Lord Shiva is a supreme God of the Hindu pantheon. He remains as one among the trinity of Gods who perform the 3 fundamental functions of the universe – creation, protection, and destruction. Though Shiva is regarded as the God of destruction or dissolution, he terminates only to refresh, rejuvenate, and recreate.
Shiva is a compassionate God, who can be easily pleased by virtuous behavior and sincere devotion. And once he gets pleased with a devotee, there can virtually be no end to the benefits that he can heap on him and add to his life. Hence it is no surprise that Lord Shiva remains one of the very well worshipped Gods of our land, where innumerable temples have been constructed for him, and rituals and prayers are conducted in his honor.
And Om Namah Shivaya is a prayer addressed to this great Lord.
There are innumerable Mantras, Slokas, or hymns addressed to him, but Om Namah Shivaya remains perhaps as the most fundamental of those dedicated to this supreme divinity. And this Mantra also happens to be one of the most important and powerful ones used in Shiva worship.
Om Namah Shivaya is a Vedic hymn that finds mention in the Sri Rudram Mantra of Yajur Veda. This is a very ancient prayer that is in practice for thousands of years. This Mantra appears in Namakam in Taittriya Samhita of the Krishna Yajurveda, too, as Namah Shivaya, that is, without the first word ‘Om.’
While this Mantra is recited with great devotion and faith throughout the length and breadth of our vast land, people also chant it with slight variations, such as Om Namasivaya, or Omnamasivaya, depending on the uniqueness of the tradition and language of a particular region.
Om Nama Shivaya Meaning:
The Om Namah Shivaya Mantra takes the sacred name of the Lord and offers salutations to him. The Mantra can simply mean ‘I bow down to Shiva’ or ‘I venerate Lord Shiva.’
Yes, its meaning looks quite simple, but its implications are profound.Let us try to understand the Om Namah Shivaya Mantra in greater depth now. Here, the initial term ‘Om’ itself remains a Mantra, called Pranava Mantra. It is said that before the creation of the universe, there was nothing but a void there. And Om emerged out of this void as the first vibration and a precursor to creation that soon followed.‘Namah’ is bowing down in salutation. And ‘Shivaya’ is Lord Shiva, who is the inner self.
Om Nama Shivaya Significance:
But the term ‘Namah Shivaya’ has a much broader connotation. This is said to signify the Pancha Bhoota Tatva, the phenomenon of the five fundamental elements of nature – the earth, water, fire, air, and space- that make up the universe.
In this, ‘Na’ denotes the earth, ‘Mah’ water, ‘Shi’ fire, ‘Va’ air, and ‘Ya’ the sky, space, or the ether. This Mantra thus denotes the Lord’s oneness with the five elements and thus, asserts that he is the universe itself. This also signifies the philosophical principle that the universe with all its diversities remains a single entity and that its consciousness is one, which is divine.
Having seen how ‘Namah Shivaya’ pervades the universe, it should be no surprise that it permeates our physical frames too.
Our bodies consist of many Chakras, which can be defined as energy centers. Of these, 7 are considered very important and are known as the primary Chakras. And Namaha Shivaya is associated with 5 of these.
The Muladhara Chakra or the Root Chakra is located at the base of the spinal cord and signifies earthiness, solidity, and emotional survival and stability. The first syllable ‘Na’ rests on this energy center, and stimulates it.
Above this, is the Swadhishtana Chakra or the Sacral Chakra, located slightly below the navel region, and representing the element, water. ‘Ma’ of the Mantra relates to this energy center, which stands for desire and emotional-level sexuality.
‘Shi’ reaches out to the third primary Chakra known as the Manipura or the Solar Plexus. This is located above the navel region, represents fire, and stands for personal power.
Anahata, the Heart Chakra, is the fourth in the order of primary Chakras and is located at the heart center. With air as its element, it helps human beings rise above animal instincts, and opens the doors for the noble feeling of love. And the syllable ‘Va’ of the Mantra can link up to this point and energize it.
And ‘Ya’ rises further up to the fifth primary Chakra, the Vishuddha or the Throat Chakra. This energy center is associated with space and deals with speech, and expression and the Mantra can stimulate it to better effectiveness.
Om Nama Shivaya Benefits:
‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is a short and simple hymn. There are no conditions or restrictions attached to its recitation. All it requires is sincerity, devotion, and faith, and people are required to chant this Mantra with full focus and a sense of total surrender. However, it is a traditional practice to repeat the Mantra 108 times daily and keep the count of the chanting with the Rudraksha beads. It is believed that this can please the Lord all the more and earn his generous grace for the devotees, instantly and in plenty.
The benefits of chanting this potent prayer hymn remain manifold, whether it is chanted as Om Namah Shivaya, or Om Namasivaya, or Omnamasivaya. And some of these are, as under:
- clear cynical thoughts and pessimistic feelings
- bring down negative emotions like ego, and aggression, relieve stress and strain and lighten the mind
- remove or minimize the impact of adversely placed planets in the natal chart and also the effects due to unfavorable planetary movements
- purify the bodily Chakras and resolve the associated emotional issues
- help develop intellect and provide clarity of thought
- fill with positivity and bestow peace and prosperity
- help understand the inner self and thus realize the true potential
- help you send positive energy to the cosmos, which may get reciprocated to you, many times
- bestow you with the benign blessings of Shiva