Any ritual begins by saying Hari:
This post aims at finding the reason for this.
To know why Hari and why
let me gather the available inputs from scriptures on these
and deduce the meaning and interpretation.
Let me first give some inputs on
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
while seeking bhikshA. That ishis yangyOpavitham. (verse 5)
In Katohpanishad, Yama explains NachikEtas the importance of
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 "
"Let me explain you in brief that which is glorifiedby all vEdas,
sought after by all tapas and to attain which brahmacharyam is followed.
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
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
Taiittriya upanishad while the working of Pranava is detailed in
In verse 1.8, Taii upanishad claims that
It symbolises that you are being listened to when you chant
and begin any activity.
(When you say Hari:
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
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
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 (
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.
It is the fourth apart from the three states of
Waking (Jagrat) Dream (Swapna) and deep Sleep (Sushupti)
which have no independent existence.
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
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 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
The sound has its origin in the naval (Pashyanti)
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)
The a, u & m represent creation,
protection & dissolution.
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
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
Now hari shabdam
Hari: ha + ra + i.
Further it is said that sarva
“It (ha) is the supreme letter.”
“The syllable ra is the power of God in the body.”
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.
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:
And the OMkar as sage PippalAdha says,
transforms the person to the abode of Hari –
a place of No-ignorance and No- darkness.