What is Aum?
Aum or Om is the sound of divinity in Hinduism. According to the Katha Upanishads (I) whoever recites and believes in this syllable gets what they desire. Aum acts as a support for those who want to accomplish and fulfil their desires. It is a sacred symbol that represents Brahman. It is considered the supreme symbol in Hinduism. It is considered the source of the universe. It is incomprehensible, omnipotent and omnipresent. Alternatively Aum is called Pranava, one which pervades life. According to Madukya Upanishad, Aum is the eternal syllable which encompasses the history, the present and the prospect.
Aum is the primal sound which, like music, transcends boundaries and language. It is the primordial language that everyone can understand. It is a combination of three Sanskrit words, Aa, Au and Ma, which combine to give the sound Aum. “aa” signifies the beginning of the universe, “Au” represents the life period and “Ma” signifies the destruction of the universe. Therefore Aum signifies the three acts of Gods that complete the circle of life. It is believed to be the source of all sounds on earth and is considered a prayer in itself. The sound resonates throughout the body and is believed to stir the Atman (or the soul). The holy book of Hindus, the Bhagavadh Gita, urges devotees to utter the sound with the thought of God. Once someone does that they supposedly reach the state of nirvana.
Aum is believed to project the mind beyond the obvious, to the abstract. Aum helps in not just visioning but also contemplating the inexpressible. It also constitutes all that is substantial and material. This duality to the syllable makes it encompass all that there is and that can be. During meditation the utterance of Aum attunes oneself to the universe.
Aum has four planes of existence. “A” the physical plane constitutes the wake state of the mind. “U” the astral plane constitutes the dream state of mind. “M” the casual state constitutes the dream less state of mind. The fourth plane is the unspoken sound referred to as Turiya. Turiya constitutes the enlightened state.
Though Aum is omnipresent and omnipotent in nature, it is identified with Lord Ganesha. One of the 108 names of Ganesha is Omkara which literally means’ like Aum’. The name is coined because Lord Ganesha’s body looks like the symbol Aum (in Devanagari and the Tamil script) when viewed from the side.
Recitation of the syllable Aum brings prosperity and peace. It is also believed to bring intelligence and spiritual progress which eventually leads to enlightenment.