Panchakshara is a Mahamantra which is composed of five letters, Namassivaya. A Mantra is that which removes all obstacles and miseries of one who reflects on it and bestows eternal bliss and immortality. Panchakshara is the best among seven crores of Mantras.
Panchakshara is of six kinds, viz., Sthula Panchakshara (Namassivaya), Sukshma Panchakshara (Sivaya Namah), Karana Panchakshara (Sivaya Siva), Mahakarana Panchakshara (Sivaya), Mahamanu or Mukti Panchakshara (Si).
‘Namah’ means ‘Prostration’. ‘Sivaya Namah’ means ‘Prostration unto Lord Siva’. The Jiva is the servant of Lord Siva from the Deha-Drishti. ‘Namah’ represents Jivatman. ‘Siva’ represents Paramatman. ‘Aya’ denotes ‘Aikyam’ or identity of Jivatman and Paramatman. Hence ‘Sivaya Namah’ is a Mahavakya, like ‘Tat Tvam Asi’ which signifies the identity between the individual and the supreme soul.
Pranava denotes the external form (husk) of the Lord (paddy) and Panchakshara, the internal Svarupa (rice). Pranava and Panchakshara are one.
The five letters denote the five actions or Pancha Krityas of the Lord, viz., Srishti (creation), Sthiti (preservation), Samhara (destruction), Tirodhana (veiling) and Anugraha (blessing).
They also denote the five elements and all creations through the combination of the five elements.
‘Na’ represents Tirodhana; ‘Ma’, the Mala or impurity; ‘Si’, Lord Siva; ‘Va’, the Arul Sakti; and ‘Ya’, the individual soul.
There are seven Skandhas in Yajurveda. There is Rudradhyayi in the centre of the middle Skandha. In this Rudradhyayi there are one thousand Rudra Mantras. Namassivaya or the Siva Panchakshara Mantra shines in the centre of these one thousand Rudra Mantras.
Yajurveda is the head of Paramesvara, who is the Veda Purusha. Rudram which is in the middle is the face, Panchakshara is His eye, Siva which is in the centre of the ‘Namassivaya’ is the apple of the eye. He who does Japa of this Panchakshara is freed from births and deaths and attains eternal bliss.
This is the emphatic declaration of the Vedas. This Panchakshara is the body of Lord Nataraja. This is the abode of Lord Siva. If you add ‘Om’ to the ‘Namassivaya’ in the beginning, then it becomes Shadakshara or six-lettered Mantra. ‘Om Namo Mahadevaya’ is the eight-lettered Mantra or Ashtakshara.
Take bath or wash your face, hands and feet. Wear Bhasma and Rudraksha Mala. Sit on Padmasana or Sukhasana, facing East or North, in a quiet place or room. Repeat silently the Panchakshara and meditate on the form of Lord Siva. Keep the image in the heart or space between the eyebrows.
If you practise meditation regularly, your heart will be purified. All Samskaras and sins will be burnt in toto. You will attain Siva-Yoga-Nishtha or Nirvikalpa Samadhi. You will attain the glorious Siva-Pada or Siva-Gati and become one with Lord Siva. You will enjoy the eternal bliss of Sivanandam and become immortal.
Saguna meditation is meditation on a form. An archer first aims at a big object. Then he takes up a medium object. Finally, he shoots at very small and minute objects. Even so, one should take to Saguna meditation to start with, and when the mind is trained and disciplined well, he can have Nirakara, Nirguna meditation.
Saguna meditation is meditation on a concrete object. Saguna meditation is peculiarly pleasing the Bhakta, who loves to gaze on the peculiar form of his Ishta. Saguna Upasana removes Vikshepa. For three or six months, practise Trataka on Siva’s picture.
Meditate on the mental picture of the Murti from half to two hours only in the Trikuti (space between the eyebrows). See and feel that the Lord is present in every object of the universe.
When you meditate, mentally repeat the Mantra of the Devata, ‘Om Namah Sivaya’; think of the attributes of the Deity such as omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience. Feel that Sattvic qualities from the Ishtam flow towards you. Feel that you possess these Sattvic qualities. This is Sattvic or Suddha Bhavana. You will have Darsana of your Ishtam in one or two years, if you are sincere in your Sadhana. Follow this plan.
This will help concentration. Move the mind on the various parts of the Murti, the picture or idol of Lord Siva, and meditate. Sit upon your usual Asana. Repeat His name and think of His attributes like bliss, radiance, love, etc., gazing at His picture all the while. Then enthrone Him in the lotus of your heart or between your eyebrows amidst a blazing light.
Now mentally think of His lotus-feet, offering your devout salutations. Take the mind to the elephant-skin worn round the waist, then to the necklace of Rudraksha beads, adorning His chest, and the beautiful blue hue of His throat (Nilakantha), serene countenance, radiating the majestic aura of profound meditations, the indrawn half-closed meditative eyes, the mysterious third eye in the centre of the forehead.
Next take the mind up to the matted locks, the cool crescent moon, and the sacred Ganga sprouting from the Jata. Rotate your mind on the trident (Trisula) in one hand, and then, the Damaru, in the other. Run your mind over the whole form till you complete all the details. Then fix your mind either on the face or upon the starting point (feet).
Repeat the entire process again and again, as many times as you can. By constant practice, you will ultimately be established in meditation and have communion with Siva.
This is meditation on Lord Siva, in His all-pervasive, unmanifested aspect, as the Supreme Para Brahman. In this form of meditation, you meditate on Lord Siva as the Supreme Brahman without form, attributeless, eternal, infinite. Meditate on Him as the Suddha, Satchidananda, Vyapaka Atman; Nitya, Suddha, Siddha, Buddha, Mukta, eternally free Brahman; an unlimited Ocean of Pure Consciousness. Now, identify yourself with this transcendental Svarupa of Siva. Feel that you are Chaitanya, Akhanda, Paripurna, Ekarasa, Santa, Unchanging Existence.
Every atom, every molecule, every nerve, vein, artery, should powerfully vibrate with these ideas. Lip-repetition of ‘Sivoham’ will not produce much benefit. It should be through heart, head and soul. This feeling should be kept up continuously. Negate the body-idea while repeating Sivoham mentally. When you chant Sivoham feel:
Infinity I am
All light I am
All joy I am
All glory I am
All power I am
All knowledge I
All Ananda I am Sivoham Sivoham
Meditate on the above ideas constantly. Constant effort with zeal and enthusiasm, is an indispensable requisite. Repeat mentally the above ideas incessantly. You will realise.
Worship of Siva
Lord Siva is worshipped in His Saguna aspect in the form of Sivalingam. Generally Sivabhaktas do Panchayatana Puja. In this Puja, Lord Siva, Ganesa, Parvati, Suryanarayana and Saligram are duly worshipped.
Get the Panchayatana Murtis on an auspicious day. Install them with great faith in your own house. Conduct special prayers, Archana, Puja, Abhisheka, and annadhanas, Mahatmas and the poor on a grand scale. Install the deity in a separate room. Worship the Lord daily with all sincerity and faith. You will have all wealth, peace of mind, attainment of Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha also. You will lead a prosperous life and enter the Immortal abode of Siva-Sayujya, on death.
Collect plenty of Bael or Bilva leaves for Lord Siva’s worship. Get ready Dhupa, Dipa, camphor, sandal-sticks, fresh water, plenty of flowers, food offerings to the Lord, a seat to sit upon, a bell, conch and other things required for the Puja before you begin the worship. Get up in the early morning before sunrise. Wash your face. Take bath. Wear silk dress separately kept for Puja purposes. Decorate the Puja room nicely. Enter the room chanting Lord’s names, glorifying Him, repeating Hymns in His praise and prostrating before the Lord. Wash your feet before entering the room. Sit in a comfortable posture and commence your worship. You have to first of all do Sankalpa for beginning the Puja in the prescribed method. You should then do Kalasa (water vessel), Sankha (conch), Atma (self) and Pitha (Lord’s seat) Puja in their order. You should then offer Shodasopachara Puja to the Lord and then repeat Mahamrityunjaya Mantra, Rudrapatha, Purushasukta, Gayatri, and do Abhisheka with pure water, milk, sugarcane juice, ghee and other articles according to your capacity or with pure water alone. Rudrabhisheka is highly beneficial. If you do Rudra Japa and Abhisheka, all your worries and agonies will disappear and you will attain the highest beatitude of human existence by the grace of Lord Visvanath. Rudra is a great purifier. There is invisible hidden power in Rudra and Purushasukta. There is a wonderful inspiration in the recitation of Rudra. Start the worship and realise its glory and splendour for yourself.
After Abhisheka, decorate the Lord nicely with sandal paste and flowers. Then do Archana repeating His names, ‘Om Sivaya Namah’, ‘Om Mahesvaraya Namah’, etc. Do daily 108 or 1008 Archanas if possible. After Archana, do Arati with different kinds of lights—single Arati, Triple Arati, Pancha Arati and Karpura Arati. Ring bells, cymbals, conch, etc., during Arati. Offer sacred Prasad or Naivedya to the Lord.
After Arati is over, sing the praises of the Lord like Mahimna Stotra, Panchakshara Stotra, etc., waving the Chamara. In the end repeat the prayers ‘Kayena vachah’, ‘Atma tvam Girija matih’, and ‘Kara-charana-kritam’. Offer everything to the Lord. Feel that you are a mere instrument in His hands. Do everything for obtaining the divine grace only. Develop Nimitta Bhava. Serve the Bhaktas. The Lord is much pleased with the service of His devotees. Distribute the Prasad among the Bhaktas in the end. Take the Prasad with great faith. The glory of Bhagavan’s Prasad is indescribable. Vibhuti is taken as Prasad and applied to the forehead.
When you advance in Saguna worship with external objects of worship, you can begin Manasa Puja. You will have Darsana of the Lord and final emancipation.
Have special Pujas on Mondays and Pradosha (thirteenth day of every fortnight—Trayodasi) days.
These days and Sivaratri (in the month of February-March) are very sacred for Lord Siva. Celebrate the Sivaratri on a grand scale. Fast the whole day. Have Trikala Puja, special Abhisheka, Ekadasa-rudra-japa, Sahasrarchana, vigil in the night, study of hymns of Lord Siva, Sivapurana, hearing discourses on the Lilas of Lord Siva. After Puja on the next day, break your fast with Abhisheka water. Offer sacred food offerings and partake of the Divine Prasad. You will have great mental peace, and spiritual advancement. Never miss this opportunity.
Daily worship is a sure remedy for all ills. You will never suffer from poverty. Take my word and begin the Puja right from this day onwards.
Siva Manasa Puja
Manasa Puja is mental worship. Manasa Puja is more powerful and effective than the external worship with flowers, sandals, etc. You will have more concentration when you do Manasa Puja.
Mentally enthrone the Lord on a Simhasana, set with diamonds, pearls, emeralds, etc. Offer Him a seat. Offer Arghya, Madhuparka and various sorts of flowers, clothes, etc. Apply sandal paste to His forehead and body. Burn incense and Agarbatti (scented sticks). Wave lights. Burn camphor and do Arati. Offer various kinds of fruits, sweetmeats, Payasa, cocoanut and Mahanaivedyam. Do Shodasa-upachara or the sixteen kinds of offerings in worship.
Panchakshara Mantra Writing
Write down in a fine note book ‘Om Namah Sivaya’ for half an hour or more. You will have more concentration by taking recourse to this Sadhana. Write the Mantra in ink clearly. When you write the Mantra observe Mouna. You may write the Mantra in any language. Give up looking hither and thither. Repeat the Mantra mentally also when you write the Mantra. Write the whole Mantra at once. When the Mantra notebook is completed, keep it in a box in your meditation room. Be regular in your practice.
Keep a small notebook in your pocket and write Mantra when you get leisure in the office. Have three things in your pocket, viz., the Gita, Mantra notebook and a Japa Mala or rosary. You will be immensely benefited.
Japa and meditation of the sacred names of Lord Siva will free you from all sins and lead you to the attainment of Siva Jnanam or eternal bliss and immortality. Siva-nama is the very soul of all Mantras.
Lord Siva has manifested in the world in sixty different aspects. Vrishabharudha, Hari-hara, Nataraja, Bhairava, Dakshinamurti, Ardhanarisvara, Bhikshatana, Somasekharamurti, Urdhvanatana, Kalasamhara, Jalandhara, Surasamhara, Lingodbhava are His forms.
Siva means that which is eternally happy or auspicious, Parama-mangala. Om and Siva are one. Mandukya Upanishad says: ‘Santam Sivam Advaitam’. Even an outcaste can meditate on the name of Lord Siva.
Siva manifests in the Gayatri Mantra, Agni and in the Sun. When you repeat Gayatri and when you worship the Agni and the Sun, you should meditate on Lord Siva.
Japa of Panchakshara and meditation of Lord Siva should be particularly done in the Pradosha Kala or just before the sunset. The Pradosha on the thirteenth Tithi after a full moon or a new moon day, is known as the Mahapradosha. The Devas visit Siva temples for the worship of the Lord at this period. You can worship the Devas also if you visit temples during Mahapradosha. Devotees of Lord Siva observe full fast on Mahapradosha days.
A devotee of Lord Siva should apply Vibhuti to his forehead and body. He should wear a Rudrakshamala. He should worship the Sivalinga with leaves of the Bilva tree. He should do Japa and meditation of the Panchakshara ‘Om Namah Sivaya’. Lord Siva is propitiated by everyone of these actions. Vibhuti or Bhasma is very sacred. It is worn by Lord Siva Himself. The bead of a Rudrakshamala represents the third eye on the forehead of Lord Siva. Bilva leaves are regarded to be one of the five abodes of Lakshmi or the Goddess of wealth.
It is Siva only who causes bondage and Mukti for the Jivas. It is Siva who makes the Jivas realise their essential Divine Nature. Siva made Maya as the body, senses and the Universe and thrust the Jivas into the Maya. He created the idea of egoism, ‘I’-ness in them. He bound them in Karma and made them experience pleasure and pain according to the nature of their Karmas, virtuous actions or vicious deeds. This is the stage of bondage of the Jivas.
Gradually it is Siva only who releases them from the fetters of egoism, Karma and Maya and makes them shine as Siva. This is the state of Moksha or freedom. It is only through the grace of Lord Siva, they attain the state of final emancipation.
The Jivas have no independence, when they are under the influence of the three impurities, i.e., Anava, Karma and Maya. They are endowed with a little knowledge (Alpajnana).
The Jiva must first know his nature and his relationship with Lord Siva in order to attain His grace. Life or Prana is in the body. Lord Siva is within the Prana. He is the Prana of Pranas, and yet He is distinct from the Pranas and body. If there is no Prana in the body, the body becomes a corpse. It cannot perform any action. Siva is the support for this body, Prana and Jiva. The Jiva cannot do any action without Siva. It is Siva who illumines the intellect. Just as the eye cannot see without the light of the sun, although it is endowed with the power to see, so also the intellect cannot function without the light of Lord Siva.
The four Sadhanas, viz., Charya, Kriya, Yoga and Jnana are the four steps to attain Salvation. They are like the bud, flower, unripe fruit and ripe fruit.
Lord Siva gradually frees the individual souls from egoism, Karma and Maya. The Jivas gradually become disgusted with the sensual pleasures. They become balanced in pleasure and pain. Through the grace of the Lord they understand that Karma is the cause for births and deaths. They begin to do actions for the Lord, serve the devotees of the Lord and attain purity of mind. They understand that the soul or Siva is distinct from the body, senses and mind and is beyond the reach of mind and speech. They get initiation into the significance of ‘Om Namah Sivaya’, the Panchakshara Mantra and meditate on Siva.
They practise Siva Yoga. Their hearts melt. Seer, sight and seen vanish. All the activities of senses, mind and intellect cease. They bathe Lord Siva with the stream of Divine Love that is generated in their heart and offer their heart as flower unto the Lord.
They hear the sound ‘Chilambosai’ and march forward through the path of the sound and behold the vision of Nataraja in the Chidakasa and are immersed in the ocean of Sivananda. They become one with the Lord, just as camphor melts in the fire.
Worship Siva Linga!
May Lord Siva bless us all!