Om – Aum, the Pranava Mantra


The Supreme Combination of Letters
Emanating from the Flute of Sri Krsna

Although, Om is known and recognized in many Eastern religions: the Buddhists, the Vedantist, the Theosophists, the full transcendental understanding of the sacred syllable Om is given in the sampradaya of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. This understanding is supported by the different Vedic literatures like the four Vedas,the Upanishads,the Vedanta and the Srimad Bhagavatam.

It is said that everything is in the syllable Om, and that everything begins with Om. Thus OmVeda and Vedanta-sutra; then it takes the shape of Srimad Bhagavatamand the divine pastimes, of the Lord.

So, as everything begins with Om; the gayatri mantra, >the Vedas, >the Upanishads,the Vedanta>and the Srimad Bhagavatam we can say that even our search for Sri Krishna also begins with Om. In this way it is the seed conception of theism. 

Mayavadis suggest that Om refers only to the impersonal aspect of the absolute truth. However, in Bhagavad Gita I am the syllable Om.” In the Rg-vedawe find the following information;

“He who has unmanifested potencies and is fully independent, manifests the vibration omkara, are the three forms He manifests.”

“O Vishnu your self-manifest name, om,>is the eternal form of cognizance. Even if my knowledge about the glories of reciting this name is incomplete, still, by the practice of reciting this name I will achieve that perfect knowledge.” 

Actually ‘om’ refers to many things. For example it is non-different from the sound of Krishna’s flute. In the Gopal-tapani Upanishad Om is explained to be non-difference from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The text 41 it said: 

“The sound vibration Omof Sri Balaram, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, and Sri Krishna.”

Each sound of the devanagri script ‘Om‘ pronounced as A U M refers to one of these personalities. “The letter ‘A’ denotes Balaram , the son of Rohini, who is the substratum of the entire universe. The letter ‘U’ denotes Pradyumna who is the super soul of the universe. The letter ‘M’ denotes Aniruddha, who is the super-soul of each individual being in the universe. And the ‘dot’ above the ‘M’ denotes Sri Krishna, the fountain head of all Vishnu incarnations.”

Gopala-topaniUpanishad also establishes the understanding of Om as non-different from the Supreme Entities Sri Sri Radha-Krishna.  

“The wise and enlightened sages declare that the Swarupa-shakti Gopala, Sri Krishna who is the Creator, Maintaner, and Destroyer of the universes is also non-different from Om.

Further the syllable ‘Om‘ is said to be non-different from kama bija mantra ‘klim’ which contains in itself the eternal pastimes of Sri Sri Radha and Krsna. The text 59 of the Gopala-tapani Upanisad say: 

“The Brahmavadhis  know for certain that the kama-bija-mantra ‘Klim’and the syllable ‘Om‘ are one and the same. One who goes to Mathura Puri and meditates on Vraja Gopala,by uttering either ‘Klim‘ or ‘Om‘, attains the ultimate destination of the soul after giving up this present material body.”

Srila Viswanatha Cakravati Thakura explains the meaning of  ‘Klim‘ in the following way.

“K” is Krishna with His personal form of eternity, knowledge, and bliss. “L” is celebrated as the blissful happiness of love, the beauty of the pleasure of the Divine Couple, “L” is also celebrated as Lalita, la-karo lalita para.“I”is Srimati Radharani, the leading Heroine, who is the eternal Queen of Vrndavana,i-karah prakrti radha.“M” is the sweetness of bliss occurring when the Divine Couple kiss and the dot, above the “M” is said to be Their kissing, the half moon shape of the devanagri nasal letter is Their embracing.

If on chants ‘Om‘ remembering the words of Gopala-tapaniUpanishad and the words Srila Viswanatha ChakravathiThakura then one can attain all spiritual perfection. But if one insists on considering  ‘Om‘ as a manifestation of the impersonal Brahman and chants ‘Om’ desiring to merge into Brahman then he certainly cheats himself of the chance of being re-instated as an eternal servant of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna. Actually, understanding the meaning of AUM and than meditating on ‘Om‘ one should never desire to give up one’s individual identity and merge within the Supreme. It is nicely explained by Srila Jiva Goswami in his description of the alphabetical constituents of the mantra Om that the eternal identity of the soul is included in the ‘Om‘ mantraas the servant of Sri Radha Krishna. He gives the following description: 

Omis a combination of letters, A, U, M.  The letter  ‘A’ refers to Krishna. The Letter  ‘U’ refers to Radha, and the letter ‘M’ refers to the individual soul.” 

Thus, according to Jiva Goswami the position of the individual is that of an eternal servant of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.

One might ask is there any relation between the maha mantra ant the om bija-mantra which is also known as maha-vakya[maha-mantra] in the Vedas. This is understood in the following way. Omemanates from the flute of Sri Krishna; it then manifest as gayatri, then as Veda,then as Vedanta, then as Srimad Bhagavatam,recommends the chanting of the holy names.

“Krishna’s holy name can relieve us from all undesirables in fullness, all filthy characteristics, and all miseries. Chant the name of Krishna! Do this; nothing else is necessary. Take this! Chant the holy name of Krishna and begin your real life in this dark age with the most broad and wide theistic conception. Let us all bow down to Him.”

Omor seed whereas Krishna nama is considered the phalam or fruit. Just as the fruit which is sweet and palatable to our taste has the seed within, so is the syllable Om considered to be present in Krishna nama.One can say that Krishna nama is also present in Om.That is true but one cannot taste the sweetness of Krishna nama in Om. IOW, chewing the seed is not comparable to chewing the fruits. The juice of the fruit of the holy name of Krishna is the sweet taste of pure love of Godhead.

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to pass His days and nights at Jagannatha Puri in the company of His intimate devotees tasting the unlimited mellow sweetness of love of Godhead by constantly chanting the holy names: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna KrsnaHare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. 

The Hare Krishna maha-mantra is actually madhurya-mantra. It is filled with the most inconceivable sweet nectar of the madhurya-rasa. The madhurya-rasa means the sweetest rasa in which all other rasasare accommodated. The madhurya-rasa is called the mukhya-rasa or the chief rasa. It is the sweetest and most accommodating rasa.

Srila Prabhupada often used to say that everything is within the maha-mantra. What means that not only “Om” is  present in the maha-mantra but, as Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura explained it in his Bhajan-rahasya, ‘the twenty four hour lila of Radha Krishna known as asta kala-lila is also there within the maha-mantra’. 

He gave the following deep understanding of the eight pairs of names of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra.

Hare Krishna – signifies the subduer of ignorance and the performance of nama-sankirtanwith faith.

Hare Krishna – means Krishna’s names are invested with all potencies. One should have attachment for bhajan by taking shelter of the holy names in the association of sadhus.Gradually by performing bhajana, anarthas(unwanted contamination) are destroyed. As anarthasare removed, nistha(firm faith) develops. 

Krishna Krishna – indicates the company of pure devotees and becoming fixed in firm faith throughout the day and night.

Hare Hare – unmotivated devotion is awakened along with a taste for nama-sankirtan.

Hare Rama – represents the taste for pure service along with remembrance of the holy names as prescribed in the Shikshastaka.

Hare Rama – chanting in the beginning stage of transcendental emotion leads material detachment and complete attachment to Krishna.

Rama Rama – awakens attachment for the mellow of conjugal rasa, the shelter of Sri Radha’s lotus feet, and feelings of separation. 

Hare Hare – leads to attainment of the goal of life, loving service to Radha Krishna following in the mood of the gopisof Vrindavana throughout the eight divisions of day and night pastimes, astaka-kala-lila.

The conclusion is that one who knows the meaning of Om is a real student of the Srimad Bhagavatam and one who knows the meaning of the Srimad Bhagavatam certainly chants the Hare Krishna maha-mantra as directed by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in His Shikshastaka.

Hare Krishna.

The above interesting and worthy article is received by me from Sri Sri Nitai Das Prabhu via Email

TRS Iyengar

September 12, 2005

TRS Iyengar

Born on Makara Uthiradam star, native of Mukkur and brought up in Ladavaram village near Arcot and now well settled in Mumbai for over five decades. Presently, at 70, trying to run this website without any commercial expectations or profit motive, just for the sake of our future generations to understand about Sanatana Dharma & Srivaishnavam sampradayam.Within my limited knowledge that I put it here, what I learnt from the world.

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