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Om Meaning – The Eternal Sound of the Cosmos

Om Meaning – The Eternal Sound of the CosmosUpdated on November 19, 2020 | Published on August 29, 2020
Reviewed by Dr. Maria Owczarek, PhD (Psychology), Spiritual Teacher

Om Meaning - The Eternal Sound of the Cosmos

Many of you must have heard and chanted Om many times in your meditation and yoga classes, but have you ever tried to decipher Om meaning and its spiritual significance? This reverberating sound of the cosmos defines your connectedness with the infinite and imperishable source of life on this planet. This Sanskrit syllable is a timeless treasure that is an enigma, still remains hidden and unsolved.

Om Meaning


SUMMARY
Om is a sacred sound vibration that is known as ‘Shabd Brahman’ meaning God is sound or vibration. Uniting with this divine sound paves the path of spiritual ascension.

In Hindu mythology, the sound Om is a holy symbol of unity and integrity. It is a primordial sound that is divine and is often found at the beginning and end of mantras in the Vedic scriptures, Upanishads, a collection of religious teachings.

The word Om is the epitome of the entire universe of which you are a part; it represents the union of body, mind and spirits. It connects you to the higher realm of spiritual awakening that sounds simple but has a complex meaning.

Om is also referred to as the ‘self within’. It is the soul or ‘Atman’ that is immortal and ever powerful. The syllable is related to ‘Omkara’ and ‘Pranava’. Omkara designates Brahma who is the creator of the Universe. Pranava is the divine life force that leads to salvation or liberation from sufferings. 

Om is a humming sound vibration that is present everywhere and from it emanates all other sounds. Spiritualists believed that from this sound vibration, the material world was born. Thus, Om symbolically represented the union of energy, frequency, and vibrations.

Om Symbol


After learning about the meaning of Om, a pertinent question that comes to our mind is that what does Om symbol mean? The sound of Om is represented with a spiritual symbol that refers to God as sound vibration. When you meditate with this sacred and pure symbol, you move towards a subtle level of divine consciousness. The yogi can unite with god. The Om symbol is an emblem or sign of connectedness with the divine forces of nature.

Now let us discuss the Om symbol and its spiritual significance in detail.

Om Meaning - The Eternal Sound of the Cosmos
Om Meaning – The Eternal Sound of the Cosmos

Om Symbol Meaning (Also known as Aum Symbol)


Om symbol was written in the Devanagari script. This symbol is widely used in yoga, meditation practices across the globe. It is a pious and mystical symbol that carries a supernatural aura. As your soul is the mirror of your mind, this symbol represents the three states of consciousness or nervous systems.

The Om symbol has five parts and each has a symbolic meaning.

1. Sushupti

Sushupti is the first and the upper curve of the symbol. This state is a state of deep sleep. Here the mind is calm and without worries. This also signifies the end of something, death, destruction. This unconscious state symbolizes Lord Shiva, implying demolition or destruction.

2. Jagratha

The bottom curve signifies the waking state. This is a state of consciousness when you are awake and carry on with all activities. This state also shows creation, new beginnings, and birth. It symbolizes Lord Brahma, thus referring to creation.

3. Swapna

Swapna is the dream state of conscious existence. It is the middle curve between the waking and sleep state. In this state, the consciousness of the individual is inclined towards knowing the ideal self. It is an inward journey of self-exploration. Thus, this state is about the preservation of life, the fulfillment of wishes, finding satisfaction in oneself. It symbolizes Lord Vishnu, referring to preservation.

4. Maya

It represents the semi-circle on the top of the Om symbol. It is the fourth state that refers to the illusions and worldly desires that cloud your thoughts and perceptions. Too much engagement in this state of consciousness can lead to kleshas or mind poisons that act as a barrier in achieving your higher self.

5. Turiya

Turiya is the dot at the top of the semicircle. It refers to the divine and absolute state of spiritual consciousness that activates all other states. This state is the pure state of ‘Nirvana’, the ultimate goal of human existence. The dot also symbolizes peace. It is the sound of silence, called the ‘Anahata Nada’ in Sanskrit. The semi circle doesn’t touch the dot. It means that your higher self always remains unaffected by Maya.

Om symbol is unique and carries a deep slated meaning and spiritual significance. When you chant ‘Om’, the sound reverberates and connects you to a state of inner peace.

Om Vs Aum


Aum is the seed syllable or ‘beej’ mantra, first identified in Upanishads. The syllable Aum has three phonetic components. ‘A’, ‘U’, ‘M’. It represents the three states of consciousness; waking state, dream state, and sleep state.

Moreover, Aum is symbolic of the incarnations of three Hindu Gods, Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the sustainer), and Shiva (the destroyer).

There is no difference between the meaning of Om or Aum. It is only the syllabic pronunciation that makes the apparent differences. The syllable Om is a mono-syllabic word, as compared to Aum which is tri-syllabic. Aum is pronounced as ‘aa-uu-eemm’.

The different anecdotes in Sanskrit literature have explained ‘Aum’ by saying that ‘O’ is a diphthong sound. It is formed by the combination of two vowel sounds ‘A’ and ‘U’. When you chant Aum, the energy centers or chakras of your body get activated that bring an overall transformation in you physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Thus Aum is

A – Creation

U – Preservation

M – Destruction

The vibrations of Aum

While chanting Aum, you will experience vibrations at three spots in your body. These are as follows:

  • AA – the vibration is felt around your navel and abdomen. This is known as the waking state of consciousness.
  • UU – the felt vibration takes place in the chest cavity. It symbolizes the dream state.
  • EEMM – vibration is felt in and around the throat. This stage is related to deep sleep.

Om is the manifestation of God. It is a divine energy and the only reality encompassing the entire Universe. Spiritual teachers and yogis believed that Om is not just a sound vibration. It entails the whole creation. 

Whatever you see, hear, touch, and feel is ‘Om’. Your perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and actions are all guided by this primordial sound. It is a cosmic energy that guides life and death and the ultimate merge with the higher self.

Om is a short chanting and is done in a single rhythmic beat. Aum is meant for extended chanting, delving deeper and deeper into a state of divine and blissful existence.

Historical and Cultural Significance


Om is a Sanskrit syllable first referred to in the Hindu texts and Vedas, approximately around 1500 – 1200 B.C. It was used in hymns and mantras to praise the divine lord. Om was considered as the embodiment of Brahma, the creator of the Universe. Ancient anecdotes of Vedic literature used Om as a sound vibration used in human speech. 

Hindu saints and Buddhist monks uttered Om at the beginning and end of religious ceremonies. This sound resonates with the energy frequencies of the Universe to create a realm of peace and wisdom. The essence of this vast universe is embodied in Om.

Mandukya Upanishad used Om in the practice of yoga. The chanting of Om creates positive transformation in the body and mind. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali categorized eight limbs of yoga called ‘Ashtanga Yoga’ or ‘Raja Yoga’. 

The sound of Om was widely used in the sixth limb of raja yoga called ‘Dharana’ which means concentration. Om was chanted to support the mind to achieve profound concentration, leading to union with the divine powers.

Historical evidence from the Vedas have proved that Om is pranic energy. It is symbolic of the life force that exists in human beings. Hindus and Tibetan Buddhists used Om sound to make prayers and mantras more effective.

Om is the ‘soul’, ‘Atman’, or ‘self within’ that is a personification of the entire Universe. Several Hindu cultures believed that Om symbol represents the dancing posture of Lord Shiva. The famous Gayatri mantra starts with this holy sound.

Mandukya Upanishad stated that Om is

  • Om is all forms of life
  • It represents self
  • Om is all knowledge and wisdom
  • It is love, purity, and selflessness
  • The sound also represents unity, eternity, and peace
  • Om is the past, present and the future

The Bible says that when there was no material world, there exists a sound vibration that was ever powerful. That is Om.

What does Om mean in text?


Om represents wisdom, purity, and harmony. It raises your physical, emotional, and spiritual vibrations. 

Hindu philosophy describes Om as a sequence of various sounds that symbolize creation, continuity of life, and destruction.

This sacred sound of the Universe teaches you to resonate with positive energies of the Universe. It is a tool to remove worldly attachments and guides your mind towards kindness and good living

The sound waves that get produced from uttering Om; manifest harmony of body, mind, and spirits. It teaches love, understanding, forgiveness, generosity, and bliss. Om manifests ‘Oneness’. 

When you chant Om, you let go your emotional toxins and mental blocks. You can perceive things with more clarity and less doubt, thus experiencing Oneness with the divine powers.

Om Chanting


Om chanting is a common ritual practice in various Hindu ceremonies. It is a sacred offering mantra meant for the creator or God. It connects all living beings to the universal powers of the Cosmos. 

Om chanting can be done silently or aloud. It is a powerful sound lying within you. Chanting Om on a regular basis enhances physical and mental health. It helps to develop a positive mindset. 

Since Om is the purest sound vibration that exists in this creation, it is a powerful tool for energy cleansing. Om chanting also symbolizes devotion and surrender to the wishes of the Lord.

How to Pronounce Om Correctly?

The word Om has a spiritual significance. it is our responsibility to pronounce it correctly to maintain the sanctity of the cosmic energies embodied in Om chanting.

Usually, Om is pronounced as a single diphthong sound followed by a silence that refers to the infinite; pulsating the vibrations in and around you.

While pronouncing AUM, the first syllable is 

  • A – pronounced as a prolonged “awe”. It starts from the back of your throat.
  • U – the sound U comes from in between the mouth
  • M – Pronounced with closed lips

Significance of Om in Hinduism and Buddhism


Various religions of the world have tried to solve the enigma associated with Om. The meaning and connotations of this energy sound vibration varies in different religious schools of thought.

Om Meaning Buddhism

The followers of Tibetan Buddhism considered Om as a symbol of unity, wholeness, perfection and infinity. Om was chanted as a hymn at the start of meditation to denote connectivity with the cosmic energies. 

In the Buddhist tradition, Om is the totality of sound created in the Universe. They chanted it to calm down wandering thoughts and inculcate positive energies in human minds. It was chanted to remove ignorance, pride, and illuminate the human soul towards the light of wisdom.

Om Meaning Hinduism

Om is a sacred symbol of truth and wisdom. It represents ‘Brahma’, the creator. For Hindus, the chanting of Om signifies purity of soul. This spiritual practice embodies honest living, invoking peace, and harmony. Om chanting is done in private prayers, religious ceremonies, weddings, spiritual practices such as Yoga and meditation.

Om Meditation


This meditation assists the practitioner to focus his attention to deeper levels of spiritual consciousness. These meditative practices are an awareness-based concept. Research has proved that chanting of the Om sound 108 times activates your positive emotions. Your negative feelings such as worry, anxiety, pessimism, and stress can be reduced by practicing this meditation.

The Om sound is a great relaxation tool to calm down your monkey mind. When you align your breathing and focus on inhalation and exhalation through this sound vibration, you delve deep into the subtle areas of inward consciousness; thereby becoming more mindful of your internal attributes. Om chanting is a key concept in Indian yoga practice.

Research findings have shown that meditation with the sound of Om can help in reducing blood pressure and eliminate heart diseases forever. It improves concentration and memory.

Om meditation is a type of mantra meditation or Japa meditation.

Steps in Om Meditation


There are a few steps involved in this meditation practice. They are as follows

1. Sitting Position

While practicing yoga with Om, you should either sit in lotus position or vajrasana. You may choose to sit on the yoga mat or in a high chair, whichever feels comfortable for you. Relax and take a few deep breaths to feel poised and peaceful. Place your hands on your thighs.

2. Keep eyes closed

This meditation is for awareness and peace of mind. You should keep your eyes closed and avoid visual sensations as much as possible. Closing your eyes is a kind of sensory withdrawal or Pratyahara that is an important part of any yoga practice. You should focus your thoughts in between the eyebrows.

3. Breathing pattern

You should breathe slowly and keep your muscles in a relaxed position. Notice inhalation and exhalation of every single breathing cycle and try to calm down your thoughts. Chanting Om and regulation of breathing has physiological and psychological benefits. It improves blood circulation to the vital organs and boosts immunity.

4. Om chanting

You should think about the meaning of Om before chanting. As it resembles the sound of the Cosmos, it is the source of your existence. 

Om signifies the Oneness of body, mind, and spirit. When you have understood the meaning well, start chanting Om by breathing in the air slowly. Release the air through exhalation and take a pause before another intake of air. 

The pause helps you to relax and continue with the process effortlessly. While chanting Om, allow the sound vibration to move upward from your navel to the throat, then the nose, and then to the center of your eyebrows. This process helps in the energy cleansing of the Chakras in the body.

5. Set time for meditation

You may choose to meditate for 5 to 10 minutes by silently humming the Om sound. When you slowly get deeper in your meditation practice, you become more aware of yourself. You will feel the vibrations becoming subtle and gentler. It will give you a profound sense of happiness, inner peace, and harmony.

Om Mani Padme Hum meaning


Om Mani Padme Hum is an ancient Buddhist mantra used by the Tibetan Buddhists across the globe for various ceremonies and meditation practices. 

Buddhist monasteries arrange for collective prayer sessions where they recite the mantra to attain absolute bliss and merge with the divine teachings of Lord Buddha. Om Mani Padme Hum is written in prayer wheels and prayer flags in Buddhist monasteries.

‘Om Mani Padme Hum’ means ‘Praise to the Jewel in the Lotus’. Each word of the mantra holds a deep meaning. Let’s take a look

1. Om

Om sound represents the practitioner’s impure body, mind, speech and the pure body, mind, and speech of the Buddha. It is the divine and pure energy that cleanses the ego.

2. Mani

It means jewel. The human soul is like a jewel or precious gem. It has the power to become loving, compassionate, generous, and enlightened. Mani also means ethics and morality. It purifies the soul from anger, jealousy, and brings patience and tolerance.

3. Pad

It means diligence. removes ignorance of self and brings clarity in thoughts and judgements.

4. Me

Meaning Focus and concentration

5. Hum

Unity of all living beings; it represents Oneness of all life forces on this Universe.

The recitation of the mantra helps to achieve perfection in the practice of generosity, patience, pure ethics, perseverance and truth.

Om Mani Padme Hum means independence on the practice of a path which is an indivisible union of method and wisdom; you can transform your impure body, speech, and mind into the pure exalted body, speech, and mind of a Buddha.”

Dalai Lama

The link given below shows the meaning of the mantra ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’

Om Shanti Om Meaning


Om Shanti Om is a powerful mantra, very popular in the Hindu religion. By chanting this mantra, the practitioner can attain absolute peace of mind. The word ‘Shanti’ means a deep and profound level of peaceful existence at body, mind, and spirit.

It is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Sham’ that means calmness and tranquility. The word Shanti is uttered three times after Om, to represent the threefold peace states at body, mind, and speech. This mantra chanting invokes peace and happiness.

Chanting Om Shanti mantra resonates throughout the body, it helps to reduce anxiety and mental restlessness.

Hari Om Meaning


Hari Om is a popular meditation mantra that symbolizes the purity of ‘being’ or ‘self’. The purity of the soul is achieved by good deeds and actions. Chanting this mantra removes all impurities, sins, bad karma, and negative astrological effects on your birth chart. 

The mantra is all about remembering God as powerful and merciful to remove all your bad karma. Thus, this mantra helps the practitioner to get rid of his pain and suffering. It is a Sanskrit mantra dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the remover of sins.

If you chant this mantra regularly in your meditation classes; you can activate the chakras; thereby allowing the kundalini energy to move from the base of the spine to the middle of your forehead.

Hari Om is the shorter version of the original sanskrit mantra called ‘Hari Om Tat Sat’. It means “Supreme Lord is the ultimate truth”.

‘Hari’ means God in his physical entity. The regular chanting of Om Hari Om mantra can help in

  • Improves concentration
  • Sense of joy and happiness
  • enhanced level of consciousness about the higher self
  • You can get rid of worldly temptations
  • improves creativity and clarity of thoughts and actions
  • Helps to develop a positive mindset that is devoid of worries and disappointments

Jai Guru Deva Om meaning


This is a sanskrit mantra, dedicated for the praise or salutation of the ‘Guru’ or teacher. Your teacher imparts the knowledge of truth and righteous living. He shows you the path of enlightenment or absolute renunciation of worldly ties.

When you chant this mantra, you are appreciating the role of the teacher in your life. in the mantra the word ‘Jai’ means victory of evil or vice.

‘Gurudeva’ means a divine incarnation who can remove the darkness of ignorance and pride that clouds human souls and hinders the path of salvation.

Om Namah Shivaya Meaning


Om Namah Shivaya is a Hindu Mantra dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a salutation or praise of the Lord. 

Followers of Shaivism commonly chant this mantra during prayers and religious ceremonies. The sound vibration of this mantra emanates your deepest consciousness. It is a way to understand the inner self. The three words mean as such:

  • Om – the primordial sound of creation that is pure and divine.
  • Namah – It means to bow down before the Almighty.
  • Shivay – Meaning Lord Shiva or your inner self. It says that the soul is the purest embodiment of all heavenly and spiritual powers.

This mantra constitutes five syllables

  1. Na – Earth
  2. Ma – Water
  3. Shi – Fire
  4. Va – Air
  5. Ya – Ether

This mantra chanting brings clarity of thoughts, transparency of feelings and purity of actions. It shows you the right path of wisdom and reduces stress from your overburdened mind.

Om Symbol Tattoo Meaning


Om Tattoos holds symbolic meaning for many of them. The Om tattoo signifies the four divine states of ‘Brahma’, the creator. They are

  1. Metta – love, kindness, and generosity
  2. Karuna – compassion, giving
  3. Mudita – Joy, happiness, and content
  4. Upekkha – Avoidance of pain and suffering, equanimity

Om tattoo conveys love for life, gratitude, and honor for creation. It also represents divine powers of the Universe of you being a small part of it.

The tattoo symbolizes unity of creation, humility, courage and trust on oneself to move ahead in times of adversity.

Om tattoos bring good luck, evolution, wisdom, and helps in manifesting their dreams.


Om Tattoos Designs

Benefits of Chanting Om


Chanting this sacred mantra can bring tons of positive feelings, optimism within you. The sound vibrations energize your mind and soul with an extra dose of happiness and peace that it needs to keep going in hard times.

  • Om mantra creates positive vibes around you. You can tune your thoughts and release the piled up negativities more easily. It gives you a chance for emotional healing.
  • Om takes you to a deeper state of absolute calm and deep relaxation.
  • Through Om chanting, you can improve your voice as it strengthens the muscles of the vocal cords. This is helpful for people suffering from thyroid and other health ailments.
  • The eternal sound teaches you endurance and patience to remain strong in adverse situations.
  • Om chanting improves your concentration levels.
  • The regular chanting of Om brings happiness within you.
  • Om meditation helps to control anger, jealousy, anguish, guilt and purifies your soul from all these negative emotions.
  • Om chanting reduces stress and helps to lower blood pressure.
  • It helps you to experience infinity beyond time. This timeless treasure helps you to explore and realize your inherent potentials.
  • Om helps you to become alert and live in the moments.
  • It improves your lung function by strengthening the respiratory muscles.
  • The sound vibrations connect your body, mind, and soul to a higher realm of spiritual awareness.

The link given below describes the meaning of Om in a simple and lucid form


Parting Words

Om is the life force. It has the power to heal your mental, physical, and spiritual faculties to manifest an awakened ‘you’ in alignment with the universal forces of nature. 

Om is omnipotent and represents all that you and we are. It is the only reality that exists beyond time and space.

None can escape a constant communion with Aum, for it pervades the consciousness and every fiber and atom of every being.”

Paramahansa Yogananda