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What is the Nama Sivaya Mantra?

Path to Siva Commentary, Lesson 16

The letter "Ya" in the Panchakshara Mantra, Namasivaya, stands for the soul. Bodhinatha uses the Panchakshara Mantra to show how the soul is initially drawn by Siva's veiling grace, which leads the soul to maturity through experience in the world. Then comes Siva's revealing grace. When we've had enough of the world, Siva's grace pulls us toward God. The mantra also has the simple, two-syllable form. Si- Reflecting on God the Transcendent Absolute, Va-God as the All Pervading Consciousness

Path to Siva, Lesson 16

Master Course, Living with Siva, Lesson 109

Unedited Transcript:

Good morning everyone.

This morning we're looking at Lesson 16 from our newest book Path to Siva which is entitled: What Is the Namah Sivaya Mantra?

"Namah Sivaya is the most famous and holy of Saivite mantras, chanted daily by millions of devotees. Namah Sivaya means 'adoration to Siva' and appears in the Yajur Veda in the famous Shri Rudram hymn to Siva. (Which we heard this morning, right? That's the mala, monks go like that.) It is known as the Panchakshara, or 'five letters.' Each syllable has a meaning. Na is the Lord's concealing grace and Ma is the world. Si stands for Siva, Va is His revealing grace, and Ya is the soul. The five letters also represent the five elements. Na is earth, Ma is water, Si is fire, Va is air and Ya is ether, or akasha. This mantra is repeated verbally or mentally, drawing the mind in upon itself to cognize Lord Siva's infinite, all-pervasive presence. It is freely sung and chanted by everyone, but it is most powerful when given by one's guru. Before this initiation, called mantra diksha, the guru will usually require a period of study. This initiation is often part of a temple ritual, such as a homa (fire ceremony). The guru whispers the mantra into the disciple's right ear, along with instructions on how and when to chant it. Traditionally it is repeated 108 times a day while keeping count on a strand of rudraksha beads. This practice is called japa yoga. When done correctly, it calms the mind and brings spiritual insight and knowledge. It also keeps the devotee close to Siva and within His protective global fellowship. Gurudeva advised, 'When life becomes difficult or strained, say to yourself 'Siva Siva' or 'Aum Sivaya' or 'Namah Sivaya.' Mentally put it all at His feet."

This morning I brought my flowers, been there, I have the idea and I don't have any flowers. Namah Sivaya. Shakti in red. Siva's white. Appropriately color coded. Can go either way, so this way. Na Ma Si Va Ya. Okay? Na Ma Si Va Ya. Here we are; we're the soul. Ya is in the middle surrounded by two shaktis. Na and Va.

What does that mean?

Well it means the soul is initially pulled on purpose by Siva as veiling grace to the world. He wants us to have experience in the world. Why is that? To mature. We need to mature the soul through experience. As Patanjali says: The world provides two things. It provides experience and it provides moksha. First we need the experience to mature. So we're pulled toward the world on purpose and then when we've had enough of the world this kind of recedes. And, the Va and the Si.

So Va is revealing grace; we're pulled toward God. We get interested in religion. Not that we forget about the world but before that we weren't very interested in religion. And we get interested in religion and so it's pulled toward God. We become interested in worship and religion and things like that.

So it's a natural pattern is there and it's controlled by two red flowers, known as grace. Thank you for listening to my talk there.

This one's a little deep but figured one deep item out of three would be okay. This is another statement on the Panchakshara but it's about the two syllable Panchakshara, Si Va. Two syllables. It's in Merging [Living] with Siva, Lesson 109, and I bet very few of us remember that it's there. But it's very mystical and relevant.

"When one... When one looks at the Earth and the Sun, one thinks more of the Earth than of the Sun which is so far away. Traveling through space toward the Sun, the Earth fades into a distant speck and one contemplates the Sun as it looms larger and larger as he draws nearer and nearer. There is no intellect here, you see, for the intellect is connected to the Earth in its exterior ramifications of worldliness. The devotee's path is to merge into the Sun. The devotee's path is to merge--in the totality of his awareness, willpower and life force--into the Self, God, Siva. Siva is the ancient name of the Self, God. Mystically, Shi is the Absolute state. Va is the All-Pervading Self flowing through the mind..."

Absolute, we're talking here the three perfections of God Siva, so transcendent absolute is represented by Si and Va is the all pervading consciousness, Satchidananda. So Si Va. The absolute and all pervasive.

"It is only when the devotee, through yoga disciplines under the direction of his satguru, traverses the thought strata of his mind that he begins to experience what he has been learning philosophically. Then the Sun, his Siva, the Self God, blooms paramount before his vision. Earthiness, worldliness, humanness, instinctiveness fade into a speck within his memory patterns; and like the astronaut hurtling through space toward the Sun, awe-struck as to the impending annihilation of the remnants of his identity, the devotee piercing his inner depths awes at the magnificence of Siva."

Isn't that a nice one? It's been there all the time and we forgot.

What's an interesting meditation and it can be turned into an interesting meditation. Si and Va. In other words we don't have to do Si Va Ya Na Ma or Na Ma Si Va Ya we can just do Si and Va. Reflecting on God as the absolute and God as all pervasiveness. Or we can do it reflecting upon ourselves as the absolute and ourselves as all pervasiveness. So it's a very interesting two syllable version.

We can make it a three syllable version. Si Va Ya. We can do that as Siva's three perfections. Si Va Ya. Adding Ya, the primal soul. Parameshvara--Ya. So we have Siva as the trans.., Parasiva, Parashakti and Parameshvara. Three perfections of God Siva. Si Va Ya. So we can think on that. Then you turn that on yourself, you got Si and Va which are perfect, then you got Ya as the soul which is you and you're still maturing. So that's your soul body so you can meditate on yourself as the perfection of Parasiva, the perfection of Parashakti and the imperfection, meaning not yet perfect or work in progress of the soul body.

So thank you very much.

Aum Namah Sivaya.

Photo of  Gurudeva
I have seen myself, in a certain state of samadhi, as pure life force flowing through a jungle, through trees, through plants, through water, through air. That is superconsciousness. It is so permanent. It is so real.