Omkara, aka: Oṃkāra, Om-kara; 6 Definition(s)

Introduction

Omkara means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Oṃkāra (ओंकार) is a Sanskrit word referring to a deity. Acording to the Nāṭyaśāstra 1.88-95, when Brahmā, Indra and all other gods went to inspect the playhouse (nāṭyamaṇḍapa) designed by Viśvakarmā, he assigned different deities for the protection of the playhouse itself, as well as for the objects relating to dramatic performance (prayoga).

As such, Brahmā assigned Oṃkāra to the jester (vidūṣaka). The protection of the playhouse was enacted because of the jealous Vighnas (malevolent spirits), who began to create terror for the actors.

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra
Natyashastra book cover
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Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).

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Vaishnavism (Vaishava dharma)

In Satya-yuga the only mantra was oṃkāra (oṃ tat sat). The same name oṃkāra is manifest in the mantra “Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare” Hare. Unless one is a brāhmaṇa, one cannot utter oṃkāra and get the desired result. But in Kali-yuga almost everyone is a śūdra, unfit for pronouncing the praṇava, oṃkāra. Therefore the śāstras have recommended the chanting of the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra.

Source: VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 9.14.48
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Vaishnava (वैष्णव, vaiṣṇava) or vaishnavism (vaiṣṇavism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Vishnu as the supreme Lord. Similar to the Shaktism and Shaivism traditions, Vaishnavism also developed as an individual movement, famous for its exposition of the dashavatara (‘ten avatars of Vishnu’).

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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Oṃkāra (ओंकार) is the Sanskrit name of a deity presiding over Maheśvara, one of the sixty-eight places hosting a svāyambhuvaliṅga, which is one of the most sacred of liṅgas according to the Śaivāgamas. The list of sixty-eight svāyambhuvaliṅgas and presiding deities (eg., Oṃkāra) is found in the commentary on the Jirṇoddhāra-daśaka by Nigamajñānadeva. The word liṅga refers to a symbol used in the worship of Śiva and is used thoughout Śaiva literature, such as the sacred Āgamas.

Source: Wisdom Library: Śaivism
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Oṃkāra is the bīja-mantra of all Mātṛkā Varṇa. Oṃkāra is the unified form of all sounds. There is sound wherever there is vibration. Every action is vibrational. Cosmic thought projection is also an action. It has vibrations and sounds. We cannot hear this supramundane sound with our physical ears. But if we can tune our mind with the help of the intuitional scientific process, we can apprehend that eternal sound Oṃkāra. This Oṃkāra is the sum total of all cosmic vibrations. All other sounds are different manifestations of this Cosmic Sound. It may appear gibberish to the ignorant but it has great mystic significance. To make it more clear let us take the example of the village market place. From a distance one feels as if people there are only gibbering; it is only din and noise. But as one goes near it all makes sense and the nonsensical sounds become meaningful words like, ‘Give me one kilo of peas’, ‘What is the price of cauliflower’, etc. Yet these very utterances, collectively, were meaningless syllables from a distance. ‘Just as all the sounds of the market place have been unified into one howl carrying sound wave, just as all have blended their respective thought waves into one howl, similarly all the sounds of the universe are implanted in one Oṃkāra. Omkāra is the unified form of all sounds.’

Source: Google Books: Tantra, Its Mystic and Scientific Basis

Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Oṃkāra (ओंकार).—

1) the sacred syllable ओम् (om); त्रिमात्रमोकारं त्रिमात्रमोंकारं वा विदधति (trimātramokāraṃ trimātramoṃkāraṃ vā vidadhati) Mbh.VIII.2.89.

2) the exclamation ओम् (om), or pronunciation of the same; प्राणायामैस्त्रिभिः पूतस्तत ओंकारमर्हति (prāṇāyāmaistribhiḥ pūtastata oṃkāramarhati) Ms.2.75.

3) (fig.) commencement; एष तावदोंकारः (eṣa tāvadoṃkāraḥ) Mv.1; B. R.3.78.

Derivable forms: oṃkāraḥ (ओंकारः).

Oṃkāra is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms om and kāra (कार).

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Relevant definitions

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