The Navkar Mantra is the most important mantra in Jainism and can be recited at any time. While reciting the Navkar Mantra, we are bowing down with respect to Arihantas (souls who have reached the state of non-attachment towards worldly process), Siddhas (liberated souls), Acharyas (heads of sadhus and sadhvis), Upadhyayas (those who teach scriptures to sadhus and sadhvis), Sadhus (monks, who have voluntarily given up social, economical and family relationships) and Sadhvis (nuns, who have voluntarily given up social, economical and family relationships). Collectively, they are called Panch Parmesthi (five supreme spiritual people). In this mantra we worship their virtues rather than worshipping any one particular person; therefore, this Mantra is not named after Lord Mahavir, Lord Parshvanath or Adinath, etc. When we recite Navkar Mantra it, also reminds us that, we need to be like them. This mantra is also called Namaskar or Namokar Mantra because we are bowing down.
The Navkar Mantra contains the main message of Jainism. The message is very clear. If we want to be liberated from this world then we have to take the first step of renunciation by becoming a monk or a nun. This is the beginning. If we stay on the right path then we will proceed to a higher state, Arihant, and ultimately proceed to Siddha after nirvana (liberation from the cycle of birth and death). The goal of every Jain is, or should be, to become a siddha.
Namo Siddhanam: I bow down to Siddha,
Namo Ayariyanam: I bow down to Acharya,
Namo Uvajjhayanam: I bow down to Upadhyaya,
Namo Loe Savva-sahunam: I bow down to Sadhu and Sadhvi.
Eso Panch Namokaro: These five bowings downs,
Savva-pavappanasano: Destroy all the sins,
Manglananch Savvesim: Amongst all that is auspicious,
Padhamam Havei Mangalam: This Navkar Mantra is the foremost.