Adi Shankaracharya’s Shivashadakshara Stotram शिव षडक्षर स्तोत्रम् is a set of six verses that describes the meaning of the six syllables contained in the mantra, Om namah shivaaya with the first verse describing om and the other five verses describing the five syllables contained in namah shivaaya. The term षडक्षर shadakshara literally means “six letters”.
The five verses (after first which describes Om) describes the syllables of namah shivaaya (na, ma shi, va, ya) and are usually referred to as the श्रीशिवपञ्चाक्षरस्तोत्रम् Sri Shiva Panchakshar Stotram, relating to the पञ्चाक्षर panchakshar which literally means five letters.
Sanskrit verses written in praise of God are usually called स्तोत्र stotra sometimes stotram स्तोत्रम्. The root is stu meaning to praise. These are verses that are usually sung in melody – and is different from the shastras which are recited.
ओंकारं बिंदुसंयुक्तं नित्यं ध्यायंति योगिनः ।
कामदं मोक्षदं चैव ओंकाराय नमो नमः ॥१॥
nityam dhyaayanti yoginah.
Kaamadam mokshadam chaiva
omkaaraaya namo namah.
Salutations to the Highest One, the center of attention and meditation for the saints and seers. Salutations to that Om who grants fulfillment of desires and even liberation (from those desires). Salutations to that Om.
Note: Om is by itself a sacred mantra. Om is, as a mantra, the central focus of meditation and japa. Om represents the mantra of them rishis, the cosmic sound, the vibration of the universe. It is believed that there is nothing beyond Om and meditation on Om yields liberation.
नमंति ऋषयो देवा नमन्त्यप्सरसां गणाः ।
नरा नमंति देवेशं नकाराय नमो नमः ॥२॥
Namanti riṣhayo devaa
Naraa namanti devesham
nakaaraaya namo namah
Salutations to that Supreme One whom the Rishis and seers revere. That Supreme Power to whom the wisest and highest of existence (the devas) bow and to whom the highest female existences bow. Salutations to Him to whom all mankind bow in reverence. Salutations to Him, who is represented (by the 2nd syllable) “na” (in the mantra Om namah shivaaya)
महादेवं महात्मानं महाध्यानं परायणम् ।
महापापहरं देवं मकाराय नमो नमः ॥३॥
makaaraaya namo namah.
Salutations to that Great One, the Great God, the Soul of Souls, the great destroyer and remover of sins – He who is the ultimate goal of our existence. Salutations to that Great One who is also represented by (the syllable) “ma” (in the mantra Om namah shivaaya).
शिवं शांतं जगन्नाथं लोकानुग्रहकारकम् ।
शिवमेकपदं नित्यं शिकाराय नमो नमः ॥४॥
Shivam shaantam jagannaatham
shikaaraaya namo namah.
Salutations to that Most auspicious, benevolent abode of Peace, the benevolent Lord of the entire world. Salutations to that power present in (the syllable) “shi” (of the mantra Om namah shivaaya).
वाहनं वृषभो यस्य वासुकिः कंठभूषणम् ।
वामे शक्तिधरं देवं वकाराय नमो नमः ॥५॥
Vaahanam vriṣhabho yasya
Vaame shakti-dharam devam
vakaaraaya namo namah.
Salutations to that all-pervading one who moves with cosmic power1. Salutations to that God, the source of our ultimate freedom.2 Salutations to that Supreme One who is the repository of all Power (shakti).3 Salutations to that God, present in (the 5th syllable) “va” (in the mantra Om namah shivaaya).
यत्र यत्र स्थितो देवः सर्वव्यापी महेश्वरः ।
यो गुरुः सर्वदेवानां यकाराय नमो नमः ॥६॥
Yatra yatra sthito devah
Yo guruh sarva-devaanaam
yakaaraaya namo namah.
Salutations and reverence to that All-pervading God, the Highest Teacher and Benefactor to all. Salutations to that Divine Force that is present wherever (His devotee is). Salutations to God who is represented in (the 6th syllable) “ya” (in the mantra Om namah shivaaya).
षडक्षरमिदं स्तोत्रं यः पठेच्छिवसंनिधौ ।
शिवलोकमवाप्नोति शिवेन सह मोदते ॥७॥
shivena saha modate.
Whoever recites this stotram with the Lord in mind, will attain to that abode of Shiva where there is only Bliss.
- To many persons vrashabho, the Bull, is taken literally. All ancient traditions have a special symbolism relating to a sacred bull. One of the representations of the Bull is the power and force that it represents and its unstoppable approach. Note that the bull is also represented in the zodiac sign as the figure of the stars, Taurus. It is the cosmic power of God moving with the galaxies of the stars.
- The snake is symbolical in many ancient traditions and often, Shiva’s image is seen with snake (s) as garlands around the neck. The snake also represents the Kundalini. Lord Shiva’s (and Lord Vishnu) depiction of the snake can be translated to represent the emancipation achieved through austerity and the freedom (emancipation) with the power of the Kundalini that runs through us all.
- God is often realized as shiva-shakti, having all the power in the world. Such shakti is often depicted in feminine notation and relational to one aspect (side) of God while other aspects are the other attributes.