Sunday, April 22, 2018

Panchakshari and Ashtakshari

You might have noticed while performing some of those Hindu rituals that the priests or pundits refer to Panchakshari Mantra sometimes and to Ashtakshari Mantra at other times.

So, you may like to know the meaning of these two phrases and the difference between these two versions of worshipping.

What is Panchakshari?

It is the combination of two small Sanskrit words: Pancha + Akshara.

Pancha in Sanskrit refers to the number 5.

Akshara refers to a single letter of the language. "Akshari" means that which contains letters.

So, Panchakshari means that which contains five letters.

Panchakshari Mantra is an utterance of a divine rhythmical phrase (consisting of five letters) that is recited to immerse oneself in the meditation and companionship of the Supreme Being.

Example for Panchakshari Mantra

One famous and most popular Panchakshari Mantra is that of Lord Shiva "Om Namashivaya". In this mantra, the panchakshari is "Namashivaya" and "Om" is the prefix to it. This mantra is always recited during the worship of Lord Shiva at all occasions.

What is Ashtakshari?

An "ashtakshari" is a word or phrase comprising eight letters. 

The word "Ashta" refers to the number 8.

So, Ashtakshari means the word or phrase consisting of eight letters.

Ashtakshari Mantra is a mantra or divine utterance that is made up of eight letters for worship or meditation purposes.

Example for Ashtakshari Mantra

The most popular Ashtakshari Mantra recited by the Vaishnava community is "Om Namo Narayanaya". It is spelled as "Om NamO NArAyanAya". 

The eight letters are "om + na + mo + na + ra + ya + na + ya".

This mantra is used for worshipping Lord Vishnu in his various forms.

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