The OM as afundamental mantra
Those who practice yoga or even those who simply have heard about yoga, have often heard of the word OM, but what does that OM mean, from where does it come and is it really a fundamental mantra?
In reality more than a mantra it is the bija mantra i.e.: bija in Sanskrit means “seed”, and therefore it is the so-called basic sounds or root sounds with specific vibrational powers.
The OM as a fundamental mantra is considered in fact the original sound that has created the whole universe, according to the Vedic cosmology.
According to the Vedas in fact, the sound is the basis of all creation, i.e. what is manifested in the cosmos has the nature of a sound, hence with a given intensity, frequency and vibration.
And this is also what the most modern scientific theories say about the origin of the Universe and on the nature of the matter: everything is due to a wave function that has the characteristics of a vibration or a sound.
The word or better mantra OM being at the origin of everything is also called pranzava mantra or “primordial mantra”, and it is precisely for this reason that it is inserted or sung at the opening of almost all other mantras.
In the MANDUKYA UPANISHAD the syllable om is described as consisting of three sounds you might represent with the word AUM.
Each of the three letters is associated to the three states of consciousness according to the Vedic psychology:
- The sound A is associated to the state of vigil (watch) (jagrat in Sanskrit)
- The sound U is associated to the status of dream (swapna)
- The sound M is associated to the state of deep sleep (shushupti)
Therefore reciting briefly the OM allows to create the right balance between these three states to be able to access more easily the universal consciousness, in which we will live directly the mystical experience of connection with the whole universe.
THE OM AS A FUNDAMENTAL MANTRA, BUT WHERE DID IT COME FROM?
The first traces are found in the most ancient Vedic texts, but are also found as an opening of many Tibetan Mantras, it however does not appear in the Vedic text par excellence, the Rig Veda, but we find it in the first verse of the Yajur Veda where it is defined precisely as pranzava mantra.
But why is it used as an introduction and sometimes even at the end or also as a whole meditation?
The sense is that the bija Mantras have a power in themselves that is closely connected to the vibrations they produce and which resonates within the body of the yogi.
The sounds produced by reciting the syllables of the bija mantras would activate specific nerve centres and produce very focused moods and emotions that are specifically awaken to bring physical, mental and spiritual prosperity and well-being to those reciting them.
In order to recite or chant the OM you should get out a very deep and elongated “O” but that begins with a very nasal “A”. Then the sound should gradually become an “M” that makes the inner part of the throat vibrate very much and that in the end it becomes almost a “N”.
It seems more difficult to explain than to actually do it, hence practice, practice and practice again to feel the vibrations of the universe.
If you want to deepen and start with the basics of yoga take a look at our ebook yoga for everyone