Sacred Mantra AUM

January 17, 2014 | By | 2 Replies More

Sacred Mantra AUMPerhaps the most widely known mantra in the world, AUM (popularly known as “Om”), is an ancient mantra which first appeared in Vedic writings as old as 1700-1100 BC and is found throughout sacred Hindu texts and at the beginning of many other mantras.

Its meaning is expounded in the sacred writings of the Upanishads, which were written between 1200-500 BC. It is described as the sound of creation, the essence of Brahman (the Absolute source), and present in all things.

“Om: this syllable is all this. A further exposition of it is: what was, what is, and what will be — all is only Om. And whatever else is beyond the three times, that also is only Om.”
~ Mandukya Upanishad

“Om is the primordial throb of the universe. It is the sound form of Atma (Consciousness).”
~ Maitri Upanishad

“This mantra Om indeed represents Brahman (the Absolute). It is the highest. He who knows its meaning and worships it attains the supreme goal and knows everything.”
~ Katha Upanishad

This sacred mantra is made up of three letters, “A,” “U,” and “M,” as explained below in the Mandukya Upanishad:

“This identical Ātman, or Self, in the realm of sound is the syllable Om, the above described four quarters of the Self being identical with the components of the syllable, and the components of the syllable being identical with the four quarters of the Self. The components of the syllable are A, U, M.”
~ Mandukya Upanishad

Sacred Mantra Aum

Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva–gods of Hindu mythology–within an OM. This illustration is from a Mahabharata manuscript from 1795.

The text goes on to describe how each letter respectively corresponds to different states of awareness: A is Vaishvânara (worldly), U is Taijasa (brilliant), and M is Prâjña (cognitional), or waking, dreaming, and deep blissful sleep without desires. Thus to progress through each of the letters while chanting the mantra can represent a transition in consciousness from “worldly” perception to bliss (ânanda).

Try this mantra when you have some time to sit and not be disturbed. You can be in nature or somewhere comfortable inside. Sit, relax, and be clear within yourself of your intention in practising the mantra, reflecting on its deeper meaning.

A mantra practice can be a short or long duration — whatever you’re comfortable with — though it’s recommended not to exceed an hour. You can experiment with intoning the vowels longer than the “M,” or vice-versa. Try also doing the mantra out loud and then get quieter until you are just pronouncing internally in your mind. Find out what works best for you, and take note of how you feel after these mantra sessions.

“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.”
~ Chhandogya Upanishad

Here is a video of one way to pronounce this mantra along with a singing bowl:

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Category: Hindu, Mantras

Comments (2)

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  1. Patricia says:

    This definitely tops the list of favourite mantras to chant for me. It helps me at times when I need to be grounded and clear-minded.

  2. Layla says:

    I really like this mantra, and I like to use it with a deep veneration of the divine(brahma)to strengthen my love for the divine.

    Also this excerpt in your post is really incredible, “This identical Ātman, or Self, in the realm of sound is the syllable Om”.

    Just made me think there is so much to sound that we don’t know, and it helped me to expand my knowledge on how sound is another aspect of life in all aspects. Its like you can tell by the sound what that life force is…

    Makes me wonder what each of our sounds is like, what do we sound like on the scale of sounds?

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