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The power and importance of om is not understood in its proper perspective. It is
important that supreme value of this aks ara () om understood in its proper
perspective. In the first place, is the connecting factor between a mantra, the
practitioner and Brahman. Why is accepted as aksara? Because Vedas say so
and Upanisad-s explain this further. This is how it is explained in Vc (pp 15). It is
likely that the syllable , the initiator, was also, as early as Brhmana-s (Brhmanas are explained as rules for the employment of the mantras or hymns at various
sacrifices, with detailed explanations of their origin and meaning), the continuous
humming sound it will become at a later date in the Upanisad-s. Though
imperceptible, it would underlay the whole ceremony
Rig Veda (I.164.39) subtly refers to . This verse says, The Supreme Lord is
omnipresent like space and eternal like his word {word here is explained as upon
which aksara, the indestructible syllable, the supreme position (parame vyoman) of
all the gods (vivedevh} taking their seats}..the one who understands this comes
close to Him and those who do know this cannot reach Him. In another context it is
said, Somehow it happened that he could not take the essence from one syllable
(); just of . This syllable () became this speech and this speech
namely became the essence of breath
The above Vedic references go to prove the importance of and based on
this, Kulrnava Tantra (XV.56) says, A mantra in its beginning entails the impurity of
birth and at the end of impurity of death. Associated with these two impurities, a
mantra does not fructify (impurities are explained as not prefixing and suffixing ).
Taittirya Upanisad (I.viii.1) says, om iti brahma; om iti sarvam; .. which clearly
says that there is no difference between and Brahman and this statement is
further emphasized by the next verse which is says is everything (omnipresent).
This goes to prove that without , Brahman cannot be attained. All of us know that
the very purpose of Mahs o
dai Mantra is only liberation (Soda keval moksa
sdhanam Soda is meant only for liberation).
Prana Upanisad (V.6 and 7)) says, He who meditates on three letters of AUM ()
separately will end up being subject to death. But if they are taken together, this
meditation is rightly doneIf you are able to meditate on that deity in the right
manner, you will know the real meaning of and once you know the meaning, you
go far beyond. If you meditate on as Brahman, it takes you to the higher worlds. It
is again through that you attain the state of peace and fearlessness and you
overcome age. You attain immortality and become one with Brahman. (Please
compare this with the last line of the previous paragraph).

Kat h
a Upanisad (I.ii.16) says, is Brahman with attributes and also without
attributes. He knows this can get whatever he wishes. It must be remembered
that Brahman without attributes is iva and Brahman with attributes is akti. There
are subsequent verses also to explain this in Kat h
a Upanisad.
Mnd kya Upanisad (1) begins with by saying, is this phenomenal world. To
make this clear, it is the past, the present and future. All this is nothing but . If there
is anything beyond this, that too is .
It is also that is the root mantra out of which all other mantra arise. It is clear
that without in the beginning of any mantra, rest of the bjks ara-s of a
mantra will not have any power.Further is also compared to prna (vital air; our
inhalation and exhalation). Without prna how can we sustain and similarly how can
a mantra work without in the beginning?
There are quotations from ivapurna. It says, , known as pranava is so called
because it is the ideal guide to liberation (moks a), by eliminating karma of those who
recite and worship it There are innumerable references to and its importance
towards attaining liberation. All mantras are practiced for two purposes. One is for
realizing the Self and the ultimate purpose is to attain liberation. The latter always
succeeds the former and this is the pinnacle of our spiritual journey.
Patajali in his Yoga stra-s (I.27) says, tasya vcakah pran a
vah. This means that
there is no difference between and iva and we know that iva is the one who can
give liberation and notakti, who is only iva-jna-pradyin (Lalit Sahasranma
727). This interpretation is reproduced below for easy reference.
She imparts the knowledge of iva, the Ultimate. iva jna (knowledge) means
the knowledge of the Brahman, which is also known as the Supreme knowledge. To
know iva, one should first know His akt, who alone is capable of leading a person
to the Brahman or iva. Rmyana says wind can be realized through movements,
fire can be realised through heat and iva can be realized only through akt. It can
also be said that iva is the source of knowledge for Her.
It is said akara caitanyam which means that iva is both jna and kriy. He is
the sovereign, pure free will in knowledge and action. Based upon this principle,
iva Stra-s opens by saying caitanyamtm. Caitanyam means consciousness of
the highest purity and knowledge. There is no difference between Brahman and the
highest form of consciousness. But how akt alone is capable of unravelling iva?
This is answered by iva Stra (I.6) again which says that by meditating on akt,
the universe disappears as a separate entity thereby unveiling Self illuminating iva.
The process of such happening is described in Spanda Krik (I.8) (another treatise
of Kashmiri Saivism) which says the empirical individual cannot ward off the urge of

desires. But entering the energetic circle of the Self (iva), he becomes equal to that
Self. The seeker of iva becomes iva himself. This is known as iva jna and
She imparts this kind of Supreme knowledge.
It is also said that iva cannot be attained without first realising akt. She alone can
lead one to iva. iva is inaccessible directly. Unless She chooses to impart the
required Supreme knowledge, none can realise iva. Hence, She is called ivajna-pradyin.
Thus there are very strong, authentic and proven evidences to prove that is the
cause of any mantra and if is not prefixed to any mantra, the mantra becomes
ineffective. And if we go withKulrnava Tantra and various Upanis ad-s cited above,
one can understand the importance of and its presence at the beginning of any
mantras. If this is not done, then the mantra will not fructify.
To conclude, we must understand that purpose of any mantra is only to get
liberation. There is no point in arguing whether is to be prefixed or not. This has
been explained with help of various sources in this particular article. My Guruji told
me that without , mantra will never be fructified. If we place in the beginning, I
have observed that one is able to reach the highest spiritual level within six months.
If prefixing is a mistake, these men and women would not have attained this
highest spiritual level. What is important is the goal and our goal is liberation. I am of
the opinion that should be prefixed to all mantras without fail. If this is not followed,
then anyone could be wasting his or her precious life in performing fruitless sdhana.
Even after this detailed explanation, if doubts still persist, nothing else can be done.
Beyond this point, it is not right on my part to comment on this issue and hence, I
close this issue with this article.


After having discussed about the importance of pranava () at the beginning of all
mantras, we will now proceed to discuss why is so important. consists of three
alphabets and nda and bindu. Thus om has five components a, u, m, nda and
bindu. Tirumlar is one of the ancient sages and he had composed Tirumantiram
which consists of 3047 Tamil verses. In verse 2035 he has referred om subtly. On the
grosser side, this verse means namahivya, Shiva packsara mantra. But on the
subtler side, this verse refers to om. The verse says that everything is sublimated by
om; if om is meditated upon (using it as a mantra), it causes trance, leading to
liberation and those who do this are truly blessed.
Tirumlar has confirmed these through four other verses beginning from 2675 to
2678. In 2676 he says that om is Shiva and om is Shakti as well. Shiva, because of

its subtle nature; and Shakti because of its power of manifestation from subtle to
gross (Praka and Vimara). In 2677 he says that om is Brahman, who is formless
(nirguna Brahman), it encompasses infinity and diversity, and om alone gives
liberation. Everything originates from om and dissolves unto om. In the next verse he
says that five principle elements (kaa, air, fire, water and earth) originated from
om, the entire creation originated from om (because om is Brahman), three types of
creations originated from om (three types of creations/ jva-s are bound, liberated
and eternal; there are other interpretations for three types of jva-s; sakala,
pralaykala and vijnkala) and om represents the union of individual self with the
Supreme Self. In 2688, he says om comprises of a, u and m and this alone causes
Bliss, Divine Grace, creation, expansion, substratum and everything else. The wise
fully realising this, repeat om and get liberated.
Dhynabindu Upanisad explains om like this. One has to transcend nda and bindu
of om and reach the ultimate state of aks ara, where all sounds are absorbed, that
is the state of Liberation. The one who understands om reaches the state of
prntvam (completeness, the state of complete knowledge, the state of
doubtlessness). The one who does not realize the essence of om, can never
become a yogi. The essence of om is explained as the inherent oil in sesame seeds
and the smell of flowers. Presence of oil cannot be realized unless the oil is
extracted and on the contrary, the smell of the flowers is always felt. The Upanisad
says that om is both gross and subtle. Om is bow; individual soul is arrow and the
Brahman (the destination) is the aim. This subtly conveys Self-realization. Upanis ad
goes on explaining about the importance of om.
Now let us analyse what Mnd kya Upanisad says in detail about om. This Self is
in the form of letters and it is om. It is in the form of adhimtra (in the form of
mtr or letters). These letters are a, u and m which corresponds to three states of
consciousness, active, dream and deep sleep states.Nda and bindu are the states
of turya (realization of the Self) and turytta (merging into Brahman - Liberation).
Om is the beginning, the middle and the end of everything and the one, who knows
this reality, knows Brahman. Brahman is the Self, witnessing all our actions. The
wise who understands this reality is not troubled by dyads i.e., pleasure and pain
etc., and he transcends all dualities. He alone is liberated.
Amr tanda Upanisad says that pranava (om) is not to be pronounced, it is neither a
vowel nor a consonant. It is aksara, the indestructible (ks ara means perishable) and
omnipresent. It is both subtle and gross, like Brahman and His manifestations.
Hence om is called aksara (imperishable).
Vedas originate from om. Om should not be recited with svara. Svara-s are of seven
types and they are nis
da, r s a
bha, gndhra, sadja, madhyama, dhaivata and
pacama as it is beyond svara. It is beyond everything. It is the source of origin and

absorption. It is imperishable. Many times, om is grossly mentioned and rarely it is

subtly mentioned. Any mantra or Vedic recitations should begin only with om and end
with om. It is said, If anybody says that the om is the only sound symbol, with
nothing else being suitable, he is wrong. That is why Patajali did not use om, and
instead he said tasya vcakah pranavah.
This article is not in response to the comments made on the previous part, but only
to elucidate the utmost importance of om. Someone distastefully commented and
asked: Which lineage adds it? Show me? I respectfully submit to them that it is not
my job to look into what others teach or follow. I follow and teach what my Guruji