When it comes to spiritual literature, Stotras deserve a special mention. Mantras, Shlokas, Stutis, etc., all come under the category of spiritual literature. But unlike Mantras and Shlokas, Stotras are not governed by strict rules that need to be followed when chanting them. Unlike most Stutis, Shlokas are written in Sanskrit and have a very deep meaning attached to them. You may chant the Stotra like Mantras or sing them with music like Bhajans.
The Panchakshara Stotra
The word 'Panchakshar' translates to "five words". It refers to the five words that make up the holy chant of the Panchakshari Mantra - Om Namah Shivaya. Each syllable of the Panchakshari Mantra, ie., Na, Ma, Shi, Va, Ya, represents Lord Shiva. Each stanza of the Stotra starts with an individual syllable and sings the praise of Lord Shiva. This Stotra is the work of Shri Adi Shankaracharya, who is also considered by many to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva.
The Hindus believe that the mortal body is made up of five holy elements. Each syllable of the Panchakshara Stotra represents the energy of these holy elements. 'Na' is for Prithvi, 'Ma' is for Jal, 'Shi' denotes Agni, 'Va' refers to Vayu, and 'Ya' represents the Akash or space.
Continue reading to know more about the Panchakshara Stotra and its significance
Nagendra haraya trilochanaya
Nityaya suddhaya digambaraya
Tasmai nakaraya namah shivaya
I worship Lord Shiva who wears the snake (vasuki) as a garland, the three-eyed Lord and the one whose body is covered in ash. I pray to the one who is eternal, pure and wears the directions as clothes. I salute the syllable ‘Na' which is Lord Shiva himself.
Mandakini salila chandana charchitaya
Nandishwara pramatha natha maheshwaraya
Mandara mukhya bahu pushpa supujitaya
Tasmai makaraya namah shivaya
I worship Lord Shiva who is bathed forever by the cool waters of the river Ganga. I pray to the one who wears sandal paste and has Nandi as his chief. I bow to the one who is offered Mandara flower and many other flowers. I salute the syllable ‘Ma' which is Lord Shiva himself.
Shivaya gauri vadan aravindaya
Suryaya dakshadhwara nashakaya
Shri neelakantaya vrishdhwajaya
Tasmai shikaraya namah shivaya'
I worship the one who has Goddess Parvati as his spouse, who is like the lotus. I pray to the one who is like the sun and who destroyed the arrogance of Daksha. I bow to the one who has a blue throat and whose flag carries the symbol of the bull. I salute the syllable ‘Shi' which is Lord Shiva himself.
Vashishta kumbha udbhava gautam adi
Munindra dev archita shekharaya
Chandra arka vaishvanara lochanaya
Tasmai vakaraya namah shivaya
I worship the one who is the Lord of mighty sages like Vashishta, Gautama and Agasthya. I pray to the one who is the jewel of the universe. I bow to the three-eyed Lord who has the sun, the moon and Agni as his eyes. I salute the syllable ‘Va' which is Lord Shiva himself.
Yaksha swaroopaya jata dharaya
Pinaka hastaya sanaatanaya
Sudivya dehaya digambaraya
Tasmai yakaraya namah shivaya
I worship the one who is Yagnya personified and has matted hair. I pray to the one who wields the Trishool and is divine. I pray to the one who shines forever and has the directions for clothes.
I salute the letter ‘Ya' which is Lord Shiva himself.
As a conclusion, recite the following...
"Panchaksharam-Idam Punnyam Yah Patthe-Shiva-Samnidhau,
Shivalokam-Aavaapnoti Shivena Saha Modate."
Whoever chants this holy Panchakshata Stotra in the presence of Lord Shiva will attain ‘Shiva Loka' and will forever exist within Lord Shiva.
Sri Adi Shankaracharya wrote this Stotra as a means to please Lord Shiva and to win his grace. It can be chanted individually or along with other Mantras and Stutis. Chanting the Panchakshari Stotra on the Maha Shivaratri night, especially in a temple or in front of Lord Shiva's image at home, is believed to be very beneficial for the devotees.