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SACRED WORD OM

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Universal Teachings

Click here for audio of Vedic Chanting

OM
The most sacred syllable in Hinduism is OM.
It stands for Brahman, both as personal and impersonal God. The passage below is one of the clearest of the countless references to OM in the Hindu scripture.

 

The goal which all the Vedas declare, which all austerities aim at, and which men desire when they lead the life of continence, I will tell you briefly: it is OM. This syllable OM is indeed Brahman. This syllable is the Highest. Whosoever knows this syllable obtains all that he desires. This is the best support; this is the highest support. Whosoever knows this support is adored in the world of Brahma.

-- Katha Upanishad I, ii, 15-17

The sound OM is Brahman. The rishis and sages practiced austerity to realize that Sound-Brahman. After attaining perfection one hears the sound of this eternal Word rising spontaneously from the navel. "'What will you gain', some sages ask, 'by merely hearing this sound?' You hear the roar of the ocean from a distance. By following the roar you can reach the ocean. As long as there is the roar, there must also be the ocean. By following the trail of OM you attain Brahman, of which the Word is the symbol. That Brahman has been described by the Vedas as the ultimate goal."

-- The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

(To Mahima) "You explain 'Aum' with reference to 'a', 'u', and 'm' only."
Mahima: "'A', 'u', and 'm' mean creation, preservation, and destruction."
Master: "But I give the illustration of the sound of a gong: 'tom', t-o-m. It is the merging of the Lila in the Nitya: the gross, the subtle, and the causal merge in the Great Cause; waking, dream, and deep sleep merge in Turiya. The striking of the gong is like the falling of a heavy weight into a big ocean. Waves begin to rise: the Relative rises from the Absolute; the causal, subtle, and gross bodies appear out of the Great Cause; from Turiya emerge the states of deep sleep, dream, and waking. These waves arising from the Great Ocean merge again in the Great Ocean. From the Absolute to the Relative, and from the Relative to the Absolute. Therefore I give the illustration of the gong's sound, 'tom'. I have clearly perceived all these things. It has been revealed to me that there exists an Ocean of Consciousness without limit. From It come all things of the relative plane, and in It they merge again."

-- The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna

"The sandhya merges in the Gayatri, the Gayatri in Om, and Om in samadhi. It is like the sound of a bell: t-a-m. The yogi, by following in the trail of the sound Om, gradually merges himself in the Supreme Brahman."

-- The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna


1. from "The Upanishads -- Vol. I, " translated by Swami Nikhilananda, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, New York, Copyright 1949.

2. from "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna," translated by Swami Nikhilananda, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, New York, Copyright 1942.

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