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11 December 2013


Since our childhood, most of us have been hearing various mantras and shlokas. Ever noticed most of them have “AUM” in them? Although AUM symbolizes the profound concepts of religious belief, it is used daily. The Hindus begin their day or any work or a journey by uttering AUM. The symbol is often found at the head of letters, and at the beginning of examination papers. Many Hindus, as an expression of faith and belief, wear the sign of AUM as a pendant. What makes this word and its invocation so important?

Music of Sound: Because the three-syllable AUM is a sacred sound, its pronunciation is open to a rich logical analysis. The first letter A is regarded as the primal sound. It is produced at the back of the open mouth, and is therefore said to include, and to be included in, every other sound produced by the human vocal organs. Indeed A is the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet. The open mouth of A moves toward the closure of M. Between is U, formed of the openness of A but shaped by the closing lips. Here it is interpreted in relation to the three curves; the three syllables making up AUM are susceptible to the same metaphorical decipherment. The dream state (symbolized by U), lies between the waking state (A) and the state of deep sleep (M). Indeed a dream is but the compound of the consciousness of waking life shaped by the unconsciousness of sleep. AUM thus also encompasses within itself the complete alphabet, since its utterance proceeds from the back of the mouth (A), traveling in between (U), and finally reaching the lips (M).

Now all alphabets can be classified under various heads depending upon the area of the mouth from which they are uttered. The two ends between which the complete alphabet oscillates are the back of the mouth to the lips, both embraced in the simple act of uttering of AUM. This is like locking the door to the outside world and instead reaching deep inside our own selves, in search for the Ultimate truth. But over and above the threefold nature of AUM as a sacred sound is the invisible fourth dimension, which cannot be distinguished by our sense organs, restricted as they are to material observations. This fourth state is the unutterable, soundless silence that follows the uttering of AUM. The blissful and non-dual state this is the state symbolized by the dot.

Innumerous Logical Derivations: According to Indian spiritual sciences, God first created sound, and from these sound frequencies came the phenomenal world. Our total existence is constituted of these primal sounds, which give rise to mantras when organized by a desire to communicate, manifest, invoke, or materialize. Matter itself is said to have proceeded from sound, and AUM is said to be the most sacred of all sounds. It is the syllable which preceded the universe and from which the gods were created. It is the “root” syllable (mula mantra), the cosmic vibration that holds together the atoms of the world and heavens. Indeed the Upanishads say that AUM is God in the form of sound. Thus, AUM is the first part of the most important mantras in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. The threefold symbolism of AUM is comprehensible to the most ‘ordinary’ of us humans, realizable both on the intuitive and objective level. This is responsible for its widespread popularity and acceptance. 

Courtesy : Mantras and Shlokas

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