not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Word Wednesday : "OM"

Today is Word Wednesday. As of next week it's going to be WINE WEDNESDAY...because I've discovered a new passion for those delicious grapes and I have been studying some wine books. What I've discovered is that wine isn't just for snobs, it's for everyone. So I figure that once a week I will share some of what I have been learning, and therefore we can hang with the connoisseurs! Anyways, back to WORD wednesday. The word today is "OM". I just finished teaching my first ever yoga lesson {yes, I had PAYING customers!}. In addition to studying wine, I have been studying a bunch of yoga books and watching dvd's like, "How To: Instructing Yoga". I am definitely more about yoga for fitness and peace of mind....not so much into the spiritual aspect. None the less, I feel like I should nail down what "OM" actually IS.

written in Devanagari as
in Chinese as
in Tibetan as
in Sanskrit known as praṇava प्रणव or oṃkāra ओंकार lit.

OM, as we know it, is actually AUM.

AUM (aka OM) is a mystical or sacred syllable (yes, it's not even really a word) in the Indian religions {including Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism}. It is pronounced as a long or over-long nasalized close-mid back rounded vowel. It is placed at the beginning of most Hindu texts as a sacred exclamation to be uttered at the beginning and end of a reading of the Vedas or previously to any prayer or mantra. {Vedas are the oldest sacred texts of hinduism} The syllable is taken to consist of three phonemes, a, u and m, variously symbolizing the Three Vedas or the Hindu Trimurti. Concerning the Mandukya Upanishad {a Hindu scripture devoted to the explanation of Aum} AUM is the following:

There are three mātrās ("letters", syllabic instants in prosody) in the word aum : ‘a’, ‘u’ and ‘m’. The ‘a’ stands for the state of wakefulness, where we experience externally through our mind and sense organs. The ‘u’ stands for the dream state, in which inward experiences are available. In the state of deep sleep, represented by the sound ‘m’, there is no desire and consciousness is gathered in upon itself.

But there is a fourth, transcendent state, that of one "who is neither inwardly nor outwardly aware, nor both inward and outward, nor with consciousness infolded on itself.... who is unseen and ineffable, ungraspable, featureless, unthinkable and unnameable" The fourth state (turīya avasthā) corresponds to silence as the other three correspond to AUM. It is the substratum of the other three states.

Hindus begin their day or any work or a journey by uttering Om. The sacred symbol is often found at the head of letters, at the beginning of examination papers and so on. Many Hindus, as an expression of spiritual perfection, wear the sign of Om as a pendant. In yoga, it is used as a symbol marking the beginning of and end of your routine.

aum in TIBETAN

aum in TAMIL



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