(Questions and Answers are from Bhavani’s workshop “A Simple How-To and Who's Who Introduction to Sanskrit Mantra” part of the Feb 2012 Annual Yoga Hub Virtual Conference.)
Question: Is there any difference between "nama" vs "namo"? Like masculine vs feminine?
Answer: Namah and namo basically mean "name". Om namah Shivaya on one level is I am calling out the name of Shiva. Often it's translated as well as Salutations to Lord Shiva or in the old language I bow to Lord Shiva. There are rules in Sanskrit governing whether the form is namo or namah. When namah is in the middle of the mantra, there is a slight aspiration of the "h"; when it comes at the end of the mantra, the "h" is even more aspirated, becoming namaha, as in Om Shri Lakshmiye namaha. Good questions. Keep exploring. And enjoying.