Thursday, June 4, 2009

Meaning of OM (Symbol)

During my visit to the various religious spots across the country I could see and hear OM which is considered as the beej(seed) from which the universe originated.

I was bit amazed that this symbol has remained the same since the start of the creation and how come when there was no language there was a symbol from the HINDI LIPI that is unchanged till date. These question ignited a spark in me to bring out the actual meaning from behind the scene.

In the Chandogya Upanishad it is said:
The essence of all beings is the earth.
The essence of the earth is water.
The essence of water is the plant.
The essence of the plant is man.
The essence of man is speech.
The essence of speech is the Rigveda.
The essence of Rigveda is the Samveda.
The essence of Samveda is OM.

A deeper insight into this mystic symbol reveals that it is composed of three worlds combined into one. Indeed in Sanskrit the vowel 'o' is constitutionally a diphthong compound of a + u; hence OM is written as AUM.

Fittingly, the symbol of AUM consists of three curves (curves 1, 2, and 3), one semicircle (curve 4), and a dot.

The large lower curve 1 symbolizes the waking state (jagrat), in this state the consciousness is turned outwards through the gates of the senses. The larger size signifies that this is the most common ('majority') state of the human consciousness.

The upper curve 2 denotes the state of deep sleep (sushupti) or the unconscious state. This is a state where the sleeper desires nothing nor beholds any dream.

The middle curve 3 (which lies between deep sleep and the waking state) signifies the dream state (swapna). In this state the consciousness of the individual is turned inwards, and the dreaming self beholds an enthralling view of the world behind the lids of the eyes.

These are the three states of an individual's consciousness, and since Indian mystic thought believes the entire manifested reality to spring from this consciousness, these three curves therefore represent the entire physical phenomenon.

The dot signifies the fourth state of consciousness, known in Sanskrit as turiya. In this state the consciousness looks neither outwards nor inwards, nor the two together. It signifies the coming to rest of all differentiated, relative existence This utterly quiet, peaceful and blissful state is the ultimate aim of all spiritual activity. This Absolute (non-relative) state illuminates the other three states.

Finally, the semi circle symbolizes maya and separates the dot from the other three curves. Thus it is the illusion of maya that prevents us from the realization of this highest state of bliss. The semi circle is open at the top, and does not touch the dot. This means that this highest state is not affected by maya. Maya only affects the manifested phenomenon. This effect is that of preventing the seeker from reaching his ultimate goal, the realization of the One, all-pervading, unmanifest, Absolute principle. In this manner, the form of OM represents both the unmanifest and the manifest, the noumenon and the phenomenon.

Thus the symbol is no where connected with any religion, but our great spiritual sages have designed this as a spiritual symbol and through this tried to explain the different stages of growth of a soul towards spirituality and freedom from self.

Indeed the most forgotten essence that we have clubbed today with religion.

No comments: