The Pavamana Mantra (pavamāna meaning "being purified, strained", historically a name of Soma), also known as pavamāna abhyāroha (abhyāroha, lit. "ascending", being an Upanishadic technical term for "prayer"[1]) is an ancient Indian mantra introduced in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (1.3.28.)[2] The mantra was originally meant to be recited during the introductory praise of the Soma sacrifice by the patron sponsoring the sacrifice.[3]

Text and TranslationEdit

The text of the mantra reads:

असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर् मामृतं गमय ।
asato mā sadgamaya,
tamaso mā jyotirgamaya,
mṛtyor mā'mṛtaṃ gamaya,

This translates to:

From falsehood lead me to truth,
From darkness lead me to the light,
From death lead me to immortality.

These three statements are referred to as the three Pavamana Mantras. Some modern renderings add (oṃ) at the beginning and ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥ (oṃ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ śāntiḥ, 'om peace peace peace') as a fourth line, but these are not present in the original Upanishadic text.

Sanskrit word meaningEdit

  • asataḥ — "from falsehood"; ablative case of asat "falsehood", from a (negation) + sat "truth"; becomes asato due to sandhi
  • — "me"; first person pronoun, singular number, accusative case
  • sat — "to truth"; accusative case of sat "truth"; here accusative case shows the destination; see also Sat (Sanskrit); becomes sad due to sandhi
  • gamaya — "lead"; causative, imperative mood, active voice, singular number, second person of root gam "to go".
  • tamasaḥ — "from darkness"; ablative case of tamas "darkness"; becomes tamaso due to sandhi
  • jyotiḥ — "to light"; accusative case of jyotis "light"; becomes jyotir due to sandhi
  • mṛtyoḥ — "from death"; ablative case of mṛtyu "death"; see also Mrtyu; becomes mṛtyor due to sandhi
  • amṛtaṃ — "to immortality"; accusative case of amṛta "immortal", literally "not dead", from a (negation) + mṛta "dead"; becomes 'mṛtaṃ due to vowel elision.

The Sanskrit term sat, which means "truth" or "what is existing, real", has a range of important religious meanings including "truth" or "the Absolute, Brahman". The passage immediately following the mantra explicitly identifies the unreal and darkness with death and the real and light with immortality, saying that all three portions of the mantra have the same meaning of "Make me immortal."[3] In the interpretation of Swami Krishnananda (1977), "From the nonexistent, from the unreal, from the apparent, lead me to the other side of it, the Existent, the Real, the Noumenon." According to this interpretation and in keeping with the philosophy of Vedanta, the text rejects the material world as "unreal", "dark" and "dead" and invokes a concept of the transcendental reality.[4]


  1. ^ Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit Dictionary (1899)
  2. ^ Brhadaranyaka-Upanisad (Brhadaranyakopanisad), Kanva recension; GRETIL version, input by members of the Sansknet project (formerly: Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Trans. Patrick Olivelle, Upaniṣads. Oxford University Press, 2008.
  4. ^ Krishnananda 1977: "The light that we see in this world is really a form of darkness, [...] all forms of life are forms of death only. They are not realities. The sunlight is not real light, because it is not intelligent. [...] So, the prayer is for a total rise from this involved, insufficient, conditioned 'being' to the absolutely independent, unconditioned 'Being' which is simultaneously Sat, Jyotir and Amrtam – Existence, Light, Enlightenment, Consciousness, Omniscience and Immortality. No rebirth is possible there. "
  • Swami Krishnananda, The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (1977) (
  • Ram K. Piparaiya, Ten Upanishads of Four Vedas, New Age Books (2003), p. 101.
  • "Meaning of the mantra Asatoma Ma Sadgamaya". Retrieved 1 November 2016.