Japa and meditation of the sacred names of Lord Shiva will free you from all sins and lead you to the attainment of Shiva Jnana or eternal bliss and immortality. Shiva-nama is the very soul of all Mantras.
Lord Shiva has manifested in the world in sixty different aspects. Vrishabharudha, Hari-hara, Nataraja, Bhairava, Dakshinamurti, Ardhanarisvara, Bhikshatana, Somasekharamurti, Urdhvanatana, Kalasamhara, Jalandhara, Surasamhara, Lingodbhava are His forms.
Shiva means that which is eternally happy or auspicious, Parama-mangala. Om and Shiva are one. Mandukya Upanishad says: ‘Santam Shivam Advaitam’. Even an outcaste can meditate on the name of Lord S hiva.
Shiva manifests in the Gayatri Mantra, Agni and in the Sun. When you repeat Gayatri and when you worship the Agni and the Sun, you should meditate on Lord Shiva.
Japa of Panchakshara and meditation of Lord Shiva should be particularly done in the Pradosha Kala or just before the sunset. The Pradosha on the thirteenth Tithi after a full moon or a new moon day, is known as the Mahapradosha. The Devas visit Shiva temples for the worship of the Lord at this period. You can worship the Devas also if you visit temples during Mahapradosha. Devotees of Lord Shiva observe full fast on Mahapradosha days.
A devotee of Lord Shiva should apply Vibhuti to his forehead and body. He should wear a Rudrakshamala. He should worship the Shivalinga with leaves of the Bilva tree. He should do Japa and meditation of the Panchakshara ‘Om Namah Shiva ya’. Lord S hiva is propitiated by everyone of these actions. Vibhuti or Bhasma is very sacred. It is worn by Lord Shiva Himself. The bead of a Rudrakshamala represents the third eye on the forehead of Lord Shiva. Bilva leaves are regarded to be one of the five abodes of Lakshmi or the Goddess of wealth.
It is Shiva only who causes bondage and Mukti for the Jivas. It is Shiva who makes the Jivas realise their essential Divine Nature. Shiva made Maya as the body, senses and the Universe and thrust the Jivas into the Maya. He created the idea of egoism, ‘I’ -ness in them. He bound them in Karma and made them experience pleasure and pain according to the nature of their Karmas, virtuous actions or vicious deeds. This is the stage of bondage of the Jivas.
Gradually it is Shiva only who releases them from the fetters of egoism, Karma and Maya and makes them shine as Shiva. This is the state of Moksha or freedom. It is only through the grace of Lord Shiva, they attain the state of final emancipation.
The Jivas have no independence, when they are under the influence of the three impurities, i.e., Anava, Karma and Maya. They are endowed with a little knowledge (Alpajnana).
The Jiva must first know his nature and his relationship with Lord Shiva in order to attain His grace. Life or Prana is in the body. Lord Shiva is within the Prana. He is the Prana of Pranas, and yet He is distinct from the Pranas and body. If there is no Prana in the body, the body becomes a corpse. It cannot perform any action. Shiva is the support for this body, Prana and Jiva. The Jiva cannot do any action without Shiva. It is Shiva who illumines the intellect. Just as the eye cannot see without the light of the sun, although it is endowed with the power to see, so also the intellect cannot function without the light of Lord Shiva.
The four Sadhanas, viz., Charya, Kriya, Yoga and Jnana are the four steps to attain Salvation. They are like the bud, flower, unripe fruit and ripe fruit. Lord Shiva gradually frees the individual souls from egoism, Karma and Maya. The Jivas gradually become disgusted with the sensual pleasures. They become balanced in pleasure and pain. Through the grace of the Lord they understand that Karma is the cause for births and deaths. They begin to do actions for the Lord, serve the devotees of the Lord and attain purity of mind. They understand that the soul or Shiva is distinct from the body, senses and mind and is beyond the reach of mind and speech. They get initiation into the significance of ‘Om Namah S h ivaya’, the Panchakshara Mantra and meditate on Shiva.
They practise Shiva Yoga. Their hearts melt. Seer, sight and seen vanish. All the activities of senses, mind and intellect cease. They bathe Lord Shiva with the stream of Divine Love that is generated in their heart and offer their heart as flower unto the Lord.
They hear the sound ‘Chilambosai’ and march forward through the path of the sound and behold the vision of Nataraja in the Chidakasa and are immersed in the ocean of Shivananda. They become one with the Lord, just as camphor melts in the fire.