Om ~ Aum

December 27, 2010 Comments Off on Om ~ Aum

Om or Aum (also Auṃ, written in Devanāgari as ॐ and as ओम्, in Sanskrit known as praṇava प्रणव [lit. “to sound out loudly”], Omkara, or Auṃkāra (also as Aumkāra) ओंकार (lit. “Auṃ form/syllable”), is a sacred/mystical syllable in the Dharmic or Indian religions, i.e. Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.

Gujarati script


Tamil Grantham script

Tamil script

Telugu and Kannada script

Oriya, Assamese and Bengali script.




Om (or Aum) is of paramount importance in Hinduism. This symbol is a sacred syllable representing Brahman, the impersonal Absolute of Hinduism — omnipotent, omnipresent, and the source of all manifest existence. Brahman, in itself, is incomprehensible; so a symbol becomes mandatory to help us realize the
Unknowable. Om, therefore, represents both the unmanifest (nirguna) and manifest (saguna) aspects of God. That is why it is called pranava, to mean that it pervades life and runs through our prana or breath.

A.) Aum: Often spelled Om. The mystic syllable of Hinduism, placed at the beginning
of most sacred writings. As a mantra, it is pronounced aw (as in law), oo (as in zoo),
mm. Aum represents the Divine, and is associated with Lord Ganesha, for its initial
sound “aa,” vibrates within the muladhara, the chakra at the base of the spine upon
which this God sits. The second sound of this mantra, “oo,” vibrates within the throat
and chest chakras, the realm of Lord Murugan, or Kumara, known by the Hawaiian people as the God Ku. The third sound, “mm,” vibrates within the cranial chakras, ajna and sahasrara, where the Supreme God reigns.

The dot above, called anusvara, represents the Soundless Sound, Paranada.
Aum is explained in the Upanishads as standing for the whole world and its parts, including past, present and future. It is from this primal vibration that all manifestation issues forth. Aum is the primary, or mula mantra, and often precedes other mantras. It may be safely used for chanting and japa by anyone of any religion. Its three letters represent the three worlds and the powers of creation, preservation and destruction. In common usage in several Indian languages, aum means “yes, verily” or “hail.”

B.) Literally, Pranava in Sanskrit means “humming.” The mantram Aum denotes God as
the Primal Sound. This sound can be heard as the sound of one’s own nerve system, and
meditators and mystics hear it daily, like the sound made by an electrical transformer
or a swarm of bees, or a thousand vinas playing in the distance. It is a strong, inner
experience, one that yogis hold with great reverence. The meditator is taught to inwardly
transform this sound into the inner light which lights up ones’ thoughts, and to bask in
this blissful consciousness of light. Pranava is also known as the sound of the nadanadi
sakti. Hearing it one draws near to God Consciousness. When we are living in the lower
chakras, or when the world too strongly dominates our mind, this sound may, for a time,
not be heard. But it returns as awareness withdraws, as the mind becomes perfectly
quiescent, silent, still. Listen for this sound in your quietest moments and you will
learn to recognize it as a daily encounter with the Divine that lives within all men,
within all creatures, within all existence.

Source: Himalayan Academy

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1. The syllable Om, called the Udgitha, should be meditated upon; for people sing the Udgitha, beginning with Om. Now follows the detailed explanation of the syllable:

2. The essence of all these beings is the earth; the essence of the earth is water; the essence of water is plants; the essence of plants is a person; essence of a person is speech; the essence of speech is the Rig—Veda; essence of the Rig—Veda is the Sama—Veda; the essence of the Sama—Veda is the Udgitha which is Om.

3. That Udgitha (Om) is the best of all essences, the supreme, deserving the highest place, the eighth.

4. What, then, is the Rik? What is the Saman? What is the Udgitha? This is to be considered.

5. Speech, indeed, is the Rik; the vital breath (prana) is the Saman; the syllable Om is the Udgitha. Speech and the prana, or the Rik and the Saman, form a couple.

6. And that couple become united in the syllable Om. When a pair come together they fulfil each other’s desire.

7. He who knows this as stated above and meditates on the syllable Om, the Udgitha, becomes, indeed, a fulfiller of desires.

8. This syllable Om is used to give assent, for wherever one assents to something, one says Om (yes). Now, what is assent is gratification. He who knows this and meditates on the syllable Om, the Udgitha, becomes, indeed, a gratifier of desires.

9. By means of this syllable the threefold knowledge proceeds. When adhvaryu priest gives an order in a sacrifice, he says Om. When the hotri priest recites the hymn, he says Om. When the udgatri priest sings the Saman, he says Om. All this is done for the glory of the Imperishable Atman by the greatness of that syllable and by its essence.

10. It may be contended that he who knows this true meaning of the syllable Om and he who does not, perform the same sacrifice and therefore must reap the same fruit. But this is not so. The results of knowledge and ignorance are different. Work that is done with knowledge, faith and the Upanishad (i.e. meditation on the deities) produces more powerful fruit. This is, verily, the detailed explanation of the syllable Om.


Source: “The Upanishads – A New Translation” by Swami Nikhilananda


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