నమశివాయ - na ma śi vā ya
Everyone has heard this mantra, but what does it actually mean?
It literally means: “Adoration to Shiva”.
The mantra “na ma śi vā ya” is also called the Pañcākṣaramantra and is one of the most popular Hindu mantras as well as the most important mantra in Shaivism. With this mantra Lord Shiva, the destroyer deity in Hinduism, is worshipped. The Pañcākṣaramantra consists out of 5 holy syllables “na ma śi vā ya”. The number five is sacred to Shiva and therefore many Shiva mantras consist of five syllables. According to Hindu traditions, the human body is considered to be made up of five elements and these holy letters represent these elements:
- na = earth
- ma = fire
- śi = ether
- vā = water
- ya = air
The Pañcākṣaramantra is traditionally recited by Shiva devotees during meditation or fireceremonies while smearing Vibhuti (sacred ash) in 3 horizontal lines across the forehead.
Sometimes the sacred syllable “ōm” is added to the Pañcākṣaramantra: “ōm na ma śi vā ya” is considered to be a powerful healing mantra beneficial for all physical and mental ailments. Soulful recitation of “ōm na ma śi vā ya” brings peace to the heart and joy to the Soul. Sages consider the recitation of these syllables as sound therapy for the body and as nectar for the soul.