By Dr. Jagdish P Dave
OM or AUM is the most sacred syllable in Hinduism. It is uttered at the beginning and end of a prayer or a mantra. AUM like the Swastika is seen in every Hindu temple and shrine. AUM is referred to in almost all Upanishads-Spiritual Books of Wisdom.
AUM consists of three phonemes A, U, and M. AUM represents the Hindu Trimurti or Trinity- A: Brahma representing the principle of creation, U: Vishnu, the principle of sustenance, M: Mahesh or Shiva-the principle of dissolution for further creation. AUM also represents the three Goddesses or forms of Shakti-energy associated with the Trimurti. AUM represents three Gunas, attributes: Sattvika-light, purity and serenity, Rajasika-activity, heat and fire, and Tamasik-dullness, darkness and ignorance. It also represents the three stages of existence: birth, life and death.
AUM symbolizes the manifestation of the formless Absolute Reality, Brahman, in form and sound. AUM symbolizes the oneness in the multiplicity of existence. AUM represents the triple appellation of the Brahman - that is beyond the beyond-beyond time, space and causation.
AUM is used as a mantra by itself. It is called Bija (seed) or Moola (root) mantra. AUM represents four states of consciousness: A-Jagruti (wakefulness), U-Swapna (dreaming), M-Sushupti (deep sleep) and Silence-Turiya-the Fourth (transcendental state of consciousness). When you pronounce AUM, say A as you begin to round up your mouth very slowly. You pronounce U when you begin bringing you lips closer and closer, and pronounce M when your mouth is completely closed.
When the sound is ended, listen to the silence, the soundless sound. This deep silence is felt in the seventh Chakra, the Crown Center, called Sahasrar in the Kundalini Yoga system. By meditating on AUM, one realizes the three inter -connected attributes of the Brahman-Sat-Truth, Chit-Pure Consciousness and Ananada-Bliss-Sacchidananada.
AUM is the Eternal Syllable, Pranava - the Primordial Sound;
AUM is pronounced in Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism in chanting and in Mantra Meditation. AUM is usually pronounced at the end of an invocation or benediction for Shanti or Peace. It is pronounced as AUM shantihi, shantihi, shantihi- let peace prevail locally, nationally and globally, for me, for you and for everyone.
reproduced with permission