanti, shanti” (the singer in the movie).
    I heard them make a reference to the Buddha (cause that’s the singer’s thing in the movie). I caught myself saying “Shanti, Shanti” a few times, quoting the girl in the movie, so I thought that I Google search the word to understand what it mean and came across …and now I understand!

    Thanks for giving me the knowledge!

  • Interestingly, a blogger who linked to Wildmind just wrote the following about the movie, “Children of Men.”

    There were a few nods toward Buddhism in the movie. One of the things that Kee and her female protector (I don’t recall her name) kept chanting in the car was Om Mani Padme Hung, probably the most well-known Tibetan Buddhist mantra. Jasper, the old male friend of Theo, said “Shanti, shanti, shanti” a few times, which is also a Buddhist mantra. I couldn’t quite understand what Kee’s female friend was saying on the bus, when the guard was harassing her, but it sounded more like a Christian prayer than a Buddhist mantra. Whatever the religion was supposed to be, I liked the nods to Buddhism. (From System 13)

    I must check these movies out.

  • Christianity is the true RELIGION!!!!!!

  • May you find peace, Hannah.

  • Buddha bless you my child

  • Thanks for the very informative article. Like T. S. Tawanda, I watched “Music and Lyrics” and wanted to know what the phrase “shanti shanti” meant. Thanks!

  • In Om shanti, ‘Om’ means myself i.e. in Sanskrit ‘Aham’ and ‘Shanti’ refere to Peace. Om shanti said i am a peaceful soul. All the soul are peaceful,loveful, pure, energitic,blissful.

  • We occasionally end some of our yoga classes with this short chant for peace. I did not know of the interpretation of the Threefold Peace of body, speech and mind as the rationale for chanting shanti 3 times, so I thank you for that newfound knowledge. Namaste.

  • Hello BK Akshaya,

    That’s an interesting theory, that Om means Aham (myself) but I have to say I’ve never seen anything that would support that notion. Do you have any sources you could quote that could back up that theory?

  • hi, hi, hi! Beautiful site.

  • Om… yes. I have found that there is more than meaning to the word: there is a direct function of the sound. When OM is sung with the ending as “ng”, with tongue touching the palate, there is vibration in the palate up into the head and pineal gland. When sung this way with the yearning of connection with the Divine, and then Beyond yearning, the singing and vibration instills and then one embodies That.

  • Lately I’m into a lot of Reggae, and Shpongle and hippie dressing.
    Then I watched the movie “Music and Lyrics” and the singer in the movie was Buddhist. I was inspired and decided to google buddhism, learn buddhist hymns, words and their way of living.
    Shanti, world.

  • Only page 1 of this article will print.

  • OM SHANTI. The word itself is so peacefull. Meditaion through these two words brings a lot of change in life. One thing i must admit. All great things, words. history comes from the Great Lands of India.

  • I too watched children of men. Throughout the movie Shanti was spoken…. quite a gruesome flick but It was a good one… a lot of very good points to be proven.
    Meditation for life, shanti

  • I just saw Children of Men as well. Loved Jasper, want his house, interesting discussion they had about truth. Anyone have any comments on Timothy Leary?

  • How can I play the mantras? I downlod the real player applicaton and stii does not work… please help

  • Watapana Pannaratana
    November 12, 2007 3:42 pm

    Shanti is a message of wisdom as it appear in 73 knowledges in Buddhas teachings. We call it Kanti Gnana which is equalent to Shanti in Sanskrit. The agitated mind get calm when we remind the words `take it easy. It is the same base to reming shanti the message of peace. Peace in words, deeds and thoughts which leads to peace and happiness.

  • Hi Is,

    I’m afraid we can’t offer much in the way ot technical support. With RealPlayer it should just be a case of clicking on the link. If that’s not working I don’t know what the problem could be.

    We do plan to convert the files to MP3, which would make them more universally accessible. It’s just a question of finding the time to do this. Unfortunately there’s always more to be done than there is the time to do it in.

    All the best,

  • Om shanti shanti shanti
    May the world be blessed with peace

  • Hi, The word ‘shanti’ may be originally from Pali, but it is not associated only with buddism. In fact the chant ‘om shanti om’ is a part of every Hindu’s life. From North to South, ‘Shanti’ (considered feminine) is a very common name for a woman in India.

  • Hi Smita,

    “Shanti” would originally be from Vedic Sanskrit, which is the language that Pali evolved from. Thanks for pointing out the importance of “shanti” in the lives of Hindus. Many terms (Shanti, Karma, Moksha, etc) are widely used across Indian traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, as well as in many traditions that have now vanished. Of course each tradition interprets the terms in different ways, which is largely why they’re different traditions.

  • Be it Buddhism, be it Hinduism, Shanti is a very common expression.
    Om is sometimes sung “aom” as aom includes all the sounds originating from a human body without moving your tongue. You can also feel each of them in different parts of the body, beginning from the naval area and ending up to the point of your nose.
    All this you can also feel in your hands and in your arms. I’m just learning it and feels so good. I’m waiting for much more to come. Shanti!

  • Hi Sam,
    The sensation of om/aum resonating through the body is particularly intense if you do overtone chanting, which may be what you’re doing. A former girlfriend of mine who was a professional singer taught me how to do this in a very rudimentary way by channeling the flow of air up into the nasopharynx. True experts can produce overtones that resemble a separate instrument!

  • Thank you very much for the lovely article. I believe that Santimagga is definitely a right path to pursue..

    Om Shanti..

  • Hello, nice site.
    I just saw that movie myself, music and lyrics, and I am seeing the world waking up more and more, as I have been doing the last time..hehe, Its acctually funny, cause i remember thinking it when i saw the buddha in the movie “Yess, Its small, but enough to awaken some curious hearts threw this movie” so i was sure that the cool singer would inspire some. I did not know about shanti either, but it felth like good energy, so its funny that I come across this movie in here, makes me happy.
    Om Shanti shanti shanti – Namaste
    And Amen to that.

  • Om shanti om…. ;)

    …. the alpha and the omega…

    ….no end….

    …. the Rainbow Serpent Journey… :)

  • Hi,
    funny, I also found the site after seeing “music and lyrics” :-) and because I wanted to know what shanti means. Thanks for the good informations! And congratulations for your site!

  • Famously The Waste Land by TS Eliot concludes with Shantih Shantih Shantih (sic), which is credited as the final line on the Upashinads, and said to be equivalent to “the peace that passeth all understanding”

  • Hi Ian,

    I had entirely forgotten about that. Thanks for the reminder.

  • My life has been altered lately with the loss of my fiance. My 18 year old son got a beautiful 8 week old black kitten for me. I named her Shanti as a reminder that through all of lifes turbulance, we need to seek our inner peace. There we will find strength. So thank you to God no matter what name you call him. One universal love. Om Shanti, Shanti Shanti.

  • merci pour la vidéo , om shanto shanti shanti !!!!!!

  • It is truly enlightening to read such beautiful experiences.
    May the Creator of all that is and is not yet bless you all ways. Om shanti shanti shanti.

  • Each day is a blessing to be discovered. Look into your childs eyes today, and for ten seconds be their age again. Remember. And then go explore under the rocks, and laugh with a child and from the child within. See all your blessings. Hold on to Love. Om, shanti, shanti, shanti

  • It amazes me how recently i have been drawn into this phrase. on a recent trip to blockbuster(love that place) i grabbed both music and lyrics and children of men, wierd combo i know. i had seen neither and then upon watching them the only thing they had in common was shanti shanti, i has already known the meaning of om, but not shanti shanti, for some reason these phrases just drew me in and had been lingering on my mind until i looked them up
    and now i understand the importance of them no wonder i was captivated by this phrase.

  • Nolan Stobinski
    July 23, 2008 6:59 pm

    Siddhartha Gautama Buddha once said this :

    ” Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace. “

  • Hi Nolan,

    Yeah, that’s a great verse from the Dhammapada. The word translated there as “brings peace” is the verb upasammati (meaning to grow calm, or to settle) rather than shanti, but although the terminology is different it’s essentially the same meaning.

    Thanks for thinking of us!

    All the best,

  • Namaste.
    Hare OM
    May there be Peace Peace perfect Peace.

    Hare Krsna

  • I like this website a lot. I just found it today while looking for different mantras. I noticed one that means (May all beings be free from mental suffering) this rings true to me because I do suffer from manic depression and going through a divorce which is not a stable thought for my mind. I have been learning about Buddhism for about 4 years now and find if calming. Out of all the mantras though this one is my favorite so far.
    Sabbe satta abya pajjha hontu

  • Om is in Romanian for human individual. It has a deeper meaning as it would mean all human individuals with one singular name. Om is when one is good. Om is one to be received as friend. An Om should be forgiven absolutely.

  • I just wanted to also point out that the “om” symbol (or the modern hindu symbol) is made from a conjuction of devanagari vowels for “a” (अ) and “u” (उ) and the chandrabindu “the moon + dot” (nasalitation of the vowel aka “m” sound) thus a proper iast transliteration should be auṃ.
    The romanian om is from latin homo which is derived from greek homos which means same or one. It is not impossible it is related, but I have not seen any reference to this.

  • Hi Are,

    You’re correct that om was originally AUM, but depending on which Indian language you’re dealing with, an “au” and an “o” can be equivalents. For example “Gautama” in Sanskrit is “Gotama” in Pali and no doubt in other Prakrits. Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary also says that “originally oṃ = āṃ” — I don’t know where that leaves us, though!

    It makes perfect sense that Romanian “om” is from Latin “homo.” I suppose it’s essentially the same transformation as “homo” > “homme” in French.

    I don’t think you’re correct though in saying that the Latin “homo” comes from the Greek “homos.” I understand that it comes from a Latin root meaning “earth” or “born” which essentially means that we are “earthlings,” I suppose!

    All the best,

  • What i meant was not the pronounciation or derivation, but how the symbol itself is a devanagari scripted word. I don’t disagree with you in that matter. In pali the “au” (devanagari औ) in gautama is of “o” in the brahmic scripts as “au” didn’t exist, so the “sanskrit” version is a transliteration from brahmic and probably sounded closer with “au” than “o” (devanagari ओ) for those who did the transliteration. The “au” vowel sounds like a pure vowel or diphthong depending on where in india you are, even within the same languages. And for those who are not confused enough yet “au” vowel is not the same as the “a” + “u” I mention in the previous comment which are two different vowels but conjuncted in the symbol. Where it leaves us, I don’t know. It is something divine for most indic religions and to declare one simple meaning or way, at least in this small space here. The sanskrit omkara (ओंकार or iast transliteration oṃkāra), the meaning “the om word” may imply a “simplified name” for the sound which is different from the way it is uttered.

    I had to read up more about the homo and I guess you are right that it is not a greek connection. But we are straying away here, so I leave it like this. :-)

    • Hi Are,

      No problem — it was quite clear you were talking about the devanagari characters. I was just adding that A-U-M is also said to be the original pronunciation of the word, and also that in Prakrits “au” has often evolved into “o” — and evidently in Sanskrit as regards “oṃ”. Presumably the devanagari is a reflection of an orginal pronunciation.

      All the best,

  • i as Miriam A posted on 6th August 2007 (day before my birthday btw lol) am also akin to Shpongle which funnily enough i was listening to when i came across this webpage and still am listening to while i type this comment lol, i would say this site rocks but it seems to be too mellow a place for that and so i will just say that this site om’s it to the max, om on peaceful people of the world and get your shpongle on lol, on a more personal footing i have a very strange inclination towards all faiths, religions and practices of all cultures and like to take the best bits from all and merge them into one so as to have really culturally full and understanding lifestyle which respects all others, Om to you one and all
    with love

  • p.s. Elizabeth R ? erm yes i am English but i’m not 80+, i’m not rich and my address is not Buckingham Palace lol, to put it a finer way, “One Is Not The Sovereign Monarch Of Her Majestys Beautiful Isle” :D
    peace to you always and keep “The Word” rolling from the tip of the tongue within your soul and not your mouth….

  • Peace and blessings:

    I am a buddhist practitioner and chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo as my primary practise, but I’m not “religious” about it as many
    other Nichiren Buddhists are. After having read your explanation of this mantra, I do think I’ll incorporate into my practise. I really liked hearing the mp3 file, and think this mantra is definitely helpful. Funny thing: I, too, first heard this in the movie Music and Lyrics and thought the character must’ve been making it up, since her character’s a bit of a bint–well, a well-meaning and clearly spiritually curious bint, but a bint nonetheless!

    Thank you, my brother, for your effort to teach and inspire buddhist practise. peace and blessings always. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo,
    Nam Myoho Renge Kyo!

    Please feel free to e-mail me if you would like to remain in touch.

    Be Peace,

  • I was just doing some spiritual exercises – a different chant, when the words….om shanti..came into my mind. Unsure of what the shanti meant I found your site. Thankyou for enligtening me.

  • I was looking up Mantras, which led me to this site. recently started to chant, I chant 5 mantras morning and night. Interestingly enough, I too watched Children of Men and Music and Lyrics, have to watch again, don’t remember Shanti in either movie. Found a new chant: Sabbe, Sattaa, Sukhi, Hontu. All beings happy, well may they be. Inner Peace has been my quest for the past 30 years. I finally have an inkling now at 56. Blessed Be to all, Namaste

  • Hi Eva,

    We have sabbe satta sukhi hontu here as well.

  • Namaste,
    I posted a comment here last feb and still it goes on. KEEP IT SIMPLE. may there be peace peace and perfect peace is the meaning and chanting is done all hours not stopping, chant is is talk. Just do it dont talk it ego


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Wildmind is a Community-Supported Meditation Initiative. Explore the benefits of becoming a supporter.