OM is an extremely powerful symbol that represents creation, healing, protection, consciousness, source energy, cycle of life, peace, and oneness. Let’s take a deeper look into the various symbolisms associated with OM.
7 Spiritual Meanings of the OM (AUM) Symbol
1. Creation & life energy
In Hindu and Vedic cultures, OM is considered the divine sound (or vibration) of creation. It is also an eternal sound that is present as the base vibrational energy in everything that exists.
The Vedas (Hindu sacred texts) also present the concept of ‘Nada Brahma’ which means, ‘Sound is God’ or ‘The Universe is Sound’. It is believed that everything in the universe, vibrates at a certain frequency and these vibrations are part of the universal sound – OM. It also means that the whole universe was created from the energy of sound. Every sound gives rise to a form, similarly, every form generates a sound based on its vibrational frequency.
OM also consists of three different sounds namely – Ahh, Ouu, and Mmm, followed by silence. The starting sound, ‘Ahh’, represents the spirit world and the ending sound, ‘Mmm’, represents matter or the material world. Hence, OM is said to represent both the manifested and the unmanifested cosmic reality.
Also, when you begin to chant OM, you will first feel the vibration in your navel (or abdomen) area as you utter the, ‘Aaa’, sound. This represents creation. The ‘Ouu’, sound that follows is felt in upper chest area and represents preservation or sustenance of the manifested reality. Finally, the ‘Mmm’, sound is felt in the head area and also has the lowest pitch of the three which represents destruction of the old to form the new. The chant ends with a silence which represents merging with pure consciousness and the fact that everything is one.
Thus OM is also called Pranava in Sanskrit which translates to life force or life energy.
2. Primordial sound/vibration
OM is the primary sound from which all other sounds (vibrations) are created. As discussed earlier, OM is essentially the product of three syllables – Ahh, Ouu, and Mmm. When these three syllables are chanted together, OM is formed. It is through these three syllables that all other sounds are formed.
In fact, if you look at it, there are only three sounds that you can produce using your throat (without using your tongue). These sounds are the three syllables that form OM. In order to create the first sound, ‘Ahh’, you need to keep your mouth fully open. For, ‘Ouuu’, the mouth needs to be partially closed and for ‘Mmm’, your mouth needs to be fully closed.
Apart from these three sounds, all other sounds can only be created by the use of the tongue. The tongue simply mixes these three sounds in many ways to produce the other sounds. This is very similar to how all colors are created from the three primary colors – Red, Blue and Yellow. Thus, OM is the root sound or the primary sound that is present in everything that exists. This is why OM is considered the universal mantra and chanting this mantra helps you connect with the very essence of reality.
3. Four states of consciousness
OM represents the four states of reality or consciousness which is also depicted in its visible form in Sanskrit. As shown in the above image, the lower curve (which is larger of the two) represents the conscious waking state of a human being. In this state, the mind is governed by the ego and forms belief systems based the input it receives from the outer world via the senses.
The smaller upper curve represents the dreamless sleep state when you are detached from the world of forms. The middle curve represents the dream state when consciousness turns inwards and you gain access to your subconscious mind. The imaginary dream world that you enter is created based on the beliefs and ideas stored in your subconscious mind.
The Dot or Bindu represents enlightenment and freedom from the egoic state of existence. This can also be looked at as the fourth state of consciousness. In this state (which is known as Turiya) you become conscious of your egoic mind and hence become liberated from it. In this state, the mind does not control you, rather, you gain control over your mind. This state is experienced during the silence that follows after chanting OM. When the mind becomes silent it merges with the state of pure consciousness.
Finally, the crescent represents the world of maya or illusion that separates the material world from the spiritual world. It keeps you bound to the egoic existence and from reaching the state of enlightenment. Thus by chanting OM, you can travel through all these states of consciousness and experience the egoless state, even if it is only for a few moments.
4. Holy trinity & cycle of life
As we saw earlier, OM is made of three distinct sounds. These three sounds represent the holy trinity of Hindu gods – Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Brahma is the god of creation, Vishnu is the god of sustenance and Shiva represents destruction of the old so as to make space for the new. Shiva also represents the destruction of negativity and negative forces to balance the positive. Thus OM represents the cyclic nature of existence that goes on forever without an end or a beginning.
5. Healing & Protection
OM is the sound of healing and protection. When you chant OM, the resulting vibrations are felt throughout your body that have the power to heal and activate all your energy centers (also known as chakras).
Starting with, ‘Aaa’, the vibrations are felt in and around your belly area that helps heal and activate your root, sacral, and solar plexus chakra. The second syllable, ‘Ouu’, creates vibrations in and around the lower and upper chest areas healing the heart chakra. The third sound, ‘Mmm’, products vibrations around the neck and head areas healing the throat and third eye chakras.
Finally, the silence that follows after a single chant of OM (known as Turiya) creates a state of No-Mind when your entire being becomes one with pure consciousness. This state of deep calm and relaxation is known in Sanskrit as ‘Sat Chit Ananda’ or the state of eternal bliss. This state heals and activates the crown chakra.
6. Peace & oneness
As we saw earlier, the sound of silence that exists between two recitations of OM is known as Turiya which is the state of ultimate bliss and pure consciousness. In this state, for a few moments, the mind detaches from its egoic identify and merges with the source or pure consciousness. Thus, all divisions that exist within the eogic mind are gone and there is the experience of peace and oneness or ultimate bliss.
This state is also known as Sat Chit Ananda. In this state, you exist only as awareness and are at peace with yourself and everything else that exists. Thus OM represents peace, bliss, and oneness. The sound that resonates within your body unifies you with all other sounds in the universe.
7. Auspiciousness & good fortune
In the Hindu religion (and others like Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism), “OM” is considered the most auspicious symbol and is frequently chanted during religious rituals like pujas, prayers, and even during wedding ceremonies. Similarly, many important mantras and prayers begin with the OM sound.
OM is also present as the central symbol in pretty much all Yantras like the Sri Yantra, Shakti Yantra, etc. as we already saw in this article. It is believed that the chanting of OM or even having the symbol around promotes peace, love, positivity, and prosperity, and helps dispel everything that is negative.
As you can see, OM is an incredibly powerful symbol. It embodies the tenets of many vital Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, including universal energy and divine connection. Chanting OM is a way to engage in spiritual practice, and visualizing the OM symbol brings clarity and tranquility.
OM elevates the senses while calming the nerves, and this physiological effect can help improve all aspects of existence. If you want to surround yourself with good vibrations and bring peace into your life, consider hanging some OM symbols around your home today.