The pranava, the Eternal. This is the primordial Sanskrit sound (pranava), the One sacred sound from which all word variations originate. Considered the “sound of all sounds” becuase it originates from the sounds of nature and embodies them in its vibration, this mystical single-syllable word and its Sanskrit symbol represent the Divine Presence and Power that is the Universe. Two thousand years after the sound of Om was discovered by Risis in ancient India, an anonymous sage explained the three parts of the mantra in the Mandukya Upanisad. he wrote, “‘Aum’ consists of four, not three elements . . . the fourth is soundless, unutterable, a quieting down of al the differentiated manifestations, blissful, peaceful, nondual . . .” In the metaphysical terms of Advaita Vedanta, the three sounds of the mantra A-U-M reflect the three divinities – inner, outer and superconscient.
Om represents the all-encompassing sound made at the moment all creation came into existence. It is said that before Om there was nothing, simply an empty void.
Hindus believe the mantra “OM” is the name of God, the vibration of the Supreme. It is sometimes chanted as three sounds, a-u-m, symbolic of the three major Hindu deities: Bhrahma Shakti (creation), Vishnu Shakti (preservation) and Shiva Shakti (liberation, and/or destruction).
The Om symbol is written in sanskrit, and is the most sacred syllable and mantra in Hinduism. Each visual element represents different states of consciousness:
- Unconscious State: The top curl of the ‘3’ shape denotes deep sleep, where we subconsciously desire nothing and do not dream
- Waking State: Represented by the large curve at the base of the ‘3’ shape, this state signifies conscious experience through the five senses
- Dreaming State: The middle curve that juts out between the Waking and Unconscious states, where all dreams are experienced
- Maya State: The semi circle at the top represents illusion, an obstacle to spiritual development and the highest state of consciousness
- Absolute State: Represented by the dot at the top, the highest realm of consciousness looks neither outward or inward – the ultimate state of spiritual bliss.
Om reminds us that we have the ability to move past our physical and mental states of consciousness and connect with the divine – both in ourselves and others. Om represents the sound of divinity in all things in the past, present and future.
As Om is regarded as the original sound of consciousness and creation, by chanting its sound, we are physically tuning in to the universe, and creating a spiritual connection to the existence of all things.