‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and ‘Om Shivaya Namah’ are mantras dedicated to Mahadeva, Lord Shiva. Although it appears and is considered that there’s not much difference between ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and ‘Om Shivay Namah’, there’s a slight difference in their meanings.
Normally, ‘Namah’ is used after God’s name, especially when you want to refer to them directly. For reference, we refer to Lord Rama as Om Ramaya Namah.
Some people believe that the meanings of both mantras are the same, “Salutation to Shiva”. They thought that to impress the Gods, it was more appealing to sing it than simply calling the names. So basically, “Om Shivaya Namah” is just a direct saying, and “Om Namah Shivay” is its poetic version. As per Vedas, you can notice there’s a unique rhythm for each mantra.
However, as per others, the true meanings behind the Om Shivaya Namah and Om Namah Shivaya mantras are:
Om Namah Shivaya – Sthula Panchakshara
The mantra Om Namah Shivaya is chanted to gain worldly objectives.
The mantras “Om Namah Shivaya” and “Om Shivaya Namah” hold profound philosophical aspects within the realm of Shaivism and Hindu philosophy. “Om Namah Shivaya” is a powerful mantra that signifies the recognition and surrender of the individual self to the supreme consciousness represented by Lord Shiva.
It emphasizes the essence of devotion, humility, and letting go of egoic attachments, inviting individuals to connect with the divine and experience the oneness of existence. The mantra highlights the inherent divinity within each being and encourages the cultivation of inner virtues, such as love, compassion, and detachment, ultimately leading to spiritual transformation and liberation.
Om Shivaya Namah – Sookshma Panchakshara
The mantra Om Shivaya Namah is chanted to attain Moksha – Liberation.
“Om Shivaya Namah” reverberates with deep reverence and salutations to Lord Shiva. It acknowledges the divine attributes and qualities of Lord Shiva, such as his infinite compassion, power, and auspiciousness. The mantra serves as an invocation of divine blessings and protection. It inspires individuals to recognize and honor the divine presence within themselves and in the world around them, fostering an attitude of respect, gratitude, and reverence towards the divine.
Swamis’ views on these mantras
Saint Vallalar (Ramalinga Swamigal) wrote that when one applied sacred ash on the forehead, one should say ‘Shivay Namah,’ because it confers on a devotee good speech, good company, good qualities, and moksha. (Also Read – Om Rudraya Namah)
Sambandan explains the difference between ‘Om Namah Shivay’ and ‘Om Shivay Namah’ in an article published in The Hindu.
Each of the letters in these mantras has significance. ‘Na’ represents our pride, ‘Ma’ represents the impurities in our minds, ‘Si’ represents Lord Siva, ‘Va’ represents Goddess Shakti, and ‘Ya’ represents the Atma. So when we say, ‘Shivaya Namaha,’ the Atma, represented by ‘ya,’ is in the middle. On one side are the pride and other impure thoughts represented respectively by ‘Na,’ and ‘Ma.’ On the other side of ‘ya,’ we have Lord Siva and Goddess Sakti represented by ‘Si’ and ‘Va.’ So it is for us to decide what we are going to do.
Will we go the way in which temptation leads us? Or will we turn towards God? The ‘ya’ comes right next to ‘Va,’ for the Goddess is even more merciful than Lord Siva. After all, an erring child is afraid to approach his father. It first seeks forgiveness from its mother, who recommends to the father that he must not judge his child harshly. In the same way, the Goddess makes sure that the Lord’s wrath is not directed towards us. She speaks to Him on our behalf. To get His mercy, we must go to Her first. His mercy then automatically comes to us.
Ten Common Differences between ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and ‘Om Shivaya Namah’
|Aspect||Om Namah Shivaya||Om Shivaya Namah|
|Word Order||Om (ॐ) – Namah (नमः) – Shivaya (शिवाय)||Om (ॐ) – Shivaya (शिवाय) – Namah (नमः)|
|Meaning||“I bow to Lord Shiva”||“Salutations to Lord Shiva”|
|Pronunciation||oṁ NAH-mah SHI-vah-yah||oṁ SHI-vah-yah NAH-mah|
|Focus||Emphasizes reverence and surrender||Emphasizes salutations and respect|
|Chanting Intention||Devotion and surrender to Lord Shiva||Paying homage and showing respect|
|Spiritual Significance||Associated with Panchakshara Mantra (five-syllable mantra) and devotion to Lord Shiva||Associated with the mantra form of salutation to Lord Shiva|
|Usage||Widely used in various traditions and practices of Shaivism and meditation||Less commonly used, but still holds significance in Shaivism and devotional practices|
|Popularization||Gained popularity through various saints, gurus, and spiritual teachers||Less widely popularized compared to “Om Namah Shivaya”|
|Formation||Shiva in between Shakti-Atma and Pride-ego||Atma in between pride-ego and Shiva-Shakti|
Om Namah Shivaya, Lord Shiva it’s up to you now. You are all that I have, guide me toward the world of spirituality, or leave me in the darkness of Pride and Ego. I am fully under your supreme manifestation.
Om Shivaya Namah, What I hold inside, my atma is under my control. It’s my decision now to be at the feet of Lord Shiva and Goddess Shakti. I myself can achieve a lot with my proudness and egoistic nature. But I confer to Lord of the Lords, my Shiva.