The Meaning Of Om Namah Shivaya…

The Meaning Of Om Namah Shivaya

The Meaning Of Om Namah Shivaya

It’s hard to think of a more iconic or identifiable mantra in India than Om Namah Shivaya. This mantra goes back literally thousands of years and is the most important form of devotion to the Shaivism sect of Hinduism. Shaivism is a sect that believes Shiva is the most important- indeed, the only relevant- Hindu god. This has influenced many other sects within India because Shaivism is very influential and very old; at 2500 years old, it’s considered to be one of the oldest forms of Hinduism.

In case you’re wondering, Shiva, is the god most widely recognized as the god of destruction.

But according to the Shivaism sect, he is the creator (typically thought of as Brahma), preserver (typically thought of as Vishnu), and destroyer force in the universe. Basically, in their eyes, he’s the main guy in charge! Of course, true to form in Hinduism, there are many schools of thought within Shaivism…but all of them practice the sacred chant Om Namah Shivaya.

SEE ALSO: The 5 Most Popular Hindu Gods

What is the Meaning of Om Namah Shivaya?

According to texts, this chant bestows deep spiritual experiences and even boons (supernatural gifts) when practiced deeply and correctly. The meaning of the chant is relatively simple:

  • Om- Before there was a universe, there was a vibrationless void of pure existence. Out of this void came the vibration which started the universe, which is known as Om (aum).
  • Namah- This literally translates to bow.
  • Shivaya- This, of course, Shiva; but more than that, it means the inner self.

When understood fully (and according to Shaivism), it means “I bow to the inner Self”.

You can also look at the syllables within the chant and see that when broken down, they also pay homage to the five elements as follows…

  • Na – Earth
  • Mah – Water
  • Shi – Fire
  • Va – Air
  • Ya – Ether

These elemental sounds that make up Aum Namah Shivaya also connect with the chakras and can cleanse energy blocks.

The Practice

There are no rituals or ceremonies involved with this mantra…just the simple chant. This means that it can basically be performed anywhere. The most important aspects are that you have an attentive mind and you’re sitting upright. You could practice on a chair, or even in a plane or car. From there, just repeating the mantra over and over again becomes the focus. But as the mantra is repeated, visualize yourself bowing to your true inner Self as you repeat the words Om Namah Shivay.

It’s said that regular practice of this mantra will bring you very close to the divine inner nature within all of us.

Who is Shiva?

Shiva is one of the major deities in Hinduism but is also known as a concept too rather than an actual person. Shiva is nothingness – it’s the void of space from which all creation is born. The Shiva Tattva is the consciousness that fills this gap. Shiva can be found in the stars, the sea, the mountains, and everything that exists to fill the void. It is a transcendental energy that seeps into everything – permeating the seven layers of the self, the five elements of the natural world, and the whirl of our consciousness. It comes through everything until it too helps us to achieve this sense of shiva tattva – this freeing nothingness that connects us to our true core and frees us from our ego.

Lord Shiva is one of the more complex but popular gods in Hinduism. He is known as the destroyer but also the restorer – which in itself means that he maintains the cycles of existence – the beginning and the end of everything. The deity of Lord Shiva has many messages within his stature – from the trident he carries which represents the creator, preserver, and destroyer energies to the third eye of wisdom, the cobra around his neck for passion, and the bull for righteous energy. Lord Shiva is the auspicious one and holds an important place in the holy trinity.

What is the importance of Om Namah Shivaya mantra? 

The Om Namah Shivaya mantra is integral to Hindusim as it is considered to cleanse the core components of your being and align you with the pure energy of shiva. Mantras are important because they reconnect you to your core being and produce high vibrations that can go beyond the body and even cleanse the environment around you. The sound of Om connects your soul to the universe and the Namah Shivaya tethers you directly to the energy of Lord Shiva gifting you inner peace and exquisite strength.

The benefits of chanting the mantra

There are many benefits that come with chanting the mantra of Om Namah Shivaya which is why its so beloved by yogis and those who want to deepen their meditative practice. First and foremost, this mantra is designed to reduce your ego and cleanse your mind of endless worries and burdens. It is a mantra of peace and being connected to the right path so the more you practice this chant – the more you stay tethered to that positive energy. Here are some more benefits you can expect from chanting this all-important mantra…

  • With sounds that shake out stress, particularly the om meditation sound that is so connected to the vibrations of the universe, the Om Namah Shivaya can clear negative energy and infuse you with positive energy.
  • Connected to the five elements, the seven layers, and all of our senses, this mantra also has the power to help you garner control over your senses and get a better grip on your own mind.
  • Even beyond the confines of our bodies and mortal plains, the chant of Om Namah Shivaya connects with the energy of Shiva Tattva which can have an impact on preventing malefic planets from wreaking havoc (to a degree).
  • This chant also gifts you purpose and direction and can directly connect you with Lord Shiva who helps deliver strong mental health and a balanced body and mind.
  • If you tend to have a restless mind that dances all over the place, the mantra of Om Namah Shivaya can reign that in and help you cultivate quiet.

How to chant the mantra

One of the most important elements of mantras and chanting is building a routine with them and using them often. When we use mantras as regular mindful practice, that energy can grow and become more stable within us and around us. Regular mantra chanting has the power to change the way we think about ourselves and keeps our sense of self both connected and elevated.

You can simply chant the mantra of Om Namah Shivaya but you may find that you feel more power from using this mantra if you heighten the sense of intention. One of the best times of day to welcome this chant into your routine is during sunrise or sunset as part of your daily salutations. You can also chant it after taking a bath as your mind may be softer and your body more relaxed. For a more powerful experience, you can chant this mantra 108 times (use mala beads or prayer beads if you need support in this). One of the reasons for calling on mantras 108 times is because according to Ayurveda there are 108 life force points across the body and with each chant, we take our material self and elevate it to our spiritual self.


What happens when you say Om Namah Shivaya?

When you use the Lord Shiva mantra of Om Namah Shivaya you can temper your ego and connect to the energy of the deity and your deep inner self. This can bring the beautiful benefits of quieting your mind, clearing negative energy, and helping you to control your emotions better. This mantra is believed to invoke the energy of shiva and shakti.

Why is Om Namah Shivaya powerful?

Om Namah Shivaya is a potent and powerful mantra. It helps to calm stress and elevate the mind. It is considered to be a powerful mantra because of its sounds and meaning. First, it uses the sound of Om which is the vibration of the universe. Second, it bows to shiva – which pays homage to both the powerful deity and the inner self.

What language is Om Namah Shivaya?

The healing mantra Om Namah Shivaya is Sanskrit and loosely translates to ‘I bow down to shiva’ or when understood completely ‘I bow down to the inner self’. It is a five-syllable mantra that also represents the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ether and ultimately is about merging with the shiva. In Hindi, it may look like this ॐ नमः शिवाय

Is Om Namah Shivaya Buddhist?

Om Namah Shivaya is one of the most popular mantras in Hindusim and also has its place in Buddhist practice as it may have influenced the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra that is often used in meditative teachings.


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Matt Caron

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Matt is the content manager of the Sivana blog, an enthusiastic Yoga teacher, and life voyager. He strives to inspire…

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