What is the meaning of mantra AUM or OM?

AUM is the mystical utterance that stems from the sacred language of the Vedic revelations. The meaning of mantra AUM or Om is understood as an expression ‘of the totality of creation’, it is considered as the sound of the universe and it seems to have an allusion to the Triple deity of Hinduism as well.

Generally the mantras are hymns to the powers of nature, which is seen as kind, tolerant and merciful, yet mighty, severe, and unrelenting deity. The Mantra is the language of nature in which cosmic intelligence reverberates as the laws of nature. They are expressions of joy, ecstasy and wonderment for nature’s beauty. The rishis (sages) worshiped the dignity of mountains, the majesty of the sunrise, the beauty of moon, the grandeur of ocean. All the Mantra together form the structure of pure knowledge.

A logical explanation on how the mantra had been revealed can be given by taking the example of physics:

The formula E=mc2 was given by Einstein and it is the expression of matter in energy, which we cannot see.

Like the formula used in science there are Mantra (sounds) and Yantra (symbols) used in yoga. Just as a scientist gives an expression to the principle of energy he sees or experiences through research and intuition, similarly the Rishis (sages) have given an expression, a designation of the supreme consciousness that may be in the form of Mantra or Yantra. In the form of mantra it means that supreme consciousness is designated by a sound formula, while in the form of Yantra means that it is designated as a psychic symbol.

The Mantra AUM is both Mantra and Yantra. It is the universal cosmic Mantra that – according to MandukyaUpanishad represents the four stages of consciousness and it is an aid to the ascertainment of the reality of the self.

Analysis of Letters (AUM) Sound

For the sake of the analysis we divide the self into four quarters, that mean the four steps to the knowledge of Self.

A- sound (A-Kara): Stands for the first quarter of the self, that represents the sphere of the awaking state (Jagrat). The A – sound is related to our conscious mind, to our physical body, to the external things of the gross cosmic world and to the objective experience. It signifies the creation – the Brahma.

U- sound (U-Kara): Stands for the second quarter of the self, that represents the sphere of the dreaming state (Swapna). The U – sound is related with our subconscious and with our subtle body. During this state the mind projects the impressions that have been accumulated throughout the awaking state. The person becomes a witness of subjective experiences. It indicates the preservation – the Vishnu.

M- sound (M-Kara): Stands for the third quarter of the self, that represents the sphere of the deep sleep state (Sushupti). The M – sound is related with our unconscious and with our blissful body. During this state everything becomes undifferentiated, the person abounds in bliss, without any experience, but the person is not the bliss itself yet. It personifies the Mahesh – the destruction.

The Silence following the pronunciation of the three, A, U, and M, is the fourth quarter of the self. That is the ultimate un-manifest, wherein perfected supra-consciousness (Turiya) totally reflects and merges with the pure, transcendental essence of Divine Reality. The person becomes bliss itself.

If the meaning of mantra AUM is understood in relation to the state of consciousness, the aspirant transcends the three states of manifested consciousness and ultimately reaches to the fourth state, that is Turiya (supra – consciousness), the unmanifested, unexpressed and unheard state of true self.

Brainwaves & their Relationship with AUM

But how can the aspirant reach to these levels mentioned above? The answer is simple: with the help of meditation. The Rishis were able to reveal the AUM “formula” through profound internal research, while being in deep meditation. Modern science has shed light on the states of consciousness by verifying that each state has certain brain frequencies, same in all human brains, irrelevant of age, sex or origin.  Research have shown that the brain is an electrochemical organ which can generate some power which is displayed in the form of brainwaves. There are five categories of these brainwaves, ranging from the most activity to the least activity. The four of them are mentioned bellow and they are related to the mantra AUM.

When the brain is active & engaged in mental activities (awaking state, jagrat, the A sound) it generates beta waves. These beta waves are of relatively low amplitude and are the fastest of the four different brainwaves. A person in active conversation would be in beta, a person making a speech, or a teacher taking a class would all be in beta waves.

When the mind is in a dreaming state (Swapna, the U sound) it is typically of a great amplitude and slower frequency and it generates theta waves. This can happen either while the person is sleeping or in daytime while running outdoors and being in the state of mental relaxation or even while shaving or in shower or anytime the person is mentally disengaged.

During the deep sleep (sushupti, the M sound) the brainwave state is delta. Here the brainwaves are of the greatest amplitude and slowest frequency and the person abounds in bliss.

Higher brain functions and higher states of awareness (Turiya – silence) that are generated during meditation produce gamma brainwaves, which are very beneficial for a continuous mindfulness state.

The mantra AUM, therefore, together with its surrounding silence, is a sound-symbol of the whole of consciousness existence and awareness. The meaning of mantra AUM is difficult to be understood by logic or intelligence, until unless it will be experienced and realized through the meditation. This is a good reason for integrating-yoga-in-our-life/

Be happy.


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