Om Namah Shivaya – Meaning and its Significance

Om Namah Shivaya (ॐ नमः शिवाय) is the mantra dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the most important mantras in Shaivism and equally powerful Hindu Mantra. This Om Namah Shivaya mantra literally goes back to thousands of years and is mentioned in Yajurveda in the Shri Rudram hymn.

Om Namah Shivaya
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This mantra means “adoration to Shiva” or “I bow to Shiva” – Shiva being revered as the supreme reality, the inner Self.

The Breakdown of Om Namah Shivaya

Om – Before there was the universe, there was void of pure existence and vibrationless. Out of this void came vibration, which is known as Om. Then slowly the creation of the universe began.

Namah – Literally, it means to bow or adoration

Shivaya – Shiva or the inner Self

In Siddha Shaivism and Shaiva Siddhanta Shaivism tradition, Namah Shivaya is considered as Pancha Bodha Tatva of Lord Shiva and his universal oneness of five elements.

Na – Earth

Mah – Water

Shi – Fire

Va – Air

Ya – Sky or ether

Meaning that “universal consciousness is one”. These five components manifest the absolute of the universe according to Hindu philosophy.



The “NA” drops into the first chakra, the foundation place which embodies earthiness and solidity. It has a lot to do with survival issues on an emotional level, the right to belong and to have. It is found at the base of the spine between the anus and genitals.

The “MA” rises to the second chakra, represented by the water element and issues around sexuality on an emotional level, the right to feel and to desire. It is located a little below the navel.

The “SI” rises to the third chakra or jeweled city and is located in the solar plexus. The element is fire and emotional issues center around themes of personal power, the right to act and stand in one’s power.

The “VA” rises a little further to the fourth chakra or heart center. The element is air. This chakra is the first to move beyond the lower three densities of the animal soul and allows an opening to love, the right to love and be loved.

The “Ya” resonates in the fifth chakra or throat center and is associated with the ether and space. It often deals with issues around expression, the right to speak and be heard.

Seven Chakra Points
source

The five letter “Namah Shivaya” also represents:

Na – Lord’s concealing grace

Mah – World

Shi – Shiva

Va – Lord’s revealing grace

Ya – Atman or soul

The Practice of Om Namah Shivaya mantra

There are no rituals or ceremonies involved with this Om Namah Shivaya mantra, just a simple chant, and concentration. You can practice this mantra anywhere. Just you require being attentive, focused and have straight body structure. Repeating the mantra over and over again leads you to more deep concentration. But to gain the true benefits of the mantra, you will have to visualize your surrender to your inner self while chanting the mantra. Traditionally it is repeated 108 times a day while keeping count on a strand of rudraksha beads.

The Significance of Chanting Om Namah Shivaya Mantra

Om Namah Shivaya mantra

Chanting Om Namah Shivaya leads you to the transcendental mode. Its significance is vast as it heals your toxic emotions and thoughts accumulated through different difficulties and the bad environment in life. As you chant you are sending positive energy to the Cosmos, which will reciprocate by sending you back in ten folds. Some of them are highlighted as below.

  1. Om Namah Shivaya mantra will show you the path to peace and gives you clarity on how you view things
  2. Om Namah Shivaya mantra develops your intellect that helps to prosper in your life.
  3. Om Namah Shivay mantra tempers your ego, aggression, and relieves stress from your burden mind
  4. Om Namah Shivaya mantra sways away negative energies and binds you with positivity
  5. Astrology reveals that this mantra sways away negative grahas (planets) and minimizes the bad influence on your natal chart during your running of the negative influence of these planets.
  6. Om Namah Shivaya mantra helps you to understand yourself or your inner self and open up your true potential

In the chant, the energy starts in the highest center, resting in the source and then dips down and rises up, purifying the elements, the chakras, and the emotional issues surrounding them.




Om Namah Shivaya (ॐ नमः शिवाय) – Meaning and Significance (Video)


The difference between “Om Namah Shivaya” and “Om Shivaya Namah”

‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and ‘Om Shivaya Namah’ are mantras dedicated to Mahadeva, Lord Shiva. Although it appears and considered that there’s not much difference in Om Namah Shivaya and ‘Om Shivay Namah’, there’s a slight difference in their meanings.

Normally, ‘Namah’ is used after the God’s name, especially when want to refer them directly. For reference, we refer to Lord Rama as Om Ramaya Namah.

Some people believe that meanings of both the mantras are same, “Salutation to Shiva”. They thought that to impress the Gods, it’s more appealing to sing it than simply calling the names. So basically, “Om Shivaya Namah” is just 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

Om Shivaya Namah – Sookshma Panchakshara

The mantra Om Shivaya Namah is chanted to attain Moksha – Liberation

Saint Vallalar 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.


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 Sakti, and ‘Ya’ represents the Atma. So when we say, ‘Sivaya 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 its 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.

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