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The Ṇamōkāra mantra or Navkar Mantra is the most significant mantra in Jainism, and one of the oldest mantras in continuous practice.  This is the first prayer recited by the Jains while meditating. The mantra is also variously referred to as the Pancha Namaskāra Mantra, Namaskāra Mantra, Navakāra Mantra, or Paramesthi Mantra.
Below is the meaning of Namokar Mantra line by line, wherein the devotee first bows to the five supreme souls or Pañca-Parameṣṭhi:
- Arihant— Those who have destroyed the four inimical karmas
- Siddha — The persons who have achieved "Siddhi"
- Acharyas — The teachers who teach how to behave / live one's life ( Acharya = one who teaches Aacharan )
- Upadhyaya — Preceptor of less advanced ascetics
- Sādhu — The monks or sages in the world practicing Samyak Charitra (right conduct)
- He also says that by bowing to all these five supreme souls,
- All his Karmas can get destroyed and
- Wishes for well being of each and every living entity
- He finally says that this mantra is the most auspicious one
There is no mention of any particular names of the gods or any specific person. The prayer is done towards the guṇa (the good qualities) of the gods, teachers and the saints. Jains do not ask for any favors or material benefits from the tirthankaras or monastics. This mantra simply serves as a gesture of deep respect towards beings whom they believe are spiritually evolved, as well as to remind the people of their ultimate goal i.e. moksha (liberation). The Navkar Mantra consists of 68 letters.
|णमो अरिहंताणं||Ṇamō Arihantāṇaṁ||I bow to the Arihants|
|णमो सिद्धाणं||Ṇamō Siddhāṇaṁ||I bow to the Siddhas.|
|णमो आयरियाणं||Ṇamō Ayariyāṇaṁ||I bow to the Acharyas.|
|णमो उवज्झायाणं||Ṇamō Uvajjhāyāṇaṁ||I bow to the Upadhyayas.|
|णमो लोए सव्व साहूणं||Ṇamō Lōē Savva Sāhūṇaṁ||I bow to all of the Sages of the world.|
|एसो पंच णमोक्कारो, सव्व पावप्पणासणो||Ēsōpan̄caṇamōkkārō, savvapāvappaṇāsaṇō||This five-fold salutation completely destroys all the sins.|
|मंगला णं च सव्वेसिं, पढमं हवई मंगलं||Maṅgalā ṇaṁ ca savvēsiṁ, paḍamama havaī maṅgalaṁ||And, of all auspicious mantras, (it) is indeed the foremost auspicious one.|
The Namokar Mantra may abbreviated to Oṃ Namaḥ Siddhanam (6 syllables), Om Nhi (2 syllables), or just Om (1 syllable) in Jain literature.
Meditate on, recite or chant the sacred mantras, consisting of thirty-five, sixteen, six, five, four, two and one letter(s), pronouncing the virtues of the five supreme beings (Pañca-Parameṣṭhi). Besides, meditate on and chant other mantras as per the teachings of the Preceptor (guru).
- Voorst 2015, p. 107.
- Jaina, Ravīndrakumāra and Kusuma Jaina (1993). A Scientific Treatise on Great Namokar Mantra. Delhi: Arihant International, Keladevi Sumatiprasad Trust. ISBN 81-7277-029-4.
- Jain 1917, p. 61.
- Shah, Natubhai (1998). Jainism: The World of Conquerors. Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 1-898723-31-1.
- Rapson, "Catalogue of the Indian coins of the British Museum. Andhras etc...", p XVII.
- Full text of the Hathigumpha Inscription in English Archived 17 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- von Glasenapp 1999, pp. 410-411. sfn error: no target: CITEREFvon_Glasenapp1999 (help)
- Jain 2013, p. 173.
- Voorst, Robert E. Van (2015), RELG: World (Second ed.), Cengage Learning, ISBN 978-1-285-43468-1
- Jain, Vijay K. (2013), Ācārya Nemichandra's Dravyasaṃgraha, Vikalp Printers, ISBN 9788190363952,
- Jain, Champat Rai (1917), The Ratna Karanda Sravakachara, The Central Jaina Publishing House