Friday, November 3, 2023

On Om

Dayananda on Om

The linguistic meaning of Om:

One looks at Om as a word with a specific linguistic derivation. In Sanskrit, one traces the derivation of a word from its root. Om is a derived word. It comes from the root ‘av, rakṣaṇe, to protect, to bless.’ Avati rakṣati iti Om, that which protects or sustains a person is Om.

To get the meaning of Om in the sense of agency, one adds a suffix ‘man’ to the root av. There is a rule in grammar which says that both the ‘a’ and ‘v’ of the root ‘av’ will be substituted by ‘ū’ when ‘man’ is added. Now we have ‘ūman’. When there is a ‘man’ suffix, ‘ū’ takes its guṇa form and becomes ‘o’-man. Now, ‘ṭi-lopa,’ dropping of the last syllable,’ takes place. Here, the ‘an’ in the ‘man’ drops off. What remains is Om, the protector.

how Om becomes a meaningful name for Brahman

In amātrā, there is no ‘a’ ‘u’ or ‘m,’ no waker, dreamer or sleeper. Amātrā, silence, is caitanya ātman, pure consciousness. When you chant ‘Om,’ caitanya ātman is manifest in the form of the whole creation; when you stop chanting, caitanya ātman is free of manifestation. The invariable is caitanya ātman, and that is the truth. The letters ‘a’ ‘u’ and ‘m’ and all that they represent are but superimpositions on ātman, which is why they can resolve in ātman. In the chant, Brahman is saguṇa with incidental attributes. When the chant ceases, Brahman is nirguṇa, free of all attributes, being its svarūpa, pure consciousness. It is how Om becomes a meaningful name for Brahman. It covers both aspects—the manifest and the unmanifest.

The meaning of Om is consciousness that is invariable in all thoughts. It is something you can straightaway see. Every thought that occurs in the mind has to be recognised as Brahman. Then the thought really loses its virulence, and your vision is only in Brahman, which is you. 

May you take the great bow of Om that is revealed in the upaniṣads and fix the arrow of mind that is sharpened by meditation. Then may you strike the target of Brahman with a mind that is committed to the meaning of Om by pulling the string of the bow.

~Mundaka 2.2.3 (tr-D.)

Oṁkāra is the bow, ātman indeed is the arrow and Brahman is said to be its target. It must be known without indifference. One should become one with that Brahman, like the arrow (with the target).

~Mundaka 2.2.4 (tr-D.)

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