Yoga Vasistha [English], Volume 1-4

by Vihari-Lala Mitra | 1891 | 1,121,132 words | ISBN-10: 8171101519

The English translation of the Yoga-vasistha: a Hindu philosophical and spiritual text written by sage Valmiki from an Advaita-vedanta perspective. The book contains epic narratives similar to puranas and chronologically precedes the Ramayana. The Yoga-vasistha is believed by some Hindus to answer all the questions that arise in the human mind, an...

Chapter III - The ortheopy or analysis of om

1.  A Monad.

We have already seen that the circular form of the letter O in Om, called a bindu dot or cypher, was used like a geometrical point to denote a monad without parts, and represent the Supreme Being subsisting as the central point of the great circle of Universe, and filling the infinity of its circumference with his own life and light. The Vedas and the early theology of the Upanishads invariably understood the Om as synonymous with One, and expressive of the unity of the God-head; as in the motto  ~~  ~~ of the Vedantists, corresponding with the monotheistic creed of Christians and Mahometans "God is one" and "without an equal" "Wahed Ho la Sharik laho" "The unity of the God-head is the dictum of the Koran and Vedanta." (Mon. Wm's. Hindu Wisd. p. XLI. 1).

The Manduka and similar Upanishads describe the majesty of the one. (Weber, p. 161). "That one breathed breathless by itself" &c. Max Müller's A. S. Lit. p. 560.


2.  Om a Duad.

Formerly the letter O of om, on, and One was considered a pure and simple sound, and made to represent a monad or Unity; but in course of time and with the progress of language it was found out to be a compound letter ( ~~), formed by the union of a + u = o ( ~~ + ~~ =  ~~), and two o's in w[Greek: ô] omega or two u's in w. (See. S. Gr. & Baine's grs). Then the perfect figure of the great circle was considered to be composed of two semicircles which the [Greek: ô] =  ~~ was made to represent. This gave rise to the conception of a duality in the divine person, and hence grew the theory of the male and female  ~~ in the original androgyne of the Sankhya and Hara Gauri ( ~~) of the Tantra. Hence it is said:  ~~-~~  ~~

"The syllable ov[Greek: on] = on is a word for Brahma (God), and the other cypher represents nature (the world). There is no Brahma, but ov[Greek: on] =  ~~ or  ~~ The dualism of Sankhya yoga is too well known to require an explanation.


 3. Om a Triad.

At a later period and posterior to the dualistic doctrines of the aforesaid Tantra and Patanjala yoga systems, the Om branched out into a Triad by the union of the nasal letter m or n with the  ~~ or w[Greek: ô], and forming the conjoined character  ~~ and wn[Greek: ôn] in Sanskrit and Greek. Henceforward Onkara is regarded as a triliteral word composed of a+u+m to represent a triplicate deity. Thus says Monier Williams:—

"Om is supposed to be composed of three letters A, U, M, which form a most sacred monosyllable ( ~~), significant of the Supreme Being as developing himself in the Triad of gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva" (Indian Wisdom p. 103 note I). So we have in Manu II. 83 and 84:—





So also the Bhagavad Gita. VIII. 13.

Here the two halves of the circle  ~~ comprise Vishnu and Siva as joined in the bipartite body of Hari Hara alias Hara Hari, adored by the dualists called  ~~, or more fully as  ~~ and Brahma the god of Manu, is placed in the circlet above the great circle of his created world. We need but hint to our readers in this place, to observe how the original word Om or Ov[Greek: On] and One developed itself into the existing faith of trinity. The Tantrica Sivites however place their god Siva in the upper semicirclet formed by  ~~ = m the initial of Maheswara ( ~~), and say:—



This is more reasonable to believe from both the letter m's and its god Siva's amalgamation with the early Aryan duality to form the present faith of triality at a much later period.


 4. Om the Tetrad.

We next see a further progress of Om in its development from the triliteral to a quadriliteral form, by its assumption of a crescent or half circlet ( ~~) according to the Tantra, or a half Matra ( ~~) of the Vedanta. The Tantra says  ~~ ~~ ~~. The Maitri Upanishad mentions only of the three Matras of Om (Ch vi Sec. 3).

"But the Mundak Upanishad" says Weber, "refers to the half Matra (mora), to which the word Om here appearing in its full glory, is entitled in addition to its three Matras (morae) a. u. m. This is evidently a later addition by some one who did not like to miss the mention of the subject in the Atharvana Upanishad in which it occurs."

p. 160. Again says he—"The Mandukya Upanishad which treats of the three and half Matras of the word Om, is to be looked upon as the real Mandukya, all the rest is the work of the Gaudapada, whose pupil Govinda was the teacher of Sankaracharya about the seventh century A.D."


5.  Om the Pentad.

We find next a quinquiliteral figure of Om in its component parts of the three matras, m, and the bindu or  ~~  ~~ the fifth.


6.  Om the Hexad.

And then again with a sextuple or Hexaliteral Om composed of the sixth member of Nada ( ~~) over and above the aforesaid five parts.


7.  Om the Heptad.

The septuple Om is described in the Ramatapaniya upanishad as consisting of  ~~ and  ~~ Weber's A. S. Lit. p. 312.


8.  Om the Octad.

This consists of the aforesaid seven parts, which together with Santi called in Persian Sakat complete the number, Weber. Id. p. 315.