By , on September 14th, 2019 Yoga


You may have heard AUM, or OM, in your yoga or meditation classes.

Have you wondered about the significance of the AUM syllable and where it came from?
Why on earth would we want to start the session chanting AUM? Why not HO-HO-HO for lively starters!?

Let us take a look at it…….

AUM, or OM as this mystic syllable is commonly uttered, appears to have made its debut in the ancient Indian texts, the Upanishads.

The Mandukya Upanishad, which is dedicated to the exposition of OM, says that: OM, the imperishable word is the whole of this visible universe. In the opening verse of this Upanishad, OM is described as: “What has become, what is becoming, what will become – verily, all of this is OM. And what is beyond these three states of the world of time – that too, verily, is OM.”

AUM is referred to as “pranava”, or the cosmic reverberation, in Sanskrit language. It is regarded as the primordial sound from which all creation came into being.

Linguistically speaking, A-U-M encompasses the three “root sounds” that we humans are capable of uttering, and from which all other sounds are derived.

According to the Vedas, these three sounds respectively represent the three elementary aspects of the divine universal energy: Brahma (Creation), Vishnu (Preservation and Sustenance) and Shiva (Liberation and Destruction).

The Vedas also regard OM as the essence of all mantras. You may have noticed that many mantras begin with OM. For example, “OM Namah Shivayah”, “OM Namoh Narayanayah”.

Now, if you’re wondering how AUM = OM, here’s how it works: In Sanskrit, the sound “O” is a diphthong from the transition of the sound “A” to “U”. So “AUM” and “OM” are commonly used one for the other.

There is a general perception that AUM is associated with the Hindu way of life. But I question the validity of this perception because AUM, in some form or the other, appears to be present across cultures and traditions, as Sadhguru clearly explains.

AUM appears to be as universal and timeless as existence itself.

Resources for you:

(1) Sadhguru on AUM

(2) The Mandukya Upanishad – Swami Krishnananda

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