What Is The Meaning Of OM?
What Is The Meaning Of OM? Om ( ॐ ) is a sacred sound and a spiritual symbol in Hindu religion. It is also a mantra in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism Om ( ॐ ) is part of the iconography found in ancient and medieval era manuscripts, temples, monasteries and spiritual retreats in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The symbol has a spiritual meaning in all Indian dharmas, but the meaning and connotations of Om ( ॐ ) vary between the diverse schools within and across the various traditions. The Cultural History of Om ( ॐ ) The syllable Om ( ॐ ) is an ancient Sanskrit letter first found in the Vedas, originating between 1500 – 1200 BC. A collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns, they were sung in praise of the Divine. They were not written out at first, but were vibrated into existence using human speech.
Teachings on the metaphysics of Om ( ॐ ) were later elaborated on in the Upanishads, ancient Indian mystical texts. Later, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali categorized the 8 Limbs of Yoga. The sixth of these, Dharana, meaning concentration, described various methods of supporting the mind to achieve single-focused attention. Om ( ॐ ) was first felt by Rishis as they meditated. It was more about the essence of Om ( ॐ ) than the chanting of it. Eventually as the experience was shared the word came forth and people started chanting it to get the experience of it. In Hinduism, Om ( ॐ ) is one of the most important spiritual symbols. It refers to Atman (soul, self within) and Brahman (ultimate reality, entirety of the universe, truth, divine, supreme spirit, cosmic principles, knowledge).
The syllable is often found at the beginning and the end of chapters in the Vedas, the Upanishads, and other Hindu texts. It is a sacred spiritual incantation made before and during the recitation of spiritual texts, during puja and private prayers, in ceremonies of rites of passages (sanskara) such as weddings, and sometimes during meditative and spiritual activities such as Yoga. The syllable is also referred to as omkara (ओंकार, oṃkāra), aumkara (औंकार, auṃkāra), and pranava (प्रणव, praṇava). What Is The Experience Of Om ( ॐ ) ? Words are somewhat insufficient to express the meaning of Om ( ॐ ) but in essence it represents everything. It is said to be the seed of all of creation. Just like an acorn seed has the immense power and beauty of a mighty oak tree. This seemingly small word contains all the power of the universe. It is the beginning, middle and the end of it all or the past, present and future. Chanting Om ( ॐ ) brings into your awareness the physical reality of this world and your body, the subtle impressions of the mind and emotions and the thoughts and beliefs of your life and this world. As the Mandukya Upanishad says "the perfect state or super conscious state and all that precedes it are a part of Om ". The sound can also be displayed in its more complete form of Aum. When written this way it appears as if the sound has three parts. In actuality it has four. The sound appears to have first cropped up in the Upanishads, a collection of sacred texts that inform Hinduism. The Mandukya Upanishad, which is entirely devoted to Om ( ॐ ), begins like this: “Om is the imperishable word. Om is the universe, and this is the exposition of Om. The past, the present, and the future, all that was, all that is, all that will be is om. Likewise, all else that may exist beyond the bounds of time, that too is Om.” Om ( ॐ ) is also considered the mother of the bija, or “seed” mantras — short, potent sounds that correlate to each chakra and fuel longer chants (like, say, Om Namah Shivaya). Depending on who you talk to, it relates to either the third eye or the crown chakra, connecting us to the Divine. The A (aahhh) Sound The A (aahhh) sound represents the creation aspect of the universe and all of the gross objects within it. It is the beginning of all sounds. This is the most common letter that starts alphabets. It connects us to our sense of self, the ego. With this syllable you experience the existence of the world through the activity of the senses. When you chant this sound notice that it is produced in the throat and the back of the mouth where the tongue is rooted and resonates in the lower abdomen. The first sound embodies “Sat”, the sound that starts to bring you back to unity, to the truth of your existence. The U (oooh) Sound The U (oooh) sound signifies the maintaining energy of the universe and the subtle impressions of the mind. It connects us to an inner sense of something greater than that which we can see and feel with our senses. Oooh lets in lightness, clarity, balance and goodness. When you chant this letter the sound moves forward between the tongue and the palate up to the lips and vibrates in the solar plexus. The sound denotes “Chit”, an illumination of knowing, pure wisdom. The M (mmmm) Sound The M (mmmm) sound characterises the transformative energy of the universe and the thoughts and beliefs of your being. This sound unites you to the awareness of oneness. It allows you to slow down in order to feel the connectedness of all that is. The sound “mmmm” is produced by closing the lips and it vibrates the crown of the head. The sound symbolises “Ananda”, to be at one with bliss everywhere with all things. Sound Of Silence (Anagata) The fourth sound is silence or anagata. It is the vibration which is beyond verbal pronunciation. It is pure consciousness of the Self or the Atman. The unity of Sat Chit Ananda (I exist, I know, I am blissful) is experienced here. That sense of infinity you feel as that final “mmm” gradually fades into nothing is enhanced by what many call the fourth syllable of Om ( ॐ ), which is:silence. Bhavan, an avatar of the Hindu Goddess Parvati, i says:-. “So often in my classes we will sound om, letting those three-voiced parts go very consciously through the cathedral of the mouth, and then sit for a moment in that silence after and simply observe what that feels like,” "When we sound Om together, we’re aligning body/mind/spirit; we’re aligning with one another; we’re aligning with the universe because it’s the sound of the universe and we’re referencing something real,” The Multifaceted Experience of Om ( ॐ ) The experience of Om ( ॐ ) is multifaceted. It truly is an experience of all in everything. It is said that the sound of Om ( ॐ ) includes the entire process of sound and all other sounds are included within it. Therefore, Om ( ॐ ) is called the seed sound (bija), the original sound from which all other sounds and worlds come from. This is why Om ( ॐ ) is said to represent God, Bhraman, The true power of Om ( ॐ ) lies in the experience of Om ( ॐ ). Reading this may help your mind to understand but it cannot give you the experience. Chant this, by yourself, or with your friends, in your community. Allow the experience of all the words above to immerse into your being. Feel the power each syllable has as the sound vibrations move from the low abdomen, up through the solar plexus and chest all the way to the tip top of the head. Let the vibrations clear and cleanse your energy system and chakras. Find wholeness and healing in this easy to remember mantra. A-U-M When chanting Om ( ॐ ) aloud, the sound will naturally evolve through the three phases corresponding tot the three letters A-U-M. Like the experience of Om ( ॐ ) as a sense of completeness and pure consciousness, the three syllables are not distinct or separate phases, but a continuous motion of the body, breath and awareness. A-U-M is all about sacred threes. Most faiths have trinities in their roots and Hinduism, where om was born, is no different. Even though it’s usually pronounced seamlessly so it rhymes with “home,” om is made up of three syllables: A, U, and M, or, phonetically, “aaah,” “oooh,” and “mmm.” Experts say these syllables can represent a slew of trios, including: the heavens, earth, and the underworld; the Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (aka creator god, sustainer god, and destroyer god); and the waking, dreaming, and dreamless states — “to represent all of consciousness,” says Yoganand. Yoga Chanting Many yoga classes begin and end with the chanting of Om ( ॐ ) three times. This mantra allows the energy of the group to begin the process of harmony by breathing together and sharing in this mantra. It tunes each person into themselves and reminds the body and mind to set aside worldly concerns and to turn your attention inward to the everlasting joy yoga can bring. Repeating Om ( ॐ ) at the end of a session, together with the traditional “Namaste”, is a declaration of respect for the practise and each other. It also allows you to carry forth the inspiration of yoga to everyone and encourage growth in yourself and others through your presence alone. Om ( ॐ ) is an amazing tool that all people of all faiths can utilise to bring focus and awareness to the greater meaning of life. The Shape of Om ( ॐ ) The shape of the visual symbol Om ( ॐ ) embodies each of its syllables — the three is the Sanskrit letter for “ahh,” that same three with the mini S on it is “oooh,” and the bindhi and half-moon at the top is the “mmm.” Some say the symbol is connected to Ganesh, the Hindu half-elephant god who removes obstacles, because if you squint, you can see his rotund curves and graceful trunk represented. Many layers of meaning are there for the delving, yet Om ( ॐ ) has endured in popularity simply because of its vibration — how we feel when we chant it. The sound itself calms the nervous system, it gathers and focuses the mind, and in that state it’s not vulnerable to the rising of the odd thought that will create grasping or aversion. It shifts us out of our ordinary discursive mind and into a more contemplative mode. That sense of infinity you feel as that final “mmm” gradually fades into nothing is enhanced by what many call the fourth syllable of om (sorry, trinity-lovers!): silence. “So often in my classes we will sound om, letting those three-voiced parts go very consciously through the cathedral of the mouth, and then sit for a moment in that silence after and simply observe what that feels like,” Bhavani says. Yoganand says that chanting Om ( ॐ ) also creates a link with those who have practised before us. “It’s a sound that validates oneness and harmony,” he says. “We chant it because yogis have for thousands of years. And when we chant it, we’re connecting with those yogis in a ritual way, and drawing upon the support of the practises they’ve been doing for a long, long time.” Why Do We Chant Om ( ॐ ) ? Everything in the universe is pulsating and vibrating – nothing is really standing still! The sound Om ( ॐ ) , when chanted, vibrates at the frequency of 432 Hz, which is the same vibrational frequency found throughout everything in nature. As such AUM is the basic sound of the universe; so by chanting it we are symbolically and physically tuning in to that sound and acknowledging our connection to all other living beings, nature and the universe. In addition the vibrations and rhythmic pronunciation also have a physical affect on the body by slowing down the nervous system and calming the mind similar to meditation. When the mind is relaxed, your blood pressure decreases and ultimately the health of your heart improves. Finally it is also a way to delineate the time of our practise from the rest of our day and signify that this is a special time in which to care for ourselves and practise being mindful.
Michael J Robey
Psychic Medium | Psychic Investigator