Feel welcome to share any of the essay – but please do quote your source.
Falling in love with Aum
“Before its incarnation the soul is sound.
It is for this reason that we love sound.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan
Om in the Bhagavad-Gita
The “Gita” is a 700 verse Hindu scripture that is part of the epic Mahabharata. It is a narrative between the Pandava prince Arjuna and his guide and charioteer Krshna. Krshna is both man and god, and guides Arjuna on a moral dilemma about violence and death against his own family. The Gita explores and offers us a way to bring yoga – and God/the divine – into our work and life, through various disciplines.
As described above, Aum is the Universal Life Force, the Divine, but still we cannot name the nameless. In chapter 7, Knowledge of the Absolute – verse 8 says:-
रसोऽहमप्सु कौन्तेय प्रभास्मि शशिसूर्ययो: |
प्रणव: सर्ववेदेषु शब्द: खे पौरुषं नृषु || 8||
raso ’ham apsu kaunteya prabhāsmi śhaśhi-sūryayoḥ
praṇavaḥ sarva-vedeṣhu śhabdaḥ khe pauruṣhaṁ nṛiṣhu
“I am the taste in water, O son of Kunti, and the radiance of the sun and the moon. I am the sacred syllable Om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether, and the ability in humans.”
This is saying that the Lord (Krshna in the Bhagavad Gita ) is all-pervasive by His diverse material and spiritual energies. The Supreme Lord can be preliminarily perceived by His different energies, and in this way He is realised impersonally.
Aum – god, the divine – is all pervading; this primordial sound is present in absolutely everything – all elements – rain, wind, sun, oceans, earth, plants, animals, humans – and beyond our planet – out into the universe, the cosmos and beyond…beyond…beyond.
And in Chapter 8 (Attaining the Supreme) verse 13 is a beautiful reminder:
अभ्यासयोगयुक्तेन चेतसा नान्यगामिना ।
परमं पुरुषं दिव्यं याति पार्थानुचिन्तयन् ॥८- ८॥
“Whoever intones Om, knowing it as representing Brahman, and thinks of Me when his soul
leaves the body, that person shall attain the supreme goal.”
The key word for me here is knowing – not hoping, or intellectually understanding, but knowing in your heart of hearts. Total belief and trust in Aum, in Brahman. For millions of people even this awareness of something greater than us is incomprehensible; logically and scientifically impossible. For millions of others they believe in “something”, maybe, but have no experience of the Absolute.
Whilst my first experience of chanting and Aum goes back to the early 1980’s (through Transcendental Meditation and healing voice workshops with Jill Purce) it was my move to the U.S.A in 1998 and finding my own teacher that opened the doorway to healing mantra. Studying chant from the Hindu, Buddhist, Indonesian and Tibetan traditions, and more recently Vedic mantra, has given me the greatest of gifts.
Coming to the end of the Devon School of Yoga 500 hour yoga teacher training has brought a different dimension to my understanding and experience of chant; drawing on the wisdom of the texts, from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras to the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads and in particular the Mandukya, how beautifully they all weave together to teach, to remind, to invite us to remember who and what we truly are.
I have been incredibly blessed with moments…moments of absolute connection to the nameless One; and that is a richness beyond explanation. Those moments of light, bliss, of knowing, have kept me going through the darkest of times. During the toughest months (indeed years) with ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), when I wanted to give up, when I really didn’t see the point of continuing – and yet being a mother the other option was no option at all. Those sacred, precious moments of viscerally experiencing Aum, of being taken out of time itself and just bathing in that endless silence, and held in Love – I am here because of That.
I am blessed indeed.
 Bhagavad Gita, As It Is. A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust 2nd Edition 2008