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The Power of Pranava Mantra

Om is con­sid­ered the fun­da­men­tal sound or vibra­tion in Sanatana Dhar­ma. Almost every chant begins with Om and it is con­sid­ered to be a pow­er­ful mantra. Be it the Upan­ishads or the Bha­gavad Gita or the Yoga­su­tra of Patan­jali, the pow­er of chant­i­ng Om or Omkara or the Prana­va mantra is spo­ken about. Prac­ti­tion­ers expe­ri­ence deep­er states of con­scious­ness while chant­i­ng Om.

In the Samad­hi Pada of the Yoga­su­tra, while speak­ing of the Ish­wara who is beyond the kle­shas and their impact, it has been said

तस्य वाचकः प्रणवः ॥ १.२७॥

तज्जपस्तदर्थभावनम् ॥ १.२८॥

His sound is the Prana­va or Om. Chant­i­ng it reveals its mean­ing. When we repeat­ed­ly chant the Om mantra, the deep­er mean­ing of the same gets revealed through var­i­ous expe­ri­ences that one gains as one pro­gress­es in the mantra sad­hana. Though not quite well acknowl­edged by the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty, there have been demon­stra­tions of pat­terns pro­duced in a tono­scope when Om chant­i­ng is done.

The Bha­gavad Gita has brief men­tion of the Prana­va Mantra. In the 8th Chap­ter of the Bha­gavad Gita, Bha­gavad says:

ओमित्येकाक्षरं ब्रह्म व्याहरन्मामनुस्मरन् | य: प्रयाति त्यजन्देहं स याति परमां गतिम् || 13||

oṁ ityekākṣharaṁ brah­ma vyāha­ran mām anus­maran yaḥ prayāti tya­jan dehaṁ sa yāti paramāṁ gatim

One who leaves the body while remem­ber­ing Me, the Supreme Per­son­al­i­ty, and chant­i­ng the akshara Om, will attain the supreme state. Bha­ga­van also says “प्रणव: सर्ववेदेषु” (BG 7.8) that he is the Prana­va Mantra Om in the Vedas.

ॐ तत्सदिति निर्देशो ब्रह्मणस्त्रिविध: स्मृत: | ब्राह्मणास्तेन वेदाश्च यज्ञाश्च विहिता: पुरा || 23||

oṁ tat sad iti nird­eśho brah­maṇas tri-vid­haḥ smṛi­taḥ brāh­maṇās tena vedāśh cha yajñāśh cha vihitāḥ purā

तस्माद् ॐ इत्युदाहृत्य यज्ञदानतप:क्रिया: | प्रवर्तन्ते विधानोक्ता: सततं ब्रह्मवादिनाम् || 24||

tas­mād oṁ ity udāhṛitya yajña-dāna-tapaḥ-kriyāḥ pravar­tante vid­hānok­tāḥ satataṁ brah­ma-vād­inām

The words “Om Tat Sat” are a sym­bol­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the Supreme Absolute Truth, from the begin­ning of cre­ation. From them came the bhrah­manas, scrip­tures, and sac­ri­fice. There­fore, dur­ing Yaj­na, Dana and Tapas, expounders of the Vedas always begin by utter­ing “Om” accord­ing to the pre­scrip­tions of Vedic injunc­tions.

The Upanishads

Almost all prin­ci­pal upan­ishads talk about the sig­nif­i­cance of the Om. The Chan­do­gya Upan­ishad says that the syl­la­ble Om must be wor­shipped as it is the very Brah­man. The chant­i­ng of Om leads to ful­fill­ments of all desires. When Pra­jap­ati med­i­tat­ed on the syl­la­bles bhur, bhu­vah and svar, the sacred Om emerged. Just as the veins of the leaf knit the entire leaf togeth­er, Om knits all sounds togeth­er.

In the Kathopan­ishad, Yama tells Nachike­ta that the fruit of all med­i­ta­tion leads to the Brah­man and the syl­la­ble of the Brah­man is Om. In the Prash­na Upanisahd, Pip­pal­a­da Mahar­ishi says “The essence of the Brah­man is cap­tured in the Om. It con­sists of three syl­la­bles a u and ma, each one denot­ing Rig, Yajur and Sama Veda respectively…He who wor­ships Om merges into the Brah­man. Om sym­bol­is­es all that is calm, eter­nal, immor­tal, fear­less and supreme”. The fifth ques­tion posed by the stu­dents is ded­i­cat­ed to Om in the Prash­na Upan­ishad.

The Munda­ka Upan­ishad gives a beau­ti­ful anal­o­gy. Make the Om as the bow, Atman as the arrow and Brah­man to be the tar­get. Do not hes­i­tate in achiev­ing your aim..”. The Man­dukya upan­ishad says that every­thing is cap­tured in Om and the past, present and future are in Om. The Man­dukya Kari­ka has sev­er­al vers­es ded­i­cate to the under­stand­ing of Om. The Shve­tas­vara Upan­ishad says that Om is the boat that will help us cross the sam­sara sagara.

Skanda Peruman Explains the Significance of the Pranava

Leg­end says that Swami­malai tem­ple is where Skan­da Peru­man (Lord Karthikeya) gave upade­sa of Prana­va to Lord Shi­va. It so hap­pened that Skan­da posed. series of ques­tions to the devas. Lord Brah­ma was able to answer all the ques­tions. When ques­tioned about the mean­ing of Om, Brah­ma fum­bled and Skan­da imme­di­ate­ly impris­oned Brah­ma. He rea­soned that some­one who does­n’t under­stand the mean­ing of Prana­va is not fit to be the cre­ator. From then on Skan­da took over the process of cre­ation. Lord Shi­va, know­ing this, request­ed Skan­da to release Brah­ma and he oblig­ed. In a play­ful man­ner, Lord Shi­va asked Skan­da to explain the mean­ing of Om and Skan­da gave a beau­ti­ful expo­si­tion on the Prana­va mantra. Lord Shi­va was delight­ed to hear Skan­da’s expla­na­tion.

Swamimalai Murugan Temple - Tripadvisor


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