Week 21: The OM (AUM) Sound And Symbol In Yoga (Sutra 27)

“The word expressive of Isvara is the mystic sound OM [AUM].”


The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Tasya Vacakah Pranavah

Tasya: of [Isvara] | Vacakah: word | Pranavah: mystic sound “OM”


OM/AUM, in Yoga, is a symbol, word, and sound that encompasses all of existence and also reflects the full expression of consciousness embodied in all forms from the tangible and impermanent to the very subtle and Absolute. OM/AUM “is a universal process that leads us from the grossest level of our being to the center of consciousness” (Swami Jnaneshvara). It is a “roadmap” to the center of consciousness that also reflects the goal of any true Yoga practice.

The symbol/word, and the sound, OM, can be generally broken down into four main parts that represent the four levels of being/self/consciousness as one moves from the grossest aspects of the self and the tangible form of the physical body to more subtle states of consciousness and being, and then ultimately to the Source/Absolute/stillness/emptiness (that is paradoxically also pregnant with potential) which can be merged with/into after achieving Asamprajnata Samadhi (which we will discuss in more detail in later Sutras).

Three transitional states, in between each of the four states of consciousness represented by OM/AUM, exists in the symbol .*


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