Aum is one of the sacred sounds (pranava) in the great Indian tradition. But AUM is a sound, word, and symbol that have permeated western culture more extensively than almost any other aspect of the Indian tradition. It has been parodied on TV and in movies. Tell someone you are learning to meditate, and often jokingly they will touch their index finger and thumb together and say “Om”.
‘Om’ or ‘Aum’ commonly appears on bumper stickers, windows, tattoos, and jewelry. But is there more significance to this sound and image? Are there other ideas, concepts, and principles encapsulated within this word? If one were to look at the teachings from the great Indian civilization the answer would surely be, YES!
A Brief look at the history:
Originally AUM was a sound that was reserved for Brahmins and students of the Vedic system. It was most commonly taught to Brahmins (priests), scholars, philosophers, and religious leaders. It is in common usage amongst Brahmins and Vedantists. To them it is considered a sacred sound called pranava.
Literally the word pranava means, “Humming”. Pranava can be a reference to a boat that carries us across the ocean of birth and reincarnation. It can also mean to “roar”, sound, or reverberate. The word pranava comes from the Sanskrit root “nu”, which means to praise. So AUM is literally a humming sound of praise, which aids to carry us across the ocean of transmigration or reincarnation. Is it the only pranava sound? No, it is considered the highest, but there are several pranava sounds that exist within different systems in India.
This article is contributed by Shri Yogi Baba Prem Tom Beal, Vedavisharada, CYI, C.ay, C.va,www.vedicpath.com
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