By Swami Harshananda
Types of Śāntis
- Abhayaśānti for a king who wants to conquer others or protect himself against the machinations of the enemies
- Saumyaśānti for health
- Vaiṣṇavīśānti to offset the effects of an earthquake or famine
- Raudrīśānti against epidemics or ghosts
- Brāhmīśānti against the spread of atheism
- Vāruṇīśānti against drought
- Kaumārīśānti for the welfare of children
- Āgneyīśānti to ward off the fear of fire-accidents
- Yāmyaśānti when there is the fear of accidental death
- Kauberīśānti when wealth is lost
- Pārthivīśānti when trees are affected by abnormal conditions
Some Special Śāntis
Gajaśānti is of two types. They are:
- The first one is with a simple procedure. It is done to restore a sick elephant to health.
- The second one is described in detail in the Agnipurāṇa is aimed at making the royal elephant strong, powerful and inspired so that it protects the king in a battle.
This is performed to offset the effects of mishaps indicated by the occurrences such as the falling of meteors or to facilitate the coronation of a king or his victory in a battle and so on. A yajña is performed on a raised platform mostly using mantras from the Ṛgveda. The yajamāna takes a ceremonial bath at the end. Holy water used in the rite is sprinkled over him.
Navagrahaśānti, is also called as Navagrahamakha. It is performed to the images of the nine planets made out of nine different kinds of materials. It is meant to offset the evil effects of the planets. The aspects of Navagrahaśānti are:
It is also known as puṣyābhiṣeka or bārhaspatyasnāna, this rite is reserved for the well-being of kings. Purṇimā associated with the Puṣya nakṣatra. It is the best day for the performance of this śānti. Some of the more important steps of this rite are as follows:
- Selecting a suitable spot for the performance of this rite
- Drawing a maṇḍala
- Keeping various articles on it at appropriate places
- Homa with special oblations into the fire
- Sprinkling clarified butter and holy water on the king seated nearby with mantras
- Release of prisoners and animals meant for slaughter
It is also called as Ugrarathaśānti. It has to be performed by one who has completed sixty years of age. Its aim is to ward off the diseases and death and make him live up to a hundred years. It should be performed in the month of his birth and on the day associated with the nakṣatra of his birth. Some of the steps involved in this rite are:
- Worship of a small golden image of Mṛtyu
- Japa of certain Vedic mantras
- Oblations of cooked food with appropriate mantras
- Sprinkling the yajamāna with holy water from the established jars
The birth of a girl after three successive births of boys or of a boy after three successive births of girls was supposed to indicate harm to the family like a death or loss of wealth or some other catastrophe. The Trikaprasavaśānti is to be performed at the earliest on an auspicious day. This rite aimed at offsetting the evil consequences. Some of the steps involved in this rite are as follows:
- Worship to the golden images of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Śiva and Indra
- Homa with the mantras from the Ṛgveda
- Homa with the mantras from the Taittiriya Samhitā
- Donating a cow
- Usual dakṣiṇā to the chief priest
This is a comprehensive and popular rite which is practiced even now. It is performed for averting the consequences of many evil happenings and for securing good health and a happy life. It is an elaborate ritual involving many Vedic mantras, both from the Samhitās and the Brāhmaṇas.
The date for the performance of the śānti is determined by the nakṣatra of the yajamāna or the performer in his horoscope. The chief priest is generally assisted by an even number of brāhmaṇas. The śāntijala is prepared by him by dipping two kuśa grass blades in the kumbha and chanting the appropriate mantras. At the end, the sanctified water is sprinkled over the performer and others for whose sake it may have been performed.
This śānti which is performed in the modern days also. It has to be done on the same day or the previous day of gṛhapraveśa. The actual day has to be fixed as per the nakṣatra of the owner. Grahamakha and the usual rites of worship of Gaṇeśa are part of this śānti.
Some of the steps involved in performing this rite are as follows:
- A maṇḍala of 81 squares is drawn and 62 deities are invoked to be present.
- Sprinkling of water made holy by appropriate mantras surrounding the new building thrice with a thread to the accompaniment of suitable mantras from the Ṛgveda
- Digging a pit in the āgneya or the south-east corner and filling it with seven sacred articles
- Ceremonial entry into the house by the owner along with his family
Though what cannot be cured will have to be endured, invoking the grace of the Divine, will definitely help in reducing, if not eliminating, the effects of unforeseen mishaps. This spirit is the core of the various śāntis prescribed by the scriptures. These rites are still being resorted to is proof enough for their efficacy.
- Agnipurāṇa Chapter 291
- Purṇimā is the full-moon day.
- Maṇḍala is a geometrical diagram of mystical significance.
- Mṛtyu means death; Yama
- Taittiriya Brāhmaṇa 184.108.40.206
- Ṛgveda 7.59.12
- Ṛgveda 1.22.17
- Taittiriya Samhitā 220.127.116.11
- Nakṣatra means star.
- Śāntijala means propitiatory water.
- Kumbha means pot of water.
- Gṛhapraveśa is the formal entering into a newly-built house, by the yajamāna or owner.
- Nakṣatra means birth-star.
- Grahamakha is a rite for propitiating the nine grahas or planets
- Maṇḍala means mystical diagram.
- Ṛgveda 4.4.1-15; 9.1.1-10
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore