Nityaaya shuddhaaya digambaraaya tasmai nakaaraaya namah shivaaya My prostrations to Shiva who wears the king of serpents as a garland; who has three eyes; whose body is smeared in ashes; who controls everything; eternal; pure; who is wearing only directions (nothing); who is denoted by the letter of “na”.
Mandaakini salilachandana charchithaaya
Nandeeshwara pramathanaatha maheshwaraaya
Mandaarapushpa bahupushpa supujithaaya
Tasmai makaaraaya namah shivaaya My prostrations to Shiva who is worshipped from ganges water and with sandal paste; the Lord of Nandi; the Lord of ghosts and other beings; the controller of everything; worshipped with various flowers; and denoted by the letter of “ma”.
Shivaaya gaurivadanaabja vrinda-
Tasmai shikaaraaya namah shivaaya My prostrations to Shiva who is auspiciousness in nature; who is the Sun causing the lotus-face of Parvathi to shine; destroyer of the yajna of daksha; whose throat is blue; whose flag has the emblem of bull; and who is denoted by the letter of “shi”.
Chandraarka vaishwaanaralochanaaya tasmai vakaaraaya namah shivaaya My prostrations to Shiva whose linga (Shiva linga) has been worshipped y many sages like Vasistha, agastya, Gautama and gods like Indra and others; whose three eyes are the sun, moon and fire; and who is denoted by the letter of “va”.
Divyaaya devaaya digambaraaya tasmai yakaaraay namah shivaaya My prostrations to Shiva who has the form of a yaksha; who has matter hair; who has the pinaka bow in his hand; the eternal Lord; the brilliant Lord; who is without any dresses; and who is represented by the letter of “ya”.
Panchaaksharamidam punyam yah patetshivasannidhau
Shivalokamavaapnothi shivena saha modathe These five letters, together making the five-letter mantra, is pure and he who chants it continuously; such a person attains the abode of Shiva and in Shiva’s presence rejoices in bliss.
Importance of mantra
This is a very short work of Sankara where he explains each of the five letters of the mantra om namah shivaya. AUM isn’t generally considered as part of any mantra as it is the one syllable that is always added to a mantra. Thus the siva mantra has five syllables of na, ma, shi, va and ya.
Mantra means that which uplifts a person by chanting (mananaat traayathe ithi mantrah). The more and more a person chants a mantra; it gives more power or effect to the seeker. Mantras help in gaining focus on the ishta devata or favorite deity and keeping us remember the favorite deity. Mantras also help in generating a positive current or vibration around us so that whenever we chant the mantra it gives us immense peace – mantras in themselves are sacred syllables that have inherent power but they gain more power depending on the input of the seeker (through constant chanting). Once a seeker puts a lot of effort into a mantra by chanting it while remembering the deity behind the mantra and with devotion and love; then whenever the seeker is in distress mere chanting of the mantra will be enough to get him/her out of the distress instantly.
Though we may argue as to whether mantras have power in themselves (and that mantras only gain power by us putting effort into it), it is but a fact that words have a natural meaning to them and obviously they also have a meaning depending on our mental interpretation of the same. The word of “car” has an inherent meaning but it can also have a different meaning based on the interpretation of the person hearing or saying the word. Thus we cannot deny the inherent importance of mantras even as the word of “help” may mean nothing to us but the general meaning of the word is what people around us will see when they hear the word.
AMMA gives this beautiful story to illustrate the importance of mantras. Once a Guru was teaching his disciples the importance of mantra in his Gurukula. The King who was passing by decided to visit the Gurukula. He came into the Gurukula; he was told that the Guru was busy and hence was asked to wait. The King waited for some time; after some time the Guru came and met the King. The King asked the Guru as to what he was teaching and the Guru replied that he was teaching the importance of mantras. The King asked the Guru whether the mantra was more important than even the King to which the Guru instead of giving reply went inside. The Guru called the smallest disciple he had (a boy who was merely 2 years old) and told the boy to treat the King very well (in a sarcastic way). The boy came out and he saw the King – the King had to look down a lot to see the boy. The boy looking at the King said “poda” (this is a Malayalam word meaning “get out” or “get lost”) and then went back inside. The King was enraged. He started shouting saying he would burn the entire ashram into ashes. The rage of King was unbound when the Guru came back calm as usual. The Guru told the King to remain calm and let him explain. The Guru then said to the King “if the two letters of poda can have such a great effect on you, then what would be the effect of mantras?” Thus the King came to know of the importance of mantras.
Though mantras have inherent effect yet in order to reveal their full power we have to chant them constantly remembering the deity behind the mantra and with faith, love and devotion. A mantra which is not chanted is as useless as a car that is unused. May this small work of Sankara guide us to get a mantra as per our deity and chant it at least 1008 times a day (and if possible, chanting whenever we can) so that our minds will not only be purified but will become calm so that Vedantic knowledge about non-dual reality of Brahman will be easily apprehended and we will be able to ever rejoice in bliss remembering everything to be Brahman.
Text plus meaning