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.

Isha Chants – Free Android App
Vairagya – mp3 download

The Panchaksharas

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.

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POSTED IN:Lifestyle, Music
TAGS: Chants, Vairagya
  • Puspavanu

    Thanks a lot

    • Anindita

      Geez, just go with it. That’s what I get from Sadhguru..what is all this “should I do this, should I do that?” Your relationship with Him or the Divine is a very personal one. The mantra I used to utter, even before the CD came out. When Sadhguru chants this during Shivaratri it just rips up something. It just brings out a deep something out. It feels so good. So what’s the fear?

      • Santhosh

        very true Anindita !!

  • shreya

    So how can i know if i am ready or not?and should we just listen it or we can also chant along? Please help…

    • Swami Kevala
      • Chetan Balwe

        I don’t really see how to “just listen” to a chant without actually chanting along. If you listen with genuine involvement, you end up chanting along at least internally if not orally. Besides, in this post, Sadhguru says “you can utter it”… so this is extremely confusing.

        • disqus_GWjpjNPCFE

          I agree, I’m confused if it’s okay to start chanting along because after awhile it just feels natural to do so. Even when the chanting stops, it is with me throughout the day and I would like to continue, but I am afraid to do so.

        • Avinash Bachate

          One can create “confusion” in anything simple.

          In Varigya album Sadghuru says “listen” and also somewhere he says “utter”. Its ok. But if you read all the description below each mantra on the blog, except “Aum….” he never said “don’t”.

      • shreya

        Thanks a lot…

    • Avinash Bachate

      Whether you are ready or not, only you will be able to know that, not even Sadhguru.

      Its your choice you can just listen to all 5 or chant all 5. But here Sadhguru has explicitily said “listen”.

  • Vivek Sundar

    I have a serious doubt. Last year Sadhguru said in Maha Shivrathri that one should not chant “Aum Namah Shivaya” on any other day. But in Vairagya album, this is also present. So can someone or sadhguru clarify on how to use this album, whether we can listen to it without chanting it ourself, or can we also chant it during all days of the year. I would be glad if the editors can forward this doubt to Sadhguru.

    • LakshV

      I don’t see an inconsistency. Sadhguru told a story about how when panchakshara is uttered a being was transformed into higher and higher levels of existence, but in order for that to happen the older state of existence must “go”. Many of us are not ready to give up anything, we are very invested in what we have and we are only interested in acquiring more. So Sadhguru says if you are ready to lose what you have in order to transform to a higher possibility then do it. That’s the “readiness”, He was talking about, the readiness to give up what we think we have, even if it is very dear to us.

    • Avinash Bachate

      Namaskaram, Sadhguru has clarifed enough times that “those who are capable” of chanting this mantra, can do so. Even in above discription he has given you the “choice”.

      As far as Vairagya album, Sadhguru says you just listen to all these 5 mantras thruout the day …….days…….just listen without any choosing. Later on we will be given an choice to pick the “ONE” which is part of us (or become part of our life after repeatedly hearing all 5).


    • Isha Blog Moderator

      It was generally advised not to chant “Aum Namah Shivaya” because of its impact on a person. Shiva is known as the destroyer, so calling Him through this mantra is beneficial for those who have dedicated themselves to the spiritual path, as a way of destroying their limitations. It may not be conducive for those in family situations who are involved in certain aspects of life. However, one can listen to the mantra.

      • Vivek Sundar

        Thank you for your reply.

      • Anil Yakthumba

        I am sorry to write this because it really confused and frustrated that a normal person can not chant the mantra and you wrote

        “The right way to chant Aum Namah Shivaya” in same page for whom it will apply. Is it really strictly prohibited (disaster) for general group of people, who are part of family. I don’t know why but it is quite hard to accept, we are also not that much impure, may be none of us are 100% and we have a faith god is everywhere even inside of us too.Please write the right suggestion it is really doubtful and I apologize if i write something bad. But I really need the answer.

      • Varun

        How can chanting name of Shiva be against family situations? Didn’t Shiva have a family? Parvati, Ganesha, Kartikeya, Muruga etc.. ???

      • Martin

        hmmm what do you mean family situations? Would you stop caring for people around you? Thanks!

  • Ranjani

    To me, If my master made me see this page today, it means he thinks I am ready for it, for if not, I would have missed seeing this page . :) Nothing that is happening or will happen is without a reason…without my Master’s grace, there is no way anything can happen…no time to ask questions…for I dont know if there is enough time left at all in the first place..Namaskarams Sadhguru…

  • Chetan Balwe

    I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Sadhguru has been quite explicit in the past about not chanting the Mahamantra. So I really wish there could be some clarification about this.

    • Srini

      Don’t do something because Sadhguru said so. Don’t not do something because Sadhguru said so. He is Sadhguru and you are you. Please use your own intelligence and decide for yourself. If you are still not clear if YOU want to chant the mantra or not, please read the last line in the article again.

  • shoonya

    i have a doubt….is there much difference between ye devi linga bhairvi mantras and vairagya mantras?…what if i like to listen those mantras rather then these…..then can i opt for that?….will that have the same effect as these??….or i must choose one of these to go with me for arnd a month compulsorily??…

  • kskumaran

    Namaskaram Sadhguru,
    For a Grihastha yogi or for those trying to become one , wouldnt he be able to balance “Aum nama shivaya” and family equally. Kindly pardon my ignorance. This is a deep rooted doubt, humbly request your guidance.

  • Aravindhan

    My doubt is that CAN I CHANT IT OR NOT?

    • narahem

      Yes you can chant it … I even chant it e en though i am not a part of its religion. Only chant that for the good of you and not for destroying others you don’t habe to leave what you have instead encourage someone to be a part of a mantra is the best thing fhat you can do to share with them the greatness of lord Shivaya.

  • Garluaan Kaur

    Namaskaram, can l chat this mantra, l had been doing shambhavi Mahamudra for the last 8 months,

  • alex

    get out of you head do some yoga asanas and relax a lot, be the breath and enjoy the chanting, no need to worry no ned to hurry be the breath.

  • Premal

    There are really many traditions where Aum Namah Shivaya is being chanted all day long to the great benefit of those who do it.
    From my experience, it is such a beautiful mantra and it DOES invoke Shiva who is soooo exquisitely beautiful that it is better to be ‘destroyed’ by Shiva than to be ‘saved’ by false beliefs and values.
    Love is the only thing needed…
    God bless you.

  • Avanish-Kashti SoulSerenades

    There should no worries…i have been chanting om namah shivaya since 3years…i have experienced great benefits..chanting 108 times daily…i wonder who destroys…..shiva is also protector…so by surrendering to the lotus feet of lord shiva…you purify yourself….god is love…he would never destroy you…!! the article is very disappointing ..needs clarification…its misguiding! ..this link would give you clear understanding of chanting this mahamantra and its benefits.!! OM NAMAH SHIVAYA..May lord shiva bless all:):)

  • narahem

    You can listen any mantra that suits you you will feel a mabtra that is best for you.

  • Saran Kumar V

    Sir I have a doubt regarding this mantra.I have seen in the internet that Aum Namashivaya mantra has a short form and a long form.I am confused whether this is actually true or not.This youtube video is my source:
    I hope Sadhguru can give me the right explanation on this.

  • ShivYogi

    The YOU he is referring to the idea of YOU based on body consciousness. Shiva destroys that by making you realize you are Shiva. As the mahamantra purifies you and maya’s hold is weakened you realize you are pure consciousness which is Shiva.

  • Shibu

    Beloved Sadhguru ,

    Can you give me Deeksha on :Aum Namshivaya ” ?

  • George Simos

    This is interesting but i just have one question about AUM and OM. Sadhguru says that AUM is the correct way to pronounce. But Buddhists monks pronounce it OM. Why is this? You can hear them chanting om mani padme hum on numerous documentaries and common tibetan folk as well.

  • Bar Ra

    Hello Friends,
    Could anybody tell me how should I understand the Om Namah Shivaya mantra? I uploaded it a few days ago to my ipod and keep listening. But my native language is Polish and I don’t know if I have a correct understanding of this mantra. I read the explanation I found through Google, and it says that Om Namah Shivaya means, “I bow to Shiva.” But to me, as I listen to this mantra, the chanting and the drums don’t sound as for someone that is bowing, it rather sounds to me as if one was preparing for a war or some kind of fight. I don’t know if I am clear enough about this, please, help me understand.