Aum, also known as Om is the most sacred and most powerful word-symbol for Hindus. It is also called Pranavam or primordial mantra because most mantras and Vedic prayers start with it. Pranava means it runs through our breath and pervades our life. Aum is chanted before starting auspicious actions. ” Hari Aum” is used as a greeting as well.
Aum has the distinction of being both articulate and inarticulate, alphabetical and with intonation. It has a deep philosophical significance. It is used for chanting and meditation. The above two aspects together help an individual attune with the Eternal Being.
In the symbol there are three curves and a dot. In an individual’s consciousness there are three states, waking, dream and deep sleep. They are symbolized by the upper curve, right side curve and the lower curve respectively. Thus the three curves represent the entire physical phenomenon. The dot represents the Absolute which illuminates the three states. The semicircle open at the top signifies that the Absolute is infinite.
Even though the meaning of Aum is profound, we use it in everyday life. We begin our day or any work or a journey by uttering Aum. The sacred symbol is often found at the head of letters, at the beginning of examination papers and so on. Many Hindus, as an expression of spiritual perfection, wear the sign of Aum as a pendant. This symbol is enshrined in every Hindu temple premise in some form or another.