To Shiva I Bow – The Significance of Om Namah Shivaya (Part 1)

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 A big thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love and encouragement you shower on the blog! 

Today I am putting into words the compulsion I have been feeling from within – to begin to write on Lord Shiva. 

Although I have been with Shiva through dance all my life, my fascination for the mystical Lord deepened when I was all of 16. From then to now – working at a place which has a beautiful Lord Shiva temple in its premises – the journey continues! 😀 

This is a different territory of knowledge for me to be exploring. Hope You enjoy the Read! 🙂

Although it had a normal beginning, it was going to be quite a remarkable day for young Devika as she sat staring at Lord Shiva at her favourite temple – the Jagadeeshwara Temple in Powai, Mumbai. 

Her elder brother Shivaansh whom she had gotten here for the first time early in the morning was seated beside her, immersed in meditation. For the hundredth time, she couldn’t help but wonder at the serenity that shone on the Lord’s smiling face. 

Shivaansh opened his eyes and saw her lost in the Lord. He smiled. He was a Shiva devotee himself and had been on some wonderful pilgrimages, but this place had taken his heart away. There was this incredible aura of divinity, the white marbled Lord a sight to behold.  

“Quite divine isn’t he?” he whispered. 

“Anna, there is something about Shiva that is so fascinating. That has always touched my soul. He has an aura, an energy that completely dissolves all your false notions – that completely dissolves “you” as an entity. I don’t think I can comprehend this completely.” she said still lost in the Lord. 

He was surprised at the intensity of her words. There was no one in the temple apart from them. It only added to the piercing silence. Suddenly she turned towards him. 

“Don’t you think that when you look at Shiva, when you meditate on Shiva – you are looking at Life itself as it is. Like you are meditating upon your true nature?” she asked. 

“Absolutely.” He replied having just experienced what she was speaking about. “Now that we are having this conversation, I have a question for you. Up for it?” He winked. 

Devika smiled. Her brother and his ways of having insightful conversations. How could she forget that as an advanced seeker, he was an inspiration for her! She jumped at the chance. 

“Yes, yes.” she replied excitedly. 

“Alright. You recently started chanting Om Namah Shivaya isn’t it? Do you know it’s origins?” Shivaansh questioned. 

“No..but what I have realised in these months is that the chant is one of the most simple yet potent ways to attune our energy to Shiva’s universal energy,” she answered. 

“Rightly said. So, this is a powerful Mahamantra the origins of which goes back thousands of years. It originates in Shri Rudram of the Yajurveda. Do you have your diary with you?” he knew her habit of carrying around a journal wherever she went. 

“The Mantra appears appears in the eighth hymn of Namakam ( TS 4.5.8.1) of Taittiriya Samhita (TS 4.5, 4.7) of Krishna Yajurveda. Like this, look.” he wrote the mantra to show her. 

Namaḥ śivāya ca śivatarāya ca ( नमः शिवाय च शिवतराय च । )

“Now, Om Namah Shivaya means, “I Bow down to Shiva” – who is the Supreme Reality, my own true Self. Thus it is a worship that allows you to move closer to the Source of all energy, lying in the cave of your own heart!” he grinned. 

Devika was listening intently. “So Anna, one of the most popular interpretations we come across is in Bhagawan Adi Sankaracharya’s Shiva Panchakshari Stotram isn’t it? Where Na, Mah, Shi, Va and Ya represent the five elements through which the Absolute manifests in the form of this universe.” she questioned eagerly. 

“Yes. These five elements are the building blocks of the universe and of our own beings as well. Let me write the breakdown for you. There is one more interpretation which I’ll talk about after this.” he said picking up the pen again. 

Om – The first vibration or sound that arose from the void of pure existence to begin the creation of the universe.

Na – Earth (solidity of the human body)

Mah – Water (manifests as blood in our body)

Va – Air (the process of breathing)

Shi – Fire (temperature of the body)

Ya – Sky or Space (the body occupies space)

“Can you tell me some more about this?” a curious Devika asked. 

“Alright so, in ancient times the metaphors the Rishis had to describe their experience of Consciousness were condensed and subtler, possibly even more than what we have today in the form of modern physics. Their metaphor was Shiva.” he paused gauging her expressions.

In their deep meditations, the sages experienced Shiva as the entire universe and Shiva as their own Self. Thus, this mantra when chanted becomes a powerful vibration that allows us to tune into our own true self, that is Shiva. Tell me, you have started the Japa. What have you noticed?” he questioned after explaining. 

“Hmm..What I have felt when I chant, and as the practice is getting deeper is a powerful silence and a cleansing of emotional baggage. I feel a lot more calmer than I ever was. And I also believe that knowing the entire meaning and significance of the chant helps deepen the practice.” she answered thoughtfully. 

“Wonderful!” Shivaansh replied, visibly thrilled. “Now, before getting in further, I forgot to ask you a basic question. Do you know the meaning of the word “Mantra”? 

To Be Continued…

I leave you with two links. Here’s one to listen to the Shiva Panchakshari Stotram – https://youtu.be/CYJ4udIsfBc.

Here’s another link, a magnetic Om Namah Shivaya chant to help you begin your own journey with the Mantra – https://youtu.be/9jScRVIZLic

See You Next Week with Part 2 of the story! 🙂

Love and Om,

Lakshmi.

The Ekasloki – Infinity Weaved Into A Single Verse

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 Thank You once again from the bottom of my heart for all the love and encouragement for the blog. It always means a lot. 😀 

In one of his talks on the Kathopanishad, Swami Tejomayananda explains in the most simple manner, the subtlest philosophy of Vedanta encapsulated in a single verse by Bhagawan Adi Sankaracharya.

It had left a deep imprint on my mind, thus today I am going to attempt to write about what is popularly known as Shri Adi Sankaracharya’s Ekasloki – essentially a conversation between him and a disciple who with reverence arrives to seek the Supreme Knowledge of the Self. 

Kim Jyothisthava bhanumaanahani me ratrau pradeepaadikam.

Syaadevam ravi deepa darsana vidhau kim jyothiraakhyaahi me 

Chakshustasya nimeelanaadi samaye kim dheeh dhiyo darsane 

Kim tatrahamatho bhavaan paramakam jyothisthadasmi prabho.

Seeker – O Master, what is the highest Truth enshrined in our scriptures to be realized in our hearts? How do we experience that state of supreme peace when thou knows, which the Yogis and Rishis revel in? 

Bhagawan – Tell me, how do you see the objects around during daytime? 

Seeker – With the help of sunlight. 

Bhagawan – And at night-time? 

Seeker– With the help of moonlight or by lighting a lamp. (Today, by switching on the tube light 😛 ). 

Bhagawan – Nice. Now how do you know this sunlight and moonlight? 

Seeker– With the help of my eyes. I see this light with my eyes. 

Bhagawan – Does it then not mean that sunlight illumines the objects alone? What then illumines your power of vision? How do you know what you see? How do you see even when your eyes are closed?

Seeker– With the help of my mind and intellect. Sunlight illumines the objects, my eyes see and understand with the help of the intellect. When I am asleep too I am aware of an internal world at play. 

Bhagawan – How do you know the intellect ? How are you aware even in the dream state? What then illumines the intellect?

Seeker– I know. I am aware. I just am. 

Bhagawan – Precisely. It is this self-illumining awareness that knows. That alone is. It needs no other light, no explanation. It shines by itself and illumines all our experiences. It cannot be reached by logic alone. For it is that which illumines even the intellect. Know this, understand this, glide into IT! 

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Now the question that arises – if the Self or Brahman as it is known is self-illumining, Then why do we need scriptures and paths to understand it? That is because we need it. The Self doesn’t need anything. It just is. 

We are caught up in the maze of our own likes and dislikes, constantly troubled by pangs of emotions and thoughts going haywire. Hence we need the guidance of the scriptures, of a Guru to walk the path until we grow to experience this state in the cave of our hearts. 

Isn’t it interesting that a table can never see the eyes. The eyes cannot see the mind. And the mind cannot see the Self! The flow of knowledge is unidirectional. Flowing from Brahman. 

What is that silence you experience when waves of the ocean lap at your feet? When you stand face to face with the majestic Himalayas on a trek? When you close your eyes to look within after climbing all the way up to a pilgrimage site like Kedarnath? 

Or simply when you hear a bird chirp?

What is that which shines calmly in the state of meditation? 

Ever given it a thought? Think! In the midst of self-created chaos – such are the moments that offer us a glimpse of that infinity called Brahman. Of that which shines in your own heart. Of that Light which You are. 

Here’s another gem by Bhagawan Adi Shankaracharya – the Nirvana Shatakam. Listen to it. It has the explanation too given in the video itself. https://youtu.be/UrZUQh6SpcQ.

Hope You Enjoyed the Read. Do Like and Leave Your Feedback – Cherish this dream with me! 😀

See You Next Week,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 

Meditation – The Person You Want To Become

Hari Om! Welcome back to the voyage inward. 🙂 My heart can never thank all of you enough for the love and encouragement you’ll pour upon the blog. Thank You so much! 

The science of Vedanta advises the treatment of meditation for making a genius out of an ordinary man.

Swami Chinmayananda

Recently in a talk on the Hamsa Gita (from Shrimad Bhagavatam) by Swami Tejomayananda of Chinmaya Mission I heard of a different interpretation of meditation which led to this blog. 🙂 

Most of us are familiar with meditation as a concept and practise even if it has different types. But are we aware that all of us practise meditation even in daily life? That if we pay a little more attention, it can become a transforming experience? 

What is meditation? It is a single-pointed flow of thought towards our object of contemplation. At the highest level it is meditation upon the formless Self, the Divinity that pervades all. 

In another popular aspect, one meditates upon various forms of the Lord like Rama, Krishna, Shiva and so on. When one meditates upon Shri Krishna for instance, when our thoughts flow single-pointedly towards Him, our mind imbibes the ideals He stands for – of equanimity, purity, joy and so on. 

Thus it becomes Sattvic Dhyanam. What does that mean? Sattva is one of the Three Gunas or qualities – the other two being Rajas and Tamas. 

Yes meditation while living can be Rajasic and Tamasic too! For example, directing our energy in simply earning money or self-centered activities with zero regard for anything else is Rajasic. A mind turned towards activities like terrorism or calculatively destroying another person’s life is Tamasic. Think, don’t these activities also require single-pointed focus? 

Whereas, Sattva stands for purity, where the mind is completely calm, ready for a flight to the Self. Dhyanam is meditation. Sattvic Dhyanam purifies, it uplifts and transforms us! 

How can we translate this into our daily life? If we look closely – each of us summons this ability of single-pointedness at different points in our lifetime. Whether it is pursuing our goals or simple household chores. 

The question is how does it become self-transforming? How does it become Sattvic Dhyanam? 

For that we need to take our mind away from everything we want to pursue and look at, “What kind of person do we want to become?” 

For unless you build your life upon the ideals of integrity and goodness, no matter what you build, it will never be truly fulfilling! Of utmost importance is to be a good if not a great human being. 

Thoughts channelized towards our goal is Dhyanam. When our goal is high, when we are inspired to become good human beings with each passing day, the most simple actions naturally become inspired and brilliant – be it managing a company or taking care of your family! 🙂 

Look at the life of India’s former President, Bharat Ratna Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. A great scientist, teacher, writer and patriot. At the core lay a humble, brilliant human being standing on the foundation of strong yet simple spiritual values. He was both a scientist and a saint. 

There are countless such examples. Thus before becoming anything else ask yourself, “What kind of a person do you want to become?” 

The direction in which your thoughts flow – here lies the secret to a lifetime of goodness and brilliance. 

I would like to conclude with this befitting statement by late Actor Sushant Singh Rajput –

For those of you who would like to listen to that particular talk by Swami Tejomayananda – https://youtu.be/_hh2hMGMlLw

Here’s a beautiful compilation of Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s speeches that I leave you with – https://youtu.be/-7TwMUyWSE0

See You Next Sunday,

Love and Om,

Lakshmi. 🙂