Aum Namah Shivaya is a mantra that purifies our system and helps bring meditativeness. Sadhguru looks at what it means to chant this mantra and speaks about why it is not to be chanted as Om Namah Shivaya but as Aum Namah Shivaya.
Aum Namah Shivaya sung by Isha Brahmacharis is part of Vairagya, an album of chants available as a free Android App and as mp3 downloads.
The right way to chant Aum Namah Shivaya
Sadhguru: The sound AUM is not to be uttered as Om. The way it is to be uttered is, open your mouth – “AAHH,” and as you slowly close your mouth it becomes “OOH,” and “MAA.” It is a natural happening. It is not something that you do. If you just exhale open your mouth and exhale, it will become “AAHH.” As you close your mouth, it slowly becomes “OOH”, and when you close it, it becomes “MMM.” “AAHH,” “OOH,” and “MAA” are known as the fundamental sounds of existence. If you utter these 3 sounds together, what do you get? “AUM.” So we say “AUM” is the most fundamental mantra. So the mantra is not to be uttered as “Om Namah Shivaya,” it is to be uttered as “Aum Namah Shivaya.”
Repeating a mantra with the right kind of awareness has always been the basic type of sadhana in most of the spiritual paths in the world. Most people are incapable of rising to the right levels of energy within themselves without the use of a mantra. I find more than ninety percent of the people always need a mantra to activate themselves. Without it, they are not able to sustain.
So the basic mantra, which is held as the Mahamantra in certain cultures, is Aum Namah Shivaya. Aum Namah Shivaya can be practiced in different dimensions. These are known as panchaksharas; there are five mantras in this. These panchaksharas represent the five elements in nature or they also represent the five main centers in the system – they are ways of activating these five centers. They are also a very powerful purifying system.
There are many different dimensions in which we can look at this mantra. Right now, we want to use this mantra as a purificatory process, and at the same time as a foundation, as a base for all meditativeness that we may attain to. Aum Namah Shivaya is not a bad word. You can utter it. The question is just, “Are you ready for it?” It is not about somebody. You’re not calling somebody. You want to dissolve yourself, because Shiva is a destroyer. If you call a destroyer and then you’re hoping that he will save you, it’s a mistake, isn’t it?
Editor’s Note: Mahashivarathri will be celebrated at the Isha Yoga Center on February 17, from 6pm – 6am IST. The nightlong celebration includes discourses and powerful meditations, along with musical performances by Zila Khan and Parthiv Gohil. Register for the live webstream.