I got these explanations on the Pranava Mantra “OM” by a friend of mine from Iceland, whose spiritual name is Pranava. “Om” is pronounced as “AUM” with a long vowel sound. Om is the comprehensive, universal, holy sound symbol and signifier of the Supreme Infinite Reality. The Universe is said to have been created with the Supreme Reality manifesting first as the Ether or Space of the Pancha Bootham [Five primary Elements] and comes in the form of “Sound” – “Om”. It manifests as the totality of existence on four osmic and spiritual planes; physical, psychical, causal or potential and transcedental. Thus OM represents the Supreme Reality and all His manifestations and creations. Sri Ganesha, as God manifesting and represented with the face like an elephant is symbolic of the shape Om and is called “Pranava Swaroopa”. The mantra that is held very sacred by all Hindus is the mantra Om also called PraNava mantra. This mantra is part of every worship. This mantra is hailed in scriptures of various languages. Vedas – the holy scripture – is chanted always after chanting this mantra and always concluded with this mantra. Each of the hailing in the archanai that is performed for the divine is preceded by this mantra Om. PraNava is the primal sound that existed before the creation and the sound that stays after the praLaya. The mantra om refers to none other than God. The great yogis meditate with this mantra as the path to Eternal Bliss of the Formless Nameless God!
Literally, Pranava in Sanskrit means “humming.” The mantram Aum denotes God as the Primal Sound. This sound can be heard as the sound of one’s own nerve system, and meditators and mystics hear it daily, like the sound made by an electrical transformer or a swarm of bees, or a thousand vinas playing in the distance. It is a strong, inner experience, one that yogis hold with great reverence. The meditator is taught to inwardly transform this sound into the inner light which lights up ones’ thoughts, and to bask in this blissful consciousness of light. Pranava is also known as the sound of the nadanadi sakti. Hearing it one draws near to God Consciousness. When we are living in the lower chakras, or when the world too strongly dominates our mind, this sound may, for a time, not be heard. But it returns as awareness withdraws, as the mind becomes perfectly quiescent, silent, still. Listen for this sound in your quietest moments and you will learn to recognize it as a daily encounter with the Divine that lives within all men, within all creatures, within all existence. Aum Namasivaya!