(The OM or” AUM “symbol in Devanagiri)

It’s a sacred sound which resonates in Indian religions. It is also a mantra in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. Om is part of the iconography found in ancient and medieval era manuscripts, temples, monasteries, and spiritual retreats. The symbol Om has a spiritual Meaning in all Indian dharma’s, but the meaning & connotations of OM vary between the diverse schools within and across the various traditions. In Hinduism, Om is one of the most important spiritual symbols (Pratima). It refers to Atman (soul, self within) and Brahman (ultimately 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 Vedas, the Upanishads, and other Hindu texts.

The syllable OM is referred to as Pranava. Other terms are akshara (letter of the Alphabet) imperishable, immutable one. In Actual practice, it is rarely chanted in Isolation and mostly in association with other mantras,prayers, names of gods and goddesses, either as a suffix or a prefix,under the belief that doing so would enhance their potency, vibrancy, sanctity, and purity. According to Mantrayoga Samhita, OM by itself has no potency if it is chanted by someone who has not been initiated on the spiritual path by a guru.

Now let me tell you about the Origin of OM or AUM—

We find there are many theories regarding the origin of the syllable OM. Max Mueller proposed that it might have been derived from an ancient word ‘AVAM’, which was used in prehistoric times in the sense of ‘that’ to refer to distant objects. According to swami sankaranada, the word might have been derived from “Soma”, the name of an important deity who is mentioned in the vedas frequently and with whom many esoteric rituals are associated. The word is also linked to the sound of breath and a subtle plane as a deep sound (Pranava nada) by the adepts all the time. The Chandogya Upanishad narrates how the syllable AUM issued forth from Brahma as he brooded upon the worlds he created in the initial stages of creation.

From his brooding first emerged the threefold knowledge (trayiVidya) and then the syllables (bhur, bhuvah and suvah). Thus, we find Symbolically, AUM represents the entire creation manifested in the three planes, namely the earth, the mid region, and the heaven. From Vedic times until the present day the word ‘OM’ has been taken as a symbol and as an aid to meditation by spiritual aspirants. It is accepted both as ‘Brahman’ and as the medium, the Logos, connecting man and God. The entire history of the syllable is in the revelations of Vedas and in the declarations of the Upanishads.

A verse in the Vedas: ‘Prajapathi vai idam agra asit’, (In the beginning was Prajapathi, the Brahman):” Tasya vak dvitiya asit”, (with whom was the word): ‘Vag VaiParaman Brahman’ (And the word was verily the supreme Brahman). The sound of OM is called “Pranava”, meaning, that it is something that pervades life, or runs through Prana or breath.

The very central theme of Mandukya Upanishad is the syllable OM through which the mystery of Brahman is gathered to the point. The text of Upanishad first treats OM in terms of the Upanishadic doctrine of the three states of waking, dream, and deep sleep, but then passes on to the ‘fourth’ (Turiya) thus transporting us beyond the typical upanishadic sphere into that of the later ‘Classic Advaita Vedanta’, speaking of Om, the Taittriya Upanishad says: “Thou art the sheath of Brahman”. That is, OM is the supreme and therefore invoking OM is supreme. We find music has three aspects, namely (1) meaning of song, (2) laws of music, (3) sound of the song, similarly OM has three aspects, the first is merely the sound, the mantra is pronounced by the month, second is the meaning of the syllable, which is to be realized through feeling and the third is the application of OM to your character, singing it in your Acts, and so through your Life.

OM represents self which is supreme reality,AUM the silence that follows and surrounds the syllable. The sound A represent the Waking state, the sound u represents the dream state, and the sound M represents the sleep state. The waking state is superimposed on the A sound because it is the first of three states of consciousness, and so is the sound A the very first of the letters of the alphabet in all languages. The syllable OM symbolizes both the spheres (1) the phenomenal, visible sphere of the ‘jagat’, wherein the manifestations of time and space appear and perish, and (2) the transcendent, timeless sphere of the imperishable being. We find ‘OMKARA’ is made from two words,” AUM” +Kara”. Kara has its root in “Kri” which means “to create” and therefore, it mens the ‘sound of Aum that created’, the universe, the first creation and hence it is taken as the most auspicious word/sound and associated with anything that needs to be created which is opposite of destruction. This is the primary reason “AUM”is chanted before anything good is begun. Even the temple bells are made to sound “AUM” and there are specified computations prescribed in details in Vedic Texts so that they actually make the sound of “AUM”. Mantras are actually made of decibels stacked differently. It is based on the scientific theory that sound impacts. A mighty thunder could break a glass windowpane and similarly a lullaby could soothe an infant to sleep. So, the sound waves affect both the atmosphere outside as well as inside us. ‘Mantra’ a Sanskrit expression has its root in “Man”, and Man denotes mind. Man, came from its root “Mannan” meaning churning because it is the nature of the mind that it churns to draw meaningful understanding and then to perform.

Let me Give You Scientific reasoning for chanting OM in a detailed manner

In the Vedas, Purana, etc., the OM us said to have created the Universe. For example, Shankaracharya’s philosophy states that the vibrations of “OM” symbolizes the manifestation of god in form (saguna Brahmin). OM is the reflection of absolute reality. Now Let’s involve ourselves into some scientific reasoning. The OM mantra is a universally chanted mantra even though it has its origin in Santana Dharma. The fact that it has spread and transcended various boundaries proving its significance. There are two scientific explanations to why the OM Mantra is widely practiced. First, when the OM mantra is chanted, the frequency of the vibrations is said to be 432Hz which happens to be the vibrational frequency of everything in the universe. The scientific finding is the justification of saying “In Harmony with the being”. Secondly, there were research conducted by various scientists and the findings were amazing – The time frequency analysis of it showed irregular wave forms which indicated unsteadiness in the mind. They were requested to chant the Mantra frequently for a few days, the experiment was repeated. The time frequency analysis had some surprising insights. The wave forms were improved with regular spacing, had almost perfect symmetry and harmony. Not only had these participants witnessed dramatic improvements in focus, concentration & steadiness, but found themselves to be in peace, witnessed reduction in mental stress & could remain calm all the time.

The Mantra OM or AUM, one of the most common in Sanskrit or Tibetan, if Aum is indeed onomatopoeic, then chanting it can create an event inside the nervous system, which can then become an object of concentration and meditation, and also a focal point for expanding physical and emotional awareness. A, U, M are Sonorants or rings, so this mantra qualifies an object that inherently which has no interactions. When we resonate the Mantra aloud,allowing air to flow through the nasal passage, smoothly transitioning between three sounds. Traditionally AUM represents & has the capacity to open the practitioner for formless & timeless realty, the background radiation of the cosmos that echoes. AUM represents the immutable eternal aspect of consciousness.

The OM or AUM is the highest sacred symbol of Hinduism. It is finite as well as infinite, it contains everything from Vedas. AUM is the representation of the Hindu trinity Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. It produces the sound and vibration which allows you to feel one with the universe. It is considered to be divine, that’s the reason for it to be suffixed or prefixed—OM Namah Shivaay, Hari OM.

OM Tat Sat.

Jai Hind


Dr.S. Sukanya Iyer