The Holly Sound of « AUM »


For me, AUM (or OM) is the Primal Sound of Creation, the pranava mantra (primary mantra) and the most sacred of all Sanskrit mantras. The vibration of the three aspects of A-U-M represents the fullness of creation, the complete circle from the emanation & the sustenance, to the destruction of all things.

In Buddhism and for the Jains, OM is not in association with Hindu deities. In Buddhism, AUM is viewed as the primal vibration out of which everything came into being and into which everything returns at the end of a cosmic cycle.


OM symbolically connects the individual to the cosmos through a sound that represents all aspects of the creative energy from its inception to destruction. Some says the hidden sound of silence hints at transcendent awareness hidden from conscious awareness through egoism and illusionary nature of the phenomenal world. As beautiful as it sounds, I’m still on the path…

Anyway, the AUM sound has become an important aspect of sound meditation and chants. What I experience, more and more during meditation, begins with a true connection to myself, deep and profound, an incredible inner peace, which create a vast space within me. Through this space, I feel connected to everything around me. The deeper I go in, the more I « see », or perceive, the vibrations around me, like a pulsing flow from inside out, and vice versa. It feels like: you belong to everything, and you are free from yourself…


A compilation of some of the best thoughts of OM I found…

Swami Krishnananda says:

“We do not create Om by a chanting of it, but we only produce a vibration sympathetic with the vibration that is already there by its own right and which is called Om. Om is a cosmic vibration. It is not a chant made by us, created by us or initiated by us. Why do we chant Om? To establish a connection between ourselves and that which exists by its own right and which manifests itself as a sound-vibration in the form of Om.”

————o———— (David Gordon)

One ancient tradition of AUM

The loveliest explanation of OM is found within the ancient Vedic and Sanskrit traditions. We can read about AUM in the marvelous Manduka Upanishad, which explains the four elements of AUM as an allegory of the four planes of consciousness.

« A » (pronounced « AH » as in « father ») resonates in the center of the mouth. It represents normal waking consciousness, in which subject and object exist as separate entities. This is the level of mechanics, science, logical reason, the lower three chakras. Matter exists on a gross level, is stable and slow to change.

Then the sound « U » (pronounced as in « who ») transfers the sense of vibration to the back of the mouth, and shifts the allegory to the level of dream consciousness. Here, object and subject become intertwined in awareness. Both are contained within us. Matter becomes subtle, more fluid, rapidly changing. This is the realm of dreams, divinities, imagination, the inner world.

« M » is the third element, humming with lips gently closed. This sound resonates forward in the mouth and buzzes throughout the head. (Try it.) This sound represents the realm of deep, dreamless sleep. There is neither observing subject nor observed object. All are one, and nothing. Only pure consciousness exists, unseen, pristine, latent, covered with darkness. This is the cosmic night, the interval between cycles of creation, the womb of the divine Mother.


Another way to make the AUM sound

One of my favorite exercises with the sacred AUM sound involves a more modern interpretation of its elements. In short: « A » is the sound of infinite expanding energy in the universe, the energy of unity consciousness and Divine Love; « U » is the sound of that very energy manifesting and materializing in our waking reality; with the sound of « M » we absorb and integrate that energy into our own being. In the silence after the sound we give thanks and allow the process to resonate within us.

Try this: stand comfortably, feet shoulder width apart, hands and arms hanging easily at your sides. Prepare to make the « AUM » sound, all three vowels in one seamless breath. Inhale gently, easily, expanding into your belly as you breathe. Open your mouth fully as you inhale, as if to « inhale » the « A » sound itself, creating the intention of the sound before the sound actually begins.

Then, as you begin to make the « A » sound, raise your arms out to the side, as if opening to embrace all the universe. Than as your voice transitions seamlessly to the « U » sound, extend your arms to the front, as if to hold something precious and powerful in your hands. You might wish to visualize some shape, round and energetic, manifesting between the palms of your hands. Then, gliding from « U » to the « M » sound, bring your hands, and whatever they may contain, to your heart center. Finally, in the echo of the silence, bring your palms to your chest, pressing them lovingly to your heart. Breathe gently.

Repeat this exercise several times. It is remarkably centering and relaxing.



The Music of Om

Om is not a word but rather an intonation, which, like music, transcends the barriers of age, race, culture and even species. It is made up of three Sanskrit letters, aa, au and ma which, when combined together, make the sound Aum or Om. It is believed to be the basic sound of the world and to contain all other sounds. It is a mantra or prayer in itself. If repeated with the correct intonation, it can resonate throughout the body so that the sound penetrates to the centre of one’s being, the atman or soul.

There is harmony, peace and bliss in this simple but deeply philosophical sound. By vibrating the sacred syllable Om, the supreme combination of letters, if one thinks of the Ultimate Personality of Godhead and quits his body, he will certainly reach the highest state of « stateless » eternity, states the Bhagavad Gita.


The Power of Om

During meditation, when we chant Om, we create within ourselves a vibration that attunes sympathy with the cosmic vibration and we start thinking universally. The momentary silence between each chant becomes palpable. Mind moves between the opposites of sound and silence until, at last, it ceases the sound. In the silence, the single thought—Om—is quenched; there is no thought. This is the state of trance, where the mind and the intellect are transcended as the individual self merges with the Infinite Self in the pious moment of realization. It is a moment when the petty worldly affairs are lost in the desire for the universal. Such is the immeasurable power of Om.



The “A” represents beginning, start and emanation of the universe and life. A is an open sound formed with open lips and it resonates in the front of the mouth. It represents creation and Brahma is the Hindu god of creation.

Brahma sitting on a lotus indicates that he is always rooted in the Ultimate Reality, that despite manifestation, the Transcendent remains hidden beneath surface awareness. The four heads of Brahma represent the manifestation of Consciousness as mind (manas), intellect (buddhi), ego (ahamkar) and conditioned-consciousness (chit). Thought functions within them but Consciousness is a transcendent Witness to everything.

“U” is produced from the back of the mouth with closed lips. It represents the sustenance of the universe and it is the middle between creation and destruction. Vishnu is its principal deity, often worshipped as ten different incarnations, including Krishna.

Vishnu incarnates in a form (avatar) in each cycle of time to rescue the universe. He represents the maintenance of balance in the universe through support of physical and spiritual laws.

“M” is produced with closed lips and it resonates forward in the mouth and buzzes throughout the head. It represents the ending, destruction, and death of life and the universe. Shiva is the Hindu deity that represents this stage.


While Shiva is the destroyer, his role is viewed as beneficial, since destruction is necessary for creation and destruction can also represent sublimation of the lower energies to devotion. He is often depicted with:

  • A third eye, which looks beyond the illusionary nature of manifest reality (maya)
  • The cobra representing death and Shiva’s conquest of it, and dormant energy, Kundalini, often pictured as a serpent at the base of the spine
  • The crescent represents his control over time
  • Ashes on his body demonstrate that death is beneath all life


Besides the Hindu trinity, Om can also represent psychological states of consciousness.

“A” represents Waking Consciousness (jagrat), conditioned by time and space. The conscious mind predominates this state, where the mind is under sway of thought impressions and desires. This state is expressed through the quality (guna) of activity, heat and energy (rajas).

“U” represents Dreaming Consciousness (svapna) with the subconscious mind predominating awareness. Dreams at this level can either be stimulated by nerve cells firing as our conscious mind loses awareness, or they can arise from deeper levels of the psyche and hold deep often symbolic meaning. The primary quality that represents this state is of sloth, ignorance and darkness (tamas), since in this state we are allured by the universe.

“M” is associated with Dreamless Sleep (nidra), which is a deep sleep state without any disturbance of dreams. The unconscious mind holds sway at this level. This state of mind is often experienced by people with deep spiritual advancement. The ego has been left aside and a connection is experienced with the atman (soul), which gives a special experience of bliss. Sattva, purity, serenity and light is the main quality at this state.

After the “M” we have silence, often called turiya, which is the transcendental fourth state of mind (called chautha pad in Sikh scriptures), where non-duality is experienced as our being is no longer disconnected. Superconscious mind predominates in this state and it is similar to what is often called cosmic consciousness.


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