Aum namah Sivaya is among the foremost Vedic mantras. Its general translation is "adoration to Siva", and is called Panchakshara, or "five-letters". Saivite mystics hold that within its celestial tones and hues resides all of the intuitive knowledge of Saivism. The Aum namah Sivaya mantra apears for the first time, yet without the Aum, in a traditional Vedic prayer to Rudra called Sri Rudram (Rudra is an earlier aspect and name of Lord Siva).
A Hindu Saivite view on the Aum namah Sivaya mantra
The meaning of the Namah Sivaya mantra was explained by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami:
"Namah Sivaya is the most holy name of God Siva, recorded at the very center of the Vedas and elaborated in the Saiva Agamas.
Na is the Lord's concealing grace, Ma is the world, Si stands for Siva, 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, Si is fire, Va is air, and Ya is ether, or akasha. Many are its meanings.
Namah Sivaya has such power, the mere intonation of these syllables reaps its own reward in salvaging the soul from bondages of the treacherous instinctive mind and the steel bands of a perfected externalized intellect. Namah Sivaya 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, Namah Sivaya is in truth both Agama and Veda. Namah Sivaya represents all mantras and tantras. Namah Sivaya is our souls, our bodies and possessions. Namah Sivaya has become our sure protection."
All text of this article available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).