Om Namah Shivaya

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The OM namaḥ Śivāya mantra written in Devanagari

Om Namah Shivaya (Sanskrit Oṃ Namaḥ Śivāya ॐ नमः शिवाय) (Tamil Om Nama civaaya ஓம் நமசிவாய ) is one of the most popular Hindu mantra and the most important mantra in Shaivism.

Its translation is "adoration (namas) to Śiva", preceded by the mystical syllable "Aum". Om Namah Shivaya mantra is sung by devotees in prayers and recited by yogis in meditation. It is associated with qualities of prayer, divine-love, grace, truth and blissfulness.

Traditionally, it is accepted to be a powerful healing mantra beneficial for all physical and mental ailments. Soulful recitation of this mantra brings peace to the heart and joy to the [Ātman] or Soul. Sages consider that the recitation of these syllables is sound therapy for the body and nectar for the soul [Ātman].

It is also called Panchakshara, or Panchakshari, the "five-syllable" mantra (viz., excluding the Om). Panchakshari Mantra Namaḥ Śivāya is the most holy salutation to Śiva. The Panchakshara can be recited by Shiva devotees during pooja, Japa, Dhyana, homa and while smearing Vibhuti.

The Tamil Saivaite hymn Tiruvacakam begins with the five letters 'na' 'ma' 'ci' 'vaa' 'ya'.It is part of the Shri Rudram Chamakam, a Hindu prayer taken from the Yajurveda, and thus predates the use of Shiva as a proper name, in the original context being an address to Rudra (later Shiva), where śiva retains its original meaning as an adjective, meaning "auspicious, benign, friendly", a euphemistic epithet of Rudra.

Interpretation in modern Shaivaism[edit]

Shiva absorbed in meditation, as depicted commonly in Hinduism

According to Hindu traditions, the human body is made up of five natural elements and these holy letters represent these elements. Shiv Panchakshari Mantra, Namaḥ Śivāya is said to have evolved from the five seeds of aforesaid natural elements.

Na energizes the Prithvi Tatva (Earth element)

Ma energizes the Jal Tatva (Water factor)

Shi energizes Agni Tatva (Fire element)

Va energizes Vayu Tatva (Air factor) and

Ya energizes Akash Tatva (Sky element).

Finally, Om' purifies Bramhatatva and Crown Chakra.

As explained by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami as follows:

Namaḥ Śivāya is the most holy name of God Śiva, recorded at the very centre of the Vedas and elaborated in the Śaiva Agamas.

Na is the Lord's concealing grace, Ma is the world, Śi stands for Śiva, Va is His revealing grace, Ya is the soul. The five elements, too, are embodied in this ancient formula for invocation. Na is earth, Ma is water, Śi is fire, Vā is air, and Ya is ether, or Ākāśa. Many are its meanings.

Namaḥ Śivaya has such power that the mere intonation of these syllables reaps its own reward in salvaging the soul from bondage of the treacherous instinctive mind and the steel bands of a perfected externalized intellect. Namaḥ Śivāya quells the instinct, cuts through the steel bands and turns this intellect within and on itself, to face itself and see its ignorance. Sages declare that mantra is life, that mantra is action, that mantra is love and that the repetition of mantra, japa, bursts forth wisdom from within.

The holy Natchintanai proclaims, "Namaḥ Śivāya is in truth both Āgama and Veda. Namah Śivāya represents all mantras and tantras. Namaḥ Śivaya is our souls, our bodies and possessions. Namaḥ Śivāya has become our sure protection."
—Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami[1]

Popular culture[edit]

In her autobiographical memoir, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (2007), Elizabeth Gilbert explained that the first chant provided by her Guru was "Om Namah Shivaya."[2] Gilbert wrote that this meant "I honor the divinity within me."[3]

Television serial[edit]

Om Namah Shivay was also a TV serial telecasted on an Indian TV Channel, DD National (DD-1).

Movie the movie "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" Lord Shiva's statue comes to life and warns that anyone who tries to destroy the cave will perish in water and fire. stating that "I protect this universe whom Bramha created Vishnu the giver and I will destroy it, but I also will destroy all evil in this universe."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Subramuniyaswami, Sivaya. "Mandala 28: Affirmations of Faith". Dancing With Shiva. SLOKA 137: Himalayan Academy Pubns. ISBN 978-0945497974. 
  2. ^ Elizabeth Gilbert (2007). Eat, Pray, Love. p. 133. 
  3. ^ "Other Prayers: Aum Namah Shivaya Mantra". Retrieved September 9, 2010. 

External links[edit]