If you have just begun your journey of mantra meditation, chanting the universal mantra would be a great start. ‘Aum' or ‘Om' is the holiest sound in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Zoroastrianism.
It is considered to be the fundamental sound of the universe.
Om is also called the Pranava, meaning the life-force mantra.
Other names for the universal mantra Om are:
- Ashara, meaning indestructible
- Ekakshara, meaning one-lettered mantra
A quick guide
Although ‘Om' is one of the most sacred mantras, it has no religious connotation. It does not belong to any section of faith nor is it related to any deity.
Om is the cosmic sound that is believed to have kickstarted the creation of the universe. The importance of the syllable is explained in many Hindu and Buddhist scriptures.
One of the most common interpretations of the Aum mantra is that it is a composite of three sounds. A, U, and M.
- A represents the vibration of creation.
- U represents the vibration of preservation.
- M represents the vibration of destruction. Some may even interpret destruction as a rebirth.
Om is a sound forged by three syllables. It is made up of three phonemes ‘A-U-M'. These three sounds are the fundamental sounds that our vocal cords can create.
When you utter the sound ‘Aaaa', the vibrations can be felt in the gut. When you make the sound ‘Uuuu', the vibrations seem to stem from the chest.
That's where the heart and lungs reside that preserve life in us. When we make the sound ‘Mmmm', you can feel the vibrations flowing through your skull. That's where our brain is situated.
Our brains are the source of our imagination. Our imagination, when compounded and structured, gives us our intelligence.
Our intelligence gives us the capability to think outside nature. It has the power to reverse the flow of nature.
This new creation is inevitable yet antithetical to the original creation. This is the nature of the universe – a cycle of creation, preservation, sustenance, and destruction.
This entire interpretation of existence can be boiled down to a single sound ‘Om'.
Chanting this mantra in meditation can give you a profound understanding of yourself. It connects you with the universe without using any language.
That's why Om is considered to be the Universal mantra.
The universal sound Om was first documented in the Upanishads. Upanishads are considered religious texts that go in line with the Vedanta philosophy.
Om derives a rather spiritual meaning in the Upanishads.
Rig Veda's Aitareya Brahmana describes Om as a sound signifying three phases of cosmic creation.
According to the Sutra, Om celebrates the universe's creative powers whenever chanted or recited.
Sama Veda depicts Om as the ultimate sound from which we can extract deeper truths of the universe. It intends to extract multiple variants from the syllable, e.g. Ova, Aum, Oum, Hum, etc.
Although Om is the most universal mantra, some Vedic interpretations have associated universality to other ancient mantras as well. Here are some other mantras that are considered to be the Universal Mantra.
The Sarveshaam Mantra literally means Universal mantra in Vedic Sanskrit.
It is one of the frequently-used Hindu mantras used to invoke tranquility and harmony in the environment where it is recited. The mantra seeks good health (Svastir), peace (Shanti), fulfillment (Poornam), prosperity (Mangalam) for everyone (Sarveshaam).
The mantra begins with the Universal Mantra Om and concludes with Om Shantihi, which means universal peace. The Sarveshaam Universal mantra is performed followed by other Hindu mantras to bring peace to the attendees at auspicious ceremonies.
The Gayatri mantra is dedicated to the aspect of the sun just before sunrise. All the potential energy emanating from the entire cosmos is contained within this mantra.
It is dedicated to Saraswati, the Goddess of creativity and wisdom. The mantra is a powerful way of inviting source energy directly into our lives, the source energy known as Aum. Hence, the Gayatri mantra is considered to be a universal mantra.
The Gayatri mantra is described to be a universal prayer in Vedic scriptures. Gayatri is represented as the mother of all sacred scriptures.
The mantra offers praise to the God of light and existence. It compares the supreme (Varenyam) source to a fountain (Savitur) that springs life in all of us.
Bhargo represents the purification of the intellect similar to an ore being refined and cleansed in flames. The mantra seeks blessings (Prachodayat) from the source to excel in our existence.
The rich library of Hindu mantras from the Vedic tradition is used by many to seek the ultimate divinity. Similarly, many Buddhist mantras allow a pathway to achieve enlightenment.
For instance, the Shurangama Mantra from the Heart Sutra is considered to be one of the most important mantras.
In the Buddhist tradition, the Shurangama Mantra is the longest. Many believe that it is the Universal Mantra in Buddhist theology.
Another example of the Universal Mantra is the Om Hari Om mantra. This mantra is used to overcome (Hari, that comes from the word Hara) obstacles in life.
Chanting these universal mantras for your meditation not only offers you peace. It also opens up your understanding of yourself in the larger scope of things. They help you to atone your mind with the universe and its power of creation.