OM - THE SYMBOL
OM or AUM is the symbol of essence
of Hinduism. It means oneness with
the Supreme, the merging of the physical being with the
spiritual. The most sacred syllable, the first
sound of the Almighty - the sound from which emerges each
and every other sound, whether of music or of language.
In the Upanishads this sacred syllable appears as a mystic
sound, regarded by scriptures as the very basis of every
other sacred mantra (hymn). It is the sound not only of
origination but also of dissolution. The past, present and
future are all included in this one sound and even all
that transcends this configuration of time is also implied
According to TAITREYA Upanishad the origin of language is
assigned to PRAJAPATI, from whose meditation on the three
words arose the three Vedas and from his meditation arose
the three syllables, BHOOR, BHUVA and
SUAH, which represent earth, atmosphere and sky.
From his meditation on these three originated the divine
syllable of OM, which coordinated all speech and
represented the totality of the world.
The syllable OM also represents the
TRIMURTI (triad) of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Shiva's drum produced this sound and through it came the
notes of the octave, (i.e.) SA, RI,
GA, MA, PA, DHA, NI. Thus by this sound Shiva creates and
recreates the universe. OM is also the sound form
The Upanishads state that everything, existent and non-
existent, can be grasped by uttering the sacred syllable
of OM. The psychotherapeutic efficacy of OM is deemed
limitless and its utterance redeems all errors in the
performance of a sacrifice. Meditation on OM satisfies
every need and ultimately leads to liberation. Nearly all
the prayers and recitals of sacred passages are prefixed
by the utterance of OM. Its equivalent is OMKAR, venerated
in the same manner and is thought to be the representation
of God Himself.
Musically, it is also held that the term OM or AUM is made
up by three base notes ' A ' 'U' 'M' or the basic 'SA'
'PA' of the fundamental scale and again Sa (the base note)
of the immediately higher scale. When one pronounces these
notes in continuity, all the basic notes from Sa to Ni
also sound. Similarly when one pronounces AUM correctly,
all the basic sounds also echo. It is believed to be the
traditional way of clearing all the impediments in the
vocal chord to make one chant the hymns correctly. Their
unison makes one not only sound sonorous but also acts as
the necessary preparation to chant a Mantra (Incantation)
correctly. It is for this reason that all the Vedic
Mantras has 'OM' or' AUM' as the first term.