The expression “Om” is not found either in the Rig Vedic hymns or in the Atharva Veda. It is found in the later Vedic literature, such as in the Brahmanas. Still its application in the Brahmanas indicates that it is very artificial and not natural. The first use of this significant word “om” is found in the Aitareya Brahman on which it is declared that om is the world of heaven and the sun. It is resolved into three letters A, U and M. These letters in turn are derived from the three Vyahrtis-Bhuh, Bhuvah and Svar; these from the Rig Veda, Yajur Veda and Sama veda; these from the gods-Agni,Vayu and Aditya and these from earth, atmosphere and air. The philosophical meaning of om is like this.
It has been said that, “A” is waking state of soul (Atman). “U” is sleeping state (Swapna) and “M” is the state of deep sleep (Sushupti). Om, the synthesis of all these three letters is the symbol of the soul (Atman).Here these three sounds may not be om, but their collective sound may be Om. In Bhagavata Gita, Lord Krishna has described himself as “Om”. The first verse of Mandukya Upanishada interprets “Om” as the symbol of the total universe. In many other places in the Upanishads, it has been said that “Om” is Akshya Brahma (Eternal or Unchanging entity). If you know Om, you will get Brahmaloka (highest heaven). In the Upanishads it has also been said to the disciples that one meditating upon om will get various states of existence and at the end, he will go beyond darkness and will see the rays of light, hope and aspiration. It is believed that meditating upon Om, one should unite individual soul (atman) with universal soul (Parama Brahma).
This “Om” is still used in Odia Prakrit and Odia Prakrit alone. Here it is the name of the soul also. Of course this om in Odia is not with “Anuswar” (nasal sound ). It is simply ‘O’. People in Odia respond ‘O’ when their name is called even today. This ‘O’ or ‘Om’ was there in the populace of the land since time immemorial, i.e. from before the Rig Vedic times. Another relevant indication requires consideration here. The word ‘Purusha’ is not Vedic. Purusha means – ‘Atman’ or properly the principle of life in control of the body. It is a word introduced into the later Vedic hymns from the west Gangetic or Punjab regions. It indicates an outstanding feature of the religion in east-India, which was particularly in vogue in the region round about Puri or Purushottam Puri. This region is known to have been called Kalinga later times by about 800 B.C and the real philosophy originally came to the Vedas from Kalinga. The word ‘Purusha’ is a jaina appellation of Jiva (Very anciently called Atman) but in the Rig Veda the word is applied to mean ‘Man’ having practically no religious significance attached to it. It may be mentioned here that, the main seat of the Purusha cult of Jainas was Kalinga and specially the Puri region. Om is the name of this purusha. It is very old in Kalinga as well as in the Jaina world. It was used all over the then civilized world including the early Aryan Greece of the Orphics and the Pythagoreans. In later times in various artificial and religious forms, it pervaded other religions such Judaism and Christianity. The use of Om tradition is in vogue in Odisha from time immemorial.
We found the description of ‘Om’ in our pithas or old religious institutions. The saint poet Achyutananda Das of the 16th Century Odisha in his ‘Sunya Samhita’ explained the symbol om in a different manner. According to him ‘om’ represents the life principle in control of the entire Universe which is made up five elements Khiti (earth), APA (Water), Teja (heat) Maruta (air) and Byoma (sky).
Mahapravu Shree Jagannath cult of Puri is also amalgamated with the essential nature of Om. In letter ‘A’ we found the palpitation of universal creation, in letter ‘U’, the gradual progress of palpitation and in letter ‘M’ there lays the decease stage after which prevails the total silence.
These four stages have been symbolized with four images of the Mahapravu Shree Jagannath temple, Puri such as – Mahapravu Shree Jagannath, Bada Thakura Balabhadra, Maa Subhadra and Pravu Sudarshan.
The Eternal Mystery Of Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannath by Srikanta…..
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