Unfortunately, there is no definite answer found to this question as yet.While there are some who claim this most auspicious and sacred mantra to have been composed by Acharyashri Pushpadanta in 1st century CE, there are some who say it is a composition made by the disciples of Mahavira, having derived it from the words of Lord Mahavira himself during his regime.

While few deduce that since the Namokar Mantra is not found to be present on the initial pages of our earlier sacred texts and scriptures, until in Kalpasootra written in 453 AD, it means the Mantra did not exist until then; but there are others who reject this deduction on the argument that maybe the Namokar Mantra was in existence, but the tradition of writing it at the beginning of texts was developed later.

Many also say Namokar mantra is an eternal mantra; eternal means that which is neither created nor can it ever be destroyed; and hence the Namokar Mantra has no origin whatsoever. The Kharvel inscription found on rocks and another inscription discovered in Mathura say: ‘Namo Arihantanam, Namo Siddhanam’, which are believed to have been carved in the sixth century AD. Moreover, Lord Parshvanath is said to have recited the Namokar Mantra for spiritual upliftment of the two snakes, who being hidden in the woods had got severely burnt and were about to die. This means the Namokar Mantra was in existence during the 9th Century BC as well.

Thus, the real answer as to how old is Namokar Mantra is really not quite well-known.

It is a misconception though to believe that this mantra is of Jainism.
Although the Namokar mantra is popularly known to be that of Jainism, the fact is that it is a totally impartial mantra. It is a mantra for everyone. One greatly benefits by reciting it as it teaches us to bow to the individuals of the highest order (the Panch Parmeshtis). These individuals have nothing to do with the worldly religion eg. Jain. They are spiritually enlightened beings, who show the path of enlightenment to the rest of the mankind to help them progress on that path too.

The world bows before them, out of all respect and in awe of the qualities expressed in them; not for any worldly gains, but for one’s own spiritual progress. Since the ultimate aim of every living being is ideally moksha (salvation), the Namokar Mantra is obviously not restricted for the benefit of Jains alone. It is for everybody who wants to get out of the vicious cycle of birth and rebirth.

One benefits by doing the obeisance (namaskar). Just like how a connection with the right person solves our worldly problems, the connection with the Panch Parmeshtis solve both our worldly problems as well as the spiritual obstacles on our path to liberation.

The Namokar Mantra is also called as the Namaskar or Navkar Mantra. And Om () is the abbreviated version of the Navkar mantra. In the Namokar Mantra, the salutations have been ordained in this manner:

1.Namo Arihantanam - I bow to the Arihantas
In this obeisance we are bowing down to the Arihant Bhagwan, the One who has conquered all the inner enemies of anger, pride, deceit, greed, attachment and abhorrence. From the moment of total destruction of the inner enemies right upto final liberation, one is called an Arihant. Arihant means they are currently living. He is the Absolute, manifested living God!!! He may have reached this stage from any religious order- Hindu, Brahmin, Jain, etc.; it doesn’t matter. And he may be residing anywhere in the Universe. This obeisance says, ‘I bow down to the Arihant Lord wherever He may be!!!’

The current living Tirthankar Lord Simandhar Swami is the Arihant closest to our planet Earth; it is through Him that we shall attain liberation. The state of the Arihant is a very elevated state indeed. Everything about such a living being is absolutely unique and exquisite!

2.Namo Siddhanam - I bow to the Siddhas
The Siddhas are the totally liberated Souls. Those who have become Siddha no longer have a physical body and they will not be acquiring another body ever again. They reside in SiddhaLoka in an eternal state of bliss. Having conquered their inner enemies: anger, pride, deceit, greed, attachment, abhorrence; Lord Rama, Lord Rushabhdev, Lord Mahavir are all now in the SiddhaLoka where they are eternally in the state of the Siddha. To the Siddhas I offer my obeisance!!!

There is huge significance of the Living One though!
To attain the state of the Siddha is our final goal. However, it is the Arihant who helps us get there! Arihant has conquered the inner enemies and is now showing us the way to do so. Since He is very beneficial to us, that is the reason He is placed before Siddha in the obeisance.

The Gnanis (Acharyas) and the Tirthankars (Arihantas) who are presently in the Universe make us realize our Self, show us the path of liberation and help us overcome the impediments on this path by showing us exactly where we are making mistakes.

3.Namo Ayariyanam – I bow to the Acharyas
Acharyas have the complete knowledge of Self and they have totally absorbed this knowledge. Acharyas are those who observe the principles laid down by the Arihants and who teach others to do the same. Those who have acquired the knowledge of proper conduct from an Acharya and have reached a very high level of spirituality, all that is left for them is mere darshan of the Tirthankar Lord. Thus, to get the final preparation done for attaining salvation comes under the role of the Acharya. He helps one mature on the path of liberation. To such Acharyas, I pay my obeisance!!!

4.Namo Uvajjhayanam – I bow to the Upadhyays
The Upaadhyayas are the beings who are Self realized; and who have the awareness of their obligations and the knowledge of the right conduct. They have progressed in their studies, but while they are studying further, they are also teaching others. They maintain utmost humility towards the Acharyas. It is to such Upaadhyayas, that we send our obeisance!!!

5.Namo Loye Savva Sahunam - I bow to all the Sadhus in the Universe
The Sadhus have no attachment to their worldly self for they have realized their real Self. They have taken the first step on the path of liberation and are in the process of progressing further in that direction. This obeisance says, ‘I bow to all Sadhus, wherever they may be in the Universe!!!’

These five types of excellent Souls are collectively known as Panch Parmeshti. And the salutations to these five destroys all our sins. Since reciting this mantra destroys all sins, of all that is auspicious in this Universe, this indeed is the highest; this is the first and the foremost!!!

To know more please visit: https://www.dadabhagwan.org/path-to-happiness/spiritual-science/auspicio...

Author's Bio: 

Ambalal M. Patel was a civil contractor by profession. In June 1958, spontaneous Self-Realization occurred within Ambalal M. Patel. From this point on, Ambalal became a Gnani Purush, and the Lord that manifest within him became known as Dada Bhagwan. A Gnani Purush is One who has realized the Self and is able help others do the same. Param Pujya Dada Bhagwan used to go from town to town and country-to-country to give satsang (spiritual discourse) and impart the knowledge of the Self, as well as knowledge of harmonious worldly interactions to everyone who came to meet him. This spiritual science, known as Akram Vignan, is the step-less path to Self-realization.