Hidden Treasures of the East
Exploring the true meaning of yoga’s gifts to the West.
The Primordial Sound of the Universe
‘OM’, ‘Ohm’ or ‘Aum’ is a sacred sound that is known as the sound of the universe. It is the entire cosmos, whatever we see, we touch, hear and feel. It is the eternal song of the Divine, continuously resounding in silence in the background of everything that exists. OM is a bija (seed) mantra containing infinite spiritual wisdom and creative force – the root mantra from which all other mantras emerge.
Historical Roots of OM
Originating from the Eastern sacred texts of the Vedas and then elaborated in the Upanishads, OM is imperishable, it is in the past, present and future, as well as transcending beyond the bounds of time. Later, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali categorised the Eight Limbs of Yoga - chanting OM was essential to accomplish the sixth stage of yoga, Dharana, meaning concentration to achieve single focused attention.
OM is known as ‘Pranava’ or that which runs through breath (Prana) and sustains life. It is the Divine, both in name and form.
In Chapter 1 Sutra 27, Patanjali cites:
Tasya Vacakah Pranavah
Tasya: of that (of Isvarah, the Divine) Vacakah: signifier, indicator Pranavah: the mantra OM OM is the Divine pulsating and vibrating in the form of sound. By chanting OM, one can gain a direct experience of consciousness beyond time and space and seek freedom from ignorance, false identification, attachment and fear of death - attaining union with the Divine.
The Meaning of Om
OM is the most elemental of vibrations. It is the sound of the creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe reflecting both the manifest and un-manifest soul. Sometimes written and pronounced ‘AUM’, each of the three letters and sounds, corresponds to a different aspect of the Divine.
A - invokes Brahma, the creator, the sound starting at the back of the throat, represents the waking state, the subjective consciousness of the outer world (the bottom curve)
U - invokes Vishnu, the preserver, the sound gradually rolling forward along the upper palate, represents the dream state, the consciousness of the inner world of thoughts and memories (the middle curve)
M - invokes Shiva, the destroyer, the sound vibrating through the closed lips, represents the unconscious state, the experience of ultimate unity (the upper curve)
The crescent shape above the curves is Maya (Illusion), the obstacle that sits in the way of reaching the highest state of bliss. The dot at the top of the symbol represents the fourth state, absolute consciousness of peace and bliss. It is within this fourth state in which one truly connects with the Divine.
AUM leads one through the journey of transformation of the cosmos - in the silence after the pause, we might hear the stillness of the infinite, experience the void, profound to any meditative practice connecting us to the power of creation and the Divine.
The Power of OM
OM is all encompassing, the essence of ultimate reality: peace, tranquility and unity. In yoga and meditation, OM vibration calms the central nervous system aligning the body, mind and spirit with the universe.
OM as the power of sound reminds us to treat our words as sacred, creative, and Divine. May our words, through our conscious use of them, ignite their transformative power, as we bring more awareness to the vibrations that we create with our thoughts and words. OM Shanti.
By Sonal Thakrar (kleem.co.uk)