‘Panchaakshara Japa Mahatmya’and ‘Dhyana Yajna’

As Devi Parvati desired to comprehend the meaning of the Panchaakshra Mantra of Om Namasshivaaya, Parama Shiva explained the back ground: when the Universe became extinct at the Time of Pralaya, only he was present as Narayana who floated on the Great Water Surface as the Unique and Supreme Being. As he was thus lying on water, there sprouted a Lotus from his navel and on top of the stem emerged Brahma who desired to initiate ‘Srishti’ (Creation). He created ten ‘Manasa Putras’or Mind-Born Sons, but prayed to the Supreme Being ie. Maha Deva to empower him with Shakti to take up the exciting task of formal Creation. Then the latter provided ‘Upadesha’(instruction) to Brahma and in turn Brahma gave the Upadesha to his sons who did sincere Tapasya by the recitation of the Panchakshari for thousands of years, consuming only air and nothing else. Shiva was pleased with the meditaton and keeping in view the ‘Loka Kalyaana’ or Universal Welfare explained the purport of the Mantra, its Rishi, Devata, Shakti, Nyasa, Viniyoga and its Sampurna Swarupa or its Full Form:

Omityekaashram Mantram sthitah sarvagatah Shivah,

Mantrey shadaksha –rey sukshmey panchaakshara tavuh Shivah/

Vaachya vaachaka bhaavena sthitah saakshaat- swabhaavatah,

Vaachya Shivah prameyaatwaan Mantrastadvaachakah smritah/

Vaachya Vaachaka bhavenamanaadih samsthitastayo,

Vedi Shivaagamey vaapi yatra yatra Shadaksharah/

Guhyaadguhyataram saakshaanmoksha Jnaanamanuttamam,

Asya Mantrasya vakshyaami Rishicchandodhi Daivatam/

Beejam Shaktih Swaram varnam sthaanam chaivaaksharam prati,

Vamadevo naama Rishih Panktiscchanda udaatdhrutah/

Devataa Shiva yevaaham Mantrasyaasya varaananey,

Nakaaraadeeni beejaani Panchabhutaatmakaanicha/

Atmaanam Pranavam viddhi Sarvavyaapinamavyayam,

Shaktistwameva Deveshu Sarva Deva Namaskrutey/

Twadeeyam Pranavam kinchin –madeeyam Pranavam tathaa,

Twadeeyam Devi Mamtraanaam Shakti bhutam na shamshayah/

Akaarokaaramakaaraamadeeyo Pranavey sthitaah,

Ukaaramcha Makaaramcha Akaaramcha kramenavai/

Twadeeyam Pranavam Viddhi Trimaatram Pluta- muttamam,

makaarasya ssarodaatta Rishi Brahmaa sitam Vapuh/

<pChhando Devi Gayatri Para -maatmaadhi Devataa, <pUdaattah Prathamastudwacchaturyascha dwiteeyakah/ <pPanchamah Swaritaschaiva Madhyamo nishadhah smrutah, <pNakaarah peeta varnascha sthaanam urva mukham smrutam / <pIndriyodhi Devatam Gayatri Goutamey Rishih, <pMakaarah Krishna varnosya sthaanam vai Dakshinaamukham/ <pChhandonushtup Rishischaatri Rudro Daivata-muchyatey, <pShikaaro dhumra varnasya sthaanam vai Paschimam Mukham/ <pVishvaamitra Rishistrishthup cchando Vishnustwa Devaam, <pVakaaro Hema varnasya sthaanam chaivottaram Mukham/ <pBrahmaadhi Devatam cchando Brihati chaangiraa Rishih, <pYakaaro raktavarnascha Sthaana murdhvem Mukham Viraat/ <pCchando Rishirbharadwaajah Skando Daivatamuchyatey, <pNyaasamasya pravkshaami sarva siddhikaram Shubham /

(This Unique Single Akshara Mantra OM is firmly embedded in Shiva; this Mantra of six letters viz. Om Namah Shivaaya is actually considered as of Five Aksharas; from the view-point of ‘Vaachya’ and ‘Vaachaka’, Shiva is the Vaachya or the Target or He who is sought after and Vaachaka is the means to achieve the Vachya, viz. the Mantra; wherever the Mantra is recited there is Shiva; in fact the Mantra is the Essence of Vedas; the Vidwans who recite the Panchakshari as continuous Japa are sure to attain Moksha. This Parama Vidya is indeed of Shiva’s heart. The Rishi, Chhanda /Prosody, Devata, Beejam and Shakti of the Panchaakshari Mantra is as follows: Vama Deva is the Rishi, Pankti is the Cchanda, Shiva Himself is the Devata, Nakaaraadi Pancha beejas are Pancha Bhutaas; Pranava swara Om is Shiva’s Supreme Soul and also the Shakti. Each letter of the Mantra is distinguished wih the Rishi-Chhanda-Deva-Shakti-Beeja combination). Then as prescribed, the Anga Nyasa and Karanyasas should be performed before taking over the Mantra Japa. The person who is practising the Panchaakshara Mantra has to perform ‘Pranaam’or sincere salutation to his Guru with ‘Shraddha’by way of Maanasika- Vaachaka or Uccharana-Karma vidhaana or with purity of mind, humility of voice and perfection of deed and then take over the possession of the Mantra from the Guru at a Place of cleanliness, at an ideal time when Grahas, Nakshatras and Yogaas are well-placed. The Japa has to be performed with eqanimity of mind, full control of Indriyas-both Karmendriyas and Jnaanendriyas and of extreme concentration fixed at the targetted Shiva Maha Tatwa. It is stated that ‘Upaashyu Japa’ or slowly rendered Japa is hundred times superior and effective that Japa Yajna; when any Japa or repetetive recitation of a Mantra is performed, then that Japa is called ‘Vaachaka’or vocal in kind; the Upanshu Japa has slight lip-movement; but Japa of the best is called ‘Maanasika’ when only mind and thought are at work. Indeed any of the above types of Panchaakshari Japa done with unflinching concentration by aligning Parama Shiva and the Self would definitely yield Siddhis. But mere japa of the Panchakshari wthout securing the balance of mind and target are of no avail. Without ‘Sadaachaara’ or of Self Regulaton and Good Observance of Morality and Virtue, any amount of Japa would be fruitless:

Yasmaadaachaara heenasya Saadhanam nishphalam bhavet,

Aachaaram Paramo Dharma Aachaarah Paramo Tapah/

Aachaaram Paramo Vidyaa Aachaarah Paramaa Gatih,

Sadaachaaravataam Pumsaam Sarvatraabhayam bhavet/

Aachaara heenaanaam Sarvatraiva bhayam bhavet,

Aachaara heenah Purusho Lokey bhavati ninditah/

(Without Aachara and good conduct, any kind of Sadhana or Endeavour is neither possible nor fruitful since Aachaara is the prerequisite of any virtious deed; Aachara is the Parama Dharma, the Parama Tapas, Parama Vidya and Parama Gati or way of Life. Persons of Aachara have access to every thing that is right where as those without Aachara are either afraid, misguided or suspected). In the same context, Maha Deva emphasised to Devi Parvati the utmost significance of performing ‘Trikaala Sandhyopaasana’and recital of Gayatri Mantra daily. Sandhya Vandana ought not to be discarded at any cost or provocation of the ‘Shadvargas’ of Kaama-Krodha-Lobha- Moha- Mada-Matsaras. A Brahmana loses his Brahmanatwa as soon as he ceases to observe this ‘Daily Niyama’ or Regulation mandatory to a Brahmana. Parama Shiva further underlined the basic principles of Virtue viz. Truthfulness:

Yatsatyam Brahma ityaahurasatyam Brahma dushanam,

Anrutam Parusham Shathyam Paishunyam Paapa hetukam/

Paradaaraanparadravyam Parahimsaam cha sarvadaa,

Kkachicchaapi na kurvati Vaachaa cha Manasaa tathaa/

(Refrain from ‘Asatyam’ or speaking lies: Truth is Brahma and Asatya is as bad as ridiculing Brahma himself; haughtiness, wickedness, slandering are all germinators of depravities and derelictions. Para Daaraa, Para dravya, Para himsa and such other immoralities are not even thought of, let alone done. Shiva was emphatic about the observance of Varnaashrama Vidhana. Brahmanas should never take food without taking bath, nor performing Japa, Agni Karya, and such deeds; they should follow a strict regimen in the context of food consumption as Shiva is always considered as a Bhokta of Naiveydya -anna or the food offered to him by Bhaktaas. Drinking water by one’s mouth, while standing, by the left hand and handed over by others. Never walk alon on lonely places, never meditate to Devas by showing the back such as Surya and Chandra Devas, nor even to Pratimas of Gods. As Agni is pure and Sacred, never cross it, jump over or spit. Similarly, never misuse Rivers, Sarovaras and other water bodies as they too are among the Pancha Bhutas. Never touch animals like serpents, dogs, donkeys, camels, birds and so on. Most importanly, one should esteem his or her Guru as equal to Tri Murtis and that is why the hymn:

Guruh Brahma Gurur Vishnu Gurur Devo Maheswaraha,

Guruh Saakshaat Parahbrahma tasmai Shri Guraveynamah/

The anger or even marginal displeasure of Guru would advesely affect the Sishya’s morale, reputation, thinking capacity and recurrent difficulties of life including ill-health, poverty and untimely death! It should be against such controlled and virtuous life that the concentrated practice of Panchaakshari Mantra would yield maximum results.

Sabeeja samputam Mantram Shata Laksham Jepeycchruchih,

Matsaayujya mavaapnoti Bhaktimaan Kimatah Param/

That was what Maha Deva assured Devi Parvati.

Dhyana Yagna: As Parama Shiva was resting in a cave of Kailasha Mountain with Girija Devi, a few renowned Maharshis entered and commended him for his feat of gulping Kalakuta Visha when Maha Deva corrected them that the Samasara Visha was to be considered worse than the Kalakuta and should be avoided at all costs; the best way of avoidance is to disbelieve what ever was seen, heard and imagined and that was what the Nivrutthi Marga was all about. In the Samsara, there are various Jeevaas of Udbhija-Swedaja-Andaja and Jaraajaya nature (Sprouted from Earth, born out of sweat, born out of eggs and born out of yoni) and they are all subject to desires which spread out far and wide like wild fire and end up each and every material into Bhasma. Like the diseases of the nature of Raaga and Dwesha (Liking or disliking) the canker spreads a huge tree and finally gets uprooted. The big tree called Punya gets fallen and even Devas were not free from the falls or periodic dethronements but for the intervention of Maha Shaktis! Deva, Danava, Nripa and Manavaas are all subject to the distresses and torments of life. Vidya and Para Vidya or Vignaan and Atma Jnaan (Knowledge and the Spitituality) are no doubt the way out to conquer Samsara; Apara Vidya or Akhshara Gyan comprises Vedas and Vedantaas like Siksha, Kalpa, Vyakarana and so on and are of Shabda Swarupa. Doubtless, these means of Paraa and Aparaa Vidyas are useful to a great extent but Bhagavan would be the ultimate to free from the worldly bondages. These are indeed the steps forward from Samsara to Salvation or from Ajnaana to Jnaana to Paramatma. In other words, Agnaana arising out of Arishadvargas of Kama-Krodha etc would get dissolved by Gyana of the above kinds like Fire and from the melting pot, one could qualify to realise Shiva without whose instructions, Surya would not get woken up, Vayu would not proceed further and Chandra would not shine on the Sky, Agni would not produce heat and light, Bhumi would not hold the Samsara and so on. Now to overcome the Samsarika Visha or the Poison of Life, there are no other ways of Gyaan and Dhyaan.

Samsaara vishatatpaanaam Jnaanadhyaanaamruteyna vai,

Pratikaara samaakhyaato naanyathaa Dwijasattamaah/

Jnaanam Dharmodbhavam Saakshaat jnaanaa-dwiraagya sambhavah,

Vairaagyaatparamam jnaanam Paramaartha prakaashakam/

Jnaana Vairagya yuktasya Yoga Siddhirdwijottama,

Yoga Siddhya vimuktih Syaatsatva nishthasya naanyathaa/

Tamovidyaapadacchinnam yatpadamavyayam,

Sarva Shaktim Samaasthaaya Shivamabhyarchaey dwijaa/

Yah Satvanistho madbhakto madaschana Paraayanah,

Sarvato Dharma nishthascha Sadotsaahi Samayutah/

Sarva dwanda saho dheerah Sarva bhutahitey ratah,

Rujuswabhaavah satatam swastha chitto mruduh sada /

Amaani Buddhimaan- cchantastyaktaspardho Dwijottama,

Sadaa Mumukshurdharmajnah swaatmalakshana lakshanah/

Runatraya vinirmuktah purva jnmani Punya bhaak,

Jaaa yukto Dwijo bhutwaa Shraddayaa cha Guroh krammat/

Anyathaa vaapi sushrushaam krutwaa krutrima vajkitah,

Swargaloka manupraapya bhuktwaa bhogaananukramaat/

(The poison of Life bursting into flames and burning off Manavaas would never cease excepting by the recourse of Jnaana and Dhyana; those who could withstand the extremes of life as also possess soft attitude, equaminity, gentleness, maturity of outlook, peacefulness, previous birth’s carry forward of virtue, and are devoid of jealousy, anger, avarice, passion, arrogance shoul attain Swargaloka. Sacrifice, determination and progressive attitude would be the singular way-out of withstanding the poisons of Samsara!)

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham

Kamakoti.org presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.

Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by
V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager,
India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi
Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India
The author can be contacted at raovdn@yahoo.co.in