“ॐ” is unquestionably the most sacred, sublime, and scientific sound of the universe since time immemorial. It is the sound that was heard when the creation of the universe took place, it can be heard now at present in the sound frequency of the cosmos, and it shall be heard when the destruction of the universe shall takes place.
In the Sanātana dharma, this is the most revered sound of all. All the mantras of the Veda incept with it, so do they end alike. Chanting any mantra without this sacred sound in the beginning and at the end is actually a vainglorious attempt of oblivious wit. That is why, Bhagvāna Śrī Kṛṣṇa has advised in the Bhāgavad Gītā (8.13):
“ओमित्येकाक्षरं ब्रह्म व्याहरन्मामनुस्मरन् ।य: प्रयाति त्यजन्देहं स याति परमां गतिम् ।।”
(Translation: One who chants the akṣara “ॐ” and contemplates on me all his life, eventually attains mokṣa by my grace.)
The realization of this “ॐ” has also been ascribed as the ultimate purpose of the Veda. Almost everyone who practises the Sanātana dharma chants this sacred sound. However, I have often heard people uttering it as “ओम (om)” which is not the correct pronunciation.
“ॐ” is the “प्रणव:” that is formed by three phonetic sounds “अ – ऊ – म” (a-u-m). These three sounds are symbolically encrypted, each representing three different aspects. The first sound “अ” (a) stands for Brahmā who is the “नाद” (sound of creation); the second sound “ऊ” (u) stands for Viṣṇu who is the “बिन्दु” (the preserver or container which nurtures the creation); and the last sound “म” (m) stands for Śiva who is the “कला” (the art of destruction). Commingled together, they become the “ब्रह्म ज्योति” (the Supreme Being). As Svāmī Nigamānanda has inculcated in his magnum opus, Yogīguru (p. 36):
“शिवो ब्रह्मा तथा विष्णुरोङ्कारे च प्रतिष्ठिता: ।अकारश्च भवेद्व्रह्मा उकारः सच्चिदात्मकः ।।मकारो रुद्र इत्युक्तः”
So, the correct way of pronouncing the sound “ॐ” is not “om”, but rather “a-u-m”. May the grace of Govinda be showered on you! Hare Kṛṣṇa!
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