Aum is one of the commonest religious words uttered by almost every Hindu as it is considered very auspicious and sacred but it is doubtful whether one really understands what it denotes. Have we ever wondered as to what it signifies?
In order to comprehend the deep and the divine meaning of Aum it is important to first understand the process of creation of this Universe since it so intimately connected with it. Sri Yoganand Paramhans has described it so beautifully. It is said that when God wanted to bring about creation He issued a principle in the form of a vibration which resulted in light and sound which, in turn, led to creation. This vibration has been referred to by many names… “Aum ”,” Shabd’”Naam” by the Hindus,”the “Word”,”Holy Ghost’,( Christians)”Hum”, ( Tibetans)”Amin” (Moslems) and “Amen”(Egyptians,Greeks,Romans,Jews and Christians).God’s consciousness is an integral part of this vibration. We can, therefore, safely infer that it has figured in almost all major religions of the world. To quote The Christian Bible “In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God”. It is also mentioned “God said, let there be light: and there was light….”(Genesis 1:3-4).The Lord vibrated His cosmic consciousness into subtle light. The light of intelligent life energy, the Word, is the first manifestation of cosmic consciousness in creation(Yoganand Paramhans).
Aum (Om), is therefore, spoken as the symbol of Ishvara or God, or “Sat”(God the Father or the Creator).According to Patanjali, it is the Cosmic Sound continuously flowing in the ether, which cannot be uttered by any human voice. It vibrates independently of the etheric medium, which translates into the fact that it is not produced by striking any surface. It is ,therefore, called the unstruck sound or “Anahata Nada’ and is a spiritual vibration, hence cannot be heard physically but felt spiritually by someone who has advanced towards yoga (union with god) with the help and blessing of a God Realized guru.
When God created the Universe, He first produced an Ideational or Causal world of very fine vibrations of His thoughts or ideas which are the cause of all forms and forces, followed by an Astral world of light and force cloaking the original ideational concepts followed by the material world of gross atomic vibrations of matter. These three universes are subject to the three phases of Nature, namely, creation, preservation and dissolution. Man, too has a similar structure, and subject to the same three phases of Nature.The first covering is of the soul, composed of God’s thoughts or ideas and is called the causal body (Karan Sharir). These causal ideas emit a magnetic force of light and intelligent energy and forms the Astral body (Sukshma Sharir) of man. The final covering (which we see)is the physical body.
The cosmic Aum sound is the combined vibration of the three phases of Nature as mentioned above. A stands for akara or creation, u for ukara or preservation and m for makara which is the vibrating power of dissolution. Aum, therefore, creates all things, preserves them in many forms and ultimately dissolves them. This is the reason why the vocal chanting of Aum is first intoned in a high pitch, representing creation, then in a lower pitch, representing preservation and finally in a still lower tone that gradually fades away representing dissolution. It is generally taught that Aum should first be chanted loudly, repeatedly, followed by its repetition in whispers and finally listening to it mentally. It is very important to understand that mere vocalizing the Aum sound serves very little pirpose since the real or superconscious chanting consists of actually hearing the Holy Sound or the Shabd as it vibrates in the ether. By deep concentration the spiritually advanced devotee can hear Aum at any time or any place. It has been pointed out in our Hindu scriptures that one who is identified with his body cannot possibly perceive the true Aum sound. This means that anyone who is not tuned to the self but attached only to sense pleasures can not hear this wonderful sound of the Universe.
It is “prana shakti” which helped us to take form and shape inside the womb and brought “life’ to us. It, however, becomes dormant at birth as it has finished its job till that point. This has also been called Kundalini shakti and dwells at the base of our spinal column or muladhar chakra from where it controls the entire physiological system through a network of 72,000 nerves. At the external level this prana shakti operates through the senses. The Creative force differentiates itself into subtle vibratory centres called ‘chakras” which sustain our bodies. They are located in the spine and head and interact with our mind, body and spirit.
Pranava, the creative Aum vibration emanates from the astral centres of the spine and the medulla(the various chakras).The sound is the mingling of the various sounds of these centres. The spiritual hearing (feeling)of ‘Aum’or “Anhad Shabd” is the only available route to God Realisation and can be learned through the blessings of a god realised guru. Once contact has been established with the Aum sound, various subtle sounds become audible, associated a deep sense of peace and happiness, depending on the progress of the devotee during meditation. One is normally attuned to one’s sense perceptions of sight, touch, hearing, smelling and tasting but during the process of meditation the devotee’s attention slowly starts getting concentrated inwards towards the self through the various chakras. Pranayam and Meditation help us to withdraw our mind from the senses and facilitate the flow of the life energy from the spinal centres to the brain, traversing the Muladhar , Svadisthan, Manipura, Anahata, Vishudhi, Agya and Sahasrara Chakras, thereby helping in connecting with our true spirit, the essence of the soul which is one of the reasons why one should meditate with a straight spine, for proper flow of prana shakti upwards to the brain.
Once the devotee starts hearing or feeling the Aum sound, a lot of wonderful changes start taking place in him and he finds himself to be a different person from what he had been before. His heart becomes serene, overflowing with joy, he loses all fear and is not subject to likes and dislikes. He suddenly realizes the presence of the Almighty in all beings which makes him compassionate, kind, forgiving, helping and develops a sense of empathy for all. His world truly becomes blissful. As the devotee continues to meditate and progresses up through the spinal centres helped by the Aum sound, along with visualization of the beautiful divine white light (prakash),his consciousness reaches the point between the eyebrows(which is the ajna chakra or Christ Consciouness or Tat )and through this it is lifted to the highest cerebral centre of Cosmic Consciousness (Sat).This is the same as the Aum, Tat, Sat of the Hindu Scriptures. This, therefore, means that in order to reach God, the Father, beyond creation, one needs to ascend to the Christ Consciousness first (the ajna chakra or the Son) after tuning in to the Aum sound. Aum, Tat, Sat is the same as the Biblical “God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost”. Without hearing the Shabd or the Aum sound it is not possible to experience God. One needs to be initiated (Naam Dan)by a guru who has traversed the path to God Realisation for Yoga to take place, taking one to that exalted state known as Turia Avastha, a state of complete bliss, with freedom from the wheel of life, never to take birth again in this world! It is the state in which the drop merges with the ocean.
Aum, is , therefore our passport to understanding ourselves and the gateway to Enlightenment or God Realisation………Aum,Tat,Sat.