The Asatoma Prayer

If you’ve been in one of my classes or workshops, then you know that chanting is an integral part of my teaching.  The Asatoma Prayer it is the chant used to begin my classes.  I learned this chant as part of my studying with Gurudev, Yogi Amrit Desai, and I continue to chant it to not only begin classes but also at the start of my own daily sadhanaasatoma I’ve received a couple of requests for more information about the Asatoma Prayer recently; so, here we are.

First, don’t get hung up on the word prayer.  The Asatoma Prayer is a humble request directed at your own Higher Self, the Guru within you.  Patañjali refers to the Guru within as the Witness or Seer.  This is that which exists before life and after death.  Gurudev calls this the Guru, Source, Higher Self or God-within.  In LDS terms, this is spirit.

Sanskrit English
Asatoma Sadgamaya Lead me from the unreal to the real
Tamasoma Jyotir Gamaya Lead me from darkness to light
Mrityorma Amritam Gamaya Lead me from time bound consciousness to timeless state of be-ing
Guru Brahma The Guru is Brahma, Creator
Guru Vishnu The Guru is Vishnu, Preserver
Guru Devo Maheshvarah The Guru is Shiva, Transformer
Guru Sakshat Param Brahma The Guru is the Supreme Absolute
Tasmai Shri Guruve Namaha Salutations to that beloved Guru
OM, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti OM, Peace, Peace, Peace

MP3 of Ramdas chanting the Asatoma Prayer

Asatoma Sadgamaya

Lead me from the unreal to the real.  We all have stories that we make up about everyday life.  These stories color our vision so we can’t see what’s really happening right in front of us.  This is a reminder for us to practice truth.

Tamasoma Jyotir Gamaya

Lead me from darkness to light.  To one degree or another, we live in the darkness of ignorance.  While we might be unintentionally ignorant, in the dark, about what is going on around us; we are often wilfully ignorant of what is going on within us.  This is a reminder that if we do not practice self-study, we will be left in the dark.

Mrityorma Amritam Gamaya

Lead me from time bound consciousness to timeless state of be-ing. This is Gurudev’s interpretation of this line.  The actual translation is “Lead me from death to immortality” but that’s not a very practical translation.  Death becomes a time bound consciousness, one that is limited by time or is consumed with the past or the future.  Immortality becomes timeless state of be-ing, one that is not limited by the constraints of life or death but is fully alive and engaged in this present moment, now.  One cannot live the memories of yesterday nor the fantasies of tomorrow.  One can only live now.  When does now end?  When did it begin?  We are reminded that Yoga is stilling the mind so as to be fully Present now.

Guru Brahma, Guru Vishnu, Guru Devo Maheshvarah

The Guru is Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.  These three Hindu deities represent the powers of creation, preservation and transformation that lie within each one of us.  We each have to power to create, sustain and transform every experience we have.  You might say, “Outside forces work on me every day.  How can you say I create my experiences when I have no control over what happens to me?”  True, if I give you an ice cream, you have no control over that.  You do, however, create your experience of my giving you an ice cream.  If the day is hot, you might create a pleasant experience.  If you have just vowed to give up ice cream for a year, you might create a painful experience.  The ice cream remains the same.  You then have the power to sustain that experience or to transform it into something else.

Guru Sakshat Param Brahma

The Guru is the Supreme Absolute.  The Guru—Source, Witness, spirit—is eternal.  The circumstances surrounding it—sickness, health, youth, old age, poverty, wealth—will change but the Guru remains.

Tasmai Shri Guruve Namaha

Salutations to that beloved Guru.  We welcome the True Guru into our lives.  Yes, the Guru is already and has always been within each of us but we consciously acknowledge that there is something more than this identity that we have created so far in this life.

OM, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

OM (represents everything), Peace, Peace, Peace.  For me, this line has a beautiful triple meaning:  First, everything that has been chanted to this point is designed to create peace.  Second, everything that is about to occur in my sadhana is designed to create peace.  Third, everything is designed to create peace.

For me, the Asatoma Prayer is a source of great strength and peace.  I hope that it will bring you a sense of peace and quiet strength as well.

Jai Bhagwan

  • Monica

    I love the Asatoma! I often find myself singing at random points during the day.

    • Chanting is a regular part of my day too and it shows up for so many reasons.

  • I appreciate very much your sharing so much of yourself. It is very helpful to me and mine.
    Thank you. :). Love the insight into the prayer.

    • Thank you Debbie! Much love to you and yours. 🙂

  • Maria

    You have helped spur me on my journey, refreshed and cleansed me. Thank you. Much love and light to you

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  • Kondazhy

    Jesus Christ said
    “I am the Truth, I am the Light and I am the Life”.

    So answer of this prayer is JESUS CHRIST. Please accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

    May God Bless you