AUM/OM – a beginner’s narrative

This is in response  to two of my fellow bloggers on another discussion forum (which is not functional now) – Ved Vahan and Subash. Cross posting it again to share it with the audience here. While I don’t have access to those blogs wherein those 2 loving souls had brought out concept of OM, I humbly submit that this is an amateurish attempt to complement their indisputable explanations. Wherever relevant, I have made any reference to their writing,I have specifically reproduced for relevance.

So here I go….

For our ordinary minds (and true for almost all beginners on the spiritual path), it is not so easy to conceptualize or comprehend an idea without expressing them in words. If it cannot spoken about or if not expressible we somehow get a  feeling of surreality or unreal.

So this idea of God or Divine, has to necessarily be associated and expressed with Words. Another condition is that since God/Divinity is considered fundamental fact of the Cosmos, the word expressing It needs to be fundamental too. The ancients saints, seers and Rishis struck upon and agreed that this word “AUM” is a fundamental word that can truly express the Divine.

Why is this word fundamental? Here let me begin by exploring deeper purport of one of my fellow blogger on another site – Sri Subashji’s explanation. Representing the “G”enerator, “O”perator and “D”estructor – nature of GOD.

“A” the creative force originating at the lower part (Step on a thorn or when you get hurt on your legs or feet, the natural sound that emerges out is “Aaaah”)

“U”, the maintaining force originating at the middle part (someone punching on your abdomen, the natural sound that is expressed would be “Uuuuuu”).

“M”, the destructive force – of evil tendencies originating at the top part (ask
someone to give a sharp knock on your head, the sound that emerges would be “Mmmmm”).

Sum total of these forces represents the entire universe and hence lends a legitimate expression representing God representing the Trinity – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, considered as the Creative, Maintaining and Destructive Forces.

The very construct itself renders AUM a fundamental WORD.

“A”, the root sound is pronounced without touching any part of the tongue or roof of the mouth,

“M” pronounced with closed lips representing the last possible sound.

“U” rolls from the root to the end of the palate, right upto the lips. So the three
syllables together forms the PRIMORDIAL expression called “AUM”, which represents the whole phenomena of sound production (“A” + “U” representing “O”).

Next why 3 times? As Ved-Vahan ji rightly said, “it represents three dimensions of our existence and a honor to all the three dimensions representing the
divinity in us. More importantly someone said, “It is Gurudev’s bidding (referring to His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar ji of Art of Living) , HE knows why :-)” (personally the most important and favourite reason for chanting it 3 times).

It is pertinent to remind here that chanting of 3 times is an aspect specific to Sudarshana Kriya and many Art Of Living processes but not mandatory – it could be more. (As HE keeps saying in various forums, in these busy times,
it is good enough if someone can chant 3 times – anything more and people would simply cite lack of time and discontinue Sadhana). 108 time chanting is quite popular too (9 Grahas x 12 Rashis).
My personal experience (not to do with numbers, but the very act of Chanting OM) – it clearly demarcates the activities on either side of my chanting. Prior to starting with a Sadhana, I disconnect the pre-Sadhana life with OM. As a rule, our group of AOL’ites whatever be the spiritual practices we embark on (viewing Knowledge Videos, beginning of AOL meetings, beginning satsangs)we chant OM, which clearly separates (mentally and physically) the mundane things from our mindspreparing the ground for our subsequent activities.

ॐ ॐ ॐ

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Selfless Service – Best Antidepressant

Why do we have the mood swings – against which was the very reason why we took up such practice in the first place. This question was posed  by an ardent devotee to the Master, His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravishankar – (you can follow HIM on twitter here @SriSri or through the official Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/HHSriSriRaviShankar)  Many of us get into suspicion mode as to why despite so much of sadhana (spiritual practices like yoga, classical music etc) we are not elevated.

HE went about explaining the phenomenon saying, sadhana raises energy levels to such high levels that unless it is channelised productively, there could be some restlessness and uneasiness. The most productive channel is to be of service to others (Seva). Seva thus  is the panacea for these kinds of ills. But then to sustain Seva levels regular Sadhana is a must – therefore both of them go hand in hand. While on the subject, here is a nice story on selfless seva and its benefits to the sevak later on. (The original story is in German and here is the best translation that I could manage – all Credits to the original author for this wonderful story)

The Clouds

One hot summer morning a little Cloud rose out of the sea and floated lightly and happily across the blue sky. Far below lay the earth, brown, dry, and desolate, from drouth. The little Cloud could see the poor people of the earth working and suffering in the hot fields, while she herself floated on the morning breeze, hither and thither, without a care.

“Oh, if I could only help the poor people down there!” she thought. “If I could but make their work easier, or give the hungry ones food, or the thirsty a drink!”

And as the day passed, and the Cloud became larger, this wish to do something for the people of earth was ever greater in her heart.

On earth it grew hotter and hotter; the sun burned down so fiercely that the people were fainting in its rays; it seemed as if they must die of heat, and yet they were obliged to go on with their work, for they were very poor. Sometimes they stood and looked up at the Cloud, as if they were praying, and saying, “Ah, if you could help us!”

“I will help you; I will!” said the Cloud. And she began to sink softly down toward the earth.

But suddenly, as she floated down, she remembered something which had been told her when she was a tiny Cloud-child, in the lap of Mother Ocean: it had been whispered that if the Clouds go too near the earth they die. When she remembered this she held herself from sinking, and swayed here and there on the breeze, thinking,–thinking. But at last she stood quite still, and spoke boldly and proudly. She said, “Men of earth, I will help you, come what may!”

The thought made her suddenly marvelously big and strong and powerful. Never had she dreamed that she could be so big. Like a mighty angel of blessing she stood above the earth, and lifted her head and spread her wings far over the fields and woods. She was so great, so majestic, that men and animals were awe-struck at the sight; the trees and the grasses bowed before her; yet all the earth-creatures felt that she meant them well.

“Yes, I will help you,” cried the Cloud once more. “Take me to yourselves; I will give my life for you!”

As she said the words a wonderful light glowed from her heart, the sound of thunder rolled through the sky, and a love greater than words can tell filled the Cloud; down, down, close to the earth she swept, and gave up her life in a blessed, healing shower of rain.

That rain was the Cloud’s great deed; it was her death, too; but it was also her glory. Over the whole country-side, as far as the rain fell, a lovely rainbow sprang its arch, and all the brightest rays of heaven made its colors; it was the last greeting of a love so great that it sacrificed itself.

Soon that, too, was gone, but long, long afterward the men and animals who were saved by the Cloud kept her blessing in their hearts.

As seen, the fruits of seva continued to linger in form of blessing of the people and animal long after our existence – in case of the clouds the blessings ensured continuing supply of clouds to the mankind. How many songs or verses are written everyday in praise of Clouds to this day.

While we involve and indulge in seva and sadhana, it definitely raises our spirits (the extent of seva should be so high that we should’t have time to worry about our silly problems). We also find that our problems which were insurmountable (in our minds, of course) compares pitiably to the problems many other face much more bravely than us.

Seva is not a duty – it is an Opportunity! I am blessed with loads of opportunity that keeps coming my way, almost every moment. It has indeed enriched and enlivened my life. I am sure it does that to everyone.

To summarize, It pays to serve…It pays to do sadhana

PS: The photograph clicked from a flight in Chennai Skies on return flight from Colombo