The most sacred syllable in Hinduism is OM.
It stands for Brahman, both as personal and
impersonal God. The passage below is one of the
clearest of the countless references to OM in the
The goal which all the Vedas declare, which all austerities
aim at, and which men desire when they lead the life of
continence, I will tell you briefly: it is OM. This syllable OM
is indeed Brahman. This syllable is the Highest. Whosoever
knows this syllable obtains all that he desires. This is the best
support; this is the highest support. Whosoever knows this
support is adored in the world of Brahma.
-- Katha Upanishad I, ii, 15-17 ¹
The sound OM is Brahman. The rishis and sages practiced
austerity to realize that Sound-Brahman. After attaining
perfection one hears the sound of this eternal Word rising
spontaneously from the navel. "'What will you gain', some
sages ask, 'by merely hearing this sound?' You hear the roar
of the ocean from a distance. By following the roar you can
reach the ocean. As long as there is the roar, there must also
be the ocean. By following the trail of OM you attain
Brahman, of which the Word is the symbol. That Brahman
has been described by the Vedas as the ultimate goal."
-- The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna ²
1. from "The Upanishads -- Vol. I, " translated by Swami Nikhilananda,
Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, New York, Copyright 1949.
2. from "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna," translated by Swami
Nikhilananda, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, New York, Copyright
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