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The Om symbol represents the syllable known as the mystic syllable in Hinduism and Buddhism. It’s used when meditating, praying, chanting and as a representation of yoga. You’ll find it on tattoos, in art, clothes and jewelry.
Why do people value this symbol? And should I wear it?
Let’s take a look.
What’s in a Name?
The Om utterance and symbol are known by many names. Some of these are:
- Aum – This name breaks down the sounds syllables into three A-U-M.
- Pranava – controller of life force, life-giver
- Aksara – This letter of the alphabet, and imperishable
- Ekaksara – One letter of the alphabet
- Omkara – life-giver, beginning, female divine energy
- Udgitha – It ould mean ‘chanting’
The Om utterance is essentially a sound that consists of three syllables (a-u-m) that are said to represent a number of complex concepts. The Om syllable is to sound as the Flower of Life is to images. The symbol that we recognize as om is the written representation of the sound.
History of Om Symbol
The Om sound and symbol has its origins in Hinduism but is also associated with other Eastern religions such as Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism among others. There is some belief that the Christian word Amen and the Islamic word Amin come from the word Om but this is debated. No one really knows when the symbol came into being, as that has been lost to history.
A fun fact: When NASA recorded the sounds that the Sun makes some parts of the sound were interpreted as being very similar to Om. Many believed that this reinforced the view that Om is the sound of the universe.
Om Symbol Meaning
The scope of meaning of Om as a sound is so vast, it practically encapsulates the entire universe. The Om syllable is so complex that there’s an entire Upanishad (a sacred Hindu text) set aside to explain what it means. This text, known as the Mandukya Upanishad, defines Om as, “The past, the present and the future, all that was, all that will be is om…. All else that may exist beyond the bounds of time, that too is Om.” In Hinduism, Om represents everything including the universe.
- Om symbolizes all creation and includes the three stages universal to all life – birth, life and death.
- Om represents intuition and knowledge, as it’s connected to the Third Eye in the Chakra system.
- Om represents a sacred trinity, just as many other religions do. When you say the sound Om, it might sound like one unbroken sound but is in fact made up of 3 separate syllables. These three sounds can represent a variety of different aspects, among them:
- It represents the harmonious union of spirit, body and mind
- Heaven, earth and the underworld
- Hindu gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva
- Birth, life and death
In terms of the way the symbol is written, it’s meant to symbolize different states of consciousness. The image below explains the states of consciousness – unconscious state, waking state, dreaming state, illusion state and transcendental state.
Some say that the symbol represents the Hindu Elephant God, Ganesha. If you look at the symbol, you might be able to see how the shape symbolizes his form. Some Om jewelry actually incorporate the elephant into the symbol to show this similarity. Here’s an example that shows how the symbol can transform into an elephant.
How is the Om Symbol and Sound Used?
To put it simply, Om is a syllable used when chanting, especially by Hindus or those who meditate. There are videos on Youtube with 3-hour Om chanting to remove negativity and mental blocks.
Whatever your take on Om is, there’s no doubt that it’s calming and relaxing to hear the chant. If you’re interested in hearing the Om chant, check out this video.
The written symbol of Om is ubiquitous, worn and valued. This is essentially the unofficial symbol of yoga, spirituality and meditation and can be find used in a number of ways, from tattoos and jewelry to merchandise and art.
Om Symbol in Jewelry
The Om symbol is popular in jewelry and is often worn in the west as a fashion statement. This can cause some conflict if you’re travelling to the East where the symbol is revered as sacred. If you decide to wear Om, it’s a good idea to be aware as to why you’re wearing it and what the symbol means to you.
Wearing Om jewelry is a way of keeping the concepts of Om present in your life at all times. Whatever this is to you, be it spirituality, religion or meditation, you’ll be reminded by your Om jewelry.
Minimalist Om jewelry are most people’s preferred option as it aligns with the meanings and concepts represented by Om.
A simple ring either fashioned into the symbol or with the symbol engraved into it, is a nice touch and a simple statement. Bangle bracelets or charm bracelets are also excellent ways to wear Om jewelry in a subtle way.
The Om symbol is usually paired with gemstones and boho style elements. These are perfect for a casual, exotic look.
Om symbol charms are perfect to add to a bracelet or necklace and work well in a variety of settings. With an Om charm, the focus isn’t entirely on the symbol, but it’s still included.
Should I Wear the Om Symbol?
There’s some conflict over whether it’s culturally sensitive to wear the Om symbol. The Om symbol is cross-cultural. It has associations that go beyond culture and religion. In this respect, Om is universal.
The important thing is to wear it with respect and to show that you do understand what the symbol is all about. The Om symbol is beautiful and meaningful, and one that’s gorgeous in jewelry.
There are many places to purchase Om jewelry online, but we recommend starting your search on Etsy or Amazon. Etsy features a range of high-quality Om symbol jewelry starting at a few dollars. Amazon also has an excellent range, especially in their handmade section.