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photopaNJchAkshara mantra

While there are plenty of mantras available, there are a few that are chanted with high esteem by the shaivas. Definitely those are highly powerful ones that can lead the chanter on the great path to mukti (liberation). praNava, paNJchAkashra, gAyatri to name a few. For shaivites the Holy Five Syllables (paNJchAkshara) with or without combined with the praNava is the ultimate mantra.

Holy Five Syllables - paNJchAkshara mantra

panychAkshara as popularly known is the holy five syllables (literally holy five letters) that is the supreme mantra of all devotees of Lord Siva. As the name suggests it is made up of five syllables. This great mantra is namaH SivAya (namah Sivaaya). The five syllables in this mantra are na - maH - si - vA - ya.

The core of the vedas

The Holy Five Syllables namaH SivAya is the heart of vedas. It is the core of the very famous chapter of vedas that stands in the middle of the vedas - the shata rudrIyam or rudra sUktam. This great mantra of veda samhita while hailing the God as the Lord of everything of the worlds, salutes the God as namaH SivAya cha SivatarAya cha.

Meaning of the paNJchAkshara mantra

The meaning of this matchless mantra is abound. The purANas and the philosophical texts talk in a very detailed and elaborate manner its meaning and significance and hail its ultimateness. Here only a simple meaning is presented to start with.

The word Siva means auspiciousness and perfection. It refers to the God Who is Perfect without any kind of dependency on anything external to make It complete. Naturally because of this self-perfection, It is completely blissful and ever auspicious. (All other auspicious things are in one way or the other dependent on the external circumstances etc.) The prefix namaH is the mantra of salutation. The mantra namaHSivAya salutationally invoke the Perfect God Siva.

various paNJchAksharas

paNJchAkshara has five syllables, so is Lord Siva with five faces. Depending upon which letter the paNJchAkshara is starting with, the paNJchAkshara gets the name of a face of the God. namaHSivAya is the sadyojAta paNJchAkshara and SivAyanamaH is the aghora paNJchAkshara or the aghora mantra. Similarly the other paNJchAksharas also get the names.

As the paNJchAkshara namaHSivAya is at the center of vedas, it is referred as vedic way paNJchAkshara. SivAyanamaH is the paNJchAkshara is used very much in the Agamic worship of the Lord. So it is referred as the Agamic way paNJchAkshara.

There are various paNJchAksharas as stUla paNJchAkshara, sUkshma paNJchAkshara, atisUkshma paNJchAkshara etc. each of which have specific significance. The philosophic scriptures such as thirumandhiram have the details about them.

Ways of chanting the panchAkshari

While many mantras have restrictions as to when and how it can be chanted etc., there is no such restriction to the paNJchAkshara mantra. The great prodigy sambandhar says in thEvAram, "When you sleep as well as when you do not sleep, think of the Holy Five Syllables with heartful of devotion ! This is the mantra that terribly kicked out the death when chanted (by mArkaNDeya) with sincerity."

Whoever you are, whenever be the time, whatever be the situation chant the Holy Five Syllables. There are no restrictions of color, creed, caste, gender or any other restrictions. All it requires is sincerity.

This mantra could be chanted as it is as paNJchAkshara or could be chanted along with the praNava (aum) as shaDAkshara mantra (om namahSivAya). In fact it is to be noted that praNava itself is paNJchAkshara mantra (akara, ukara, makara, bindhu, nAtham).

Benefit of chanting the mantra

The thoughts make the person. The one who has the positive thoughts is happier and the one full of worries is the sad one. The thoughts not only have effect at that moment but they definitely make impression on the personality of the individual, which could have a very long lasting impact. In this background while the good thoughts itself would be making things better, what needs to be said about the super-powered mantras that are rich in meaning as well as energy!

Given the fact that "we tend to become what we keep thinking about", when one chants the Sacred paNJchAkshara that hails the God as Perfection and Auspicious, it would take one towards that Blissful Perfection. It takes to the union with the Supreme God. What else can be more rewarding ! Even the worst sinner would get corrected and get to the glorious states if chants this mantra piously.

Widespread glory of panchaksara in scriptures

The importance and glory of this mantra is stressed across the shaiva scriptures, as the most important mantra the devotee has to keep like own soul. Listing them would be highly arduous task given the importance this mantra gets in the scriptures.

Learning the various scriptures and chanting thousands of stotras (praise) of God, is all given secondary importance to chanting this great mantra. The authentic scriptures very clearly state that for the one who chants this mantra, even if none of the other scriptures are known or even any other worship of God is undertaken, that person would definitely gets eligible for the immense grace of the Supreme Lord Siva. For this the chanting of the Holy Five Syllables has been prescribed as a definite requirement for the devotee. While the rudraksha and Holy Ash are the ornament externally for the devotee the internal ornament is the paNJchAkshara mantra.

The supreme mantra very simple to chant and comes with no restrictions attached in order for everybody to chant and get benefitted. With no inertia in mind chant and keep chanting as much as possible namahSivAya.

Full of love, with melting heart, tears brimming, one who chants leading them to the Glorious path, the name that is the real essence of the four vedas is the mantra namaccivAya.

praNava mantra (AUM) - Simple Explanation

The mantra that is held very sacred by all Hindus is the mantra Om also called praNava mantra. This mantra is part of every worship. This mantra is hailed in scriptures of various languages. vedas - the holy scripture - is chanted always after chanting this mantra and always concluded with this mantra. Each of the hailing in the archanai that is performed for the divine is preceded by this mantra Om.

praNava is the primal sound that existed before the creation and the sound that stays after the praLaya. This is the nAtharUpa - the Form of sound, of the Supreme Luminance. This mantra om refer to none other than God. The great yogis meditate in this mantra as the path to Eternal Bliss of the Formless Nameless God !

The praNava has five parts. They are akara, ukara, makara, bindhu, nAtham. (aum). Consequently this is also one of the glorious paNJchAkshara mantra.

The scriptures that explain the glory of this praNava mantra are quite many. However the significant one is from the skandha purANa. It is a well known purANic event that skandha described the real meaning of the praNava mantra to God Siva. In the above mentioned episode of skandha purANa the sage vAmadeva seeks the boon from Lord skandha to tell him too that description. Lord skandha who was pleased with the devotion of sage vAmadeva told him that great secret.

AUM: Tirumular says that the one letter, A, represents the universe. The two letters A and U are Siva and Sakti, the latter being the all-powerful manifest energy of Siva. The three letters, A, U, and M are Siva, Sakti and Light, the last being Jnana or knowledge. The letter M is also Maya. Tirumular calls AUM as one-letter mantra, representing Tandava, the Divine Dance of Siva. Tandava is derived from Tandu, a dancer and servant of Siva. Any act performed by Siva is a dance. The dances are named according to his acts (creation, maintenance, destruction, veiling and Grace), places (Chidambaram, etc.), and competition (Urdhva), 25 Lilas (acts of play). The most celebrated dance is the 'Tandava´ in Chidambaram.

In the plane of Muladhara (Kundalini, fist plane), he stands as Na-Ma-Si-Va-Ya--Na for earth and Brahma, Ma for water and Vishnu, Si for fire and Rudra, Va for Vayu and Rudra, Ya for Akasa and Sadasiva. NaMaSiVaYa has contextual meanings:

Entity Na   Ma   Si   Va   Ya  
The soul's journey to Grace   Veiling or Tirodhana   Mala or impurity   Lord Siva   Arul or Grace   The Jiva or individual soul  
Panchakshara (Five Syllables)   Tirodhana   The Universe   Lord Siva   Revealing Grace   The Jiva  
Body Parts   the lower limbs   the abdomen   the shoulders   The mouth   The eyes  
Siva's five functions in Nataraja stance   Destruction (left posterior hand with flame).   Concealing Grace, planted right foot.   Creation, right posterior hand with the drum.   Revealing Grace, left anterior hand pointing down to left foot--Jiva's refuge   Maintenance (Sthiti), right anterior hand with supinated upright palm. (A-bhaya mudra-fear-not symbol) [high-five position of palm]  
Five Elements   Earth   Water   Fire   Air   Akasa or ether  
Muladhara triangle-Kundalini   Earth and Brahma   Water and Vishnu   Fire and Rudra   Vayu and Rudra   Akasa and Sadasiva  
AUM       A (Siva)   U (Sakti)    
Perpetual Bliss       Bliss   Bliss   Bliss  
Jnana (knowledge)       Knowledge     Knowledge  
Pure Joy       Pure Joy   Pure Joy   Pure Joy  
Tandava dance of dissolution merges in       Si   Va    
Agamic mantra       A (Sadasiva)   U (Sadasiva)    
Pati-Pasu-Pasa Triangle     Pasa   Pati     Pasu  
Siva and Sakti       A (Srim)   U (Krim)    
A and U       Body of Siva   Body of Siva    
The dance letters of Siva's rhythmic dance steps.   O   I   U   A   E  

Tirumular says that anagram mantra, Na-Ma-Va-Si-Ya stands in the sphere of Fire; Va-Si-Ya stands in the Sun; and Va-Si stands in the Moon. Chanting Namasivaya drives away the fiery snake of Pasa--bondage. Sivaya Nama is the Sukshma (subtle) mantra, chanting which eight thousand times reveals the subtle path of Sushumna, destroys karma, and gives the bliss of Siva.