Friday, June 6, 2008

Why "Hari OM" is uttered in the beginning of most rituals?

Any ritual begins by saying Hari:OM.

This post aims at finding the reason for this.

To know why Hari and why OM,

let me gather the available inputs from scriptures on these

and deduce the meaning and interpretation.

Let me first give some inputs on OM – the Omkar

and after that the Hari shabdam.

Then I will relate the two.

Omkara – upasana was the very basis of upanishadic-shAram.

According to AruNyupanishad,

a sanyasin is supposed to chant theUpanishad mantra

"OM hi OM hi OM hi"

while seeking bhikshA. That ishis yangyOpavitham. (verse 5)

In Katohpanishad, Yama explains NachikEtas the importance of OM.

NachikEtas asks Yama (Ka – 2.14) to unveil

what he (Yama) sees as beyond dharma & adharma,

cause & effect and the created & the yet to be created ones.

Yama's answer is "OM"(Ka 2.15 & 2.16)

"Let me explain you in brief that which is glorifiedby all vEdas,

sought after by all tapas and to attain which brahmacharyam is followed.

It is OM.

This akshara is Brahmam.

This alone is para-brahmam.

This belongs to the one who desires for it."

Yama continues to extol the greatness of this akshara

and relates it to Brahman in the succeeding verses.

NarayanOpanishad expresses the similar view ,

" Brahma purushampranava swaroopam /

akAra ukArO makAra ithi /

tha anEkadha samabhavatthadOmithi

yamukthwa muchyathE yOgI janma samsara bhandhanAt/ (Na Up5)

The meditation on Om relieves one from the cycle of rebirth.

When a person anchors pranvam in his Atman

and continues the meditation, he can see the paramAtman,

so says BrahmOpanishad.

(AtmAnamaraNim kruthwa pranavanchOthraraNim.. 18)

KaivalyOpanishad expresses the similar view to weed off pApam.

(Brahup- 1.11)SvEthaswatara upanishad echoes the same in verse 1.14

as a means to see God.

But a scientific definition of Brahman as Om has been given by

Taiittriya upanishad while the working of Pranava is detailed in

MAndukya upanishad.

In verse 1.8, Taii upanishad claims that

OM symbolises `acceptance' of whatever we do by chanting OM in the beginning.

It symbolises that you are being listened to when you chant OM

and begin any activity.

(When you say Hari: OM, it is that Hari accepts your meditation ,

prayer or whatever you do.

The list of all this is found in Taai upanishad in the Ist chapter.)

It is Brahmam.

It is sarvam.

But what happens when we chant OM and meditate on other devatas –

like OM ganEshaya namaha, Om Shivaya namaha etc?

The answer can be found in the teachings of PippalAdha in Prashna Upanishad.

Without mincing words the sage says that

the upAsakA reaches the abode of the Lord meditated by OM.

It is herein the logic is derived that

the one meditating on Narayana with Omkar (ashtAkshara manthra)

reaches moksha / Brahman.

But those mediatating on, say, Shiva (Om shivayanamaha)

reaches the abode of Shiva and so on.

The prakaran 1 of Mandukya upanishad where in kArikai 24 to 29

explains Omkar as the kAraNathwa

of entire creation thereby holding Brahman / Narayana

as the karanthwam and rakshkathwam.

Meta-physically the AkAra stands for rakshakathwam,

MakAra as the 25th letter signifying jiva and

UkAra as signifying that the jiva is subservient to Lord.

Mandukya says that an individual experiences the gross world

through three states of mind, viz, the waking, the dream and the deep sleep state.

In the deep sleep state the body is causal.

OM represents the Turiya state of conscience.

It is the fourth apart from the three states of

Waking (Jagrat) Dream (Swapna) and deep Sleep (Sushupti)

which have no independent existence.

OM is the essence of all the vEdas and

represents the super consciousness,

the Bliss and the Brahman.

The three factors of gross body earth, water and fire

constitute the waking state and is represented by `a'.

(It will be interesting to know that these three are the first created ones –

once after It willed may I become many.)

This is the visva (microcosm)and virat(macrocosm)

The sound ceases when `m' is uttered which represents the deep sleep state

where the individual is in union with Brahman.

It is Prajne in the individual level and Isvara at the cosmic level.

The intermediate `u' represents the dream state when ego,

the mind functions the role of both the subject and the object.

The mind creates its own universe.

The total subtle body of the universe is known as

Hiranyagarbha and Taijasa at the individual level.

The combined utterance of the 3 sounds is OM.

The sound ultimately gradually calms into stillness or silence.

In this state the individual has transcended the 3 states

of gross level and experiences absolute bliss and resides in the transcendental self.

The combined OM symbolizes

the subtle Brahman from which all sound forms emanate.

This is the 4th stage of the mind, the

Turiya state which is the characteristic feature of the Atman.

In all these three states the objects are limited

by the space., time and cause and

the Turiya is beyond 3 states where the atman is divested

of all its ignorance and becomes aware of the perpetual identity with the Brahman.

It is by constant practice an aspirant endowed with

faith, devotion and having overcome the senses and anger

attains perfect absorption with the Brahman.

(The above information is enshrined in a chapter in mandukya upanishad.)

The opening verse of Chandogya upa claims (1.1.1)

that the syllable OM is the closest to Brahman and it should be recited aloud.

The sound has its origin in the naval (Pashyanti)

heart (Madhyama)and

speech ( vaikhari)

The three forms of sound are related to

Prana, manas and Buddhi.

The fire that exists in the pores of woods manifests itself

through the vigorous friction as spark.

Similarly, the Paramatman which lies in the spinal column

with the Prana manifests itself in the vaikhari form of sound (Uddhva Gita –vii 18)

OM is discovered by the upanishadic seers to represent Brahman in sound form –

Nada Brahman.

The a, u & m represent creation,

protection & dissolution.

Om also represents the three gunas.

Finally, Ishavasyam declares (verse 17) that the

`Lord who is OmkAraswaroopi, sankalpa swaroopi and agni swaroopi

would think of me (thejiva) and

of my actions when my body is reduced to ashes.

'A reciprocate view of this is found in BG 8.12 &13,

wherein the Lord says that the one who leaves the body by chanting OM

attains His abode.

In essence, the Lord who is the Omkara swaroopi

thinks of the Jiva at the time of his death (Isha up)

and the jiva must meditate on the Lord as OmkAr

at the time of his death (Gita).

Either way it is OM that is the route to salvation!!

Now hari shabdam

Hari: ha + ra + i.

Hakara pingala varna: “the syllable ha means that there is no sense of the body.”

Further it is said that sarva varna varottamam

“It (ha) is the supreme letter.”

Rakara teja varna sat:

“The syllable ra is the power of God in the body.”

Ikara shakti
dayaka: “The letter i is the life of God given in you”.
So ha + ra + i is Hari,
who is inhaling your breath.

Hari comes from harati avidyam iti harià,

“he who dispels darkness of ignorance”.

According to Lahiri Mahasaya,

Hari means “one who steals”.

When the jiva stage is stolen from you, the resulting stillness is Hari.

Hari:OM is thus said at the beginning of every action,

in Hari being the in-dweller,

in his inhaling the person's breath and being capable of removing darkness and ignorance.

Hari 'accepts' the sankalpa for the action

proposed to be done by the person who says Hari:OM (Taiitriya upa).

And the OMkar as sage PippalAdha says,

transforms the person to the abode of Hari –

a place of No-ignorance and No- darkness.


திவா said...

nice compilation.

Forrest said...

Many of us must have heard Albert Einstein remark that he feels like he is a small kid standing on the shorest of the endless vast ocean of with just a few pebbles he picked up during his life.

After reading the meaning of just 2 shabdas, just 2 shabd hari and aum, i know can imagine that it is unimaginable to grasp how vast that ocean could be!!! ..thanku jayasree.

It is true that knowledge leads to God, but also i feel the size and length of knowledge can itself be compared to God !!!

Aham brahmasi indeed!!! and ..hari aumm....