The Concept of Swasti or Wellbeing in Hinduism

Swasti, Benediction

by Jayaram V

A Vedic Prayer of Swasti: Aum, bhadram karnebhih srunuyāma devāh || Bhadram pasyema aksabhir yajatrāh || Sthirair angais tustuvām sastanūbhih || Vvyasema devahitam yadāyuh || Swasti na indro vridhasravāh || Swasti nah pūsā viswavedāh || Swasti nastārksyo aristanemih|| Swasti no brihaspatir dadhātu || Aum, santih, santih, santih ||

Meaning: Aum! May our ears hear what is good and auspicious. May our eyes see what is good and auspicious. For the sake of gods, may we fully live the ordained span of our lives with good health and strength. May Indra who is extolled in the Vedas, Pusan, the lord of the world, Tarksya, who saves us from harm, Brihaspati who fosters our intelligence grant us prosperity as we are engaged in the study of the scriptures and the practice of truths in them. Aum peace here, peace above and peace all around.

Swasti is a benediction or a blessing seeking the Wellbeing of people and places. It is a declaration of faith in God and in soul. One may use it to invite peace and Wellbeing or drive away negative and destructive forces. It is a standard, spiritual expression, which is used in social interactions and religious congregations to express one's good intentions or positive feelings. Besides, it is also a good karma of the mind and speech.

Elders may use it to bless the younger ones wishing their welfare. Teachers may use to bless their students for success, or the priests may use it to bless the hosts of the sacrifice for their generosity and commitment to Dharma. Priests may use to sing the glories of gods and seek their blessings. Swasti exemplifies auspicious speech and the purity of intention. It symbolizes sacrifice as a way of life through the use of speech.

The word is also used as a greeting to begin a conversation or a discourse, or to end it. Any good speech or utterance of positive words constitutes swasti. It is also a remembrance or acknowledgement of the Supreme Being who is inherent in all creation and within oneself, and who is responsible for upholding Dharma and for the order and regularity of the existence itself.

Swa means one’s own, belonging to oneself, innate, inherent, natural and inborn. It is also a reference to the soul. Asthi means present, what is, existing and being. Therefore, swasthi (svasti) means self-existence, the fact that one is alive and awake. In Sanskrit, swasti is used as an affirmation, blessing or declaration, meaning, “may you be good,” “maybe it good.”

Swasti is a reference to the presence of the Self in one’s own body. Its mere presence ensures life, consciousness, and Wellbeing of each living being. Without Self, the body is impure, not well, not alive. Swasti is an acknowledgement that all is well with the world and an affirmative wish that the sound state of things may continue by the grace of the one (God or Self) who is present in all.

Swasti is also used as the first letter before any writing, just as Aum is used before any mantra to impart to it an auspicious quality. Swāstya refers to sound health, self-dependence, fortitude, wellbeing, etc. Swasti is that which contributes to it and is responsible for it.

In Vedic times, certain rites were performed to secure peace and prosperity, or certain mantras were chanted to drive away evil forces and welcome the auspicious ones. They were called swasti ayanam. Swasti vacanam refers to the recitation of peace mantras to invoke gods and seek their blessings. Swasti vachakam refers to the act of congratulating a person with flowers or presents for the good that happen.

In Hinduism āsthi denotes the theistic belief in the existence of God and souls. Its opposite is nāsthi, which represents the atheistic belief in the nonexistence of God. For example, the Vedanta school is āsthi (theistic) tradition, the Charvaka or the Lokayata tradition is a nāsthi (atheistic) tradition.

The word Swastika is derived from the word swasti. It refers to the mystic symbol, which is usually associated with goddess Lakshmi, peace and prosperity. It is used to purify places and attract peace and prosperity. Hindus paint swastika symbols on walls and furniture, in offices, houses and in places of worship, on books, business registers, money-chests, etc. Swastika also has several other meanings. For more information on the word Swastika, please check the links below in the Further Reading section.

Suggestions for Further Reading

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