Meaning Behind The Prayer - "Asato Ma Sadgamaya"

In this article I want to present the inner meaning and the origin of a famous prayer “Asato ma sadgamaya”. We know it from our childhood and everybody heard of this prayer for sure, and might not know to its meaning. This article will help you to understand the meaning of this prayer which should be share with our elder and younger siblings about its importance.

The prayer in Sanskrit

Asato ma sadgamaya
Tamaso ma jyotirgamaya
Mrtyorma amrtam gamaya

-Taken from Brhadaranyaka Upanishad — I.III.28.

Each line in English

Lead, me from LIE to TRUTH
Lead, me from DARKNESS to LIGHT
Lead, me from DEATH to IMMORTALTIY

Truth, existence and reality are one and the same, according to Advaita, In Indian philosophy the truth has been successfully dissected by its concept. Advaita says that in all the three periods if the truth exist means it is a real truth. If it is not existed in any of the form in any of the period means it is not an ultimate real.

The first line explains the same to us. Always we should remember to know ourselves. Ultimate goal is to attain the knowledge to know the reality in life. Once you are far away from all the un-realistic things like daily needs. So this is not a prayer asking money, shelter, food, fame, cloth, success, health etc.

So we have to decide which is true.

Pure bliss, pure consciousness and pure existence is said to be as reality.

The second line explains how to lead the life towards knowledge from ignorance which obscures our mind to understand the reality. As our body keeps generating the cells, our Universe with a constant flux, and the earth with constant distance at every moment of time with other astral bodies, we have to travel from darkness to light and death to life. It is also a constant change. Nothing in this world is constant. You feel happy, tomorrow you may be sad, yesterday you might have cried for something. These things are not at all real and constant. As like the universe is a constant change, we should be too.

As we know already that energy nor created or destroyed like soul. We shouldn't be very keen to love this body. It is unreal. Our soul is real. That's a constant change. This is the meaning given in the third line of the prayer.

We are leading life journey of knowledge. To know what is self, and to know what we misunderstood from what is truly "I" .

What the mantras really means is "God, please lead me to the understanding that I am not the limited body, mind and intellect, but I am, was and always will be that eternal, absolute, blissful consciousness that serves as their substratum."

-With the help of Vedanta.


Guest Author: samarth12 Apr 2013

Do you know the origin of this shloka? Where was it written first in Bhagvad Gita or vedas?

Guest Author: K.V.Srihari05 Jun 2015

This is the a capsule version of all the philosophy, and can be said that it is not the motto of Hinduism alone, but addressed to humanity. It invisages the mind to be open, learn and seek continuously to expand, and merge with the supreme power. Like other religions, it does not advise people to doggedly follow the dictats, but to be open minded, and wishes the welfare of entire universe.

Guest Author: S.M.20 Jun 2015

Please note the holy books of the Hindus are the Vedas and not Bhagavth Gita. The commentaries of Hinduism is found in the Upanishads. In Vedas the gods are Indra, Varuna, Vayu and Agni. None of the current gods like Rama, Krishna etc. are there. The Hinduism, that is practiced today, came after the Bhakti movement well after the eighth century. There were no temples in either the early Veda era or the later Vedic era. Hindus copied the Buddhists and the Jain and started to build temples. Get your facts right. Didn't listen to fools like Niranjan Jyothi, Sakshi Maharaj.

Guest Author: KR01 Dec 2015

So, basically you're saying that also Srila Prabuphada was a fool and his teachings meaningless?

Guest Author: S K Paul19 Dec 2015

Every being has its own stage on his life circle according to his past doings. As per his "Karma" he should to respond. So please don't pass any comments about anybody's faith etc. Let give freedom to practice his or his Guru's Path. It's like a Stair to go up a high rise building. Mr. K V Srihari is in an advanced stage and we others commenting here are yet to come on that stage. Rather then fighting among ourselves, please follow honestly what we believe. Mr. S M, Gita is the Gist of Veda & Upanishads. Please try to achieve the meaning of only the above Mantra.

Guest Author: Johnson maddhu19 Mar 2017

Please tell me who wrote this shloka and for who was this mantra was written?

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