OM - The Supreme Combination of Letters Emanating from the Flute of Sri Krsna

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Sri Sri Radha-Madhava

Om, the supreme combination of letters denotes the Supreme Entities Sri Radha Krishna and indicates the acme of spiritual tendency inherent in all jivasouls. Although, Om is known and recognized widely in almost all spiritual cultures of Eastern philosophy from the Buddhists of Tibet, to the Vedantist of Banaras, to the Theosophists of Los Angles, at present only Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and His sampradayahave actually understood the full transcendental meaning of Om given in the Veda, the Upanishads, the Vedanta and the Srimad Bhagavatam.

In the Rg-vedawe find the following information;

om ity etad brahmano nedistam nama yasmad uccaryamana
eva samsara-bhayat tarayati tasmad-ucyate tara iti
om asya jananto nama cid-viviktan mahaste visno
sumatim bhajamahe om tat sat
tato 'bhut trird-omkaro yo 'vyakta prabhavah svarat
yat tal-lingam bhagavato brahmanah paramatmanah

"One who chants om, which is the closest form of Brahman,approaches Brahman.This liberates one from the fear of the material world, therefore it is known as tarak brahman.

"O Vishnu your self-manifest name, om,is the eternal form of cognizance. Even if my knowledge about the glories of reciting this name is incom plete, still, by the practice of reciting this name I will acheive that perfect knowledge.

"He who has unmanifested potencies and is fully independent, manifests the vibration omkara,which indicates Himself. Brahman, Paramatma,and Bhagavanare the three forms He manifests."

Om is described throughout the Vedicliterature and by the acharyas,great spiritual masters, as the seed conception of theism. In the words of Srila Sridhar Maharaja, "Om means 'Yes'. Always, wherever we cast our glance to search, in one word the answer is 'yes'. Yes, what you are searching for, is. You are searching for happiness, pleasure, joy, fulfillment. You are in want, and in one word, ­­'yes', fulfillment is there. Omtakes the form of Gayatri, then Vedaand Vedanta-sutra;then it takes the shape of Srimad Bhagavatamand the lila,the divine pastimes, of the Lord."

As a tree or fruit bearing creeper begins with a seed so everything begins with Om; the gayatri mantrabegins with Om,the Vedasbegin with Om,the Upanishadsbegin with Om,the Vedantabegins with Om,and the Srimad Bhagavatambegins with Om.Therefore, it can safely be said that our search for Sri Krishna begins with Om.

Om is the seed of theism, nonetheless, there is a class of philosophers known as mayavadiswho suggest that Omdenotes Brahmanor the impersonal aspect of the absolute truth. This, however, is not the conclusion of the Vedasor the statements of the Supreme Brahman Himself. In Bhagavad GitaKrishna Himself says, "vedyam pavitram omkara,I am the syllable Om." As such 'Om' is known as the maha-vakya[maha-mantra] in the Vedas.

Om clearly denotes Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and the Vedanta-sutrabegins with Omyet the mayavadaphilosophers stress the mantra , tat tvam asi,I am that or I am God and they try to give less importance to Om.

Om should never be thought of as impersonal. That is perhaps the greatest misconception amongst many philosophers of transcendence since the time of Sankaracharya. The impersonal misconception of 'Om' has become so popular that even personalist philosophers at the stage of practice are sometimes found to have developed an aversion to 'Om' thinking it a means to impersonal realization.

Om for that matter is non-different than the sound of Krishna's flute. Omis never impersonal at any time ­­ all that can be impersonal about Omis the misconception that one chooses to attach to it. The Gopal-tapani Upanishaddiscusses Om ­­ clearly establishing its non-difference from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. txt. 41&42:

chatuhshabdo bhavedeko hyomkarah samudahritah
tamaddevah paro rajaseti so-ahamityavad
haryatmanam gopala-ahamiti bhavayet

"The sound vibration Omdenotes the chatur-vyuha-tattvaof Sri Balaram, Pradyumna, Aniruddha, and Sri Krishna. As the 'Om' transcends the three qualities of material nature so also one should know oneself to be beyond the identification with the material body. I am the eternal servitor of Gopala (Sri Krishna the cowherd boy at Vrindavana) ­­ this consciousness must be maintained at all times. "

The Gopala-tapani Upanishadfurther enlightens us that from the devanagriscript 'Om' we find the conjunct of four sounds to form one sound ­­ A U M; tx-55&56

rohinitanayo ramo akarakshara sambhavah
taijasatmakah pradyumna ukaraksharasambhavah
prajnatmako aniruddho vai makaraksharasambhavah ardha-
matratmakah krishno yasmin vishvam pratishthitam

"The letter 'A' denotes Balaram , the son of Rohini, who is the substratum of the entire universe. The letter 'U' denotes Pradyumna who is the super soul of the universe. The letter 'M' denotes Aniruddha, who is the super-soul of each individual being in the universe. And the 'dot' above the 'M' denotes Sri Krishna, the fountain head of all Vishnu incarnations."

Meditation on Ombegins in this way and one who has got realized knowledge knows Omto be identical with Krishna, vasudevah sarvam iti sa mahatma su-durlabhah.Such a great soul is very rare and such a great soul can be understood to be the true knower of the Vedas.

Yet a further enlightened idea found in the Gopala-topani Upanishadestablishes the conception of Om as connotative of the Supreme Entities Sri Radha-Krishna. tx 58

pranavatvena prakritim vadanti brahmavadinah tasmad
omkarasambhuto gopalo visvasambhuvah

"The wise and enlightened sages declare that the Swarupa-shaktiof Bhagavan, Sri Radha, being the prime mula-prakritiis non-different from Om.Gopala, Sri Krishna who is the Creator, Sustainer, and Destroyer of the universe is also non-different from Om."

To emphasize that the seed of lilaor eternal pastimes is inherent in the seed mantra'Om' the next verse of Gopala-tapani (59) states that 'Om' and the kama-bija-mantra, 'Klim'are also non-different.

klim-aum-karasyaikyatvam pathyate brahmavadibhih
mathurayam visheshena mam dhyayan moksham ashnute

"The Brahmavadhis,men of transcendental wisdom, know it for certain that the kama-bija-mantra 'Klim'and the monosyllable 'Om' are one and the same. One who goes to Mathura Puri and meditates on Vraja Gopala, by uttering either 'Klim' or 'Om', attains the ultimate destination of the soul after giving up this present material body."

Since 'Om' and 'Klim' have been established by the Upanishadsas non-different we can thus examine the nature of the 'Klim' mantrato better understand the conception the of rasa-tattva,divine mellows, in Om. Omis complete with rasa,mellows, but it is in a seed form. It is also a fact that mantrassuch as the Gopala-mantraand the Kama-gayatri-mantra,both of which begin with 'Klim', and are properly chanted by first uttering 'Om' in the beginning.

Srila Viswanatha Chakravathi Thakura, a most highly qualified realized devotee, has given a substantial illumination of the kama-bija-mantra, 'Klim',so let us try to understand 'Om' from that realized stand point.

Srila Viswanatha Cakravati Thakura explains the meaning of kama-bijathus; 'Klim' is the seed, kama-bijaor the primary cause of all-love. Kama-bijais connotative of the entities Sri Sri Radha-Krishna, the Predominated and Predominating Moiety of the Absolute Truth, respectively. (Klim-- that which denotes a subject and gives its attributes by implication)

"K" is Krishna, the leading Hero, with his personal form of eternity, knowledge, and bliss, ka-karah purusah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah."L" is celebrated as the blissful happiness of love, the beauty of the pleasure of the Divine Couple, "L" is also celebrated as Lalita, la-karo lalita para."I" is Srimati Radharani, the leading Heroine, who is the eternal Queen of Vrndavana, i-karah prakrti radha."M" is the sweetness of bliss occurring when the Divine Couple kiss.­­ the bindu,dot, above the "M" is said to be Their kissing, the half moon shape of the devanagrinasal letter is Their embracing.

If on chants 'Om' remembering the words of Gopala-tapani Upanishadand the words Srila Viswanatha Chakravathi Thakura then one can attain all spiritual perfection. But if one insists on considering 'Om' as a manifestation of the impersonal Brahmanthen he certainly cheats himself of the chance of being re-instated as an eternal servant of Sri Radha Krishna. The impersonal conception as is preached by many of the so-called followers of Sankaracharya has simply caused a great confusion in the spiritual field and this way of thinking should be strictly avoided by all aspiring devotees. Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has personally said, "Mayavadi-bhasya sunile haya sarvanasa:any one who hears the impersonal commentary of the Mayavada school is completely doomed."

If one comes under the sway of the impersonal conception then he certainly becomes no better than an atheist. Where is the question of theism if one says that God has no form or that he is God? Theism means that there is God, His Pleasure Potency-Sri Radha, and Their eternal servants-the jivasouls.

Srila Prabhupada once said, "The sound of 'Om' in the beginning of every Vedic hymns addresses the Supreme Lord. Because the impersonalists are very much afraid of addressing the Supreme Lord Krishna by His innumerable names, they prefer to vibrate the transcendental sound omkara.But they do not realize that omkarais the sound representation of Krishna. The jurisdiction of Krishna consciousness extends everywhere and one who knows Krishna consciousness is blessed. Those who do not know Krishna are in illusion, and so knowledge of Krishna is liberation, and ignorance of Him is bondage."

The goal of meditation on 'Om' is never to give up one's individual identity and merge with the Supreme and that is inherent in the mantraas I have stated in my opening paragraph. The inherent identity of the jivasoul is included in the 'Om' mantraas the eternal servant of Sri Radha Krishna and this is given support by Srila Jiva Goswami in his description of the alphabetical constituents of the mantraas follows;

a-karenocyate krsnah sarva-lokaika-nayakah
u-karenocyate radha ma-karo jiva-vacakah

"Omis a combination of letters, A,U,M. The letter 'A' refers to Krishna. The Letter 'U' refers to Radha, and the letter 'M' refers to the jivasoul."

Thus, according to Jiva Goswami the inherent position of the jivasoul in the 'Om' mantrais that of a maid servant of Sri Radha Krishna. Now one may ask the question that if even the service of Sri Radha Krishna is inherent in 'Om' as in 'Klim' then what need is there to chant the Hare Krishna maha-mantra?

krsna-mantra haite habe samsara mocana
krsna-nama haite pabe krsnera carana

"The Krishna gayatri mantra(or Om) liberates one from repeated birth and death in this world; the holy name of Krishna gives one shelter at the lotus feet of Krishna."(Cc. Adi-lila7.73)

pancama purusartha sei prema-mahadhana
krsnera madhurya-rasa karaya asvadana

"Love of Godhead is so exalted that it is considered to be the fifth goal of human life. By awakening one's love of Godhead, one can attain the platform of conjugal love, tasting it even during the present span of life." (Cc. Adi-lila7/144)

The gayatri mantraor Omhelps us up to the stage of liberation, and then the mantraretires. The holy name of Krishna however continues even after liberation. In fact it is the holy name of Krishna that enables us to develop spontaneous love of Krishna.

Omis considered the bijaor seed whereas Krishna namais considered the phalamor fruit. The fruit which is sweet and palatable to our taste has the seed within. Thus Omis considered to be present in Krishna nama.One can say that Krishna namais also present in Om.That is true but one can not taste the sweetness of Krishna namain Om.Chewing the seed is not comparable to chewing the fruits. The juice of the fruit of the holy name of Krishna is the sweet taste of pure love of Godhead.

Omemanates from the flute of Sri Krishna; it then manifest as gayatri,then as Veda,then as Vedanta,then as Srimad Bhagavatam,and the last verse of Srimad Bhagavatamrecommends the chanting of the holy names.

pranamo dukha-samanas
tam namami harim param

"Krishna's holy name can relieve us from all undesirable sinfulness, all filthy characteristics, and all miseries. Chant the name of Krishna! Do this; nothing else is necessary. Take this! Chant the holy name of Krishna and begin your real life in this dark age with the most broad and wide theistic conception. Let us all bow down to Him."

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu used to pass His days and nights at Jagannatha Puri in the company of His intimate devotees tasting the unlimited mellow sweetness of love of Godhead by constantly chanting the holy names:

Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has composed the Shikshastakam,eight essential verses, in which He describes the complete development of pure devotion from beginning to end. From these verses we can fully understand the necessity for chanting the maha-mantra.In the first verse of Shikshastakam the Lord says,

ceto-darpana-marjanam bhava-maha-davagni-nirvapanam
sreyah-kairava-candrika-vitaranam vidya-vadhu-jivanam
anandambudhi-vardhanam prati-padam puramrtasvadnam
sarvatma-snapanam param vijayate sri-krsna-sankirtanam

"The holy name of Krishna cleanses the mirror of the heart and extinguishes the fire of misery in the forest of birth and death. As the evening lotus blooms in the moon's cooling rays, the heart begins to blossom in the nectar of the name. And at last the soul awakens to its real treasure ­­ a life of love with Krishna. Again and again tasting nectar, the soul dives and surfaces in the ever-increasing ocean of ecstatic joy. All phases of the self of which we may conceive are fully satisfied and purified, and at last conquered by the all-auspicious influence of the holy name of Krishna."

In The Golden Volcano of Divine LoveSrila Sridhar Maharaja lists seven transcendental glories of chanting Krishna namain this first verse of Shikshastaka.He lists them as follows; 1. Krishna namacleanses the mirror of the heart. 2. Krishna namaextinguishes the fire of material existence. 3. Krishna namabestows the supreme goal of life. 4.Krishna namaprepares us for wholesale surrender in madhurya-rasa.5. Krishna namagives us a taste of the infinite ocean of ecstasy. 6. Krishna namafully satisfies and purifies all phases of the self. 7. Krishna namais the essential ingredient in all devotional service.

In the subsequent verses of the ShikshastakaSri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu describes the processes of devotional service namely; sadhu-sanga, bhajana-kriya, anartha-nivrtti, nistha, ruci, krsnasakti, bhava, vipralambha-prema,and prema-bhajana ­­ vipralambha-sambhoga.Those who have realized knowledge of the holy name of Krishna, by the grace of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, know the Shikshsatakato be a discription of chanting the holy name.

The Hare Krishna maha-mantrais actually madhurya-mantra.It is filled with the most inconceivable sweet nectar of the madhurya-rasa.The madhurya-rasameans the sweetest rasain which all other rasasare accommodated. The madhurya-rasais called the mukhya-rasaor the chief rasa.It is the sweetest and most accommodating rasa.

Srila Prabhupada often used to say that everything is there in the maha-mantra.Yes, that is a fact. Not only is "Om" present in the maha-mantrabut the twenty four hour lilaof Radha Krishna known as astakala-lilais also non-different from the maha-mantra.Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura has explained astakala-lilain the maha-mantrain his Bhajan-rahasyawith reference to the Shikshastakaprayers;

"In the sixteen word Hare Krishna mantrathere are eight pairs of names. Corresponding to these eight pairs, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has recited the eight verses of Shikshastaka.

"The first pair of names ­­ Hare Krishna ­­ signifies the subduer of ignorance and the performance of nama-sankirtanwith faith. The second pair ­­Hare Krishna ­­ means Krishna's names are invested with all potencies. One should have attachment for bhajanby taking shelter of the holy names in the association of sadhus.Gradually by performing bhajana, anarthas(unwanted contamination) are destroyed. As anarthasare removed, nistha(firm faith) develops. The third pair ­­Krishna Krishna ­­ indicates the company of pure devotees and becoming fixed in firm faith throughout the day and night. By the fourth pair ­­Hare Hare ­­ unmotivated devotion is awakened along with a taste for nama-sankirtan.

"The fifth pair ­­ Hare Rama ­­ represents the taste for pure service along with remembrance of the holy names as prescribed in the Shikshastaka.In the sixth pair ­­ Hare Rama ­­ chanting in the beginning stage of transcendental emotion leads material detachment and complete attachment to Krishna. The seventh pair ­­ Rama Rama ­­ awakens attachment for the mellow of conjugal rasa, the shelter of Sri Radha's lotus feet, and feelings of separation. The eighth pair ­­ Hare Hare ­­ leads to attainment of the goal of life ­­ loving service to Radha Krishna following in the mood of the gopisof Vrindavana throughout the eight divisions of day and night pastimes, astaka-kala-lila."

The conclusion is that one who knows the meaning of Omis a real student of the Srimad Bhagavatamand one who knows the meaning of the Srimad Bhagavatamcertainly chants the Hare Krishna maha-mantraas directed by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in His Shikshastaka.