The Shiva Purana (English translation)

by J. L. Shastri | 1970 | 616,585 words

This page relates “glory of the five-syllabled mantra of shiva (1)” as found in the Shiva-purana, which, in Hinduism, represents one of the eighteen Mahapuranas. This work eulogizes Lord Shiva as the supreme deity, besides topics such as cosmology and philosophy. It is written in Sanskrit and claims to be a redaction of an original text consisting of 100,000 metrical verses.

Chapter 12 - The glory of the five-syllabled mantra of Śiva (1)

Lord Kṛṣṇa said:—

1. O omniscient excellent sage, ocean of all knowledge, I wish to hear precisely about the glory of the five-syllabled mantra.

Upamanyu said:—

2. It is impossible to explain in detail the glory of the five-syllabled mantra even in hundreds of crores of years. Hence hear it in brief.

3-5. The six-syllabled mantra is found in the Veda and Śivāgama. It facilitates the understanding of all topics by the devotees of Śiva. It consists of very few syllables but is pregnant with meaning. It is the essence of the Vedas. It is conducive to salvation. This expression of auspicious nature is devoid of doubts. It is achieved by the order of Śiva. It is attended by many Siddhis. It is divine and delightful to the mind. That expression ‘lord Śiva’ is majestic and decisive in meaning.

6. The omniscient lord Śiva mentioned the mantra, “Oṃ Namaḥ Śivāya” for the acquisition of all topics and meanings by the embodied beings since it can be easily uttered through the mouth.

7. The first mantra consisting of six syllables is the seed of all lores. It is very subtle but serves a great purpose. It shall be known like the seed of the banyan tree.

8. The omniscient lord, the creator of everything, the all-pervasive Śiva who is beyond the three attributes, is stationed in the single-syllabled mantra Om.

9-10. The five subtle Brahmans are stationed in the mantra “Namaḥ Śivāya” occupying one syllable each. Thus in the six-syllabled subtle mantra, Śiva in the form of Pañca Brahmans[1] is stationed in the way of Expressed and Expressive. Innately Śiva is ‘Expressed’ and the mantra is ‘Expressive’ due to its comprehensibility.

11. This state of being the expressive and the expressed is beginningless inasmuch as this terrible ocean of worldly existence functions without a beginning.

12-16. Śiva too is beginningless and he is the releaser of persons from the worldly existence. Just as the medicine is naturally antagonistic to ailments so also Śiva is antagonistic to the ills of worldly existence. If the lord of the universe had not been in existence, the whole universe would have been gloomy, since the Prakṛti is insentient and the Puruṣa is ignorant. Pradhāna, the atom etc. are insentient. They never function as the makers themselves without an intelligent cause. The instruction in virtue and evil, the bondage and salvation, the activity of reflection—in view of all these things the first creation of men would not have been possible without the omniscient lord. Just as the patients will be devoid of joy and be distressed without the physician so also the people would be in distress without the lord.

17. Hence, surely there is the lord, the primordial omniscient, perfect, Sadāśiva, the protector of persons from the ocean of worldly existence.

18. Śiva is devoid of beginning, middle and end. He is the lord innately pure, omniscient and perfect as mentioned in Śaivite Āgamas.

19. This mantra expresses him. He is the person expressed by the great Mantra.

20. The Śivajñāna, is as extensive as the expression of Śiva, the six-syllabled mantra, ‘Oṃ Namaḥ Śivāya’.

21-23. This mantra is a positive statement and not a parable. How can Śiva, who is all-perfect, all-pervasive, innately pure and who blesses the worlds, mention a false theory? As things stand by nature along with their virtues and flaws, and the fruits they are capable of producing, how can the omniscient being mention untruth? Only one influenced by passion, ignorance and other flaws will speak untruth.

24. Those two faults are not present in the lord. How can he then make a wrong statement? Surely therefore the expression that is uttered by Śiva, the omniscient without any flaw, is authoritative.

25. Hence, the statements of lord Śiva shall be faithfully considered by a learned man. In regard to merits and sins as they are, a person having no faith in him falls.

26. The good statements uttered by the sages quiet and calm for the achievement of heaven and salvation shall be considered ‘sacred utterances.’

27. The utterances that are actuated by passion, hatred, falsehood, anger, lust and greediness are bad. They cause one’s fall into hell.

28. Of what avail is that statement of ignorance and lust which is the cause of worldly pain even if it be polished, soft and charming?

29. Even that ugly statement which on being heard brings in welfare and the destruction of lust etc., should be considered auspicious.

30. Although there are many mantras, there is nothing like the holy mantra uttered by Śiva.

31. The Vedas and Śāstras along with their ancillaries are present in the six syllables. Hence there is no other mantra equal to this.

32. Just as an aphorism is ramified and expanded by its gloss, the six-syllabled mantra is expanded by seven crores of great and subsidiary mantras.

33. Whatever texts there are, the texts expounding Śiva’s knowledge, the repositories of lore, they are the commentaries of the succinct aphorism, the six-syllabled mantra.

34. Of what avail are many mantras and Śāstras full of details to one whose heart is firmly established in the mantra “Om Namaḥ Śivāya?”

35. If anyone has stabilised the Mantra “Oṃ Namaḥ Śivāya” by frequent practice, he has learnt all, heard all and performed all.

36. Life is fruitful indeed, of the person, at the tip of whose tongue is present the sec of three syllables ‘Śivāya’ prefixed with the word denoting obeisance.

37. A person steady in the Japa of the five-syllabled mantra is released from the cage of sins whether he be a Śūdra, base-born, fool or a learned man.

38. This was mentioned by the lord when asked by the goddess, for the benefit of all men, particularly of brahmins.

Footnotes and references:


See Vāy II. 3.4.: ŚRS 1.36.