ASHTANGA OPENING MANTRA (Sanskrit)
vande gurunam caranaravinde
sandarsita svatma sukhava bodhe
nihsreyase jangali kayamane
samsara halahala moha santyai
sankha cakrasi dharinam
sahasra sirasam svetam
ASHTANGA OPENING MANTRA (Translation)
I pray to the lotus feet of the supreme guru
Who teaches knowledge, awakening the great happiness of the self-revealed.
Who acts like the jungle physician
Able to remove the delusion from the poison of conditioned existence.
To Patanjali, an incarnation of Adisesa, white in colour with a thousand radiant heads (in his form as the divine serpent, Ananta), human in form below the shoulders, holding the sword of discrimination, a wheel of fire representing infinite time, and the conch representing divine sound to him, I prostrate.
The Ashtanga Yoga Opening Mantra is a two part mantra: a thanks and dedication to all the teachers who have kept this beautiful Ashtanga Yoga practice alive for thousands of years; and the second part of the mantra is a specific thanks to Patanjali, who codified the yoga shastras during the Kali Durga.
The purpose of the opening prayer is to thank all the teachers that have kept yoga alives for thousands of years, thereby making it available for us to enjoy today. It also sets the intention for our practice to follow.
Ashtanga Opening Mantra comes from two separate mantras that have been put together. The first half of the prayer comes from Yoga Taravali, by Adi Shankaracharya. According to Shankaracharya, a yoga teacher is to lead the disciple from darkness to light, from the poison of existence to the nectar of enlightenment.
Vande Gurunam Caranaravinde
Sandarsita Svatma Sukhava Bodhe
Nih Sreyase Jangalikayamane
Samsara Halahala Mohasantyai
The second half of the prayer comes from Patanjali Mamtram – ‘Prayer to Patanjali’ which is performed each time Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras are recited and honors his contribution to the history of yoga.
Sahasra Sirasam Svetam