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Thread: Pronunciation of Aum/Om

  1. #1

    Pronunciation of Aum/Om

    Namaste to all,

    I would like to get a clear explanation of how Aum/Om is supposed to be pronounced. I have seen spellings such as aum, auṃ, om, and oṃ. The question is whether the letter "m" is supposed to be pronounced as in "mail," "manner," etc., or pronounced as "ṃ," the anusvara, nasalizing the vowel sound.

    Praṇāma!

  2. #2

    Re: Pronunciation of Aum/Om

    It's my understanding that Auṃ/Oṃ is supposed to be the natural sound because it is the very first sound made by a human baby, because the baby is not aware that it must raise the velum to make oral vowels (non-nasal vowels), which is a conscious effort because of gravity, which holds the velum DOWN in its resting position. I think that people, because they don't know how to read IAST (International Alphabet for Sanskrit Transliteration), get confused about "ṃ" and think it means to go "ohm," ending the beginning sound with an "m" sound instead.

  3. #3
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    Re: Pronunciation of Aum/Om

    Namaste,

    Quote Originally Posted by deafAncient View Post
    The question is whether the letter "m" is supposed to be pronounced as in "mail," "manner," etc.
    Yes!

    In puja/aarti it is pronounced as Om, as in 'Om Jai Jagdish Hare'
    During Yogic breathing exercises, it is pronounced something like aa-uuu-mmmmmmmmmmm (Aum).

    Pranam.

  4. #4

    Re: Pronunciation of Aum/Om

    Namaste to All!

    Do you think you might be able to point to a video or recording of the sound so that we could hear it best?

    Also, it's interesting what deafAncient said above about the infant's sound. A major question I would ask is whether the Om has an inherent meaning, and what beliefs or concepts, if any, does it necessarily entail?

    So let's say that villagers in a rural region of Asia have been chanting this for thousands of years, even perhaps without formal training on its meaning. Is there a core meaning or implication of this sound that they must be understanding or tapping into?

    The website Namaste.com claims:


    The meaning of Om or (Aum) for Hindus, comes from the Upanishads. The word itself comes from its Sanskrit origins and is broken down into three letters, a (creation), u (Preservation), m (Destruction). It also symbolizes many trinities:


    • Three Gunas: rajas (activity), stave (beingness), tamas (darkness)
    • Three Worlds: Earth, Atmosphere, Heaven
    • Three Gods: Brahma, Vishnu, Siva

    The way it is written is also filled with symbolism. Curvature of the Hindi characters represents stages of consciousness. Aum can be summed up as a cosmic sound that connects everything spiritually.
    A non-spiritual definition of Om is that it is a tool for self-calming, much like taking a deep breath.
    Hinduism:
    Hindus use Aum which is a variation of the pronunciation of Om. Aum is spoken at the beginning and end of mantras, prayers, and meditations. Some people even use it as a type of mini prayer to shake of nerves. Many mantras use Aum and is an integral part.
    http://www.namaste.com/namaste-om/

    But perhaps this is just the Namaste website's own interpretation?

  5. #5

    Re: Pronunciation of Aum/Om

    Namaste to everyone,

    For me, pronouncing OM is not a matter of crafting it to fit the ear but how the sound wells up from within. It begins as a pressure coming up from the bottom of the diaphragm (or at times lower), pressing the breath up silently at first. Then the pressure builds into a vibration which grows into an O sound from the throat. The breath and vibrations then move up into the mouth and palate, broadening the sound to include an soft A transitioning into a soft U sound. When the breath and vibration fully reach the entire head, the vibrations become an M like a smooth humming. There are many instances where I have pronounced the sound well, but lacking the breath and vibration coming up and through the body, I did not feel the sound I had made was a true OM.

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    Re: Pronunciation of Aum/Om

    Namaste Rakovsky,

    Quote Originally Posted by rakovsky View Post
    A major question I would ask is whether the Om has an inherent meaning, and what beliefs or concepts, if any, does it necessarily entail?
    So let's say that villagers in a rural region of Asia have been chanting this for thousands of years, even perhaps without formal training on its meaning. Is there a core meaning or implication of this sound that they must be understanding or tapping into?
    OM is not a word of any language and therefore it doesn't have a meaning in usual sense. OM is primal sound which is heard as "AUM" when a seeker reaches his heart chakra in meditation. It is a sound which keeps buzzing through the pores of this universe all the time but it is heard differently at different spiritual stage. At the highest state (at SahasrAr chakra) it is heard as roaring sound of ocean and at the lowest stage (at MoolAdhAr chakra) it is heard as mixed sound of Bumble bee. OM is called "Anahat" sound which means "Sound coming out without striking two objects together". We can compare this sound with sound coming from a medium sized bell (made of bronze) after striking it but it neither goes up in its pitch ever nor does it go down ... it keeps coming without any undulations.

    This OM is essence of all that is, was and what will ever be. It is Pure Consciousness. It is Brahman, the source of everything and the end of everything in this universe. It is the Creation and also the Creator.

    OM
    "Om Namo Bhagvate Vaasudevaye"

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