ॐ ॐ ॐ

The single word AUM (ॐ) (or OM) is known as the pranava mantra (प्रणव मंत्र) and is perhaps the most significant mantra in hinduism. It is known as the primary (or seed) or pranava mantra (or bija mantra) because it contains the seed for all other mantras within itself. AUM is also referred to in some texts as the primordial sound. The significance of AUM can be gauged by the fact that the entire Mundakopanisad Upanisad is devoted to its explanation and importance in hindu (or vedic) thought. There are literally hundreds of references to AUM in this Upanisad. One of them, referred to as the pranava mantra, is given below:

pranavo dhanu sharo hyaatmaa brahm tallakshya muchyate.
apramatten vedadhavyam sharavattanmayo bhavet.. aum or om meditation pranava mantra in sanskrit

The Sacred Word (AUM) is called the bow, the arrow is the soul and Brahman is its target; He shall be pierced by him whose attention does not swerve. Then he will become one with Him as the arrow becomes one with the target whence it has pierced it. (Mundakopanisad II.ii.4)

Take my friend, this bow, this great weapon of Upanisad; place veneration on it as the whetted arrow; stretch it with the thought fixed on the nature of that (brahman); that very imperishable is the target, my friend. Strike it! (MU II.ii.3)

That alone is the self; On which are woven the earth, intermediate region and sky, the mind, together with all its breaths. Put away all other words, for AUM is the channel to the immortal Brahman. (MU II.ii.5)

Where the veins come together like spokes (in the space within the heart!), in it resides Brahman, taking birth in many ways. "It is AUM" - meditate thus on this self. Good luck to you, as you cross beyond the darkness. (MU II.ii.6)

Listen to the AUM (or OM) Pranava Mantra for meditation (mp3 194K)
This rendition of the Pranava Mantra is from the "Mahamantras" CD by Pandit Jasraaj.

प्रणवो धनु: शरो ह्यात्मा ब्रह्म तल्लक्ष्यमुच्यते ।
अप्रमत्तेन वेद्धव्यं शरवत्तन्मयो भवेत् ।।

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