O:m – Here’s how you can celebrate the chant to the fullest!
Is it okay to chant o:m not knowing the elaborated meaning? Is there any specific way of chanting it? Do we elongate the ‘o’ sound or the ‘m’ sound? Or do we elongate the hidden sound, ‘u’? What do these sounds mean?
If one does not know the elaborated meaning, or does not chant it in the way it is specified in Vedam, one cannot experience the joy as much as themantracan give! Why should we compromise for something lower, especially in this path of bliss!? If you are only focused on the sound and the number of times you chant and do not know the meaning, then you are making yourself eligible to relish only a part of its beauty!
A seed contains the structure of the entire tree in a different format. The tree or a plant is an expanded version of the seed and we can make use of this form. We can understand the greatness of the seed based because we are actually utilising the result of its growth into the plant form!
Similarly, O:m is the root of all knowledge but it’s beauty is experienced only when one knows the elaborated meaning and when we start experiencing that knowledge.
The word ‘amma, mother’ is sweet because we all experience her love, not because the word itself is magically sweet! The reason we can experience her love is because we spend time with her. Similarly, if one wants to experience o:m, one needs to spend time in learning the elaborated meaning from a right guru. The elaborated meaning is given in the ashtakshari mantra (the Narayana mantra) which can be beautifully explained by acharyas. These acharyas belong to the lineage of gurus who have been cherishing and spreading the joy with the initial acharya being God himself. These acharyas are our comprehensive scientists! (for both visible and invisible world)!
The essence of the elaborated meaning states that the soul belongs only to God! A true seeker will now want to find out what constitutes a soul, who is God, why does one belong only to God, what is the reason for ignorance about these facts till now, who gives us this knowledge, how can we trust this etc. When one begins to understand all these, then the beauty of the mantra and the joy in chanting it multiplies!
The experience from this knowledge glorifies one by enlightening him/her. It also enriches the surrounding beings including family, friends and the nature! The secrets of the entire existence are slowly learnt by the seeker and he begins to live meaningfully. His conduct with everyone improves at the root level thereby creating a positive impact with everyone he interacts. The more one enjoys the meaning of o:m through Vedas and, ithihasas (history of God’s own visible forms) etc, the better person he becomes!
There are certain schools of thought preaching the meaning of the mantra to be, ‘I am the Bramhan’! Let’s take an analogy here. Your child asks his friend, ‘hey, why don’t you come to play in my house tomorrow?’. Does your child own your house, did he buy it? No, but he considers anything you possess to be his own! The reason is the bond that your child experiences with you. He is not you, and you are not him. But, the special bond unites you so much that all of yours becomes his. Similarly, our bond with God is so special that all his existence belongs to us as well. However, that doesn’t make us God! Does it?
Know this fact and feel the oneness with God, then the statement of ‘I am the Bramhan’ is ok. Instead if you think of yourself as God, then there is huge problem. Arrogance grows, ignorance rises, obedience declines, chaos multiples in society because false knowledge prevails!
The truth is God is within every being and He is the reason for the entire existence, including yourself. Therefore, the two of you are always together. He is compassionate, and so he doesn’t mind if you refer to yourself by His name! And so, with this meaning in mind – ‘Aham Bramhasmi, or I am the Bramhan’ is ok. But, if you deny His existence altogether and consider yourself to be the Bramhan, then you are denying the reality leading to destruction of yourself and passing incorrect knowledge to beings around you!
That is why, understanding the right meaning of what you utter is so crucial. You can chant o:m, but learn the meaning from a right guru to reap its benefits to the maximum!
-From the discourse of Sri Chinna Jeeyar Swami, 7th August 2018, Bhagavad Vishayam