Thursday, July 7, 2011





In the last Post – we saw that Eeshwara is a special being, the Lord of all, the Guru of the most ancient Gurus, whom no afflictions, sorrows, actions and results of actions can touch.


thasya vaachakah pranavah

Ø  thasya = of him or that
Ø  vaachakah = denoting term; signifying word,
Ø  pranavah = the sacred word of pranava, or AUM

We, as human beings, can not comprehend any thing in the world, unless, we give it a name. A thing and its name go together. We cannot tell anybody about any thing unless we name it first.

Leave aside telling others. We also need to verbally represent something before we can think about it. The representation can be in a single word or many words.

The thing is external. But, the word is internal. We represent the whole universe internally – verbally. Every thought has to be in words – though the graphic representation of things also is attached to them. The words may evolve and become more sophisticated over time and thus, great languages may be born.

But, verbal representation of things is as old as humanity itself. The representative sound may differ from one person to another, one region to another and one country to another, but verbal representation of every thought and every thing is a must for human being. This verbal representation continues in the waking state and even in the dream state.

As one’s knowledge of a thing increases, he / she might like to differentiate the thing from others through usage of many words.

One can some times forget the representative word of a thing; but, if some one reminds him, he remembers again. Till he remembers – he undergoes a lot of suffering too.

Now – we said in previous verses, that Eeshwara is the Guru of the most ancient Gurus, one without beginning and end, one without any breaks, one who remains untouched by all sorrows and problems that we all face.

We called him Eeshwara. Eeshwara simply means, the master.

Does the master have a representative word, or sound, or phrase? Yes. He has. He is represented by the sound “A U M”, or popularly pronounced as Om.

This sound is called the Pranava sound. This is considered the MOST APPROPRIATE sound or name in the Universe - and hence is considered to represent the Master of all Masters - namely, Eeshwara.The significance of this sound has been extensively discussed in several ancient scriptures, especially the Maandookyopanishad.

The sound starts with the opening of the mouth with the natural sound of ‘aaaaaa..”

Then, as the mouth slowly closes, the sound turns into “ooooo..” the extended U sound, like in “cool”.

The last sound is of M, extended as “Mmmmmmmm…” with mouth closed.

The basic pronunciation is thus “a…u…m…”, in a natural, effortless, continuous sequence, with the opening of the mouth to its gradual, slow, closure and then, a little after closure, with the M sound.

From the opening of the mouth to the closure of the mouth, can there be any other sound? No. Only AUM can be there.

But Maandookyopanishad gives its significance in many other ways too. The first sound of “aaaa..” represents the first state of “waking up” of the human being; The second sound of “U or 
ooo..extended” represents the state of dreams and the last sound of “m….” represents the dreamless sleep state.

The Upanishad says that all the world that we experience is the representation of pranava. The past, present and future are also representations of pranava only.

The fourth state of “thureeya” or Brahma is also represented by the AUM only.

All other sounds of the alphabet have these sounds underlying in them. For all other sounds, we may use the palate, teeth, jaws etc also – yet, underlying all those sounds we find the a – u – m sounds ( at least one of them ) their base.

It is customary that all important mantras must start with the sound of Aum. 

It is usually uttered also as OM - as  the first 2 sounds of a + u merge to give the sound 'O'.

The devotional stotrams (Hymns) of Gods also start with AUM. It directly and indirectly hints that the form you are worshipping is of one Brahman only – irrespective of the form before you.

Further, even a thousand names are used for the same form of God before us, all starting with AUM - in hymns eulogizing the form of God – indicating that, the form represents none other than the one and only Brahman. Thus in Bhakthi way – AUM has great significance. 

In Karma way too, it has similar significance. The whole of Karma Kaanda has Mantra chanting starting with  AUM.

In the Path of Jnana (Vedanthic way) enunciated by Upanishads also, AUM has great significance. As earlier said, the famous maandookya  Upanishad – is devoted to the description of AUM.

It is the most ancient Sound in the universe, without beginning or end.It is not only the humans - any being - which opens and gradually closes its mouth - makes this sound only. In fact other sounds made in nature in distant planets and galaxies also emulate this sound. This sound is the representation of Brahman, the universal Consciousness.

There is extraordinary significance for this  sound of AUM in Yoga –as well, as Patanjali has very clearly told us in this and the next few verses. We ill examine them in the next Post.

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