Meaning of AUM

Aum is the primal sound of manifestation; beyond this sound is the soundless, invisible unmanifest. In ancient Indian script, it was written as the character shown at the top of this page. It is also called the pranava, meaning “to hum or vibrate,” suggesting the original sound of creation before words became distinguished.

It is not a symbol restricted only to the Hindu religious sects, but is also found in Jainism, Sikhism (where it is known as the
omkar or “One Reality” sound) and Buddhism. It is a symbol that transcends religion. In the Tamil tongue, it simply means yes.

When transcribed into English as three letters (AUM), they represent creation, preservation and dissolution of the cosmos. Translated into its two-letter form (OM), it simply represents the unmanifest Void (O) and the world of manifestation or phenomena (M). In tantric teachings, these can also represent the female/male duality, showing how manifestation (male) proceeds from the original void (female). As written in some Indian scripts, the signs above the symbol that look like a crescent and dot (or a person holding up the arms in worship) are referred to as the
chandra-bindhu, or “moon-dot.” This also symbolizes the polarity mentioned here.

Aum in Tibetan script