The Tirumantiram announces, "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 center aloft is Ya. Thus is the five-lettered form of Siva." Aum Namah Sivaya.
Aum Namah Sivaya is such a precious mantra because it is the closest sound that one can make to emulate the sounds rushing out of the Self into the mind. Chanting it is profound because it is a sound channel which you can follow to get close to the Self of your self--sort of like following a river upstream to yourself. Aum Namah Sivaya can be equated with Siva's drum of creation, called damaru. When "Aum Namah Sivaya" is repeated, we go through the chakras, Na-Ma Shi-Va-Ya Aum. The Aum is in the head chakra. Within Namah Sivaya is each of the elements--earth, water, fire, air and ether--which in the mind are transmuted into all-pervasive consciousness, and that is also transmuted, into the great chakra way above the head at the end of the Aum. In just the breath, the space of time between the next repetition of "Aum Namah SivayaÉAum Namah SivayaÉAum Namah Sivaya," the pranas, having reached Parasiva, fall back into the spiritual, mental, astral and physical worlds, blessing them all with new energy, new life and new understanding. "Namah Sivaya Aum, Namah Sivaya Aum, Namah Sivaya Aum, Namah Sivaya Aum" is the constant process of life. It is the essence of life itself. We must realize that at any given moment we are a complete Parasiva-Satchidananda jiva, only working on the "Maheshvara part"--on the jiva's becoming Siva. Parasiva is there. Satchidananda is there. The maturity of the purusha, of the jiva, the embodied soul, is not. Therefore, Aum Namah Sivaya takes us into the reality above and beyond the relatively real. To know it is to experience it, and to experience it is to become initiated.
I have been performing Aum Namah Sivaya for over fifty years. At first it had no meaning other than, "Wonderful, at last I got my mantra, and an assignment from my guru to perform japa regularly." As the japa progressed, all the inner worlds opened, all the doors of the mind. All the spiritual forces were unleashed, and the ability to control them came naturally. You see, Namah Sivaya Aum brings the totality of the individual to the forefront and makes it manifest in daily life. This most pragmatic mantra is found at the center of the Vedas, in the hymn known as Shri Rudram, and Siva is at the center of Namah Sivaya Aum. As the center of the Vedas, it blends Vedanta with Siddhanta, fusing them together with the fire of realization. So, I and all Saiva Siddhantists are a fusion of Vedanta and Siddhanta, with all doors open of understanding of the fourteen windows, the chakras of the mind, and even more than that.
My satguru, Siva Yogaswami, placed great emphasis on japa, repeating the name of Siva with concentration and feeling. This great Natha jnani explained, "May we not forget that mantra is life, that mantra is action, that mantra is love, and that the repetition of mantra, japa, bursts forth wisdom from within. Japa yoga is the first yoga to be performed toward the goal of jnana. In the temple perform japa. Under the sacred tree, perform japa. I performed japa all of this life as a silent sadhana, and it is automatic now." Siva Yogaswami enjoined his devotees: "Wear rudraksha beads, repeat the Panchakshara, let your heart grow soft and melt. Chant the letters five, and in love you will discover Siva's will. Chant so that impurities, anxieties and doubts are destroyed. All hail Namah Sivaya."
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