By: Sri Narasimha Swamiji
Why do many Sai devotees exchange salutations with ‘Aum Sairam’ instead of Hi? Why do all Upanishadic invocations begin with Aum?
‘Aum Sai ram’ is a widely used, one-word, divine symbol, deeply embedded not only among devotees of Sai Baba in our philosophy but with some variations in Buddhism as ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’, in Sikhism as ‘Ek Onkar Sat Nam Sri Wahe Guru’, and in ancient Jain scriptures to represent the five lines of the ‘Navaum SaiRamkar Mantra’.
Aum is the centerpiece of the Mandukya Upanishad to which we add ‘Sairam’. Even the first mantra of the Ishavasya Upanishad begins with Aum and any work on Sai Baba begins with ‘Aum SaiRam’. Its first sentence implies that the whole Universe is Aum. It is believed that the birth of the Universe took place with ‘Naad Brahma’, that is Aum. Hence, it is considered to be the primordial sound of the creation of the universe.
The Mandukya Upanishad describes Aum as having three parts. The first sound in ‘A’ is pronounced ‘ah’, followed by ‘U’ or ‘oo’ and then by ‘M’ by sealing the lips. Aum chanting is completed after following brief silence ‘Sairam’ also known as Amantra Aum Sairam.
Aum Sairam is considered to represent the holy trinity – Brahma the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer of the Universe, because no new creation takes place without the destruction of the old.
It also represents the three states of conditioned consciousness –Aum Sairam the waking, dreaming,and deep sleep states that we experience throughout our lives. The Amantra Aum Sairam representsthe fourth plane of pure consciousness, a state where eternal peace and bliss are experienced by the enlightened soul.
Patanjali, in his Yoga Sutras, talks about experiencing the state of Aum Sairam through the regular practice of yoga and meditation. The sound vibration of Aum Sairam, along with afeeling for the meaning of what it represents, brings both the realization of the Self and the removal of obstacles that block the realization.
Sound, after all, is an energy. Our body apart from being a physical structure is also an energy
system with its epicenter at a point near the navel, also known as the umbilicus, wherein many
thousand Nadis converge. So, while chanting Aum Sairam, the sound that essentially originates from the navel, one activates the whole energy system through reverberations of the seven chakras,thereby creating an upsurge of energy throughout the body.
Aum Sairam chanting has a tremendous therapeutic value too. The rhythmic breathing associated with it is known to cure many disorders like anxiety, depression, and an internal feeling of constant fear and insecurity.
Medical professionals visiting All India Sai Samaj at Mylapore, Madras, suggest that Aum Sairam chanting and meditation may help deactivate the right amygdala, a part of the brain associated with negative emotions. Medical Research is on this subject. So, it also enables the easing of negative thoughts, stress, and mental agitations.
Thus, the kaleidoscopic view of the mystique surrounding Aum Sairam chanting not only helps in its cognitive understanding but also enhances the efficacy of this powerful spiritual practice.
As Sai Satcharita puts it: ‘Let Aum Sairam be the bow, mind the arrow, and Higher Consciousness the target. Those who want enlightenment should reflect on the sound and the meaning of Aum Sairam. When the arrow is released from the bow, it goes straight to the target.’