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 VI - Lexical meanings of om

Adverbial Meanings.  ~~

After the etymological and philological interpretations that we have been given of the word Om, it is worthwhile to attend to its meanings given in the current lexicons for the information of the majority, with whom the evidence of the history of philology is of little weight and value. Taranath's Sanskrit dictionary ( ~~) presents us with following adverbial meanings of the word.


1. An Inceptive Particle.  ~~

The Medinikosha says he, expounds it as an inchoative particle ( ~~) to mean the beginning of a thing ( ~~), and we find it accordingly used in the form of a proemial monogram at the exordium of a book or Vedic hymn, sacred rite or lecture, in the Sanhitas, Brahmanas and Upanishads according to the passage quoted by Taranatha in his dictionary;  ~~  ~~ It answers the  ~~ of the Purana and the words now and then in English as in the passage of the Kathavalli;  ~~

It is synonymous with beginning ( ~~) in the Ch'handogya Upanishad, whereupon the poet has well said:  ~~  ~~


2. Illustrations of Ditto  ~~

Krishna (under the conception of the identity of his soul with that of the Divine), speaks of himself in the Bhagavadgita that, he was the letter a of the alphabet, and the Om of words ( ~~). This is shown in the latest English translation of the work to be a doctrine derived from Christianity and corresponds with the passage "I am Alpha &c." in the book of Revelations (Ch. I. V. 8). There is a similar passage in the Koran which says "He (God) is the first; Ho al awl corresponding with the Greek" Ho esten arche; and this passage and sometimes its initial 'O (Gr.) and our  ~~, is used by Moslems at the top and commencement of their books and other writings. Again like Alpha of the holy Scripture we find the use of Alif upon the head of all writings in Urdu, Persian, Arabic and Hebrew in daily practice. Hence it is hard to say who is the borrower, though every one will boast itself to be the lender. (Vide Weber's paper on the Ram Tap Up. pp. 276, and 360).


3. An Initiatory Particle  ~~

The Kosha adds the sense of auspiciousness and prosperity ( ~~) to the above, and this as we have already observed forms like the names of gods, the initiatory vocable of meritorious undertakings ( ~~). "Om" says the Ch'handogya, "is also prosperity" (I, 8.) To this the scholiast Sankara says: "the letter Om is called prosperity, because it is possessed of the property and attribute of prosperity. The prosperous alone can pass the word Om" (Chh. up. Ch. 1, p. 8).

Its use is not confined to the sacred and antiquated language of Vedic writing and the liturgy, but is to be met with in the classic Sanskrit of ancient bards and modern poets. Thus we have in the Ramayana of our author ( ~~). In this sense we discover a curious affinity of the Aryan Om with the Semitic Aman Aman and Aiman, as in the Persian phrase Aiman buad corresponding with  ~~ or  ~~.


4. Gratulatory, Particle  ~~

The word has been rendered in our translation by the salutatory term "Hail", from a supposed similarity of its meaning with that of namo  ~~ which is used by women and Sudras in lieu of the sacred Om in their salutations to gods and superior beings, owing to the denunciation pronounced upon their utterance of the sacred syllable ( ~~). We find its use in the same sense in Dr. Roer's Translation of the Aitareya Upanishad, where it is rendered by "salutation to the Supreme Soul" and by "adoration" in Cowell's version of the Maitri Upanishad. We are however at a loss of authority to warrant our adoption of namo as a synonym of Om. We meet with instances of the use of Om and namo together to mean salutation, as,  ~~ and  ~~ in the Mugdhabodha, where namo, expresses obeisance and governs  ~~ in the dative, and not Om which has no governing power.


5. Invocatory particle  ~~

Om in the sense of invocation is an absolute monoptot like  ~~ &c., without the power of governing the following word, as  ~~, and its double use as  ~~ in the Aitareya Upanishad (1); so  ~~,  ~~ in the Mugdhabodha; but  ~~ and its synonyms  ~~,  ~~,  ~~,  ~~ govern the dative as  ~~,  ~~,  ~~ &c. The invocatory Om is synonymous with the interjections O,  ~~,  ~~ and all other single vowels whether nasal or not ( ~~), all of which are ungoverning particles in this sense.


6. A Laudatory particle  ~~

Om is usually termed as pranava  ~~ or praise or word of praise, from the root nu ( ~~ +  ~~ +  ~~) to laud, and in this sense it might mean the glorification of Te Deum. Thus "Om is the pranava or initial word of the Rigveda priests, and it is termed the Udgitha ( ~~) of Sama Veda choristers  ~~ who chaunt it". ( ~~). But it is made to signify the object of the verb, or the Being that is lauded ( ~~); and in this sense it means, "The Purusha or spirit who is unaffected by works, affections &c., and having the appellation of Pranava" (see Monier Williams' Wisdom of the Hindus p. 103), so says Gaudapada in his Karika. In the former sense, Pranava corresponds with halleluyas and hosannas of Christians, and hamd o Salaut of Moslems, which are deemed sacred by their votaries. The Karika has the following stanzas on it:— ~~  ~~  ~~  ~~


7. A Permissive Particle  ~~

It is used in a permissive sense both in Vedic and classic Sanskrit, and expressed in English by the words "on" "go on" and the like. We have an instance of it in the Magha Kavya, in the passage; ~~  ~~

 (a.) An Injunctive  ~~

"Verily this is an injunctive term ( ~~), signifying injunction, order, and whatever is enjoined, and ultimately the letter Om." (Ch'handogya Upanishad). The scholium ( ~~) explains it by saying that, "Whatever is enjoined by the learned or wealthy regarding learning and wealth, it is done by saying "Om." (Ibid I. 8. p 8.)


8. A Particle of assent  ~~

It bears also the sense of assent and consent ( ~~) meaning "ay" "aye" "yea" and "yes", and in Bengali and Vernaculars  ~~ and  ~~. So says Sankaracharya:—"Whatever is assented to by the learned and wealthy, it is done by saying "Om". Thus in the Vedic tradition; Yajnavalkya having been asked by Sakalya as to how many gods there were, said: "Thirty-three." Sakalya assented by saying "Om." Among modern writings, the Sahitya Darpana cites the following instance of Om being used in this sense:— ~~  ~~  ~~

It is used as the interjectional particle  ~~ expressive of


9. A Particle of Repulse.  ~~

repelling or driving off another from one like "Avaunt" in English. We meet with an instance of its use in this sense in the Vetala Panchavinsati of Lassen (VI.) Thus,  ~~  ~~


10. Do. of Ratifying.  ~~

It occurs in the sense of confirmation at the end of hymns and prayers in the Vedic writings, and corresponds with the words "Amen" and "Amin" at the conclusion of Christian and Moslem sermons and prayers as we have said long before. We have a verse of Hafiz to this effect, where he says bishnow O Amin bogo i. e. "Hear and say amen." There are many instances of it in the Upanishads, such as  ~~, and so in the Gayatri hymn which begins and ends with Om, agreeably to the precept which says:  ~~  ~~