Aug 20, 2010
The Power of Om
Aum, Om, Ohm…no matter how you spell it, is a powerful intonation. Calling it a word does not do justice to it. Om is a sacred word symbol in many faiths. It is a symbol of the all-pervading divine force. Why Om you might ask? There has to be a reason, right? Music, good music, has the power to transcend barriers of language, cultures and even species. This is because of an intangible quality that appeals to the listener. Aum, too, has that quality.
Om is a sound that encompasses all the sounds that can be made by a human being. The sound Om is a triad of three basic sounds ‘a’, ‘u’ and ‘m’. The ‘a’ sound is a guttural sound produced in the throat by the vocal chords. The sound ‘u’ originates from the navel region and can be felt in the mouth. The sound ‘m’ is heard when the mouth closes after saying the ‘u’.
If Om is pronounced correctly, the vibrations produced should be felt in three different parts of the body. Vibrations produced by the sound of ‘a’ should be felt in the abdomen near the navel, those by ‘u’ should be felt in the chest and ‘m’ should be felt reverberating in the cranium.
The ancient Indian science of yoga – a set of mental and physical disciplines – uses Om extensively, harnessing the benefits of the vibrations produced by Om.
In the physical disciplines prescribed by yoga, Om is used as part of breathing exercises. Controlled breathing exercises done while chanting Om truly rejuvenate. When Om is pronounced loudly, the sound is believed to produce positive vibrations. These vibrations have a healing effect on your body and mind, and on your surroundings too.
Yoga also prescribes the mental discipline of meditation. The process of meditation involves the silent chanting of a ‘mantra’ (a sacred sound) while sitting in a cross legged posture. The mantra often chosen for meditation is Om. A silent chant is believed to produce subtle vibrations that benefit the mind. Maybe this is why people of faith always seem tranquil and at peace. After all, Om does exist in some form in all faiths.
Buddhists use Om extensively in prayers and meditation. “Om mani padme hum”, one of the most important mantras used in Buddhism, originated in India, the land of Om. Jains use a five-syllable Aum for meditation. Sikhs chant the Omkar regularly, while all Christian prayers end with an ‘Amen’, Islam uses ‘Amin’ and there is the ‘Shalom’ in Judaism.
Want to type out Om on your computer? Choose the Wingdings font in MS Word and type in the backslash. And there you have your Aum.
Today Om is found everywhere... on T-shirts, coffee mugs, artifacts and even in tattoos and body art. The movie ‘The origin of Om,’ might have had a hand in all the Om merchandise. But Om has been around much, much longer than that. Ancient scriptures tell us that this primordial sound existed before creation, exists now and will continue to exist when the world as we know it ceases to exist. Omnipresent and omnipotent may well describe Om – these words have Om in them too!