Understanding the Panchakshari Mantra: Om Nama Shivaya

The Panchakshari mantra embodies the elements and much more!

The Most Famous 5-syllables you know

The Panchakshari mantra means the five syllable mantra. It is well known to all as Nama Shivaya. The Om is added to the beginning of most mantras for chanting.

It translates to I prostrate before Auspiciousness. It occurs in the very heart of the Rudraprasna sloka, in the middle of the Krishna Yajur Veda. Symbolically, it is therefore the essence of the entire Veda.

The deeper meanings

Whilst apparently conveying a simple concept, the tiny mantra is actually the product of thousands of years of meditation by the ancient Rishis (holy seers). The syllables are packed with power and the mantra in entirety is known as a bija (or primordial sound) itself.

An offering of the meanings from Shivaya Subramanya Swami are below:

  • Na – corresponds to the Lord’s maya (or concealing power)
  • Ma – the entire universe
  • Shi – short for Shiva
  • Va – the Lord’s ability to reveal the workings of the universe
  • Ya – the supreme soul
As another interpretation, it contains all the elements:
  • Na – Earth
  • Ma – Water
  • Shi – Fire
  • Va – Air
  • Ya – Ether or space
Yet another interpretation is that the syllables each correspond to the chakras – starting from the root chakra and ending in the head chakra.
The benefits:

The mantra can:

  • Dissolve your bad karma
  • Enlighten you
  • Invites auspiciousness into your life
  • Generate immense spiritual power

No particular initiation is needed of this mantra, but some explanation from a Guru is always beneficial in providing food for contemplation – as touched upon above.

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