As children, we were always taught to begin any writing by drawing, at the top of the page, an Om symbol. All my letters and postal correspondence with family, (Yes, I am old enough to have written letters to family and friends), thus, began with an Omkara. It is not surprising, the, that my first blog post after so much procrastination, should be about Omkara.
Significance in Spirituality and Yoga
As per Yogic studies, Om or more precisely, AUM, is the primordial sound from the beginning of the universe and from which the entire universe was created. It is one of the most common, yet powerful ‘Beeja’ mantras and has been chanted by ascetics and sages across the Indian sub-continent for millenia. Mystics are said to have mentioned this as the background hum they hear from the universe and everything in existence. This is the reason that it is also referred to as Pranavakshara or cosmic sound.
The Mandukya Upanishad states that the Ekakshara (the single syllable) is the source of all that is known, visible, and comes within the purview of sensory perception and inferences. It is mentioned as the imperishable and unchanging.
“Om ityetadaksharam idam sarvam, tasyopavyakhyanam bhutam bhavat bhavishyaditi sarvam omkara eva.”- Mandukya Upanishad
(The Imperishable is OM, it is “all this”. Everything else, whatever it be, of the past, present, or future, is like an elucidation, description or commentary on the meaning of this Eternal Truth – the Imperishable Om. Everything is Om)
My Experience With the Omniscient Sound
It is said that when the sound is produced with great attention and full consciousness, it originates at the Manipura Chakra (above the navel) and travels all the way up to the throat. It covers the entire spectrum of sounds that the larynx is capable of making. The prana or energy that flows within the nadis in our body is cleansed by these vibrations and allows for energy to rise from lower chakras to higher chakras.
My first encounter with chanting Om happened in 2014 when I attended a Yoga workshop. There were about a 100 participants and when we were asked to chant Om, the vibration inside the hall peaked in a way that I had never expected. Following this encounter, I began chanting 21-Aums and have been doing it ever since. I have personally felt the positive effects of meditating on the Pranavakshara. The internal vibration caused by chanting A_U_M have helped me clear my mind on several occasions. I have felt more energy, less stressed, and more physically able after chanting Om. As a yoga instructor, I introduced this to my batch of students too. I didn’t expect anything to come of it but I was surprised when they began asking to include Om meditation in every session. The feedback was that they felt lighthearted and more energetic. They mentioned that they have also never felt so much at peace with themselves and their surroundings, as when they were chanting Om.
The universe is nothing without action. If all actions were vibrations, but only certain frequencies were discernible by the human ear, then everything that exists within and outside us, is Om. Understanding this can give us an understanding of our consciousness, which is eternally trying to become one with the divine Consciousness.