Pranava Mantra (or AUM mantra), translates in Sanskrit as “humming,” is the sacred syllable that both symbolizes and embodies Brahman, the Absolute Reality – as the mantra is constantly repeated in unison with the breath. Literally, Pranava in Sanskrit means “humming.”
This ancient mantra is hailed in scriptures of various languages. Vedas – the holy scripture – is recited always after reciting this mantra and always concluded with this sacred mantra.
Yogis believe the Om (Aum) is one and the same as Brahman (the Universal Self), or the ultimate reality underlying the phenomenal world. Because the Aum mantra is considered to be one and the same as God by many Hindus, saints, and yogis, it should be treated with the highest level of respect.
“A” represents creation, “U” refers to the preservation of “our universe” or “life,” and “M” is the final part of the cycle of existence when all things are returned to their original essence. “Aum”, containing all sounds, is a most powerful instrument for mind-body healing, is the sound of the infinite. It is said to be the essence and highest of all Sanskrit mantras.
According to Kachiappa Sivachariar, Lord Siva is seated on the Pranava Mantra. It is the foundation of the Vedas, explained Panasai Aruna, in a discourse.
“Aum” is a mantra that will help us cross the ocean of ‘samsara.’
The whole universe is created from “Aum.” Souls are born on this earth because God wants to release them from bondage. When we take a birth, depending upon the kind of life we lead in this birth, we take further births. And so on the cycle goes, until we become God-realized and liberated. So it is to “Aum” that souls owe their liberation.
“AUM is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but the development. The past, the present, and the future are all included in this one sound, and all that exists beyond the three forms of time is also implied in it”. – quote from Mandukya Upanishad.
Pranava Mantra benefits:
The recitation of Om is the speaking of a universal language, a language which comprehends within itself all other languages; and the vocal organ, in the recitation of Om, vibrates also in a very comprehensive manner. The chanting or the calling out of a particular name produces a vibration in you.
You have a feeling generated within you by the recitation or the calling out of a name. Moreover, this mantra is an apotropaic sound, a sound that protects and dispels negative influences.
This mantra says Maharishi Patanjali, needs to be recited with emotion and devotion, with a pure intention. Also, when you recite Pranava Mantra properly, you enter into a meditative mood. You are not merely reciting a sound or a word or a phrase, you are creating a vibration.
Not a vibration which agitates you irritates you or creates a desire in your mind for a particular object, but a vibration which melts all other particular vibrations puts an end to all desire, extinguishes all cravings and creates a desire for the Universal. As the fire burns straw, this desire for the Universal burns up all other desires. A recitation of Om, even three times, correctly done, is enough to burn up all sins, to put a cessation to all desire and make you calm, quiet and satisfied within yourself.
The test of a correct recitation or chant of Om is that you become calm in your mind and feel satisfied with what you are and what you have.
“The form of meditation that came to manifest as the foremost of all, for the regeneration of all seekers, was the First Word, indicative of Brahman [God]: the Syllable Om. Meditation on Om should be resorted to by seekers after liberation. This Syllable is the Supreme Brahman.” – quote from Atharvashikha Upanishad.
Pranava yoga is a name given to the classical method of meditation outlined in the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. It is also called Aum yoga and Aum yoga meditation. It is, simply put, fixing the mind on the sound of the mantra “Aum”.