Of all the Mantras, the most powerful and the significant one is the single -syllabled incantation called the Pranava. This is the “OM”.
The word “OM” has been taken as a symbol and as an aid to the meditation by spiritual aspirants. It is accepted both as one with Brahman and as the medium, Logos, connecting man and God.
Om is one of the most chanted sound symbols in India. It has a profound effect on the body and mind of the one who chants and also on the surroundings. Most mantras and vedic prayers start with Om.
The Mandukya Upanishad, a Hindu sacred text, describes Om like this: “The past, the present, and the future, all that was, all that is, all that will be is Om. Likewise, all else that may exist beyond the bounds of time, that too is Om.”
All auspicious actions begin with Om. It is even used as a greeting – Om, Hari Om etc. It is repeated as a mantra or meditated upon. Its form is worshipped, contemplated upon or used as an auspicious sign.
Om is a many-layered word. For Hindus, it is a sacred syllable that captures the essence of the entire universe. It is actually composed of three different sounds (a-u-m) that can represent several important triads: the earth, the atmosphere, and heaven, for example, or the waking, dreaming, and dreamless states of consciousness.
Om is the universal name of the Lord. It is made up of the letters A (phonetically as in “around”), U (phonetically as in “put”) and M (phonetically as in “mum”). The sound emerging from the vocal chords starts from the base of the throat as “A”. With the coming together of the lips, “U” is formed and when the lips are closed, all sounds end in “M”.
Aum is also called the Pranava, a Sanskrit word which means both controller of life force (prana) and life-giver (infuser of prana).
“OM” represents the Self, which is the Supreme Non-dual Reality. The Self is known in four states, namely, the waking state, the dream state, the deep sleep state and the Turiya. All these states are represented in the three sounds of “OM” ( i.e “A”, “U”, and “M”) and the silence that follows and surrounds the syllable.
The sound “A” represents waking state, “U” represents the dream state and the “M” represents the deep sleep state. “OM” represents the entire manifested world and the unmanifest and also that which lies beyond both the manifest and the unmanifest – the Brahman, which is the changeless substratum for changing objects of the world of experiences.
The three letters symbolize the three states (waking, dream and deep sleep), the three deities (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva), the three Vedas (Rig, Yajur and Sama) the three worlds (Bhuh, Bhuvah, Suvah) etc. The Lord is all these and beyond.
The formless, attribute less Lord (Brahman) is represented by the silence between two Om Chants. Om is also called pranava that means, “that (symbol or sound) by which the Lord is praised”. The entire essence of the Vedas is enshrined in the word Om. It is said that the Lord started creating the world after chanting Om and atha. Hence its sound is considered to create an auspicious beginning for any task that we undertake. The Om chant should have the resounding sound of a bell (aaooommm).
Om is written in different ways in different places. The most common form symbolizes Lord Ganeshas. The upper curve is the head; the lower large one, the stomach; the side one, the trunk; and the semi-circular mark with the dot, the sweetmeat ball (modaka) in Lord Ganesha’s hand. Thus Om symbolizes everything – the means and the goal of life, the world and the Truth behind it, the material and the Sacred, all form and the Formless.
Without “OM” no sacred chant has its power. Just as living body has no vitality when the life-giving breath is not flowing through its veins, so too a mantra has no life in it without the addition of the Pranava.
If properly pronounced, this “OM” will represent in itself the whole phenomenon of sound production and no other word can do this, and this therefore is the fittest symbol of the “Sphota” (material of all words).
The many advantages of chanting Om:
Sound reduces fatigue
Increases oxygen reduces CO2. and lactic acid that reduces fatigue.
Particularly frequency, raises the level of (causing secretion) neurotransmitters and hormones like serotonin, dopamine, dhea etc.
Because of their vasodilatory actions, the oxygen levels in blood soars.
Causing dilation of blood vessels.
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