Om Namah Shivaya
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Translation and origin
Its translation is "salutations (namas) to Shiva", preceded by the devotional syllable "Om". The syllable "ya" at the end of the mantra denotes an offering. Thus the mantra Om Namah Sivaya actually means "I offer to Siva a respectful invocation of His Name", and not merely "I respectfully invoke His Name". Om Namah Shivaya mantra is sung by devotees in prayers and recited by yogis in meditation. It is associated with qualities of prayer, divine-love, grace, truth, and blissfulness.
Traditionally, it is accepted to be a powerful healing mantra beneficial for all physical and mental ailments. Soulful recitation of this mantra brings peace to the heart and joy to the [Ātman] or soul. Many Hindu teachers consider that the recitation of these syllables is sound therapy for the body and nectar for the Ātman.  The nature of the mantra is the calling upon the higher self; it is the calling upon Shiva, the destroyer deity, to aid in the death (destruction of ego) and rebirth achieved during meditation.  This is generally accepted within Hinduism for mantras and chants to different gods as well, which are all seen as different aspects of the higher self .
It is called Siva Panchakshara, or Siva Panchakshari, the "five-syllable" mantra (viz., excluding the Om) dedicated to Siva. The Siva Panchakshari mantra is the most holy salutation to Śiva. The Panchakshara can be recited by Shiva devotees during pooja, Japa, Dhyana, homa and while smearing Vibhuti.
The Tamil Saivaite hymn Tiruvacakam begins with the five letters 'na' 'ma' 'ci' 'vaa' and 'ya'. It is part of the Shri Rudram Chamakam, a Hindu prayer taken from the Yajurveda, and thus predates the use of Shiva as a proper name, in the original context being an address to Rudra (later Shiva), where śiva retains its original meaning as an adjective, meaning "auspicious, benign, friendly", a euphemistic epithet of Rudra.
- "Na" sound represents earth
- "Ma" sound represents water
- "Si" sound represents fire
- "Va" sound represents Pranic air
- "Ya" sound represents sky
Its total meaning is that universal consciousness is one.
In popular culture
In her autobiographical memoir, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (2007), Elizabeth Gilbert explained that the first chant provided by her guru was "Om Namah Shivaya." Gilbert wrote that this meant "I honor the divinity within me."
Om Namah Shivay was also a TV serial telecasted on an Indian TV Channel, DD National (DD-1).
These words are chanted by characters Yogi & Reggie as in the 2014 video game Far Cry 4 as the protagonist experiments with their psychedelic concoctions; the fictional religion in the game is loosely based on Hinduism, thus the chant.
"Om Namah Shivaya" is also featured in the "Serpente" (Serpent, snake) song in the SETEVIDAS (SEVENLIVES) album (Deckdisc, 2014) by the Brazilian singer Pitty, the princess of rock in Brazil.
Om Namah Shivay is the tenth album (and eighth solo album) by Nina Hagen, released in 1999.
"Om Namah Shiva" is found in Jah Wobble's Heaven and Earth album.
"Om Namah Shivaya" is found in MC Yogi's Elephant Power album.
"Om Namaha Shiva" is found on Shiela Chandra's Weaving My Ancestors' Voices album.
"Om Namah Shivaya" Peace offering is found on Apache Indian's Best of Apache Indian 2000 album.
"Om Namah Shivaya" is found on Album Vairagya: Bonding with Beyond by Isha Sounds.
- Elizabeth Gilbert (2007). Eat, Pray, Love. p. 133.
- "Other Prayers: Aum Namah Shivaya Mantra". www.AradiaGoddess.com. Retrieved 9 September 2010.