Shivaya

Here is a chant I’ve been singing a lot:

Here are the words:
Om hreem namah Shivaya
Tasmai shree guruve namah
Om namah Shivaya
Shankara om namah
Shiva nataraja om namah

I have a few things to say about this song.
First, it cleansed me. It compelled me to keep meditating, chanting, listening to the quiet in my soul.

Second, I can hardly listen to it without falling deeper and deeper in love with the singer. Not the “come live with me and be my mine” kind of fall in love; The divine, love just is, healing and very very present in the moment love. Partly that’s the words. Partly, I suspect it is the singer. Mostly, it is that when something good happens, I only seem to know how to translate it as motherly or romantic love. I’m working on that. Learning to see divine love without translating it into something one must DO.

Finally, I think I need to be careful with this song — like it cleaned out the negativity, but after that, I need to go do something really joyful and pleasant, or else it will keep cleaning and leave me empty. I think a few times a week is fine.

Here it is again with what I hear when I chant each line (sort of)
Om hreem namah Shivaya (I open up to the divine destructive power of the universe)
Tasmayi shree guruve namah (I honor the lessons of this holy teacher)
Om namah Shivaya (I bow to the soul of All, my Self and Truth)
Shankara om namah (I surrender and release doubt)
Shiva nataraja om namah (And dance in preparation for divine creation)

Here is my attempt to understand:

We all know Om. Om is the primordial sound, from which
all is emanated, even the “gods”.

Hreem is a “seed mantra.” Hreem has lots of benefits: you can worship the divine mother by chanting hreem. It dispells all illusion and grants you liberation.

Namaha means “not mine”, as all belongs to the supreme lord, and one bows before the supreme with all heart and soul. This sound opens you up, so it can benefit you with it’s full potential.

Shiva/Shivaya is the supreme Hindu God, the Destroyer, and in its adjective form, shiva describes “auspicious, benign, friendly”. I love the duality of benign and friendly destruction.

Guru/guruve is a word which has English connotations – the guru, the teacher.

Shree/Shre/Sri is a way of addressing a diety, kind of like “your holiness”.

Nataraja is the depiction of Shiva as the lord of the dance, a dance which prepares the universe for creation.

So, this 5 syllable mantra “Aum Namah Shivaya” in its most literal translation means “Oh My God!”, but why would I feel inclined to sit around saying that over and over again? Really, its about offering myself to the auspicious one, the one who destroys to make creation possible, from within and from without. My favorite translation on Yahoo Answers is this:
It means “I bow to Lord Shiva.” Shiva is the supreme reality, the inner Self. It is the name given to consciousness that dwells in all. Shiva is the name of your true identity- your self.
So Om Nama Shivaya: I surrender to and offer myself to the truth of my inner self.

Here are a few other translations I like:
Krisha Das Translation:
I bow to the Soul of all. I bow to my Self. I don’t know who I am, so I bow to you, Shiva, my own true Self. I bow to my teachers who loved me with Love. Who took care of me when I couldn’t take care of myself. I owe everything to them. How can I repay them? They have everything in the world. Only my love is mine to give, but in giving I find that it is their love flowing through me back to the world…I have nothing. I have everything. I want nothing. Only let it flow to you, my love… sing!
Translation from LearningtoListen:
Shiva is the lord of ascetics and recluses. Shiva, the Cosmic Dancer, presides over destructive energies, which break up the universe at the end of each age. This is the process of the old making way for the new. In a more personal sense, it is Shiva’s energy by which one’s lower nature is destroyed, making way for growth.

This line: Tasmayi shree guruve namah translates in its entirety to something like:
To that teacher beyond all things – formless and divine, I bow down and offer my life and efforts.

Shankara
Translation from All saivism
The word Shankara is made up of two words, namely “shanka” and “hara”. Shanka means doubt and hara means dispeller or destroyer. It also means lord. The word “Shankara” thus means He who dispels or destroys doubts. dispels or destroys all doubts. He rules over our disbeliefs and hesitations and establishes firm faith in us through his compelling nature. By dispelling our doubts and establishing faith, He destroys all our bondage. Shankara or Sankara can also mean sankata + hara, that is he who destroys or ends all difficulties. Sincere prayers to Shankara can be very effective. The Lord is easily pleased with pure devotion and responds immediately.

Put THAT together with Om Namah and we have some serious worship of the need to surrender doubt.

Tasmai Shri Gurave Namaha