In this series of posts, we are contemplating the Nirvana Shatakam chant, one verse at a time. You can read the first verse here: Verse 1

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Before you read further,
– Relax
– Deep breathe for a few minutes.
– Then, try to keep a calm mind.
– Think of Adi Shankara Acharya, who was eight years old when he composed this hymn.
– Thank him soulfully for the wisdom he imparted.
– Recall his words in the first verse:

  • You are beyond your mind, intellect, ego, and thoughts.
  • You are not restricted to your senses – ears, tongue (taste), nose, and eyes.
  • You are beyond the (five) elements that make up this body.
  • You are Shiva, the auspicious and liberated one.

– With that mindset, try to contemplate this verse.

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Verse 2:

न च प्राणसंज्ञो न वै पञ्चवायुः
न वा सप्तधातुः न वा पञ्चकोशः ।
न वाक्पाणिपादं न चोपस्थपायु
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहम् शिवोऽहम् ॥२॥

na ca prāṇasanjño na vai pañcavāyuḥ
na vā saptadhātuḥ na vā pañcakośaḥ
na vākpāṇipādaṃ na copasthapāyu
cidānandarūpaḥ śivo’ham śivo’ham ॥2॥

I am not the Breath of Life,
Neither am I the Five Energy Flows.

I am not the Seven Matters of the Body,
Neither am I the Five Covering Layers.

I am not my Speech,
I am not my Hands or Feet,
I am not my Movements (actions),
Neither am I my Excretory Movements.

My True Form is
My Happy Inner Self,
Because I am Shiva!
I am Shiva!

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Notes:

  • Breath of Life or Praana: In this context, it means the breathing that keeps us alive.
  • The Five Energy Flows or Pancha Vaayu: These energies support the functioning of the body. They are:
    1. Praana Vaayu: In this context, energy flow operating the lungs (respiration) and the heart (blood flow). It is said to flow upwards in the body.
    2. Apaana Vaayu: Energy flow operating the organs below the navel – reproductive and excretory systems. It is said to flow downwards in the body.
    3. Samaana Vaayu: Energy flow operating the organs between the navel and the diaphragm – digestive system. It is said to flow sideways in the body.
    4. Udaana Vaayu: Energy flow operating the throat, sensory organs of the face, and the entire head including the brain. It also supports the movement of the hands and the legs. It is said to flow upwards in the body.
    5. Vyaana Vaayu: The dynamic energy flow that covers the entire body. It is said to ensure that every cell in the body has the required energy to function.
  • Seven Matters of the Body or Saptha Dhathu: The collective name for Skin, Muscle, Fat, Flesh, Blood, Bone, and Marrow.
  • Five Covering Layers or Pancha Kosha: The five layers that constitute a human being. We must rise above these to experience our Inner Divine. These layers are:
    1. Annamaya Kosha: The Food Layer – the physical body that needs food and nourishment to thrive.
    2. Praanamaya Kosha: The Energy Layer – the aspect of breathing and energy flow in the body.
    3. Manomaya Kosha: The Psychological Layer – the mind and its faculties.
    4. Vijnanamaya Kosha: The Wisdom Layer – the wisdom beyond the mind and intellect like intuition and other deeper states of existence.
    5. Anandamaya Kosha: The Blissful Layer – this is almost a space beyond layers. It’s where we exist when we’re in Zen mode. Still, this is also a layer of manifestation. In deep meditative states, a liberated person goes even beyond this.
  • Reminder: As noted earlier, Shiva doesn’t mean Lord Shiva (Rudra) here. Shiva means the auspicious and liberated one.

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You can read the next verse here: Verse 3

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