The most sacred symbol in Hindu dharma. Aum (OM) is the
 sound of the infinite.

	Aum is said to be the essence of all mantras, the highest of all
 matras or divine word (shabda), brahman (ultimate reality) itself.
 Aum is said to be the essence of the Vedas. 

	By sound and form, AUM symbolizes the infinite Brahman
 (ultimate reality) and the entire universe.

 A stands for Creation
 U stands for Preservation 
 M stands for Destruction or dissolution
 This is representative of the Trinity of God in Hindu dharma
 (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva)

	The three portions of AUM relate to the states of waking,
 dream and deep sleep and the three gunas (rajas, satva, tamas)

	The three letters also indicates three planes of existence, heaven
 (swarga), earth (martya) and netherworld (patala)

	All the words produced by the human vocal organ can be
 represented by AUM. A is produced by the throat, U & M by
 the lips

	In the Vedas, AUM is the sound of the Sun, the sound of Light.
It is the sound of assent (affirmation) and ascent (it has an
upwards movement and uplifts the soul, as the sound of the
divine eagle or falcon.

The symbol OM (Aum) 
- Jayapaul Azariah, Ph.D., 
Professor of Zoology, University of Madras-Guindy Campus, Madras 600 025, India 

	Eubios Ethics Institute Newsletter 4 (July, 1994) 44-45. 

	This symbol was found in the responses of Indians to the question of the image 
of "life", (pictures on p. 415, Bioethics for the
People by the People). 

	Two impressions: 

	1) Hinduism, in India, is a religion of symbols - the best example of symbolism.
A good Hindu description is found in Swami Vivekananda, Selections from Swami Vivekananda,
Advaiba Ashvama, Calcutta, India, 1981. (The symbol OM, pp. 362-4): "A symbol is 
the manifestation of the thing signified, and if the thing signified has already an
existence, and if by experience, we know that the symbol has expressed that thing many
times, then we are sure that there is good relation between them. There must be
natural connection between the symbol and the thing signified: then, when that symbol
is pronounced, it recalls the thing signified. 

	So the word and thought are inseparable, "Although the relation between thought and
word is perfectly natural, yet it does not mean a rigid connection between one sound
and one idea. For every idea in the mind has a mouthpart as a word. In Hinduism,
God is an the idea, God is connected with hundreds of words and each one stands as a
symbol for God." 

	2) In my understanding, a Tamil version written by a Christian: OM (AUM) is a sound,
"a material sound of which all other sounds must be manifestations", one of which is
the most natural sound: the basis of all sounds. The word "sound" is an inappropriate word
for the original word "Nalham". It is true that the word Nalham is a sound but the
original word denotes the following: the wind is taken in through the nostrils, with
mouth closed, and it is sent out by passing through the larynx with the music (sound),
A..U..M -the music of life. 

	This nalham (music) of life is "you" and connects with "me/I" and makes it "we". 
Then "we" is connected with Him. So it means "The manifesting word of God is OM".
So Christians in India, see the similarity with John chapter 1, "In the beginning was the
Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1). However since the word
OM has a definite Hinduconnotation, it is still not recognised in Christian circles
in India. 

	Some Christian scholars say Aum (om) the letter A in Tamil means Creator, U means
Redeemer, and M is completion of salvation. So it is a very ancient word and no one is
able to tell the exact significance of the word. The sounds A...U...M... is an explanation 
that the Creator Himself comes as a redeemer and saves souls to make them His own. 

	Some other people think OM is the bow, soul is the arrow and Bramhan is the target.
Just like the arrow merges with the aim, the soul with Bramhan. The soul shoots with good
aim by constant meditation. I find that Tamils were extraordinary clearer in that the
word 'OM' is inbuilt in the language itself. When we say "we are coming" we say in Tamil
"Varukeerom", so we say it everyday.
	But in today's rushed life most Tamils do not realise it when they say it.