AUM is the mystic syllable and chant of the yogis. It is symbolic of creation, preservation, destruction of past, present, future. It is also called Pranava.
There is no question that Om is the oldest mantra, or sound of luminous power, known to the sages of India. Its origin, however, is somewhat obscure.
At least two millennia after the sacred syllable Om was discovered by the Vedic seers (Rishi), the anonymous sage who composed the brief Mândûkya-Upanishad utilized this age old mantra to expound the metaphysics of Advaita Vedânta.
Thus he explained the three constituent parts (mantra) of the syllable-namely a + u + m - as symbolizing past, present, and future, as well as waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.
Another scripture, given exclusively to explaining the sacred syllable Om is the Atharva-Shikhâ-Upanishad. This scripture begins with the question: What should one meditate on? The answer is: the syllable Om, which symbolizes the supreme Absolute (Brahman). The text speaks of four constituent parts of this mantra, each having its own symbolic correlations as follows:
1. The sound “A”- earth - ric (hymn of praise) - dedicated to Brahman;
2. The sound “U”- atmosphere - yajus (sacrificial formula) - dedicated to Rudra;
3. The sound “M”- heaven - sâman (sacred chants) - dedicated to Vishnu;
4. “half-part” (ardha-mâtra) - Atharvan songs - dedicated to Purusha.
The most important part is the nasalized “half-part” sound m, which brings its own illumination and causes the life force (prâna) in the body to rush upward into the head. This Upanishad further states that the Om sound is called omkâra because it sends the currents of the life force upward (ûrdhvam utkrâmayati) and that it is called Pranava because it makes all the life currents bow down (pranâmayati) before it.
The text concludes by stating that the Om sound is Shiva. Interestingly, in Tantra-Yoga, the serpent power (kundalinîshakti) resting in the psycho energetic center at the base of the spine, is said to be coiled up three and a half times.
YOGA = MEDITATION + RIGHT ACTION
Life is easier when we take the time to breathe.
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