August 13, 2007

The Sanskrit Prayer

There is a Sanskrit prayer which I learnt when I studied in a government school called the 'Central School'. We chanted this prayer after the 'school prayer' during the morning assembly. Central Schools are presently known as 'Kendriya Vidyalayas' which means 'Central Schools' in the Hindi language. Central Schools were started sometime in 1965 for the children of the personnel of the Armed Forces. The curriculum was similar in all these schools. This made it easier for the children to move from one school to another when their father was transferred to remote places. So the family could be together. There were many memorable and happy moments when I studied in these schools. Years later my children too studied in the Kendriya Vidyalayas in different parts of India. By then so many things had changed. The number of children in each class had increased. The teaching had become indifferent. The Science laboratories had lesser facilities…. But one thing remained the same - the Sanskrit prayer.

This is the prayer - "Asato Ma Sadgamaya, Tamaso Ma Jyotir-Gamaya, Mrityor-Ma Amritam Gamaya, Om Shanti Shanti Shantih!" which transalated in English is … "Lead me from the unreal to the Real; Lead me from darkness to the Light; Lead me from mortality to Immortality. Om Peace! Peace! Peace!

Some evenings my daughter sings this prayer after she lights the prayer lamp. The melody of her voice and the way of chanting evokes so much of peace in our home. She chants this prayer silently along with other prayers when she travels by bus or goes for a walk in the evening. She says that it helps her to reduce the intensity of the feelings and thoughts which sometimes arise from within.

Thank you for all your comments, for sharing your thoughts and experiences in response to - The Indian Institute of Technology and Mental Illness.

Anshul , It must have been a terrible a shock for you when your batch mate died. You are so right, there is big need for more in-depth reporting about suicides and depression in India.

Jayanthi, you had written - "It is also sad that most of our children, who are have made the mistake of taking sciences are coming out of our schools as mental wrecks." Yes this is thought provoking. For instance all children who score very high marks in Science in the Class Ten Board Exams do not do well after choosing Science Subjects as Electives in Class Eleven. I wonder if this has something to do with the huge amount of subject content to study in Science subjects in Class Eleven and Twelve compounded by the inadequate facilities for Science teaching in most schools in our country.

Sudeep, I don’t know how this blog came in the but thank you for the encouraging comments. Yes there is very little emphasis on emotional intelligence in most schools. As you have written "a place to learn to understand and handle mental and emotional issues" would help.

Jayanth, these are very interesting topics that you have written about -the immense changes within the IITs - attitudes, approach to teaching, relationship between the teacher and the student. And of course the dilemmas teachers have to face these days. I think it was Marie Curie who had said, "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." From the way you write you seem to have a great deal of understanding of what children have to go through these days. I can understand your fears.

Posted by survivor at August 13, 2007 05:32 AM



Stumbled here while searching for depression related blog from India. I have been reading the past posts with much interest as so much of what you write about deeply resonates with my own experience.

I was wondering if you have an email address at which to contact or write to you at, since one is not given on the blog.

With warm regards and best wishes,


Posted by: ecstatichappy at August 21, 2007 04:23 AM

just to say I am one of your readers.

I too have someone very close in my family with similar symptoms.
I have been trying to support him for twenty years now, as much as I can but unfortunately from a long distance away.

I am well aware of the stigma, the ridicule that goes with it in India, and how little support there. Medicines and pills are not all.

Well, such is life, and we will have to do the best we can.

I have you on my blogroll, and will come to read your blogs whenever I can,

best wishes,
little indian.

Posted by: little indian at August 23, 2007 06:15 AM

i would like to see the prayer we used to chant it was like aa sharde ma aa sharde maa agayanta se hame taar dena , tu swar ki devi yeh sangeet tujh se .........i really appreciate if someone can post the prayer here or send me on my e-mail its

Posted by: jyoti at September 1, 2007 12:25 PM

Hi Indian Mother

I like the Sanskrit prayer. I've printed it to place on my fridge to remind myself daily of the prayer. Thank you for writing it down for all of us to read.

My daughter Cassie is due soon to have her baby. She is due November 9th. Please pray for her and her unborn child that the baby will be mentally and physically healthy when born and that Cassie will not suffer any psychotic episodes after her baby is born.

I think of you and your family often. In fact I shared your story with one of my new friends at work. He's an American and lived in India for two years. He loved your country. He thought the Indian people were so gracious and kind.


Posted by: yaya at September 21, 2007 02:07 PM

Hi Indian Mother,

I have your prayer printed and have pinned in my work space at work. As you know I'm recently divorced and have to work to support myself. Since I haven't worked in a several years I've been very nervous at my new job. I'm worried I won't learn everything I need to know. Today I used your prayer to calm myself down at work.

In my training class I'm the oldest woman there and I'm a bit intimidated how quickly young people learn so your prayer was very helpful.

Posted by: yaya99 at September 22, 2007 10:47 AM

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