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Thread: oṃkāra & oṅkāra

  1. #1

    oṃkāra & oṅkāra

    I just wonder if someone knows why oṃkāra is written as oṅkāra in Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad?

    Is it just a matter of spelling the same sound differently? Or something else?
    There is a Guru in each of us. It is the Atma principle. It is the Eternal Witness functioning as Conscience in everyone. With this Conscience as guide, let all actions be done. (sss20-15)

  2. #2

    Re: oṃkāra & oṅkāra

    This is an excellent question Jio!

    Onkar is also used in Shri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and Shri Dasam Granth Sahib Ji. INTERESTING since part of Mandukya Upanishad is copied in Shri Dasam Granth. It was my opinion that is was mere dialect and pronunciation difference, but perhaps it goes deeper and maybe there is a yogic bija reason. This would actually be a great topic to reseach.

    One other point, although controversial is that Mayavadis were accused of changing the Pranava and the mantras. Since Sikhi has emphasized the Divine Lord as nirguna only, perhaps there is some historical philosophical reason occuring between the sant samaj of the Ramanujacharya of the Bhagat's whose bani appears in Guru Granth Sahib and perhaps Advaita. This is just speculation on my part.

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    Re: oṃkāra & oṅkāra

    The last letter of omkara is not makara, but anusvara. The pronunciation of anusvara changes with the consonant it precedes. Before the first line of consonants ka, kha, ga and gha, anusvara is pronounced as ṅ. When anusvara occurs within a word before a consonant, it's officially written as the nasal consonant in the devnagri alphabet in the same line of consonants of the consonant it precedes. That's why oṅkara is the official spelling, the pronunciation is the same as okara, but different from the colloquial omkara with a makara. If there are no following consonants, the anusvara is always pronounced as makara. In mantras the pranava is most often pronounced in isolation first with a makara before the mantra is repeated. If anusvara occurs in the middle of a sentence at the end of a word the pronunciation still changes according to the following consonant, but the anusvara will be spelled as a dot above the last letter. In publications the dot is often also used in the middle of words, but officially before the consonants ka untill ma in the middle of words, the proper nasal consonant should be spelled instead of a dot.
    Last edited by Sahasranama; 12 November 2010 at 04:48 AM.

  4. #4

    Re: oṃkāra & oṅkāra

    Wow, excellent insight Sahasranama Ji! I really do appreciate this teaching, it clears up a host of misunderstandings. I'll have to remember and share this with others.

    /Namaskar

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    Re: oṃkāra & oṅkāra

    I am glad my answer was of help. Since the original question is answered, maybe you can elaborate a little on the relation between Sikh faith and mayavada versus ramanujan as you brought up in your previous post. It sounds interesting.


    One other point, although controversial is that Mayavadis were accused of changing the Pranava and the mantras. Since Sikhi has emphasized the Divine Lord as nirguna only, perhaps there is some historical philosophical reason occuring between the sant samaj of the Ramanujacharya of the Bhagat's whose bani appears in Guru Granth Sahib and perhaps Advaita. This is just speculation on my part.

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    Re: oṃkāra & oṅkāra

    hari o
    ~~~~~~

    namasté Sahasranama

    A most insightful review,

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahasranama View Post
    The last letter of omkara is not makara, but anusvara. The pronunciation of anusvara changes with the consonant it precedes. Before the first line of consonants ka, kha, ga and gha, anusvara is pronounced as ṅ. When anusvara occurs within a word before a consonant, it's officially written as the nasal consonant in the devnagri alphabet in the same line of consonants of the consonant it precedes. That's why oṅkara is the official spelling, the pronunciation is the same as okara, but different from the colloquial omkara with a makara. If there are no following consonants, the anusvara is always pronounced as makara. In mantras the pranava is most often pronounced in isolation first with a makara before the mantra is repeated. If anusvara occurs in the middle of a sentence at the end of a word the pronunciation still changes according to the following consonant, but the anusvara will be spelled as a dot above the last letter. In publications the dot is often also used in the middle of words, but officially before the consonants ka untill ma in the middle of words, the proper nasal consonant should be spelled instead of a dot.
    Please tell us more... please talk of this a u m sound.

    Is 'a' short or long ā ; is u short or long ū , and this you have described, is there any more to this ?
    Are there other praṇava you are aware of?

    praṇām
    Last edited by yajvan; 12 November 2010 at 04:41 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: oṃkāra & oṅkāra

    In the mandukya upanishad it is stated that the pranava is made of the three letters: akāra ukāro makāra iti. The vowels are short. Combining these letters you get oṃ or auṃ. In the Arya Samaj the pranava is written differently: अओ३म्. This symbolises that the a slowly faded away in the o sound. In the samavedic songbooks the pranava is represented a little similar: ओऽ३म्. Tthe 3 means that the vowels are to be held longer. In colloquial Hindi it's conventional to simply say ओम्कार. These are all phonetic representations, I don't think they change the symbolism of the three letters which are the basis of pranava.

    I have not studied the symbolism thoroughly. Few things that come to mind regarding the symbolism of the letters which are quite commonly known. The a stands for creation and brahma deva. U stands for preservation and Vishnu. The ma stands for dissolution and Shiva. In the mandukya the letters are linked to states of consciousness. The pranava is also the form of Ganesha.

    Some interesting links:
    http://www.swami-krishnananda.org/mand/mand_1.html
    http://www.himalayanacademy.com/reso.../lg_ch-08.html

    Last edited by Sahasranama; 12 November 2010 at 10:58 AM.

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    Re: oṃkāra & oṅkāra

    hari o
    ~~~~~~

    namast Sahasranama

    Thank you for the information from your last post.

    I mentioned,
    Quote Originally Posted by yajvan View Post
    Are there other praṇava you are aware of?
    In the Varadā tantra there is a śloka that explains the bījā (seed sound or mantra) of śiva/bhairava and is considered śiva-praṇava, hūṁ. Hence in the various śastra we find different praṇava. We know in the veda we find oṁ as praṇava; In the śakta tantra ( that of Śrī Devī) we find hrīṁ, and in the bhairava tantra we find hūṁ.
    Now we have the two sounds hūṁ हूं and oṁ . Here is the connection. Note how we sound-out these vibrations:
    • oṁ is aum or ah +oo + ṁ ;
    • hūṁ is ha + oo + ṁ
    As you have mentioned from other posts that ṁ is anusvāra or nasalization of the preceding vowel. That is, the energy/vibration is moved up to the nose cavity closer and finally to ājā cakra if possible. Yet look at the similar beauty of these two sounds:

    ah +oo + ṁ & ha + oo + ṁ Notice how one is in the other, the symmetry?

    The difference is in this 'h'. Much has been said of of this sound about this 'ha' and ḥ, but that spills outside the theme of this string. More will be said on this in the uttara folder as time permits. It will be part of the following : http://www.hindudharmaforums.com/showthread.php?t=6581

    praṇām

    references
    • Varadā tantra
      ha śivah kathito devī ū bhairava ihocyate |
      parārtho nādo śabdastu bindurduhkhaharārthakah |
      varmabiijatrayo hyatra kathitastava yatnatah ||

      Oh goddess (devi), (the letter) "ha" (ha) is said to be (kathitah) śiva (śivh), (while the vowel) "ū" (uu) is said to be (ucyte) Bhairava (bhairavah) here (ih). The sound (śbdah) nād or half-moon (nādh) signifies (rthah) Pra or Highest (rthah) certainly (t), (and) bind or dot (bindh) means (arthakah) destroyer (hara) of pain (duhkh). Here (tra) the three (letters) (tryas) (forming) the armor (varma) seed-mntra (bīja) are spoken (kathitah) to you (tva) diligently and with effort (yatnata-s) indeed (h) ||
      So what does this say? hūṁ is Śiva-praṇava.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  9. #9

    Re: oṃkāra & oṅkāra

    "maybe you can elaborate a little on the relation between Sikh faith and mayavada versus ramanujan."
    Well Sikhism is in my view (there will no doubt be opposition to this view) very strongly grounded on the sant samaj katha of the Vaishnavi Ramanujacharya. It can be seen in the discourse that reads:

    ਨਿਰਗੁਣੁ ਸਰਗੁਣੁ ਆਪੇ ਸੋਈ ॥
    niragun saragun aapae soee ||
    निरगुणु सरगुणु आपे सोई ॥
    The Lord Himself is Unmanifest and Unrelated; He is Manifest and Related as well.
    ~Shri Guru Granth Sahib p. 128


    However interpretations began to take place within Sikhi tradition especially over the last 100 years so that Vaishnav aspect is completely suppressed and the God as sarguna able to take birth as avtaray is completely denied and becomes impersonalist nirguna only.



    But originally we find these fingerprints of the Vaishnavi Sant Samaj:


    ਏਕ ਕ੍ਰਿਸਨੰ ਸਰਬ ਦੇਵਾ ਦੇਵ ਦੇਵਾ ਤ ਆਤਮਾ ॥
    eaek kirasanan sarab dhaevaa dhaev dhaevaa th aathamaa ||
    एक क्रिसनं सरब देवा देव देवा त आतमा ॥
    The One Lord Krishna is the Divine Lord of all; He is the Divinity of the individual soul.
    ~SGGS Ji p. 469

    Today that tuuk would be interpreted as simply a kritam Naam of the nirgun Absolute Parabrahmha and ALL avataray denied as mythological or of demigod status being in bondage to pakriti and in need of liberation themselves.

    But praise of Krishna and Das Avtaray coexist with other concepts of a more impersonalist nature such as nirvana in Sikh Gurbani.


    ਮਨੁ ਕਿਰਸਾਣੁ ਹਰਿ ਰਿਦੈ ਜੰਮਾਇ ਲੈ ਇਉ ਪਾਵਸਿ ਪਦੁ ਨਿਰਬਾਣੀ ॥੧॥
    man kirasaan har ridhai janmaae lai eio paavas padh nirabaanee ||1||
    मनु किरसाणु हरि रिदै जमाइ लै इउ पावसि पदु निरबाणी ॥१॥
    Let your mind be the farmer; the Lord shall sprout in your heart, and you shall attain the state of Nirvaanaa. ||1||
    ~SGGS Ji p. 23


    So clearly there has been a sort of evolution of thought from a form of Vaishnavism to somewhat of a mayavadi philosophy.

    As to changing the mantras and the Naam, that's really conjectural. I have heard this before but the evidence is scanty. We know that Waheguru is considered Gurmantr by Bhai Gurdas and contains the bija syllables of V = Vishnu, Vasudeyv, H = Hare Krishna, G = Gobind, R = Ram.


    ਮਹਾ ਮੰਤ੍ਰੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਕਥੈ ਹਰਿ ਕੇ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਈ ॥੪॥੨੩॥੫੩॥
    mehaa manthra naanak kathhai har kae gun gaaee ||4||23||53||
    महा मंत्रु नानकु कथै हरि के गुण गाई ॥४॥२३॥५३॥
    Nanak chants the mahaa mantra, the Great mantra, singing the Glorious Praises of the Lord. ||4||23||53||
    ~SGGS Ji p. 814

    Yet, today no one can really know for sure what the Maha mantra is in Sikhism. Most consider it to be the Gurmantra. Other sants in various sects emphasize Satinaam, Akal or Har, depending on the Kathakar. Almost every Sikh kathakar will say the NAAM relates to the Absolute nirguna only.

    So for an example of this philosophical difference consider:
    "Sarvabhauma had changed the word mukti-pade found in the original verse to bhakti-pade. Mahaprabhu explained that there was no need to change the words, inasmuch as mukti-pada ("the source of liberation") is an epithet of Krishna. Vasudeva answered, "You are quite correct to say that the words mukti-pade refer to Krishna, but the word mukti was used customarily in its sense of impersonal liberation, and thus did not bring as great a pleasure as the word bhakti". When the other scholars in Puri heard that Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya had been converted to devotion to Krishna, they all took shelter of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu." Parishads: Vasudeva Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya
    Also consider this purport of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada:

    "The Māyāvādī philosophers consider many Vedic mantras to be the mahā-vākya, or principal Vedic mantra, such as tat tvam asi (Chāndogya Upaniṣad 6.8.7), idaṁ sarvaṁ yad ayam ātmā and brahmedaṁ sarvam (Bṛhad-āraṇyaka Upaniṣad 2.5.1), ātmaivedaṁ sarvam (Chāndogya Upaniṣad 7.25.2) and neha nānāsti kiñcana (Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.1.11). That is a great mistake. Only oṁkāra is the mahā-vākya. All these other mantras that the Māyāvādīs accept as the mahā-vākya are only incidental. They cannot be taken as the mahā-vākya, or mahā-mantra. The mantra tat tvam asi indicates only a partial understanding of the Vedas, unlike oṁkāra, which represents the full understanding of the Vedas. Therefore the transcendental sound that includes all Vedic knowledge is oṁkāra (praṇava)."
    So a huge issue becomes how Sikhism defines the maha mantra of the Pranava. One huge distinction is modernly Sikhs deny the OM entirely, disclaiming the Ik Onkara as representing the Absolute nirgun Parabramha.

    "Om" - is referred to 3 deities only - Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu. These have 3 qualities "Rajo" (Rajaas-Fame), "Tamo" (tamas-Lust) and "Sato" (saantak - Peace from other two), Respectively. God is No where in this description.

    It is said that rajo and tamo qualities are not good as sato but GurMukh should be above all these three. No Pain in misery and no smile in happiness. Above all qualities. Above all Vices. That's why Akal Purakh ji gave Guru Nank Dev(Gurmukh) "Ek Oankaar" - a Seed.

    "ik" means only one, "oan" Above 3 primal deities(i.e God), "kaar" means which never ends. one cannot know it's end i.e Tan ke Ant na paye jaye. So Oankar should not confuse with Omkar. Even While discouse with Pundit Guru Nanak Sahib wrote Om as ਓਨਮ(Onam or Om) and Oankar as ਓਅੰਕਾਰਿ." Onkar

  10. #10

    Re: oṃkāra & oṅkāra

    Quote Originally Posted by Sahasranama View Post
    The last letter of omkara is not makara, but anusvara. The pronunciation of anusvara changes with the consonant it precedes.
    Its like ahaṃkāra is sometimes spelled ahaṅkāra...
    But... for example according to this site:
    http://www.ibiblio.org/sanskrit/sounds/visarga

    How it's written / How it's pronounced
    saṃjaya / sajaya
    śaṃkara / śaṅkara
    saṃskṛta / sanskṛta
    saṃbuddha / sambuddha

    -----

    It seems there are two theories here... one wants to write as it pronounced in the specific case. The other writes ṃ and the pronunciation is to be understood (since the pronunciation of anusvāra variates and this is to be understood without having to write it out).
    There is a Guru in each of us. It is the Atma principle. It is the Eternal Witness functioning as Conscience in everyone. With this Conscience as guide, let all actions be done. (sss20-15)

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