jain religion and teachings of bhagwan mahavir





Namokar mantra is the essence of the teachings of the Tirthankars. It mirrors in a succinct manner the profound depth as well as the comprehensive range and reach of Jain philosophy. Followers of Jain religion have unshakable faith in it. They repeat it at all times individually or in groups on all occasions of joys and sorrows as well as during contemplation, meditation and worship. It is widely regarded as a divine protector and healer. Like all the original Jain scriptures, Namokar mantra is composed in Prakrit, the then language of the common people.

Etymologically the word ‘MAN” means ‘mind’, and “TRA” means ‘protection. Thus, the mantra provides the key to control baser instincts and develop enobling divine nature. “NAMOKAR” means ‘deeply reverential salutations” Over the centuries Namokar mantra has acquired a divine halo. In its words as well as sounds, it is soul-stirring, infinite energy giving, soothing and tranquility-generating. When pronounced or chanted, the mantra creates positive vibrations and destroys negativity.

Namokar Mantra is a deeply reverential salutation to Panch Parmeshthi ( the five spiritual achievers, who are worthy of emulation). They are Tirthankaras, Siddhas, Acharyas, Upadhyayas, and duly initiated ascetics ( both monks and nuns). The unique thing about the Namokar Mantra is that it does not salute any entity by personal name, but only by category. Thus the mantra bows before the five categories of spiritual achievers in terms of their spiritual attributes and the extent of their progress on the spiritual path. The inherent spirit is not merely to eulogise them but to emulate them for one’s own spiritual upliftment. This makes Namokar Mantra a universally relevent spiritual message.

The deep reverence for the Panch Parmeshthi is also symbolized in the five colors of the flag of Jain religion.

Namokar Mantra is as follows :

NAMO ARIHANTANAM : Salutations to those enlightened, omnicient and perfected souls (arihant or tirthankar) who have attained spiritual perfection and become spiritual victors endowed with 12 unique attributes including 4 Atishayas viz., infinite perception, infinite knowledge, infinite energy and infinite bliss during their life as a human being with perfect conduct. On attaining Arihanthood, Tirthankars also get endowed with 8 Pratiharyas (celestial attributes), mentione4d in Chapter 5.

NAMO SIDDHANAM : Salutations to those bodiless liberated divine souls who have attained the state of liberation from all karmic bondage as well as the cycle of birth and death, pleasure and pain, having broken every bond with the physical body. They are endowed with 8 attributes as explained in the previous chapter.

NAMO AYARIYANAM : Salutations to the Preceptors (Acharyas) who have acquired depth of knowledge and clarity of perception with complete mastery over all Jain scriptures and holy religious literature. As head of congregations, Acharyas provide inspiring spiritual and religious leadership, vision, direction and organizational discipline to the saints (Sadhus and Sadhavis) working with them as well as to the public at large. They are endowed with 16 attributes in the form of 6 external austerities, 6 internal austerities, 10 virtues, 5 codes of conduct and 6 avashyaks ( essential duties), and 3 guptis (controls) as listed in the annexxture to this chapter. These attributes taken together constitute a clear and strict code of conduct in keeping with their status in the upward going ladder of spiritual upliftment.

NAMO UVAJJHAYANAMA : Salutations to those spiritual teachers who have studied and grasped the holy scriptures and learned commentaries on them as well as have been involved in research work in tandem with the work being done by Acharyas. They also provide constant help, inspiration and guidance to lay persons both Shravaks and Shravikas for moving upwards on the path of steady self-realization and spiritual perfection. They have to have 25 attributes as listed in the annexure to this chapter.

NAMO LOE SAVVASAHUNAM : Salutations to all those ascetics who are spiritual practitioners, who have renounced all worldly attachments, and who have solemnly through initiation ( diksha) embarked upon the path of renunciation from all worldly life in order to pursue the path of self-realization. Both Sadhus and Sadhavis have to acquire 27 attributes as listed in the annixure to this chapter.

ESO PANCHA NAMOKKARO :: The five-fold obeisance mantra

SAVVAPAVAPPANASANO :: Destroys all sins and negative vibrations

MANGALANAM CHA SAVVESIM :: Of all auspicious forms of bliss

PADHAMAM HAVAI MANGALAM :: This is the Supreme Bliss

 The message radiating from the mantra is that the religion practiced and propagated by the Omniscient is auspicious and supreme. Hence we should take refuge in it by endeavouring to follow the footsteps of the supreme spiritual achievers. Taken together the Panch Parmeshthi have 108 attributes (Arihanta 12, Siddha 8, Acharya 36, Upadhyayas 25, and Ascetics 27). The 108 beads of the worship mala (Navakarvali) which the devout Jains use for daily meditation and puja are inspirational symbols of the 108 supreme attributes of the Panch Parmeshthi.

 MANGALACHARAN, recited on all auspicious occasions elaborates in lyrical and faith-arousing phraseology the reverence towards the five spiritual entities (the Panch Parmeshthi) for evoking their blessings :

Chattari mangalam, arihanta mangalam, siddha mangalam, sahu mangalam, kevalipannato dhammo mangalam.

Chattari loguttama, arihanta loguttama, siddha loguttama, sahu loguttama, kevalipannato dhammo loguttama.

Chattari sharanam pavajjami, arihante sharanam pavajjami, siddhe sharanam pavajjami, sahu sharanam pavajjami, kevalipannato dhammam sharanam pavajjami.

(There are four auspicious entities in the universe. Arihantas are auspicious. Siddhas are auspicious. Sadhus are auspicious. The religion propounded by the Omniscient is auspicious.

There are four supreme entities in the universe. Arihantas are supreme. Siddhas are supreme. Sadhus are supreme. The religion propounded by the Omniscient is supreme.

I take refuge in the four entities of the universe. I take refuge in Arihantas. I take refuge in Siddhas. I take refuge in Sadhus. I take refuge in the religion propounded by the Omniscient.

In the mantra Arihant is named first out of respect and honor. Arihant symbolizes human perfection. As a Tirthankar, he has created a spiritual path or bridge or Teerth based on the courage of renunciation and the victory over four of the eight karmas namely MOHANIYA KARMA (deluding), ANTARAYA KARMA (obstructing), JNANAVARNIYA KARMAS (knowledge obscuring), and DARSHANAVARNIYA KARMAS (Perception obscuring).

After achieving enlightenment, Tirthankars moved around in the society all over the country actively guiding and initiating others in the process of spiritual awakening. Lord Mahavir did so for thirty years between his enlightenment and the eventual attainment of nirvana. Thus, Tirthankars have, in fact, laid the foundations of the Jain spiritual system.

That is why Tirthankars are addressed in common parlance as gods (bhawan) not in terms of those sitting in heaven, but those actively guiding the humanity on the spiritual path as living symbols of human perfection. They have shown by their worthy example that in our human incarnation in the present life itself, every soul has the potential of achieving Arihanthood.

Next the salutations are addressed to siddhas who represent the supreme stage of eternal consciousness since they have broken every bond with the physical body, achieved complete liberation from karmic bondages, and freed themselves from the cycle of birth and death, pleasure and pain. Siddhas are, thus, the divine souls, who have conquered the remaining four karmas (aghati karmas ). They are vedaniya karmas (feeling producing), nam karma (body determining), gotra karmas (status determining), and ayusha karmas (life span determining).

In the time-tested tradition of shraman culture, it is the acharyas as head of saintly congregations who have kept the flag of religion flying high particularly in the rather long intervening periods between tirthankars. Salutations to them are a recognition of their dedication to the Jain religion, their in-depth articulation of Jain principles and practices, their farsighted organizational flair as well as their spiritual wisdom and maturity.

Salutations to Upadhyayas is a tribute to their profound scholarly pursuits including analytical studies of scriptures, and their proficiency in imparting spiritual guidance and religious education to ascetics as well as public.

Salutations to Ascetics (sadhus and sadhavis) in general are a tribute to their courage and resolve at having embarked on the path of renunciation as well as their unconditional commitment to the Jain faith.

The five salutations also represent obeisance to various stages in the evolution of the soul moving upwards in gradual stages from Ascetic to Upadhyaya to Acharya and then Arihant and finally Siddha.