Shiva, the Supreme God
Shiva is one of the supreme Gods of Hinduism. He is one among the Trimurthis, the divine trinity of Gods, who are responsible for the fundamental functional aspects of existence – creation, protection and destruction. He is hailed as Mahadeva, the Great Lord and is considered as the God of destruction and liberation. However, he himself is believed to assume all the roles, thus often representing the supreme trinity all by himself. He is generally worshipped in the form of Shiva Linga, as Lingeswara.
Shiva is also a unique God in many ways. The most striking feature of his form is perhaps his brilliant and powerful third eye, which he possesses in the middle of his forehead. It is because of this extraordinary characteristic that he is also hailed as Trinetra Dhari, the three-eyed Lord.
The mantra invoking the supreme God of liberation is a simple one and it reads as –
‘Om Namah Shivaya’
This simply translates to ‘I bow down to Lord Shiva in prayer’.
Meaning of Shiva Mantra
The invocation begins with ‘Om’, the primordial sound, the vibration of which is eternal and remains as the underlying substance of all living beings and non-living things of the universe. It also resonates through every minute particle of an individual’s physical frame and also of the vast universe. Hailed as the universal sound, it is said to represent the fundamental aspects of creation, sustenance and liberation, and also the divine healing power. The next term ‘Namah’ is the respectful salutation, meaning ‘I bow to you with reverence.’ The last word ‘Shiva’ naturally denotes the Lord, but it also signifies the inner self.
Significance of the Mantra
Simple in meaning, the Shiva Mantra also holds immense significance in it. Namah Shivaya itself is regarded as Pancha Boothathathva, the combined aspect of the 5 fundamental elements. ‘Na’ is earth, ‘Mah’ is water, ‘Shi’ is fire, ‘Va’ is air and ‘Ya’ is space. Together, these elements constitute the entire universe and Lord Shiva, as their integrated embodiment, represents the universal consciousness.
These 5 syllables also represent the 5 important Chakras, the energy centers of the body. Na, the earth denotes the first Chakra. This is regarded as the foundation, embodying earthiness and basic strength. This is located at the base of the spine. Mah, the water indicates the second Chakra, which is situated higher than the first and slightly below the navel. This stands for feelings and desire. Shi, the fire denotes the third Chakra and is placed, further higher in the solar plexus, at the pit of the stomach. This signifies power and action. ‘Va’, the air denotes the fourth Chakra and rises further, being positioned at the heart center. This highlights the humanness and the noble feeling of love. ‘Ya’, the sky or space indicates the fifth Chakra, which is positioned further up, at the pit of the throat. This signifies articulation and the power of expression.
How to Chant?
‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is a mantra that does not carry with it any requirements for chanting, in the form of guidelines or rituals. It is pure and simple, and all that it requires for its chanting is devotion and faith. Devotees can do the recitation with a mind that is focused fully on the great Lord, also visualizing at the same time complete surrender to their own pure, inner selves. It is a tradition to chant this mantra for 108 times a day and it is advisable to follow this practice. It is believed that using a Rudraksha mala, the rosary of Rudraksha beads to keep count of the chanting will have a beneficial effect and this too may also be observed.
Benefits of Chanting
The benefits that may accrue by the recitation of this mantra will be immense, and will also be in both, the physical and spiritual planes. This may generate and send tremendous positive energies to the cosmos, and that may come back to the originator, manifold. This may help to develop the intellect and make one function at one’s best potential, check negative emotions like anger, ego and stress, enhance the favorable influence of the planetary Lords and minimize their adverse effects, help to attain peace and tranquility, and provide a deep understanding of one’s own inner self.