Lord Vishnu is part of the Hindu trinity (along with Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva) and is known as "the creator". The shaanta-kaaram mantra is a prayer in praise of the various attributes of Lord Vishnu, whose many incarnations have graced the earth over the millenia. The two most recent and well known incarnations are Lord Rama and Lord Krishna.

shaanta-kaaram bhujaga-shayanam padma-naabham suresham
vishwa-dhaaram gagana-sadrisham megha-varanam shubhaangam.
lakshmi-kaantam kamala-nayanam yogi-bhi-dhyaana-agamyam
vande vishnum bhava-bhaya-haram sarva-lokaika-naatham.
vishnu mantra in sanskrit

Meaning of the Vishnu Mantra

I sing praise to Lord Vishnu. 
He who has the peaceful (shaanta-) 
    demeanor and visage (-kaaram). 
He who sleeps and reposes (-shayanam) 
    on the serpents (bhujaga-).
He who has a lotus shaped (padma-) navel (-naabham).
He who is the master and lord 
    of all the gods (suresham).

I pray to the Lord Vishnu.
He who holds (-dhaaram) the 
    universe (vishwaa-) in his hands.
He whose vision (-sadrasham) exceeds 
    beyond all the skies (gagana-).
He whose color and visage (-varanam) is 
    changeable like the clouds (megha-).
And he who is filled with goodness (shubh-) 
    in every part (-aangam) of his body.

I sing praise to the Lord Vishnu.
He who is the husband (-kaantam) 
    of the goddess of wealth (-lakshmi).
He whose eyes (-nayanam) are surreal 
    like a lotus flower (kamala-).
And he who yogis yearn to reach (-agamyam) 
    through meditation (-dhyaana).

I sing praises (vande-) to the Lord Vishnu (-vishnum).
He who removes (-haram) all our fears (-bhaya) 
    due to our inborn nature (-bhava).
And he who is the master (-naatham) of the 
    entire (-sarva) universe and creation (-lokaika).

शांताकारं भुजगशयनं पद्मनाभं सुरेशं ।
विश्वाधारं गगनसदृशं मेघवर्णम् शुभाड्गं ।।
लक्ष्मीकातं कमलनयनं योगिभिध्यार्नगम्यं ।
वंदे विष्णुं भवभयहरं सर्वलोकैकनाथं ।।
Listen to the Shaantakaaram Mantra (mp3 100K, 24sec) Download a rendition of the Shaantakaaram Mantra in mp3 format from the "Nirankaar Naarayan" CD.
Listen to the Shaantakaaram Mantra (mp3 116K, 14sec) Download a rendition of the Shaantakaaram Mantra in mp3 format from the "Weaving my Ancestors' Voices" CD by Sheila Chandra.

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