Even though it is commonplace to use and chant the symbol OM in yoga and meditation studios scattered all over the world, the word OM itself refers to something much more sublime. It refers to the almighty, the infinite, the imperishable, the indefinable, the indestructible, the all pervading, the supreme soul, the universal consciousness, the one and only formless God, who pervades everything within us and outside of us.
OM (pronounced as AUM) is a symbol of religious identity to Hindus, just as the Cross is to the Christians, and the Star of David is to the Jewish people.
A well-known hindu spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda once said “Repeating the OM continually is the only true worship. It is not a word, it is God itself.”
I am the taste in water, the brilliance of sun and moon, the sound in space (ether), the sound of sacred symbol OM (in Vedas), and the capability in humans.Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7, Verse 8
Vedas are ancient sacred texts that form the basis of Hinduism. They are considered the oldest religious scriptures in the world.
I am the Father, the Mother, the guardian, and the Grandsire of this universe. I am knowledge, the pure and sacred syllable OM, and the Ṛig Veda, Sāma Veda, and the Yajur Veda.Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9, Verse 17
The term Veda means knowledge. There are 4 Vedas – the Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda, and much later was added the Atharva Veda.
Rig Veda – The oldest, addresses questions regarding our existence
Sama Veda – Provides melodies to the lyrics of Rig Veda
Yajur Veda – Provides rituals and steps to be followed during worship
Atharva Veda – Addresses ceremonies and prayers about everyday life
Vedas were revealed to a multitude of sages spanning over a long period of time prior to 1500 BCE. They were then imbibed by their students through recitation and memorization, until eventually being penned down during 1500-500 BCE.
I am Bhrigu amongst the great seers, and the word Om amongst spoken sounds. Among yagnas I am the repetition of the Holy Name; amongst immovable objects I am the Himalayas.Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 10, Verse 25
Sage Bhrigu is one of the great Hindu sage who is said to have assisted in the creation of this universe. Himalayas are the great mountain range.
The three words “Om Tat Sat” are a symbol of eternal essence, the Supreme God.Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 23
“OM” means “Supreme God“
Sages and devotees of God, recite the sacred word OM prior to commencing any yagna, charity or penance.Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 24
Yagna is, literally speaking, a ritual where offerings are made to the fire, concurrent with chanting of mantras. There is hope and expectation that God will bless and fulfill the desire of the yajman – the person who is initiating and performing the yagna.A yagna can be an individual or a collective effort.
Symbolically, Yagna means that we need to do our duty and make effort, with a hope of a favorable outcome, knowing fully well that there is no guarantee about getting the results we expect.
Those without expectation, and seeking to attain moksha, utter the word “TAT” when undertaking acts of charity, austerity and yagna.Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 25
“TAT” means “that” and encompasses the all-pervading almighty.
“Moksha” is liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
SAT means good, pure feelings and intentions towards all; and an auspicious action. Acts of yagna, charity, penance or any auspicious acts or purpose is “SAT”Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 26 & 27
“SAT” means “Absolute Truth“ and encompasses the above quoted actions and feelings.
We all have our own truths but there is only one truth that is known by the God and that is the God.
Charity, penance, and yagna that is undertaken without faith, is “ASAT”. It is considered untrue and perishable, in this world and the next.Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 17, Verse 28
Faith in the Almighty God is an absolute must for any action we undertake in our life.
Those who chant the sacred syllable OM when they are leaving their body, they attain me.Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 8, Verse 13
Chanting OM at anytime, loudly or silently connects us to God. But remembering and repeating it at the time of our passing, makes us one with God.
What OM, also called pranavi (derived from the word pranavayu which means life force), stands for is so vast, that an entire Hindu sacred text of Mandukya Upanishad, which is a part of Atharva Veda, is dedicated to it. (Upanishads are the last sections of each of the Vedas).
OM implies that God is life force itself.
As the Mandukya Upanishad says:
OM! This syllable is this universe and beyond. It is past, present and the future. It is the eternal Brahman, the life force that creates, sustains and dissolves this cosmos. Unconstrained by time and space, it is everything.
The Bhagavad Gita