Narasimhaye’s Blog

SIGNIFICANCE OF AUM

Posted on: October 24, 2008

SIGNIFICANCE OF AUM: 

 Of all the mantras the most powerful is the single syllabled one - pronounced 'Aum' or 'Om.'

It is the sound that has been realized by ancient Rishis in the highest states of meditation and though it is great to go through the intellectual study done below we have to remember that actually it is a sound that goes beyond the intellect and we can only begin to understand it by actually chanting it and feeling its effect in one's innermost core.

 AS NOTED BY THE SAGES: 
 Aum is the primordial sound, the root mantra which empowers and gives life to all other mantras. 

All mantras start with Aum.

It is called the Pranava or that which provides prana or life force to the mantra. 

Just as a body is only living when the life-giving breath is flowing through it, similarly the mantra gets empowered only when it begins with Aum.

All mantras are hidden in Aum which is the abstract, highest mantra of the cosmos.

Aum is the manifest symbol of the Vibration named God.

It is the manifest symbol for the Unmanifest Supreme.

The universe has come from Aum, rests in Aum and dissolves in it.

Aum represents the Self which is the Supreme non-dual Reality.

 IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE 21ST CENTURY: 
 Aum is the telephone no and the email address of the Supreme.

To utter any mantra or any name of God without Aum is like using a revolver without cartridges.

 THE MEANING OF AUM: 
 The human being experiences the Self in four states - namely waking, dream, deep-sleep and the perfect blissful state.

'The physical or waking state is the first state known to man.

The sound 'A' is also the first letter of the alphabet in all languages. Also it is the root sound produced without touching any part of the tongue or palate. So it is compared to the waking stage.

The next stage - the in-between stage -experienced by us is the dream stage and that is implied by 'U' sound which is also the connecting sound as it rolls from the very root to the end of the sounding board of the mouth.

Deep sleep is the third stage and that is implicit in 'M' the last phonetic sound, uttered with closed lips. 

The inevitable pause of silence between two successive chants of AUM stands for the fourth state, beyond the intellect, the Turiya stage or the state of Sublime Bliss reached in the state of Samadhi or deep meditation. 

The transcedental sound of Aum is heard only by the yogis, not by the ordinary ear.

A,U,M, are the basic sounds of the Science of Phonetics and all other letters of the alphabet are their extentions and combinations.

A is the first sound that the vocal apparatus can utter and M is the last. (The alphabet of Hindi - a phonetic language begins with the sound 'A' and ends with the sound 'M')

In between is the middle range of 'U' or 'ooh'.

Correctly pronounced, the sound proceeds from the navel with a deep harmonious vibration and gradually manifests itself at the upper part of the nostrils. 

Thus the three sounds of Aum encompass all sound. 

According to Swami Vivekananda for this reason Aum is the only sound which qualifies to be called 'the Sphota'. (The Sphota is what remains when all the particularities which distinguish one word from another are removed - that is the material of all words and yet not any definite word in its fully formed state)

There is no language, music or poetry outside its range. Not only does all language arise from this word but also the energy vibrations of the universe itself arise from it.

The three letters A,U,M also refer to the three aspects of the Supreme -
namely the Creator i.e. Brahma, 
the Preserver i.e. Vishnu, 
and the Destroyer i.e. Mahesh or Shiva.

While chanting Aum - 
We first open the mouth for the sound to start from within to chant A symbolizing the beginning of Creation. Then while chanting U, the sound emanating from within continues to prolong with the mouth open, symbolizing the continuity and 
Preservation of the Creation. Finally when M is chanted the mouth shuts symbolizing the dissolution of the Creation.

Thus the sound AUM is symbolic, descriptive of all comprehensive and manifest expression of the Supreme Power.

It is also said that on the Individual level -A refers to the physical body, U refers to the individual mind and M refers to the intuitive awareness.

At the Universal level -A refers to the material universe, U refers to the cosmic mind, and M refers to the conscious substratum of the universe.

Aum represents the space where the finite world of the word - of sound - ends and the infinite world of silence begins. It forms the borderline between the word and the wordless - there is no word beyond Aum. 

 THE SYMBOL OF AUM 
 In the written symbol of Aum - what looks like 3 is the 'a' sound in Sanskrit. 
The tail or trunk is the 'u' sound in Sanskrit and the dot on the half moon is the nasal sound 'm'.
So together is makes the sound of Aum.

Aum is also a visual and if you care to interpret it in the following way it looks like a Ganapati. - The lower part of the 3 is the belly, the upper part is the face. The 'u' is the trunk and the cresent moon with the dot is the tika on top.

 MENTION OF AUM IN THE SCRIPTURES: 
 The ancient sage, Patanjali, states that the primordial sound 'Aum ' is heard during meditation. Note the word used is 'heard' not 'chanted'. It has also been observed that by chanting 'Aum' aloud and internally one creates certain vibrations which automatically take one to the internal core of the individual, the realm of peace and deep silence which one discovers is also the core and center of the universe. 
The Mandukya Upanishad is one of the prime Upanishads.
It is a short Upanishad dedicated to Aum. It begins with the words -
"Aum is this imperishable word. Aum is the universe and this is the exposition of Aum. The past, present and the future; all that was, is and will be is Aum. Likewise all else that may exist beyond the bounds of time, that too is Aum. That which is beyond all these is also Aum. ( verse 1)

The Taittiriya Upanishad says: 'Thou art the sheath of Brahma." That is Aum is the container for the Supreme and therefore invoking Aum is invoking the Supreme.

The Taittiriya Upanishad also says "With Aum, Brahma begins creation'' which means that the whole universe was projected out of the sound of Aum. 

The Dhyanabindu Upanishad states -
Those who want enlightenment should reflect on the sound and meaning of Aum. Aum is the bow, the individual being is the arrow and Brahman is the target. When the arrow is released from the bow it goes straight towards and into the target.

The Sweteswatara Upanishad states-
Fire though potentially present in firewood is not seen until one stick is rubbed against another. The Self is like that fire; it is realized by constant awareness of the sacred syllable Aum. Let your body be the stick that is rubbed and Aum be the stick that is rubbed against. Thus you will realize your real nature which is hidden within, just as fire,in a sense, is hidden in wood.

In the Maitrayana Upanishad after it has been said that there is one Brahma or Supreme without words and a second, a Word- Brahma, we are told that the word is the syllable 'Aum'.

In the Bhagvad Gita Sri Krishna states that amongst the mantras he is Aum and that whoever chants Aum at the time of death gets liberated.

There is a verse in the ancient Rig Vedas -
"Prajapati vai idam agra asit" meaning - 'In the beginning was Prajapati,( the Supreme)
Tasya vak dvitiya asit meaning With whom was the Word
Vag vai Paramam Brahma meaning And the Word was verily the Supreme Brahma.
This Sphota has its symbol in the word Aum. 
Notice the similarity much later in time in the fourth Gospel of the New Testament where it is repeated 'In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.'

 WHEN DO WE HAVE THE FIRST MENTION OF AUM? 
 Aum is the most ancient word for God that has come down to us through the ages. It was there before time - hence even this question is absurd!

However, it is believed that at least over 5000 year ago, in ancient Sumer, Aum was known and used as a secret word by the Sumerian mystics and priests.

When the Indo-Aryan tribes wandered east from Sumer to Northern India they carried the precious and sacred word Aum with them.

In parallel, as we have seen there is mention of it in the ancient Rig Vedas and in many of the Upanishads.

 MENTION OF AUM IN OTHER RELIGIONS: 
 In most modern religions there is some sacred word similar to Aum . For Tibetans the sacred word is Hum. In Muslim religion -Amin. Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Jews and Christians say 'Amen'.

Buddhism and Jainism too use Aum .

Also notice also how close the positive statement 'I am' is to Aum.

Zen sages ask their disciples to go and find out the sound of the unstruck sound -this is Zen's own way of refering to the anahat or the unstruck sound and the uncaused sound referred to in the Upanishads- 

Aum is not caused by you - it arises from your innermost depth. It represents the space or the bridge between the finite world of words and sound and the infinite world of silence.

 EFFECTS OF CHANTING AUM: 
 The books state it and our personal experience confirms it that chanting of Aum  
soothes the aching man, 
cures the ailing man, 
inspires the poetical man, 
and brings realization to the genuine sincere seeker. 
In 1978 Bihar School of Yoga conducted a scientific research project in a hospital in Barcelona. People who were going in for a surgery were made to chant Aum for five minutes.

Their brainwaves, skin resistance and heart beats were monitored. It was found that just after five minutes of loud chanting, there was an increase of alpha and delta waves, there was relaxation of the nervous agitations as monitored by the blood pressure and the skin resistance. Subjectively too the patients were less afraid and more visibly relaxed. 

A few minutes of chanting Aum show that the breathing and the heart beats slow down and all the vital processes inside the body become calm.

Chanting Aum regularly is like planting a tiny seed which slowly sprouts and grows into a powerful gigantic tree. It contains indescribable potential.

To use another example, the mantra is like a vacuum cleaner. It sucks all the dark sanskaras of the mind. (sanskaras are tendencies inherited from previous births)

Some contemporary Indian authorities have given a rational explanation for the miraculous power of Aum.

Swami Sivananda who was a practicing medical doctor before he became a yogi, explains that the vibrations produced in nasal cavities by the continuous chanting of Aum stimulates the activity of the hypophysis and gladula pinealis by a direct massage like action. These organs have great importance in the psychological and physiological functions of man and probably explain the powerful effects of chanting of Aum 

Today science has confirmed that vibrations are at the root of every manifestation in the world.( Even the seven basic colours are seen by the human eye due to different vibrations coming within the range of the human vision.) The intensity of vibrations produced by chanting Aum is said to effect the entire microcosm and the macrocosm.

 METHODS FOR CHANTING AUM: 
 Mantra sastra says that Aum the pranava can be chanted in 170 ways. 

Madame Blavatsky researched ancient Indian works and noted that Aum can be chanted in 250 different intonations - and each way has a different effect on the person and the surroundings.

Aum can be chanted aloud-slowly or fast; or mentally with a movement of the lips; or siently with no external movement.

Mentally Aum can be silently chanted by synchronizing with the heartbeat, in which case one can visualize Aum at the heart center as though it is a candle flame the same size as your thumb or mentally synchronizing it with the pulse at the eyebrow center and visualize the Aum at the eyebrow centre. 

Whichever method one uses, Aum should be pronounced so that it is a harmonious sound. It should be ' like the continuous flow of an oil stream and like the vibration of a bell.' This is the way to pronounce Aum and to really know its meaning.' - Dhyanabindu Upanishad.

One can also write Aum daily a certain fixed number of times in a book kept specially for this purpose.

 WHY DO WE CHANT AUM THREE TIMES? 
 We chant Aum three times to recall the three components of the self which are Tamasic, Rajasic and Sattvic.(inertia, dynamic and goodness or truth)

Also by chanting Aum three times we are recognizing the three qualities of the Self.

The Self is Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent. All three words start with Aum and the qualities are confirmed by chanting it.

http://www.yogaandyou.com/meaning_of_aum.htm

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  • Narasimhaye: If you are able to talk to your or sister and your girl cousins, you will be able to speak to any girl you like. Don't be shy. Try to be confident in
  • arjun: sir please help me I cannot talk to any girl I'm not frank and I am very afraid of doing things I think what the world will think I don't have confide
  • Narasimhaye: I meant do Puja , not pika sorry.
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