OM – Pashupat Sutras

The Sound of OM
Pashupata Sutram, Chapter 5, Sutras 24 – 28

24  The sound of OM is produced in the deep meditative state (dhyana) . . .

25  . . . [when] concentration [of prana] is held in the core of the being in the interior of the body.

26  Capable of perception by the power of hearing [not the ear] as the sound of aum, it is the essence of all knowledge, action, effects, and even power itself.

27  OM is inexpressible by speech. It is beyond the range of the mind and the sense organs. OM is Pure Speech and the name God, the bringer of the manifest from the realm of pure potential.

28  OM is Supreme God, unlimited, unequalled, guru of the guru.

The sound of OM occurs spontaneously in deep meditation. This direct communion with God happens when prana is concentrated in this one place, the core of the being, and is referred to as pranava—the vibrations of life energy, prana, cause the sound to be audible (pra-nava, reverberating forth; prana-ava, life force expressed).

The sound of OM is both with and without form, manifest and unmanifest. As formless (unmanifest), it is called Pure Sound, unlimited, eternally free, unequalled, and guru of the guru. It is called perceptible (manifest) as the ability to be conscious, and the greatest of all desires, which is union with God and which is fulfilled with the sound of OM perceived directly in deep meditation.

This profoundly beautiful and blissful experience inspires commitment within the seeker to pursue yoga to completion.

The Pashupat Sutras are from Bhagavan Lakulisha, the sadguru of Swami Kripalu, my sadguru.*

Durga Ma

Sadguru – Truth-Teacher

Sleuthing Scripture – Part 3 OM

The sound of OM is heard, the light is seen, the divine touch is felt. It happens spontaneously in Surrender Meditation. The following verse from the Goraksha Shataka speaks of the conditions for this blissful experience of direct communion with God in the following verse:

Having taken the lotus posture, holding the body and neck steady, fixing the gaze on the tip of the nose, in a secluded place, one should repeat the imperishable OM.
Goraksha Shakata, 83

Translating the Translation

“Having taken the lotus posture”
The Sanskrit is padmasana: padma (lotus) + asana (posture). In this asana, one sits cross-legged, the feet on the upper thighs, soles up. As with most asanas mentioned in yogic scriptures, this asana has esoteric meaning.

Padma is the flower of the lotus plant. Consider that in this posture, the placement of the feet exerts pressure on the thighs, and what that might signify. Also consider that the lotus flower is used to depict the sasaradalapadma (thousand-petalled lotus), the chakra at the head. In this metaphor, the stem leads down through the body to the root in the earth, the muladhara, or root-holder, the first chakra. So do we think of thighs and feet, or do we think of the head? Or both? And what about everything in between? What is the message here?

Asana means seat. The root of the word asana is asa, the lower posterior of the body. So asana also refers to sitting on the seat, and even the posture one takes in doing so. The word asana also means “stopping, halting, abiding, or dwelling.” What ideas do you have about what “asana” might mean in relationship to “lotus” (padma) in this verse?

At this point, we are only one compound word into this verse and we’ve already got a lot to think about, so I’ll make the rest brief:

“Holding the body and neck steady”: Traditionally padmasana requires one to sit cross-legged, upright and unmoving, with the spine and neck straight. Can you think of other ways your body can remain steady with the spine straight?

Fixing the gaze on the tip of the nose”: The tip of the nose refers to where the nose begins between the eyebrows, the sixth chakra, “third eye.” By mentioning the gaze being fixed, this verse is telling us that this place between the eyebrows is where the attention, and therefore the life energy, prana, is concentrated and fixed, not moving.

“In a secluded place”: A secluded place is a place where one can be alone and assured that there will be no disruptions. This is a necessary condition for meditation to become deep enough for this to occur. For what to occur? The deepest meditation and . . .

“One should repeat the imperishable OM”: The word here is, japedom: (muttering or whispering + om). I believe we can take this literally or esoterically:
(1) literally, the quiet repetition of OM, or (2) esoterically, as a reference to the “subtle” sound of OM heard by the meditator, keeping in mind that sound is vibrational repetition. “Repeat” refers to these “regular vibrations” (tones) that make up the sound of OM — the multitude of all tones and the one perfect and true tone, the Word of God.

Boiling it Down

The Original (from above)

Having taken the lotus posture, holding the body and neck steady, fixing the gaze on the tip of the nose, in a secluded place, one should repeat the imperishable OM.

The Translation

By meditating in a solitary place, the spine and neck straight and relaxed, the energy (shakti, prana, kundalini) is free to reach the the head and become concentrated at the ajna chakra (sixth chakra), and the sound of OM is heard.

But this is just one translation based on my own orientation to meditation. Try it for yourself and see what you get. Have fun.

Durga Ma

OM – The Four Levels of Nada

Omkara, the Symbol

OM imagePranava, the Sound (Nada)

This entry is from Kripalu’s book on the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Reveling the Secret. Anything in [brackets] is my own insertion.

♦ ♦ ♦

“The sacred syllable OM (pranava) is the bow, the soul (atman) is the arrow, and God (brahman) is the target (goal).  Without any indolence and mistake, one should strike the target and should be just like the spirit of the arrow.  Making his body as the wood below the the sacred syllable (OM) as the stick of wood above, he should routinely practice the churning of meditation.  Thus, he will see God, the unperceived.”
— Svestashvatarupanishad

In the three verses (shloka) mentioned above (2-4, 5, 6), there is only some difference in the use of words.

From Kripalu

1. paravani — Sound in the most pure subjective idealized form; beyond speech; when one step down form god is made.

Meditation on the muladhara [root chakra]  — impelling, automatic force of expression. [Meditation “on” something suggests that there is a concentration of prana in that place.]

Nada — Divine Sound.

2. pasyanti — Another step down toward the gross [away from the subtle] so that sound is perceivable and perceived.

Meditation on the manipura [navel chakra] — pure sound is heard indistinctly.

Ahamkara — Ego (the sense of self as perceiver).

3. madyamavani — Mind (thought, words and their meanings).

Meditation on the anahata [heart chakra] — madyamavani (middle heart words) heard distinctly.

Manas — Mind.

4. vaisvarivani — Gross organs (tongue, mouth, brain).

Meditation on the vishuddha [throat chakra] — gross speech begins to be expressed through the tongue.

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[Notice that the root chakra (muladhara), the first and lowest chakra, is associated with Divine Sound. This first chakra is eagerly abandoned in the minds of many Western seekers as lowly (pun intended), but here we see its importance in the journey to union with God. I have therefore included Kripalu’s writings on that chakra below.]

Muladhara Chakra
(Root holding energy channel focus)  

Four petals (nadis):  ida, pingala, sushumna, kuhu.
Mouth (face) downward.
Color red.
Letters vam, sham, san, sam.

Two kinds of sounds (nada): [1] ahata (made by striking an object), [2] anahata (spontaneously generated as in speaking in tongues).

In the muladhara chakra, at the end of sabija samadhi, there is union (yoga) of prana (the up and in flowing energy) and the apana (the down and out flowing energy).  This union generates the anahata (spontaneous) nada. As a result of that up going anahata nada, there descend three levels of sound:

1.  Subjective perception of sound
2.  Mental forming up of sound into language patterns
3.  Universal speech.

So it is said that from anahata nada (spontaneous heart forced divine sound) are born the imperishable phoneme (aksara, sound which is represented by a letter of the [Sanskrit] alphabet).  Then from these phonemes, a complete word is formed.  From words is born speech that is filled with rhythm and rhyme.  So in every chakra, letters of the Sanskrit alphabet are noted to represent these phonemes.

According to the number of aksara (the indestructible phonemes), are the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet.  The seven chakras (muladhara, svadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddhakhya, ajna and sahasrara) have been called respectively, dhaturdala padma (four petalled lotus), satadala padma (six petalled lotus), dasadala padma (ten petalled lotus), dvadasadala padma (twelve petalled lotus), ([missing]) (sixteen petalled lotus), dvidala padma (two petalled lotus), and sahasradala padma (thousand petalled lotus).

When the Divine Sound (anahata nada), having risen up from the muladhara, reaches the ajna chakra [sixth chakra], then there is a merging (union, absorption) of both the perishable (nature, prakriti) and the imperishable into the Being (dweller in the soul or heart, purusha).  However, when the imperishable (aksara) is separate from the perishable (ksara) and stands on its own, then neither words nor Divine Sound (nada) remain (exist).  We may call it (the Divine Sound, nada) the Word of God, or Beyond the Beyond God Sound (paratpara nada braman, the divine attractant).