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 V - Etymology of the word om

1.  Etymology of the Om.  ~~

Having thus far seen the mysterious nature of the letter and syllable Om in its Orthography, we shall now consider it as a word, and see that not a less but much greater mystery is attached to its etymology than has been hitherto thought of by any, and which will be found upon examination to be more inscrutable in its nature than the mysteries of Eleusis and the inexplicable hieroglyphics of the Egyptian priests.

 

2.  Its symbolism of Brahmanism  ~~

These secret and sacred treasures of Brahmanic enigmas and symbols, have been carefully preserved by the Brahmahood in their cabalistic writings of the Tantras, which serve to be a secure safeguard of their religion amidst the ravages of foreigners in their liberty and literature, and require to be diligently searched into for a thorough mastery of these mysticisms.

 

3.  Its derivation  ~~

Om is denominated a word ( ~~) in the Veda and other sacred scriptures, and explained as a noun also ( ~~) in the Nirukta and other lexicons. It is derived in the Koshas from the root aba or ava to protect, or save ( ~~) with the Unadi suffix  ~~ an anomalous formation into om to denote "protection." Dr. Mitra too derives it from the radical  ~~ "to preserve" with the suffix  ~~ to denote the Most High according to Manu and Gita. (Translation of Ch'handogya Up. p. 4).

 

4.  Its Primary sense  ~~

Apart from the symbolical significations of Om (of which there are several as we shall come to notice afterwards), its primary and literal sense would make us give different interpretations of it according to the derivation of the term both in its verbal and nominal "forms.  ~~ as a verb in the imperative mood means "save" as  ~~ &c. in the Mugdhabodha, corresponding with the expressions, Ave Maria, salve salvator, salve Deus, save O God &c.

 

5.  Its Nominal sense  ~~

But aba to protect or preserve gives us the nominal ( ~~) forms of aba, aba, abu, and abuka ( ~~), meaning a father or preserver in the Prakrit Speech of Sanskrit dramas, and these are found to agree in both respects of sound and sense with the words ab, aba, abu, abuka, abi as abuka &c. in Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac and Arabic languages. This gives us the original meaning of  ~~ of which  ~~ is a derivative form, and shows the close affinity which the Aryan root bears to the Semitic, both in its sound and signification of "Father" ( ~~ and  ~~) applied to the Great God.

 

6.  The word Om  ~~

But our question being Om and not the root  ~~, we ought to know to what part of speech it belongs and what sense we are to give of it here. It is said to be a word indicative of auspiciousness when used at the beginning; ( ~~). But whether as a verb or noun or any other part of speech, we know nothing of, and we are utterly at a loss what word to substitute for it in its translation. This is the reason why the word Om, is used by itself in the translations of Sanskrit works by Europeans and our countrymen also for want of a proper term, as it is seen in the English versions of Vedas and Upanishads.

 

7.  An aptot noun  ~~

Om is enlisted as an indeclinable word in grammar having no inflection of its own in gender, number, case or person, and agreeing with all words in its unchanged state, as in the examples:— ~~ &c. It is included in the ( ~~) as an aptot noun, and with indeclinable particles ( ~~), as an adverb, conjunction and interjection also with various significations.

 

8.  The initial Om  ~~

The anomalous and multinymous particle Om was first discovered by Ram Mohun Roy to be no other than the participal noun on=being which as Max Muller says is to on ontos the Being of Beings A. S. Lit. pp.. 321 et passim. The Latin ens and the French on as t'on, bear close affinity to On and  ~~ both in their sound and sense.

 

9.  The Final Om  ~~

Dr. Rajendra Lala Mitra has in one of his works pointed out the Vedic Om, to correspond with the Hebrew "Amen," and this will be found so true of the final Om of Brahmanical prayers, that its corresponding word Amin invariably forms the last word of every prayer in Arabic, Persian and all other Mahometan and Semitic languages. Thus it is to be seen how intimately are both of these grand families of mankind connected with each other in the main point of their different creeds.