AUM or ओम्
originally ओं = आं , which may be derived from आ,
a word of solemn affirmation and respectful assent,
sometimes translated by ” yes , verily , so be it “
it is placed at the commencement of most Hindu works, most mantras and shlokas, and as a sacred exclamation may be uttered [but not so as to be heard by ears profane] at the beginning and end of a reading of the Vedas or previously to any prayer ;
it is also regarded as a particle of auspicious salutation;
AUM or ओम् appears first in the Upanishads (उपनिषद्) as a mystic monosyllable, and is there set forth as the object of profound religious meditation , the highest spiritual efficacy being attributed not only to the whole word but also to the three sounds A or अ , U or उ , M or म् , of which it consists.
In later times AUM or ओम् is the mystic name for the Hindu triad , and represents the union of the three gods , viz. a for Vishnu (विष्णु) , u or उ for Shiva (शिव) , m or म् for Brahma (ब्रह्मा) ;
it may also be typical of the three Vedas – the Rg Veda, the Atharva Veda, the Sama Veda ;
AUM ओम् is usually called Pranava प्रणव , more rarely Akshara अक्षर , or Ekaakshar एकाक्षर , and only in later times Onkaar ओंकार
as interpreted from Monier Williams Sanskrit Dictionary
The significance of AUM can be gauged by the fact that the entire Mundakopanisad Upanisad is devoted to its explanation and importance in hindu (or vedic) thought. There are literally hundreds of references to AUM in this Upanisad. One of them, referred to as the pranava mantra, is given below:
pranavo dhanu sharo hyaatmaa brahm tallakshya muchyate.
apramatten vedadhavyam sharavattanmayo bhavet..
प्रणवो धनु: शरो ह्यात्मा ब्रह्म तल्लक्ष्यमुच्यते ।
अप्रमत्तेन वेद्धव्यं शरवत्तन्मयो भवेत् ।।
The Sacred Word (AUM) is called the bow, the arrow is the soul and Brahman is its target; He shall be pierced by him whose attention does not swerve. Then he will become one with Him as the arrow becomes one with the target whence it has pierced it. (Mundakopanisad II.ii.4)
As enumerated above, there are many interpretations of AUM, and it remains the most revered of sounds and symbols in Vedic culture. The symbol representing AUM is all-pervasive in Vedic literature, art, music, architecture, yoga, ayurveda, and many other areas of our lives. The Upanishads propose that AUM, the seed sound, is the primordial source of ALL life – it is the seed which carries the vibration of creation itself!.
How has this simple but omnipresent, omnipotent AUM influenced you and your life? Please do share with us in the comments below. Namaste!