"ॐ तत्पुरुषाय विद्ध्महे महादेवाय धिमाही तन्नो रूद्र: प्रचोदयात!!!"



"The goal which all the Vedas declare, which all austerities aim at, and which men desire when they lead the life of continence … is Om. This syllable Om is indeed Brahman. Whosoever knows this syllable obtains all that he desires. This is the best support; this is the highest support. Whosoever knows this support is adored in the world of Brahma."
~ Katha Upanishad I
Om or Aum is of paramount importance in Hinduism. This symbol (as seen in the image on the right) is a sacred syllable representing Brahman, the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism — omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest existence. Brahman, in itself, is incomprehensible; so a symbol becomes mandatory to help us realize the Unknowable. Om, therefore, represents both the unmanifest (nirguna) and manifest (saguna) aspects of God. That is why it is called pranava, to mean that it pervades life and runs through our prana or breath.

Om in Daily Life

Although Om symbolizes the most profound concepts of Hindu belief, it is in use daily. The Hindus begin their day or any work or a journey by uttering Om. The sacred symbol is often found at the head of letters, at the beginning of examination papers and so on. Many Hindus, as an expression of spiritual perfection, wear the sign of Om as a pendant. This symbol is enshrined in every Hindu temple premise or in some form or another on family shrines. It is interesting to note that a newly born child is ushered into the world with this holy sign. After birth, the child is ritually cleansed and the sacred syllable Om is written on its tongue with honey. Thus right at the time of birth the syllable Om is initiated into the life of a Hindu and ever remains with him as the symbol of piety. Om is also a popular symbol used in contemporary body art and tattoos.

The Eternal Syllable

According to the Mandukya Upanishad, "Om is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it".

The Music of Om

Om is not a word but rather an intonation, which, like music, transcends the barriers of age, race, culture and even species. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, aa, au and ma which, when combined together, make the sound Aum or Om. It is believed to be the basic sound of the world and to contain all other sounds. It is a mantra or prayer in itself. If repeated with the correct intonation, it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the centre of one's being, the atman or soul. There is harmony, peace and bliss in this simple but deeply philosophical sound. By vibrating the sacred syllable Om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Ultimate Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the highest state of "stateless" eternity, states the Bhagavad Gita.

The Vision of Om

Om provides a dualistic viewpoint. On one hand, it projects the mind beyond the immediate to what is abstract and inexpressible. On the other hand, it makes the absolute more tangible and comprehensive. It encompasses all potentialities and possibilities; it is everything that was, is, or can yet be. It is omnipotent and likewise remains undefined.

The Power of Om

During meditation, when we chant Om, we create within ourselves a vibration that attunes sympathy with the cosmic vibration and we start thinking universally. The momentary silence between each chant becomes palpable. Mind moves between the opposites of sound and silence until, at last, it ceases the sound. In the silence, the single thought—Om—is quenched; there is no thought. This is the state of trance, where the mind and the intellect are transcended as the individual self merges with the Infinite Self in the pious moment of realization. It is a moment when the petty worldly affairs are lost in the desire for the universal. Such is the immeasurable power of Om.

How to Type it on your Computer

Try this! To get the Om symbol on your computer screen, open MS Word and key in backslash ( \ ) in Wingdings font. You will type in Om!

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Aum Namah Shivai (ॐ नमः शिवाय) is the foremost mantra for lord Shiva and is chanted by millions of devotees every day. In the simplest meaning Aum namah shivai simply means
I bow to Shiva or
Salutation to Shiva
But then, the mantras significance goes far beyond its literal meaning. The subtle meaning, the resonance of its sound makes this mantra a maha mantra.
Significance of Mantra
Mantra is general are sounds, syllable, words or a group of words that are capable of performing transformations. When pronounced correctly radiate  powerful sound energy. Most of these mantras have originated in Vedas and they have powerful and positive effect on the person who recites them and even on the surrounding environment.
Several of the mantras in Vedas are Japa Mantras (meant for meditation) and they consist of seed letters (बीज अक्ष्रर). These bija-mantra are simple in their layouts and seem to have a equally simple meaning; yet their sound radiate vibrant energy and have a subtle meaning. Aum namah shivaya is one of the finest examples.
The manatra has got two variants –
The  Five lettered mantra (पंचाक्षर मंत्र) consisting of letters Na (न), Ma (म), Shi (शि) , va (वा), ya (य) .
The Six lettered mantra (षडाक्षर मंत्र) which is obtained by prefixing the seed letter Aum (ॐ) to the five lettered mantra.
Important to understand, is the fact that each of the letters of this mantra has got special meaning and vibration.
Vibration of Aum namah shivaya
Aum (ॐ)
Aum (ॐ) is the universal sound; it represents the supreme being – the param brahm – Shiva. Aum is a the most important of all bija-mantra and a complete mantra in itself. Yet is used as the begining of most of the Vedic mantras. Aum (ॐ) itself consist of three syllable  A (अ) , U (उ) , M (म) and represents conscious, unconscious or dream, and subconscious or deep sleep states. Aum has got another explanations too. But then an entire explanation will require a dedicate volume of works.
Five lettered mantra (पंचाक्षर मंत्र)
The remaining 5 letters, represent the 5 primary elements which constitute the entire universe – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Sky (Space).
Na (न) is the sound of earth (पृथ्वी).
Ma (म) effects water factor (जल).
Shi (शि) energises the fire factor (अग्नि)
Va (वा) energises the air factor ( वायु)
Ya (य) energises the  space (अंतरिक्ष)
Everything in the universe, including our body is made up of these five basic elements. The sound of each of these 5 letters effects the respective constituents thus causes a positive vibration with purifying effect. Thus the mantra purifies the whole body and the surrounding.
Namah Shivaya represents Transformation
Apart from the positive vibration that the mantra produces, it has got a subtle meaning and significance. Shiva has many aspects – embodied or the personified and a transcendental existence in as formless, attribute less  non-being or the universal being.
Na (न) represents the concealing aspect of the Lord Shiva. It is an aspect which is not evident and needs maturity of individuals.
Ma (म) represents the material world and our binding with the material existance. It is in three forms – ego our of ignorance, the cause and reward of karma (work) and illusion (माया).
Shi (शि) represents Shiva himself.
Va (वा) represents the revealing aspect of Shiva; one that is achievable by concentration and maturity. It is the spiritual awakening.
Ya (य) represents the soul. It signifies unification of individual soul to the universal soul. It unifies the chanter with Shiva.
So what is the overall significance? namah shivai is mantra that causes transition from the concealing (not knowing) and materialistic existence to knowing the Shiva, realising him through spiritual awakening and finally attaining him. Thus one who enchants the mantra is sure to achieve Shiva. Note Shiva is the centre and the pivot of the transformation.
Namah Shivai is Shiva
Yet another explanation defines the five lettered word as -
His feet are the letter Na.
His navel is the letter Ma.
His shoulders are the letter Shi.
His mouth, the letter Va.
His radiant cranial centre aloft is Ya.
Thus the five letter defines Shiva. Now how does this explanation go with the previous one. Well they are different ways to explain the same idea. We Start with Na (न) his feet and then subsequently rise to achieve the whole of him.
Namah Shivai negates Ego
One of the final and perhaps the most beautiful way to understand Namah shivai is this way -
Na (न) signifies not or negation. mah (म:) means mine. So Namah (नम:) means not mine. What is not mine? that belongs to Shiva (शिवाय).
Thus this maha-mantra, in its subtle meaning, emphasises negating our ego of possession and moving to the state of being possessed by the supreme being.
Does every thing fit together?
We have come across several meanings of Namah Shivai. Does it seem odd to have so many explanation to a seemingly simple phrase? Not really. Remember one foundation philosophy of Hindus as presented in Vedas and re-emphasised in Gita.
एकं  सत्य, विप्राः  बहुधा  वदन्ति ||

There is only one truth; Wise poeple and sages explain it in different ways.
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