Aum Namah Śivāya (Sanskrit or Devanagari:) is among the foremost mantras. Its general translation is "adoration (namas) to Śiva", preceded by the mystical syllable Aum. It is called Panchakshara, or "having five syllables". Śaivite mystics hold that within its celestial tones and hues resides all of the intuitive knowledge of Śaivism. The Aum namah Śivāya mantra appears for the first time, yet without the Aum, in a traditional Vedic prayer to Rudra called Śri Rudram (Rudra is considered an earlier aspect and name of Lord Śiva). In this context, śiva retains its original meaning as an adjective meaning "auspicious, benign, friendly", an euphemistic epitheton of Rudra.

Variations of Panchakshari:

  1. Namah Shivaya
  2. Shivaya Shiva
  3. Shivaya Namah