Aum (ॐ) is the most sacred syllable and mantra in Hinduism. Aum is a mantra representing the original sound of the supreme consciousness and external creation. AUM is a sound and a symbol, rich in meaning and is considered to have a high spiritual power. Chanting AUM helps to invoke the connection between the body, the mind and the soul. AUM represents four different states of consciousness: wakefulness (A), dreaming (M), deep sleeping (M) and silence (pure consciousness). When we chant AUM – ‘AU’ becomes ‘O’ and the ‘M’ fades away into silence. The aim is to map or merge four aspects of AUM with the four aspects of the Self. AUM empowers one to realise one’s Atman, to know the God within oneself.
The letter ‘A’ signifies the ‘waking state’. It relates to the experiences in the waking state through the five physical senses. It represents the consciousness associated with the entire physical universe.
The letter ‘U’ signifies the ‘dream state’. All of our experiences in the dream state. During this, the senses are directed inwards. It represents the consciousness associated with the entire subtle universe.
The letter ‘M’ signifies the ‘quiet deep sleep state’. It relates to the experiences in the sleep state, where we desire nothing. It represents where consciousness enjoys peace without any perception of external or internal objects.
The silence after chanting AUM is the fourth state – Absolute. It is the real you, the consciousness which has already witnessed the other three states. Let this silence stand for the Absolute, the Spiritual Bliss. You are the awareness, pure consciousness in which all the other experiences or states are appearing and disappearing.
The first three are appearances, and the fourth is the reality. It is the silence, not the absence of noise. It is also described as Turiya in the Mandukya Upanishad. It is beyond transactions. In simple words, AUM is a symbol and sound referring to the Absolute.
In the symbol Aum (ॐ), the bottom curve represents the waking state, the middle curve represents the dream state, and the upper curve represents the state of deep sleep. The absolute state is represented by the dot at the top of the symbol.