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Bhakti Yoga 7: The Mantra – OM

This is the seventh chapter in the series on Bhakti Yoga by Swami Vivekananda.


But we are now considering not these Maha-Purushas, the great incarnations, but only the Siddha-Gurus (teachers who have attained the goal); they, as a rule, have to convey the germs of spiritual wisdom to the dsiciple by means of words (Mantras) to be meditated upon. What are these Mantras?

The whole of this universe has, according to Indian philosophy, both name and form (NamaRupa) has its conditions of manifestation. In the human microcosm, there cannot be a single wave in the mind (Chitta Vritti) unconditioned by name and form. If it be true that nature is built throughout on the same plan, this kind of conditioning by name and form must also be the plan of the building of the whole of the cosmos.

“As one lump of clay being known, all things of clay are known”, so the knowledge of the microcosm must lead to the knowledge of the macrocosm. Now form is the outer crust, of which the name or the idea is the inner essence of kernel. The body is the form, and the mind of the Antahkarana is the name, and sound-symbols are unversally associated with Nama (name) in all beings having the power of speech. In the individual man the thought-waves rising in the limited Mahat or Chitta (mind), must manifest themselves, first as words, and then as the more concrete forms.

In the universe, Brahma or or Hiranyagarbha or the cosmic Mahat first manfested himself as a name, and then as form, i.e. as this universe. All this expressed sensible universe is the form, behind which stands the eternal inexpressible Sphota, the manifester as Logos or Word. This eternal Sphota, the essential material of all ideas of names is the power through which the Lord creates the universe, nay, the Lord first becomes conditioned as the Sphota, and then evolves Himself out as the yet more concrete sensible universe. This Sphota has one words as its only possible symbol, and this is the (Om). And as by no possible means of analysis can we separate the word from the idea.

Om and the eternal Sphota are inseparable; and therefore, it is out of this holiest of all holy words, the mother of all names and forms, the eternal Om, that the whole universe may supposed to have been created. But it may be said that, although thought and word are inseparable, yet as these may be various word-symbols for the same thought, it is not necessary that this particular word Om should be the word representative of the thought, out of which the universe has become manifested. To this objection we reply that this Om is the only possible symbol which covers the whole ground, and these is none other like it. The Sphota is the material of all words, yet it is not any definite word in its fully formed state. That is to say, if all the peculiarities which distinguish one word from another be removed, then what remains will be the Sphota, therefore this Sphota is called the Nada-Bramha – the sound Brahman.

Now, as every word-symbol, intended to express the inexpressible Sphota, will so particularise it that it will no longer be the Sphota, that symbol which particularises it the least and at the same time most approximately expresses its nature, will be the truest symbuol thereof; and this is Om, and the Om only; because these three letters (A.U.M.), pronounced in combination as Om, may well be the generalized symbol of all possible sounds.

The letter A is the least differentiated of all sounds, thesefore Krishna says in the Gita – “I am A among the letter”. Again, all articulate sounds are produced in the space within the mouth beginning with the root of the tongue and ending in the lips – the throat sound is A, and M is the last lip sound, and the U exactly represents the rolling forward of the impulse which begins at the root of the tongue till it ends in the lips. If properly pronounced, this Om will represent the whole phenomenon of sound-production, and no other word can do this; and this, therefore, is the fittest symbol of the Sphota, which is the real meaning of the Om. And as the symbol can never be separated from the thing signified, the Om and the Sphota are one. And as the Sphota, being the finer side of the manifested universe, is nearer to God and is indeed that first manifestation of divine wisdom this Om is truly symbolic of God. Again, just the “One only” Brahman, the Akhanda-sachchidananda, the undivided existience-knowledge-bless, can be conceived imperfect human souls only from particular standpoints and associated with particular qualities, so this universe, His body has also to be thought of along the line of the thinker’s mind.

The directio of the worshipper’s mind is guided by its prevailing elements or tattvas. The result is that the same God will be seen in various manifestations as the possessor of various predominant qualities, and the same universe will appear as full of manifold forms. Even as in the case of the least differentiated and the most universal symbol Om, thought and sound-symbol are seen to be inseparably associated with each other, so also this law of their inseparable association applies to the many differentiated views of God and the universe: each of them therefore must have a particular word-symbol to express it. These word-symbols, evolved out of the deepest spiritual perception of sages, symbolise and express, as nearly as possible the particular view of God and the universe they stand for. And as the Om represents Akhanda, the undifferentiated Brahman, the other represent the Khanda or the differentiated views of the same Being; and they are all helpful to divine meditation and the acquisition of true knowledge.

Bhakti Yoga

The path of devotion to the Divine is Bhakti Yoga. This is the path of surrendering your ego to whatever is your perception of divinity. Through complete surrender, you start to realize the reality of self.

On the world Yoga Forum, the complete text on Bhakti Yoga by Swami Vivekananda has been compiled in the form of 10 chapters.

What is Yoga?

Yoga is often seen as a way to get physically fit through postures and breathing exercises. However, there’s much more to Yoga than asanas or breathing exercises. Yoga is one of the 6 philosophical schools of Hinduism. These include Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. The practice of yoga has been thought to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions; possibly in the Indus valley civilization around 3000 BCE.

What is the Goal of Yoga?

Yoga is cessation (nirodha) of the activities (vrittis) of mind (chitta) according to patanjali’s definition in the 2nd sutra in Yoga Sutras. Vrittis refer to any sequence of thoughts, ideas, mental imaging or cognitive act performed by the mind, intellect, or ego. The mind & body are one and a part of nature (prakriti), and the soul is separate. Read More on the Goal of Yoga

It is important to note that the mind & body are one and a part of nature (prakriti), and the soul is separate.

Chitta consists of 3 things i.e.

  1. Intelligence (Buddhi)
  2. Ego (Ahankara)
  3. Mind (Manas).

Chitta can be compared to the software and the body to hardware. Both software & hardware are useless without the presence of an observer. Only the soul (purusa) is truly alive. When the soul is uncoupled from the mind in its pure state cannot be rambled and is changeless (unlike the mind).

About World Yoga Forum

World Yoga Forum

World Yoga Forum is a platform for Yoga, Meditation enthusiasts, practitioners, trainers, and teachers to share knowledge and experience on Yoga. World Yoga Forum’s mission is to promote better living through the wisdom of ancient spiritual knowledge and practices. Yoga is often seen as a way to get physically fit through postures and breathing exercises. However, there’s much more to Yoga than asanas or breathing exercises. Yoga is one of the 6 philosophical schools of Hinduism. These include Sankhya, Yoga, Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Mimamsa, and Vedanta. The practice of yoga has been thought to date back to pre-Vedic Indian traditions; possibly in the Indus valley civilization around 3000 BCE.

Topics and Chapters Covered on The World Yoga Forum

  • Basic of Yoga – Yoga is often seen as a way to get physically fit through postures and breathing exercises. However, there’s much more to Yoga than asanas or breathing exercises.
  • Raja Yoga – It is the path of control. In this practice, you bring body, mind, and breath under control to let go of ego and realize the self.
  • Bhakti Yoga – The path of devotion to the Divine is Bhakti Yoga. This is the path of surrendering your ego to whatever is your perception of divinity. Through complete surrender, you start to realize the reality of self.
  • Karma Yoga – The path of selfless duty. When you follow this path, you do your duty to the best of your abilities, without attachment to results or rewards.
  • Jnana Yoga – Jnana Yoga (Also read as Gyana Yoga) is the path of knowledge. In this practice, you surrender the ego through acquiring knowledge, which removes ignorance and illusion, and leads to understanding the reality of the Self.
  • Hatha Yoga – Hatha Yoga focuses on Asanas and Pranayama (yoga poses and meditation) and a large part of Yoga that we see today in the form of Yoga poses and asanas are essentially Hatha Yoga.

Basics of Yoga Free Ebook pdf

Book Title – Basics of Yoga

Number of Pages: 7

Learn the basic concepts of Yoga including its origins, meaning, definitions, and goals through this simple free e-book.

The goal is to place Yoga in its correct context and bring forward the ancient practices & rich knowledge of Yoga that can help you set a strong foundation. Most schools of Yoga today have been derived from the Yoga Sutras. Yoga Sutras is a compilation of all the learnings of Yoga. Its interpretations have given rise to multiple schools in Yoga. This book is useful for beginners, practitioners, and enthusiasts in Yoga.

3 thoughts on “Bhakti Yoga 7: The Mantra – OM”

  1. Pingback: Bhakti Yoga 8: The Worship of Substitutes and Images

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