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I would like to discuss, in an easily understandable way, the concept of Primordial Sound, the Omkara. The
chanting of the Omkara is not generally understood in the West. Many people chant it, some regularly, however the
deeper significance of this great bija or "seed mantra" is not generally understood.
In order to accomplish this, we will discuss the word "Om" and how it's utterance may be applied to personal
practice or sadhna. Having done this, we will discuss its applications to consciousness studies and spiritual
realization with regards to the four levels of consciousness, that being vaishvanara,
Finally, it will be my intention to demonstrate how anyone can apply the Omkara to the quest for spiritual
development in order to achieve self realization, enlightenment, or God consciousness.
The benefits of the Omkara are immense. Never again will you rely on someone else's vision of reality.
Through mindful recitation of this ancient mantra anyone can tap into the Life Force of the universes and
attain inner peace and joy. In short, each of us can, as Moses, Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, Guru Nanak, Lao
other realized souls, find the Truth within ourselves, and thus truly become the Masters of our own lives.
Karma may deal the hand, but you will know how to play the cards!
Many people in the West, when they hear the wordOm think of nude hippies sitting in a circle,
holding hands and chanting. I am happy to be one of those hippies! At first, for me, the chanting of the Omkara was
just another 'trip,' a novelty. With practice however, I came to realize that there was much more to it then that. I
experienced my consciousness raising and my awareness becoming more keen. Things I had always taken for
granted began to demand a second look. As a result of this, I began asking questions about the mantra, how does it
work? Why does it work? What makes this sound so different from all others? In my quest, I read countless books,
sat with many swamis and holy people, and gradually developed a real taste for its sweet nectar.
As you will see, there is a clear science behind the mantra and, as practice will demonstrate, its results are
sweeter than sugar cane!
Om is the said to be the most ancient of all Indian mantras or sound vibrations. It is called the mula,
or seed mantra, in that most other mantras are based to some degree on it (such as Om Rama, Om Bhur Bhuvaha
Svaha, Om Mani Padme Hum and so on.
According to the Shree Brahma-Samhita, Om is the sound manifestation
of the God Vishnu. By uttering it, one enters into direct communion with God. The bliss of Turiya, which I will
discuss shortly, is seen as the spiritual presence of Vishnu. For the non-theist, Om is the primordial emanation of
nirguna brahman into saguna, which is to say, through It, the Unmanifested Totality
becomes manifest. According to the Mandukyopanishad, which is a treatise on the Omkara, Om is the
primal manifestation of nirguna brahman. All existence, both imminent and transcendent, is identical
with the Om. In other words, the Unmanifest Reality is first conceived through the Omkara. When Om manifests, it
takes on the physical forms of individualized matter. Technically, this existence is known as Prakriti.
Again, the bija, or essence of Prakriti is Om. Since matter, according to the Sanatana Dharma, is only a dense form
of the sound or sabda Om,
through knowledge of the mantra one can vitalize matter and ultimately transcend it.
The Mandukyopanishad explains that there are four 'quarters' or
aspects of an individual. These manifest through the four states
of consciousness. These are listed as follows:
|Waking State||Vaishvanara or Vishva
='A' of AUM
='U' of AUM
='M' of AUM
=First Cause or God
|Turiya||The transcendental state which permeates
all others. Basis of self-consciousness.
|Sum total of the lower three states
and therefore both the fourth quarter
and the whole
=OM as a soundless, single syllable.
Unified consciousness is therefore conceived of as achintya bhedabheda (Inconceivable and simultaneous oneness and difference), while the supreme Godhead is achintya bhedabheda tattva, the very embodiment of inconceivable oneness with and difference from the created qualities.
Our daily consciousness, the level of awareness in which we spend most
of our time, is known as Vaishvanara. You will understand that the first state of consciousness corresponds to the
physical condition and the 'A' in AUM, when it is composed of three distinct letters or sounds.
Om, in Devanagari (the written form of Sanskrit), is a single letter
consisting of three distinct parts, A, U and M. Each of these three vibrations correspond to a particular state of
consciousness. When these three are united in Turiya, they become the single letter or sound vibration
As consciousness passes through the lower states of awareness it remains
in saguna, the manifest universe of duality. When consciousness transcends
these states however, it merges with the universal consciousness of Turiya
in nirguna, in the state Unity. This is the transcendental state which
permeates all other conditions. This is the basis of self-consciousness. It is the sum total of the lower three states and
is therefore both the fourth quarter and the Whole simultaneously, (as in netti-netti or en-Soph). In Turiya, one is
freed from material limitations and becomes one, in some way, with the nirguna brahman or absolute Oneness.
There is much debate about the nature of this state of consciousness. For instance, does one maintain individual
existence/awareness as Shree Ramanuja and Shree Caitanya suggests, or is one so utterly merged with the Cosmic
Wholeness that no individualization is possible, as Shree Shankara and the Mayavadi contend. I will not go into this
here, except to submit that for one who is so absorbed in this state of
absolute bliss, known as Sat-chit-ananda, or eternity, knowledge and bliss,
the question is surely moot.
There are many methods of meditation which utilize the Omkara. I would now like to offer one of them for your
Before I do however, I would like to mention something about the tradition from which the mantra comes down
to us. The Bharata or Indian seers used the term "Sanatana Dharma" to describe their over all belief system. The
name 'Hinduism' is a late product of Moslem origin. By referring to the teachings as the Sanatana Dharma or
Universal Truth, the sages confirmed that the mantras are not the possession of
any nation, people or religion. They are for all the world, no, for the universes! As one practices the mantra
therefore one should feel free to customize it in personal ways. For instance, in India the Omkara is often joined to
Sacred Names. When it is, it is known as nam-japa or recitation of the Holy Names. This is done by adding the
mantra as a prefix or suffix, such as in "Om namah Shiva" "Om namah Vasudeva" etc. The mantra, should be
utilized to fit individual needs and piety. In the same way, Christians could chant "Om Yeshua Yeshua Om" and so
forth. The method I offer now,
therefore, is merely an example.
Sit in a comfortable way with your back basically straight and free from obstructions.
Now, take a moment to look back up at the illustration. Don't worry about the Sanskrit terminology, simply get
a feel for how the sound Om
rolls off you tongue and mind.
As you begin, take a comfortably deep breath, shake your arms and legs
so as to allow yourself to relax. Your eyes may be open or closed. Don't
force either extreme. Again, be comfortable.
Gently focus your gaze on the tip of your nose (don't go cross-eyed!),
just let your attention gently rest there.
Now, softly, gently, begin to repeat the mantra, AUM... Ah Uu Mm...
Ah Uu Mm... Let the sound flow through you, upwards from your inwards parts,
let it gently arise and escape through you mouth.
As you allow the mantra to flow from within, you will begin to experience
a peace, a sense of balance. Be aware of your surroundings, your Vaishvanara
state of mind. In time you will enter into the state of Virat on your
way to universal harmony with the totality of being.
As you continue to chant, the mantra flows serenely, effortlessly.
Allow your consciousness to float freely. As you experience your body
all pain and discomfort washes away, all dis-ease departs and you know
with an inward certainty that all is well. Even now you realize yourself
existing in a state of balance and inward harmony.
As you continue to chant, the sacred sound naturally, of it own
accord, transforms into a more unified sound, as "Om". As it does, you
slip quietly, calmly into the state of Taijasa where you flow with
As the various mental images begin to subside and the consciousness
is quieted, meditation becomes automatic. Outer and inner sounds fade
calmly away. You lose all sense of having a material body. You realize
yourself to be a spirit entity. That sense of peace is Ishvara, the
presence of God. As you continue to drift on this sea of bliss nothing
remains except the mantra, which now chants itself.
As you return to waking consciousness do so gently, easily. The four states must not be forced. Flow gently from one state of consciousness to the next, knowing that the warmth you feel is the arms of the eternal Beloved.
~From a class taught by Jagannath Prakash in Nov. 1988
Paramatma: God Within, God Without
Go to the Roam'n Church Presents: Reaching for the One
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