The Om Namah Shivaya mantra or chant consists of six syllables – om, na, mah, shi, vaa, ya. When chanted properly, each syllable activates certain energy centers within our bodies as we meditate upon the energy of Lord Shiva. Shiva is often referred to as the part of the Hindu trinity which has dominion over death and destruction. Shiva is also considered the greatest of the yogis, the lord of meditation, and the lord of all that is mystic and mysterious in hindu practices. Legend has it that the holy river Ganges (or Ganga) is in fact a representation of Lord Shiva’s long hair.
Om or Aum is the pranava or seed mantra of all mantras. The two syllables na- and mah- can be translated as “I humbly bow to you”. The three syllables shi-vaa-ya invoke Lord Shiva and all his energies to bless us and lead us to the highest state of peace and meditation. The mantra should ideally be chanted twice a day (morning and evening) for 108 times each. The two words, namah and shivaya, are also referred to as the panchakshara (five letter) chant. It is said that those who chant these five holy letters while meditating on Lord Shiva will be blessed by visions of Shiva – the Lord of the yogis.