"That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material. " ~ Swami Vivekananda

Sacred Space: Reflections

AUM: The Sacred Mantra

Babaji speaks: Himalayan Yogi, Sri Gorakh Babaji gives a spiritual discourse on AUM, the sacred mantra.

A-u-m is the Word (akshar) and A-u-m is the beginning. When He stirred in His deep sleep or sushupti, the sound of Aum reverberated, and the sound awoke Him to the realisation of Himself - the word awoke Him and He was in Turiya. He who has known Aum in his heart, hears it evermore in waking from deep sleep.

A-u-m is the name of Brahman. Aum-kar akshar is the symbol of Parbrahman and Aparbrahman. Aum is indeed Infinite. The name-less one is called by many names, of them all, Aum is the name supreme. All creation began with Aum - when consciousness spoke, and the Vedas were the witness, Aum was the first word, the first stirring, the beginning of creation.


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Gorakhnath Babaji The Aum mantra is called Pranavha and is described in the Brahma Sutra. It is widely used for concentration and contemplation leading to meditation, samadhi and self-realisation. It is recommended in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras in Samadhi Pada where he says "Tasya Vachakha Pranavha"(27) (Pranava or Aumkar is the name of the Divine). It is also praised in the Mandukya Upanishad, Prasna Upanishad as well as in many other teachings.

In the Kathopanishad, Yama explains to Nachiketa, "I will tell you the Word that all the Vedas glorify, all self-sacrifice expresses, all sacred studies and holy life seek. That word is Aum."

In the Mundaka Upanishad, it is advised, "The bow is the sacred Aum, and the arrow is the Atman. Brahman is the aim. As an arrow becomes one with the aim, let the Atman be one with Aum."

The Mandukya Upanishad begins, "A-U-M. This eternal word is all: what was, what is and what shall be, and what beyond is in eternity. All is Aum."This Upanishad explains the states of consciousness associated with Aum.

Let Aum-kar take you to the Spirit Supreme. Upon Aum, let your meditation begin. Let Aum fill your heart till nothing else remains, and the Atman will be one with Brahman, His glory will be revealed.

Aum represents the experiences of four states of consciousness for the Yogi. "A" of the Aum mantra, called Vaishvaanara is known as jagrat or the waking state and refers to the gross everyday world of material consciousness and the conscious level of mental processing when we are connected to our indriyas or senses. 'A' kar is the cause of this world. This world is his form. He is omnipresent, he is, indeed, the beginning, He is Brahma. He who knows this, receives the world. The world is the night of the yogi and in this world, comes his awakening.

The "U" of the AUM mantra, called Tejasa has a relationship with both A and M or the waking state and the state of deep sleep. U is the swapna or dream state when our mind is kriya-oriented. It represents our sukshma shariir, and is symbolic of our sub-conscious mind. U-kar is Vishnu, the preserver, in whose being the world lives. The world is eternal for him who has atmabodh or self-realisation.

The "M" of the AUM mantra, called Prajna is sushupti or the state of deep sleep beyond waking and dreaming and represents our causal body or karan sharir. M is from Ma - it is the measure of the Universe of being and of existence. It is the cause of dissolution - it comes after A and U, and in it sound dissolves into silence, creation and preservation get lost in it's fold. From this causal or karan shariri comes the astral and the gross form and into it, again, do they merge. M is Mahesh into whom all existence dissolves, indeed it is to Him that we return.

The bindu on Aum is Mahamaya. It is the symbol of the Universe.

The fourth state, Turiya is the state of consciousness that arises from knowing A-U-M, in fullness, having known each of the preceding 3 states, having established oneself in awareness in each and thus having attained to the wisdom of A-U-M, that comes from atmabodh. This indeed is All. In this state we are in our anand sharir or light body. This state is attained through samadhi and is a highly evolved state where there are no questions left and no confusion - there is neither illusion nor delusion - there is no ahankar (ego-attachment) and no kaam (sexuality), krodh (anger), lobh (greed), moh (worldly desires).

The mantra Aum is the nirakar swaroop or the Unmanifest. Aum-kar is the nirguna nirakar, attribute-less, form-less. Aum-kar is Turiya, the Supreme Consciousness. Aum is primordial sound that arose from the silence beyond when the Unmanifest chose to manifest itself. Aum takes us from sound to the silence beyond, indeed with Aum we return home at the end of the journey from where the One became Many. Aum is the anahata nada, the unstruck or soundless sound. It is divine knowledge, divine light, divine power. Practice of this Mantra will take you to the Spirit Supreme from where all creation begins and in whom all the worlds rest.

The cosmic sound Aum is described variously in the world's scriptures. Hindus and Buddhists know it as Aum. Jews and Christians say, Amen. Muslims call it Amin. Zoroastrians say Ahunavar. It is the sound of the cosmic vibration. He who is conscious of the sound, becomes one with universal consciousness, his Atman merges with Brahman, and becomes ever free.

"Aum purnamadah purnamidam purnaat purnamudachyate purnasya purnaamadaya purnameva vashishyate. Aum Shanti, Shanti, Shantihi!"

This is perfect, complete, fulfilled. That too is perfect. From the perfect arises the perfect. Take the perfect from the perfect and only the perfect remains. (Perfect also means whole; complete; absolute.)

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.